And there we have it, a whole year of Concrete and Venue has flown by, a whole year of fantastic articles, Post Pub-Pub, and office antics. It has been wonderful to end my university experience as part of this wonderful team and I hope many of you are encouraged to apply for editor positions when they open very soon. One last time I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the gaming section and all of you who have read it.
Let’s take a look at some of our writer’s highlights this year. I’m going to kick it off with ‘Death Stranding’, the first game from legend Hideo Kojima since the end of Konami. It’s not a perfect game, a slow pace and complicated plot meant it received mixed reviews and suffered from a suspected ‘review bombing’ on release, yet, the more I play it, the more I love it! In the current climate, I am appreciating the vast landscape you can explore and the sheer depth of story and world building the creators have managed to include. Match this with some fantastic graphics and acting, both voice and motion capture, means this game deserves a second chance.
Although, I’ll be honest, I’m still mildly disturbed by the Bridge Babies (a foetus you carry around with you in an artificial womb as a sensor). It’s very hard to not become attached to the characters and this strange post-apocalyptic USA. It has even inspired the game developer Pugscape to create a post-Covid-19 parody called ‘Walking Simulator’ in which you play the last postman talking parcels from A to B in a desolate world. Whilst this may seem like a dig at Kojima Productions, it actually highlights the strong impact this game has made on the gaming world, and one that I am grateful for.
I have always adored the ‘Legend of Zelda’ games, it being one of the few game franchises I religiously follow. Naturally, when I finally caved and bought a Nintendo Switch, it was the first game I picked up (this was before ‘Animal Crossing’ was released, before questions are asked).
‘Breath of the Wild’ took my breath away in every way it could. Visually, it is stunning. I have never played such a graphically perfect game. The tiniest details of the grass swaying in the wind, and tiny rocks falling as your feet plant in a rock face as you climb, it’s all there. Truly, it feels like you are in the scene watching Link because it is so immersive.
My favourite thing about the game, however, has to be the seemingly endless things to do. In conjunction with the main story line, there are over a hundred Shrines to complete (tasks throughout the game to increase lives and stamina) when realistically the player needs no more than 50 to have a shot at winning the game. When you combine these, other side quests to get stuck into, items to find, pictures to take with the in-game camera, and areas to explore, there’s definitely more than enough to be getting on with! Through this, you also find more enemies to deal with and a million and one ways to die (which I found out the hard way).
But what happens when you finish the game? You have completed the story line and exhausted all the extras listed above, so now what? Start it all over again. This time, in Master Mode. In this (paid) addition, the player follows the same story line, but with tougher enemies, weapons that break faster, harsher weather and a near impossible final boss. As someone who died more times than is possible to count in the normal mode, maybe this is not for me just yet, but experienced and serious gamers should consider taking on the challenge.
The ‘Zelda’ games are a brilliant gateway into the RPG, fantasy and action genres of gaming, making them incredibly fun and accessible to all gamers. I strongly encourage any and all to give it a try, I guarantee you will not regret it.
For me, the Xbox Game Pass has opened up a wealth of opportunity to play a wide range of games and discover titles I wouldn’t have ordinarily bought. My favourites so far have to be the immersive gameplay in ‘Sniper Elite 4’ and ‘Forza Horizons 4’.
On the Nintendo Switch I loved the latest ‘Pokémon’ game in the franchise, ‘Shield’, and am eagerly awaiting the expansion passes landing later this year.However, the ultimate gaming experience for me this year has to be the game that has almost convinced me to switch from Xbox back to Playstation after almost 16 years, ‘Iron Man VR’. It’s still not released fully on PS4’s VR platform, but we did get an exclusive preview at MCM Comic Con earlier this year. Never have I been so excited by a game and it did not disappoint! It was by far the most phenomenal gaming moment of my life and this year.