I don’t want control of you

Why do I enjoy (re)installing games more than actually playing them? I’ve been pondering this one for a while. Due to past Steam sales with aggressive discounts you can’t refuse, and free games drip-fed into my library through Epic and Amazon Games, I now ‘own’ over 800 games. Frankly, it’s an amount that a younger version of myself would have drooled over as he was replaying Harry Potter And The Philosophe­r’s Stone on Game Boy Color for the 13th time.

However, now my nights are spent trawling my treasure trove of titles, debating whether I want to put in the effort – and the bandwidth – to install any of them. Like a hoarding dragon, I’d much rather sit on my mountain of playable digital wealth than actually enjoy any of it. And occasional­ly I’ll find one: one potential game that will spark my fancy (that I’ve probably already played) and I’ll commit myself to the download, buffering my girlfriend’s Netflix stream in the process. Once the game is in my hands, I’ll sit back, relax and probably play it for about five minutes before rememberin­g why I uninstalle­d it in the first place, or that I’ve already completed it and won’t be able to capture that feeling that I got the first time – the feeling that made me choose it again.

I’d like to hope that this isn’t just me, and that there are other game hoarders out there – clutching onto their spoils and insisting that someday they might need their copy of Sim City 2000 again. Hopefully one day we can get together and unpack why we’re like this.

Jack Weedon

Ain’t that enough

As we approach the end of Fighter Pass 2 – and, by extension, the end of new content for Super Smash Bros Ultimate – we’re being met by the harsh reality that creating the next Smash Bros game might be an entirely thankless, if not impossible, undertakin­g. Sakurai is clearly treating Ultimate as his swan song, and we can surely assume if he takes any role at all in its sequel, it will be quite hands-off.

If the next Smash retains its roster size, it will not be ready for a long time, and if the roster shrinks considerab­ly, it will be met with ire from fans of the cut characters. Changing the game mechanical­ly seems like a necessity; equally, changing the formula too much risks alienating those who love the game as it is.

It’s fair to assume Smash Ultimate-er is many years away, but even then, it seems Nintendo’s best bet is to have any successor live in tandem with Ultimate, as opposed to replacing it. Sakurai has surpassed the expectatio­ns of his fans with Ultimate, but equally, he has burdened whoever succeeds him with a Herculean task.

Alex McMillan

Yes indeed – and we’re sure those conversati­ons at Nintendo are already taking place. We certainly don’t envy whoever is put in charge, but we hope Sakurai gets the opportunit­y to walk away – not just because he’s a fine designer and we’d like to see him tackle a new challenge, but because he surely deserves a break.

Everything flows

In this period where playing multiplaye­r games indoors is preferable to meeting people outdoors, I’ve been playing Rocket League with my mates every week. The game is free-to-play for all of us, playing on PC, PS4, and myself on the Xbox Series X. However, now that – let’s be charitable – the skill gap has widened, we’re looking at other multiplaye­r games out there. One such game was Chivalry II, which boasts ‘crossplay across all platforms’. We were all about

“I’d much rather sit on my mountain of digital wealth than actually enjoy any of it”

to pull the trigger (or the archery equivalent), only to discover that all console and PC players can only play together in random matchmakin­g.

Phase 2 of the roadmap, as presented by Torn Banner Studios, is for players that are on different platforms but know each other to join the same server, but without using a party system. You could end up on opposing sides of the conflict, which I’m sure someone has sung a beautiful love song about, but wouldn’t make my mates’ cries any more palatable. Phase 4 has crossplatf­orm parties “in progress”, but this doesn’t appear to be a priority, or something the developer even considered originally, judging by studio comments on Reddit.

I know that there are always issues with servers, console developers and so on, but the downside here is the same as with most modern online games: the legwork required to figure out which games we can all play together. As we carry on with the current generation of digital shiny things, it would be great to have some co-ordinated transparen­cy without having to go searching chat rooms, roadmaps, or rely on some arcane Wikipedia page. We’re supposed to be gaming in the future now, right?

Carl Wilson

The games that make it most convenient for friends to play this way can surely only increase their overall playerbase, and it’s no surprise to see it implemente­d (mostly) effectivel­y in the likes of COD. Before too long, not supporting the feature is going to mark out a game as something of an antique.

In our dreams

Recent whispers imply some form of remastered Grand Theft Auto trilogy is in the works, repackagin­g GTAIII, Vice City and San Andreas for modern consoles. As exciting as the prospect of playing through Rockstar’s classic open-world crime fests portably on the Switch may be, it’s got me thinking about the company’s other projects that have remained dormant for over a decade now. The likes of Bully and

Midnight Club. Even titles the studio inherited, such as Max Payne and LA Noire. Barring a few re-releases here and there (presumably sanctioned by owner 2K rather than Rockstar itself), the vast majority of Rockstar’s back catalogue has seemingly been resigned to the annals of generation­s gone by. I think that’s a real shame.

It’s clear Rockstar is a drasticall­y different company today than it was during those halcyon PS2 years, when projects were seemingly greenlit as acts of hedonism over and above anything that resembled common business sense. No one, I assume, was clamouring for a prequel to 1979 flick The Warriors. And yet.

Rockstar owns a lot of studios, and to its benefit a project as large as Red Dead Redemption physically couldn’t be wrought to life without its vast network of developers spread out across the globe. But I miss the Rockstar B-teams, those smaller studios that would quietly squirrel away on passion projects separate from the monolith that is

GTA. Imagine if, instead of lining the pockets of 2K execs, a fraction of the profits from all those Shark Cards was used to fund something weird and imaginativ­e at Rockstar Dundee? Wouldn’t that be something? Rockstar isn’t without its fair share of problems, and there are a lot of things from the company’s PS2 era that should remain firmly in the past, but still – it’s nice to dream, isn’t it?

Liam Richardson

You’re right, the days when Rockstar suddenly pulled an exceptiona­l table tennis sim seemingly out of nowhere feel quite a long way behind us now. Where’s the remaster of that game? Talking of Rockstar…


I cannot declare myself a seasoned virtual drinker, but very few corporatio­ns capture the experience with as much verve and joy as

Rockstar – whether it be the first faceplant into the wet Liberty City tarmac after a drinking session with Roman Bellic or the epic bender with Lenny Summers in a Valentine saloon.

The history of virtual drunkennes­s is one of blurred screens and erratic movement. See Deus Ex, for example (before the nanomachin­es kick in). Later, once Jensen starts drinking, the spectacle is upped, but to little consequenc­e. Sea Of Thieves caps this approach by adding vomit.

Those are better than the stoic ‘drinking to forget’ cutscene, but fall short of the pleasure of drinking either alone or socially. Yakuza 0 at least gives us a tasting menu, but also takes the bottle away when we’ve had too much. Thirty Flights Of Loving is perhaps the only game that captures the experience of those who won’t join the dancefloor and drink in the dark corners of a celebratio­n instead.

But who does a drunk like a Rockstar drunk? A stumbling, disoriente­d mess, vulnerable to a hostile crowd; quick to cause offence, quicker to take a fall. And they capture the social side. These are often setpieces to bond with NPCs: once automatons and props, now drinking buddies. Singing, dancing, fighting, barfing – the full gamut of reckless excess.

Video essay series Every Frame A Painting contrasted Edgar Wright’s approach to taking a character on a journey with that of more functional filmmakers. In Wright’s Hot Fuzz, as we head from the city, mobile reception deteriorat­es, black cabs are replaced with minicabs and the trains become smaller and pokier: we get a story. In contrast, other films provide nothing more than a statement of travel. This is what the blurry screen and wobbly controls are: a functional statement of drunkennes­s. Give me an occasion, give me friends, give me a song and dance and a story of an epic night – and give me a virtual drink!

Tom Piercy

We’ll raise a glass to that. And have 12 months of Game Pass Ultimate on us. Cheers!

 ??  ?? Issue 362
Issue 362

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