The Monday Inbox reacts to the GTA Trilogy remasters’ graphics, as another reader argues that Batman: Arkham Asylum is the best one.
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25 years of Lara
I don’t know if we’re going to get any kind of announcement on Monday for the 25th anniversary of Tomb Raider but I’d just like to give kudos to the Reader’s Feature at the weekend and say that despite the ups and downs I’m still a big fan of the series and Lara, and I’m very much looking forward to finding out what the next game is about.
I know it’s such a cliche, but my fondest memory is of coming across the Tyrannosaurs Rex in the first game, which was such a shock and done so well. Up until that point the game was very serious and, at the time, the most realistic 3D game there’d ever been. But seeing the T-Rex was a reminder that this is a video game fantasy and anything can happen.
I think the worst of the sequels are the ones that have forgotten this. Even ones like the reboot, that get criticised for being too serious, have a lot of supernatural stuff that makes it feel authentic to me. I agree with recent criticism of Shadow Of The Tomb Raider’s story but otherwise I thought it was very good in terms of balancing platforming, combat, and supernatural shenanigans.
I would hope that the next game tries to keep this balance but manages to have a better script and a lighter tone for Lara herself. Do we know when the new game is coming out though? I know there’s no date but is there a year?
GC: They haven’t said. When it was announced in January it was said to be very early in production.
An interesting article at the weekend on diminishing returns in graphics between generational leaps.
It’s hard not to broadly agree, particularly given what came previously. The jump from 2D to 3D in the early 90s was such a massive jump it’s hard to see something like that happening again.
However, I do feel the author slightly missed the biggest and best-selling point of the new generation. It is not ray-tracing that should be looked at as the big innovation to inspire awe. If it’s awe the author is looking for, what has inspired that in me when firing up the PlayStation 5 is 60fps. That it is now the standard for console gaming shows that, while progression in graphics may have slowed, technology still moves forward for the better. In conjunction with the rapidly developing VR and streaming, the future seems very bright to me.
Besides, I’m currently playing Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night for the first time, 20 odd years after release. Graphics have always been the least important thing about games. (The Order: 1886 I am looking at you!)
GC: As happy as we are to see 60fps standardised in the new generation it’s not something the average gamer cares about and is useless as a selling point to the mainstream.
I personally am very pleased with how the GTA trilogy remasters looks. It keeps the cartoonish colourful look of the originals and updates it. I’d much rather that than they just go for the less stylised, realistic look they have now. The character movement and car physics had a more fun bouncy element to them in the original GTAs so I hope they keep that too and just refine it.
The original GTAs felt more like a sandbox of toys to play with than the streamlined hyper real experience they push for now. A lot of people seem to want it to look like GTA 5, but we’ve already got a game that looks like that. I’d rather they put the time into GTA 6 than having to completely remake the original games in the GTA 5 engine anyway.
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RE: Cyberpunk 2077. The easiest answer is that you are not missing much. I don’t regret playing it, but it was not something I cared much about or something that stuck with me over time like other games do.
The bugs, glitches, and technical issues got all of the attention but even when working as intended the game is pretty underwhelming. The combat is stale and repetitive. The progression is fairly meaningless and/or broken and you spend most of your time doing one fetch quest after another with no real payoff. The actual story part is cool but even that suffers from weird pacing issues and a lack of variety.
And despite being billed as an open world game it’s actually pretty linear and very shallow. The city is beautiful but empty and the much hyped ‘life paths’ that were supposed to give the game so much depth and replayability turned out to be absolutely meaningless (they literally don’t have any impact).
It’s probably worth playing at some point just to see for yourself but there are many other things worth your time and money.
Second time lucky
RE: Herron. Funnily enough I was considering writing in regarding my experience of Cyberpunk 2077.
I was one of the early adopters on my original Xbox One. I lasted about an hour before realising it was completely unplayable. A few months later, and a new Xbox Series S sat quietly beneath my TV and an advert for Cyberpunk appeared. Thankfully I hadn’t asked for a refund, so it was just a reinstall job.
Wow! I am so glad I did. I will keep all of the usual stuff to a minimum, but in 40 years of gaming, I can honestly say this is the first time I have been excited to receive a text message from a game character. River Ward, my friend, I salute you.
The city is vast and great fun to hoon around on an overpowered motorbike. However, scraps are a challenge, and looting and upgrading is a simple but addictive process.
CD Projekt Red, you are forgiven.
Short and sweet
Couldn’t agree more with Paul Clay’s assertion that Asylum is the best of the Batman: Arkham trilogy. While I love all three games, I feel that the confines of Arkham island were better suited to the story, stealth, and just overall feel of the game. For me the expansion of the map led to a deterioration in the overall experience from game to game, but they deteriorated in relative terms from (in my opinion) the perfect Batman game to an excellent to a very good one.
I think this is one of the points GC makes about Spider-Man vs. Miles Morales, that there’s too much to do and too much filler in the former, while the latter was a far tighter (and therefore more enjoyable) experience. Although I’d argue that the fun of the web-swinging traversal makes objectives at opposite ends of New York City less of a chore and more of a joy for me than grapple-gliding or even driving the Batmobile around the streets of Gotham.
Lastly, as someone who grew up on Batman: The Animated Series, hearing Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill at it again took me right back to early 90s Saturday mornings, which was just a dream come true.
GC: It wasn’t just the filler, in terms of Spider-Man, it was the much tighter story and more compelling character moments.
I don’t think calling Super Metroid linear is particularly fair. There are, of course, items you need to collect along the way to the final boss, but there’s is more freedom than the recent Inbox gives it credit for.
This excellent video from Game Maker’s Toolkit shows the progression through the game with what items and areas are available when. It makes good points about the use of gating to force the player in certain directions but also highlights the freedoms given to explore after each power-up.
It’s not as flexible as Hollow Knight (Game Maker’s Toolkit made a video about that in the same series) but it’s hardly a point A to point B game and I think if it’s your first go through the game you definitely wouldn’t feel funnelled in a particular direction the way Fusion does. I appreciate the openness of Dread, but it has a much more obvious route through the main game than Super, and it was only when I got to the final part that I chose to go off and explore.
On the plus side, they’re both excellent games and with any luck we’ll see more Metroid from Nintendo. Come on Inbox magic, give us Metroid Prime Pinball 2.
GC: We’re with you on that one.
Always wanted to write in an opinion so why not now. As Metroid Dread is a talking point right now, I’ll add my twopence worth. The game is a masterpiece to me. Within minutes I was back to being a 13-year-old playing a borrowed copy of Super Metroid back in 1996. But instead of being blinded by nostalgia, it enhanced the game.
Those saying the older games were better are just the gaming equivalent to hipsters in my opinion. It’s just as good if not better than Super Metroid, which was my previous high point. The story was crazy too, some real WTF moments. Can’t wait for the rumoured Metroid Prime remake now, and 4 when it’s ready. Then I can be taken back to my GameCube days and have another goofy grin on my face for a few hours!
Better and worse
RE: Metroid Dread and Alek Kazam and Mesomex. You’re both totally right, all Metroidvania games are linear to an extent. I think the difference between a well-designed one and a not so well-designed one is whether you notice or not. In the case of Metroid Dread I very much felt my strings being pulled, which destroyed the illusion for me.
I actually regret making the comparison between Super Metroid, Prime, and Dread now as it muddied my point, especially as the two former games are, respectively, 27 and 19 years old with a slew of Metroidvanias released since.
But suggesting there are no differences in design between the titles is doing MercurySteam a disservice. For better or worse, the E.M.M.I. zones and teleporters alone are distinct departures that substantially alter the design of the maps. I just happen to think it’s for the worse.
Decided to give Inscryption a go after the positive review and really enjoyed it. It’s very weird, and I was worried I wouldn’t like the card stuff, but I ended up really getting into it and appreciated that it was so different to anything else I’ve played recently.
I think it’s a shame the 2013 Deadpool is so forgotten nowadays. It was a mediocre action game but they totally nailed the humour years before the movie came along. I don’t think Activision can even sell it nowadays though, because they lost the licence.
This week’s Hot Topic
Since it’s Halloween this weekend the question for the next Hot Topic is what’s the most scared you’ve ever been by a video game?
It doesn’t have to be from a horror game but what’s the most frightened you’ve ever been? How does that compare to how scared you’ve been by a movie or TV show and what do you think games do better or worse compared to other media, when it comes to horror?
What game has the creepiest atmosphere, even if it’s not outright scary, and was it ever bad enough that you had to stop playing? (To avoid everyone mentioning it, the dogs jumping through the window bit in Resident Evil is banned from this Hot Topic.)
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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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