Author Archives: Nile Bijoux

Marvel’s Spider-Man Review

I’ll kick this review off by admitting I am a massive Spiderman fan. Like so many before me, I was suckered in by Peter Parker’s relatability, his clear flaws but his constant desire to do good. A drive to change the world for the better and how persistently he is challenged in his quest, how the character could be me in another life, and how I could be him. Next to other superhero heavyweights like Superman or Batman, Spidey felt intensely, uncomfortably real.

While some media portrayals of the wall-crawler have been, er, less-than-stellar (looking at you, Spiderman 3), and it’s seen more reboots than any franchise should ever see, I had hope for the PlayStation 4’s kick at the ball. Why? Insomniac Games developed it.

Insomniac Games has been with Sony and PlayStation since forever, and given us timeless titles like Spyro the Dragon, and Ratchet and Clank. Those two games were part of so many kids’ childhood, basically the video game equivalent of The Simpsons. Insomniac, then, knows fun. It knows what makes a game tick, how to keep players coming back for more. And, I’m happy to report, Spiderman is another trophy for the cabinet.

The gameplay is fluid, with maybe a dozen loading screens throughout the entire campaign. More if you use the fast travel system but swinging through the city is so addicting you probably won’t bother, aside from getting the trophy. I did experience a few stutters in more demanding scenes, and the odd HUD glitch but nothing worth patching. The story breathes nicely, with pauses in between major parts to let you roam Manhatten as you wish. Heroic music kicks in when you leap off a building and let loose some webbing, while Spidey’s voice actor Yuri Lowenthal was asked to record parts of his dialogue twice to reflect if Spiderman is mid-swing or just lounging on the ground. There are so many little things like this that show how much love and effort Insomniac put into the game, like the fake Twitter feed. Side note, J.K Simmons is not back to reprise his role as J. Jonah Jameson. Sure sounds a lot like him, though….

It’s a well known fact that no one has ever been hit by a bullet while doing a pirouette.

Combat is tight, reminiscent of the Batman: Arkham games. Gadgets feel good, being restricted enough to make their usage feel more special, changed via the Ratchet and Clank ‘Quick Select’ wheel.

The breadth of activities throughout the city should keep players busy after the final curtain call. Picking up old Parker backpacks gives you a little glimpse of his life – like finding the final ball game ticket Uncle Ben took him to, or the OG underam webbing – and also work towards unlocking more suits.

The game looks stunning, although not quite as good as something like God of War. There are still moments that have you pausing stopping a robbery or having a breather on top of a skyscraper just to have a look around.

Speed is well represented, with satisfying momentum transfer between each swing and little effects added to a well-timed leap. Plus, if you don’t dive-bomb off Empire State, are you really playing a Spiderman game right?

Little prompts remind you that there is a world beyond the campaign and that you’d be better off, in the long run, taking the time to explore.

“Peter, you disappoint me 100% of the time.”

Speaking of the plot, the writing is brilliant. It ebbs and flows like the comics it is based on, doesn’t lean on humour as a crutch, and by the end, you feel the pain the characters feel. I’m mainly referring to Parker agonising over choices none of us hope to make, emphasised by his ever-present inferiority complex. And those who aren’t a fan of actually making choices in a video game, don’t worry. But I digress, this is a video game review, not a psychological assessment of a sociological phenomenon.

Playing through the story will set you back about eight hours in total – it’s not long. However, the story is somewhat linear. A little variance wouldn’t hurt, like a “choose your path”, ‘Goosebumps’ type of thing. DLC is on the way too, which should beef up the game again. Hopefully they will arrive with patches ironing out framerate drops. I’m playing on the standard PS4 and the game has a tendency to drop below 30fps when more than a two or three things happen at once.

All in, Spiderman is a triumph. Little (and I mean little) glitches and a safe main story aside, it’s no wonder the game has already beaten God of War’s sales record. This is easily the best superhero game yet, and possibly one of PS4’s greatest hits.

God of War Review, “A Damn Good Game”

Disclaimer: I haven’t finished the game yet. Not for a lack of trying, though. God of War’s 2018 soft reboot is probably one of the longest games I’ve played since The Witcher 3, and, to be honest, that’s super refreshing.

GoW has been away since 2013’s ‘Ascension’ title (not including remasters and bundles), which has given Santa Monica Studios five years to build the first new entry to the series for the Playstation 4. That time has clearly been well spent, as you can see in the video below, which shows early footage of the game.

Graphically, this game is a stunner. I suppose that’s something everyone has come to expect now, what with DICE and all. GoW delivers a beautifully immersive experience that’s buoyed by the lack of loading screens – the ‘Single Shot Effect’ – and smooth framerates. I’m playing on the bog-standard PS4 so it’s 1080p running at what looks like 60fps for most of the time.

The reworked combat system isn’t as brutally hack ‘n slash as how I remember the PS2-era games as being, but that doesn’t stop it being mighty satisfying. There’s more of an RPG element now, with various upgrades for the Leviathan axe or your armor available to spend your hard-slaughtered gold on. Oh, and you have a son.

His name is Atreus and it turns out Kratos is a real dick of a dad. Favourite phrases include: “Hrmm.” “I do not know.” “Boy.” “BOY!” “Boy, read that.”

Atreus himself is a bit of an encyclopedia, full of knowledge of the Norse gods and surroundings. Early in the game he mentions not having been sick in a while, probably his [SPOILERS] demigod abilities showing. Remember Kratos is a god himself. Atreus also uses a bow and arrow which comes in handy when you’re getting rolled by a million enemies at once.

Probably the only criticism I can muster is the text. Mother of God, why is it a thing for game developers to choose the smallest font possible? My TV is fairly large, about 45 inches or so, but it’s not exactly niche-large, and I have to get within about two feet to be able to read anything. I get you don’t want words cluttering up the HUD and ruining the immersion, but don’t bother with words at all if the gamer can’t read them. It’s just annoying, and a little amateur.

Anyway. The Norse world in GoW is huge. Like, properly huge. I’ve played for maybe ten hours so far, and I saw something saying “Completion: 12%”. I’ve been chomping through the storyline mainly, with a little bit of exploration on the side, but it looks like I’ve got a long way to go.

God of War, then, is a little bit like an intro to Dark Souls. It’s not as insanely HARD as DS, nor does it have the breadth of character customisation, but it’s not as easy as other similar fantasy RPGs. In between The Witcher and DS, I suppose. It’s a damn good game, is what it is. Go out and play it right now. Then get behind me in the queue to buy God of War 3 Remastered.

World War 2 Spitfire Surprise Low Pass – Nearly Takes Out Presenter

I haven’t ever seen a flyby this low before, especially not in an awesome World War 2-era fighter plane. The Spitfire is long renowned as one of the winners of the British front of WW2, playing crucial roles in the Battle of Britain, among others. It’s powered by a huge 27-litre Rolls Royce V12 producing anywhere between 1030 horsepower and 2340 horsepower. The sound would have been astronomical to say the least. Especially skimming the head of a television reporter!

The Spitfire was perceived by the public to be the icon of the Battle of Britain, despite the Hurricane actually doing more work against the Nazi Luftwaffe. Spitfire units, however, had a lower attrition rate and a higher victory-to-loss ratio than those flying Hurricanes because of its higher performance. They became the backbone of the RAF after the Battle of Britain. Much loved by its pilots, the Spitfire served in several roles, including interceptor, photo-reconnaissance, fighter-bomber and trainer, and it continued to serve in these roles until the 1950s.

Needless to say, I don’t think any of the cast or crew of this documentary were expecting the velocity combined with the altitude of the Spitfire. Looks great though!

People Saying Their FitBit Makes Them Fat Are Fucking Morons

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts online recently featuring people lamenting the belief that their Fitbit made them fat. Naturally, I click on them and see if there’s any form of scientific reasoning behind the claims, and what I find is downright hilarious.

The vast majority of the people complaining (my university education has me in the habit of not talking in absolutes like a Sith, even though every single goddamn post is this) say that their Fitbit is a great tool but it gives them “reason to binge eat.” That’s fucking bullshit.

The Fitbit is a tool. It’s not a magical thing that will take your weight and put it somewhere that isn’t your gut, it’s a fitness tool. You put it on every day and try and hit your step goal, and celebrate in the tiny little hit of dopamine when you manage the big 10k. Or, you look at the number and go FUCK, maybe tomorrow. You DON’T then go and binge eat, regardless of your days fitness outcomes.

People who think that the Fitbit acts as a “crutch” are idiots. Everyone burns calories at different rates, and just because Fitbit is telling you to eat more in order to hit your weight goal doesn’t mean you go and smash down 16 boxes of pizza. Everyone who actually researches fitness knows that a major part of getting fit is your diet, roughly 80% or so. This consists of eating well – cleanly, if you will. Not fucking pizza and ice cream (@Amerifats).

I think you’ll find that if you strap the Fitbit back onto your wrist, stop finding ways to offset the blame, and sort your eating habits out, you’ll find the weight loss you desire.

You fatty.

Game Review: Titanfall 2 – A Frantic Fuckfest Of Technology

Titanfall the First was released back in 2014 to great fanfare – winning multiple E3 awards before release and building hype like no other IP was at the time. However upon release, while the multiplayer portion was lauded as fantastically fresh, it didn’t offer enough pure content to keep fans busy and sated. It’s ‘single player’ was a strange blend of multiplayer plus storytelling and better served as an intro to multiplayer. Rather quickly, the player base dried up and Titanfall’s battlefields were left empty. Now, developers Respawn have come back with another crack at Titanfall.

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Titanfall 2 does what the original didn’t and includes a fully fleshed out single-player campaign. And boy, what a campaign. Respawn Entertainment consists of veteran Infinity Ward developers – those responsible for the original Call of Duty and most main sequels up until Modern Warfare 2. Every gamer knows that Call of Duty 4 was the game that threw the first-person shooter genre into the mainstream and to the top of every gamers wishlist. The singleplayer in CoD 4 is constantly trumpeted as one of the best campaigns ever, and that storytelling experience shines through in Titanfall 2.

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The 9-chapter story takes you through the planet of Typhon and Respawn have totally nailed the scale of everything on Typhon – from towering jungles to massive facilities to huge stone structures. You play as Jack Cooper, the everyman who is paired with Vanguard-class titan ‘BT’. It’s a somewhat cliche pairing, with the AI of BT being dry, logical and unable to understand Jack’s various quips and turns of phrase. Cooper is who everyone relates to – the ‘nobody’ given the chance to be a Pilot, the best soldier in the galaxy.

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The levels are linear but don’t really feel like that. The size of everything gives you opportunities to explore nooks and corners while still keeping you moving forward with the storyline. You feel tiny as Cooper and only moderately in check onboard BT. If you get sick of lumbering around as the huge robot you’re always free to disembark and bounce around the level with your trusty jump pack. The same beautifully fluid movement of Titanfall 1 are retained and I still wonder at the lack of motion sickness given how fast you can whip around the map.

The narrative is a little bit generic-sci-fi (a plot device is a rather random introduction of a “rift in time,” which you just accept) but is still hugely entertaining over the 6-ish hours it takes to complete. Now, on to multiplayer…

Game Review – Mafia 3: Is This Really Next Gen?

I was hyped as shit for Mafia 3. I loved the second one, and although I didn’t play the first I had high hopes for the third entry. Trailers debuted, gameplay was promoted, then finally the game was released. I borrowed a mates Xbox One, waited for the game download to finish, waiting for the fucking day 1 patch to download and loaded the game up.

Before I get into the actual game, let me rant for a sec. Fuck day 1 patches. I understand their point, and I’d rather wait a little bit longer to play a game if it means the thing works, but developers shouldn’t rely on them in order to meet release targets. I’d rather they delay the game a few weeks in order to make sure it all works as 1.0. With regard to Mafia 3, the day 1 patch clocked in at a smidge over 2GB for the Xbox One version. This is too big. A day 1 patch should be a handful of megabytes, not what used to be full-game-sized. If you’re fixing a few off textures, or unlocking a framerate, why the hell is it so big? Seems more like they’re sewing together some properly broken parts of the game, huh?

Anyway, the game. Immediately I knew this wasn’t going to be the experience I was waiting for. The intro took way too long although it provided the valuable backstory a game such as Mafia 3 needs, the constant ‘pause the game to learn how to do the thing’ screens were infuriating, the text on aforementioned screens was too small, and the story didn’t catch me in the slightest. The graphics looked dated, like the game was made for PS3/Xbox 360 then ported to the newer breed and while the controls worked, they felt a little bit clunky.

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Mafia 3 is set in ’60s southern USA, and racism is alive and well. You play Lincoln Clay, a mixed-race man living in New Bordeaux – a.k.a New Orleans – on a revenge mission to take down the establishment. I won’t go too far into the story because, quite simply, I didn’t get very far through. I lost interest rapidly after the eighth tooltip and although the game immediately gave me Lincoln’s muscle car as what felt like a form of apology to hoon around in, it wasn’t really enough. It does great drifts and burnouts though. The camera shuddering and getting closer to the ass-end of the car as I braked hard for a sharp corner got old very fast. It’s function is clearly “WHOA YOU’RE REALLY STOPPING NOW BRAAAACCEEE” but it’s just unnecessary.

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I will say the guns felt great. Despite the clunky controls (and my shameless cranking of the aim assist) shooting people felt really good (don’t look into that). The sounds were great and the bodies reacted well. Speaking of sounds, the soundtrack is also fantastic, filled with period classics.

Overall, it’s a game I would only recommend trying if you can get it for free, or discounted. Don’t pay too much for it.

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Game Review: Forza Horizon 3 – The Best Open World Racer Out There

I’ve never owned an Xbox. Not from dedication to any particular manufacturer or fanboyism, it just never really happened. Which is a shame because I think true gamers (as cringey as that might sound) simply appreciate good games. Microsoft has had some real good ones that I’ve admired from afar – the Halo series, Gears of War and the Forza series. This last one brings me neatly to the subject of this review.

I’ve been watching the news on Forza Horizon 3 for a while now and it was only after getting the copy in my hands that I realised I didn’t actually own an Xbox One. I had to borrow a friends with the promise of a six-pack of beer as repayment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTSUgXkfooA

Forza Horizon 3 is an open-world racing game and as per Forza-usual, the game looks phenomenal. I really enjoyed Driveclub on PS4 and would have sworn that game was the best a racing game could look on the current gen of consoles. Wrong – Horizon looks equally, if not better than Driveclub. The cars look literally photorealistic. You could zoom in until your virtual nose was squished against the bodywork and you still couldn’t see the pixels.

That’s the sort of game Horizon 3 is – a massive dream-simulator if you’re at all interested in cars. There are barn-finds, where you find old dusty classics and have them restored. Think Ferrari Dino 246, Holden HQ Monaro GTS 350, Toyota Land Cruisers and the Dodge Charger Daytona Hemi that Strip ‘The King’ Weathers from Cars was based on. Of course, I found the downloadable livery that looked the most like The King and bumped up all its internals to ‘stupid fast’ spec. Colour me a happy boy.

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If you’re dextrous with your thumbs and manage to find a stretch of empty road, circling around your car and just watching the light reflect off everything with the environment going by is an oddly relaxing thing. Alternatively, you can always decided to leave the road and simply drive through the fields and forests to get to where you need to go. Always fun in a RWD car with no traction control!

I have to say though, it is supremely frustrating when you are going off the beaten track and some trees are breakable but others seem to be made from the same stuff as Captain America’s shield. At 250kph, everything should be destructible. It’s a total buzzkill to hit a tree and be stopped in your tracks, reversing out with your wheels digging ruts into the ground, only to have the same thing happen several meters away.

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Another ridiculously tiny complaint is the sound of other cars. You can have a squad of up to four other computer-controlled racers roll out with you if you beep your horn when you see them, and make no mistake, this feature is awesome. They’ll floor it when you floor it, and cruise when you cruise. But I want to be able to hear them if I’m alongside. I want to hear five hotted-up engines rather than just mine. Thankfully these issues aren’t really issues at all and are very easily fixed – who knows, maybe they’re already being fixed?

Forza Horizon 3 is an unmissable game. Everything about it is just amazing, despite those tiny issues I highlighted. It’s available on Xbox One and PC right now, and if you don’t have either of those, get one. Seriously. It’s that good.