This is a word you’ll use generously throughout your first journey into *Grand Theft Auto 5*, Rockstar’s latest and staggeringly expansive new virtual playground. *Wow* at the graphics; there has clearly been some voodoo magic employed in making hardware that’s moments away from being superceded maintain a world like this without loading screens. *Wow* at the acting; Rockstar’s Hollywood aspirations have never been clearer with a gritty crime saga split across three interwoven protagonists. *Wow* at the construction; the opening tutorial alone is probably the most perfect way to combine instruction with action. *Wow* at the design; the attention to detail is so granular that every street corner, every block, has real character and architecture and story. *Wow* at the animations; just run for cover into a car and watch in awe as the Police bullets shatter the vehicle piece by piece. I could go on; if your gaming preferences revolve around pure spectacle, this could be the best thing that’s ever happened.
The most prevalent *Wow*s, for me anyway, were the *Wow*s concerning the game’s content and narrative structure. These two *Wow*s rise out of Los Santos like glimmering skyscrapers: *Wow*, this is a mature game. And,*Wow*, why is he doing that?
Some great news out of San Diego Comic Con. In the middle of an interview with [Kotaku’s Evan Narcisse](http://kotaku.com/a-new-tomb-raider-comic-shows-whats-next-for-lara-crof-838044972), the writer of the new Tomb Raider comic, Gail Simone, dropped this delicious bombshell:
Kotaku: When does this series take place with respect to the events of the new game? Will this still be a new Lara who’s just starting out as an adventurer?
Simone: Very much so, we start just a few weeks after the end of the game, and this is all in continuity, it will be Tomb Raider canon, and lead DIRECTLY into the sequel. This is what got me excited; we get to be part of Lara Croft history.
The sequel. This is terrific news – as the comic (due out in 2014) is canon, it’s a certainty that Simone would have knowledge of Square Enix’s future plans with the franchise. After the first game was deemed “disappointing” in regard to sales, it seemed like a direct sequel might not happen, but this sounds much more concrete.
*Tomb Raider* is an amazing adventure game that is not only faithful to the legacy but improves on it massively. It’s currently my favourite game of 2013, so more of the same would make me very happy indeed.
*Interview and picture from [Kotaku](http://kotaku.com/)*
I’ve been trying to write the first sentence of this review for twelve hours. The best I could come up with was something about how storytelling in video games can often be forgotten in favour of violent set-pieces or the need to polish multiplayer. How I’m sick of the eye-rolling from all quarters when I eulogise about how video games are as valid a medium for a *great story* as books or movies. How important it is to then balance the story with the actual playing mechanics.
I wanted to tell you how disappointed I am with *Remember Me*, the first game from Dontnod, published by Capcom. How the immaculate world of future Neo-Paris that is painted with such detail, and the science fiction story that takes a concept and has the confidence to fully explore its implications, exacerbate the failings in combat design and even basic play testing. I wanted to warn you off, to advise waiting for the bargain bin and leave you with a sense of initial impressiveness leading to final frustration.
The trouble is, I’m just completely split – a day after completion – on how I *feel* about it. Amidst all the combat repetition and flakiness in the final third, there’s *something* about this game that has really resonated.
What do you do with your only day to yourself for the next eight weeks? Read? Create? Play.
Capcom’s *Remember Me* has intrigued me since I last heard about it last year, and a copy seemed to arrive in my collection just in time, so today I’ll be playing the entirety of the game and constantly writing about my experience.
Some would argue – with very good reason – that Playstation Plus is the best thing to happen to this generation of consoles. The subscription service, initially derided as a blatant move to mirror Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold and capitalise on the money Sony misses out on by offering free online multiplayer, eventually found its own identity as a wonderful way to build a game collection. Every month, as Xbox merely provides an open doorway to online interaction, Sony fills the Instant Game Collection with full titles free to download and keep for as long as the subscription remains active. The selection is varied and generous, leading to many remaining dormant on hard drives while more modern games assert their own importance. This was definitely true for my relationship with *Spec Ops: The Line*, a game I’d been itching to try since release but never actually found the time to play. However, upon finishing the game last night, I felt I should use this review primarily as a wake-up call to anyone else who might have it sat unplayed as I did: next time you need something new, start it up. For, while its ambitions don’t always overcome its distractions, *Spec Ops: The Line* is especial in its one defining quality – it’s a robust military shooter that dares to tell a story. It insists on it, actually, and the resulting experience is refreshing, albeit mainly memorable for the brutality that is played out.
[Eurogamer](http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-02-04-the-last-of-us-preview) has published an extensive preview of The Last Of Us, the PS3 swansong by Uncharted makers Naughty Dog. It sounds like it’s got all the spit and polish of the adventure series, with an added element of survival horror, but without any of the linear hand-holding that dogged Drake’s Deception:
Having proven so adept at telling its own stories, The Last of Us feels like a Naughty Dog game that finally allows players to tell their own, offering a space in which there’s a palpable sense of terror and a broad set of possibilities. Late in the play-through, we get to craft one of our own. With one bullet left in the stock of Joel’s shotgun and a single freshly crafted molotov in his backpack, we’re presented with a room with three creepers and a single runner; a grisly puzzle that plays out with grim results. The shotgun shell’s used to kill the runner at the far end of the room, the Molotov used to disperse the two creepers standing side-by-side while the final creeper’s seen off with a flurry of desperate hand-to-hand blows.
After the slightly disappointing aftertaste left by the aforementioned Uncharted 3, this has the potential to be one of the games that defines this generation, coming right before the PS3 becomes superseded. I *love* a good third-person adventure game, so this has me very, very excited.
Apparently Sony is spending nearly 4$ million to air this during the Super Bowl. God knows how much they spent to make it. And it’s kind of terrible.
I get what they are going for here but I feel like it’s unnecessary. I don’t need to see the family he lost to understand Kratos or his motivations (and in this case I honestly don’t think we need to. God of War thus far hasn’t exactly been a masterwork of storytelling).
As with most prequel material I think it’s best left up to the imagination, but according to the world I am in the minority in that regard and here we are. What do you guys think?