A disclaimer: no I did not play the full game, and no the final product is not out. Obviously it is not good to judge a title permanently until the final product (Watch Dogs) and it is good not to follow unwarranted hype either due to fancy CG/Real-Game footage trailers. From what I have seen and played of Sony Computer Entertainment’s The Order: 1886 – it is a beautiful game. Vastly and intensely beautiful in its vistas and landscape and the character detail is stunning. But ironically, the beauty is only surface-deep. The action is begrudgingly terrible/lackluster and the linear a-to-b-to-c game mechanic combined with duck and cover shooting reminiscent of the 2006 military science-fiction title Gears of War that was actually incredible for its time makes me seriously ask one question: what the hell is Sony Computer Entertainment smoking in their offices? Did no one in marketing even think: “Wow…this game is incredibly repetitive in terms of its mechanics and it’s hardly varied in terms of doing anything new or fresh.”
As if Beyond Two Souls: Beyond Garbage was not bad enough, Sony Computer Entertainment had to slate another obnoxiously terrible title that only serves to impress those deluded by its visuals and lackluster gameplay of button mashing melee and shooting mechanics. Yes, the Neo-Victorian London scape has been unexplored and largely remains so from the small maps as I have seen, and the cutscenes are beautiful but the characters lack any depth and The Order itself is an utter joke – leaving more to be desired in their band of merry coat-wearing amateurs running around causing more damage than a Werewolf in the game.
At the end of the day, I remain completely and utterly unimpressed by what Sony has shown me so far. Yes, I will not win any fans in Sony’s marketing department for this article (as if I really care), but that is not what it is about. It is about me being able to write the truth out there so some poor kid may not get too excited and spend his hard-earned $65 on a PS4 game that ends up being a huge mistake. Right now, The Order: 1886 looks to be nothing more than a rental and a rather lackluster rental at that. But again, I remain very careful and at bay with The Order: 1886. We will have a review out on it after 1 week of release, and I cannot wait for it to prove me wrong. But somehow, I seriously doubt it.
UPDATE: A lot of e-mails from readers (fanboys mostly who haven’t played the game at all yet are completely A-OK judging my article) give the excuse that “this game won 25 awards!” Well, guess what else won more than 25 awards that was just as equally bad? Watch Dogs. And ironically a lot of them win awards that mean little to nothing from other outlets that get exclusive VIP treatment by marketing departments and share martini’s during E3 lounges, etc or have too much to risk with Sony’s marketing department. Sorry if I don’t take any of those journalists seriously. I myself get review titles from Sony but at the end of the day I have to be honest in what I saw – even if it means burning a bridge. It is not about jumping the gun here but merely stating an opinion on what I saw so far (which was just awful). Now as I said – this game did not finish. Can it be better on release? You bet. But realistically I doubt Ready at Dawn will fix all of its plaguing problems in that time. I have played more than 2 different levels for over 2 hours to know a lot of things are wrong with this game. Clarification that the storyline as explained to me seems to be based on a rather flimsy concept that I won’t reveal (NDA) and that the character motivations as explained to me combined with the awful acting during cutscenes leads me to believe this game will suffer a mediocre fate.
It is always a pleasure when I run into Kojima. I have had the pleasure of interviewing Kojima several times and dealing with a multitude of his translators. It is always appreciated that he at least tries to speak English with me which shows a sign of respect for me and something I am happy about. Recently at GamesCom after a panel on ‘PT’ I was the only one to bring up the fact to Kojima on how he really appreciated my insights when Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of the Patriots came out – where I was one of the world’s first players. Today I am happy to see a series that has long been in trouble finally see some light: Silent Hills. Below is a transcript of our conversation. Mind you it was not an official interview but a conversation with one of my most favorite game developers on trying to get any information for a series I always loved as a child which ended up getting into the wrong types of gameplay mechanics.
WhatIfGaming: I can’t believe you’re going to actually make it with Norman! I just have to ask with that aside, is the game going to be first person or was that entirely unrelated from the demo?
Hideo Kojima: Not sure yet. Development is cycling between either allowing players to choose to play the whole game in first person or third person, or keeping it fixed third person and having some areas be first person only. Either way we want to do something with first person. The game will not be out more than likely until 2016, lots of time left.
WhatIfGaming: Will the title be open-world or will it be linear?
Hideo Kojima: All I can say is Fox Engine is meant for open world. I cannot discuss more on the game design itself in detail yet.
So there you have it – official word from Kojima. Anyone wondering if the first person view will be completely discarded should not be too worried. Kojima asserted there is a lot of time until release for the game, but at least the options are being considered. I guess most people will just have to trust him on this one.
We will not reveal our source dev (whose employment we confirmed and vowed we would not reveal the identity of) but the info should be taken with a grain of salt as a result. Today, I have the ultimate displeasure to inform the public that apparently the E3 demo of The Division was running on a PC and will be downgraded overall. Developers often overshoot for the moon and end up delivering next to nothing in terms of the visual garbage that the final retail copies end up becoming (Far Cry 3, Watch Dogs, Dark Souls II in comparison to their non-downgraded counterparts). This sort of false advertising and marketing absolutely has to stop. It is a vile and dementedly sick way of companies to make money off of people who obviously preorder because the game is visually impressive. Yes – some may claim “gameplay weighs in more” but this is arguable.
He tells us the following:
We really loved the reception to the demo we showed on the PC version at E3. Currently as it stands, there is definitely a lot of push coming from publishers to not make the experience so different on consoles as to alienate people into thinking that next generation is not as powerful as PC. This is probably what happened at Ubisoft Montreal. I think that while making stability changes is definitely important, it does not completely obliterate a lot of enhanced rendering applications.
Right now we already took out quite a lot of screen space reflections from the game and are working on asset management the best we can given consoles have that great unified memory. Naturally we will also be using online servers and have to produce a synchronization that higher graphics add to the latency so it had to be turned down. To me it still looks good, but not as good as the original reveal. I am sure as we get closer to launch and the actual console versions of the game featuring SD (Snowdrop) that it will start to seem all too obvious to people especially those on PCs. I just wanted to write and let you know that it definitely is not just stability but marketing politics plays into this a lot as well.
UPDATED 2nd Response from The Division Developer: Truth be told in regards to your question that while ‘Yes’ the lead platform is the PC, we simply cannot have such a big gap. As you know when the first WATCH DOGS Review was published by that one site, Ubisoft called it a “false review” and I am sure everyone can see how bad that sounded when they saw the game did look marginally better than something that was a last generation GTA IV. But no, they will not admit that they practice this or actively downgrade a game. It is much easier to say they removed things for stability which is often a lie as you can tell by the post-issues which are expected in any production we do.
Also to answer your 3rd question, no…they will never fully disclose what was removed from what build as no laws ask them to do so in terms of consumer rights. If we as developers published that information in very real terms for the consumer such as “Replaced particle fog simulation with 2d layer simulation in 3d space, removed particles from all explosions, lowered explosion volume multiplier by 20x, removed X # of trees and civilians, etc.” we would be out of a lot of sales and probably it would actually require too much time to deliver on the current hype that a lot of downgraded games see which look incredible with a vertical slice. I do share this in the hope’s that my colleagues and publishers and a lot of people who make false promises and do demonstrations which wrongfully create too much hype that they cannot deliver on ultimately stop doing such things. I want to see the industry actually move forward and not be so full of itself by promising too much and delivering too little. Regards
Our insider who is currently in the graphics technical division at Ubisoft Massive in Sweden contacted us because he too is sick of the practices that a company like Ubisoft has become all too known for. If Ubisoft denies downgrades have not happened and uses the lame excuse that “it is for the gamers and stability we did what we did” then there is certainly no reason for the PC/console parity to exist because currently the downgraded Watch Dogs runs sub-par still which is an utter joke. Everyone knows “next generation” currently as it stands is utter marketing BS. Of course, a lot of the uneducated folks out there feel this is more. Next gen, means next gen! If this is the case, PC raw throughput has the greatest power of any console despite having lower development focus (due to piracy). Essentially if it is not obvious by now: Next Gen has diminished any chances of making graphics leaps for the marketers to make more money on “next-gen” until the next next-gen comes out. It is a great marketing hype that is all too common in the gaming industry.
Bottom line: Publishers and developers – stop lying and rely on actual gameplay that is close to the real thing to do your marketing for you. And if you did remove a lot of features that affected the stability of the game, make sure to release a full disclosure of what this is before the game comes out. Oh wait…but then you would not see as many sales. Tsk tsk.
Ubisoft has been a disappointment when it comes to Watch Dogs. The game’s lackluster visuals propped through false advertising and linear boring gameplay to create something that was only slightly memorable to us and many others. To continue this trend, UbiWorkshop, a shop division located right next to Watch Dogs developer Ubisoft Montreal, also released a rather weird looking Watch Dogs Leather Replica that looks absolutely atrocious – coming in at a whopping $1,199.99 price for a coat that does not resemble the game protagonist’s jacket whatsoever. Below you can see the UbiWorkShop jacket version and the actual in-game jacket version.
The horrendous design clearly shows the lack of workmanship or any common sense in the matter. The coat color is not even a remote light brown, and the inside is not adorned with the iconic orange embroidery anywhere. $1,199.99 for this coat is a sheer rip-off and UbiWorkshop.com. Furthermore, it is numbered (As if anyone cares to actually own such a horrendous coat) but also has a nifty map of Chicago at the bottom in the back which has no purpose whatsoever! Not only should UbiWorkshop be ashamed like Ubisoft’s developers that eagerly love to lie to the public about E3 2012 visuals matching the retail release, but they should seriously take this item down and discontinue it.
We received our coat from the nice people at CosplaySky.com which is the closest coat which comes to the visuals of the actual Aiden Pearce Leather Jacket. We took our coat, and sent it off to one of our own custom dyers who ended up finalizing the coat to look just like Aiden Pearce’s coat. While CosplaySky tried to find the exact leather materials to make the coat in the fashion of Aiden Pearce’s coat, they found it much too expensive to do without heavy dye’s (which deteriorate the leather’s look and something they do not specialize in) – which in my opinion would not matter much when it comes to the rough texture of Aiden’s jacket. So, we opted to just have it sent to us. The original coat itself is marvelous. It does not match the color pattern (black and brown areas) as the original game’s jacket…but it looks exquisite in its construction of quality and workmanship.
Dyeing is an option someone can seriously consider as we did. Personally, we loved the original brown look – which had a more subtle and elegant appeal whereas the dyed version to match the game’s jacket seemed to have a lot of contrast in reality and seemed more like a costume than an actual jacket that can be seen with elegance and subtlety.
Another explosion and another one bites the dust when it comes to the most hyped title of E3 2012 – Watch Dogs, teaching us about how hype is not a gamer-created phenomenon but a fault of the developers themselves as well. The game’s lackluster graphics and rather bland gameplay has left a very sour taste in a lot of gamer minds that begs the question: where is developer integrity? While this article is not meant to attack a specific company in general, it is meant to look into the general state of the industry. Ubisoft Montreal has made some beautiful games when it comes to Far Cry 3 and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Both of these games were touted during E3 and simply delivered. Watch Dogs, however, did anything but deliver to the graphical scale and gameplay expectations even with a long delay.
While we did not review Watch Dogs or frankly had the time to with a lot of requests, we did get to play it and realized one thing: developers need to be more honest. Jonathan Morin – Watch Dogs’ Director at one point stated the graphics were “better than the E3 build – everything was better.” Suddenly videos showed explosions that kind of spurted out weakly and something that even GTA IV put to shame in that department visually (a very last-generation title). While Next Generation (Next-Gen) does not always stay true to its actual hype, considering the graphics only step up marginally to match PC throughput and to last for at least 8-9 years of generational dependency, there is a strong lack of interest that a lot of gamers need to start having. E3 has always been about the hype. And it is partly a very important reason why we stopped our E3 Awards as of recently. The awards though great acknowledgment, do add to this hype of unreleased products, and affects people in having them buy a game that we said was “Best Action Game,” or that seemed to be, and that fell heavily short in the product release. After nearly thousands of e-mails, one thing is clear: developers need to be more forward and more honest. Watch Dogs developer Ubisoft Montreal and their whole team need to definitely be ashamed for the graphical hype they caused. Sure, one can say that it is the problem of gamers having unreal expectations, or believing the hype, but it changes nothing; the developers showed a demo and then offer up preorders with very limited footage up to the date of release which hardly seems fair for anyone. Being a “believer” of what these developers say and giving them the benefit of the doubt should not be an easy pass for the defenders of developer titles or people with lowering standards to quell their preorder investment or fanboy bias.
All in all – people and developers need to realize that if you have a great game – you do not rely on E3 hype or cinematic trailers. And if there are comprises to be made like From Software’s Dark Souls II obliteration downgrade – this should never be shown in the first place or be heavily captioned with “Everything shown following is not guaranteed to be the same as the final product.”
A lot may ask – but why? Is this not common sense? To which I ask – why do Starbucks cups warn of “CAUTION: AVOID POURING ON CROTCH AREA?” Surely, no one will grab a nice cup of orange mocha frappucino lightly heated and pour it on their crotch? Either way, these things must be made clear regardless of a relative interpretation of “common” knowledge.
Developers reading this post: be real and do not rely on the hype. Take a lesson from CD Projekt RED and developers Sony Computer Entertainment or even Microsoft (with the exception of Forza nerf). Learn from the hype, and do not partake in it or utter failure will result.
The Crucial M550 has arrived – built with its Marvell 88SS9189 controller for something truly great.
The design of the Crucial M550 is sleek and carries almost a military style grading that is common for the name of Solid State Drive (sounds very fancy). Essentially, gone are the days of clicking disks as we have previously covered, and the Crucial 1 TB ushers in this new standard with such a passive space offering in terms of PC real estate.
Infamous: Second Son has a lot of potential for Sony Computer Entertainment and Sucker Punch’s next generation title. Delsin Rowe has a lot to struggle with between the DUP and his search of identity. In between all of that, he is kicking butt and taking no names. Infamous: Second Son has its share of gameplay balance issues when it comes to morality, but keeps together a formula that is refined and fun. Coming from someone who gets in trouble with the law often for his ideas of freedom and expression through street art in the city of Seattle, Delsin’s identity struggle is familiar once he realizes the powers he must wield in an exciting action-adventure title for PlayStation 4 owners.
One of the most anticipated titles of 2013-2014 (Especially for us) has been shrouded in a bit of graphical controversy. So, let us set things straight. Recently, the devs confirmed that Watch Dogs is in fact not downgraded but people have been utterly confused so far as to what this meant. Catching up at the Watch Dogs Press Event, I was one of the few journalists to actually ask: “Hey, what happened to the initial E3 stuff,” knowing full well the answer – it was running on a high-end PC.
“E3 2012 was before consoles came out. E3 2013 footage is just like the consoles. The recent trailer is not what the game looks like, just someone who did not render sequences properly. Look at E3 2013 footage and you’ll see the game you will mostly get on consoles. If you want the PC version, then the E3 2012 one is it. That was on a high-end PC.”
The dev team proceeded to confirm that E3 2012 is the EARLY PC version, which will in fact NOT be downgraded, and retain more features (screen space reflections, more wind gust, crowd density, etc.). Now whether or not they are telling the truth is a whole other matter. What does this mean for the console versions? They still look good, however the version being seen at E3 2012 is not what people will get. Either way, Watch Dogs is one title to be looking forward to no matter what console you are on. The game is running splendidly even if there is less shadowing and reflections on the consoles. One has to keep realistic expectations as a console user considering the main build was the PC build (as it is with most launch titles and not future titles).
Stay tuned to WhatIfGaming for more relevant news.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze brings the iconic platformer from the SNES days to the Nintendo Wii U. The vine-swinging is as ferocious as ever and the memories are rampant through the lush scenery of the jungles to the savannahs. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze creates the platformer that a lot of Nintendo fans will love.
After a decade, Garrett has returned in the shadowy robes of the night – as the Master Thief that he is in Thief 4. The gameplay in Thief 4 takes elements of the old, but retains few. The developers at Eidos Montreal wanted to advance into a new market console territory through fresh gameplay and exciting ambiance, but missed some key marks in both of these areas.
The Tritton Warhead 7.1’s are one of the best headsets on the market. Why? Ingenuity, price, construction quality, and Tritton customer service make it an incredible headset that carries the presence of something incredible.