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.

 

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

Mixed Reviews for No Mans Sky

Alberto Statti

No Mans Sky fans have no doubt been part of a major hype in the last couple of months, and there has been a lot of mixed feelings since the release day. No only did some people have buggy loading times, some couldnt even open the game at all. This article was created by Alberto Statti.

Bugs

There were a lot of bugs when the game came out, even after it was delayed for a good few months. This has caused a lot of negative reviews on steam, netting No Mans Sky a measly 1 star within the first 6 hours of release. There was a problem with certain processors that didnt have SSE 4.1 support. This included many older processors for AMD and Intel, this meant the game wouldnt even launch for them.

Next up, if you had the correct support on your processor, there was a good amount of people who got stuck on the initial loading screen where your camera just travels through the stars. This problem affected more people than the processor support problem.

If you managed to get past those two hurdles, there was a problem with the game randomly crashing which affected a bunch of people too.

As you can see, just three major bugs, all three of which were game breaking and required No Mans Sky developers to work through the night for fixes. And work through the night they did!

Patches

Once the bug reports started coming in thick and fast for the No Mans Sky team, they began their bug findindg and fixing mission which had their first patch out within a day or two of release. These updates fixed the above problem and a lot more.

They fixed an issue I personally had where alt-tabbing out of the game would stop the game working where it wouldnt be clickable in the taskbar again.

There was an issue where sometimes the framerate would drop for no reason, this was also fixed with the first patch for me and allowed the game to run smoothly again.

Patch 1.05 was centered around crashes again but more rare ones which not many people experienced such as crashing when doing a scan.

Patch 1.06 was focused on fixing the majority of the problems encountered in the support requests fixing the even less common crashes and save game problems. There was also a number of people getting stuck in the space stations.

Since they had fixed 99.99% of the causes of crashes, they then moved onto balancing and general bugs in patch 1.07. This patch fixed the likes of milestones not being tracked correctly, making it easier to scan certain creatures, reducing amount of times you get warnings in game etc.

Overall, the support they have given since release has been amazing in my opinion, they dont have the biggest team around to bug fix, but there was a lot of patches in a short period which helped the majority of people play. Personally I think I got super lucky as I literally had one crash during my 45 hours of play time and it wasnt even within the first week of playing.

Aesthetics

As I mentioned, I have sunk 45 hours of playtime into No Mans Sky, so I have seen quite a lot of the content the game has to offer. The content isnt completely unique on every planet as you may seen the same type of mushroom monsters and the same structures on different planets but overall I feel like I havent seen the same stuff all the time and everything is different enough to be considered unique. The game worlds themselves are always unique and some that contain life and greenery and water look pretty amazing as you can see below.

Alberto Statti - No Mans Sky
No Mans Sky Monolith
Alberto Statti - No Mans Sky
No Mans Sky Scenery

Mods

After you have had your fun playing the game and have a good grasp of everything, you can take the game one step further and install a bunch of mods, one of which is called Reshade, it allows you to make the game SO MUCH better looking by removing certain filters, and the slight blurr on everything (maybe the games built in AA).

There are also a bunch of other mods made for the game which enhance the gameplay greatly, they are all worth looking into especially the big things mod

Another great mod is the Project Potato which does exactly as you imagine, it makes the game so low quality that it can run on a potato. This is not only  great for those on really bad quality PCs and Laptops but it also adds a new way of playing as it resembles Nintendo 64 graphics to me.

Finally, I personally installed the Deep Space mod which allows you to jump 1000x further with your warp drive. I got it because with my 45 hours of gameplay, I had only travelled 10,000 light years towards the center and it was still 140,000 light years away. I dont mind the usual jump distances but at my current rate it would have taken me another 10 years to get there!

Final Notes

Now that I have finished everything I wanted to do in the game:

  • Max slot ship(48)
  • Max slot weapon(24)
  • Max exosuit slots(48)
  • Complete all milestones
  • Reach the Center
  • Learn a language enough to understand atleast one sentence from an alien
  • Compete in an epic space battle
  • Compete in an epic battle on a planet with 5 star sentinels

I believe that the amount of conent in the game is worth the costs I paid. Naturally there will be dissapointed people as there usuallly are, but if you didnt read into every interview, every picture of the game and join the hype train like everyone else and just enjoyed the game for what you got rather than what you didn’t then you would have had an amazing time just like myself. I’m looking forward to see what No Mans Sky has instore for the future as I may come back if they bring out some sort of questing system. Til then, have fun.

By Alberto Statti

 

 

My Gaming Journey

Since I was a little boy, I have played many many games. These games helped me gain a lot of friends at school because it was the time when everyone was playing console games. As time progressed and I moved around the country, my gaming evolved too from consoles to PCs.

As great as console gaming is for casual players, it doesnt compare to a PC. The controls are so much more intuitive/responsive especially in First Person Shooters. Back in 2010, console were the go to gaming platform but as time has progressed, more and more people are making the move to PC for several reasons:

  1. Monthly subscriptions are a turn off just to play your games online on console.
  2. Consoles cost considerably more than they used to.
  3. Console games just aren’t as polished as their PC counterparts.
  4. Some console games are graphically dumbed down to be playable on console.

My gaming has been long and eventful:

infographic of alberto statti
my gaming journey with Alberto Statti

Ill start pretty far forward in time as everyone played all the greatest SNES, NES games such as Golden Axe etc.

From 2005 is when I began my journey into World of Warcraft, I started as a shadow priest with next to no abilities due to it being WoW Vanilla. After raiding in a 40 man guild for a few years, I took a break and came back during Cataclysm but didn’t stay long as it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Moving along to 2008 when I quit WoW Vanilla, GTA 4 was released and I played that game for almost a year. GTA was and still is an amazing game that seems to be getting better and better with each release (not may games follow this rule).

I stopped playing GTA in 2009 when Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 was released. I believe this was the time that CoD got its fame as MW2 was an amazing game. Sadly it was only downhill from there and just became a game of money grabbing re0using the same content and reducing the amount of maps you get with the game.

2012 was the time I discovered Mass Effect. I have never had such fun in a game as I have in Mass Effect, the story was amazing, the side missions were amazing and I loved the combat. I really enjoyed #2 as well and spent an inordinate amount of time scanning planets for minerals to upgrade my ship.

2014 and onward has been a mishmash of games played but the most notable would be Battlefield 3 with its messy start but becoming a lot better with patches and then the same experience with Battlefield 4 with its awful gameplay in the beginning and getting better over time.

In the future I will be trying out the new World of Warcraft Legion and 100% playing the new Mass Effect.