Musings of a Gamer XVI

1. Journey

Journey is a simple yet beautiful game. With its haunting soundtrack, impressive use of colour and a basic yet incredibly effective multiplayer it has struck a chord with gamers, becoming the fastest selling game in PSN history. It’s over in a flash and does suffer from a second half that is far less interesting than the stunning first couple of levels, but even still it is one of the finest PSN games since the days of Shatter, Flower and Battlefield 1943.

As much as I'm still enjoying Journey, I have no great urge to write about it. Much like Flower, it is something best experienced not necessarily discussed. It is a game that will mean different things to different people and is near impossible to write/talk about in any real detail without sounding like a pretentious twat. I'd definitely recommend downloading it and experiencing Journey for yourself.

2. Mass Effect 2 and the Best of the Current Gen

I have finished my second run-through of Mass Effect 2 and am now ten hours into part three. ME2 is deceptively linear, but I love the simple premise of collecting allies and then earning their trust, and I find that it offers a perfect balance between dialogue, character development and action. As far as endings go, Mass Effect 2 has one of the best, keeping you on edge throughout the final mission without having to oversell the fact that the lives of your crew hang in the balance.

This second playthrough further convinced me that Mass Effect 2 is one of the top 3 games of this, the seventh generation, alongside Uncharted 2 and Red Dead Redemption. I dwell far too much on such things - I fucking love listing stuff - but even with all my daydreaming powers I can't settle on a complete top five. One to three is easy, but there are a handful of games that could slide into those last two slots. Shatter, Metal Gear Solid 4, GTA IV, Skyrim, Assassin's Creed 2 and Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions all warrant serious consideration. I best take the day off and give my top five the attention it deserves. I suggest you do the same.


Last week, SEGA instigated a significant scaling back of its Western operations, as offices were closed, jobs lost and games cancelled. SEGA announced that their focus outside of Japan will be limited to only proven IP's - Sonic, Total War, Football Manager and Aliens were highlighted as the core franchises moving forward - and that there would be a shift towards digital titles. This will likely herald the end for localised games such as the Yakuza series (fuck) as SEGA increasingly come to rely on "safe" and often uninspired favourites, instead of looking to fresh and exciting projects such as the Valkyria Chronicles,Vanquish and Binary Domains of the last couple of years, all of which unfortunately underperformed at retail. May I suggest that fans of such series invest in a good kanji dictionary as it seems unlikely that they will see the light of day outside of Japan. I would imagine that this all but kills off any chance of a Shenmue 3 and it could even hinder the arrival of Jet Set Radio HD this summer. A sad day indeed for all involved.

4. Recent Purchases

As if Mass Effect 2-3, Journey and my backlog pile (Dark Souls, Deus Ex, Saints Row etc etc.) weren't enough, I thought I could probably do with a couple more games to keep me occupied. Binary Domain finally bottomed out at £15 so I went ahead and picked up a copy, even though I know it'll be a good month or so before I move onto Yakuza cyborgs. I wanted to play BD from day one, but its timing was appalling, being sandwiched between PS Vita and my Mass Effect-athon. I also downloaded Super Stardust Delta on the Vita. It's good fun, but is not demanding my attention the way the PS3 original did. I have also found myself rejecting the touch controls, choosing to go with the traditional set-up instead, which probably defeats the point of having SSD on the Vita. It’s a worthwhile download for fans of the series, but just don't expect too much.

Finally, I invested in the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection. I had been putting off getting a standard copy in the hopes that the Limited Edition would drop to a more reasonable price if left for a couple of months. Last week, it finally hit the price I was willing to pay for an oversized box - £50 - so I went for it. I'm really looking forward to revisiting the PS2 Metal Gears in HD, particularly Snake Eater, as well as playing Peace Walker for the first time. With all these games in place, I think it's time to cool off on the purchases and actually get round to playing the games I already own. Fortunately, the next month or two look relatively quiet for new releases, so there's a decent chance it might actually happen.

5. Orbis & Reliable Sources

As I'm sure you are aware, Kotaku, citing "reliable sources", last week posted information about the PS4, which is to be known as Orbis. It is unclear whether Orbis is a project codename or if this is the final moniker. Anyway, the name is the least interesting part of last week's revelations that offered a Christmas 2013 release, which seems reasonable, and suggested that there would be no backwards compatibility with the PS3, which is frustrating but not surprising. The hardware specs were eye opening, pointing to a powerful and expensive piece of kit that will likely be another loss leader for Sony.

The final revelation, and I’m taking everything in that Kotaku article with a pinch of salt, is that the system will contain software that will either penalize or perhaps even lock-out gamers who choose to buy used games. This concept seems rather fishy to me and, depending on the extent to which it withholds content, would be a costly mistake for a company that can't afford it. You don't succeed in business by punishing your customers; you find out what they want and why they want it and then build a product around that understanding, one that will benefit both parties. I can see some sort of online pass as part of the hardware that, for example, limits multiplayer to new copies, but the prospect of used games being significantly locked-out is, to my mind, absurd. Hopefully, we will learn more in the coming months as fact is separated from fiction.


  1. My top 3 this gen is easy: Mass Effect 3, Mass Effect 1, Mass Effect 2. After that Batman: AA, the Mario Galaxy games, Uncharted 2, Pokemon Heartgold, Fallout 3, and both Portals are in there somewhere.
    Sucks that happened to Sega. Though I'm probably part of the problem, even though Vanquish and Yakuza looked like games I'd like, I never got around to them. I'd download JSR day one if it still comes though. Maybe they'll focus more on portables, 3DS and Vita could each support their niche titles well.

    1. I'm sensing that you quite enjoyed the Mass Effect series!

      Really unfortunate what's happening to SEGA. I've always relied on them to develop and/or publish interesting, very Japanese style games in the West. That could all now be coming to an end. A Japan only Yakuza 5 could be the reason I'm looking for to get stuck back into my Japanese studies. I'll become fluent for Kazuma!!

  2. One question... What's with Raiden's face on that box? He looks even more feminine.

    Nice to hear good impressions on Journey and Mass Effect 2... I'm dying to play Journey and I recently picked up Mass Effect 2 from Origin. Also, I had no idea Sega was having so much trouble in North America. It's a shame

    1. That's the first thing I thought when I saw the box! Perhaps Kojima felt that Raiden wasn't feminine enough in the first place. Great hair though.

      You only really need an hour to an hour and a half to finish Journey, though you may find yourself starting it up for a second playthrough almost immediately.

  3. Daydream Drooler4 April 2012 at 05:25

    When I first heard of M$ doing the used games lockout for the new xbox I figured the info was wrong because a company like that would never risk so much. they have to know how much money they would lose doing that and I'm all for something like that but honestly I feel the online pass is enough to fight the used games. but now that Sony is reported to be doing the same I honestly believe its gonna happen. and yea Orbis is just a codename, it was announced along with all the other info, PS4 is gonna be the name... which I don't even get why they would give it a codename when everyone already knows what the systems name will be, lol.
    Journey is amazing and a perfect game to just jump into without knowing anything about it. if you look into it at all you'll ruin it for yourself. I loved every minute of my journey and it was just that, a journey.
    I loved ME2 but I always felt they could have done so much more with the gameplay which is exactly what they give you with ME3. each class is worth checking out this time around, the classes in ME2 are kind of worthless, might as well play as soldier because you'll be mostly using guns anyway, lol.
    I'm super jealous of your MGS collectors edition, the U.S. one was nothing to look at and I didn't have the money so I just picked up the regular one but if we had that one I would have saved up the money for it

    1. I just presumed all the classes would be very similar in ME3, as in ME2. Will have to give the options a good look if I end up doing a second runthrough.

      I had a feeling if I waited long enough the price of the MGS HD Ltd Ed would come right down. Its a nice set, but I think they overestimated demand - few people are going to pay £85 (the RRP) for an art book, t-shirt and an extra box. I think they'll start shifting them now at the lower price. The art book is really nice by the way.

  4. My Top Five games this gen... hmmm... I will have to ponder that one. Uncharted 2 is definitely number 1. After that it gets dicey.

    All these next gen console rumors have me a little excited. I mean I am not looking forward to actually having to buy one anytime soon, but the announcements should be fun. Bring on E3!

    1. Uncharted 2 would be my number one also. RDR and ME2 would have to scrap for #2.

      Hopefully E3 will clear up a lot of the rumours, though I think MS and Sony have said that they won't be announcing anything re. the next generation. Wii U will certainly have a major presence though, I'm sure.

  5. The rumors about used game lockouts have been going on way too long now to be untrue. With the amount of bad publicity those reports have generated for both Sony and MS, there should be PR departments running damage control by now. You don't just let stories that could affect stock prices and shareholder confidence and public opinion run wild in the street.

    But MS and Sony say nothing. Which means it's a boardroom tactic. I'd say they're plotting for two options. 1) They continue forward with the block, which will be priced to destroy the margins on used game sales, or 2) retailers blink and finally cut them in on used games.

    If the retailers don't cave, we're going to be kids in the middle of a vicious custody battle when the next generation starts. They'll destroy our home as we know it, while attempting to buy our love. haha Hopefully Gamestop will come to their senses before we get dragged into all that.

    1. Sony and MS are probably waiting for the other to give in and address the rumours. One thing is for sure, neither can afford to be the only one to feature 2nd hand lockouts. Either they both do it, or they both don't. Definitely a situation worth keeping an eye on


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