Welcoming myself to the next-gen, with a little help from a friend

 I haven't written anything in just about a month and a half. Pretty weird for me because I was pumping out some stuff before. That's just it though, I only write when I have something to say. And I had a lot to say. But in the past month, I've experienced a lot. My shitty TV got a dead pixel and I had to rent another one. I played Deus Ex and was gonna do a big ol' thing about it, but eh whatever it's a pretty good game and it's as simple as that.

It was love at first sight... whether she knew it or not.

But then... something happened. I got a PS4. But not on my own volition, it was a gift. A gift from someone I have never met and will probably never meet. A good friend of mine. Liam.

That's right. If it sounds crazy, it probably is. He took a chance on my poor ass and it's probably never going to pay off really, because now he's got to deal with me on the PS4 as well.

Sometimes I wonder who I was in a past life to have earned such good friends. Friends who were seemingly always willing to help out. They're always there for me, and one day when I'm a world renown blogger/writer/podcaster/videogamedesigner/philanthropist, maybe I can return the favor. But alas, the only thing I can give right now is my thanks. Thanks to Liam for affording me the opportunity to play games from the next generation.

And then came the games.

First up was a bunch of downloadable games I had from PS+. I'm told games like Don't Starve and Binding Of Issac are fun but I didn't really get much out of them. Maybe I didn't play them enough, but they didn't really reach out and grab me. Then I played some Transistor and that game was pretty cool. I should probably finish it but right now I've got no desire to play it. That happens to me sometimes. I'll like a game and then not want to ever play it again.

Then the discs started coming. The full games were on the way.

First up: inFamous: Second Son.

Found Dan Ryckert and his 3,000 clones immediately
 Second Son was okay. I was pretty indifferent about it. I'm really into the inFamous series and inFamous 2 is probably one of my favorite PS3 games of all time, up there with games like MGS4 and The Last of Us. But Second Son was just... a game. It didn't even feel like a sequel. There wasn't a single mention of Cole, and when Zeke shows up, he does so in a DLC that we in North America can't buy because for some weird reason, it's only available on the European PSN.

The game starts and you are Delsin Rowe. You're the "punk". You tag buildings with spraypaint and hate authority. You  like to jokingly quip at everything under the goddamn sun and "stick it to the man". How convenient for you that "the man" needs a sticking.

The story is, 7 years ago, shit went real bad. Conduits were using their powers for all kinds of bad stuff and were close to taking over the world or something, I don't know. I thought the story was kind of dumb. I liked inFamous when it was about superheroes and supervillains punching each other and jumping all over roofs. Now Second Son comes out and has to "send a message" because Nate Fox got "randomly selected" at an airport 20 years ago or something.

Personally I didn't like the character of Delsin.When Troy Baker fails to make a character likable then you know you've fucked up somewhere. It's his inability to take anything seriously and always brush things off like it doesn't matter. I couldn't tell if this guy was supposed to be in his 20's or somewhere in his teenage years.

Delsin's smouldering with anger

I also didn't like going to Seattle. Empire City and New Marais were so interesting, even if they weren't particularly noteworthy, because they were new. They may have been your typical Fictional Cities, but they were new and different. Going to Seattle takes all of that out because you'd pass by some fountain and think "Huh, guess that's a landmark or something".

By going to a real location, they take some of that mystery of their universe away. The chances of seeing a statue of Cole or something is gone because you're in real place and they wouldn't have that, would they? They'd have a statue of some real guy who did some real thing. I don't know, maybe it's not a big deal, but with the complete lack of connection to the rest of the inFamous universe, pretty much every decision made by Second Son put me off in a big way.

But then you get to the gameplay. The gameplay wasn't bad, it just wasn't noteworthy. You've got games like inFamous 1 and 2 where you have powers that do something other than endlessly shooting at people with your power powers. For example, you could bring up an electric shield to protect yourself from gunfire in the other games. In Second Son, all powers are action a gogo, baby. And worse yet, they are just reskins of each other.

It's also worth mentioning that unlike Cole, who could use Electricity and Ice(Or the other one, fire or something) powers at the same time, Delsin has to manually switch powers from the source. If you want to use smoke, you have to find smoke somewhere and absorb it, if you want neon, you have to find a neon sign and absorb it, etc, etc. They could have taken away the endlessly repetitive reskinned  powers and crammed them into one single tree and the value of the gameplay would have been increased exponentially. You could have things like the Television hover, the Neon sprint, the smoke... nothing, because that one sucks. They could have done what they did in inFamous 2 and give you another type of ability instead of an entirely different tree that spirals out and does all kinds of different stuff. They went for quantity over quality and it really hurt more than it helped.

The only real differences in powers are the navigational stuff. Neon lets you sprint around anything and everything at a very fast pace. You can climb up and down things like it's nothing. Neon let's you get around fast. Television's version of the Glide move can be upgraded into a hover, so you can hang in the air and pick your shots against enemies easier. It also has a very fast burst of speed that allows you to get about half-way up most buildings, but it almost seems pointless because why would I want to get halfway up a building and climb the rest of the way when I can just use Neon and get to the top in a fraction of the time, or the effort?

The navigational stuff was different at least, even if Neon was always the way to go. But when it comes to the actual powers themselves, as above, they are just reskins. L2 and Triangle will shoot some kind of missile, L1 will throw a grenade of some kind, and square will always melee.

The game didn't feel rushed, even if it was short, the world was empty and all of the powers aside from Neon were boring and lifeless, it was at least somewhat polished(And don't forget how beautiful the lighting and particle effects are in this game), it was just... okay.

Neon, for when all other powers are boring and stupid
Then there's the smoke powers but they are boring and generic. You can't get around as fast and have to rely on manually climbing up buildings like in the other inFamous games, but unlike the other inFamous games, the climbing in Second Son is so unbelievably unreliable that using smoke was always too much trouble for me to use. Whenever I had the chance, I would switch back to Neon powers. I would never use Television or Smoke. They felt so underutilized that it was like I was being punished for using them.

And then there's the enemies. inFamous had all kinds of variable enemy types. In the first inFamous, you have different kinds of gangs with different looks and styles. When you got to inFamous 2 you had giant enemies and super powered ice soldiers attacking you from every which way. Second Son has lame-as-all-fuck Russian Mob and D.U.P. soldiers who use a form of concrete. They mostly all look the same and they are all boring to fight. No one ever switches it up and it's usually the same fight every time. You shoot until you are almost dead and then you run away until your healing powers kick in and you shoot some more. There's practically no variety. Nothing in this game stands out. It's a one note game and that note isn't worth anything.

But hey, at least photo-mode is a ton of fun, eh?
So how ironic is it that photo-mode, some random little thing is more fun to play with than the game itself? Again, I didn't hate Second Son, it was just so disappointing. After the bombshell ending that inFamous 2 got, you'd figure the sequel would be all kinds of crazy. But nope, you get barely a single mention of the other game to the point that this thing might as well be the gritty reboot, even if it's not remotely gritty.

Like, really really fun... It's so purdy
Second up: The Last of Us: Remastered

This is the "in cover hiding from enemies" face, apparently...

I'll actually start this off by saying that it's ironic that I liked photo-mode more than the game itself in Second Son, because so far the photo-mode in TLOU: RE is pretty lame. You have a lot of the same options as in Second Son, but the camera is locked on Joel's character model in some weird way. You could turn the camera away from Delsin at any point to set up a nice shot, but it's locked to Joel so you'll either need to hide your model or figure out a way around it.

It also doesn't help that Joel constantly makes those stupid fucking faces making it entirely impossible to take any nice shots. The filters themselves also aren't up to snuff with the Second Son filters. Second Son's filters seems to change the lighting and colors, but for some reason the filters in TLOU seems to only change the colors. It's hard to explain and I'm also not entirely sure of the exact processes of filters, so I'll just say the ones in Second Son looked way better.

Honestly, I had a bunch of stuff written up about the game already, but I've put a lot more time into the PS4 version(I just got to the horses) and everything has changed. So I deleted it. And I'll tell you why.

You can tell it's art because it has a filter on it!
It seems so much easier. I'm playing on Grounded mode because TLOU and Remastered do not share a trophy list, so I want another easy Platinum, and also because I hate myself. But imagine my surprise when I run into scenarios that gave me a ton of trouble before were actually so easy I were able to beat them on the first playthrough.

It's insane and I honestly don't believe it, but it feels like they made it easier. I mean sure, a lot of the early game problem spots still exist, like the school in Bill's Town. That whole thing sucked. But then the Bloater boss battle was a lot easier, for whatever reason. Maybe I just had better accuracy or maybe I got lucky, but I pretty much walked right through that boss, even though he had given me tons of trouble on the PS3.

And then there's the clicker tunnel when you're separated from Ellie and Henry and all you have is Sam with you. I beat this in one go. It was... an accident to say the least. Someone may remember from my other blogs about The Last of Us's Grounded mode, I point out how the companions get in your way so much that it becomes a big problem because of the difficulty. Well, that happened again, and actually made me look like an idiot in the process, and also making the hardest part of the game so easy I felt like I was going insane.

Thanks to the power of the next generation, I have a video to back it up!

During this video my mind was processing so much and not knowing what to do with it. The single most difficult spot in the entire game, and I just walked right through it... because Sam took my place and I got caught by infected?

The levels of what just happened in the video are insane. By getting caught, I pulled away all of the infected from the ladder area so that I could just run up and go. But by sneaking, they would all be there as usual. Sam got in the way, and in doing so created an opening that I ended up using to get through. One that I never saw before. One that made me feel like a big ol' idiot.

And that's crazy. Because as many times as I beat The Last of Us on the PS3, nothing like that ever happened. The infected would rain down on me like an infected bombing run. But on the PS4... they kind of relented a little. I don't know if I got lucky(Doubt it because I never, NEVER got lucky on the PS3), or if they actually did some kind of... fixes, or something, but The Last of Us Remastered is definitely leading way to new experiences that I would have never imagined.

So many hours have already been shaved off of my playtime because I'm able to walk through really tough areas and it leaves me feeling weird. I know this has never happened before, and so it all seems so bizarre. Maybe I'm making a big deal about it, but it's absolutely not just "Old hat TLOU". There's something new going on under the hood. Whatever it is.

Where the fuck do you even find hardhats 20 years into the apocalypse!?
One thing I'd like to talk about before I wrap this massive blog up, is that TLOU: RE is actually... kind of buggy. Also what's up with me and these ellipses all of a sudden? Did I forget italics for some reason? Have I not written a blog in that long?

Anyway yeah. The game has kind of bugged out on me quite a few times in my first ever PS4 playthrough. At one part, in the library area of Pittsburgh, right before you get to the hotel all of the guards got stuck in place. It's like they were alerted for a short amount of time and then were frozen in place or something. They wouldn't move on their own unless I made a noise or something. And when it came time for Ellie to pull out her jokebook for the first time, she simply pulled it out, asked me if I wanted to hear a joke, and then immediately put it away before I could react. I don't know what's up with that, and I know these things never happened to me on the PS3, but it's certainly weird to see bugs all of a sudden. I mean personally I found it weird that the game still has just as much pop-in as it did on the PS3, but the bugs are just so weird.


Photo-mode is a great feature and I'd like to see more games use it. It gives people like me just another cool thing to do. Some people might not like it because it can be pointless, but I think it adds a lot to the game. inFamous: Second Son has a ton of opportunities to set up a great shot and a lot of options to make sure it comes out looking great. It doesn't hurt that the game itself looks great.

Other than that, my first exposure to the next-generation has been okay, I suppose. I didn't quite get the same level of a reaction as I did with the last generation. Mostly because I had games like Motorstorm showing me how incredible games could look. Or the hype of MGS4 to keep that hype-fire in my heart burning strong.

Though to be fair, one game is just a better looking PS3 game and the other is a lame attempt at a late PS4 launch title. So once I start getting heavy hitters like Shadow of Mordor coming in, I can get more of a feel for it. I am happy to get a chance to experience it though. I guess that's what it's like to have great friends!

Even Torsi the Torso Horse wanted in on the photo-mode action!
And the last one... Little brother Tommy! Woohoo!

My name is Ryan. I like to play video games and Dungeons and Dragons and all kinds of other cool stuff. I also like to write. This is my website, it's nothing special, but I write about topics from time to time that probably make no sense. But if you think they do make sense, then hang around and check out some other articles. My friends call them "blogs" but goddamnit I've got a URL and everything, so they're "articles".

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