Hello and welcome to a new episode of our games podcast! This week I travel deep into the Grid for a VR special, with Oculus Quest’s answer to Portal (yes, really), and then a reminder of why Valve is the best in the business of games design. Put on your VR headset of choice* and join me!
Man, I’m a gaming dinosaur. Most of the time I spend with games now is framed with a never-ending, slow shake of the head as I try to comprehend what it even is these days. From open worlds with endless icons pulling me in every direction to entire catalogues of microtransactions that have been carved away to sell for eternal engagement, it’s all a far cry from the titles that got me hooked so many years ago. For me, the shift from PS3/Xbox 360 to PS4/Xbox One was the most noticeable, as suddenly developers could depend on a consumer internet connection, and so games became a service. I feel like the self-contained, more focused AA game is becoming as much of a relic as those that still want them.
Which is why Aliens Fireteam Elite is such a treat. Sure, it has a few modern marketing points ticked – three-player co-op missions (although it’s perfectly playable in single-player with bots) and the dreaded “Seasons” of downloadable content (to go with the laundry list of things you can unlock through normal play) – but, at its heart, it is a game that has a singular focus and it really wants to show you a damn good time.
That horrible feeling that sometimes follows a decent mid-afternoon nap – who am I, where am I, where is everyone – is the starting point for Carrion. Except here you need to add what am I, as your first action is to slop across the floor in a clot of slopping tendrils, with a tiny razor-lined mouth in a perpetual silent scream. And that feeling never fades, instead driving you forward with a singular motivation: get out.
Happy New Year! As you may have noticed, we had a quiet second half of the year here at Awesome Friday, but that’s not to say we weren’t busy. It’s the opposite, actually; between work, and kids, and writing an entire bloody book in November, I’ve barely had time to indulge in my twin pleasures of games and movies, let alone write about them. Looking back over the year, there are a number of titles that I wish I’d had the chance to watch and play, but I also discovered I engaged with enough entertainment to put together a list.
Childbirth is a miracle. I’ve seen a tiny human being come out of another human being twice – the first emerging like a stone skimming over water, the second grumpily being pulled out after refusing to budge, both heralded by the battlecry of a woman adding a +1 to the world with thunderous determination – and it’s really something. And by really something I mean completely changing your view of yourself and the Universe, but it’s a more relatable summary.
Having kids reframes your world in the best, most exhausting ways possible, but one of the biggest hits comes to gaming time. The nightly hours playing TimeSplitters are a memory so ancient they might as well be from another dimension. Even finishing a game becomes a novelty, and up until recently there was no solution to the frequent sudden instances where the game has to go off now. Thankfully, Sony has solved this with a firmware addition that should be renamed Every Dad’s Best Friend – the glory and brilliance of PS4’s Sleep and Suspend mode.
*Spelunky* has a lot to answer for. Ever since it single-handedly championed procedurally-generated levels back in its enhanced 2012 version, many other games have been lining up to try and emulate its perfect blend of slow progression and brutal punishments. 17-Bit’s *Galak-Z* is the latest to follow this trend, openly shifting from its initial open-world design in favour of a chaotic and frustration-filled set of tough challenges. And it so nearly gets it right.
It’s finally real and official: *Just Cause 3* is coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One next year and, contrary to [earlier rumours](http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=925234), it will be a full-price release with zero micro-transaction bullshit tying it down.
As I got into bed last night I slipped my hand under the covers and something buzzed against it. I instinctively yanked my arm away while something black and striped and angry crawled out from underneath the duvet and headbutted the light in determined repetition. I wish I could say that my response was calm and measured, but it was more like Free Willy jumping out of the aquarium with a high-pitched yelp to match. It was dealt with.
Now, imagine that scenario but you’re in the middle of a swarm of *hundreds* of these bastards and all you have is an machine gun. Or replace the bugs with zombies, or lizard men, or tiny red demons, or mechanical spiders that split into *more* spiders, and more spiders, and *more* spiders, when you destroy them. Welcome to *Crimsonland*, where *Borderlands* meets *Earth Defense Force* in a bloodied frenzy.
This week has seen the big names in gaming gather in Germany for the annual Gamescom conference. Though not as likely to contain the kind of news bombshells that are a basis of E3, it’s still a good opportunity for the mayor players to add detail to their upcoming rosters, and even throw in a few surprises. Also, once again Nintendo opted to not hold a conference but instead had their most recent games running in a booth to try and maintain the WiiU momentum.
Nathan Drake is back for one last time, if the trailer shown today at Sony’s E3 conference is anything to go by. And, if this is really in-game engine footage, then he’s going to go out in style. Have a look!