The Thursday Inbox is upset that Forza Horizon 5 has also been snubbed at The Game Awards, as one reader tries to play AI: The Somnium Files.
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Highs and lows
Well, I’ve had five hours of playtime on Halo Infinite, on a rather low spec laptop that pushes roughly 35 frames per second on the very lowest settings, and the lowest resolution I can set. I always choose frame rate over visuals but even looking its worst, I am hooked.
Halo’s gunplay, and Master Chief, have always felt weighty to me. Despite the assault rifle being something of a pea shooter in every Halo title, the overall feel is rather well judged in my opinion. I am still getting used to the newer weapons, and have found the plasma pistol to be much less potent than before but that’s a good thing.
The quality of life improvements, such as marking an area, or enemies for your team-mates, feels great. I don’t think it does anything revolutionary per se but my word it feels polished, solid, and astonishingly good fun.
If I have one complaint it’s that players really don’t want to carry the ball in Oddball, or protect zones in Stronghold, but as a Halo vet, I do like the feeling of knowing a little more than these fresh faces.
The Halo triumvirate of gun, grenade, and melee hasn’t felt this good in a while, for me at least, so I hope the campaign does it justice. I hope everyone else is enjoying it, too. What’s GC’s opinion so far?
GC: We should have a multiplayer review, and a campaign preview, this week.
Just to add to the justified criticism of The Game Awards I want to say that I’m baffled by the absence of Forza Horizon 5, bamboozled by Cyberpunk 2077’s inclusion in the role-playing game category, and totally flummoxed by the non-appearance of the utterly wonderful Chicory: A Colorful Tale in the indie category.
Returnal is the main bone of contention, and rightly so, but there’s plenty of audible groaning to be had in other decisions too. I suppose it’s only an awards ceremony, but it’d be nice to think that developers get the recognition they deserve. So kudos to Playground Games, Housemarque, and the tiny amount of people who made the most charming game of the year.
Worse than GTA
I’ve now read the GC review of the PlayStation 5 version of GTA: The Trilogy, it seems pretty reasonable and there was nothing particularly surprising in there, having also read other articles about the game.
The bit I am curious about are the links regarding poor emulation on N64 games on Switch. I’m just interested to know if people at GC have played it and what your thoughts are? I’ve got it and haven’t really had any issues with the games. The games I played 25-ish years ago seem much the same as I remember and I’m enjoying them along with the couple of games I had never played before.
I’m not banging the drum for Switch expansion pack, just interested to know if you think all the internet anger was justified to some extent.
GC: Did you not read the links and see all the examples? It was terrible at launch, with wonky frame rates, missing effects, audio issues, controller lag, and more. Perhaps it’s been fixed already, but that seems unlikely. Either way we’ll try and take a look at it again before the end of the year.
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You replied to my letter about checkpoints in games saying that there were no modern big budget titles that use checkpoints anymore.
Well I wasn’t limiting myself to modern big budget games, but to give a few examples: Control, Alien Isolation, Resident Evil Village, NieR Automata, Yakuza 0 – all of them had some version of checkpoints.
GC: We didn’t say that. We asked which games you were referring to that have what you called ‘old fashioned checkpoints’. Alien Isolation does purposefully limit saves for its style of gameplay, which is fairly unique, but something like Resident Evil Village is constantly autosaving.
The ZX Spectrum Rubber Key Wonder documentary on Kickstarter is 100% funded but it closes on Sunday if anyone wants to back it and push the total amount raised higher. There’s also add-ons you can buy, like Spectrum merchandise such as T-shirts, a cap, posters, stickers, and a drinks coaster!
Everything you buy means more money to make a better documentary with more content.
PS: Guild Of Dungeoneering, Kid A Mnesia Exhibition, and Never Alone are free on Epic Games Store from 4pm on Thursday. Never Alone is quite good and quite educational at the same time.
Games for grown-ups
To paraphrase one of my favourite quotes from Father Ted: ‘Should we all write a Grand Theft Auto feature now, GC?’ To be honest with you, I wouldn’t be able to drum up a whole feature on GTA – especially the PlayStation 2 trilogy. I was never that interested in them, really. I was practically 20 when GTA 3 first came along and thought it looked laughably bad.
We forget that in the sixth generation, Rockstar were hardly technical masters, being more like the Bethesda Game Studios of their day. Even though I guess Bethesda also existed back then but they weren’t interested in consoles, so they may as well not have for all the visibility they had.
I mean, maybe the scenery in Vice City and San Andreas could look nice… sometimes? But the character models made those in the very first Virtua Fighter look beautiful and let’s be real: something like Shenmue 2 or Skies Of Arcadia looked much better. Hell, Resident Evil 3 on the PS1 looks better! Their expertise always felt a generation behind, even as late as Bully.
I played Vice City and it was fine, despite its bizarre difficulty spikes and refusal to have any kind of checkpoint system – which always made me scratch my head and go: ‘I don’t get it – what’s the big deal here? Is that it?’
I think its greatest fans were those too young to play it at the time, no? Had I have been say, 12, the concept of being a criminal shooting at police and killing any civilian in sight would hold some sort of forbidden, taboo allure… Instead, it’s just kind of gross and stupid. Something you play for a few minutes until you get bored and put on Devil May Cry or Yakuza or something. Too mean?
GC: Too patronising. Especially if you’re trying to use Devil May Cry as an example of mature, adult-orientated gaming.
There’s definitely fewer things to do in Pikmin Bloom compared to Pokémon Go, but only the heartless would not fall for the pikmin’s charm. The game even actively tells you that it’s OK to leave the app running in the background while you do other things.
But surely the next big update to the game will be the introduction of the monsters roaming the (real) world map, devouring your precious pikmin if you leave them alone for too long(!)
My adventures with Games Pass continue!
I’ve finished Psychonauts 2, which was brilliant but also a mixed bag. The story was fun, a few of the levels were absolutely incredible (Psi-Kings Sensorium as a highlight) perhaps even surpassing the Milkman Conspiracy.
It did feel like it went on for a bit long, though. Like there were a few times when it could have gone to the end of the game, but a bit more content was squeezed in.
Anyway, I decided to play AI: The Somnium Files next. But the app wouldn’t let me install it, saying that I was too young for the age restrictions.
I checked my account, and my birthdate is correct, so my account knows I’m 35. What’s going on?
I ended up calling customer support, and while on hold (the call took about 30 minutes) I found a Reddit thread. The solution was to edit my account details, and save it without making any changes (like I did when trying to use a UK address). Then it let me download it.
It always astounds me that Microsoft has such a good reputation, despite always failing miserably at the simplest tasks.
GC: That was very much our feeling on Psychonauts 2.
Good review of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond or rather, in the sense that it’s completely put me off buying the game because it’s apparently just as bad as it looks. I guess sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.
Yesterday Microsoft added an update to Game Pass Ultimate that adds cloud gaming. Any game with a cloud icon, bottom right, can be played without having to download it.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Helix, who asks what’s the most disappointed you’ve been by a video game at launch?
It’s easy to get yourself hyped up for a big new release but which one ended up with you being the most disgruntled and why? Was the game not what you expected, and do you feel it was misrepresented by its marketing or reviews?
If there were technical problems at launch how severe were they and how quickly were they fixed? How tolerant are you of launch day issues and how have you adapted to the idea that many games don’t work properly when they first come out?
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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
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