JoaLoft

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  1. In my humble opinion, the biggest error lies in the fact that rarity does not equal value on PlayStation's trophy lists. You may get an ultra rare platinum trophy diamond you put yourself through the wringer for, and yet it's equally valuable as someone's 5-minute shovelware rock. Illogical, at the least. PlayStation should make it so that the rarer a platinum trophy is, the more points it's worth. Besides that, I understand you. I only go after the platinum trophies I want, and when I want to. I don't let leaderboards deter me from enjoying myself, because those became irrelevant a long time ago. You do you, man. As long as you're enjoying your games, because that's what they're for. From one veteran trophy hunter to another: respect to you for your impressive collection of trophies, don't forget to have fun, and keep on gaming!
  2. #301 - Pac-Man World Re-Pac Pac-Man World Re-Pac is a remake of a much older 3D Pac-Man game, and it stands the test of time! ... Mostly. The story is very simple: Pac-Man's friends and family have organized a birthday party for him, and the infamous ghosts crash the party to kidnap everyone. They snatch everyone up... Except their main target, Pac-Man, who arrives late at the birthday party, only to discover his friends and family need saving. He sets out to save them from a small army of ghosts and the mysterious Toc-Man: a big robotic fake Pac-Man. In six different areas ranging from a pirate ship to ancient ruins, space and a factory, you guide Pac-Man sidescrolling through 3D areas to survive obstacles and save everyone who was kidnapped. Each area consists of 3-4 levels including a boss at the end. Throughout each level you can also collect fruit to open gates to collect the letters of "Pac-Man" for a bonus level, to find hidden 3D Pac-Man mazes to complete or to increase your points as you eat iconic small pellets or big Power Pellets to eliminate the ghosts. More points equals to more extra lives, so searching everywhere to pick levels clean rewards you immensely. And the more you collect, the more lives you can score extra at the slot machine at the end of each level. The game is very forgiving in that regard if somehow you do end up screwing up: it hands out those extra lives like candy! When I beat the final boss, I had a total of 334 lives to spare. That is an insane amount of retries that I never even needed, because the boss fights are surprisingly easy too. They can be challenging if you mess about, for sure, but once you figure out how to take them out (and trust me, you do if you're paying attention), they are sitting ducks. One small detail that does deserve a small nod: saving all your family members and friends does reward you with a happy ending, so yes: there are two endings available. There's some natural incentive to try and complete everything. This all amounts to a game that you can be done with in less than ten hours. The simplicity of it all offered very little challenge. And yet, somehow, it was not a waste of time. I actually had a lot of fun being able to unwind and play a straightforward and charming platformer like Pac-Man World Re-Pac. It certainly manages to offer Pac-Man a proper 3D place, and introduce this entertaining platformer to a new group of gamers who missed out on a more modern entry. Do I recommend you go and pick this up straight away? No, it is way too easy and short for that. But you should definitely play it if the game crosses your path at a big discount or if it lands on Plus. Most frustrating trophy - Retro Gamer And then there was "Retro Gamer". This trophy is such a massive difficulty spike in comparison to the rest of the platinum trophy that it caught me completely off-guard. Once you finished absolutely everything the 3D remake has to offer, there's one final test waiting for you: beating level 9 on the original Pac-Man game. This means beating nine levels consecutively with three lives (four if you gain an extra life by gaining more than 10.000 points) in one go. Doesn't sound hard, you'd think. But it is: the four ghosts chasing you become more and more aggressive the further you get, and those Power Pellets to gobble them up wear off faster and faster. The one certainty you can hold onto, is that there are specific patterns hidden in the levels. The ghosts move in a very specific way in the first thirty to sixty seconds, give or take, giving you a set path where you can safely eat up about 50-75% of all the pellets without having to improvise constantly to dodge the ghosts. The four Power Pellets you'd save for last to keep the Ghosts away while you eat up the last pellets. The ferocity with which the ghosts will come after you at the end when you must improvise, is relentless. It requires luck, and fast reflexes, but mostly luck. And it took me many hours to reach level 9 and beat it without losing all of my lives. It boggles the mind, but I had more trouble beating this than I did achieving the platinum trophy of Outlast 2. That's right, as ridiculous as it sounds: beating Outlast 2 on Insane difficulty (i.e. on Permadeath Mode) without a spare battery was easier for me than busting my ass through original Pac-Man to reach and beat level 9. And all because your success is based on luck and randomness. I acknowledge that Pac-Man was instrumental to the world of video gaming, but if anything, this trophy has achieved one thing: I never want to play through OG Pac-Man again. EDIT: The new official Pac-Man theme is pretty damn catchy though!
  3. #300 - The Last of Us Part I This next game doesn't need any introduction. It's a pop culture phenomenon with a few critically acclaimed games out and an HBO show on the horizon. And I saved this one especially for my special 300-platinum-trophies mark: The Last of Us Part I. Everyone has played it by now, so you all know what the story revolves around. It features survivors Joel and Ellie crossing the USA in an apocalyptic scenario, in an effort to develop a vaccine to stop the Cordyceps infection. The story has them encountering different survivors and groups, each with their own motives, and the ordeal they're going through and the connection that Joel and Ellie build up along the way is the focal point of the experience. So, how does this remake for PlayStation 5 mix things up? It's a 1:1 remake first of all: there are no level design changes, and no new gameplay mechanics brought in from The Last of Us Part II. This is a huge missed opportunity, because new gameplay mechanics could've opened up a few new avenues of strategy. Going prone and being able to hide in the grass or under furniture for instance would have provided the same visceral combat that the sequel features. However, the original game was pretty much perfect to begin with, so presumably Naughty Dog didn't want to change their winning formula and leave things unaltered on this level. What has changed then in this definitive edition? The visuals: pretty much everything has been overhauled and looks superior to the first game, including impressive facial details in the new cutscenes. Areas are more detailed with new objects and more foliage, loading screens are basically non-existent in this game, so cutscenes transition immediately into gameplay. Execution animations are now present as well when the remaining enemy in an area yields and begs for his life. This was not present in the older version, I believe. And the weapon upgrade animations at workbenches look pretty cool too. Visually, it is the definitive version of The Last of Us. Multiplayer has been scrapped from this version, to invest all focus on the The Last of Us 2 multiplayer game coming out in the near future. On the other hand, the package does include Left Behind, the prequel expansion which focuses on Ellie and her best friend Riley. One thing I will commend them on, is the wide variety of accessibility options. Gamers who are blind or suffer from low vision, are deaf or hard of hearing, have a physical or mobility disability, suffer from motion sickness, are color blind, and so on: anyone and everyone can play this game, which is very impressive. The new technology of the PS5 assists in this matter even: the DualSense can rumble at specific intervals to indicate what is happening to players, and simple animations such as hand gestures indicate there's a conversation taking place between characters, cinematic descriptions during cutscenes explain to blind players what is happening on-screen, there are navigational assist options, traversal audio cues, loads of HUD options and other visual aids, combat accessibility options ... I am blown away by how far this pushes boundaries and opens up the game to a whole new group of players. The Last of Us Part I, still being an amazing game and a timeless classic, would get a firm recommendation from me. If it wasn't for one thing... The egregious price tag of $70/€80. To ask full price for a remake that does not include new gameplay mechanics, strips the multiplayer and is essentially the third release of the same game, is an embarrassing business approach. Even with all the accessibility options, which is great for players who suffer from a disability. Even then, it's a slap in the face of consumers in general; not even Rockstar Games had the gall to ask for such a high price when they re-released GTA V on new consoles this year. My advice? Get the game, but only once a price cut of at least 50% is installed. The game is still virtually exactly the same experience, so if you had your fill of The Last of Us 1, you don't need to own this. If you do want to relive the epic journey of Joel and Ellie with modern visuals, you have my blessing to pick this up and enjoy this masterpiece all over again. Just not at full price. Most frustrating trophy - ... NONE! All the difficulty levels of the original version are present here too, but no trophies require you to finish the game on higher difficulty levels. And since there is no multiplayer present either, all you need to do, is get all the collectibles and optional conversations, listen to all the puns, upgrade your stats and weapons and finish the game and the expansion. There are some very simple miscellaneous trophies present too, but this platinum trophy is a cakewalk compared to the original trophy list and as such, there are no frustrating trophies present in The Last of Us Part I.
  4. #299 - Dishonored: Death of the Outsider The late Empress has been avenged, the Royal Protector has been exonerated and the Brigmore Witches' malevolent claim to the throne has been thwarted. All that's left, is the Outsider: the morally ambiguous supernatural being that has been bestowing the paranormal abilities unto our protagonists: Corvo Attano, Emily Kaldwin and Daud, the master assassin who was tricked into assassinating the previous Empress. In Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, the last remaining loose narrative ends are tied to show what happens to the remaining characters from the base games. The story features Billie Lurk, former assassin and pupil of Daud, who reunites with him fifteen years later as they pursue the Outsider, the mysterious divine man/being who exists outside the realm of the living. With one goal in mind: achieving the impossible and killing a god. The ambiguous nature of the series means that in this spin-off, you'll have the chance to resolve matters in two ways. Daud, believing that the Outsider is the cause of so much misery in the world of Dishonored, believes he should die. The Outsider is the one after all who gave Daud powers, turning him into an assassin of unprecedented power and being the reason why the previous Empress lay in a pool of her own blood. But he's also the one who gave Corvo, Emily and now Billie the same powers to rectify everything, born from an insatiable curiosity to witness what remarkable people would do when the supernatural abilities are given to them. So, as you'd expect, there are two outcomes: kill the Outsider (which is already quite the undertaking, considering he can't be destroyed by conventional weaponry) or save him. This time, however, it doesn't matter how much you sneak around and kill enemies. The High Chaos/Low Chaos system of previous games has been scrapped for the spin-off and instead: the secret solution to saving him simply lies in the last chapter. And yes, there is a way to save the Outsider. This is where we enter slight spoiler territory, because you might ask yourself: why does an immortal being with supernatural abilities need saving? Good question. The Outsider appears as a human with blackened eyes because there is much more to him than meets, well, the eye. He's been around for thousands of years, but as to the how and when of his existence, I'd prefer to keep some sense of mystery alive. In any case, saving him does not ambiguously imply that you're granting him death - that's essentially killing him. Saving the Outsider actually means rendering him mortal again and giving him back the life he lost thousands of years ago. It's this mystery surrounding characters, how the Outsider came to be for instance, in the universe of Dishonored that makes it so interesting and successful. The keyword in the franchise and in this platinum post once more is - as you've undoubtedly noticed - ambiguity. Gameplay has been simplified as such that you don't need to upgrade powers or unlock them anymore: you're given access to everything early on and you can tackle situations however you see fit as a former assassin. Billie is given a few new cool powers, one of them is called "Semblance" and allows you to impersonate unconscious people to deal with situations without needing to sneak in or kill adversaries. You can slash your way through everyone and use powers however you want, and still nail the good ending, so you're given more leeway. Your arsenal still consists of a blade and a wrist-mounted crossbow to fire different types of ammo, you have access to grenades, the usual Dishonored gear. However, there are new optional contracts to pick up at the black markets which offer smaller objectives to finish, for extra coin to upgrade weapons and buy supplies. If I had to give any criticism, it would be directed towards the level design and the hastened conclusion at the end (the final cutscene lasts less than a minute). Two missions out of five take place in the same area, with the perspective shifting from daytime to nighttime, which does help to get familiar with the layout of the area for the next mission immediately, but offers very little in terms of surprise. That being said, there is a bank heist included which was fun to pull off by dumping a sedative in the ventilation system and then sneaking around to pilfer everything while everyone is knocked unconscious. All-in-all: Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is not the best Dishonored game, but still a very solid game that ends the Dishonored story on a satisfying note. It provides closure for the narrative arc of the Outsider, Daud and Billie Lurk after Empress Emily, Corvo and Delilah Copperspoon had their apotheosis in Dishonored 2. And it ends the story on a definitive note: with the Outsider now gone, there's nobody to determine who receives the power of the Void (the realm outside the one of the living), effectively eliminating a key feature of Dishonored: the supernatural abilities. Until the time comes when it is deemed right to return to the world of Dishonored with a new crisis to tackle, Arkane Studios has stated the series goes into indefinite hibernation and will remain there for now. Ironically, Dishonored has made such a big splash in the videogame world that it is well worth honoring, by playing all three games whenever you see the opportunity arise! Most frustrating trophy - ... NONE! Thanks to the loosened restrictions in the trophy list, there's no frustrating trophy in this game. No High Chaos or Low Chaos ending to work towards, saving right at the end when you need to make the last big decision is enough to get both endings in the time span of ten minutes. The only one that may provide some frustration, is the one where you need to replay the game in Original Game Plus, which replaces Billie's powers with Corvo's. You can easily just power through the levels on the easiest difficulty and kill everyone in sight to reach the finish in less than a day.
  5. This goes without saying, but if you haven't played The Last of Us yet: don't read this thread. Now that we're all enjoying this gorgeous remake on PS5, I was wondering which chapters people love most, regardless of which version you played? You can only pick one, so choose wisely. It's a tough choice, because the entire game is a blast, but for me, Pittsburgh is a long and diverse chapter with so many memorable parts. The initial ambush, the entire hotel (that basement bit!), meeting Henry and Sam, the escape to the bridge, ... It's a lengthy but tightly-paced chapter and there's plenty to explore.
  6. #298 - Dishonored 2 Fifteen years have passed since Dishonored 1's events. And a new threat emerges to challenge the existence of the empire. In Dishonored 2, Emily Kaldwin has taken up the throne as Empress Emily Kaldwin I following the failed coup in Dishonored 1, with her father and Royal Protector Corvo Attano at her side. On the day of the 15th anniversary of her mother's assassination, a mystery guest arrives among other distinguished guests in her throne room. To everyone's shock, it is Delilah Copperspoon, the leader of the Brigmore Witches (from the first game's expansions) who reveals she is the late Empress's sister, proclaiming herself to be the true heir and usurps the throne. Delilah reveals she has made herself immortal by effortlessly surviving a blade to the heart and petrifies Emily/Corvo (depending on who you didn't choose to play as). It is up to Emily/Corvo (your character of choice) to escape the city of Dunwall as an exile, catch the conspirators, save your petrified relative and retake the throne while eliminating Delilah before she uses her magic to literally reshape the empire to her will. The story's introduction raises the stakes immediately and elevates the narrative experience to a high level - failure is not an option. Setting up the stage in such a way also reveals that Dishonored 2 is the final part of Corvo Attano and Emily Kaldwin's story arcs. And it does so in solid Dishonored fashion. This time, you get the choice to play as either Emily or Corvo, each having their own set of powers. The climax isn't anything too bombastic, but there is a sense of closure once you watched the final cutscene. It has already been confirmed by Arkane Studios that Dishonored has officially been placed on hiatus following the spin-off game "Dishonored: Death of the Outsider". A game which I will be finishing and explaining later as well, but more on that in a future platinum post. One of the biggest strengths of Dishonored 2 is its gameplay. The Dishonored games provide a mix of Thief and BioShock mechanics, sprinkled with some Hitman sugar on top. Meaning that stealth is a big factor, paranormal powers give you an advantage, and main targets can be taken out in a few ways. Freedom is the name of the game. You have the freedom to traverse levels however you want: you go around discovering different routes throughout the environments, unlocking safes and collect antiquities and valuables. This money can be invested at a black market shop for upgrades or supplies, or you could opt to just rob the black market shop. Is there a breakable wooden door you'd like to open, but you don't want to go looking for the key? You can simply throw a grenade at the door and blow it open or use your sword if you obtained the necessary skill. The possibility exists, and it only adds to the flexible nature of the game. There's a new plague to deal with in this game, one that consists of so-called bloodflies. This also opens up more ways to play the game: infested apartments are closed off and more dangerous to explore, but they offer shortcuts to your goals, and you could even possess a bloodfly to quickly move past obstacles. You have the freedom to use whatever powers you want: you can teleport, possess lifeforms, slow down time, sense lifeforms through walls, summon a decoy, mesmerize enemies, change into a shadow-like form and a plethora of other abilities. Along the way you'll find Runes to unlock and upgrade new powers, and find Bone Charms which provide perks to enhance your abilities. If you collect enough whalebones, you can even craft your own Bone Charms to tailor your own playstyle. There is even a No Powers mode available if you want to play a pure stealth experience without special abilities. You have the freedom to undertake optional objectives and discover secret intel to complete your mission more easily. And you also have the freedom to eliminate the main antagonists however you see fit: you could straight-up kill everyone. Or you could eliminate them in a specific non-lethal way, and almost all of these are original and fun to undertake. It all fits in the same gameplay frame of the Dishonored games, because slitting throats ends up giving you a High Chaos rating and leads to the bad ending. Being stealthy and saving as many people as possible - including the main antagonists - awards you with a Low Chaos rating and leads to the good ending. The latter does feel the most rewarding: being meticulous and saving everyone gives you more fulfillment than going on a rampage. And that's a playthrough you must undertake for the platinum trophy: one trophy requires you to never be spotted by anyone, and another asks you to spare everyone. Challenging at times, but a lot of fun to pull off. As with Dishonored 1, both playstyles and the massive grey zone in between provide a lot of entertainment in their own ways: taking the stealthy route caters to the players who enjoy planning and sneaking around, dodging everyone and knocking the occasional enemy unconscious, and eliminating key figures in original ways. Focusing on the lethal approach feels as I stated in the past like a guilty pleasure: all your meticulous sneaking goes straight out the door and you can indulge in firing your crossbow and pistol at anything with two legs, spilling litres of blood, turning technology against adversaries and leaving a trail of corpses in your wake. Final remarks: the areas are generally speaking well-designed, but two manors you will visit throughout the story are amazing highlights: there's the Jindosh Mansion (dubbed the Clockwork Mansion) which is a mechanically enhanced manor consisting of shifting rooms and hallways. You actually see the rooms restructuring when you hit levers. It's a beautifully designed level which must have taken tons of work to create. The second is the Stilton Manor, an abandoned mansion in disarray. I prefer not to spoil what makes this part of the story so great, but let's just say "time is on your side". Make of that what you will. I did experience that there's a bit more trial & error included in this game when you try to go all-stealth early on. You need to be constantly aware of all hallways and enemies in the vicinity. You could get spotted very easily, even on Normal difficulty, and force you to reload a save file if you're going for the "never spotted" playthrough. So my advice? Save often! Dishonored 2 manages to wrap up the main story properly with top-notch gameplay and an interesting setting. Most of all: I applaud the decision to not stretch out the existing story arc. There are still interesting stories to tell in this universe, but for now Dishonored 1 + 2 offer an intriguing and cool story from start to finish, with all the main loose ends neatly wrapped up, and amazing versatile gameplay. Both games now earned a "recommended" badge from me as a whole! Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is the last Dishonored game remaining on my backlog. Very interested to discover what fate lies in store for the mysterious Outsider and the assassin who killed the Empress in Dishonored 1! Most frustrating trophy - Circle of Life Aside from the "No Powers" playthrough trophy, the trophies to finish a playthrough without being spotted or anyone ending up dead, Dishonored 2 does not have a particularly difficult trophy list. However, there is a trophy which serves no purpose other than to mess around with a specific power and pull off a tricky sequence of soul-hopping. The trophy's name is "Circle of Life" and as it implies, you need to cast Possession once, chaining between a human, a hound, a rat, a fish and a bloodfly. First of all, these five main lifeforms need to be in close proximity to each other, which is already very rare. Why, do you ask? Because Possession lasts only for a limited time, and you need to switch from one lifeform to another quick enough before the power wears off. Secondly: why on Earth would you ever swap this quick between all five lifeforms in an organic playthrough? Unless you're panicking and fleeing and quickly retreating by possessing all these creatures in quick succession, you would never get this trophy naturally. Chapter 5 provides the best location to achieve this trophy, but it felt very gimmicky to perform the actions needed. It didn't contribute to the experience in any unique way, and was arguably the only trophy that felt out of place in what is otherwise a diverse and entertaining trophy list.
  7. #297 - Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales Following up with my previous platinum trophy of Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered, I present to you another webslinger in action with Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Miles Morales, having acquired the same powers as Peter Parker in the main game (sorry about that mini-spoiler), takes over from the OG Spider-Man during the holidays as he heads to Europe on a freelance assignment with his girlfriend, MJ. Which means that de facto, Miles is now the only superhero protecting NYC from any threats. In the aftermath of the previous game's story, energy corporation Roxxon steps in to build new facilities to power the city through revolutionary technology. Soon after, Roxxon is under attack by a mysterious assailant called "The Tinkerer". Miles must face the new threat as Spider-Man while simultaneously juggling his personal life involving his mother, his best friend Ganke (who knows about his secret identity and helps design gadgets for him) and his old high school friend Phin. First of all, Spider-Man: Miles Morales feels more like an expansion than a full game. This is a trend which has been kicking in recently with Sony where they take products which are not worth the full price and launch them as full new releases. This already sets the tone for the rest of this platinum trophy post, but I do wish to elaborate on a few points before I tell you why this game felt a bit disappointing in general. The core gameplay hasn't changed. NYC is covered in a blanket of snow - definitely pretty to look at and swing through - and the Christmas decoration gives it a special atmosphere you usually wouldn't encounter in an open world game. Unless you roam through Red Dead Online during the holidays, which is also beautiful, admittedly. Aside from the bio-electrical attacks, everything remains the same. You clear out hideouts, find collectibles and unlock new suits. The combat is still great, thanks to its impeccable blueprint, and same goes for the stealth mechanics. But nothing felt fundamentally new, which adds to the feeling that this could have easily been a large expansion for the previous game. One major piece of criticism that deserves to be addressed, is the lack of some serious villains. The first game had a bunch of iconic Spider-Man villains. Aside from Rhino making a cameo appearance here and there, this game focuses on two main antagonists. The first one is the Tinkerer, who does bring more of a narrative punch in the second half of the game. The second antagonist is the CEO of Roxxon (swear to God, I even forgot his name), and he is such a generic tool bag that from the first glance you could immediately point and say: "yup, he's one of the villains in this game", and he only cements his reputation as an uninteresting character by how incredibly poorly he is written. Full of himself, no charisma, yelling at employees, covering up faulty equipment issues, willing to commit murder... He's honestly one of the worst forgettable villains in a big superhero story because of a lack of an interesting personality. Everything stands or falls with the story in this entry. How does Spider-Man: Miles Morales hold up? Well, it's a mixed bag. The first story missions were a chore. Embarrassingly, I admit I fell asleep (!) after four story missions. The month of August was a busy time for me, so that could have attributed to it, but the lame story missions only contributed to that feeling of numbness. I felt like I played on auto-pilot at times, and that's a bad sign. The story does however get more interesting and the climax is strong. It delivers. It's just a shame you have to eat your way through some really bland and dry cake before you get to the sweet and moist center. In conclusion? I do not recommend Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, unless you pick up the bundle with the Remastered version of the original game. The game is designed well, it's a polished product. As a standalone purchase, however, it does not bring enough innovation to the table. It certainly plays well, but lacks into hooking you early on. Furthermore, the story bogs often in the first half and one of two main villains looks like he was a drawing board reject who escaped from the cutting room floor and snuck his way into the full production stage like a self-entitled snob. I wish I didn't have to be this harsh on a game which has been crafted with a lot of polish and attention. But if you can't follow-up with a full purchase - and I feel the need to underline you pay full price for this spin-off - after Marvel's Spider-Man which was great on so many levels, and you deliver a game which is on par in terms of gameplay mechanics, but you present cookie-cutter side activities, underperform in the villains department (in a superhero game, no less) and develop a lackluster first half of the story, you essentially have given us an inferior product. Spider-Man deserves better than just half of a really good game. It deserves an amazing game from start to finish, no matter its status as a mainline entry or a spin-off. This was not it, unfortunately. Most frustrating trophy - ... NONE! The only "annoying" trophy is the New Game Plus one, where it forces you to play through the entire game again after having finished everything else. But considering everything carries over and you can even play on the easiest setting, or just focus on the story missions and rush to the finish, this game didn't have any real frustrating trophies.
  8. I didn't bother when I saw they were closing down the servers soon. Had Killzone Shadowfall in my library for four or five years now, but didn't start it up because so many other games kept coming out. I may actually start it up later just to play the campaign, if it's worth experiencing.
  9. #296 - Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered Most of this platinum trophy was an autopop from my PS4 save, but I did play through the story again. So I'll keep this one a bit shorter. Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered tells the story of Peter Parker/Spider-Man, juggling both his professional and private woes with supervillains and his rocky relationship with Mary Jane Watson. You'll see plenty of familiar bad guys pop up such as Rhino, Kingpin and Doctor Octopus. It didn't include some of them like Venom and Goblin, but those are making their entrance in the highly-anticipated Marvel's Spider-Man 2. The story itself, how it manages to involve so many villains in one story, does a great job of building up to a climax and letting multiple villains have their moment in the spotlight. While the story unfolds, you can explore New York City in pure Spider-Man fashion, swinging elegantly between skyscrapers and across rooftops. The traversal system - including the gracious-looking animations - is fantastic. It's important they nail the feeling of being Spider-Man and exploring the city so smoothly was a high-priority requirement. The combat system will remind you of the Batman Arkham Trilogy's. Batman: Arkham Asylum was of very significant importance to superhero games, the entire trilogy is incredible. It makes complete sense that Spider-Man would draw lots of inspiration from these games; its blueprint is adaptable to lots of other famous superheroes. As you explore the city, there are plenty of different crimes to prevent or collectibles to find. Completing these side activities will help unlock new costumes - and there are a lot - and help you level up to invest skill points into skill trees to unlock more abilities. Sometimes, it does feel a bit by the numbers. It's a bit too formulaic, and that's a problem they'll need to address for the sequel. It felt less organic than I would have liked it to be. There's also a clear pattern in the gameplay: swing through the city, get involved in a fight with multiple enemies, do a stealth section. Swing through the city, get involved in a fight with multiple enemies, do a stealth section. Rinse, repeat. It's all entertaining, it just needed to feel less predictable. Three things do bother me about this game, two of which were already present in the original version. First of all: there is no day-and-night cycle. The time of day or night is determined by how far you've progressed into the game. This is supposedly done on purpose to set the stage appropriately for certain highlights in the story. This is solved easily by setting story missions to certain moments during the day and giving you the ability to fast-forward time. It would have looked amazing to see the sun rise and set dynamically as you swing through New York City. Fingers crossed this is implemented in the sequel. Second, and this is a minor gripe: J. Jonah Jameson's podcasts. He's a well-known critic of Spider-Man in the lore and will do anything he can to portray the hero as a villain or a reckless vigilante. These podcasts start playing at random while you're swinging, and after a while, his toxic attitude becomes very obnoxious to listen to, constantly criticizing the player's (and character's) actions. However, Insomniac Games was very much aware of this issue before the game's release, so there is an option to turn off the podcasts in the menu. Just goes to show just how annoying and obsessed he can act, to the detriment of players' enjoyment. Third: the new face model of Peter Parker. It's been widely discussed, but now after playing it for myself, I agree that the Tom Hollandization of Peter Parker's face is unnecessary and is even a few steps back from the original model. The older model exuded more maturity, he felt more capable. Insomniac Games has always denied that the decision was made because of the live-action casting. They said that the new facial actor fits the voice casting better, but that is - pardon my French - a bullshit excuse to avoid addressing the elephant in the room. It is very coincidental that the first model bears a resemblance to Andrew Garfield (when the original version was in development). And that the current remastered model just happens to look almost exactly like Tom Holland. More likely is that Sony pressed Insomniac Games to redesign in-game Peter to look like Tom Holland, to draw more movie audiences to this game and the upcoming sequel. This was a very poor design decision, a slap in the face to fans and the original facial actor, and has received justified backlash (minus the death threats, those were uncalled for). They won't dial this back unfortunately, so now we're stuck with a less-charismatic Peter Parker face model. And that negatively impacts the experience, no matter how you approach it. That does not mean the game is bad. There are small problems that keep Spider-Man from being incredible, but it is still a great superhero game with solid mechanics. Marvel's Spider-Man (Remastered) comes with a certified recommendation, but I'm also throwing in a suggestion to play the Batman Arkham games if you haven't already. Most frustrating trophy - ... NONE! It's a by-the-numbers platinum trophy, so aside from a variety of goals to achieve, nothing is missable or difficult.
  10. #295 - Elden Ring The lands lie in ruin. The Elden Ring has been shattered. There is no order left. The Lands Between were once ruled by Queen Marika, an immortal being, who reigned over the lands and acted as keeper of the Elden Ring - a physical manifestation of the concept of order. And in the middle of the kingdom stands the Erdtree, an enormous luminous tree representing her Golden Order, blessing the population with grace through its golden aura. Queen Marika's reign was challenged, however, and in the midst of a dangerous uprising, Queen Marika shattered the Elden Ring, shortly disappearing after. Her offspring, demigods, claimed a Shard each after her disappearance and waged war with each other, corrupted by the Shards. The wars yielded no significant result, no demigod was deemed a worthy successor to Queen Marika. All that remains, are lawless, ravaged landscapes filled with armies, foes, animals, monsters and demigods, each controlling one region of The Lands Between. The prophecy speak of a Tarnished, exiled from The Lands Between long ago, who would make his/her way back after the Shattering to become a champion, restoring the Elden Ring and becoming the new Elden Lord. The story of Elden Ring is a very fascinating and epic one. But what I miss the most in a Soulsborne game, is how obscurely some narrative details are hidden. If the story was brought forward a bit more, these games would be among my most favorite games of all time. The finer details of the lore, you'll have to look up yourself once you finished the game. That is most likely the only con I mention, because everything else belongs to FromSoftware's finest work to date. For those of you who are not familiar with a FromSoftware blueprint, this is how it works. You are a customizable warrior who travels through a world in each game, fighting challenging bosses and leveling up. You are usually on a quest for power, taking a throne to yourself - although Elden RIng does also offer different endings based on your actions. As you traverse the world, you collect XP (referred to as Runes in Elden Ring) and you cash those in to level up in different areas at checkpoints which also function as fast-travel points (traditionally these are Bonfires, but here they're Sites of Grace). You die carrying your Runes? You'll only have one chance to retrieve them where you last perished. You die again before you can claim them? They're lost forever. Besides that, you are free to level up as much as you can and wield whatever you want, based on your stats and what your build consists of. This is FromSoftware's first real open world design, and is it a looker! The very first moment you emerge from the tutorial cave and lay eyes on Limgrave, the first region, and the immense Erdtree in the distance, you won't know where to visually feast on first, and this applies to many other massive regions of the game. You'll gaze in awe, wondering where to go first. You'll also gain access to a spectral steed very early on, called "Torrent" whom you can summon in most places and will help you traverse The Lands Between, with a satisfying double jump to help reach some of the more trickier areas. There is a very specific mindset required to get into when you play a Soulsborne game. Elden Ring is no different. The game does not hold your hand at any time; instead, it gives you complete freedom to explore wherever you want. Exploring and discovering everything will easily take you over 100 hours if you wish to squeeze every last bit of fresh gameplay out of The Lands Between. What is most daunting, yet also incredibly refreshing, is that unbound feeling when you first enter Limgrave. New players will feel paralyzed: "Where do I go now? I don't know, isn't there some marker?" There is in some way: some Sites of Grace emit a golden glow floating into a direction as a hint. But that's all you're getting. And sometimes it leads to bosses you're absolutely not ready for. In that case, it's best to venture off and find new areas, grow stronger, beat minibosses, invest those precious Runes, and come back to challenge the main boss once more. And if you love a good boss fight, you will be smitten when you play through Elden Ring. All main story bosses, non-mandatory story bosses, optional bosses (dragons, Evergaol bosses, dungeon bosses, overworld bosses) add up to a staggering total of 104 bosses to defeat. You are getting your money's worth. Needless to say, taking that first step into a general direction and just exploring is very rewarding and will always deliver some interesting reward. Whether it's a new weapon, a spell or incantation, Spirit Ashes, a cookbook to learn new crafting recipes (yes, there is an abudance of crafting in this game!) an NPC with a sidequest, a boss, a secret area: it adds up to building the world of Elden Ring and feeding you some intel, making you stronger. As is custom in these games, you do not need to go at it alone. You can summon either Spirit Ashes (which are a unique AI companion) or you can summon friendly players and AI players to help out wherever the option presents itself. People still leave messages behind, giving you some advice. This entire layer of metagaming adds to the experience: you're sharing information and cooperating to help beat bosses or enter new areas. Even the pools of blood - which are essentially recorded echoes of real player deaths - are hilarious at times. I still chuckle when I witness some random player who stands on an edge, hesitates for two seconds, tries to make a clearly impossible jump to another ledge and then tumble into the depths below. Each time, I still laugh and say out loud: "How on Earth did you think you could ever make that jump?" But you'll never feel alone in the Herculean task of restoring the Elden Ring: seeing white shades run around are live echoes of players in the same area exploring or fighting, and those red blood pools indicate you're all in this together, sometimes crawling to reach the finish line. There is a learning curve in Elden Ring. A steep one in the first ten hours. You'll feel disillusioned and maybe even demotivated when you hit that massive first real "Boss-You-Can't-Mess-With" wall. But once you keep leveling and return stronger, beat that first serious boss by the skin of your teeth and pass that first big hurdle: your confidence grows. I can do this. I can make it. That second big hurdle is still another big one to take, but you'll ease into things and manage a bit better. That graph of difficulty and time will start to flatten much more and you'll reap the fruits of your labor. Enemies will fall more easily, you'll learn to cash in those Runes strategically, find better builds and experiment with new weapons and spells. Blooming into a legendary warrior. All while you're moving closer to the Erdtree to confront the divine rule that has been slumbering for so long. It builds up to an experience that does really stick with me. The final act of the game - there's a point of no return where something cataclysmic occurs - is the cherry on top. The final boss battles were certainly challenging, but satisfying to complete. Accompanied by beautiful music and impressive visuals, as is the norm throughout the entire game. If there's one award only they can win this year, it's "Best Art Direction". The team behind the visual style of Elden Ring has gone beyond to deliver. It is one of the most stunning open world games you can play to date, in a dynamic day-and-night setting. As mentioned, there are also multiple endings, so those warrant extra playthroughs - if you're not backing up your save in the cloud and using it again. Once you finished your epic journey in The Lands Between, you can do it all over again in New Game Plus retaining pretty much everything except for key items. Obviously. And once you beat that, you can gear up for New Game Plus Plus. It goes on, you get the picture. That is all even extra, in the end. After beating it, I felt a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. I found what I was looking for in a game. Elden Ring has finally transcended its own genre and turned into something truly special. Elden Ring is nothing less of an exceptionally well-designed and excellent game. Ten years from now, it will still be discussed as a milestone in video game history. A "Game of the Year" award is in the cards. The only one to challenge that claim, will most likely be God of War: Ragnarök. But it will be difficult for Santa Monica Studios to grab that crown. Kratos may have finally met his match. Most frustrating trophy - Shardbearer Malenia "I am Malenia, Blade of Miquella." Those words are ingrained into my memory after the insane boss fight that was Malenia. As one of the many children of Queen Marika, she's a demigod who carries one of the Shards of the Elden Ring. Being entirely optional, you do not need to face her if you are just after completing the game. But if you want the platinum trophy, you'd better prepare yourself for what is one of the most brutal battles in any FromSoftware production. From the very beginning, she does not let up. Wielding a long katana and being extremely agile and fast, she absorbs your HP with every hit she inflicts. Her damage output is insane, even when you leveled up very high. It's enough to decimate even the most skilled player. Being affected by a disease called "Scarlet Rot", her attacks can also inflict it upon you which eats away at your HP bar as a sort of poison. Blocking only helps in a few situations, and then she'll still steal your HP. It's all about either dodging constantly or going all-in and wailing on her to stagger her as much as possible. And she has two phases, which trigger back-to-back each with their own health bar. She is no joke, and I must admit it took me ten-twenty attempts before I looked up any advice on how to deal with her in the second phase. If it were not for the "Rivers of Blood" katana and my Mimic Tear Ashes (which essentially summons a somewhat nerfed AI copy of your own build), she would have remained nigh-invincible and been pure hell for my melee build. There is no shame in consulting a guide: even the most hardened Soulsborne players have stated she is laughably overpowered and broken. On the other end, you have self-proclaimed alpha elitist FromSoftware players - and we all know those are a handful - who say you're a disgrace if you dare use any Spirit Ashes "because it demonstrates how much of a noob and how bad you are". The Ashes are a legitimate gameplay mechanic, so I say: use everything at your disposal and keep at it with the Rivers of Blood katana and your Mimic. Keep trying until you tear her to shreds. She is so difficult in fact, that veteran players complained about her difficulty level to FromSoftware directly. Even crazier, her pre-launch build was even tougher to deal with: she originally would have had an extra health bar, vampiric abilities, increasing aggressive attacks and more. She would have only been beatable by a handful of gaming legends and left teary-eyed masses in her wake. Beating several of the bosses in Elden Ring made me cheer, but defeating Malenia took a huge weight off of my gaming shoulders I have not experienced in a long time. Goodbye, Malenia, Blade of Miquella. In memory of all the Tarnished you vanquished: may the Scarlet Rot forever taint your very bones until the end of Time itself.
  11. #294 - Alan Wake Remastered If you felt intrigued by Control, you'll definitely want to play Alan Wake Remastered. You take on the role of famous and accomplished writer, Alan Wake, in this action-horror game. However, Alan has been suffering from a writer's block .He and his wife Alice take a vacation trip to the mountain town of Bright Falls, hoping to take his mind off of the condition. As night falls in their cabin, Alan hears a chilling shriek come from Alice, and she disappears into the nearby lake. Alan jumps after her and suddenly wakes up a week later at night behind the steering wheel of a crashed car. Nightmarish enemies start stalking him in the dark mountain woods and around town, the fog is abnormally thick and a dark presence is spreading. On top of that, Alan comes across pages of a manuscript he supposedly wrote but doesn't remember writing, which describe the events happening before his eyes, Plenty of mystery surrounding Bright Falls and Alan Wake's situation, as he searches for his wife and uncovers what's behind the paranormal events. The entire setup of the game consists of episodes, like a TV series: complete with cliffhangers at the end of episodes and "Previously On Alan Wake" summaries at the start of each new episode. They essentially function as big chapters, but are designed like episodes to put a big emphasis on story investment. And it works beautifully. You'll want to keep playing after every episode to find out how the story continues to unravel. There's several reasons why Alan Wake achieved cult status and maintains it in the hardcore gaming community after 10+ years. This is one of them. As it's an action-horror game, you'll be fighting possessed humans, flocks of paranormal ravens and poltergeist objects flinging at you. The crux of everything is the balance between light and darkness, and that's how the gameplay works too. In one hand, Alan wields firearms such a revolver, a shotgun, a flare gun and a hunting rifle, equipped with flares and flashbangs, all to weaken enemies possessed by the darkness before he can shoot them. In the other, he is almost always equipped with a flashlight to help stop enemies in his path. That means you'll be scavenging supplies often, such as batteries, flares/flashbangs and ammunition wherever you can find them. It's a simple gameplay concept, but it's very solid, flexible and holds up very well in 2022. There's also a tactical element to it: when Alan pops a flare, all the enemies near him retreat and walk back, meaning you can force them into hazards and beat them in other non-conventional ways, by pushing them back over edges or into live electric wires. There's a certain dynamic that offers more than one set path of how to deal with enemies. Same goes for healing: there are no health kits in this game. Instead, Alan can heal when he stands in the light of a functioning electric lamp. And these spots also work as checkpoints: if you are low on health, you'll desperately try to reach that lamp in the distance to reach a checkpoint and heal at the same time. Why desperately? Because Alan Wake can get exhausted after sprinting for too long, and that makes you very vulnerable to groups of enemies catching up to you. And as mentioned: enemies can not survive in light, so if you enter the light, they mysteriously dissolve into the darkness. If they are bold enough to chase you and enter the light too, they instantly die. Lamps have multiple functions as such: they heal Alan, keep enemies away, are checkpoints, and help guide you in the right direction of each episode. What I love the most: there's a sense of risk and gamble in lots of situations in Alan Wake. Do I try to fight off the enemies surrounding me? Or do I book it to the next light? Or a combination of both? Defeating enemies gives me a better chance of survival, but will leave me with less supplies. Running will help save lots of supplies, but I might die from several blows in the back before I make it to the light. That freedom adds immensely to the experience and fun factor by taking away constraints yet not making the game a pushover, essentially. (Although, and I'm obligated to mention this: you'll find plenty of supplies in the game, even on the highest difficulty setting. So running away always is not worth the effort and the cost of respawning at the previous checkpoint, you're better off fighting enemies in around 50% of all encounters, give or take. But having the option during some of the more menacing battles is very welcome, indeed. Just remember the risk you're taking.) In certain parts, you'll also gain control of a car to drive to certain destinations. You can tell this is one of the gameplay mechanics that feels a little off, due to the clunky controls and slippery nature of some cars. They drive just fine, but they give away the fact that this game is over ten years old. It's never bothersome though, just worth pointing out. Headlamps of cars also help weaken enemies so you can run them over to dispatch them quickly. The controls on foot also suffer a small bit from clunkiness, but putting that into perspective, it's not something you'll trip over when you're playing. The remaster itself, from a graphical point of view, is a smart move: Alan Wake 2 has finally (!) been announced last year, continuing the exciting story that developer Remedy Entertainment has put together so long ago, and because of the improved lighting effects, the dynamic between light and dark looks beautiful at certain parts in the game. The graphics finally do the story setup justice with the modern visual effects. It's also a great way to introduce new gamers to a game which was exclusive for the longest time for Xbox and WIndows, before Alan Wake 2 drops next year. And this remaster comes with the two "Special Features" included AKA DLC chapters which take place after the finale of the base game. That's a full package right there. If you love an intriguing story, simple but unique gameplay mechanics and the concept of an action-horror TV show translated into a full-fledged game: Alan Wake is a game you can not miss out on. It hits all the right notes, and should be experienced before or after you played Control, which also got a stamp of approval from me. Both games are connected and demonstrate that something much more sinister is going on than just the local phenomenon at Bright Falls. Excited to see where this universe takes us next in Alan Wake 2 and Control 2! Recommended! Most frustrating trophy - ... NONE! Although there are trophies for higher difficulties and the obligatory collectibles, there was no frustrating trophy here to speak of. The nature of the game allows you to simply skip a bunch of fights or encounters if you can make it alive to the next electric lamp for a checkpoint. Not an exploit - just part of the game design. You can tackle several fights this way without the game taking away some of the challenge on Nightmare difficulty (which is not as hard as it sounds, truth be told). I'm an advocate for useful collectibles, so I do want to add in that sense that finding the 100+ manuscript pages was interesting to read everything written down. Same goes for radio shows and TV shows you can find and listen to or watch. These are all great. The other collectibles, however, in particular the coffee thermoses? Useless and a waste of time. And Alan Wake Remastered has its fair share of collectibles. Hope they ditch those uninteresting ones and give us more valuable collectibles which deepen the lore.
  12. Unbelievable. I got the trophy without trying on the PS5 version. I thought "oh shit I can get the PS4 platinum finally then." Went to my PS4 version, got 7 wins in a row so far. No "Infallible" trophy popped, thinking the support for this PS4 list was discontinued. I seriously hope they can make these pop retroactively.
  13. #293 - Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart pits two fan-favorite platforming heroes Ratchet and Clank against Dr. Nefarious one more time. Except: this time it seems Insomniac Games took a page from the Marvel book and jumps on the multiverse bandwagon. Dr. Nefarious obtains an instrument called "The Dimensionator" and blows a hole between dimensions, traveling to a parallel world where he can finally be the ruler of everything... Considering how many times he's been thwarted by the duo in past iterations and is sick of trying to beat them in his own dimension. To his own surprise, he ends up in a dimension where he became Emperor and rules everything. Ratchet and Clank get sucked into the same dimension and have to team up with their counterparts Rivet and Kit in the new world to stop both Dr. Nefarious and Emperor Nefarious. The strength of Ratchet & Clank has always been a mix of Pixar-esque visuals mixed with platforming and outrageous weapon designs. And you get plenty of that here: the game looks beautiful, there are multiple planets to discover (although the explorable areas are very small - and that's a good thing!), some platform sequences deliver great moments such as the rail sections, and the crazy weapon designs can level up and be upgraded for extra firepower with the thousands of bolts you'll collect as you smash crates left and right. A big selling point for the franchise is the lightheartedness. And there certainly is humor present here, The weapon demonstrations by Zurkon Jr. especially put a smile on your face and more. Besides that, something was missing here. There were very little moments for Dr. Nefarious to shine, as he did in A Crack In Time. He practically stole the show in that game, and there was so much more humor in that story. That's one of the reasons why Rift Apart is not as great as the highlight that A Crack In Time was. Another element holding the game back, are the boss fights. The ones featuring Dr. and Emperor Nefarious are great, no question. But most boss fights are big robots from Emperor Nefarious's army. Was there really that little inspiration to design some cool bosses? And not just that: the robot bosses are just glorified elite enemies. Just blast them with everything you got until their health dwindles down to zero and you win. No strategies or weak points. Just shoot until they're down. Disappointing, to be honest. That's not to say the game is bad. Far from it: I had fun with it! And it doesn't outstay its welcome, you can finish the game in 10-15 hours. Technically impressive too: no loading times, and jumping between dimensions or worlds is instantaneous, which shows off the PS5's technical capabilities well. Conclusion? Rift Apart is a solid Ratchet & Clank entry, but it does not knock A Crack in Time off its throne. The enjoyment factor increases if you've played previous Ratchet & Clank games for a better understanding of this game's events. Most frustrating trophy - ... NONE! The platinum trophy of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a breeze to acquire. You don't even have to find all the collectibles, which are very scarce to begin with. That's it. I'm used to elaborating much more, but there's not much else to add. Just a nice, easy trophy list.
  14. #292 - Red Dead Redemption 2 Strap yourselves in, because this is going to be a big one. Red Dead Redemption 2 tells the story of the Van Der Linde gang, and tells everything from the perspective of Arthur Morgan, a member of the gang consisting of outcasts and outlaws. The year is 1899 and the turn of the century brings with it order and justice. The gang is on the run after a botched robbery in the west and flees to the east. The law pursues them, as the crew flees further throughout the country and witnesses how modern civilization starts to snuff out the last embers of the Wild West, and their own way of life. The story of Arthur Morgan and the entire Van Der Linde gang is a long but epic one, one that you'll get to savor for very long, depending on how much time you take. Over one hundred story missions tell their tale and what fate has in store for each of them. To say more, would be disrespectful to the developers and everyone who hasn't played it yet. It is up there among some of the best writing in fiction, let alone in gaming. Truly expert storytelling of the very highest level. Same goes for the cast: there is not one character that feels out of place or hasn't been brought to life professionally. Roger Clarke as Arthur Morgan deserves extra praise: he is without a doubt one of the most legendary videogame protagonists to have ever appeared on your screen. Red Dead Redemption 2's world is one of the most believable and intriguing ones you'll ever enter, thanks to the many layers on top of each other. There's a beautiful clash of the old and the new. You'll come across small cattle towns, where people still ride with a horse and a cart, the roads bathing in the light of the first electric lamp posts. The railroad tracks piercing through an unspoilt rural landscape. All in stark contrast to the highly advanced south-eastern city of Saint Denis, where more civilized folk from all corners of the globe live their lives, and the first trams transport them throughout its bustling streets. That is just the start. The many gameplay mechanics turn this game into an unrivaled masterpiece. I'll try to keep this as brief as possible. The many biomes and weather. The world is split up into different regions, ranging from murky swamps and lush forests to green open pastures, beautiful valleys, snowy mountains and scorching deserts. Each having plenty of unique fauna and flora, offering opportunities for special supplies. The weather feels incredibly real at times. The pouring rain. The thunder striking not too far away from you, sparks flying up. Thick clouds blocking the moonlight. Peaceful savannahs bathing in blue skies and sunlight. The sublime way fog and lighting play into each other. Clothes get dirty if you fall down in the mud, they get frosty because of snowfall. Dust sticks to your jacket in dry hot areas. And everyone will have appropriate animations for every situation, including for types of weather. People (including Arthur) will shiver as rain falls or if they head into colder areas, for example. Horse testicles will shrink in the cold. (I did not make that last one up, that was an actual news item in the video game media.) I don't know about Arthur's testicles. I didn't check. Because reasons. Hunting and crafting. Each animal can be hunted and skinned or plucked for supplies. You can study each species and learn how to keep their pelts in pristine condition. Taking them out with the right weapon and hitting their weak spots is important, because getting those perfect pelts allows you to not only sell them for more money: they also serve as excellent materials for unique outfits and saddles which can be crafted and bought at a trapper. The meat, you can use to cook and sustain yourself with food. Same goes for dozens of herbs and mushrooms. Some of them provide health benefits, some are poisonous. Eating them as such is possible, but if you have the recipes, they can be processed into useful supplies such as health tonics or poison to coat your knives or arrows with. (Weapon) Maintenance. Weapons will deteriorate as you use them more, doing less damage and being less accurate. Having a good stash of gun oil on you allows you to clean them at certain intervals to keep them in great condition. Same goes for you and your horse: your cores (health, stamina and deadeye) will need to be replenished to keep you healthy. Which means eating and feeding your horse at times. Food that you can buy from a general store and butcher, or by cooking the meat (with or without those herbs) at a camp. A camp you can even pitch yourself in the wilderness if you're far away from a town or your main camp of the gang. Your personal horse. You can buy one at a stable or tame one of a specific breed in the wild. Bonding with your horse will give your horse more abilities and it will trust you more. You can even name your horse, whatever you like. And taking care of your horse, is a responsibility you'll gladly carry. Because bonding with it means you'll start caring about it. And care about it, you should. Because if your horse dies, it is final. It is permanently dead, and you'll need to find a new one. Leaving your horse behind somewhere while you head off on foot, or by any other means, will also mean you'll need to travel back to where you left it behind. Your horse will not spawn when you whistle halfway across the map. And there are plenty of ways to customize your horse too: mane, tail, what kind of saddle (with different stats!), saddle bags, stirrups, ... All adding to making your horse unique. Personal hygiene and condition. When you go hunting, animals can smell your scent if you don't apply cover scent lotion or go take a bath. Same with haircuts and beard styles: your hair and beard grow naturally. So defying logic and slapping more hair to your head or beard by simply picking a style from a barber's menu is out of the question. First, your beard needs to grow long enough, and then you can decide which parts to shave or have cut, and whether or not you want to apply a specific style. Eating too much or too little will have an impact on Arthur. He can become underweight or overweight, having negative effects on your stamina or health. Customization. You can own over 60 preset outfits, and over one hundred separate clothing pieces in many different colors, if you want to develop your own outfit and clothing style. Depending on how you assemble them or which preset ones you wear, you could either overheat in hot areas, or freeze in the northern ones, which could lead to death. Guns can be modified too in so many ways: types of metal, varnish, the grip, longer barrels, and so on. Entertainment and side activities. There is so much to partake in to let off some steam from the lifestyle of a gunslinger. Poker, dominoes, blackjack, FIve Finger Fillet, watch some shows, visit a photo studio for a few cool pictures or partake in gun duels (Deadeye still works beautifully in this entire game, by the way). You can find treasure maps or buy them from others in the open world. Figuring these out lead to very lucrative rewards for more cash. Illegal activities. You can always go robbing and stealing, if you decide to make some quick extra money. Running trains, banks, stores, horsemen, stagecoaches, pedestrians and more can all be robbed while freeroaming. All stagecoaches, carts and horses that you stole, can also be sold at a so-called Fence, a merchant who is willing to take off all dubious goods off your hands. All illegal activities will of course notify the law which will come looking for you. Being a bandit brings your honor level down too, which will have an impact on the ending you will get. You can always build up your honor again by treating everyone properly, doing good deeds and greeting people kindly. You're never locked out of the good ending, no matter how much mischief you get up to. Just remember that the further down you sink on the honor bar, the harder you'll have to work to build it back up. And people will also treat or perceive you differently, depending on whether or not you're (in)famous. And I'm still forgetting about so many details and possibilities. I did not talk about the absurd amount of freedom you have. You can do whatever you want or don't want. In every new open world game, I want to be able to greet or antagonize NPC's as much as I want, just like in Red Dead Redemption 2. Driving an actual train myself for the first time for instance, was a personal highlight. I was ecstatic to just ride it around the map myself, and ring the bell or blow the whistle in the locomotive, all while riding it. I did not even mention the gang hideouts, the random camps you can constantly find in the world - even after a playthrough of a thousand hours! - all the sidequests and the dozens upon dozens upon dozens of random encounters which add to the world coming to life. How you go about handling these could also increase or decrease your honor. The amount of care and perfection having gone in this game still makes my jaw drop to this very day. The decadence in this game is off the charts, it should almost be an official crime to create a mindblowing and near-boundless game like this. Four years later, and I am still discovering new sidequests and content I missed out on, it is such a vast and rich world overflowing with theme and activity. You don't simply play in this open world: you live in it. You have an early drink at the local saloon, before you walk out and head to the sheriff's office, spotting a new bounty hanging on the wall. The ink barely fresh on the sheet of paper, you read the details of the fugitive, and decide you could use the extra cash. You brush your horse, give it a carrot to eat, saddle up and you trot towards the train station. You tip your hat to the people you pass by and wish them a good morning, as you ride out of the small cattle town of Valentine. You remind yourself you should also go find that comic book for little Jack and a fountain pen for Mary-Beth. Pearson requested you get some extra meat for the camp stew, so, maybe a bit of hunting would be required too. Dutch might have a new plan to score a big pile of money, might be best to talk to him at camp. And after, maybe I'll play some dominoes with Abigail, perhaps play some poker at a local table? Might even win some extra bucks. Your presence in Red Dead Redemption 2 works as a slow burn, but never as a chore. You soak it all up and there is always something else to do or discover. And finally: the visuals and the audio. This game looks as if it could have launched on the PS5. And it didn't. It is a PS4 game! It looks stunningly beautiful at every single moment. The 300.000 (yes I'm European, punctuation works differently here, so that's three hundred thousand) animations look incredible, particularly watching Arthur actually skin animals in real-time is impressive. The voice acting, the sounds, everything: perfect. The soundtrack: fantastic. No bad tracks, just excellent quality across the board. The masses give Grand Theft Auto an abundance of praise. And although those games are top quality as well, I truly believed since Red Dead Redemption 1 that this franchise surpassed its modern-day counterpart. Red Dead Redemption 2, with all its mechanics, top quality presentation, plentiful content (hundreds - of - hours in the single player alone!) is the biggest jewel in Rockstar Games's crown. It is the best open world game ever created, and one of the best games ever created in general. Four years later, and still, no studio has come close to beating what they pulled off here. In such a fierce competitive industry, that deserves a bow. A mindblowing achievement and a new milestone in interactive electronic entertainment. Most frustrating trophy - Best in the West The "Zoologist" trophy (study every animal across all states) was very close to conquering this spot, but "Best in the West" is my most frustrating trophy. Obtaining the Red Dead Redemption 2 platinum trophy is an endurance test. An assessment of your devotion, persistence and will. And most of your time and energy will be invested in "Best in the West" which demands you attain 100% completion in the game. Luckily you don't have to suck every little bit of content out of this game - and there is a LOT - but it comes close. You'll have to master all game mechanics, explore everywhere and collect, collect, collect. To give you an idea of what you'll have to do to get this golden trophy (I'll leave out the requirements that include heavy story spoilers): Complete all the story missions Complete stranger quests Have 25 chance encounters Capture gang hideouts Discover 50 animals Catch 10 different species of fish Use 48 different weapons Explore shacks Kill legendary animals And so much more... Among these challenges are also several big collectibles quests! The amount of collectibles in this game is so staggering, it is enough to make you turn your head away and play something else. Dreamcatchers, dinosaur bones, exotic things (such as rare plants and plumes of exotic birds: this collectibles quest tested my patience big time), a set of cigarette cards, rock carvings, hunting requests... You need to locate all of these to reach 100% completion. And it will take a very long time. That doesn't even include completing all nine challenge branches, each focusing on a domain such as gambling, treasure hunting, animal hunting, surviving, ... And those take up a lot of time too. This summer is very quiet in terms of game releases, so two weeks ago I mustered all my courage and started up the game again after several years to finally conquer that platinum trophy. What will mostly bother you, is the rarity of animals and hunting trophies you'll need to acquire. Having the suckers spawn is torture at times (hence the Zoologist trophy also being a serious pain in the neck), so you'll need to exercise extreme patience at times. But obtaining the last missing trophies quench that thirst so well that you'll feel elated seeing the platinum pop. If your love for Red Dead Redemption 2 isn't unconditional and you're not motivated to seriously commit, I highly suggest you simply enjoy your time in this open world game and avoid pursuing all the challenges. But getting everything done, will turn you into a master bandit/explorer/gambler/herbalist/horseman/hunter/sharpshooter/survivalist/weapons expert. For the record, those are all actual nine challenge sections you'll master on your very long road to the finish line. Wear the Red Dead Redemption 2 platinum trophy as a badge of honor. It might be one of your rarest platinum trophies (it is for me) and on top of that, it is the ultimate achievement for having completed one of the most incredible and most detailed games ever made. So long, Red Dead Redemption 2. It has been quite the memorable journey, and an honor to have experienced everything you have to offer. I humbly tip my cowboy hat to you as I ride off into the sunset.
  15. #291 - The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles Sometimes excellence hides in the smallest of corners. And my dear fellows, my latest deduction lead me to a most astonishing revelation. The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a visual novel adventure game that bundles together two volumes of previously released Ace Attorney spin-off games: The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures and The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve. Together, they tell the tale of a Japanese student of law, Ryunosuke Naruhodo, and his unwavering determination to become a defence lawyer during the last years of the 19th century. The world stands before the dawn of a new era, of revolutionary judicial practices and technologies. Due to circumstances, Ryunosuke takes the place of his best friend and fellow law student, Kazuma Asogi, to embark on a study tour to Great Britain, where he will reside in London to learn more about the workings of the British court of law to help advance those in Japan. He is accompanied by a judicial assistant, the young but ever charming Susato Mikotoba with a heart of gold. They are allowed to take up temporary residence during their stay in the home of the famous and brilliant detective Herlock Sholmes (a simple wordplay on Sherlock Holmes due to copyright issues outside of Japan) and his adoptive daughter/creative jack-of-all-trades, Iris Wilson. During his stay in London, Ryunosuke investigates inexplicable murders and takes up seemingly impossible cases to defend innocent souls in the British court. But the deeper he ventures, the more dangerous the cases become and the bigger the repercussions will be. Together with the expertise of Susato, Herlock and Iris (and a few others), Ryunosuke uncovers mystery after mystery to find out just how deep the corruption in the capital of Great Britain flows. I did not make any mention of any of the ten quite long but outstanding - some more than others - cases that you will get to solve for very good reasons. Every case takes its time to unfold, and you will definitely get your money's worth: you're looking at a minimum playtime of over 50 hours, which is a staggering amount. Each of them have their own crazy twists and turns, and revelations. Because although several of them are unrelated, there is a scarlet thread running through several cases which only becomes more visible and unravels everything at the end. A case or two were really good, several were outstanding, and some were truly phenomenal. The latter category includes a truly magnificent finale that wrapped everything up and provided me with a thrilling climax to remember for many years to come. The story and the writing as a whole are nothing short of incredible. The tone of the game and the characters, even though cases deal with murder, conspiracy, betrayal, greed, envy and so on, is light-hearted yet adventurous. On top of that, the main cast of characters is very charming. From the pure-hearted Susato Mikotoba and the brilliant Herlock Sholmes to the diligent Inspector Gregson, intimidating Prosecutor Barok Van Zieks and enthusiastic Iris: they all add their own characteristic special flavor to the story. And there is room for humor too: Ryunosuke delivers plenty of funny sarcastic remarks in many conversations or court proceedings and Herlock Sholmes gets tied up in plenty of witty shenanigans as the story progresses. Each case is cut up into two different segments (with an exception or two): investigations and trials. During investigations you collect evidence in different locations, talk to witnesses, suspects and the accused you're defending. Evidence can be examined up close, and is vital to beating each case. Because examining it can reveal new details which lead to breakthroughs or shed light on unexplored avenues. Aside from that, there is also a wonderful segment called "Herlock Sholmes's Logic and Reasoning Spectacular" aka the "Dance of Deduction". At certain intervals, Herlock will accompany you and kick off one of these awesome segments where he observes the situation and deduces what is actually going on. You assist him during these dances and help point out the irregularities. These sequences feel fresh and help spice up the investigation, accompanied by very catchy music - but more on that later. Then there are the trials. The moment of truth, literally and figuratively, where your investigational efforts bear fruit in helping the defendant achieve a "Not Guilty" verdict. During the trial, witnesses and suspects will be questioned and you will need to find inconsistencies in their testimonies with the evidence you have collected. All while you're facing off against the Prosecutor, the intimidating and chalice-shattering aristocrat Barok Van Zieks, another amazing character in the game, I might add. You're essentially pushing suspects into a corner until they're out of explanations, which is when you deliver the final blow to their façade. No worries, a trial will never kick off until you collected all the evidence. In other words: during each trial, you will have everything you need to win the case, no matter how many crazy turns and twists take place. However, during most trials, a jury will preside the proceedings. The jury members will sometimes need to be swayed as well, by finding contradictions in their statements and breaking their unanimous verdict that they believe your client is guilty. All to allow the trial to continue so the true culprit can be revealed. These trial segments carry a lot of sensational drama with them, which makes them so fun. The soundtrack is nothing short of fantastic. There are countless tracks that exude adventure and mystery, humor and drama. But it never loses sight of its main tone of justice. Especially the violin plays a role in multiple tracks, not surprisingly some of those involve Herlock Sholmes. But even the more serious tracks sound badass, such as Barok Van Zieks's theme which adds to his intimidating persona. The entire soundtrack can stand proudly next to other masterpieces such as the Nier Automata soundtrack or Shadow of the Colossus soundtrack. I added one of many wonderful tracks underneath for you to enjoy listening to, as a taste of what the full game has to offer. I do need to mention there is little actual voice acting in the game, and as it is mainly a visual novel, you'll have to do a lot of reading. But that is an intrinsic part of the genre, and as such does not count as criticism. That's not all. The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles comes with special content such as a gallery with bonus video clips and artwork of characters, an auditorium where you can listen to dozens of the game's official (and even unused!) soundtracks and voice clips of characters, a tailor which gives you three optional outfits (one each for Ryunosuke, Susato and Herlock) and Escapades which are essentially short extra episodes taking place in between cases exploring the characters' friendships and connections a little more. In other words: there is a lot of bonus content for everyone who wants that little more out of the experience. Now, before I deliver my own final verdict, I should address something first. Some reviewers let bias take over and rate games based on the influence of publishers, and what franchise or genre they belong to. Straying from the path of righteousness the same way the culprits in this game let the darkness cloud their judgement. I disagree with that lackluster and unethical approach. Any game can achieve a mark of excellence, not by the brand of the franchise it carries or the pressure a publisher executes. But by its quality, the value it provides and the experience it gave me as a spectator, a player and a participant. Regardless of development studio, publisher, genre or franchise. Some reviewers and gamers would frown upon a visual novel adventure belonging up there with brilliant AAA-games. Because how could "something as plebeian as a visual novel adventure which involves ... *gulp* no shooting and all reading be worthy of a perfect score?" Well, this one does, very much. It hit all the marks for me, a rare feat. As such, I've experienced the wide spectrum of emotions as I guided this colorful and very lovable cast of characters. Happiness. Disbelief. Elation. Contempt. I've gone through all the motions during my time with the adventures of Ryunosuke Naruhodo, Herlock Sholmes and the others. But most of all: a sense of fulfilment as the credits rolled. It is one of the best interactive courtroom dramas you'll ever experience. It is one of the best Sherlock Holmes Herlock Sholmes detective stories you'll ever experience. It is one of the best visual novel adventures you'll ever experience. Simply put: The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is one of the best games I have ever had the pleasure of playing. Truly sublime. Most frustrating trophy - ... NONE! There are several missable trophies in The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, usually involving the examination of optional and less meaningful items in cases. There is an entertaining one which spans multiple cases, where Ryunosuke and Susato have an ongoing dispute about the difference between a shovel and a spade. The in-game accolades menu does keep track of all your trophies and what you've found, so that's a big help. None of the missable trophies usually give away any spoilers. So as long as you keep track of what you're missing, you could get these in one sitting. Or if you don't want to take any risks: there are chapters available after completing the cases which will take you to the moments in each case where the optional trophies can be unlocked. I had too much fun to think of any frustrating trophies, actually. About half of the list focuses on finishing all the cases, so you should not have too much trouble attaining the platinum trophy. So in conclusion, my dear fellows: don your best deerstalker cap and track down a copy of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. The game is afoot!