Star Trek Online (PS5): COMPLETED!

As it turns out, it is possible to complete Star Trek Online, and it’s possible to do it without paying any money at all. Because that’s what I did.

I know that for many people, the game here is all the endgame content, playing with others, doing the same missions over and over and collecting all the ships and stuff. That’s not for me. I reached the cap of level 65, then finished all the single play missions remaining, and that’s it. And it was mostly OK?

I’m still baffled how buggy it is, especially since some of the bugs I came across were there and reported on the official forums three or four years ago, and how clunky it all is. The menus are unwieldy and the menu navigation controls clearly suffer from controller rather than mouse use. The animations are PS2 level woodeness, characters randomly stand on chairs and tables (or sometimes, inside walls, doors or furniture), and getting stuck inside asteroids or rocky outcrops in caves is such a frequent issue that rather than fix it, they included a “warp somewhere nearby” option in the menu called “I am stuck”.

It’s repetitive. It’s broken. It’s ugly. And, although this isn’t the game’s fault, it doesn’t even fit into the Star Trek universe any more. But I enjoyed it enough to spend what is probably 125+ hours on it so I suppose it must have done something right?

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life (PS4): COMPLETED!

And so, the Kazuma Kiryu saga is over. That’s it. Done. Well, until they decide to make another one which I’m 100% certain they will at some point.

Yakuza 6 isn’t a radical departure from the series, nor is it the pinnacle, but it is more melancholy, more complicated, and more based in seeming realism than previously. The story is very important, what with it being the last episode, so I dare not spoil it for you, but it involves Kiryu going to prison (again) for his part in the events of Yakuza 5, during which time Haruka vanishes only to reappear just as Kiryu finishes his sentence and is then coincidentally (or not) hit by a car and hospitalised. Oh yeah, and she has a baby, which The Dragon of Dojima decides to look after while Haruka lies comatose – meaning for several hours of play you have a baby to carry round everywhere too.

The first half of the game is mostly about Kiryu trying to track down both where Haruka has been for the last three years, and who – and then where – the father of the child is. With some of that resolved, Yakuza 6 returns to more Yakuza’y traditions, with gangsters and rival clans and Triads and the Korean Mafia and some off-track vigilantes all getting involved in the story, and it transpires that Haruka’s accident was much more central to the all out war in Kamurocho than it seemed at first.

Kiryu and Akiyama fight some Triads in the sewers. Pretty standard.

As usual, there are twists that would make a Chubby Checker sweat: allegiance swapping, surprise reveals, backstabbing, spying, double-crossing and lots of fake respect. As agendas are revealed the plot gets more complicated, not less, and it isn’t until the final chapter than things finally start making sense. If there’s anything Ryu Ga Gotoku can do, it’s tell a gripping yarn.

And, interwoven is the regular series nonsense – arcades, side quests, bizarre events and even more bizarre characters. In the more rural Onomichi region of Hiroshima, where Kiryu spends half of the game, you come across references to a number of Studio Ghibli films – a boy and a girl swapping bodies when they fall down some stairs, and a girl who claims to have leapt through time, for example. Onomichi reminded me a bit of Okinawa from Yakuza 3, and combined with the local Yakuza family – who are key to the story – it feels a little like a re-tread of that game. Even one of the voice actors appears as characters in both.

In Hiroshima, Kiryu doesn’t wear his jacket. Big news!

Visually, it’s the most stunning Yakuza game to date. It’s running the same engine as Kiwami 2 and that looked incredible too, but having new locations helps even more here, I think. Playing it on a PS5 meant loading times hardly existed, which was much appreciated.

There isn’t much else I can say which doesn’t also apply to the other games in the series too, or that would ruin the excellent story here. As I said, it’s not my favourite Yakuza game (I think that might be Zero?), but it’s still absolutely fantastic. The surprises and the wait for the end reveal kept me hooked all the way through, and the gameplay is solid, the fighting meaty and enjoyable, and the nonsense turned up just enough. The characters in Yakuza games are some of the most well written, fleshed out and acted in the media, and that’s no different here. I particularly liked the unexpected appearance of Beat Takeshi, and his character arc.

Most importantly, if you’ve any affinity for Yakuza games, you absolutely must play this game. Or you could watch my playthough below, although that won’t tell you everything as Sega like to block the recording of the final chapters of Yakuza games…

Yakuza Kiwami 2 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Another PS4 game played on the PS5. I’ve not given this a go on an actual PS4 so I don’t know how much of this is the PS5, but having no loading is excellent, and it’s all in 4K and Kamurocho looks incredible.

Kiwami 2 is a remake of the original PS2 Yakuza 2 game, which I’ve never played. I knew some of the story from flashbacks in later games in the series, but none of the detail. Like the other Yakuza titles, the plot is all over the place – in a good way. People aren’t who you think they are, quite literally in several cases, and your allies have a tendency to swap sides. The story is mainly about the Korean mafia returning to Japan – having seemingly been wiped out 26 years ago – to take revenge on the Tojo Clan who killed them all on behalf of the police. More or less. Obviously, it’s not as simple as that.

As in the other Yakuzas, gameplay is a mixture of punching people in the face, and wandering round the city (well, cities – you return to Sotenbori too) finding people, places or avoiding things. There’s also the usual array of side missions, from the sensible to the nonsensical. In one, you might have to hunt down a kidnapper, but in another you’re a voice actor for a Boys Love video game. In the arcades there’s a fully working Virtua Fighter 2 machine next to the UFO Catchers, and you can play a golfing minigame, darts, or even run a hostess club should you not have enough to do in the main story. Oh! And best of all, a toilet arcade game called Toylets:

It’s Another Yakuza. It’s a very, very pretty Yakuza, and as always the voice acting and the characters are both fantastic. And, although I enjoyed it very much, if Yakuza isn’t for you then this isn’t going to change your mind.

If you want to watch my entire playthrough (bar the final chapter which Sega doesn’t let you broadcast), then you can here:

Maneater (PS5): COMPLETED!

At first, Maneater is a great fish-chomping game with slightly annoying combat (with crocodiles and barracuda) and a funny faux Deadliest Catch style narration, but it soon starts to become tedious and repetitive. And then, even though the game doesn’t change, it becomes fun again. I’m not sure why.

You’re a baby shark, who eats to get bigger and evolve, ultimately to take down Scaly Pete, the fisherman who killed your mother. The waters you swim in are broken down into areas, with you starting in a swamp and moving through an industrial area, a nightlife filled city, the open sea, and so on. Each is opened up by completing tasks, such as munching a number of humans on a beach or destroying a fishing boat or culling some seals. Bigger water creatures attack you, and if you cause enough damage or eat enough people, the humans start to hunt you down.

There are RPG elements, as each thing you consume gives you certain “nutrients” which are spendable on upgrades such as gnashier teeth or a whippier tail. You also get different types of body part, such as bone or electric, for progressing. As well as this, you’ve 10 increasingly difficult hunters to coax out and eat as a sort of side story, and a number of Tony Hawk style floating objects to collect or Assassin’s Creedy hidden chests to smash open.

As for why I tired of the repetition before getting back into it and having a whale (a sperm whale, actually – I ate a few) of a time – perhaps I just switched off a bit of my brain and embraced the simplicity? There’s not much depth (except in the open sea, ho ho), and it’s not very hard (although I had a couple of hurdles that required levelling up a bit), nor is it very long, but don’t go in expecting Skyrim with Sharks and you’ll probably enjoy it too.

Maquette (PS5): COMPLETED!

Maquette is a very clever idea married with a nice story but neither has much to do with the other. It’s basic premise is that you’re in a world and in that world is a miniature representation of the same world, and at the same time the world you’re in is a small version of a larger world. It’s turtles all the way down.

But they’re not just models – items that exist in one sized world also exist in the other sizes, and you can pick them up and move them from, say, the smaller world to the “normal” world, and then they become tiny in the small world. Or vice-versa to make them big. Puzzles revolve around this, with you needing to make keys for doors bigger or smaller, or place items on the other side of the small walls so they’re there in the larger world where the wall is too big to jump over.

It’s very clever, but flawed. A number of times the physics thwarted me by bouncing an item out of reach. Or I fell through a floor that had no solidity. A later puzzle involves slotting Tetris-like shapes into a partly populated grid, but the controls and “snapping” of items made dropping them in exactly the right place incredibly frustrating.

Much like what I thought of the game itself once completed.

The final chapter involves the you being able to move the domed structure you’re in (the maquette of the title, presumably) by moving a smaller version of it already inside it. While the brainknots this causes are impressive, it all seems a bit too much for the, uh, feeble PS5 as it carrying the dome around makes the game chug along with sometimes more than one frame per second. And it crashed twice, once taking a saved game with it – thankfully I had a “spare”. Not what I expected from The Most Powerful PlayStation.

The story, which has no real bearing on the game bar the basic tone and the odd object that’s referenced, is actually about the chance meeting of two people, them getting together, moving in together, and the relationship stagnating. It’s not twee, nor is it sad, but it doesn’t fit with the game.

So, Maquette is a clever puzzle game ruined a little by technical issues, while you listen to a podcast about a young couple who met in a cafe.

Concrete Genie (PS4): COMPLETED!

I thought this game was going to be about painting murals on walls, which then come to life. And, for a while, it is. You paint genies who can help you move objects, activate power or open doors, and you can paint random stuff on most vertical surfaces. However, it’s a lot darker than that and the first third of the game involves a lot of hiding from some not very nice bullies.

There’s quite a bit of Assassin’s Creed style traversal, which I wasn’t expecting. Not sure how Ash, the boy you control, has the skills needed to use the underside of a crane arm as monkey bars without freaking out he’s going to die. There’s a lot of collecting scrapbook pages that float around the rooftops, again giving the feel of Assassin’s Creed III.

But it isn’t Assassin’s Creed of course – it’s a painting game as I said. Until it isn’t. The final part of the game introduces attacks, a skating mechanic, and a health bar, as you suddenly have enemies to fight. It also introduced a bug where one of the enemies wouldn’t move and was invincible. These bits of the game, and the final boss, aren’t really what I signed up for and don’t really fit. It doesn’t help that the “lock on” button very rarely actually locks on to the baddies, and when it does it doesn’t stay locked on for long. I don’t know if that’s a bug or by design, but either way it hampers beating them and just adds annoyance to the end of the game.

Concrete Genie is a very pretty game (perhaps more so as I played it on the PS5), with some clever bits and a nice world and story, and the painting bits are enjoyable, but the world traversal is clunky and the game style switch was a bad idea.

LocoRoco Remastered (PS4): COMPLETED!

It’s been a while since I played this back on the PSP. I noticed it on PSN, with other PSP games PaRappa the Rapper and Patapon for about £3 in total, so picked them up. PaRappa, which was the main reason for buying them, is actually unplayable but luckily this is fine.

It’s a lot easier than I remember. Sure, if you’re going for 100% then yes, it’s tricky, but I didn’t even have any issues on the final level like I did before. Maybe they made it easier in this remaster?

And I say remaster. Apparently it’s just running on a PSP emulator and at a higher resolution during the game. The video sections are poorly upscaled and grainy with black bars, but they don’t really matter.

Sonic Forces (PS4): COMPLETED!

Sonic Forces is an exceptionally bad game. I knew this before I even started, partly because I’d played two different demos in the past, plus I knew it was “like Sonic Generations, only Worse”. I was never going to buy it, but then it was a free PS+ rental. But I was never going to play it, but then I did.

Here is a list of everything that is good about Sonic Forces:

  1. Is it very short

I tried to find a 2 but I’m struggling. I could list everything that is bad about Sonic Forces, but I can do that with one word: Everything.

Special mention, however, could be made for several particularly awful things. Firstly, there’s the fact you can create your own character. Why this is necessary when Sonic games already have a cast of millions of terrible, terrible creatures you could have chosen, I don’t know. What it does here, though, is allow you to have a mute protagonist – referred to only by the name “rookie” – for some but not most of the levels. Every time you finish a level, a billion clothing items (all of which are useless) unlock for you to pointlessly change your character’s outfit in those few levels you don’t play as Sonic.

Oh, it’s Chemical Plant! Only Sonic is microscopic for Some Reason.

Secondly, there’s the inertia and physics. They’re all wrong. Yes, I know it’s not supposed to be realistic, but they don’t work in the game. The worst bit is when you’re playing a “2.5D” section, the way the screen scrolls too much when you make a slight landing alteration, screws up the jump arc. So, if you’re jumping right, but tap left a little, the whole screen moves the opposite way meaning you miss the landing.

Then there’s the fact that you’re waaaaay too small. The Green Hill, Chemical Plant and Death Egg levels especially feel like you’ve been shrunk.

Just look at this mess.

And there’s more! All of the 3D into-the-screen levels are little more than rubbish “autorunner” games. You even tap the shoulder buttons to choose which “lane” you’re in. Several of the bosses are on these autorunner levels too, so they all feel exactly the same.

Finally (well, for this post at least – there are a million more things wrong with it I’ve not mentioned), it’s just not fun. At all. It’s not even worth what I paid for it (which was nothing). At least in Sonic Generations, the “old Sonic” levels were decent, but here they’re few and far between and have the broken inertia thing. Sure, they’re the best bits of the game, but that’s like saying you have a “best bit” when involved in a car accident.

In an attempt to become a Mario game, for some reason your custom character can walljump. But not all the time. Because Unexplained.

Wattam (PS4): COMPLETED!

From the possibly damaged brain of the guy who brought you the beautiful nonsense that was Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy, is Wattam. Presumably it is called Wattam because when you see it for the first time, you say “what? erm”.

The plot is that everything has exploded and gone away and you, as a lonely square mayor has to bring everything back. And you do this by making trees eat your friends and turning them into fruit, by making everyone cry using an onion, and by getting a disembodied mouth to eat everyone, turn them into poos, then you flush those poos in a toilet (which you control) and then they turn into gold poos and then you have to stack the gold poos on top of each other so they’re as tall as a giant bowling pin, then you plant an acorn and everyone holds hands and then you take your hat off and explode..

Just in case it wasn’t baffling enough, some of the characters speak Korean, Russian and Japanese.

That’s right. The game makes even less sense than Noby Noby Boy and Katamari.

It has clunky controls and a clunky camera just like its predecessors, it has bizarre music like its predecessors, and against all odds the weirdness actually means it’s a lot of fun, also like its predecessors.

Yeah, it’s yet another one of those games where you have to control giant face parts and assemble them on a giant face while the giant face runs around and you have to find various ways to fight it, including throwing tobiko sushi babies at it. A crowded genre, for sure.

Heavy Rain (PS4): COMPLETED!

Never before has a game made me so angry.

It’s not the sort of game I’d ever normally consider playing, and I didn’t know that much about it apart from that it was by David Cage (which itself meant very little as I’ve never played a Cage game) and involved a murder story. I thought it was a bit like one of the Telltale Games adventures, but more “cinematic”. But, coerced by two people I considered, until this point, as friends, I played it.

I should point out that as I type, I am still very angry about this game. A game which is now the worst game I have ever played. And oh boy have I played some crap. This post will be full of spoilers, which frankly you should think of in the same way your parents tell you not to eat berries from the garden.

Heavy Rain’s plot is this: someone is kidnapping children, drowning them in rainwater, and dumping their bodies. You, as in, the four different characters you play as throughout the game, are trying to find out who the killer is. One of these characters, Ethan, is especially invested in finding out because his son Shaun has just been kidnapped and he’s been left a series of ridiculous and Saw-like challenges to prove his love for his son and potentially save him before he drowns.

I should try to get the positive points out before I vomit bile onto the page. There are some excellent toilets, and a lot of them, in Heavy Rain. Most locations in the game have at least one, and you can actually use them too. The plot would also make a good film. That’s it. Two things.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where Heavy Rain gets it wrong because it gets so many things wrong. Each thing individually is, for the most part, relatively minor but they’re so damn numerous that it’s just a writhing mess of broken game elements thrown at a wall like over-salted porridge. Let’s start with the controls.

The controls are bloody awful.

Let us imagine you’re the person who though the best parts of Shenmue were the QTEs. But you didn’t just love them, you fantasised about them. You made up stories about how you wooed them, married them, and had children with them. Grew old with them. You ate and breathed ever more fanciful QTEs where using your Playstation controller became more like a game of Zen Twister, embellishing button presses with stick flicking and pad flailing. As if Dragon’s Lair and Wii Sports had been involved in a matter transporter incident and the resulting Brundlefly was how David Cage decreed every action sequence was to be played out.

But the QTEs had bled out into the rest of the game. You’d not just be required to press X to open a door any more. No, you need to perform a hadouken instead. Every button, switch, cupboard. Every time you stand up, check your pockets, put your glasses on. Each and every time you answer your phone or look in a mirror. They’re all mini-QTEs. Games have evolved to the point where you just press a button to activate things for a reason. Adding nonsense complexity, especially when often the button prompt on the screen isn’t, well, even on the screen – at least long enough or in a visible way – is like tying your own shoelaces together. Why are you making it more difficult to walk? It isn’t making the game more interactive or realistic, it’s just reminding the player that this is a stupid game and you have to do stupid game things.

And at least in Shenmue if you fail a QTE sequence, you get to try again. Here, if you fail in certain places, you change the ending of the game. People die. You might die. I mean, in real life. There’s a lot of flailing. That’d can’t be good for you.

Yes. Hold “down” on the right analogue stick in order to pick UP a flower. You idiots.

That isn’t the only issue with the controls. No, the game also suffers from the same tank controls that died years ago with the original Resident Evil games. A control system which was borne partly from the lack of two analogue sticks and semi-static camera angles, and yet here is Heavy Rain channelling it again. You have times were you can’t change direction, or it changes for you, or you move out of one room into another but then the camera changes and you find yourself spinning around to walk back out again by accident. The lack of fine-tuning on your movements means it’s all too easy to move slightly past something you want to interact with then have to fight the controller to turn around and get into the correct position.

These issues would be enough to sink any game, but the controls and camera are just the tip of the iceberg. Although as we know just the tip of an iceberg sank the Titanic so you can see how bad this is going to be already.

I have played many games with serious flaws that have been worth it overall because of either the story or the sense of achievement. The need to find out who the Origami Killer is perhaps pushed me to complete Heavy Rain, but even that carrot wasn’t really enough. I had to dig deep to fight the urge to just stop and look up the ending, so perhaps the real reason I completed it was because I just didn’t want to cheat. It wasn’t worth it.

You see, the game is full of plot holes, contradictions and things that make no sense to the story. Characters do things when there is no reason to do them. They jump to conclusions when there is no evidence – or worse, when there is evidence but that particular character isn’t party to it but acts like they are. For example, when Madison is told who the killer is, she is shocked even though she has no idea that person even exists. In fact, even the killer is unaware he is the killer, because although it’s made clear that he is, you play as him and you didn’t know.

Some more “fun holes”:

  • The killer plants a car in a garage for Ethan to pick up. The car has been there for two years. In the glove box is a video showing Ethan’s son from just a few hours previously.
  • How did the gun get through the metal detector into the lockers?
  • Did the killer follow Ethan around constantly waiting for Ethan to have one of his blackouts? He’d have to in order to kidnap his son.
  • When the killer killed the antiques dealer, why did he call the police?
  • What happened to Scott’s asthma? After an hour it vanishes forever.
  • If Ethan isn’t the killer, why does he end up in the street where the real killer used to hang out, why does he dream about being the killer, and why does he “wake up” with origami in his hand?
  • How did Madison know to call Jayden, when until then she wasn’t even aware of his existence?

There are more. Hundreds of things, perhaps. I have a list.

On the subject of Jayden, I have to mention his magic FBI gear. For a game which is based completely in reality with no “magic”, science fiction or supernatural elements, Jayden’s See Everything sunglasses and You Can Really Feel the DNA glove are completely out of place.

This bit is the climax of Jayden’s ridiculous chase through an indoor market which involves running on ice and having chickens thrown at you. Because it’s STUPID.

But as Jimmy Cricket would say, come here, there’s more. Oh so much more.

I could talk for paragraphs about the woeful animation. Look, I understand this was originally a PS3 title and things were a little different then, but it was supposed to be one of the selling points of the game. Everyone walks like they have a limp. They look at things like they’re snapping their spine. They wave their arms around like Gerry Anderson is in control of their upper bodies. There’s a sex scene between Ethan and Madison (which also doesn’t make sense, but I’ll leave that) which is like Ken and Barbie mashing their faces and bodies together. That’s not how people kiss, David. All open mouthed like they’re trying to eat each other’s jaws.

And speaking of Madison, just… what? When we’re introduced to her in her vest and knickers because she’s a woman, she’s in the middle of a nightmare where she is being chased around her utterly huge apartment by two burglars? Assassins? Who knows. Then she wakes up. And aside from a mention of insomnia later on this is never mentioned or expanded on ever again. Also, again because she is a woman, she seems to get undressed a lot. Worse, even though all the male characters can use the toilets in the game, can she? Of course not.

  • Why didn’t the police investigate the people that Scott killed in the mansion?
  • Why didn’t the police investigate the ex-doctor that Madison killed?
  • Why didn’t the police investigate the father than Ethan killed?

The latter of these would normally have bothered me. In that, I had to decide to kill this guy or not. I’m usually pretty moralistic in games, to the point where even if it makes the game harder I’ll try to spare the life of people who don’t deserve to die. I was in knots trying not to kill the girlfriend in the original Prey, for example. But here, although I technically had the choice, I just wanted the easiest route to the end of the game and didn’t even pause for thought. Bang, through the head, move on. So much for the game wanting to trigger emotions and having to make difficult decisions – all overwritten by just the need to have the game over and done with.

Ethan has a panic attack in a crowd because of the trauma caused by the death of his first kid. Which is actually a good idea in the game. But then immediately afterwards he manages to get a gun through a metal detector somehow because Video Games.

Other supposedly difficult to deal with scenarios included the other trials for Ethan like chopping off a finger and drinking the poison. The game had made me so disinterested in such unbelievable characters in such contrived and impossible situations that I didn’t care in the slightest. Ethan might have a wobble about My Son or My Finger but frankly I couldn’t give a toss at that point and Antoinette’d that digit immediately. The game’s first hour goes out of its way to explain what a boring guy Ethan is anyway, what with it basically being a Grand Designs style tour of his house. Then his bird dies for no reason. Then his other son, Jason, also dies for no reason. It’s rubbish.

The almighty problem with the game, however, is undoubtedly the reveal of who the killer is. It doesn’t make any sense to be Scott. If it was better written, then of course it could have made sense, but it feels like they’d intended the killer to be someone else and changed it. Perhaps depending on your choices, more than one killer would be possible. But no, they chose Scott. Scott who, in the game, is 40, and 44, and 48. Scott who murders a man while you’re playing as Scott, only somehow you don’t see it happen. Scott who, when you “think” by pressing L2, ponders who the killer is. Scott who, for no reason at all, has a list of subscribers for some origami magazine which only serves to incriminate himself. Scott who owns a car with a pull-out cigarette lighter even though that particular model car pre-dates the invention of the pull-out cigarette lighter by 7 years. Scott who visits Gordi knowing it will endanger his own life in doing so, to find out if Gordi is the killer, even though Scott knows who the killer is BECAUSE THE KILLER IS SCOTT. Jesus Christ.

All of this, and so much more, made me very angry. Angry I’ve wasted so many hours playing this crap. Angry I’ve been duped into playing it in the first place. Angry that the developers think me so stupid I wouldn’t notice everything wrong with this. Angry at myself that I didn’t just stop after a couple of hours and read the Wikipedia entry instead. Angry that I discovered that Omikron: The Nomad Soul is also by Quantic Dream and I’ve always wanted to play that because it has Bowie in it, but now I can’t because Heavy Rain has ruined it. That’s right – it’s so bad that it has affected how good other games are.

It’s a good job it rains because otherwise the killer can’t do his killings. Clearly he can control the weather. Also, heavy rain would actually mean more rain in two hours than falls in the entirety of the game over several days, so even the game’s title is stupid.

I urge you to never play this game. Just don’t. Even if you want to play a bad game because it’ll be funny, this is not the game for you. Go and play Gynophobia or Bad Rats or something instead. David Cage is clearly a man who would be able to make a good film or perhaps a TV series, but instead he’s shoehorning a film plot into a poorly realised interactive “experience” where the flaws shine like beacons and the mechanics detract from the story. If you want to make a game more like a film, just make a bloody film. Stop playing his games and maybe he’ll go away and do that instead.

I am still very angry.

Assassin’s Creed Origins: The Hidden Ones (PS4): COMPLETED!

After a little time away playing other stuff, I went back to The Most Impressive Game this week to do some of the DLC. I’d previously put maybe an hour or two into The Hidden Ones, but now I’ve finished it off.

It’s more of the same, really. That’s not a complaint, just a fact. And it’s all I wanted, actually. It feels a bit rougher, with less impressive terrain and a lot more places where they seem to have forgotten about the rock formation geometry (translation: some of the cliffs have holes in them), but it was just as fun as the rest of the game.

Yakuza Kiwami (PS4): COMPLETED!

All the Yakuza games are, effectively, the same. Sure, they have different stories (although they’re not really that different), and some have different characters, but ultimately, they’re the same. And actually, that’s just fine.

Kiwami is a remake of the first Yakuza game, which I’ve never played. I knew some of the plot as there’s a brief catchup video before Yakuza 3 (my first Yakuza) and the others I’ve played reference it, but I was looking forward to doing it “properly”. Turns out it’s the usual backstabbing, betrayal, plot twists and punching everyone in the face. This time with added bikini girls dressed up as insects. No, really.

I won’t go into the plot as it isn’t that important, but it was a bit of a shock how Nishiki changed since Yakuza 0. There’s also a “feature” called “Majima Everywhere”, which is pretty self explanatory – Majima pops up constantly in the game and you have to fight him. Doing so lets you relearn all your forgotten Dragon stance moves, but in reality it’s just padding the game out and I rarely used Dragon stance anyway.

So I completed it (although actually completion percentage is just 26%!), and then wanted to start Kiwami 2 straight afterwards. Only I couldn’t because I hadn’t bought it in the PSN sale last month when I thought I had. Tch.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (PS4): COMPLETED!

It was quite some time ago that I bought this, but as I’m trapped on the sofa recovering from an operation, I decided to start it this week. Which was a slight mistake to start with since I’d just had my stomach effectively torn open and the first ten minutes of Wolfenstein II has BJ also recovering from having his stomach torn open. In a much more horrific way, but still.

Anyway. I’d enjoyed the previous two games in the series, and this was almost as good. Or better. Hmm.

It’s somewhat different, in that you’re in America for most of the game, where Manhattan has been nuked. And, since it’s set in an alternative 1960s, it’s very hard not to draw parallels with Fallout for these reasons. The bombed out buildings and constant radiation, along with green-screen computers and the aesthetics on board your stolen Nazi submarine feel about as Fallout as you can get. There are other locations, which are less nuclear holocausty, though, such as New Orleans.

It’s also different in there aren’t as many giant dogrobots as in previous games, and there’s no weird Nazi experiments or messing with the occult. You do, however, end up on Venus for a while because the plot is utterly ridiculous.

But despite the differences, and the changes in personality for both Fergus and Engel, neither of which seem to fit with their previous characters, it’s an excellent game. It has fun weaponry, fast combat (I think it has taken a few pointers from Doom here, actually), and some great new characters. Apparently Youngblood, the followup to this, is a bit of a stinker, which is a shame as there aren’t many first person shooters I enjoy these days and another Wolfenstein would be appreciated. Maybe when it’s cheap I’ll try it anyway.

Burnout Paradise Remastered (PS4): COMPLETED!

I have always maintained that the best Burnout, is Burnout Paradise. And I was slightly concerned going into this that perhaps my memory is faulty and maybe the eleven years that have passed since I played the original version on the Xbox 360 have not been kind. I needn’t have worried – it’s still excellent.

However, the passage of time has still had an effect. The main thing being that the massive open world map doesn’t feel massive any more. Or even big. In fact, since you can drive from one side to the other in about two minutes, it actually feels small. Perhaps other games I’ve played since, like the spiritual sequel Need for Speed Underground, or Forza Horizon, just raised the bar. It’s also not quite as much fun as I remember, but only because of niggles like no instant restart and having to go back to the junk yard every time you want to change car. I’d bet these would be fixed in a new game these days.

I went into the game in a lot more detail on episode 26 of the ugvm Podcast if you want to hear more, but overall it was a lovely £5 trip back to a great driving game and I enjoyed playing it all again. DJ Atomika or no.

Q.U.B.E.: Director’s Cut (PS4): COMPLETED!

I’d read in a lot of places, and the screenshots didn’t help, that Q.U.B.E. was a poor man’s Portal. Aside from the first person view and the clinical environments, it really isn’t. Mainly because there aren’t any portals, and so the puzzles rely on other quirks instead. Mainly, making use of coloured shapes that do various things – extend, act as a trampoline, create blocks, and so on. You do this to hit switches, move cables, or direct balls, and after each section of the game (of which there are seven) new elements are added, such as being able to rotate parts of the room or direct lasers.

OK, so it’s still a little bit like Portal.

Apparently for the Director’s Cut, they added a story. I’m assuming this is the one sided conversations you listen to on your radio in the game, and if so, before they added them it would have been a very quiet, rather pointless affair. The plot is that you are on some sort of spacecraft made of cubes, and by simply solving puzzles which exist for some reason, you’re destroying the spacecraft. Which is on a collision course with Earth or something. A woman tells you who you are (you’re conveniently suffering from amnesia) and praises you, but then you start getting messages from someone else who says this woman is a liar and you’re going to die. Who do you trust?! (Spoiler: you have no say in the matter).

Anyway, it’s not too difficult (although I did accidentally pass a few of the puzzles without realising), and certainly I enjoyed it, but I can’t say it’s a classic or anything.