Gaming

Games Inbox: next gen Tomb Raider, Xbox Series X at Christmas, and Square Enix Presents predictions


Do you want a return to OG Lara Croft? (pic: Square Enix)

The Thursday Inbox worries that Game Pass’ success may breed too many imitators, as one reader offers their verdict on Horizon Zero Dawn.

To join in with the discussions yourself email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

Back to school
Square Enix seem to be doing their best to celebrate Tomb Raider’s 25th anniversary, even though they haven’t got a new game out but I do find it a bit off that they keep using old school Lara in things like Fortnite but we’ve never seen her look like that in the games for ages. Just as importantly, she doesn’t act like that anymore. She used to be a sort of female James Bond, with quips and a snarky attitude, but now she’s all serious and angry all the time and not really very interesting.

A part of me likes the idea of the next game having Lara being middle age or older, just because that would be unusual in a video game, but really I’d just like to have a new game that was fun and wild and didn’t take itself that seriously. If she’s older I can just guess the story’s going to be about her regretting everything and moping about and I just don’t want that from a Tomb Raider game.

My suggestion would be to do a riff on Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Some of the games have already had a bit of an influence from it and given it’s a good excuse to put dinosaurs in there I’m surprised it hasn’t been done properly. Not serious enough I guess, but the original book was and it’s not like zombie samurai are super grounded.
Mick

Pay to win
So Microsoft’s plan for Christmas seems to be a one-two of Halo Infinite and Starfield? That’s really not bad. Obviously it’s dependent on any unforeseen delays (and Halo Infinite not looking terrible any more) but it’s certainly the best line-up Microsoft has had in years, arguably in a whole generation. There may even been a few other smaller things, especially at the rate they seem to be buying up games for Game Pass.

It’s a big push but what gets me is that they haven’t even brought potentially their biggest weapon onto the battlefield yet, in the form of streaming. Once they start pushing that to everyone – not just gamers – I really do think Xbox is going to be unstoppable. Nintendo will survive just fine doing their own thing, they always do, but I just don’t see how Sony has any kind of response to this.

And I’m not saying this with the glee of some mindless fanboy. I have an Xbox Series X but even I feel a bit off knowing that Microsoft is literally buying their success. Nothing they’re doing is really innovative it’s just a result of having deep pockets. But when the benefit to the customer is good how can you say no? I couldn’t and I think many others are going to end up feeling the same way.
Tasker

The best kind of dinosaur
Just completed Horizon Zero Dawn after getting it for Christmas. I certainly enjoyed the game, fairly generic open world gameplay but elevated greatly by the robot dinosaurs. I found the lore of the game absolutely fascinating, with the backstory of the Ancient Ones and how their world ended, and I was invested in Aloy’s quest to piece it all together.

Despite that, the major sticking points for me were story elements. I thought the delivery of much of the background information was rather insipid; large dumps of voice recordings and text files in one room after the other, with the odd holographic recreations being relative bright spots. The present day story was hugely forgettable, with only Lance Reddick’s character making any sort of impression (and possibly just because I like Lance Reddick). One day on and I can’t remember any other character’s name.

The visuals were excellent for the different biomes, and considering it was their first game after Killzone, Guerrilla did a great job at their first open world. I hope they can build on this for Forbidden West, with some updated gameplay and more focus on character. I definitely feel there’s potential for a truly great game in there, the first Assassin’s Creed and The Witcher both spring to mind.
The Light Knight
PS: What game wouldn’t be elevated by robot dinosaurs? I’ve also been playing God Of War, Yakuza, and FIFA recently – all could do with a Robo-T-Rex or two.

GC: That’s pretty much our take on it. The back story and art design for the game is great but the execution of the story and gameplay is usually much less inspired. It’s a good game but not a great one and interestingly Guerrilla Games seem to recognise that, which makes us hopeful for the sequel.

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

Made in America
I’m sure that Persona 5 rumour is true, given how unsubtle the hints are, but I do wish Microsoft would do something more than just sign up years old games. Where are the Japanese exclusive games? Where is the reason for anyone in Japan to give a damn about the Xbox? It’s nowhere.

People complain about Sony abandoning Japan but Microsoft has been doing that since the day they started. And I think we forget in the UK how they’re barely doing any better in Europe and for the same general reasons: the branding is too America-centric and so are the games.

It worries me that Microsoft’s approach to this has always been to just brute force their way through and just try and make everyone like American games, so they don’t have to bother changing their approach. That’s not really worked up till now, but I fear it will now that Game Pass really is becoming the Netflix of gaming.
Jamie

Evening show
Looking forward to the Square Enix Presents event on Thursday. I know they often get dismissed as ‘The Final Fantasy company’ but I think they’ve been doing really well recently, in terms of both their Japanese and Western output.

I’d like to hear something on a new Deus Ex, even though I know we want and they should probably ditch Avengers as soon as they can, but otherwise I’m interested in pretty much everything they have at the moment. Including a look at a new Life Is Strange and maybe a bit of Tomb Raider.

All companies have their ups and downs but at the moment I’d say they were on the upward curve. Although I can’t see that Outsiders doing much – I imagine they were more than happy to cut a deal with Microsoft for it to be on Game Pass.
Korbie

Upscaled beauty
Wow, that 8K Zelda: Breath Of The Wild looks outstanding!

It’s certainly a testament to Nintendo’s artistic styling that someone can come along, upscale and add ray-tracing, and their game still looks fantastic.

Sadly, even if there is a Switch Pro, I can’t see them coming anywhere close to those results, but any increase in resolution would be welcome, even if it did come from Nvidia’s DLSS, and some extra lighting effects like HDR would be a cherry on the top.

However, as demonstrated with the Super Mario 3D All-Stars compilation, Nintendo are perfectly capable of shameful cash grabs too. Much as I love their games, they know how to exploit the back catalogue with, generally, the minimum amount of effort, and we will buy it again and again.

So, if we do see a hardware upgrade it’s my hope that, like Microsoft and the Xbox backwards compatibility, all games can see some form of boost without having to purchase more remasters. That would be another sale to me.
ZiPPi

You can’t win if you don’t play
Just a quickie for other indie and quirky game fans, catching the sales I took a chance on The Flame In The Flood and for £2.66 it was a nice little survival game diversion. Sea Of Solitude, however, was emotionally hard to keep playing, as it deals with depression, but so rewarding and just £6.66.

On the downside, tried to recapture my youth with the Silent Hill HD Collection for £5.20. Fired up the classic Silent Hill 2 but forgot how terrible the controls are compared to modern games. Couldn’t get on with fan favourite Ori And The Blind Forest Definitive Edition either, for just £3.33. Oh well, you’ve got to take some chances to find those gems.
Spooky Dreamer

Too much of a good thing
Barely a day goes by now where there isn’t a discussion about Game Pass and how Sony and Nintendo should have an equivalent.

I’m surprised at how many people think this is the right way to go after seeing what’s happening to the television streaming market. Game Pass is the reason I own an Xbox Series X; it’s been a smart investment from Microsoft, so I’m not saying in itself that it’s terrible. But it’s very much at the cornucopia stage that Netflix enjoyed five to six years ago. And it can stay that way while it remains the only service like it on consoles.

If Sony and Nintendo adopted a similar model, in the short term it might be great. But that isn’t where the Netflix boom stopped. Surely the inevitable next step is that major games publishers would start to pull their titles back and launch their own subscription services, knowing there’s a tried and tested infrastructure.

In America, there are 12 major TV streaming platforms – with more launching soon – and over 300 in total. Having more services with less individual content is not a desirable future for gaming (and the indications are that television consumers are increasingly feeling the same), so I personally hope that Sony and Nintendo stand their ground.
Craig (SW-5396-2105-3230)

GC: That’s certainly a valid concern.

Inbox also-rans
With that new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon looking so good I wonder if anyone would attempt a new Simpsons game like the old arcade game? I used to love that one and it was Konami as well. I seem to remember they did a really good X-Men beat ‘em-up too.
Orff

GC: EA’s mobile games are still going so we’d guess they still have the licence – although consoles rights can often be separate with properties like that.

I hear that Microsoft is changing the name of its newest console to Eggs Box Serious Eggs, as an Easter promotion. Cracking name that.
Tim Keeling

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was inspired by reader Newton, and asks what’s your favourite beginning to a video game?

What game do you think makes the best first impression, regardless of what follows? Assuming the beginning means anything with the first hour (although it can be a much smaller section within that time) what game do you feel starts off the best?

What is it about its opening that works so well? Is it the presentation, the story hooks, or simply the gameplay? How important is a good beginning and which good games do you feel start poorly?

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.


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