Samuel Roberts: Delayed monsters
Monster Hunter: World is coming to PC later than consoles, as we already know, and Capcom gave us a perfectly good reason why this week. This is my first proper Monster Hunter game in a decade, after I really didn't get on with a PSP version of the game—so I'm hoping this is the one that converts me. The problem is, a certain envy creeps in when people are talking about games available on other formats, and I have a PS4, but I'd rather wait for the best version.
So what to do? I don't know, but it does make you wish every publisher committed to simultaneous releases with big games, which is surely better for consumers who have these choices to make. I get that the realities of game development mean this can't always be the case, but it makes a huge difference if it's possible.
Tom Senior: Heavy load
It’s annoying, but thematically fitting, that GTA Online’s heists frequently feel like you’re doing time. Every flash of fun you have in a mission is rewarded with a long wait that traps you on a black loading screen, or on a loading screen suspended a mile above the blurry image of Los Santos. If you’re lucky you come out of the other end with your crew intact, but most of the time someone drops, or the game decides to redeposit each person in a different server, disbanding your motorcycle gang and flinging you to the far corners of the map.
Samuel, Phil and I have been dedicating a couple of evenings a week to the Doomsday Heist recently, so perhaps GTA Online’s persistent inconsistency is starting to grate because of overexposure, and because we’re attempting GTA Online’s most ambitious missions. Fans who play a little every day and stick to the live missions will have a much smoother experience, but for me multi-part heist missions with my friends is the thing GTA Online does that nothing else attempts on the same scale. Is the pain worth it? Well, we’re going back in next week, so for now it seems the highs outweigh the lows. Just.
Jarred Walton: True black displays at CES
The holy grail of display technology is to show true blacks, as in absolutely zero light output. Most LCDs only hit black levels of around 0.1-0.5 nits, depending on how bright the whites are. Dynamic contrast isn’t a perfect solution either, as it can mess with the overall picture quality if it’s too aggressive. CES came up with a solution to the pure black problem this year, though: a power outage.
Tuan and I have been to CES for more than a decade, and this is the first time I can recall this happening on such a large scale. It messed up schedules and demos, and while the crowd was generally cool about things, it was definitely not convenient. The North Hall was without power for about an hour, and it took around two hours before power was restored to the Central Hall. And once power came back, many of the booths had to deal with technical glitches.
The cause of the power outage was apparently caused by condensation and moisture on one of the LVCC’s transformers, which is another low for CES. This was the the first rainy CES I can recall, it lasted the better part of two days and it wasn’t at all fun. Bring back the sunshine next year, please!
Joe Donnelly: Souls searching
If our comments section is anything to go by, opinion on the upcoming Dark Souls: Remastered is split. Some people seem happy, some seem miffed at the prospect of paying full price, and others seem puzzled that a game less than six years old (on PC, at least) is in-line for a modern retelling. As a long-serving Souls fan I'm unashamedly excited, but I would have much rather seen 2009's PS3-exclusive Demon's Souls given the PC remaster treatment.
The main reason for this is because, to my shame, I've never played the first Souls game. I have watched countless let's plays, speedruns and lore overviews, but I missed the Demon's boat some nine years ago and have never gotten round to digging out my old PS3 to give it a whirl since. The fact that online support is on its way out now means that even if I did wish to try it now, I'd need to consider wading in the murky waters of emulation. Make it easy for me, the powers that be. Let me visit Boletaria.
James Davenport: Dang! (ganronpa)
I've been chipping away at Danganronpa over the last week or so and I'm not sure I can go on. Visual novels (or the ones I've played) have this problem where they repeat the same idea over and over again, as if they don't trust the player's ability to read or pay attention or grunt in response to electric shock. When the plot inches forward, everyone has to have a big discussion about it, even if the natural response would be to scream or go fetal.
A character could fart and another could die in the same breath and you bet your ass someone is going to exclaim that they just can't believe this is happening. Weeks in, there could be a chest-high pile of bodies covering every inch of the floor and nothing but farts for air and everyone would still be exacting their shock via group meetings in the fucking lunch room over the wacky, weird events taking place in a hell school run by a black and white teddy bear. The premise is absurd, I know, but I wish these games would pump the brakes on the exposition. We don't need to hear the internal thought process of every character, externalized. Still, I might stick it out. I want to see more jerk anime teens pulverized by pitching machines.
Chris Livingston: Game over
This week I watched The Call Up, a 2016 movie about a VR game where, if you die in the game, well, you can probably guess what happens to your real self. It had some nice effects for what is clearly a limited budget, but otherwise it was pretty bad, especially when it came to its stereotypical characters. By now we're familiar with the gamer archetype as presented in pop-culture, one so completely out of touch with reality that everything in life needs to be explained in game terms. In The Call Up, upon witnessing someone actually dying, this gamer exclaims "It's like a game over!" Groan.
It just feels like a strange choice to make a movie about gamers, which you probably hope to get gamers to watch, but not actually put a tiny little bit of effort into making the gamers in your gamer movie anything other than insulting stereotypes of the gamers who might watch your movie.