Earlier this year Square Enix and Sony made a big splash at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) when they showed the announcement trailer for an upcoming remake of Final Fantasy VII. Though many fans have been asking and hoping for just such a thing to happen, many believed it never would. So, when the announcement trailer dropped back in June, people lost their minds.
This weekend, in what seems like a pretty short span of time, we were already treated to more footage of the game. Most interesting is the tiny bit of actual gameplay in the trailer, as it definitely looks to be a departure from the classic turn-based system that the original operated on in lieu of a more current, action oriented approach. Not surprising as the franchise has largely moved away from the classic combat systems of old in favor of a more fluid approach to battle. Take a look after the jump:
Publishers don’t take chances like they used to. Developing a game has become so costly that if a game fails to sell millions within the first few weeks of release, it could easily mean bankruptcy for the studio. It’s the reason so many publishers are sticking with the certainty of sequels and familiar franchises – Even if they do poorly, they’ll still likely sell better than an unknown quantity. There’s far less risk. But as a result of this policy fans take notice when a brand new IP is announced. Repetition has become such a common thing that a lot of hope goes into the debut of a new franchise. It could be the thing that shakes up an entire genre (think Arkham Asylum‘s free-flow combat, or Assassin’s Creed‘s free running mechanic). We’re over a year into the new generation of consoles now, and with new hardware comes an eagerness for new experiences. As one of the most talked about new IPs of the PS4/Xbox One era, The Order: 1886 is expected by many to be just that.
The Order surprised many people when it was revealed at E3 in 2013. No one had heard anything about the title before the trailer reveal, and the footage shown was impressive. As the months went on, developer Ready At Dawn gave us more glimpses into this strange, new steampunk, Victorian London world. Was what we were seeing merely footage of cutscenes? Was it gameplay? What was the game about?
I was extremely excited about The Order. Everything Ready At Dawn released had me changing my pants. Steampunk? Yes, please! Werewolves (or, in this instance, lycans)? Sure, I’ll have some. Nikola Tesla? Oh, hell yes! Sign me up! And those graphics? :::pants heavily:::
It’s been a long wait to finally get ahold of the game since its original Summer 2014 launch date was pushed back, and all the while the important question was whether or not I’d feel the same way after playing the game. And so, many months later, now that I’ve had the chance to finish The Order: 1886, does that excitement still hold?
It does… sort of.
Let’s talk about the graphics first. Here is a game that makes a compelling argument as to why a person needs to upgrade to the current gen. Presented in a cinematic letterbox format, the game is just gorgeous. I’m not just talking about the cutscenes. I’m talking about the gameplay, too. The cinematic camera angles and lighting add an unimaginable atmosphere to the environments you explore. Whether you’re walking the dirty streets of White Chapel or scaling the side of a zeppelin, there is so much subtle attention to detail you’ll marvel at the technology behind it. You can shoot hats off enemies or pots off their hangers. A zeppelin’s form will shift and deflate as you rappel down its side. The graphical fidelity is so great that the transition from cutscene to gameplay is practically seamless. There will be moments when you are watching a cutscene and nothing is happening and you realize it’s time for you to take control of your character again.
But graphics alone does not a great game make. And it’s here that the game starts to falter.
As beautiful as the world is, there’s just not much you’re actually doing in it. The visuals are great to look at but the game doesn’t do enough to try and bring you inside its world. Walking off the obvious route doesn’t yield many rewards. You might find an occasional newspaper or phonograph tube, but beyond that there’s little incentive to turn your eyes off the beaten path. It seems like they want you to explore the environments, but when you do you’ll oftentimes encounter a dead-end with nothing to interact with. The few times you do find something, the flavor text doesn’t do much in the way of world-building. It’s horribly frustrating because I wanted so badly to learn more about The Order and the Lycans, but barely anything I found added felt like a worthwhile addition to the central storyline.
The gameplay functions well enough. It’s serviceable. Sometimes you’ll have to sneak, in which case you automatically go into a crouch to “quick-time” death your victim. It works, for the most part, although sometimes you can find yourself sticking to the wall unintentionally or dropping out of a wall-hug at inopportune moments. These moments can be irritating but they’re manageable.
The action works fine, too. It’s a typical third-person cover-based shooter, and it controls responsively. A quick push of the circle button puts you under cover. Melee is a timed pressing of the triangle button and gunplay is handled with R2. Much like the graphics, however, the action will leave you wanting more. For all the talk of interesting and creative weapons, a lot of the firearms you use can feel underpowered. Sometimes it feels like the the enemies are taking far too much punishment before they’ll go down. The biggest travesty is how infrequent Nikola Tesla’s weapons are used, especially for the way his tech has been advertised by Ready At Dawn. My favorite weapon is the thermite gun, but it is tragically under-used throughout the campaign.
Finally, we come to the story. Again, as with the rest of The Order, the story works. For the most part. You play as Galahad, a Knight of The Order, tasked with unraveling a massive conspiracy that could change the face of the known world. Who can he trust? Who are his friends? Who are his foes? The story is told through sixteen chapters and by the end you can’t help but feel like they told the wrong part of the story. You want to learn more about the lycans and hopefully encounter them more. You want to know more about The Order and your teammates. Hell, you want to learn more about this weird, anachronistic steampunk London. But by the end of the game, you’re left with nothing more than a set up for The Order‘s next chapter. Like the trade negotiations in Star Wars Episode I, the part that they focused on the most – the conspiracy – was probably the least interesting part of the game.
And since we’re talking about the story, now would be a good time to talk about the game’s length. Much has been said about the running time of the game. Some sites have reported the game can be finished in four – five hours. The game’s length is in line with other single player action titles. That is to say, while it isn’t a short game, don’t expect to find 50 hours of game in here either. On a thorough playthrough, expect to sink about seven to ten hours into the story. Unfortunately, there is no multiplayer of any kind nor is there a New Game + mode, so there is little reason to replay the game unless you’re hoping to achieve a platinum trophy.
Ultimately, The Order is a fun romp but it left me wanting more. The game’s gorgeous graphics almost brought me into Ready At Dawn’s gorgeous world but, once I took the time to inspect my surroundings, I found there’s really not much beneath the beautiful textures and lighting. It constantly feels like something big and exciting is just around the corner but never gets introduced. And with no real replay value, it’s hard to imagine a reason to revisit the game once it’s finished. The Order: 1886 is a solid first effort by Ready of Dawn but it falls just short of great.
Earlier this week, Sony PlayStation announced a major change coming to their PlayStation Now service. Starting January 13, PlayStation Now users can start streaming 100+ games via a subscription plan. For $19.99 a month or $44.99 for 3-months, PSNow users on their PS4’s will be able to stream hundreds of PS3 games as many times as they would like. This subscription plan will be available first to PlayStation 4 users with the eventual rollout to other platforms.
For those not in the know, PlayStation Now is the Netflix-like PS3 game streaming service that is available on PS4, PS3, PS Vita, select Sony branded TVs and, just recently announced, select upcoming Samsung televisions. When the beta launched last year, gamers could choose to rent and stream selected PS3 games for a set amount of time for a small rental fee. The problem was that the pricing made little sense. Games ranged from $4.99 for a 4 hr. period, all the way up to $39.99 for 90-days. At that type of pricing, you were better off just buying the game used! And while, during the beta period, pricing did become more realistic, most people held out until word of a subscription plan came through.
Still, at $19.99/month, many folks feel that the price is still too high. And yet, looking at the game rental landscape, there really isn’t anything like PlayStation Now. GameFly and RedBox are both physical-disc rental services. Neither offer the opportunity to stream games from the comforts of home. Also, you are limited by the amount of physical discs you rent so you either have to wait until GameFly sends you your next game or you travel out to a RedBox kiosk. The closest service that is comparable to PSNow is OnLive ($14.99/month) but even they don’t offer a large selection of games to choose from.
I’ve been on PlayStation Now since it was in its private closed beta form. On top of the price, I know many of you are worried about how the games play. Let’s face it, if you’re streaming, issues like latency are really important especially on certain game types like fighting games that require split-second timing. In the time that I’ve used the service, however, I have not experience any significant lag in gameplay, and I have my PS4 set up to my network wirelessly. The only issue I’ve had was that the games weren’t as sharp as I remember on the PS3. This isn’t that surprising considering we’re talking about streaming a full, complex game over the internet. A drop in resolution is a small price to pay for instant streaming of games.
Should you pay the $19.99/month? If all you have is a PlayStation 4 and you really want to play some of the games you missed in the previous generation, then go ahead. You’ll find many gems to play. And since it’s unlimited, you can try as many games as you’d like. If you still own a PS3, then you’d probably be better off just buying the physical disc or downloading the full copy instead. Make the jump once Sony starts offering PSOne and PS2 games. Another option is to just do the individual game rentals which will still be available.
If you want to try out the service for yourself, there will be a free 7-day trial membership available when the service launches on January 13.
December 6, 2014 will go forever be remembered by Sony PlayStation fans for several reasons. Sony celebrated 20 years of gaming excellence on their behalf by putting on the inaugural PlayStation Experience event. The first official day started off with an extensive press/fan conference that featured exciting bits of gamer trailers and so much more. Never mind the disappointing moments (that Final Fantasy VII PS4 reveal felt like the biggest troll announcement ever…), because we’re going to showcase the top 10 gameplay trailers that made their debut.
10. LittleBigPlanet 3
This nod to the long spanning past and present of the PlayStation brand was incredible. The PlayStation Experience audience no doubt got nostalgia chills as they watched Sackboy reenact the best moments from PlayStation’s biggest games. We spotted some of our favorites here, like Twisted Metal, God of War, Shadow of the Colossus and more. We’re hoping those levels spotted in this trailer are up for download soon…
9. Drawn to Death
David Jaffe’s name is attached to two of Sony’s biggest original IP’s – Twisted Metal and God of War. So when he finally hit the stage during the final moments of the PlayStation Experience live stream, we got excited. His newest project was revealed to be Drawn to Death, a third-person multiplayer shooter that sports the visuals seen in school book doodle drawings. We have a new favorite character because of this gameplay trailer reveal – Dodgeball Dan.
8. Until Dawn
You’ve probably guessed by now that some of us here enjoy a good slash ’em up horror film or two. The PS4 exclusive Until Dawn replicates the slasher film experience perfectly as evidenced by this new dose of gameplay. You’ll have to make tough decisions as you avoid death at every turn. You’ll need to keep your teenage survivors safe since they’re capable of dying for good. We can’t wait to act out our Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book fantasies with this game in 2015.
7. Yakuza 5
Sega made a bold proclamation during the PlayStation Experience live stream event – Yakuza 5 will be arriving on the PS3 in 2015! Our hype levels went through the roof once that announcement was made! There’s no need for us to be jealous of Japanese gamers any longer. The localization for this open-world hit has been a long time coming. We’re finally getting the 5th main entry in the best video game adaptation of Chinese Mafia living…ever.
6. The Order: 1886
FINALLY! Some extended gameplay for this fresh PS4 IP was on the top of our list of the trailers we wanted to see during the Playstation Experience. The Order: 1886 just got put back on our list of most anticipated games for 2015. The cover-based gameplay, cinematic graphical presentation, interesting plot premise and terrifying beasts got us even more excited to enter this game’s dark world.
5. Batman: Arkham Knight
We knew we were going to have to pick our jaws up off the floor once this trailer came to a close. Batman: Arkham Knight will take away so many countless hours from our lives upon release. This new gameplay trailer showed off the Batmobile’s puzzle integration, Batman’s new combat skills and an explosive gunfight between the Batmobile and a helicopter. Just like those bums The Dark Knight laid out, that helicopter didn’t even have a chance…
Wow…just wow. From Software adopted the punishing yet addictive nature of its Dark Souls series, placed it all within a gothic horror backdrop and made the combat just that much quicker and bloodier. The result? Bloodborne. The new trailer on display for the upcoming action RPG featured some intense battles that featured well-equipped co-op partners. The mentioning of a playable, never-ending dungeon got us pretty hyped for this one.
3. No Man’s Sky
So Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky is big. Like, really friggin’ ginormous. Want proof? Take a gander at all the different planets you’ll come upon as you explore this game’s massive universe. The sci-fi nut inside of us felt so much shock and awe at the sight of all the different looking landscapes we could explore. This game is innovative and we can’t wait to test out its fresh take on planetary exploration in 2015.
2. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
We knew we were going to see some sort of trailer alluding to the continued development of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. We just weren’t expecting to watch a 15-minute long live demo of it. As far as video game press conferences go, this intro was one of the best. Watching Nathan Drake run, jump shoot, sneak and grapple looked amazing in motion. That new grappling hook mechanic was cool as all hell. Ignore the Drake death glitch and enjoy the gameplay!
1. Street Fighter V
Yeah, we totally saw the leaked trailer for this huge reveal. But the official PlayStation Experience reveal was nothing short of mesmerizing. The next-gen overhauls of Street Fighter’s Ryu and Chun-Li were incredible to watch during this extended fight scene. We came away from this demonstration thoroughly impressed. The flashy air combos, environmental interaction and powerful new moves has us ready for the next generation of Street Fighter.
Arguably Sony’s biggest exclusive IP slated to hit the PS4 in 2015, Bloodborne has been raking in excitement and anticipation the last few months, but Wednesday, developer From Software announced that the upcoming action RPG will be pushed over a month from its original February 6, 2015 release date to March 24.
From Software will use the additional seven weeks to push the game even harder, and producer Masaaki Yamagiwa promises that the final product will benefit from the feedback of their alpha gameplay experiment that took place in October:
It is with regret that I must inform you that Bloodborne will be slightly delayed.
While development continues unabated, we would like our team to deliver the best possible final experience. We were gratified by the feedback and data we received from those who participated in our limited Alpha test. The extra production time will also allow us to better integrate these learnings.
Bloodborne is now set to launch in North America exclusively on PS4 on March 24th, 2015.
Please look forward to some exciting Bloodborne news in early December. Thank you very much for your continued support.
It seems to us that reception to the alpha was generally positive, with Demon’s/Dark Souls vets praising the new setting of Yarnham and some of the IP’s newest refinements to the combat system. We were not able to take part in the alpha, but the footage we’ve seen of the demo shows a very polished-looking game – Even in this early stage, the game looks like it performs better than all three Souls games, which, despite glowing reviews, are burdened with frame rate issues of varying proportions.
Our guess is that From Software is focusing this extra time on Bloodborne‘s online gameplay, which is still relatively under wraps. Alpha testers got to test out co-op, which operates seemingly exactly the same as it does in the Dark Souls series, but player-vs-player combat was noticeably absent from the demo. The online aspect of Bloodborne‘s sister titles is one of their most unique elements, and veterans of the previous games will certainly want to dive headlong into PVP once the game hits store shelves. Network issues and online balancing is a nefarious thing to calibrate, and usually doesn’t get tweaked and perfected until launch (and these days, frequently not until after then), so it would make sense that From Software’s looking at user data from the alpha to tighten their infrastructure before launch.
All signs point to Bloodborne being a major success for the PS4, and both Sony and From Software are going to do everything in their power to make sure the game is as good as possible. If that takes seven extra weeks of development, so be it – Yarnham is still one of the most enticing new worlds to explore (and die in) in the coming year.
It’s Call of Duty. That’s really all that should be said but this time developer Infinity Ward has moved on from the Modern Warfare series. This time, we’re getting a more interactive experience and new story. Plus you get a dog as a teammate, and what better way to take on the rest of the world than having man’s best friend at your side. Call of Duty: Ghosts promises a more intimate experience with the story, which has been written by Academy Award Winner Stephen Gaghan (Traffic, Syriana) and more emphasis on your teammates. Below is the new trailer for it so let’s take a gander at it together:
It looks beautiful, doesn’t it? Seeing the lush rainforest and other environments should make this a great game to play on the next-gen systems. Having the game take place in a time where governments have fallen is an interesting twist on the genre and if anything, having Gaghan on as the writer increases the clout of Infinity Ward delivering a great single player story. Plus, it helps that the trailer plays like a movie as well. We can all hope for a Band of Brothers type of experience with your teammates being that they are all you’ve got. Of course, the trailer is still pretty vague so that and other aspects of the story remains to be seen. It should still be a great gaming experience to look forward to. Plus, the screenshot below just looks pretty as it came from the Xbox One presser earlier on Tuesday. As for this game, look for it November 5th, 2013. That day will also be known as the day several people call off work and the workplace comes to a grinding halt. Sign me up for that as well.