It’s finally here! After 5 years of waiting, Grand Theft Auto V has finally arrived and everyone loves it! Other things happened this week as well, and here’s our overview.
Editorials, News, and Reviews
There haven’t been any reviews this week as we are taking our time in reviewing GTA V, but look for that on the site soon!
Much has happened this week in editorials, however. Our Friday Night Rant is up, this week discussing Free-to-Play games and their problems. Check it out for an interesting view on F2P games! The weekly Only Speaking Professionally is also up, discussing the controversial topics in GTA V, and the internet’s reactions to them. Blizzard announced plans to remove the real money auction houses from Diablo III, and Simon gave his opinion on that as well. Finally, Connor compared Microsoft and Sony on the indie game front.
The week was also full of news, many of which came from Tokyo Game Show. Dark Souls II and Final Fantasy X/X-2 were both given release dates, and there were rumors of a PS4 iteration of the Uncharted series. Sony gave more details about the Gaikai cloud technology for the PS4, as well as post-release Gran Turismo 6 news. A new The Evil Within trailer was also released, and a new survival game called The Long Dark is now on Kickstarter. Criterion Games has reduced its staff, and Sony is waiting for the right time to reintroduce The Last Guardian. Finally, Sony unveiled October’s PlayStation Plus free games, and, for the biggest news of the week, Atlus will become part of Sega.
As for news for the site, we should all welcome Jen Guerin to the site! Be sure to comment to welcome her!
This week was crazy with the release of Grand Theft Auto V, and we know we’ll keep playing that far into the future. Next week will feature, as always, many editorials and news stories, as well as our review of GTA V.
Catch you guys next week and keep gaming!
198X Review — A Nostalgia Trip Without a Destination
Some short stories feel more like chapters—snipped out of a larger work—that struggle to make sense on their own. 198X represents a translation of that ethos to video game form. As a result, the game feels unfulfilling, though that does not detract from the overall quality on offer. Ultimately, the player’s appraisal of 198X will depend on whether they place more stock in story or gameplay because while the former leaves much to be desired, the latter will be a hit for anyone with fond memories of the 8- and 16-bit classics.
In the framing and overall structure, 198X is decidedly modern, but everything else pulses with a retro vibe. At its core, the game is a compilation, weaving together five distinct experiences under the auspice of a story of personal development. From the Double Dragon-infused ‘Beating Heart’ to the turn-based dungeon RPG ‘Kill Screen’, each title feels slick, if a little undercooked. Those old-school originals could only dream of being as smooth as these throwbacks. However, the two-button input methodology results in the games feeling just a touch too simple, though their brevity—each clocking in at a maximum of 15 minutes (depending on the player’s skill level and muscle memory)—makes that less of an issue than it might have been. If more depth is present, it is hidden well, as the game lacks any sort of tutorial to guide players. Nevertheless, the stellar presentation goes a long way towards papering over the cracks.
The pixel art aesthetic of 198X is staggering. Each of the worlds that players make their way through is pitched perfectly to fit the mood it evokes. From the grungy brawler of the first game to the more melancholic mood of the open-road racer, the screen is drenched in lavish colour and far more detail than one might expect from such a seemingly simple art style.
Easily a match for the visuals is the audio. The in-game sounds of a car engine or bone-crunching strike are low-key, which allows the music to come to the fore. Those tunes are all from the electronic genre, simple, yet layered with enough depth to not feel tedious or tiring. Easily overshadowing all the rest though is Maya Tuttle’s voice-over narration as The Kid. Her tone is one of pervasive resignation that works to reinforce the same mood within the script.
That melancholia will surely strike a chord with anyone who has grown up on the fringes. The Kid speaks of once loving and now hating the Suburbia of their childhood, where memories of happiness collide with a contemporary feeling of entrapment. The words and lines are powerfully evocative—made even more so by the connection between the gameworlds and the prevailing emotion at that point. The problem is that they amount to nothing. The story comprises of these snippets—these freestanding scenes of life lived lonely—that never coalesce into anything. The Kid may find an arcade and speak of finding some sort of home and a source of strength, but it goes nowhere. The game ends just as things start to get interesting. Setting up for a sequel is no sin. Plenty of other games and media products—from Dante’s Inferno to Harry Potter—have done just that. However, to be effective, such first parts need to offer a story in and of themselves, not just the promise of a story to come, and that is where 198X falls apart.
With each game in the compilation being a straightforward, one-and-done affair and the overarching narrative feeling like a prologue at best, 198X is wafer-thin. The presentation is simply remarkable, and the package has enough variety to be worth a look, but the unmistakable impression is that something is missing.
Reviewed on PC. Coming soon to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
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