Spider-Man has finally made his return to video games. It’s been a long time since New York’s favorite web slinger graced a home console, but Insomniac Games, the studio behind titles like “Ratchet and Clank” and “Sunset Overdrive,” hopes to do right by the character while crafting memorable gameplay in the open-world setting of New York City. This title, simply called “Spider-Man,” is exclusive to the PS4 and is understandably one of the most high-profile releases this year.
Video games based on comic book characters had a resurgence after Rocksteady Studios breathed new life into the genre with their “Batman Arkham” series. Prior to this, games based on superheroes were usually hollow beat em ups that did little to appropriately capture the human side of comics’ most iconic characters. The Christopher Nolan Batman movie trilogy was groundbreaking for heroes on film, and, at the same time, the “Arkham” games showed that meaningful comic stories have a place in games as well.
One of the many strengths of the “Arkham” games is that it transcended the source material by telling new and interesting stories about the caped crusader and his gallery of villains. Stealth and action-based gameplay complimented that story and made it a must-play for Batman fans and comic novices alike. While the “Arkham” games were appropriately darker in tone, Insomniac Games’ “Spider-Man” aims to tell a more lighthearted story while being faithful to comics’ favorite wallcrawler.
The God of War is all grown up, but his latest journey lays the foundation for his most devastating tragedy yet.
The following is filled with story spoilers for the new “God of War.” It is recommended for those who have finished the main storyline.
Who is Kratos, the God of War? The answer to that is usually some form of, “an antihero with a singular emotion: rage.” When examining a younger Kratos than the hardened one found in the latest “God of War” for PS4, he is driven solely by a self interest in vengeance against those who have wronged him. It seems like he can be figured out after taking one look at his white and red skin, but the new “God of War” starts to peel back the layers of ash to reveal one of the most tortured souls in video games.
Kratos had a rough life. He was born to be a soldier, tricked by the gods into murdering his wife and child and banished to a cursed existence of servitude. After breaking those chains, he joined the ranks of gods who didn't want him and was a son to god who hated him. Kratos doesn't know how to be a son or a father. He’s forever damaged by his past, but the events of “God of War” give him hope. But, that hope could very well be ripped away from him in revelations following the events of the new “God of War.” In order to properly understand how this will affect Kratos, it’s important to see how he got to this point.
One of the most storied franchises in video games is getting a legacy collection … again. Mega Man is back with another compilation of classics. The series’ first compilation, “Mega Man Legacy Collection,” released two years ago that contained the lion’s share of the fan favorite games in the series. It included all the “Mega Man” games for the original Nintendo. This second collection, “Mega Man Legacy Collection 2,” includes a glimpse from the 16-bit era, the PlayStation era and its recent resurgence in “Mega Man 9” and “10.”
The main thing that’s missing from the “Mega Man Legacy Collection” is nostalgia. It’s a solid $20 package that contains the four games “Mega Man 7” through “10” and upscales them to HD, or allows you to play in their original 4-3 pixelated glory. But, the first collection was a wonderful trip down memory lane with a lineup of games that were nearly 30 years old at that point. “Legacy Collection 2” picks up 10 years later, doesn’t contain the beloved “Mega Man X” series and only has two games that can be considered “old school.” Of course, “Mega Man 9” and “10” are perfect representations of those original NES games’ 8-bit style, and are all around great games, but they came out in 2008 and 2010 respectively.
Sony has its first-party darlings. There’s “Ratchet and Clank,” “God of War” and basically anything made by Team Ico. But next year, the platform is going to have something truly special: a first-party exclusive with an enormous and an already established fan base. That’s the case in the upcoming “Spider-Man” made by Insomniac Games for the PS4.
It’s not easy to cut through the complicated business world of the web-slinger. The character is about to be rebooted for film for the second time in the last decade. He’s about to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it’s still a Sony Pictures film. “Spider-Man” the game is going to avoid all of that red tape by telling its own story that’s separate from the film or current comic book storylines.
The “Mass Effect” series helped define a console generation with its choose-your-own-adventure style of storytelling mixed with tight and enjoyable third-person combat. The space odyssey went through ups and downs and growing pains as the developers at BioWare tried new things and experimented throughout its trilogy. The biggest complaint that always hovered over its legacy was a botched climax of the third game. Now this year, “Mass Effect” is back with “Mass Effect: Andromeda” and a polarizing ending would be the least of this game’s problems. “Mass Effect: Andromeda” almost has the makings of a reboot. It’s a game that mechanically resembles the “Mass Effect” trilogy, but it has the sheen of an off-brand parody. Animations and weird facial ticks are a near constant distraction, and buggy A.I. disrupts decent combat. In a game where 50% of the gameplay is looking at people’s faces, facial animations are important. But the biggest issue that plagues “Andromeda” is its slow pacing. Bugs and a general lack of polish are far more forgivable when a game meets players halfway with a compelling story. “Andromeda” can’t even conjure that until about the 20-hour mark of a 30-hour epic.
The “Mass Effect” series helped define a console generation with its choose-your-own-adventure style of storytelling mixed with tight and enjoyable third-person combat. The space odyssey went through ups and downs and growing pains as the developers at BioWare tried new things and experimented throughout its trilogy. The biggest complaint that always hovered over its legacy was a botched climax of the third game. Now this year, “Mass Effect” is back with “Mass Effect: Andromeda” and a polarizing ending would be the least of this game’s problems.
“Mass Effect: Andromeda” almost has the makings of a reboot. It’s a game that mechanically resembles the “Mass Effect” trilogy, but it has the sheen of an off-brand parody. Animations and weird facial ticks are a near constant distraction, and buggy A.I. disrupts decent combat. In a game where 50% of the gameplay is looking at people’s faces, facial animations are important. But the biggest issue that plagues “Andromeda” is its slow pacing. Bugs and a general lack of polish are far more forgivable when a game meets players halfway with a compelling story. “Andromeda” can’t even conjure that until about the 20-hour mark of a 30-hour epic.
You just dropped $500 on a PlayStation VR headset. Now you’ll need some games to go along with that shiny new piece of next-gen tech. Half a grand is no small purchase for a gaming peripheral. Crafty consumers will want to choose the games they buy wisely. Fortunately, Sony launched PSVR with a hefty launch lineup of titles, so there are a lot of options. Some of those experiences are better than others. Here are the games you should try, buy and skip for PSVR.
Sony has officially outlined what we can expect to play on the PlayStation VR demo disc. There was a lot of discussion about what exactly players could do with their PSVR headsets right out of the box. No we know, and it’s actually a pretty impressive lineup of demos. Here’s the whole list of demos and their developers.
Work is hard work. Saving money earned from that hard work is even harder. Yet that’s what has to be done in order to stay current in today’s tech world. Let’s skip over Apple’s announcement of new products from yesterday that range anywhere from $650 to over a grand. Let’s go straight to Sony’s PS4 Pro Meeting that followed right on the heels of Apple’s big show.
Let’s ignore the fact that unveiling new tech directly after Apple already poses an uphill battle for press space. That’s a column for a different time. We’ll look right at the product: The PS4 Pro. It’s a slightly larger, slightly more powerful and a slightly intriguing new box that is capable of 4K resolution. Well, it’s kind of capable of 4K resolution. It can handle HDR image reproduction and 4K video, but can’t play 4K discs. The Pro also has a 1TB hard drive and a improved GPU. The whole strategy is just puzzling. It’s not enough of an upgrade to turn heads and grab headlines. The event didn’t tell us why we needed it and the console’s introduction left us with more questions than answers. Number one on my list of questions: who is this for?
Do you remember 2012? You should, because a glorious year if you were a console owner. The Xbox 360 was celebrating its seventh year in consumers’ homes. If someone dropped $400 on a new Xbox 360 in 2005, that same console would remain current all the way until 2013. That’s if the system didn’t suffer a Red Ring of Death somewhere in the middle.
The Xbox 360, along with the PS3 and even partially the Nintendo Wii, were part of the longest console generation of all time. The 360 led the pack by staying current for eight years. Eight years is a long time for humans. That’s two standard college experiences. That’s two summer olympics. The biggest song in the world eight years ago was “Low” by Flo-Rida and T-Pain. That’s a long time ago. Now think about how long that is for technology.
Imagine the phone you had eight years ago. I had either the iPhone 3G or the Motorola Q depending on what month we’re talking about in 2008. Now imagine using that same phone in 2016. It would literally be impossible to perform daily tasks on those ancient relics.
Hardware refreshes for game consoles aren’t a matter of if they’ll happen, but when they’ll happen. Hardware becomes cheaper and manufacturers find ways to cut costs and make the product smaller. The Xbox One already has it’s slim edition in the Xbox One S, now it’s the PS4’s turn.