The Tuesday letters page thinks that having a story isn’t necessary for a successful video game, as one reader doubts Redfall will be a major hit.
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I see that Grand Theft Auto Trilogy is now on Steam and Epic Game Store, which made me curious as to whether it had been fixed since the Cyberpunk 2077 style launch and, as far as I can tell, it hasn’t really. There have apparently been a few patches and fixes but the thing is still meant to be mostly a mess from everyone I’ve heard from. How did this happen?
Those games are 20+ years old, they’ve had decades to sort out the remasters and yet it seems like they cooked them up in a weekend and put them out no matter what (as far as I understand Rockstar Games themselves just farmed out most of the work to nobodies, which is even worse).
I’m curious to hear from anyone that has played them recently and can say how well they play but I am tempted to get them on PC anyway, purely because I assume the mod community will probably do better at fixing it than Rockstar. Which is good for me, because I want to play them again, but a terrible commentary on how Rockstar has handled things.
I can only imagine the great vengeance and furious anger that Nintendo will strike down upon anyone that spoils Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom before it comes out. Given how everything leaks nowadays, and I’m sure they love those sweet guide book sales, it’s good a good chance of happening, and then whoever does it is going to get sued into the sun.
I really don’t understand why anyone ever thinks Nintendo is going to cut them any slack. All these fan made remakes and translations that always get started and then shut down… after decades of cease and desist orders why did you think Nintendo would somehow let your one slide?
When it comes to spoilers though I fully support them. I’m happy knowing next to nothing about the game and probably wouldn’t watch a Zelda Direct even if they had it.
I cannot tell you catharsis I felt reading that others had struggled with the Meta Ridley encounter in Metroid Prime. 20 years that one’s been with me, and I reckon I’m pretty good at first person shooter games.
Slight feeling of embarrassment that Ridley wasn’t even the final boss…
Anyway, that comment about 45 minutes on an attempt and then deleting their save, I was transported back to my uni accommodation and the exact same feeling after a prolonged attempt ended in failure.
I do intend to pick up a physical copy in March to enjoy, I’ve watched a run through on YouTube now, hopefully I’ll be able to see the end credits this time around.
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Worse than before
If anything’s guaranteed to make one appear on the day you might publish this, it’ll be me saying I haven’t been expecting you to review Tales Of Symphonia Remastered. Whoever sits behind the GC keyboards these days, the review schedule pressure won’t be any less intense – even Bandai Namco put out a new dinosaur karting game the same day and you may even now be having fun outpacing velociraptors with brontosauruses. It’s also, by admission, based on the port to Sony consoles a decade ago and would need a lot of new bangs and flashes to make it worth your while, considering its merits.
It’s one I was looking forward to. On my own at the time of the reveal of the Direct last year, the instant that image from the intro appeared I actually spoke out loud with profanity, and it was not a reference to Colette’s Holy Song ability! I didn’t spot the 20th anniversary connection at first, but that gave me cause for optimism that some things last seen in the GameCube versions might be restored (some dialogue went missing, for instance).
Cut to last week, and the early reviews appeared. I’d hoped to avoid spoilers about any new surprises, but I watched one, intending to skip through it for an impression of the overall opinion. Thereafter I watched and read several more, just in case I’d caught a rogue reviewer, but the overall technical verdict was clear and my Switch version especially came with warnings. Now that I live rurally, I’d been mulling over whether I’d want a physical copy or not, so this saved a couple of bus fares. It was also costing Nintendo a download at first, but after my online subscription unexpectedly used my balance to renew itself, I’d been aware that the amount left was exactly right for this…
So yes: a fool and his money. I was pre-aware that it basically is the conversion from 2013, and yet somehow degraded technically for the current Nintendo console. Time will tell – because I’m not playing it straight away – how much simple things, such as the Tales series’ trademark battle-loading screen missing its ‘Shatter’ effect, will depress me. The least I had been expecting from a celebratory release would have been the restoration of the orchestral Western theme as a third option for the game’s intro music. I wonder if they have fallen out with that composer? The loss of original GameCube code is cited as one reason for changes for the PlayStation 3 – how hard would it be to just rip the tune from an original disc?
One thing I do know is how many people it took to mess up this remaster, as the option to play the credits is there on the title screen. I daresay some of the original staff are as annoyed as those from Retro who aren’t namechecked in the Metroid Prime remaster, but it gave me cause to wonder whether there are different shoutouts once you actually complete the game.
As it happens, one of the game’s experts (if you search for the European/US title theme, it’s likely their video that you’ll see) streamed a playthough of Sony’s version on a PlayStation 5; I dipped in and out and the credits did not look different… at least the screen shatters properly!
Buying it did give me the impetus I needed to swap the memory card for the larger one I bought for Christmas. I redownloaded most of my games – not least my current backlog, and I’ll need a lot of patience to copy over all the screenshots! Once I’m done with those I’ll give it a playthrough that, technical issues notwithstanding, I’ll likely enjoy.
If only I wasn’t aware that even just playing the credits, the music broke up several times…
Mr Graham Addressing The Nation
Video games are cheap and need a price increase! They shouldn’t be doing that ever, because of how much they do get with the base game. Then there is the Gold Edition, then there is the top version at over £150+ on some games. On top of that you have got in-game purchases and because of that they shouldn’t increase the price.
The reason why some companies are struggling is because of delays, making games on time, and pushing back release dates. Plus, making games that nobody wants in the first place, thinking they know best. If they don’t want to lose money then they really should stop making games that no one will ever be interested in.
I understand if they don’t try new stuff we’re stuck with the same games and gaming gets boring, but why make a game that is pants and say we will still carry on and bring it out? That’s what’s costing developers money: rubbish games. So it’s not a price increase, it’s for them to open their eyes and not say yes to every idea that is said.
GC: It would help if you gave you some examples of the kind of games you’re talking about.
I’ve never played a Metroid Prime (I have Metroid Dread and Super Metroid) game before and got it straight away on the back of GC’s 10 rating. I finished it this evening, getting passed Ridley on my second attempt and (when I got there – more on that shortly) Metroid Prime on my fifth attempt.
Having heard so much about it I really wanted to love this game and at first I did. The graphics are excellent, sound great, music brilliant, morph ball fantastic, and atmosphere absolutely sublime. The first few hours were genuinely jaw dropping and engrossing – to be playing this on the Switch was incredible.
However, the deeper I got the flaws started becoming more and more apparent. To the point where finishing it was beyond a chore. To name but a few:
• Backtracking. Hour upon hour looking for something you might have missed. A clue pops up, but you can’t access the relevant area. Backtrack again and again, often aimlessly until you realise you’re at the wrong entrance to the relevant room.
• The music in the Magma Caverns grates beyond belief.
• The grappling hook mechanic is clumsy and cumbersome.
• Invisible enemies and worse, invisible floating platforms. Several hours wasted looking for a way through the area where the platforms first appear (or rather didn’t).
• Red, yellow, magenta and white enemies. Fiddle around changing your weapon colour and err… that’s about it. Unless they’re invisible.
• Turning out the lights and relying on infrared – no thanks. Poorly executed and confusing.
• The Phazon Mines. Appalling design. Painful stodgy platforming with the most annoying enemies ever created: Metroids (which also operate under the same colour protocol).
• A clunky, unhelpful map which gives no hint where the lifts lead, so you rely on memory or pot luck when plotting a course.
• Get through all that and then backtrack more – repeatedly for the remaining artefacts which can be obscurely located. Don’t get me started on the one which requires you to destroy a tower.
• Impact Crater: the developers must have sat down one day to discuss how to make the path to the last boss as irritating and frustrating as possible. Multiple respawning Metroids to knock you off platforms and deplete your health and you can’t always see where they are. Dreadful, dreadful design. Even running or using super bombs didn’t stop them knocking me off course mid-jump.
• The final boss with, yet again, the same dull colour matching mechanic followed up with yet more invisibility. Grrr. Oddly, the part I dreaded most in advance I actually really enjoyed: Ridley. Not too tough and lots of variation in the gameplay.
With all of these faults I can’t say I enjoyed it overall. Certainly won’t play it again. At first, undoubtedly, I did enjoy it but everything became too boring, too repetitive, and too frustrating with too much reliance on invisibility and simple colour matching. Backtracking is a cheap way of extending playtime. Cannot see how in the modern era of gaming this merits a 10. Not even close. 7 at best.
GC: The invisible enemies aren’t invisible if you use the X-ray visor, and the backtracking is handled exactly the same as in Super Metroid. We can’t agree with your comments on the map either, especially as it does tell you where the lifts go.
RE: Louse, Redfall Disk and always-online. Bethesda confirmed the boxed Xbox version of Redfall contains a disc and the story was people misunderstanding what was being referred to in a Bethesda Support reply to a question. Here’s what they said.
Also, regarding always-online, Sony’s Gran Turismo 7 beat Redfall to the punch and has an always-online requirement even in single-player. It caused a bit of a stir at the time.
Not that I don’t think Microsoft are a bit shifty, but not anymore than Sony and Nintendo.
I hope all is well. Thanks for publishing my feature the other week its very appreciated. All sorted now.
There has been a lot of talk about the story being told in a game and it got me thinking (never a good thing) is it really that important? So, I have done a little bit of research and have come to the conclusion that no, it isn’t. in fact, I would go as far as to say the majority couldn’t give a hoot about the story being told. Allow me to clarify how I have reached this conclusion. This is not necessarily my view but what the masses are telling us.
According to several sources the biggest selling game is Tetris, with over half a billion sales and no story in sight. Next along pops Minecraft with around 235,000,000 sales and a game with no story! Just the imagination of its players, which they have in bucketloads. Next up pops GTA 5 and while this does have a story it’s GTA Online that has driven its sales. While this game has missions and such in its online content it is not story driven.
With sales of nearly 83 million, Wii Sports comes along offering as much story as the non-fiction section in the British Library. Rounding out the top five Is PUBG with 75 million sales, before going free to download and guess what no story. Fun fact, PUBG Mobile has over a billion downloads! Based on that people didn’t buy these games because of the story.
The first game in the list which would count as story-based game is Red Dead Redemption 2 at seven. Big sales, mind you, at 50 million. I couldn’t find anything concrete to say that this sold purely on its single-player or whether its online section is contributing to such big sales. If that is the case it’s Super Mario World at number nine. Rescuing Princess Peach is not exactly War and Peace in its story.
The two big hitters, Call Of Duty and FIFA, are both about multiplayer. The completion rate for Call Of Duty is ridiculously low for a game with such huge sales. It’s the reason they gave early access to the story last year, to actually entice people to play it I believe. FIFA is driven by FIFA Ultimate Team.
Go into the world of free to play and it’s the same story, or lack of, that stands out. While they have built up the lore and backstories, if you’re not interested it in no way affects your ability to enjoy them.
Based on that evidence, it’s not a good story that you need, it’s a gameplay mechanic that’s way more important. Easy to pick up, fun, and sociable stand out as distinguishing features of these games. With all the sales of The Last Of Us from the TV series, how many will actually finish it because this would indicate not very many. The 2023 game of the year, Elden Ring, has people on the fence about its story. Is there one? Isn’t there?
I’m not saying there is no place for story driven games but if you want a big selling game forget the story – or so the sales figures would tell us.
Currently playing: Vampire Survivors, Fire Emblem Engage, and Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
GC: Sales of The Last Of Us may have increased but it still didn’t break back into the top 10, in either the US or UK.
So one minute Redfall is, by the developer’s own admission, a Far Cry clone and the next it maintains ‘Arkane DNA’? Is that code for it’s not going to sell very well either?
I would personally love to see Nintendo making high-end VR games but it’s looking like the PlayStation VR2 is just proving that they and Microsoft were right to stay out of the whole business until there’s a fundamental change in technology/price.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was inspired by reader Crombie, who asks whether you’re spending less on video games now than before and during the pandemic?
There’s been a lot of discussion recently about value for money but have your spending habits changed since the end of the pandemic and the start of the current economic crisis? Are you spending less on games overall and has that lead to you playing them less – or has that not changed?
Do you currently have a set budget for what to spend on games and how does that account for new hardware purchases and things like microtransactions?
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The small print
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