It’s already a seismic week in the games industry, with the announcement that Microsoft is buying Activision Blizzard. Will Call of Duty become an Xbox exclusive? Will Crash Bandicoot, once Sony’s unofficial mascot, ever appear in a PlayStation game again? Will anything break my mum’s Candy Crush habit? All this remains to be seen, but for now, here’s what we’ve been playing this week.
Tom – Lead Writer
Resident Evil 4 VR
Playing on Oculus Quest 2
My Oculus Quest 2 journey continues this week with a VR version of the classic Resident Evil 4. RE4 has been ported to more consoles than I’ve had hot dinners (which is a lot), and it’s not hard to see why. This is still one of the all-time great games, dripping with style and atmosphere. But it’s one thing to observe the world of RE4 on a TV, and another entirely to feel like you’re actually in it.
I first played RE4 on the Nintendo Wii, and the combat experience actually wasn’t too dissimilar to this VR version. Being able to simply aim and shoot at enemies certainly removes some of the tension of fumbling with analog sticks. That tension is replaced, of course, by zombie-like enemies now getting directly all up in your face. I’ve always thought of RE4 as an eerie game rather than a scary one, but now I’ve been finding my heart rate soaring as I try to physically reload my weapons in time to not get ripped to shreds.
Despite RE4 first being released in 2005, VR proves that there’s still plenty of life left in the old girl yet. If you’ve got a Quest 2, which this port is an exclusive release for, RE4 is well worth a look.
Joe – Editor & Lead Writer
Mass Effect Legendary Edition
Playing on PC Game Pass
If January is good for something, it’s surely catching up with your gaming backlog. This week, I’ve been playing Mass Effect, a hugely popular series that I just completely missed first time around. Tom, our Lead Writer, has been on at me for ages to give it a go, so – this one’s for you, Tom.
I’ll admit, it took me a while to warm to Mass Effect. I found a lot of the mechanics had obviously dated and as a result, it felt a little cumbersome to play. I also don’t have any nostalgia for the series so I really was going in cold. Despite this, I really enjoyed the first game. The level of detail and sheer scale of the story is impressive, even by today’s standards, let alone something that first came out in 2007.
The standout, for me, is the Morality system. I can’t think of a game I’ve played where each choice you make seems to matter so much. Whether that be the way you treat your crew or if an almost-extinct species should live or die, it’s truly thrilling to have such a direct effect on a game’s narrative.
I can’t comment too much on the quality of the remaster, but judging by a few side-by-side comparisons I’ve seen online, it seems like they did a decent job. It certainly never felt like I was playing a 15-year-old game.
The Artful Escape
Playing on PC Game Pass
While it’s probably stating the bleedin’ obvious, The Artful Escape looks absolutely gorgeous. I audibly gasped the first time I illuminated the Town’s street lamps and fairy lights with a single shred of my guitar.
The issue for me, though, is that the game never really builds on this mechanic. By the time you’ve reached the second stage, there are no real surprises left. You know that busting out a sick guitar solo while sliding down an alien glacier will result in another light show, albeit a beautiful one. The music-based puzzles are also few and far between, leaving me wondering whether The Artful Escape would’ve been better suited to a different media.
That being said, the story is batshit crazy (think Ziggy Stardust meets The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), full of quirky characters and incredibly imaginative alien settings that’ll keep you entertained for the game’s 4-hour duration.