Games Inbox: Rockstar Games overrated, PES vs. FIFA, and Life Is Strange 2 disappointment

Red Dead Redemption 2 – are Rockstar getting too big for their cowboy boots (pic: Rockstar)

The Friday Inbox asks if Epic Games Store will be giving away free games forever, as one reader celebrates the joys of a good career mode.

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PLEASE NOTE: As usual, GameCentral will only have a minimal service over Christmas and the New Year, although we will be running various end of the year (and decade) features and a preview of 2020. We always like to include Reader’s Features as well though, so if you’ve been meaning to write one but haven’t now would be a great time to send one in for us to use this month.


Adding to the problem
As soon as I saw the news about Red Dead Redemption 2 for £25 I was instantly going to buy it, since it is a good deal for one of last year’s biggest games. But then I thought about it for a moment – it’s an expensive time of year so that’s not a trivial amount to me – and realised I’m not sure I really want to go through with it all.

I have probably bought and played the majority of Rockstar games over the years but reading all the stuff about how Red Dead Redemption 2 is too long and the long talking sections while riding your horse, and bad controls… I can picture exactly how it worked. It was the same in GTA 5 really but since I love that setting so much I put up with it all. I’m much less invested in cowboys though and I’m not sure I can put up with all that for 60 hours or more.

It might seem funny coming from someone who would usually consider themselves a fan but I do worry that Rockstar are a bit overrated and that this has caused them to start to believe their own hype. They currently have zero reason to change, given their enormous success, and they don’t even seem to be interested in making other, smaller games now either. Or even GTA story DLC!

I probably will end up getting Red Dead Redemption 2 if that price stays the same but I have this nagging feeling that I’m just, as a tiny cog in the wheel, making the situation worse. Everyone’s at their best when they’ve got something to prove and I don’t think that’s the place Rockstar are in right now.


Anything but full price
Just to add to the discussion on video game prices, I honestly can’t remember the last time I spent more than £30 on a game, and usually I get them a lot cheaper than even that. Black Friday may have been pretty rubbish this year but games come down pretty quickly in price these days and there is always a sale on of some sort. I picked up God Of War for just £13.49 the other day!

There are far too many good games released for me to ever possibly get the chance to play them all, so there is absolutely no need to rush out and buy the latest release straight away. On some occasions I’ll even get lucky and a game I want to play will be a PS Plus freebie…


Just say no
Jumping into the game price debate, I do feel that when people discuss this they often neglect the fact that the customer base is much larger than it was years ago.

What boggles my mind when it comes to modern gaming is that how they try to keep you engaged and spending money for as long as possible.

On the face of it that makes sense, but then you have some games that demand so much of your time they’re akin to a full-time job in themselves. Then another one comes out, from the same company, and there seems to be an expectation that somehow people will find 48 hours each day to play them. Inevitably one of the games competing with its own sibling will flop, and sometimes the development studio then gets shut down.

Bloody EA and Activision.
Joseph Dowland


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PlayStation era
Loved the retrospective on the original PlayStation. It is remarkable how Sony transformed the gaming landscape with it. It was a few years later but my student union nightclub had PlayStation 2s with WipEout Fusion on when that launched… trying to recapture the magic of the original marketing. I might have gone for ISS Pro over FIFA in your games list though, it was ISS Pro/Pro Evolution Soccer that was the master throughout the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 era, I don’t remember anyone playing FIFA and the competition between the two was the reason FIFA improved to win out during the PlayStation 3 era.

This kind of links to the Resident Evil 3 chat too… I’m not surprised Capcom can turn a remake around so quickly since for me Resident Evil 3 was basically an asset swap/recycle of Resident Evil 2 done on the cheap before the original PlayStation was put out to pasture, more an expansion pack than a full game.

Code: Veronica was the real Resident Evil 3, it pushed the tech of the Dreamcast with its 3D backgrounds and the story (as bonkers as it is) forward too. The real time cut scenes were terrific, a notable evolution on Metal Gear Solid. It took the old style gameplay as far as it could go and was a good point to end it before the Resident Evil 4 reinvention. Let’s have a remake of that.
PS: Any chance of a Children Of Morta review? It’s been getting indie of the year type notes from some other reviewers but has completely slipped under the radar.

GC: It has? That seems surprising to us. We played an hour or so, while considering it for a full review, and weren’t particularly impressed. FIFA always sold more than any Konami game, the only time it got close was during the PlayStation 2 era.


Two cheap games
I recently bought two cheap games. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey for £25-ish which still wasn’t worth it – I swear the fighting was more fluid years ago in the original, a bit more akin to Batman. This seemed like Dragon Age, where I was just waiting for moves to recharge. Plus, I think I just can’t be arsed with large open world games anymore.

The other game I bought was God Of War for the same price – the hybrid of linear/open world gave me just enough of each to keep me satisfied and it looked amazing.

Very happy.

Not so happy that I had to buy digital copies I can’t sell on as my original PlayStation 4 has a dodgy disc drive – I did notice that digital and store price tended to stay equal.

I haven’t bought Death Stranding yet – bit annoyed I didn’t get it on release date to experience the online as a pioneer but I’m hoping for a Christmas/January price drop.

Computer games are no longer top priority now that I’m 30+


Satisfying career
Firstly, thank you all at GC for a great year of gaming news.

All this talk of power and performance got me thinking as to what got me into gaming in the first place. Nothing beats that sense of achievement. To quote a section of one of my all-time favourite games, Wings! (Amiga) ‘Its story told of the main characters eerily realistic wartime experiences, provoking an emotional response in the player that is all too rare in retro and modern gaming alike.’

I guess the modern-day equivalent has become the career mode. Although there are exceptions, the majority seem to be ‘tacked on’ or given very little care and attention. I’m sure we all can recall reading a review of a game only for the last paragraph to mention an anaemic and personality void career mode.

I love the feeling a great career mode can create, and none of that raw emotion comes from any of the two ‘p’s mentioned in the first paragraph. All it takes is a little bit of heart combined with some creativity.

I would much rather see ‘Golf Story’ graphics, coupled with a fantastic career mode, than a photorealistic Tiger Woods going through the motions of a pre-rendered press conference. (yawn)

So my wish for 2020… less power – more heart.

Merry Christmas gaming friends.


Free ride
So, I have been enjoying the free Epic Games Store giveaways throughout the year and now with 2019 nearly over I was wondering if you knew if this is going to continue? I’m sure I read at some point that it was just to help the store get up and running and to encourage repeat business in the future.

I think it’s worthy of a positive shout out to give away so many games for free regardless of people’s feelings about them and the endless riches they seem to hold.

Thank you for any information GC!

GC: They haven’t announced a schedule for January yet, but they also haven’t said they’re stopping. There’s a new one mentioned in the also-rans below.


Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here


Long wait
Thanks for your review of Life Is Strange 2 Episode 5 (and the other four!) GC. I enjoy this type of game (The Walking Dead, Bandersnatch, etc.) and will play them with my wife, discussing (arguing) over the decisions to take together.

I’ve always waited until a series was complete before buying it, however given the strength of both Life Is Strange and Before The Storm I bought Life Is Strange 2 wholesale when Episode 1 came out (over a year ago!), so we could play it as the developers intended.

Needless, to say we won’t be making that mistake again. In fact, there was such a big gap to Episode 2 that we’d forgotten most of what had happened, and we decided just to wait until the series was complete before continuing, as we always had before. I understand the funding model publishers are using (profits from one episode fund the next) here but surely with such a big gap between episodes the drop-off rate must be high. Do publishers ever release stats on this?

It’s disappointing that the game as a whole is not as strong as the other entries, however we’ll probably play through it anyway (maybe even starting again) as it sounds like we’ll still enjoy it. There needs to be more of these types of game I think – games where you’re the ‘director’ of the game rather than the main ‘actor’ in it.

I’d be perfectly happy for these games to have no traditional gameplay at all – the stealth/puzzle/action elements tend to be weak anyway. I’d rather these games put all the focus on the story and the relationship between the characters. I’d like to be able to play a game like this with the controller on my lap the whole time, making a decision every few moments – perfect for dark, lazy Winter afternoons when you just want to relax and do something nice together.

GC: Now that Telltale are no more Dontnod are almost the only company still doing episodic content with large gaps between releases. Thankfully they’ve seen sense though and are planning a different approach for Tell Me Why.


Inbox also-rans
Do you plan to review Audica on PlayStation VR? It was around this time last year I got Beat Saber (and loved it) so I’m on the lookout for a rhythm action game to scratch that itch again.
Gengar91 (PSN ID)

GC: We’ve never heard of it and it’s a month old now. We’re happy to consider more obscure indie games for review if people are curious about them, but we need more advance warning.

Jotun: Valhalla Edition is free on PC on Epic Games Store from today for the next week.
Andrew J.


This week’s Hot Topic
With Black Friday just gone, the subject for this weekend’s Inbox is what’s been your best video game bargain of the year?

Even if it wasn’t recently, what game, console, or other video game-related items have you bought for cheap and why were you so pleased with it? Were you specifically waiting for it to go cheap or did you take a chance on it because of the price?

How normal is it for you to buy something in this way and generally how often do you buy games at close to full price, as opposed to when on sale? Also, please mark your letters for either the Hot Topic or weekday Inbox, as it’s already becoming difficult working out which are meant for which.

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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.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word 4Player viewer features at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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