Metacritic

Video Game Scores Need To Go


I despise review scores. I really hate the way people will skip over thousands of words to find the dumb number plastered at the end that is somehow supposed to be representative of the previous four pages of writing. I hate that people will dismiss anything under a 7 because it’s not considered good.

Yet I still give a “score”.

Not by choice though, out of continuity for the websites I write for, I respect that these scores have been a traditional way for outlets to review not only video games but television shows, movies, songs and so forth. I can’t expect to write for sites and then have them bend rules around me, I’m grateful and privileged for any site that will take me on, and I’ll conform to their way of doing things if needs be.

Amazon have started adding Metacritic scores on to their site now, displaying a number alongside various video games. Yes, so now when a website gives an 7.5 or 84 or 3 and a half stars or whatever arbitrary decimal place it might be, it’s all collected and now displayed right next to the game itself.

Now don’t get me wrong, I see why Amazon are doing this, I see that it’s for the convenience of the public who need to justify spending their time and money on a product. Amazon aren’t coming out to try and harm the industry, not when they’re just about to partly get into it. 

To begin with, there’s tons wrong with Metacritic.

For example, publications only get one shot on the site for each game. Once you put your score up there, that’s that. No second chances. Not even if your review is altered and has its score changed, or if the review itself is taken down.

Now, there’s understandable reasons for this. Some outlets might be pressured into giving the game a higher score by publishers, if they felt a reviewer’s initial score wasn’t to their liking, and while most have integrity, there are a select few who don’t. A higher Metacritic score means better PR for publishers and bonuses for the developer. Which, is yet another, major problem with Metacritic and publishers.

Firstly, even in the initial pitching of video game ideas, publishers will ask the developers what their Metacritic average is. Then in the development of a game, while maybe not directly responding to the call for a higher score, developers will find ways in which to identify core areas of their game and improve them, in order to gain a higher Metacritic score. So while there is no direct link between the two, its influence is there, and then, if the game receives a high score, it can be used advantageously in the pitching of an idea, going all the way back to publishers.

This is why you see shoddy online multiplayer added in to games late in development, it’s another area in which this arbitrary points can be scored. That’s why DLC is added, to “extend” the life and re-playability of the game, but not without a price of course.

Metacritic is hurting this industry and we have to stop caring about numbers and focus on the content. I could go on and on (and probably will at a later date) about Metacritic’s problems, but when you come down to the core, game reviewing is flawed.

Hell, reviewing is flawed. There is, of course, objectively things you can review; does the game work, does it control properly, are there any game breaking bugs? These and more are factual points that can be proved when the game is played by anyone. There is simply too much subjectivity after these points that a number can be created and then justified. Please, explain to me what the difference is between that 75 and 76. What quantifies that 1 point? Can, then, that same exact point be attributed to other games? No, of course not.

And there’s another point. We’re comparing games that cannot be compared legitimately.

Metacritic

Here’s a quick screengrab of the “highest rated games of all time”. The first is an action-adventure game, the next is a skateboarding game, then an open world, action-adventure, then a fighter, then a platformer and so on. Have all these games been reviewed with the same criteria, same regulations and rules? Of course not, you can’t apply the same set of standards to every single game, that’s just not fair and hurts the developers, consumer and reviewer, not to mention the game itself.

One of the most polarizing game series I know of is the Animal Crossing series. I bought the latest edition, New Leaf, day one. People either understand the game and love it, or understand the game and find it completely boring, which is fine! It’s personal, I understand the game, it’s relaxing and makes me feel mellow, how can that feeling be translated into a review and then used as a means to critique another game? It cannot, because reviews are subjective, and subjectivity is great, it allows us all to have differing opinions, to discuss and debate, what a boring world we would live in if everyone agreed with each other, which is why I find when big releases like GTA V get scores lower than 90 from a reviewer, I’ll read that one. Why didn’t it like up to expectations, why does this not conform with other people’s opinions? This discussion and debate is good, it allows for advancement, to exceed expectations the next time, a thought process that cannot be done by simply looking at a number that’s supposed to be representative of the entire “video game journalism” consensus. There’s a world of difference between an indie game made in a garage by 3 people and a “AAA” game with a budget that exceeds 9 figures made by a 1000 people. We absolutely cannot compare these two experiences with one, concluding number. Not ever.

Look what WIRED considers a 5:

5 — “Recommended with reservations.” Average. Your run-of-the-mill gaming experience. Genre devotees would give this a 6 or maybe a 7 on a good day, but even they would have to acknowledge that it’s got a lot of flaws and design issues that keep it from standing out from the crowd. Or maybe it’s justbland and uninspired. A 5 is still fun, but there’s just so many better experiences out there.

And now GameSpot:

5 – Mediocre

And now IGN:

5.0-5.9 – MEDIOCRE

This is the kind of bland, unremarkable game we’ve mostly forgotten about a day after we finish playing. A mediocre game isn’t something you should spend your time or money on if you consider either to be precious, but they’ll pass the time if you have nothing better to do.

Example: Dust 514, Time & Eternity, Game & Wario

And now Polygon:

A score of five indicates a bland, underwhelming game that’s functional but little else. These games might still possess quirks or aspects that appeal to certain players.

And now GameInformer:

Average. The game’s features may work, but are nothing that even casual players haven’t seen before. A decent game from beginning to end.

So GameSpot say a 5 is “of only moderate quality; not very good”, GI says it’s “average” but also a “decent game” (contradiction?), Polygon tells us it’s underwhelming but “might still possess quirks or aspects that appeal to certain players” (can’t games with other scores do that?), whereas IGN calls it “bland, unremarkable”.

Mediocre, average, decent, underwhelming, bland, unremarkable. 

Are you then telling me that Metacritic then collects these totally different definitions and then “rounds it up” into one, singular number?

Game reviewing is flawed. I don’t have the perfect solution on me right now. I, instead, prefer to just end the review with a concluding paragraph, summarising my thoughts into a neatly crafted summary. A simple “Yes, you should buy this game” or “No, you should avoid this game” would suffice near the end of the review, and if we got everyone to do this, people who read game reviews can start to see if they will enjoy the game or not. Not by reading one, single number, but by assessing multiple, differing views.

I suppose then, a lot of us are a fault, whether it’s readers who are lazy and just want the number, whether it’s publishers who make crucial business decisions based on subjective and arbitrary numbers, or developers who are changing the way games are made to conform to this almighty aggregated number. One of my favourite people in gaming, Jason Schreier, sums it up perfectly. Metacritic is a useful tool, but video game publishers have turned it into a weapon. And something’s gotta change.

Video game scores need to go, and video game reviews need to change.

 

Or we could end reviews with gifs like so:

The Inevitability Of Death, And Why I’m No Longer Scared Of It


Here’s something a little different.

I used to have nightmares, very bad dreams which started when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I would dream that I was climbing up a slide, then I would, you know, slide down. But instead of meeting the ground with a hefty bump onto my buttocks, there would be a hole, a hole that just appeared, and I would fall. Never stopping, never slowing, surrounded by darkness just, falling.

I’d wake up in a cold sweat. 

Completely covered, I didn’t understand it, the same nightmare would come and go every other week. I tried learning to force lucid dreaming, where I was aware that I was in a dream, to an extent it worked. I’d realise that this was my world and I was the master of my own domain. Soon enough though, something fought back, in my dreams I’d try shouting and my voice produced nothing, I tried walking and I couldn’t move. I’d seen friends die, people pop (literally pop like a balloon) and I’d been shot myself.

Then the Deja Vu started occurring.

I don’t believe in people that can “see the future”, I believe we all create our own lives, we make decisions that create billions of parallel universes every single day and that “there are no coincidences, only the illusion of coincidence.” But I am extremely certain that I’ve had dreams about the future that would eventually come true. I would only realise it at the time it was happening (in real time), and I’d never say anything, but it would all pan out as it did in the dream. Never anything strange or out of place, just seeing familiar faces and having similar conversations, panning the room and it would happen, I’d realised, I’d done this all before. Which is why, then, I became increasingly scared about some dreams, dreams that would haunt me, dreams where friends and family would get hurt. 

I think I was about 10 or 11 when I just stopped sleeping.

Not in the 100% literal sense, of course I slept, just not as much. I’d run through two or three days on 6 hours sleep, something a now 18 year old me now actually puts to good use (blame working with Americans and having to deal with time differences internationally!). Death, scared me. Really down to the bone, I’d see potential ways I could die in everyday life, a random car coming to run me down, me falling down the stairs and breaking my neck, anything and everything was a weapon of the Grim Reaper. I’m not a psychopath, well, at least not officially. Self diagnosis would show that I’m probably insane, suffer from OCD, social anxiety disorder and depression. I didn’t realise that at the time though. 

Then GCSEs started, doing them a year early, being forced to mature (thanks Express System, adding insult to injury). I’ve never dealt particularly well with stress nor exams, so when nervousness got the better of me, my bowels would instantly follow suit (I found eating a banana before an exam helps, possibly potassium related). As, Bs, Cs followed suit, nothing particularly amazing but not bad either, oh and a BTEC in Business Studies. 

So throughout my school life, I was always told I was better than most, I was gifted and talented, I was particularly well versed in literature and writing. So imagine how I came to fall so low, when I failed the majority of my AS Levels at my first year of Sixth Form. I’d say I couldn’t believe it, but that would be lying. The whole year group was much the same, we’d all done particularly bad, but that’s never an excuse I use to justify what happened; skipping lessons, that new sense of independence, hunting for companionship, they all contributed to my failings. 

Before and since, I’d never been so low. While not fully depressed, I’d always found it hard to be an optimist, so this was salt in the wound. I didn’t want to move, leave my room. Nothing, I wanted to be alone, to reflect, what did I need to do in order to escape this horrible place and get back up again?

I sacrificed a lot, personally, I’ve never explained it to anyone before, not friends, not family. I let go of my social life to focus on laying foundations for my future career, I helped start up a website, taught myself photo and video editing skills, freelanced, networked, wormed my way into gaining information I probably shouldn’t have. I made up for the poor attempt of the teaching of English at my school. I let go of potential relationships, but also gained friends and I’m forever grateful to these people that I’ve never met but know better than myself. I started to change the way I looked at life, what I did, self improvement, kaizen. Nowadays before I make any decision, before I do anything, I say to myself “Is there a reason for doing this?”. And there is, every time, every decision I make, however small or insignificant, has a justification behind it, for the betterment of myself or others. 

I apologise for the long-winded history lesson, that’s something I’ve needed to get off these metaphorical shoulders for a long time. So, where does death come in to it all? 

I had, a sort of epiphany earlier last month while sat in my English lesson. As you’d expect, while reading A Midsummer’s Night Dream, the subject of religion (that’s a different blog post for another day) and death came up. Nearing the end of the play, a lot of people die and there’s a whole bunch of stuff about incest and religion and corruption. Now before, I’d never really understood religion, Christianity or any of it, I still don’t know much now. But, in the space of roughly five minutes, I’d seen why people have this faith, why people want to believe that there is something after living, and that death isn’t the be all and end all, of, well, our existence. It’s natural to be scared of death, I’m not particularly concerned about dying, it’s what comes after. Before I just believed in that fact that there is nothing, I still do. 

But, in those five minutes, blankly looking at my book (if there were any bystanders to this realisation, I probably looked like I was on drugs), that “nothing” scared me, I shivered just at the thought. Like, how can there be nothing? Do we realise there’s nothing? Does the world just stop after you die (that’s not vanity, I promise)? I was genuinely concerned for my life, though I was in no apparent danger. 

I realised though, you can live on. 

Not necessarily through a religious faith, if you have that view, then I respect you, I see exactly why you have that view. I draw the line when people of any faith try and ram it down other people’s throats though, you can f*ck off, f*ck off into space. Personally there’s so many religions that I feel it’s better to just be a good person in general rather than be a good person in order to gain access to some sort of heaven, for some selfless gain. In just a short 2 years, I’d risen back up from the low point of my life, I’d paved the way to my future education and career, I’d made new friends, overcome new challenges. Social anxiety still gets the better of me from time to time.

I looked up from my book, someone was still reading aloud, nothing had changed, no one had noticed, only a few minutes had passed. It was insignificant, and that became the turning point. Everything I do or had done was of no significance to anyone, I sought to change that. In those small five minutes, I think I understood more about my existence and life than I had done in the past two years. I have a clear path now, and I intend to make the journey as interesting as possible.

But yes, live on, through memories, through influence and terrible video game journalism. My mark on this world might not be very significant, it might not be written down in the history books but it’s enough for me. To live, the joy and privilege of being alive and doing what I want to do, enjoying it and being happy. That is enough to stop being scared of death, and start appreciating the luxury of life.

And those nightmares I used to have? I’m no longer falling.

I’m flying.

(Something video game related up soon, I promise.)

It’s Been A While, WordPress.


I didn’t forget about you, honestly. I’ve come and gone, quickly pondering over why you appear to average 40 views a day. Still, any insight is good insight. Initially I created this blog so I’d fill it with substantial pieces that I didn’t feel would fit certain sites. It was then I realised, what the hell am I thinking I can be given money for doing this, so that’s exactly what I did. And it’s sweet, people read my opinions, get mad and then I’m compensated for it; ah, the wonders of this beautiful internet.

It’s March now, I’ve posted over 100 pieces on Push-Start during my tenure, applied for Uni, got offers for Uni, accepted said offers for Uni, joined another website and turned 18. It has been, without sounding like I’m stuck in the ’90s, sweet. Lots to look forward to as well, plenty of new releases coming out this year of varying quality. Really impressed with the independent developer offerings at the moment (not like there’s much else left to enjoy on Wii U, amiright?), still eyeing a PS4 (let’s see how much debt I’m in with Uni first) and finally god damn Smash Bros this year, YEAH.

Blog update 5-42.04, new theme added, looks much nicer. Contact page added, previous work page added and maybe a more personal side to the blog coming soon. I think that’s it for now, I guess I’ll use this page more regularly now, it’s not like people come flocking here for high quality analysis of intricate details in games now, is it? Also, FINISH YOUR IDEAS BEFORE STARTING A NEW ONE DANIEL, CHECK YOUR NOTES.

NsXFshn

miiverse_logo

What Makes A “Bad Miiverse Post”?


If you’re a follower of mine on Twitter (and if you’re not, what’s wrong with you?) then you’ll probably have seen my secondary account, BadMiiversePost. BadMiiversePost is an account that posts pictures of stupid, strange, weird and silly posts from Nintendo’s gaming social-network, Miiverse. More often than not, I’ll post something that some people don’t get or understand why it’s bad, so I thought I’d take the time to break down what really makes a Bad Miiverse Post.

1. Comical Spelling Mistakes

Miiverse is full of people who are under 13, so sometimes I can forgive a spelling mistake. A young demographic tends to lead to some funny moments though, such as this example:
Imreallygood

Obviously this poster meant to type “Rapping” but missed the second “p”. I’m surprised this wasn’t taken down by an administrator or reported and stayed up for at least 11 hours. Take a look at their username though, “YUDoDisPlsStayp”. Yes, this poster is probably a “troll” or just intentionally posts weird things, but a Bad Miiverse Post is still bad even if the poster is doing it on purpose.

2. Inexperienced Game Users

The younger generation aren’t used to “NES Hard” games, and it has become clear that some of them are struggling at places that older games breezed through back in the day. While they are using Miiverse in the intended way, it’s still very funny to see lots of users get stuck at the same places in retro titles. Case in point, Super Metroid.

3. Random Posting/Nonsensical Posts

Every now and again there comes a post that doesn’t really fit and should probably have never been posted. It’s not game related or related to the community posted in or doesn’t actually make any sense. Here’s a few below.

4. Lists

For every few good suggestions that someone puts in a list, there is always bad ones to balance it out. It’s just the way of life. Commonly found in the Smash Bros community, lists contain one or two good ideas, followed by eight or nine bad ones. Toad, Toon Zelda and Little Mac? Sure. Paper Mario, Krystal, King Boo, Louie, Heihachi, Pac Man, and the Miis? *Vomits* (Disclosure: Completely opinion orientated. Take it easy now and then.)

list5. Super Smash Bros. Requests

A way to message the creator of one of the most popular video game franchises ever made? Great! Being bombarded with the worst suggestions for characters to be put in Smash Bros. I’ve ever heard in my life? Not so great!

6. Creeps and Creepy Posts

Sometimes kids do the funniest things, sometimes kids say silly things and sometimes kids do creepy things that they don’t realise is quite creepy. That is, if they are kids…because chances are, they might not be…

7. Factually Incorrect

Some Miiverse posts are just factually wrong. That makes them bad, no other reason.

8. Drawings (NSFW)

It would be cruel to criticise everyone’s drawings, because some people are less experienced and are learning to get better, so it wouldn’t be fair. Other drawings are just plain bad and dumb. And the 1% of Miiverse posts are…phallic.

9. Fanboys

Obviously with a fanbase as vocal as Nintendo’s, you’re bound to come across the occasional fanboy now and then, who is spewing the same boring stuff about how the Xbox One is lame and the PS4 is a fail. It does happen the other way though, Sony and Microsoft fanboys are apparent on Miiverse.

10. Posts about Sonic

If, by permission of the internet, I am allowed, then I’d like to create a new rule or law. This rule states that any, ANY Miiverse post that contains anything related to Sonic is bad. Not because Sonic is bad, but because of the images below.

And that’s it! There’s a lot more criteria to what makes a Bad Miiverse Post, but really it comes down to what I find bad and hilarious. Sometimes others don’t get it but most of the time you do. So to those who follow me on Twitter, thank you, I never thought I’d get more than one thousand followers, let alone getting close to eight thousand followers! Also a special thanks to NintenDaan who originally made me create the account!

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Settled Dust: Rayman Legends


It’s hard to not get caught up in the excitement and hype of a new game coming out, especially one of a genre that has largely been abandoned by triple A publishers and adopted by indies, in some sort of weird Swap Shop episode. While apparently not selling very well, Rayman Legends has been well received and having seen it dropped significantly in price on Amazon UK (£20) I thought I’d do my part and see what the fuss is all about.

Now I must mention my only other experience with a 2D Rayman game was a downloadable demo of Rayman Origins on the 3DS eShop, which is the equivalent to having your first dentist appointment result in having a homeless man pull out your teeth so they can sell it for drugs, which is coincidentally what must have been taken to think that putting such a beautiful game on a barely 240p screen in 3D was a good idea. Fortunately I got to experience some of the previous game, Rayman Origins, in its sequel, as many of its levels have been retouched and put back into this game in order to extend playtime.

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I did however play the Rayman challenge app that was exclusively released for Wii U owners a few months back in order to compensate for the multiple month delay, which is a bit like giving a baby a box of Malteasers, letting them eat two, taking it back, putting the chocolate in your mouth and the spitting them back out like a penguin feeding its young. This did however result in the game being put on other platforms, though in fairness they did apparently expand a lot of the game’s content in this time.

After playing the first couple of hours of Legends, I felt like I didn’t need to play the rest of the game in order to complete it. What you do in the first few hours is what you do in the next 10 to 20 hours left of the game (half of which is taken up by the credits, which is what I’m currently watching, or rather listening too, as I write this). I breezed through the initial stages managing to get a gold trophy on each level and collecting all the Teensies in just one play of each level. Levels have “hidden” sections where you must complete a task in order to save one of the Royal Teensies (I assume Royal but I’m not sure how the monarchy works in, well, wherever the f*ck this game is set), but I say hidden as you would hide a toy from a dog underneath a blanket. You might miss it if your constantly moving but take a second to appreciate the scenery and it sticks out like a sore thumb with an angry Chinese man cursing at himself.

wiiu_screenshot_tv_01kooun

On the subject of scenery, Rayman Legends is simply wonderful. Beautiful. I’ve significantly increased my Miiverse posting just because I wanted to share how damn good this game looks. If there’s definitely something going right here, it’s the art direction. That along with smooth as butter animations makes the game a joy to play. To contrast, the Murphy sections, do not. If you’re not familiar with Murphy, you control him (at least on the Wii U version) using the GamePad’s touchscreen (replaced with the control sticks on other platforms). Now, if you’re like me and have freakishly big hands, once you apply your finger to the touchscreen, the rest of your hand blocks the view of upcoming enemies and obstacles on the GamePad. So, you can either look at the TV screen and sorta, kinda, maybe know where your finger will translate to on the screen or you can awkwardly place your hand and angle your wrist obtusely to continue using the GamePad. Not much fun in my opinion and this could have been easily avoided if the ability to use the control sticks were optional.

While hitting enemies and uncovering secrets, the computer AI will take control of the main character and navigate its way around the level, which is what I’d rather be doing. There’s not much fun to Murphy sections in the main game levels, but I will admit there have been some fun challenges used while controlling Murphy in the game’s daily updated challenge section, where players the globe over compete to earn trophies (which aren’t really needed and are there just for some strange reason). Another gameplay option is “Invaded” levels, where you have a time limit to save Teensies from being sent into space via firework (no really, that’s what happens). These provide a fun enough challenge where you will more than likely have to repeat the course again and again, but you’ll enjoy doing so, something say a Mario game could learn from.

wiiu_screenshot_tv_01tvomy

It’s a common occurrence to compare platformers to a Mario game, he’s been jumping for like 30 years, why wouldn’t you? But Rayman has some big advantages over Mario, for once, the archaic use of “lives” is gone from Rayman. Instead, when you die, you pop back up within seconds and you’re at it again, only to hit those damn spikes again. But you won’t feel frustrated as you would when falling down a pit in Mario again and again. Mario starts you back at the beginning of the level (or checkpoint) after a one second stop of telling you that you have died, then showing the three-second animation of death, the loading the course for a second of two, then finally letting you play again. I will tell you, had that same sequence been in Legends, I would have given up halfway through like a marathon runner giving up after half the mile because they’ve defecated themselves. Well done Ubisoft, well done for that. I’m a teenager who gets annoyed at the stupidest things and for once you’ve done something in your games that hasn’t pi**ed me off.

(I’ll quickly announce that the music has stopped for the credits and now it’s just words, Rayman is reflecting upon his adventure and deciding if it was really all worth it. He’s wearing a party outfit and an afro, if that isn’t a sign of a good game, then get me off this train.)

Having no friends, I can’t comment on the quality of the mulitplayer content of the game, but the lonely games of “Kung Foot” I’ve played, where Rayman and a friend attempt to score goals seemed like it would be a thing to do while getting drunk and deciding which Karaoke song we should butcher next (probably Bohemian Rhapsody). I am annoyed by the lack of no online multiplayer but I understand the reason why it probably wouldn’t work, just as most games barely function properly online this generation. Better to not attempt it and stick with your shiny turd rather than try and then have a fly land on your shiny turd, eh Ubisoft?

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Going back to a point I made earlier, I said that once you’ve played a few hours of the game, you’ve pretty much played all of it, and while this is true I’ve recently remembered there were a few stages that changed the setting a little. Rather than your standard, go from left to right shindig, a few levels had me traverse all around different areas and coming back, and a mansion like area where I had a choice to go left first or right first (but ultimately I would end up on the same path).  If there were a sequel, I’d like to see more variety in the way that levels are handled, I’m not requesting they completely change the game, but try to split the linear path so I feel like I have more choice, even though I really don’t. Basically, copy what most first person shooters have been doing for the past ten years.

I should also point out that I did look forward to the musical stages at the end of every world. These levels would have you progress to the beat of a song, be it a rock anthem or classical, and were enjoyable while they lasted, like seeing a dog chase its tail only to bite it and realise it’s its own body part. Fortunately however my dog didn’t convert himself into an 8-bit piece, which is what these stages did at the end of the game and while 8-bit versions of these sounds sound cool (and they do), the aesthetics accompanying them hurt my eyes so much I thought Ubisoft was trying to burn my eyes so much that I wouldn’t be able to see how bad the current generation versions of Watch_Dogs look like.

At the end of the day (or the early hours of the morning as it would seem), I did enjoy Rayman Legends and it was fun. Yes, fun. I had a good time playing it. I didn’t need to have twenty hours of back-story to appreciate where Rayman came from, I didn’t need the first four hours of the game to give me tutorials on how to jump and kick and smack myself in the bollocks because I’ve missed that fu*king jump for the twentieth time. Yes professional journalists, it’s possible to have fun and challenge in the same game.

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So while you could spend half a minute watching Mario contemplate suicide because he’s run into a turtle again you could utilise your time for something much better and complete five Rayman Legends stages in the same time frame. Yes, I’m saying that currently Rayman is much better than Nintendo own attempt at a Wii U platformer and uses the GamePad in more “innovative” ways, though I say innovative it’s just a buzzword that really means “here we did something that looks fun for five seconds but gets boring really quickly and I’d rather be making my own game rather than working on 20-year-old franchises”.

I haven’t completed Rayman Legends 100%, but I want to, and will likely do so within the week. It’s a game addicting in nature with enough unlockables to keep you playing but not so much that you’ll feel it’s a waste of time. There’s enough alternative costumes to keep you happy as your progress through the game and you won’t unlock all of the Origin levels until later in the game, so it’s worth the time investment.

So after a month or so after release and the dust has settled, I conclude that Rayman Legends is the tits and if you’re looking for a decent platformer that will take up a lot of your time to 100%, then this is for you.

Wii U And Ubisoft. U Still Mad?


It has been just over a month since Ubisoft’s decision to make Rayman Legends mulitplatform and massively delay the finished Wii U version. In that time we’ve seen protests, arguments and more promises. Michel Ancel has told Wii U owners that the online challenge mode will be released for the Wii U this April, as a way to compensate hurt fans.

“We’ll release the full online challenges mode of the game exclusively to the Wii U fans. Now this is a really exciting feature because it’s the first time Rayman has ever really been online. The online challenges mode in Rayman Legends will be accessible through the main hub. New challenges are generated weekly and daily each with its own leaderboard. The challenges take place in 5 different settings which features a unique set of gameplay styles.”

It’s better than nothing, which is something we could have certainly got. Deep down I think we all knew that the game was never going to stay to its release date after a few protests and tweets from video game players. Ubisoft have half compensated us and we should be thankful, regardless of the hugely inane decision previously made, you can stay mad at them, you have a right to do so and several reasons but on the whole, can Wii U owners be truly annoyed at Ubisoft?

Ubisoft's support has been charming to say the least.

Ubisoft’s support has been charming to say the least.

As of now, there are more Ubisoft games on the Wii U than any other developer, including Nintendo. Suddenly, the “U” in Wii U doesn’t seem to stand for anything but Ubisoft. For sure, there are games that aren’t great and could be considered “shovelware” right now, but something is better than nothing at this point in the Wii U’s product cycle. The system needs games and Ubisoft have delivered on their part. They’ve provided exclusive games such as Rabbids Land, Sports Connection, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013 and the highly praised ZombiU. They have enough games to appeal to every demographic, so it’s hard to complain that the developer and publisher isn’t providing something that you may like.

Ubisoft is the best supporter of the Wii U right now.

Sure, the platform has missed out on a few big titles from Ubisoft, including the highly anticipated Far Cry 3 but this can hardly be considered their fault when the game was most likely already in full development before they managed to get hands on a Wii U development kit. Looking on the bright side however, we got a very competent version of Assassin’s Creed III as well as receiving Just Dance 4 too. Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth was also put on the Wii U too.

Carry on complaining and we might not see many more titles from Ubisoft. They have plenty of good titles in the near future.

Carry on complaining and we might not see many more titles from Ubisoft. They have plenty of good titles in the near future.

But that’s not all, future support is also coming too as Ubisoft remains positive about the Wii U’s future. The next Assassin’s Creed game, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag is headed to Wii U, as well as the cross generation title Watch Dogs. If people carry on complaining about one bad judgement, well who knows how Ubisoft will react. Am I saying that nothing should be done to show the company how we feel about the decision? Not at all, but that time has passed and we’ve left a mark, Ubisoft knows what is in store for them if they are to pull a stunt like Rayman again.

I’d like to make clear that Ubisoft have also shown praise and support for the platform in various interviews and such, of course, they won’t exactly come out and say “Well the platform sucks” but from the direction taken in some games, GamePad usage, supportive comments and more, Ubisoft understand the Wii U much better than most and they can see its potential, unlike some.

friend.fw

These two are best friends right now.

I’d also just like to make clear once again, I am not saying that people can’t be mad at Ubisoft about the Rayman decision. It was, still is and always will be an incredibly poor decision from the eyes of thousands. Should we however, continue to moan and complain and blurt out being “entitled” to other games because Ubisoft made this decision? No, not at all. They are a business first; they’re here to make money. And in being a business, they make a lot of crappy decisions, in fact I could write thousands of words about them, but I’m remaining relevant to the Rayman situation at hand right now.

The job has been done, Ubisoft will learn from the mistake made. All the Ubisoft development teams make great games and in no way am I hear to say that any of them are poor, I’m not qualified to make that judgement.

EA and their relationship with Nintendo on the other hand…well that’s another story for another day.

LCU

Lego City: Undercover. Why You Should Have This In Your Wii U Library.


When I first saw the announcement for Lego City: Undercover (called “Lego City Stories” at the time) at Nintendo’s press conference at E3 2011, I sighed. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the previous Lego games, they’re great fun but after the release of Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game in May of 2011, the series had started to become stale. I can’t blame them, they had a formula and it worked, base Lego games upon high-profile franchises and sell millions of titles.

So when I heard about the new addition to the series, I should have been relieved but the Lego aesthetic had become boring and I disregarded the game completely. At the time, I was sure there would be plenty of Wii U titles I would care for before this, so the game dropped right off my radar.

The game as it was at E3 2011.

The game as it was at E3 2011.

Oh how foolish I was.

Almost two years later and it’s now a game I purchased my Wii U for. There’s several reasons for this, the similarities to the massively popular Grand Theft Auto (which sort of makes up for GTA V’s absence on the console), the fact that it has been built ground up for the Wii U and, for lack of a better word, it simply looks fun.

I’ll address one of the main points people commonly make about this game, which is that it’s “a Lego version of Grand Theft Auto”. It’s a fair comparison but not exactly correct, yes, both games are set as an open-world, sandbox adventure as well as using several items and interacting with the surrounding environment but really, the similarities stop there. For one, there’s no guns so you can’t begin a stake-out or car demolition whenever you want, the story appears to be very humour-based, quite different from GTA and, well, the whole story is a role-reversed version of GTA. Also can you drive a bicycle van in GTA? No, didn’t think so.

You'll be commandeering several vehicles in Lego City: Undercover,  one of which appears to be this bicycle truck/van?

You’ll be commandeering several vehicles in Lego City: Undercover, one of which appears to be this bicycle truck/van!?

Don’t fret however, just because this is Traveller’s Tales’ first major, open-world game doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re doing. Loz Doyle told ONM in an interview that they’ve really put in the work to make the city feel alive.

“We had to develop a full streaming system, a civilian population, a full traffic system and a physics-based driving system to name but a few. Then there’s the sheer volume of work involved in building the city, the levels and the many vehicle models.” Source

The size of the city you’ll be traversing too, is huge. Inspired by New York and a few other American states, you’ll see many parody versions of landmarks and famous places. While there are much bigger game worlds in video games, Lego City: Undercover‘s will “take around 10 minutes to drive a loop of the city”. Along with the general city, you can climb buildings and walk along rooftops, which Doyle explains:

“That doesn’t even include exploring all the side roads and other regions. Not only is there the ground level city to explore but you can also get up on most of the rooftops where there is a whole load of additional gameplay.” Source

Along with this new open-world approach is the brand new plot. Traveller’s Tales needed to create a fresh story after no longer being tied to an already existing franchise, safe to say, they’ve done a great job. [Spoiler Alert] The protagonist of the game is undercover detective Chase McCain, who returns to his beloved Lego City to find that crime is overflowing, due to escaped prisoner Rex Fury, who broke free from Albatross Prison. Your mission should you choose to accept it, is to work out how Fury escaped from prison, find him and erase all the crime from Lego City. [Spoiler Ends]

TT have done their best to create a city full of life.

TT have done their best to create a city full of life.

Just as one would expect from this type of game, you do not need to follow the story at all times and the player can break away from the main story at any time, however some locations will only be available to access after completing a certain part of the game. Disguises are how you progress and open up locations and the game contains 290 different choices for you to use. Doyle says:

“There is a huge variety of gameplay outside of the story, in fact there’s more than we had planned to include.” Source

A burglar disguise will help you open safes, your police uniform will allow you to arrest people, a fire-fighter disguise will allow you to put out fires and so on. These disguises will be unlocked as the game progresses and all offer different abilities. To accompany your disguises are a multitude of vehicles, over 100 in fact, which vary from tractors, to limousines, to bikes and even helicopters and much more. You can collect these vehicles and then call them in to you when you enter a call-in point within the game, saving you the trouble of having to locate and take these individual vehicles. Doyle explains:

“Once you’ve collected some vehicles you can go to a vehicle call-in point and call in any vehicle you have bought, in any colour” “Disguise Booths are dotted around the city as well, and you can go in these to change into one of the disguises that you’ve purchased.” Source

You'll be taking control of several methods of transportation.

You’ll be taking control of several methods of transportation.

They have the essentials covered for an open-world game, that’s for sure, but why else am I so excited to play this game? Purely for the fact that it has been built ground-up for the Wii U for over 2 years. Just like ZombiU, the developers had the GamePad in mind when creating the game, which means it has significant usage rather than a quick map job. Again, sharing a similarity with ZombiU, the actual in-game character posses a Wii U GamePad (well, not exactly, but the gadget is very similar to it.) This device is used constantly throughout the game to search for criminals, accept video calls from friends and displays a map of the city, making it much easier to navigate the environment. Doyle even goes as far as saying that the game would lose something on other platforms, due to the lack of a GamePad.

There's just something about this that feels, brilliant.

There’s just something about this that feels, brilliant.

Not only all this GamePad usage gets me excited, but because they’ve built the game around the Wii U, they’ve grown and adapted to the hardware, meaning this game looks stunning, even with the Lego aesthetic attached to it. It’s a lovely blend of Lego pieces and smooth textures that make the game look fantastic, as well as the general feel of the world which has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Luckily enough, there’s a trailer you can see here, which does exactly that.

My final point is that, put simply, the game looks fun. In an industry where doing something different is considered a big risk, Lego City: Undercover is a bright light within the Wii U’s library, bright enough to shine next to Nintendo’s own Nintendo Land or New Super Mario Bros. U. Watching older trailers of the game will show you the several parodies it has of other films, the voice acting and humour are great and just the gameplay itself looks fun, swinging down zip lines, jumping across rooftops and chasing down criminals as well as being transported down a familiar looking green pipes creates a real sense of ‘fun’ gameplay, like the developers said to themselves “How can we make this better?”.

This game brings out a side of me that hasn’t been seen for a while, the immature, child side. It makes me remember why I originally started playing games, to have fun, to enjoy what I play, to do things that are impossible in real life. Very rarely does a game do this and I thank Traveller’s Tales for making a game that, while reaches out to a diverse demographic, can make everyone feel the same age.

Lego City: Undercover releases on March 18th in North America and Europe on March 28th. Pre-orders of the game will come with a Chase McCain miniature figure, so get in quick if you want to take down crime in your own Lego city! (The figure will come with all first copies in Europe.)

"Chase McCain's the name, catching crime is my game."

“Chase McCain’s the name, catching crime is my game.”

Boxart for the limited edition version of the game.

Boxart for the limited edition version of the game.

Is Lego City: Undercover on your pick up list? If yes, why, if no, why not? Let me know! Everything I’ve seen of the game has been great, I hope TT and Nintendo can deliver on the execution of this game, I’ll be watching closely. Hopefully, this is the Wii U’s next stellar title and everything is pointing to that being the case.