Crash Bandicoot Retrospective

After the recent announcement of the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy(the remake of the original Crash trilogy)’s release date, 30th June, it’s becoming more and more clear that Crash well and truly is back. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about what exactly it was that led fans to be so remarkably hungry (?) for a new instalment.
Crash Bandicoot, as a character, first came about after original developers Naughty Dog set forth to create an original 3D action platforming game, and a mascot for Sony’s new yet to be proven home console, the Playstation.

The first Crash Bandicoot would released as a hit, which resulted in two more original (main series) Crash Bandicoot titles being developed by Naughty Dog, each releasing to more critical acclaim than the last.

Naughty Dog were riding high with their Playstation mascot, but they clearly wanted to move on to new and different series, especially with the ever approaching release of the Playstation 2. So, in 1999, Naughty Dog would finish their fourth and final Crash Bandicoot game, Crash Team racing (a game which had been in development since before the third Crash game). They were now done with the Crash Bandicoot IP, seemingly forever, going on to produce several other hit properties including Jak and Daxter, Uncharted and the Last of us. The fate of Crash Bandicoot, however, was up in the air. Would the property be allowed to fade off into history? Would Naughty Dog return to their original creation? Or would a new developer pick it up?

As it turns out, the latter was the case. Universal released one final Crash game, Crash Bash, exclusively to the Playstation in order to fulfil their publishing exclusivity deal, before they handed the series off to Mark Cerny and Vicarious Visions to develop 2 new Crash games. This marked the end of Crash’s original Playstation exclusive run, now moving onto multiple platforms for a series of hit and miss titles, such as Wrath of Cortex and Twinsanity.

2005 marked another complete change up in the Crash Bandicoot development (ironically) with another racing game, Crash Team Racing. Crash was now redesigned for his next title, Crash of the Titans; many fans found this radical change from the series roots jarring, but the game was ultimately a critical and commercial success, leading to the announcement of its direct sequel Mind over Mutant. This new series would not last long however, as in 2009 (true to form) a final kart racer was released Nitro Kart 2, before the series went on a hiatus. Seemingly, Crash Bandicoot was gone for good.

As you may know however, especially if you actually read the introduction of this article, rumours were abounding on the way to E3 2016, then, some time into Sony’s press conference fans heard the familiar music they’d been longing to hear again for 7 long years. Crash Bandicoot was coming back, appearing as a new playable character in Skylanders before once again appearing in his own game. A full, from the ground up, remake of the original Naughty Dog Crash trilogy; with new additions including full analog capability and a new save system. Fans of the series (myself included) are hotly anticipating this new installment, so let’s all hope it lives up to the series long and varied history.

 

Who should you trust to help you choose the right violin?

How about a former music teacher who, after spending many years helping students to master the ‘king of instruments’ that is the violin, now owns and runs an Online shop www.elidaviolins.co.uk where her passion for these beautiful stringed instruments is available to all in the form of expert advice on their planned purchase.

Elida Violins is a music lovers dream. From beaten up old violin cases to ‘new’ second hand bows to actually new Gliga violins and beyond – if you’re passionate about violins, you’ll find they share that passion at Elida Violins.

And it’s the personal touch that really makes Elida Violins stand out. You’ll get an honest appraisal of the second-hand instrument you’re thinking of buying, honest feedback on whether it’s the right purchase for you – in fact, as far as Elida Violins are concerned, honesty truly is the best policy and it keeps people coming back to them time and time again.

Whether it’s entire families returning to kit out the youngest member with their first violin or music teachers recommending their students: that honest personal approach is what makes people return to Elida Violins, and to then recommend them on to others in turn.

So who will you trust with your next violin purchase? Whether you need a case, bow, strings, an entire instrument or simple set-up advice: Elida Violins are here to guide you into a purchase that will help you create memories that last a lifetime.

Because it’s not just a musical instrument. It’s not just a fad, or a phase. It’s a way of life and a hugely important part of your life – why not share that with someone who shares and understands your passion, indeed, who has lived it herself for her lifetime in the world of violins. Contact Liz at Elida Violins, and share your passion with a kindred spirit.

Computers Components to Look Forward to in 2017

Alberto Statti

This year is just beginning, and there is a lot to look forward to in the tech world. 2016 left us with spectacular designs, but they are gone just as fast as they came. Late last year, AMD released some basic information about their new Ryzen processors. The enthusiasm was multiplied when they launched Ryzen motherboards and PCs at CES 2017. Here, you will find information on the new Ryzen products plus a few of their technical details.
Motherboards

 

On this front, we can expect new AM4 motherboards from AMD. These motherboards carry the X370 chipset; some even have the X300 chipset – both types purposed for high end computers and mini-ITX systems. This year, there will be A300 motherboards to cover the needs of you mainstream mITX computer, A320 motherboards for those budget rigs, and last but not least, B350 motherboards simply for mainstream computers. The mITX motherboards have an added advantage to them – there are no I/O lanes onboard to allow vendors to add their own specialized links. Any of these AM4 boards can accommodate the new Ryzen chipsets, and given the various features of these chips, you are guaranteed to see fully differentiated hardware in the tech world this year.
CPUs
Intel is set to launch the latest version of Kaby Lake Architecture, bringing them up to their 6th generation of Core CPUs. With a dual-core, a four thread unlocked multiplier processor with a 4.2GHz clockspeed, Kaby Lake is a promise of better performance and even better overclocking potential. AMD was not left behind as the tech giant is set to bring forth the Zen CPU. At about half the price, gamers can get the same experience Intel is offering from Ryzen. More to this, Ryzen CPUs are to be offered in 6-core, 12-thread versions, as well as in 8 thread. Quad-core versions.
GPUs

We are expecting AMD’s Vega GPU architecture to change the entire market with its 8GB performance and high bandwidth memory. A 16GB version is rumoured to also appear this year, and knowing AMD’s performance history, these new components can be expected to stay in the market long after technologies like DDR5 are fully functional. The Vega based cards are not all AMD is about, there are also Polaris GPUs set to be released by this company. Nvidia will also be releasing their GTX 1080 Ti.

PC Games to Look Forward to in 2017

2017 promises to be a great year for gaming, with PC releases from some of the major franchises hitting the shelves this spring. Here at Alberto Statti, we’re just itching to play them all, but here’s a selection of our most anticipated:

Tekken 7
Fans of the fighting games will be eagerly awaiting the release of Tekken 7 in early 2017. It’s been a long wait since its predecessor, Tekken 6, was released for the home console market back in 2009. The new instalment, subtitled “Fated Retribution”, features new game mechanics, gameplay changes and eight new characters. Favourites like Yoshimitsu, King and Nina return, and the story revolves around Heihachi, Kazuya and Jin, revealing mysteries like the Devil Gene.

Sniper Elite 4
Due for release on 14th February, Sniper Elite 4 promises improved AI, significantly larger maps and the introduction of climbing ability. The third-person stealth shooter is well known for its X-ray kill camera, which shows gruesome details of body parts being torn apart by the player’s bullet. This has now been extended to include other types of kill, such as melee and shrapnel. The story directly follows Sniper Elite 3 and is set in 1943, with protagonist, Karl Fairburne, assisting the Italian resistance.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Delayed from December 2016 to spring 2017, the second South Park game follows events in “The Stick of Truth”. As their alter ego superhero characters, the children of South Park cannot agree on a franchise plan so embark on a civil war with The Coon (Cartman) leading one side and Mysterion (Kenny) the other. Playing as the New Kid, the player must reunite the gang. Unlike the first game, players can choose to be a boy or a girl, leading to different dialogue.

Outlast 2
Horror aficionados will no doubt be keen for the release of Outlast 2 in early 2017, the survival horror sequel that uses a found footage approach to gameplay. This time round, the main character is a journalist investigating a murder in the Arizonan desert. Unfortunately, he encounters a village inhabited by a deranged cult. The plot is said to be based on the real-life Jonestown massacre of 1978.

Mass Effect: Andromeda
With a European release date of 23rd March confirmed, fans can at last get really excited about the fourth Mass Effect instalment. The sci-fi shooter is set in an open world for the first time with several planets to explore. Taking place six centuries after events of the initial trilogy, there is more of a feel of the original game in Andromeda.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands
The Tom Clancy series continues with the release of its fourteenth game and tenth main instalment, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, on 7th March. Taking a new approach that crosses GTA with Far Cry, Wildlands sets Ghost Recon players in an open world for the first time. The map is claimed by Ubisoft to be one of the most expansive they’ve published, and there’s a wide range of terrains. The return to a present-day environment coupled with the vast open world should exceed expectations.

Final Fantasy 15 – Worth it?

Final Fantasy XV

Are you a new or returning player to the Final Fantasy universe? Then worry not. We can help get you started on your brand new or continuing journey!

First things first, no matter which type of player you are, to get a bit of background it is worth watching the new Final Fantasy KingsGlaive film which helps to get you acquainted with some of the other characters in the game that are occasionally referenced.

Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to watch the movie or the anime episodes(free on YouTube), they are just there as a sort of prequel (GingsGlaive happens between the first couple of missions in the game.)

Right now, the game is available to buy for Xbox One and PS4 and there is a possibility for it to be released on PC.

The game offers a bunch of new features that weren’t available on the other games:

  1. You now own a car which can be damaged and run out of petrol, you can fix it at a garage where you can also trick it out with custom paint jobs etc.
  2. Each character has their own abilities. Noctis can fish, Prompto takes pictures throughout your game, Ignis does the cooking for some very good buffs and Gladiolus allows access to survival missions which help gain a lot of XP and items.
  3. You can now take cover to gan HP and MP back!
  4. Warp points allow instantly MP recovery
  5. First real-world open game play
  6. Only 1 load screen for the entire area but on Xbox One is is a big load time!
  7. Fast paced combat, not turn based.
  8. A sort of wait system where everything pauses so you can potion up and think of what to do next (only lasts for a limited time)

Pros of Final Fantasy XV

  • The combat system is either a love it or hate it, returning players that are used to turn based might hate it but players that enjoy fact action may love it
  • The characters themselves are very like-able especially when resting where you get to see the pictures taken by Prompto.
  • So far through my play through, the story seems to be pretty good, and from what other Final Fantasy’s are like, only get better.
  • Open world exploration is great and proves some very nice scenery which you can drive/run to.

Cons of Final Fantasy XV

  • Sometimes the combat system can be buggy where you block and just get knocked down for 3+ seconds getting hit over and over.
  • Magic seems to be very lackluster. You spend a lot of time gather magic power just to use it within 2 minutes in a combat.
  • Being unable to save while in certain places certainly make sit very annoying if you die.
  • The camera not only in combat but in general is terrible. It doesn’t follow your character sometimes and other times it will just fly past your character while in combat at super speed causing you to start attacking in the opposite direction

Conclusion

Overall, the game is definitely something new and definitely overall a great game to play. Most of the problems in the cons section are more than likely bugs which will be ironed out. If story and immersion is what you want, then this is the game for you. I would recommend that you watch the anime and the film if you want to get to know the characters a little better.

by Alberto Statti