Jump to content
19QOS19

What Was The Last Game You Played?

Recommended Posts

f**k it.

09L10Eu.jpg

Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition (PS4, 2014 - originally PS3, 2012)

Set in Hong Kong, you are Wei Shen, someone who was born there and grew up with the local Triad but moved away to America for a bit. He came back with remarkably good physical fighting and firearm skills and was immediately accepted back into his old gang, with nobody questioning the fact he might be undercover police. Actually that's not true, there's one guy who says "we can tell if you're a cop because you won't kill anyone," but this rings slightly hollow when you consider both Wei's body count and the manner of most of those deaths, but we'll come to that later.

The premise is what you'd imagine based on that description. Wei goes undercover in the Sun On Yee to... er, take it down? Provide information? I'm not really sure, the police don't have any interest in letting him get high enough to have any genuine influence. This doesn't stop internal conflict from being the main aspect of Wei's character, fighting between loyalty for his friends and his new, adoptive family in the face of the obviously corrupt (hint: his boss has a British accent, he's obviously evil) police he's being controlled by. While the gameplay doesn't marry up well with this conflict since Wei is basically Batman with guns, the writing and acting for most of the characters is pretty good, Wei especially. The story itself gets a bit lost towards the final third, with characters introduced and missions played which have nothing to do with the story and aren't interesting in their own right. Is the game padding time? Was it rushed, with a GTAIV-esque sprawling insight into the true nature of a society not fully realised?

Setting this apart from being a straight GTA-clone, melee combat is the main focus of gameplay. You can unlock new moves and you get bonus points for killing people in varied ways, but really you unlock the move that kills people in two hits and spam that all the time. There isn't any skill in the button pressing either, it's square for a hit or hold it down for a slightly heavier hit. Triangle is needed for the occasional counter, but unless you're surrounded by ten guys at once this doesn't come up too much and it always telegraphs the same.

That isn't to say the game is without guns. They're introduced after a few missions, with a comment from your police boss about how rare they are in Hong Kong. You then go through a few missions where everyone has one. My favourite mission is when rival gang 18K try to storm your headquarters. You have to hold them off for two minutes while using a grenade launcher with unlimited ammo. In fairness the guns are pretty useless, as enemies can take six or seven chest shots before they even start to stumble. The aiming isn't precise enough to compensate for this either. At least in vehicle chase sequences you can destroy cars quickly with them.

Elsewhere in terms of gameplay there are some interesting mini-games I remembered enjoying before which just about hold up now. There are a few hacking-based minigames for opening safes, hacking security cameras and other miscellaneous mission tasks. They're straightforward, but it takes a while for them to become tedious and overbearing. That's about the best you can hope for in a game like this. 

Since I played the Definitive Edition I got all the DLC and it adds a bit of variety to the open world options, but not much. Even in the base game the sidequest stuff is lacking. You can go on dates with some women who you meet, but you only have one mission each where you drive them to a place and see a cutscene or two, then never again. It's like they're there for something to do and weren't given any proper consideration. The same goes for the rest of the integrated DLC, which offers one or two missions you could finish in minutes.

The standalone DLC episodes are a bit meatier, although they also feel a bit rushed. One of them buys into the zombie craze of the early 2010s, but you can finish the story in an hour. The other features a badly dressed cult who're trying to blow stuff up because someone says they should. It's not much longer than the zombie effort and it doesn't have the same crass humour, so I really don't have a strong opinion on it.

Technically, holy f**k. Of all the games I've played on PS4 I think this bluescreened on me the most. On more than one occasion it happened several times while just trying to load it after starting it up. If you used a certain type of machine gun the sound for it firing would stick on, you couldn't get rid of it without restarting the game. The controls feel that unique sort of clunky where you're amazed video games like this ever caught on. The driving is the worst I can remember in an open world game, with cars controlling more like players from an EA Sports game before the days of 360 degrees player control. Uniquely, the higher performance a car is, the harder it is to steer or control. 

The setting is an interesting topic because you don't really get open world games set in Asian locations. The memory I had of this was that it was good to be in Hong Kong partly because it was different, partly because of how well it was realised. Now, it just feels sterile and empty. When I played Mafia III a few months ago the game felt like a period display where you could look at something meticulously created but only look, not touch. Sleeping Dogs isn't even quite that. Some, rigidly contained, locations feel authentic and properly immersive, but the world as a whole is cold and uninteresting. There's barely any traffic on the roads. There's nothing to interact with, unless you count the karaoke bars or cockfighting bets which are basically a coin flip. Having played a Yakuza game since 2014, there's no contest in terms of an Asian located open world setting. 

On the whole I think Sleeping Dogs is a reasonably unique take on the sandbox genre. Rather than just giving you a world with stuff in it to destroy the police element opens up new possibilities for both mission and open world gameplay. Having two separate XP bars to level up makes you approach missions in a certain way to maximise both, which is a nice change and offers an extra bit of depth to Wei's character as a police officer. Viewed as a whole though the game is lacking in a lot of areas and hackneyed in others. Couple this with it being a technical disaster on PS4, my memories of this game aren't as fond as they were six years ago. Make of that what you will.

Edited by Miguel Sanchez

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
f**k it.

09L10Eu.jpg&key=f22048304ff10b0fe501e63811bda1427acb873848eebf1726d2d0b8f24c1cec

Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition (PS4, 2014 - originally PS3, 2012)
Set in Hong Kong, you are Wei Shen, someone who was born there and grew up with the local Triad but moved away to America for a bit. He came back with remarkably good physical fighting and firearm skills and was immediately accepted back into his old gang, with nobody questioning the fact he might be undercover police. Actually that's not true, there's one guy who says "we can tell if you're a cop because you won't kill anyone," but this rings slightly hollow when you consider both Wei's body count and the manner of most of those deaths, but we'll come to that later.
The premise is what you'd imagine based on that description. Wei goes undercover in the Sun On Yee to... er, take it down? Provide information? I'm not really sure, the police don't have any interest in letting him get high enough to have any genuine influence. This doesn't stop internal conflict from being the main aspect of Wei's character, fighting between loyalty for his friends and his new, adoptive family in the face of the obviously corrupt (hint: his boss has a British accent, he's obviously evil) police he's being controlled by. While the gameplay doesn't marry up well with this conflict since Wei is basically Batman with guns, the writing and acting for most of the characters is pretty good, Wei especially. The story itself gets a bit lost towards the final third, with characters introduced and missions played which have nothing to do with the story and aren't interesting in their own right. Is the game padding time? Was it rushed, with a GTAIV-esque sprawling insight into the true nature of a society not fully realised?
Setting this apart from being a straight GTA-clone, melee combat is the main focus of gameplay. You can unlock new moves and you get bonus points for killing people in varied ways, but really you unlock the move that kills people in two hits and spam that all the time. There isn't any skill in the button pressing either, it's square for a hit or hold it down for a slightly heavier hit. Triangle is needed for the occasional counter, but unless you're surrounded by ten guys at once this doesn't come up too much and it always telegraphs the same.
That isn't to say the game is without guns. They're introduced after a few missions, with a comment from your police boss about how rare they are in Hong Kong. You then go through a few missions where everyone has one. My favourite mission is when rival gang 18K try to storm your headquarters. You have to hold them off for two minutes while using a grenade launcher with unlimited ammo. In fairness the guns are pretty useless, as enemies can take six or seven chest shots before they even start to stumble. The aiming isn't precise enough to compensate for this either. At least in vehicle chase sequences you can destroy cars quickly with them.
Elsewhere in terms of gameplay there are some interesting mini-games I remembered enjoying before which just about hold up now. There are a few hacking-based minigames for opening safes, hacking security cameras and other miscellaneous mission tasks. They're straightforward, but it takes a while for them to become tedious and overbearing. That's about the best you can hope for in a game like this. 
Since I played the Definitive Edition I got all the DLC and it adds a bit of variety to the open world options, but not much. Even in the base game the sidequest stuff is lacking. You can go on dates with some women who you meet, but you only have one mission each where you drive them to a place and see a cutscene or two, then never again. It's like they're there for something to do and weren't given any proper consideration. The same goes for the rest of the integrated DLC, which offers one or two missions you could finish in minutes.
The standalone DLC episodes are a bit meatier, although they also feel a bit rushed. One of them buys into the zombie craze of the early 2010s, but you can finish the story in an hour. The other features a badly dressed cult who're trying to blow stuff up because someone says they should. It's not much longer than the zombie effort and it doesn't have the same crass humour, so I really don't have a strong opinion on it.
Technically, holy f**k. Of all the games I've played on PS4 I think this bluescreened on me the most. On more than one occasion it happened several times while just trying to load it after starting it up. If you used a certain type of machine gun the sound for it firing would stick on, you couldn't get rid of it without restarting the game. The controls feel that unique sort of clunky where you're amazed video games like this ever caught on. The driving is the worst I can remember in an open world game, with cars controlling more like players from an EA Sports game before the days of 360 degrees player control. Uniquely, the higher performance a car is, the harder it is to steer or control. 
The setting is an interesting topic because you don't really get open world games set in Asian locations. The memory I had of this was that it was good to be in Hong Kong partly because it was different, partly because of how well it was realised. Now, it just feels sterile and empty. When I played Mafia III a few months ago the game felt like a period display where you could look at something meticulously created but only look, not touch. Sleeping Dogs isn't even quite that. Some, rigidly contained, locations feel authentic and properly immersive, but the world as a whole is cold and uninteresting. There's barely any traffic on the roads. There's nothing to interact with, unless you count the karaoke bars or cockfighting bets which are basically a coin flip. Having played a Yakuza game since 2014, there's no contest in terms of an Asian located open world setting. 
On the whole I think Sleeping Dogs is a reasonably unique take on the sandbox genre. Rather than just giving you a world with stuff in it to destroy the police element opens up new possibilities for both mission and open world gameplay. Having two separate XP bars to level up makes you approach missions in a certain way to maximise both, which is a nice change and offers an extra bit of depth to Wei's character as a police officer. Viewed as a whole though the game is lacking in a lot of areas and hackneyed in others. Couple this with it being a technical disaster on PS4, my memories of this game aren't as fond as they were six years ago. Make of that what you will.
I loved it first time round on the ps3 I think but playing the Definitive edition ruined it for me, im sure the cuts scenes were ropey as hell.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a huge fan of when it turns out that different IPs actually exist in the same universes so as soon as Control AWE was announced I immediately bought all the DLC completed the main game and then blasted through Alan Wake. 

Alan Wake - Spooky Twin Peaks meets Stephen King and HP lovecraft with the meta references cranked up to 11. I really enjoyed this even if the game feels dated in a few ways and vastly improved upon in nearly every way by Control. It's very corny, riddled with tropes and every character feels barely developed but it's very earnest and a lot of fun. The advice and tidbits that the Taken use to announce themselves to you are also very funny. "There are 65 million cows and pigs in the world!" "Omega 3 fatty acids are good for your heart!"

Control - Riffs on a lot of the same vibes that Alan Wake introduced but also introduces government bureaucracy and a Ballardian building that messes with you over the game. Much more refined gameplay wise and a lot more fun to engage in combat with. This gets a lot of things right in setting the atmosphere and covers for failings around bad checkpoint design and slight repetitiveness around enemy engagements. Maybe the first game in years where I actively want to read more notes and collectibles as they're very funny in the way they riff on an opaque government department and petty office squabbles (in a building literally haunted by otherworldly entities). Jesse is also probably a better protagonist than Alan Wake and leans into a lot of the comedy going on. When I say that it improves on a lot of Alan Wake I also mean that it does this specifically well in the way it uses in universe music to ramp up the fun in specific scenes namely late on when you traverse the Ashtray Maze and late on in the Oceanside Motel with a cameo from one of the game's main expositional characters performing a tune.

Just diving into the AWE atm and interesting to see which specific Alan Wake villain shows up. Excited to see where it goes with it although I get the feeling it's actually setting up the premise for an Alan Wake sequel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Started Resident Evil 2 remake this afternoon and about 2 hours in so far. Really enjoying it so far, was always too scared to play the original when it came out (was prob about 13 at the time). It's amazing how quickly your ammo and health packs can get used up and leaving you fearing a zombie encounter everytime you enter a new area.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bought the Sega Mega Drive collection for the PS4. Confirmed what I always thought, Sonic games are shite. Golden Axe is fucking brilliant though. Couldn't put it down until I'd managed to beat the first one. I love that these old games basically force you to keep playing and keep dying until to learn something or improve enough to get that little bit further.... then die and start again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bought the Sega Mega Drive collection for the PS4. Confirmed what I always thought, Sonic games are shite. Golden Axe is fucking brilliant though. Couldn't put it down until I'd managed to beat the first one. I love that these old games basically force you to keep playing and keep dying until to learn something or improve enough to get that little bit further.... then die and start again.
The original Sonic was not bad but nowhere near the level of Golden Axe, Streets of Rage or Ninja Gaiden.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Started Resident Evil 2 remake this afternoon and about 2 hours in so far. Really enjoying it so far, was always too scared to play the original when it came out (was prob about 13 at the time). It's amazing how quickly your ammo and health packs can get used up and leaving you fearing a zombie encounter everytime you enter a new area.
 
 
The Resident Evil 2 remake is fantastic but don't bother with 3 unless you can get it dirt cheap, it's shite in comparison.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Resident Evil 2 remake is fantastic but don't bother with 3 unless you can get it dirt cheap, it's shite in comparison.
Just reached the Umbrella Lab in the Leon story.
Is there enough of a difference in Leon and Claire's stories to warrant playing one immediately after the other?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

dLcKWr2.jpg


Driveclub (PS4, 2014)

Driveclub. A game with driving. A game where you can join a club and drive and earn points and things for your club while competing against other clubs. I like it when the name of something sums it up so well.

It's a bit strange coming to a game with an extensive online mode several years post-release. You have a playerbase that doesn't seem like it could ever have sustained the numbers the game tells you it's had. You see features, modes, matchmaking so ill-suited to the few people still playing you wonder what it must have been like at its peak. So it was with me playing Driveclub, long after its delayed release.

On the face of it, Driveclub is an easy sell. An arcade racer with a range of exotic cars, varied fictional locations to drive them in, dynamic time and weather, various online and offline game modes, and the pedigree of the studio that put out the Motorstorm series on PS3. I can't argue with any of that. Driveclub featured lots and lots of cars and always had close racing in its extensive offline events, whether you were in a Honda Civic or a Ferrari 458.

One benefit of coming to the game late was being able to buy it and its season pass while it was on sale, meaning I got lots of content for not that much. With the online play and the cars in the base game you would never have gone short for races, but the single player experience was greatly enhanced by all of the extra vehicles. The clear support from lots of major manufacturers is notable here too, as it just makes the game feel more substantial and important.

Although every game mode in a racing game will boil down to "drive as fast as you can," there was enough variety in Driveclub to keep it interesting. In both the main Driveclub Tour and each added DLC section there was a range of events. Single races and championships were fine, but the time trial events meant you actually had to focus and not just drive all your opponents off the track. Some of them could take as much as twenty minutes to finally achieve a target time, and that's good going. The DLC events occasionally threw in a longer race, where you'd have to complete a set number of 'face-offs' to get a maximum rating - maintain an average speed over a certain portion of the track, get a high cornering score by following the pre-determined racing line, that sort of thing. In playing Driveclub I mainly dabbled by doing a couple of events a day, so it was nice to always have something different for the few months I played the game for each time I fired it up.

I'm not sure where to put this part but I loved the aesthetic of the game too. Each event has its own stylised poster. in the menu, and I've just realised I can't find an example of what I'm looking for. That's a shame.

I liked Driveclub for the variety in its cars as much as anything else. As well as the standard sports and supercars there were plenty of concepts thrown in, including stuff I'd never heard of before. There was one weird three wheeled electric Peugeot in particular that was a pain whenever it was in a race, the AI always seemed rapid in it. I drove every car several times and the detail that went into them was great, both inside and out. While the physics weren't completely realistic, different cars handled the way you'd expect them to, and the performance was noticeably different each time. Being able to use additional systems like DRS and KERS on certain cars was also a nice touch, and the added burst of speed in a McLaren P1 when you engage both modes was genuinely scary.

Coming to the game late I feel like my criticisms would differ from people who supported and followed from the start. The main thing I noticed was that the AI didn't seem to get any slower in the rain. I'd be pushing like mad while trying to keep my car pointed in the right direction, the AI didn't seem affected by the wet track at all. This disparity was much more noticeable than in any other racer I've played with weather this generation, and it was quite frustrating to try and overcome this. There was also the odd occasion where the AI would act like you weren't there and squeeze you into a wall at speed, but resetting was always quick and it didn't take too long to catch up. I think the way I played the game saved it from ever feeling too grindy or repetitive, but if I'd tried to finish it in one I might have suffered a bit. I suppose I could have mixed it up with some online modes, but it's not really important.

Driveclub is the sort of driving game I think consoles need. It fulfils pretty much every criteria you could want for a genre that you're a fan of - it looks great, it's sound mechanically and it's easy to pick-up, it's got a great variety of content and it's got good support from its developers. It also did well in harnessing the then-expanding social aspect of console gaming, and allowed for lots of customisation options therein. It appeals to the person who plays driving games more than anything else as much as it appeals to someone who's never played one at all and just wants to chuck something about for an hour at a time.

Finishing this game in 2020 and looking at something like Project Cars 3, I'm not hopeful for another driving game coming out with Driveclub's scope or strengths. That's a shame.

BONUS REVIEW - Driveclub Bikes

Think everything above, but with bikes. And with skill events rather than drift events, where you get points for doing wheelies and stuff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 08/09/2020 at 16:32, Jack Burton said:

The Resident Evil 2 remake is fantastic but don't bother with 3 unless you can get it dirt cheap, it's shite in comparison.

Slavish adherence to the originals, there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Playing Total War: Warhammer 2 as high elves, One of the greatest strategy games ever, this game is absolutely amazing so it has extremely addicting gameplay and It’s unbelievably well balanced considered the number of different races.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just reached the Umbrella Lab in the Leon story.
Is there enough of a difference in Leon and Claire's stories to warrant playing one immediately after the other?
Not a huge difference, a couple of different areas and characters.

Both have an A and B scenario, like the original, but they haven't put much effort into it in the remake and again there isn't too much difference between A and B.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Slavish adherence to the originals, there.
The original RE3 had the mercenaries mode which is much better than that crap multiplayer bundled with the remake. The remake also cuts out some areas making an already short game even shorter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 17/08/2020 at 15:22, Comrie said:

Baldur's Gate 2: EE.

Though I love the game, some of the newly added stuff is hit or mess. The Hexxat quest is just plain annoying.

Yeah, haven't been arsed with any of the new characters on my recent playthrough.

First time I've ever gone as a dual class Kensai/Mage, oh my lord it's incredible how powerful that combo becomes later on once you've got access to higher spell levels and some of the better weapons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

fRbHcYi.jpg

Detroit: Become Human (PS4, 2018)

So it's come to this. Four console games in and David Cage, in his neverending quest to impart EMOTIONS upon the player, has finally realised he can make a game about robots. Either that or he watched Blade Runner one night and thought it was a really good idea. 

Detroit: Become Human is the story of three people who aren't human. The year is 2038 and Detroit is the android capital of the world. The company CyberLife was founded in the early 2020s and immediately changed everything. Lifelike androids now do all the jobs humans didn't want to do, and there's a bunch of other fancy stuff like autonomous cars and light-up clothing. You play as three androids - Connor, a prototype loaned to the police to investigate cases of 'deviancy' as androids malfunction and think they're people, Kara, a domestic android owned by a junkie who abuses his daughter, and Markus, another prototype belonging to an elderly and paraplegic painter. As the game progresses the androids do... you know, I can't even do this vaguely without spoiling the detail I'm going to go in to later. They do things.

Before that however, I'd like to share a video of a tech demo Quantic Dream did in 2012:

The video shows a lifelike android named Kara being assembled and activated by a voice off-screen testing her and telling her what to do as she's put together. The voice even calls her "baby" at one point, strangely. Once Kara is put together and has skin and a sense of shame she asks what's going to happen to her. After being told she seems disappointed and says "I thought," which results in the voice saying she's defective and the robotic arms that built her start taking her apart. She gets upset and pleads to not be disassembled, also saying "I'm scared." This is enough for the voice to stop and have the assembly finished and have Kara shipped off on a conveyor belt ready to be sold. 

While the video is especially impressive considering it was rendered on a PS3 in 2012, it raises a few questions. If you were in charge of quality control on the assembly line for androids that are supposed to look and act like humans, you would want to be fairly discerning. Androids are machines after all, and they're not supposed to think. They are tools created to complete tasks. If an android thinks it is alive and has feelings, this could be bad. The reaction to such an instance would surely be to examine and analyse the (deactivated) android in detail to understand how this malfunction happened. You wouldn't shrug your shoulders and let it carry on as normal because it asked nicely. After all, if there's one defective unit on the production line there's a good chance there could be more.
Surely then, six years later, Quantic Dream could take the game and the universe built based on Kara and refine it, ironing out the obvious discrepancies with reality as exhibited in their original video, couldn't they? Well they could have, but this is a David Cage game.

Gameplay takes the form of the now standard Quantic Dream interactive drama model. You control characters in third person view, moving around an area interacting with things through contextual onscreen button prompts and quick time events until you've done enough of them to progress the scene. The controls are about as good as they're ever going to get, although moving characters around sometimes felt like their legs weren't connected to their bodies or brains properly. After the linear, single-character focus of Beyond: Two Souls there's a return to the multi-character interwoven narratives of Heavy Rain, and I think the game is better for it. The narratives aren't strictly connected to each other, but the influence events have is clearly noticeable across all stories.

The biggest difference between Detroit and previous Quantic Dream games is the sheer volume of different story outcomes. While Heavy Rain had a few different endings and some consequences for doing or not doing things, Detroit has a seemingly endless amount of different paths your story can take. While this is good since there is a proper sense of consequence and importance added to the choices you make, it does have its downsides. You're still at the mercy of interpreting the speech cues to try and gauge a proper reaction to someone in a conversation. It has a little of the problem L.A. Noire had, where the prompt doesn't align with what you'd expect the longer response to be. The higher amount of story branches that result from your actions can make certain moments feel more stressful than they should be as a result. 

This is the first Quantic Dream game where a fully fleshed out world is necessary and there are mixed results. Since there are more characters and a wider reaching story there has to be more detail pretty much everywhere. Conversely, the result is actually quite shallow. Early on, Markus is framed for attacking his owner, Carl, and shot by the police. He's then dumped in an android scrapyard and has to scrape his way out. It's a very evocative setpiece and it really demonstrates the fragility and construction of the androids. That's if you just play it and don't think about it. If you did you'd wonder why defective androids aren't disassembled and destroyed, why functional components aren't salvaged, or why a mass-market android industry that's only been running for about ten years has produced dumps on the scale of the one Markus ended up in. 

I could genuinely be here for hours listing all the strange discrepancies here. Why does the news say the economy is as great as it's ever been when 30% of the American population is unemployed? Why are the androids made to look life-like when they were initially intended to carry out menial tasks? Androids have a circular LED light on their right temple like the processor light on a computer, but this can be removed with no problems. Wouldn't this just make deviancy easier to conceal, or make it easier for people to use androids for malicious purposes?

The biggest problem by far with the androids in Detroit however centres around a prominent NPC. Kara's story sees her in the employ of a destitute drug addict named Todd, whose wife left him and their daughter in a run-down house. Todd is unhappy, and Kara is introduced as he picks her up from a store after she "had an accident" and had her memory wiped. Oh, okay, I think, an actual focus on the domestic consequences of androids on people. Even Kara's turn to deviancy seems to be from an intellectually intriguing perspective, as she changes and goes on the run out of a sense of protectiveness towards Todd's daughter, Alice. The rest of their story is a touching (or as touching as David Cage can get) examination of motherhood, and rather than the human relationship with androids, the android relationship with humans. 

David Cage however isn't a good enough writer to set up twists properly, so it turns out that Alice is an android. Android children exist. A collectible magazine tells us that human birth rates are declining because of how convenient the android children are. 

Androids are mass-produced. They are models, where multiple units are built looking exactly the same. Kara realises - or eventually admits to herself - that Alice is an android because she sees another one of her. How does this work? Do the android children go to school? Can they turn deviant like the adult models? Do they live in some perpetual Benjamin Button-like existence, never growing up and never realising this? Perhaps more importantly, how in the name of f**k could any company making entirely life-like facsimiles of humans manage to be allowed to make child versions? Androids are supposed to be completely subservient. Obedient. They do anything you tell them to and they're functionally the same as humans. Honestly, this isn't so much the usual plot hole you can turn your mind away from, if you actually think about child androids for too long you start feeling a bit sick. 

Speaking of bad writing and world building, let's have a little think about the assorted historical allegories David Cage does an extremely bad job of emulating. I mentioned Blade Runner flippantly earlier on. Robots that think they're human - or don't realise they're robots - is a classic sci-fi trope dating back decades. That's fine. There are original spins to be put on the concept, especially since Detroit also briefly touches on subjects like over-population, climate change, food shortages and artificial intelligence. All of that's fine. Even the angle of androids being recognised as people is potentially interesting, if you step back and consider that humans have created sentient life and eventually try to kill it off when it asks to be treated as such. This doesn't even seem to be about fear about being replaced, just selfishness.

However.

Let's review a couple of things. Androids, when outside and working, wear android uniforms. These uniforms feature a blue armband around the upper arm, and a big blue triangle on the front of the chest. At the end of the game as the androids are starting to rise up, the army gets called in to round the androids up into camps and exterminate them. Exterminate is actually the word that's used. 

As Kara tries to escape to a safe place with Alice she ends up near the border with a black woman named Rose. Rose is sympathetic to androids and helps them flee persecution by getting them to Canada, a country which doesn't allow the construction of androids. But, as we've seen, androids can blend in easily by removing their LED. When Kara asks why she helps androids, Rose tells her "my people" were once persecuted, and that she doesn't want to contribute to that.

Now.

Far be it from me to say that David Cage isn't good enough at writing to make a game which makes such blatant allusions to things like the Holocaust or slavery. I'd love to sit here and tell you I could come up with something better. Maybe even given him the benefit of the doubt and say it's down to the multiple options that need to be left open for a game like this. If it was a film or a book with a single pre-determined narrative, it might be easier to be concise and considerate of the themes being explored. All of this is a lie, however. Any delicacy that's needed to have a sincere, thought-provoking comparison between life-like androids and actual historical atrocities is never going to be in a game where normal human interactions, emotions, conversations, are so badly lacking. Come to think of it, while your actions with Markus and the rebellion change the public perception of androids, you never actually see any human reactions first-hand. At most you see them get pissed because their android runs away. 

Consider this quote from David Cage from 2017, after a demo of the game was shown at E3: https://kotaku.com/despite-political-overtones-david-cage-says-detroit-is-1795939952

Quote

The scene sure seems to be weighing in on protests and violence, but with all the subtlety of a brick through a window. Detroit is a game about a subjugated group asserting their humanity and trying to gain freedom from people who want to use them for service. It’s hard not to draw parallels to slavery, racism and events going on around the world. Despite this, however, director David Cage told me that he’s not trying to make a game with an overtly political message, nor is he heavily drawing on real world history or politics as influences.

“The story I’m telling is really about androids,” he told me in an interview after the demo. “They’re discovering emotions and wanting to be free. If people want to see parallels with this or that, that’s fine with me. But my story’s about androids who want to be free.”

He cited Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near—a famous book about the future of machine intelligence—as his primary influence. “Personally, I think machines are going to become self-aware,” he told me. “How are we going to deal with a race that’s more intelligent than we are? What will we do when they want to be free?”

Better yet,

Quote

“I don’t want the game to have something to say, because I don’t see myself delivering a message to people,” he said. “But I’m definitely interested in asking questions to the player. Questions that are meaningful and that resonate with him as a person and a citizen. We live in a world that’s full of hopes as well as fears. Fears about the present and also the future. Where are we going? What’s going to happen? I just want to ask these questions and see how people react.”

There's times where I don't need to even say anything. I suppose, fittingly, there are exactly two available options here. Either David Cage is absolutely sincere in what he says. There is no intended political message here, and if the player sees that, that's up to the player. If this is the case then he is the single dumbest man alive. I suppose that's preferable to the alternative, that he's trying to profit out of winding people up using slavery and the Holocaust as bait. 

I may as well talk about the game itself. The three playable characters are all enjoyable to experience, even if their stories aren't always. I'll cover each individually.

Connor (here's a thought, how are androids named? They have model and serial numbers and actual names are given to them by humans - how does this work if androids become free?) is a prototype loaned to the police to investigate deviants. He teams up with Lieutenant Hank Anderson, which allows David Cage a return to Fahrenheit and its tortured references to every 80s cop film ever made. He just hates androids, man! That's why he drives the only manual car left in the world and tells his Captain he hates androids every chance he gets. As they investigate through the classic point and click looking at clues we saw in Heavy Rain they start to bond, and both men ultimately change each other. 

I enjoyed Connor. In spite of all the cliches I enjoyed Anderson, played by Clancy Brown. In my first playthrough I thought the game set me up for failure since I played Connor straight and got a terrible ending, but when I thought about it later it was my fault for not picking up on Connor's burgeoning humanity. I think there will come a point where a Quantic Dream can't have a character and mechanics like this because of how unoriginal it will get, but it's at least appropriate for the game.

Kara I've already discussed some, and she was my favourite. It's interesting that her story occurs in isolation from the rest of the game. The only time events elsewhere can influence her is right at the very end. I'll come to that later, but up until the twist and even beyond that I was actually invested in what happened to her. I wanted her and Alice to survive and escape together. I can't give them any higher praise than that.

Strangely, given his story was the main point of the game, I found Markus to be the least engaging character with the least engaging story and the least engaging chapters. It's eventually explained that androids become deviant after experiencing a significant emotional shock which effectively brakes their programming. This is fine, but why does Markus end up being the one who swans into their hideout like Jesus and starts directing them? Why is he the only one to free androids by touching them? What happens if the android doesn't want to be freed? Some androids hate humans, some don't Markus didn't, and he still cared about Carl later on. 

The whole concept of deviancy isn't really explored or explained, and Markus' story suffers as a result. Several deviants that Connor investigates start writing "rA9" everywhere when they can, and there's a suggestion that there's some sort of religious belief they spontaneously create and share. But it's never explained. You meet the man who created androids and who subsequently left his company, and he's just weird enough to make you think he did it deliberately. If this is the case then there's nowhere near enough detail, and Markus as a character and his story end up suffering as a result. His chapters vary between linear braking and entering or pretending to be Martin Luther King, there's not much to draw you in. 

As a game which offers choices to the player in terms of how the story progresses, Detroit does something which from what I remember of the others is new for a Quantic Dream game. On more than one occasion you'll be faced with a choice, you'll make the choice, then you'll get offered a big ARE YOU SURE??? choice again. Despite everything I've listed, this might be the worst part about the game. Why offer choices if you're going to undermine them right away? This is one of the worst parts about Markus' story too, since he's always flanked by two androids who are basically a talking moral choice system. By the end of the game I stopped caring and got so annoyed I stopped being invested in the choices at all, which I doubt was the intention. 

In fact, the most egregious case of choices being misrepresented was something that played a big part in giving me a rubbish ending. When the army turns up to flush out the android hideout, you're running away from it with Kara and Alice. At the exit you stay down and play dead. The game then offers you the choices "don't move" and "protect Alice." To me, this suggests that staying still won't work. But it does. This isn't so much a choice being presented twice as a choice being completely misleading, and I'm surprised something so glaring was left in and came so near the end. 

When I first played Heavy Rain I got a pretty poor ending. This ultimately came down to two reasons. The first was me failing a QTE and missing a piece of evidence. Fine, I failed and that's on me. The other was not realising that I could survive a house fire by hiding in a fridge. That's bullshit, and when I found out that's what I was supposed to do, I was unhappy. Detroit eschews the need for a protracted wait or a game walkthrough to make you disappointed with what you did. The end of every scene sees a full flowchart of all the choices you made, with all the other potential options greyed out until you've chosen them on another playthrough. While it can be argued this adds replay value (if you really really like the game and want to see every possibility) across multiple playthroughs, it undermines the game and the initial experience anyone who plays it blind will take away from it. How can I be satisfied with the choices I made (and I made some pretty bad ones) when I'm constantly being presented with the suggestion of something different? By all means keep the flowchart, but don't show it at the end of each chapter. That's just rubbing it in.

None of this is helped by the classic David Cage problem of plot holes you could drive an oil tanker through. I'll give you a taste of some of the more memorable mistakes I made that I would argue are the game's fault:

- In one chapter, Markus and friends break into a broadcasting tower to transmit a message to the humans. If you chose to be nice and spare a human who ran away at the start, a swat team turns up and one of your friends is injured. If you drag him to the roof while you're escaping you're given the option of killing him to stop the police from probing him and finding out the rest of the androids' plans. However, the police investigation is carried out by Connor, controlled by you, so if you don't go up on the roof, you don't find him. Better yet, the injured android is somehow able to escape from the tower and get back to the android's hideout. 

- If you protest peacefully throughout the game you'll reach a stage where Markus and the androids are in a stand-off with police. After barricading themselves in the androids get charged by the police anyway until there's about ten of them left. You're given some options. My choice was Sacrifice, believing pacifism above all else to be what I supposed to do. If you select Kiss, however, Markus kisses his (extremely clumsily written) girlfriend North. The police lower their guns, the President who is watching live says "tell the police to stand down!" and this happens immediately. Having to guess what the game thinks I should be doing is bad enough, when it's David Cage's hilarious expectation of how romantic relationships work, you'd be better with a monkey throwing darts at the screen. 

- At the end of Kara's story you make it to border control in Canada. After queuing to show a guy your passports he checks your temperature. If Markus has been peaceful and public opinion is positive, the guy lets you off and you get to slip through quietly and start a new life. Why does this check happen at the extreme end point of the journey? Why aren't people scanned entering the building? Getting off the bus? Getting on the bus? Getting through any of the checkpoints in Detroit she had to sneak through along the way? Why does it come down to one guy, and why doesn't his scanner start beeping immediately?

After recently playing Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls - two PS3 games - on PS4, the jump in graphics and the technical aspects of Detroit is very noticeable. This game looks amazing. The motion capture and detail in characters is fantastic. Faces and particularly eyes look better than ever, and this helps the game be more immersive and the characters more empathetic. The same goes for environments which look richer and fuller, and what I mentioned before about the world being more detailed than before is a direct consequence of this. As ever, nobody reacts when it rains so you can see water running down peoples' faces just to really show off the detail, but at this point I just knowingly roll my eyes. You might say it's like water off a duck's back. 

The soundtrack is also a big highlight of the game. Each character has their own theme and subsequent style of music throughout the game and whether ambient or focused, the music is always great. As with previous Quantic Dream games there's a series of behind the scenes videos showing you how the game was made, and being able to watch the composers explain why and how they developed the game's music is really interesting. I think NHL 2003 was the first game with lots of behind the scenes stuff I remember watching and I really enjoyed it. All games should have that. Maybe it'd be nice if studios that don't have the questionable work environment that Quantic Dream has did it, although it's always good to have a laugh seeing someone talking to camera while the word EMOTIONS is on the wall behind them in big black letters.

In addition to the evocative soundtrack, the game's general aesthetic is very striking. In one of those behind the scenes videos the guy responsible for the game's costume design explained that he wanted clothes that looked modern but 'normal,' and this plays a big part in making the world look convincing. I don't know how comparable to present-day Detroit the world is, but it looks like a city that's benefitted from a company that makes androids. You could argue there are issues with the human side that aren't really explored. There are a couple of humans featured earlier on in the game but considering the mass unemployment, and especially considering public opinion of androids is so important to the game's outcome, there's not much in the way of detail. It's a game about the androids so this is understandable, but it's still the humans' world they're trying to claim a place in. 

It's also worth pointing out that David Cage's direction has finally managed the properly cinematic. Beyond: Two Souls was full of terrible set-pieces and was presented in widescreen, which just make the game look like a giant cutscene. The aesthetic of Detroit itself is expanded to the game as a whole, and the overall experience benefits greatly as a result. The soundtrack, the acting and the detail in characters' faces ties in with this, but the game is consistently beautiful and striking, and always visually compelling. Scenes like Markus entering Jericho, Markus leading the freedom march, Connor's visits to Amanda, they all stand out. I can't even remember anything from Beyond: Two Souls besides the odd interior shot and Ellen Page crying a lot. Although there are still the overly creepy chapters that don't actually add anything to the story which you always get in a David Cage game (the guy with the pigeons is a particular highlight), the whole game is just much better cinematically than anything they've done before.

If I were to judge Detroit: Become Human alongside the other Quantic Dream games, I don't think it's the best. Maybe it's because Heavy Rain was my first exposure to this type of game, but it's still my favourite. It was the best experience, going in blind to the story. Detroit is better technically and mechanically, but the illogical results of some of the choices mark it down. Plus the whole child androids and terribly written slavery and holocaust parallels are just disgusting. 

Maybe if I was completely new to this style of game I'd have enjoyed Detroit more, I'm not sure. The subject matter seems well-suited for the type of games Quantic Dream makes, and while Detroit is unquestionably a vast technical achievement, the same pitfalls of clunky writing and what just seems like poorly thought out story threads hold it back from being genuinely great. I dread to think what David Cage is probably in the middle of writing right now. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Detroit Become Human might genuinely be the stupidest game I’ve ever played
Give Naughty Bear a go. Pretty sure that'll beat it hands down.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm having another crack at Bloodborne after it left me feeling uttelry brutalized first time round. Wish me luck.

Edited by Gordon EF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
55 minutes ago, Gordon EF said:

I'm having another crack at Bloodborne after it left me feeling uttelry brutalized first time round. Wish me luck.

I watched a casual speed run of it yesterday and it's got me in the mood to try it again. It's definitely the one that's most my vibe. How far in did you get?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, NotThePars said:

I watched a casual speed run of it yesterday and it's got me in the mood to try it again. It's definitely the one that's most my vibe. How far in did you get?

Only got to the second boss (Father Gascoigne). He must have killed me about 20 times. I was fine until he turned into that werewolf thing.

I was watching a video about if for beginners and the guy was saying a lot of people's problem if they've come from Dark Souls is that they're too defensive and evasive whereas you need to be a bit more aggressive with Bloodborne. So I'm going to try that this time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...