Stoke the fires

Happy new year to all you fine people out there, 2017 is well under way and the great machine is already roaring to life. We've got a cracking year ahead of us in terms of game releases: hell we might even see Star Citizen launch in some capacity (but probably not). While PC gaming is certainly a force to be reckoned with it would be foolish to think that the other players on the field don't affect us. 


Back in 1997, I spent weeks visiting my local game shop for hours at a time, why you might ask? A little game called Mario 64 running on a demo machine had totally captured my imagination. I hadn't been part of the Super Nintendo movement but it was clear this new system from Nintendo was going to be special. Games like Golden Eye and Ocarina of Time were instant classics and make the N64 one of my favourite consoles to this day.


A few days ago Nintendo unveiled their new box of tricks: the Switch. Looking at the bigger picture I think the Switch has some pretty big obstacles to overcome. Despite a friendly face, Nintendo is not a customer focused company, they very rarely listen (or at least respond to) fan requests and often make what are frankly idiotic choices: such as handling voice chat through a mobile app. I also think the way they chase YouTubers for 'copyright' infringements is insane, especially because most of these fans are promoting Nintendos product (for free). A system is only as good as they games available and the launch line up is abysmal, maybe the worst I've ever seen: but then I have to remind myself that the N64 only launched with three games. There are also plenty of extra costs that I suspect many gamers are not weighing up properly. The Joy-Con controllers are tiny and for blokes like me with big hands, they will be uncomfortable: so I would be left paying an additional Β£60 for the Pro (normal sized) controller. The online service will also now come with a subscription and yet offer very few benefits from what we've seen: there's even news that Netflix and other streaming services will not be coming to the Switch. The most worrying aspect of the new console is that apart from Skyrim (which isn't even the remastered version), the third party support looks very light which is one of the main factors which killed the WiiU. I would honestly love to see Nintendo succeed with the Switch but it seems they are still the same old Nintendo as they have always been, one step behind and stubborn to the last.


For the last week, I've been delving back into Arkham Knight, a game that landed on PC with much controversy. There were so many technical problems that Warner Bros has no choice but to removed it from sale until the issues had been addressed. Now many of these wrinkles have ironed out I decided to dive back into the fray: I've become a bit obsessed with the Batman as of late. I have actually finished Arkham Knight twice in seven days: one normal play through and then another to get every Riddler puzzle. I also picked up the season pass in the Christmas Steam sale and while not worth the initial ridiculous asking price there are some excellent additional stories here. I really like how Rocksteady has adapted the controls to fit new character styles such as Batgirl, Cat Woman and Harley Quinn. Some of the series long-standing villains also top and tail their story arcs and others such as Batgirl give some more layering to events which transpire in the main game. I have finally beaten the main game, finished all the DLC and can let the Dark Knight rest for a while. If plans come to fruition this year I will be taking a far closer look at Arkham games and weighing up how it has influenced other developers.

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Last week Gabe Newell's AMA was about as informative as an IKEA manual written in ancient Latin, but there were a few nuggets of information to take away. Valve are still interested in developing games (really?) and are still, in fact, working on a single player title of some sort. In addition, they are also working on various VR titles, some of which I assume will use the 'knuckles' prototype that was shown off last year in Seattle. When asked about Half-life 3 Gabe continued to be aloof and so once again we know nothing: I get the feeling most people are past caring now.


Jon Peddie Research has just announced that the PC hardware sales have breached the $30 billion mark and so despite some ill-informed naysayers PC gaming is growing faster than many had predicted. This number includes pre-built and custom gaming rigs. The research company also stated that hardware is set to grow by six perfect through 2019. As PC gaming becomes a bigger player in the industry more and more gamers who previously would never have considered it are now recognising a very simple fact: that if you want a game to look it's very best PC is where you can get this.


Resident Evil 7 has just landed in my inbox so I will be delving into this new survival horror offering today. This time the developers have taken the brave (and necessary) move to step away from the guns blazing sequels and revisit real horror once again. I have also been poking some of the early access games I have on the slow burner as a few have had substantial updates. The first of these games is a space survival game called Osiris: New Dawn which came out last year and shows huge promise. The recent and fairly large update includes a new planet to explore so I have started from scratch and am currently building my way to space once more. 


Last but certainly not least, I have just posted a review for Oxenfree which released back in 2016 and which comes highly recommended by ACG. If you are looking for a new adventure game that has many secrets deep within its story then check out my review of Oxenfree here. It is spoiler free of course. That is all for now guys, take care and I hope your gaming is epic wherever you are.