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Showing posts from September, 2016

TGS 2016: Horizon Zero Dawn Hands-on

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This is the last of my TGS 2016 posts. You can find the rest here:
Preview Day One Round-up
Day Two Round-up
TGS in Pictures
Persona 5 Hands-on
Yakuza 6 Hands-on
FFXV, XII and World of FF Hands-on
Rez Infinite & Sony VR Hands-on
Resident Evil 7 Hands-on

I originally posted this preview at Critical Gamer

Of the non-VR games on offer at Tokyo Game Show, Horizon Zero Dawn was the most popular. The wait for the twenty minute demo rarely dipped below two hours on the press days, and I imagine it was a nightmare once the public joined the fray.

It was a very straight forward demo that revealed nothing of the story. It was set in the middle of an autumnal looking map, full of trees and undergrowth, bordered by hills and a lake beyond which we were not allowed to pass. It looked lovely, if not a little bare, but the trailers have hinted at more populated areas to come. It was a very small playground, but gave a good idea as to what the larger world might look like. In this small space, I was left…

TGS 2016: Resident Evil 7 Hands-on

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I originally posted this at Critical Gamer
Lantern, an extended version of the Gamescom Resident Evil 7 demo, opened with an unpleasant game of hide and seek. I was chased into a rickety old house by a lovely old crone who desperately wanted to bash my brains in. She's a bit mad, you see.

It was all in first-person and shared the same grainy visuals as the first, publicly available demo. The house was dilapidated and dank, the kind of place you'd want to avoid even if it weren't patrolled by a psychotic old lady. And it was night time, because these things aren't nearly as frightening in the light of day. I ran and I hid; I fumbled desperately for door knobs, solved a puzzle using shadows and eventually crawled under the floorboards. Inevitably, Granny caught me and that was that. Only not quite.

The demo closed with a new, minimally interactive scene set around the dinner table. The Baker family had invited me for tea, or more likely dragged me kicking and screaming …

TGS 2016: Rez Infinite & Sony VR Hands-on

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I originally posted this preview at Critical Gamer
Tokyo Game Show was my chance to try VR for the first time. It was at the top of my to-do list, but getting a hands-on proved more difficult than I anticipated. This years' show was dominated by Virtual Reality and everyone and their mother wanted to try it. Appointments were hard to come by and queues were upwards of two hours. However, with a bit of persistence, I was able to secure a time slot with Rez Infinite. I was very pleased with myself.

I've been sceptical of VR games. Early adopters aside, I have my doubts as to whether the average home console or PC owner will invest in the required hardware. I also question whether people really want to be that shut off from reality and whether the intensity of VR runs counter to why many of us play games: to relax. VR always struck me as a fun looking experience at a trade show, but not so much at home.

That's what I thought before trying it myself. Following my hands-on wi…

TGS 2016: Final Fantasy XV, XII and World of FF Hands-on

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I played three very different Final Fantasies at this year's TGS. I'm drawn to the series, even when I don't particularly want to be, and couldn't help but queue up for FFXV, FFXII: The Zodiac Age and World of Final Fantasy.
I'll start with Final Fantasy XV because that's probably why you're here.

I went into the demo expecting to dislike it. Everything I'd seen and tried of SE's latest epic suggested that this was not going to be a game for me. I've moved on from FF melodrama, find that I struggle with lengthy games, and I despise the look of XV's main crew. Basically, I am the antithesis of Noughties Matt, who probably would've loved this shit. Current Matt - my name is Matt - hated the TGS demo.

I had my preconceptions, was fed of queueing and was so pissed off with the demo booth setup that I almost turned around and left (standing, screen at chest height, headphones with a ridiculously short cord so that I spent the whole demo hunched …

TGS 2016: Yakuza 6 Hands-on

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Tokyo Game Show just wouldn't be the same without a new Yakuza. They have dominated SEGA's booths over the years and are usually among the best received and well attended demos of the show. This year was no exception.

Yakuza 6 (Ryu ga Gotoku: Inochi no Uta) is the latest instalment. Series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu is fresh out of prison when he discovers that Haruka, his daughter or sorts, has been involved in a hit and run incident and is in a coma. Kiryu needs to find the culprit, but it's not that simple. During Kaz' time in the slammer, Haruka has had a baby, Huruto. Kazuma & Haruto head to Hiroshima in search of the child's father, which is where the demo kicks off.

It begins with Kazuma walking the streets of a small town, cradling baby Haruto. After a bit of aimless wandering, we arrive outside a snack bar, a hostess-lite establishment, where the proprietor takes a shine to Kaz and baby and invites us inside. In true Yakuza style, Kaz quickly attracts u…

TGS 2016 in Pictures

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Tokyo Game Show is over for another year. Most of the foreign press are on their way home; those of us left in Japan are busy sorting our TGS swag into combustibles and recyclables. The public have filed out of Makuhari Messe for the last time.

All we have left are memories. And blisters, because we wore the wrong shoes.

I also have a phone full of photos, most of which didn't come out very well because it's near impossible to take a decent shot in the dark halls of TGS. Here are a few of them, alongside a couple from my good friend Stevie (top, P5 x 2, Yakuza 6, Phone cases, Nioh).


Ah, the giant Moogle. It was suspended above Square Enix' booth and has been a TGS fixture for as long as I can remember (since 2006?). SE had a fairly decent showing this year, headlined by a trio of Final Fantasies - XV, XII HD and World of FF - alongside whatever the latest Kingdom Hearts is. Three point something into night: Duodecim? Fuck knows.


As per usual, Sony dominated the show. Ther…

TGS 2016: Persona 5 Hands-On

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Persona 5 is already out here in Japan, but that didn't stop me and countless other punters from queueing up for the TGS demo. It was brief, stylish and unique and was probably the best game I played over the two days.

The demo is set in an art gallery/museum and our team of four, three teens and a cat, are attempting to sneak their way through for unknown reasons. It was very light on narrative, with the focus entirely on action. The dungeon was full of laser triggered alarms, which our hero deftly slid under or jumped over, or at least he did when I remembered to press the correct button. Possessed security guards roamed the halls, but it was fairly easy to either sneak past or get the jump on them. There were some basic stealth mechanics, as characters could take cover behind large objects, but there was little need to play it quiet here.

It may have only been a short demo, around fifteen minutes of free-play, but that was ample time for Persona 5's unique style to shine t…

TGS 2016: Day Two Roundup

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That's my TGS done for another year.

I had a great time, even if nothing really blew me away. VR had a huge presence and, on the whole, the show felt more vibrant and expansive than it did the last time I attended (2011). Console gaming may be in sharp decline here in Japan, but the usual exhibitors (Sony, Sega, Capcom etc.) put on a brave face and there was plenty to check out. The indie scene was well represented, there was a VR headset everywhere you looked, and of course there were plenty of mobile games.

I'm now suffering from TGS comedown. I won't attend the next two public days - though the thought did cross my mind - and I'll try to keep myself occupied with writing. The video game industry is still where I desperately want to be, though I don't feel I'm getting any closer to making that happen. Hopefully, one day soon, my involvement in the industry will amount to more than just two days in September.

But let's forget all that for now. Here's …

TGS 2016: Day One Roundup

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Day One of TGS is in the bag. I played some games, walked around a bit, frowned at FFXV and seriously depleted my mobile data plan. I'll be back at it tomorrow, as there are plenty more games to try, shite merchandise to photograph and beers to drink.
I'll be up at the crack of dawn tomorrow - five mutherfucking AM in the mutherfucking morning - so I'm going to keep this brief. Here is my roundup of TGS Day One, written by me, at three minutes past midnight. After a handful of beers.

Words about games:

ChANgeS
TGS is bigger than I remember. In 2011, the last time I attended, the show was down to three halls of Makuhari Messe convention centre, and I ran out of things to play on the first day.

In 2016, home consoles are dying, but TGS is as alive as I can ever remember it. Level-5 and Microsoft are long gone, but there's a whole hangar dedicated to indies and merchandise, which never existed before, and the mobile turnout is of a much higher quality than I remember. Pre…

TGS 2016: A Preview of Priorities

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Tokyo Game Show is this week (15th - 18th September).

I live in Japan.

I have a laptop and three pens.

I have a Press Pass.

I am Tokyo Game Show 2016!

For the first time since 2011, I will attend TGS. I'll play games, watch trailers, eat shit curry for lunch and stare at internet-famous people. I will also tweet a lot, blog a lot and do some words over at Critical Gamer. This is my Christmas, in September, and I hope you'll join me.

Two days is more than enough time to see everything TGS has to offer. But lets pretend for a moment that it isn't, and that I need to prioritise my activities to ensure that I can fit everything in.

Because that's what I've done.

Of the Utmost Importance

VR, VR, VR. I have no interest in playing VR games in my home, but fuck me I'm excited about trying some at a trade show. I'll make a beeline for Resident Evil 7 as soon as the doors open, and I'd love to try Rez Infinite should I have the chance. Most likely, the wait f…

Japan, Games, Japan, Games, Japan

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1. Japan

Four months in Japan and hardly a peep. Sorry about that.

Six years was a long time to be away, but it hasn't taken us long to readjust to Japanese life. My daughter has settled in without any issues - she bloody loves Anpanman - and we're all happy to be here.

That being said, it hasn't all been plain sailing. We've had to make some lifestyle adjustments, some expected and some less so. Securing work with a guaranteed income has proven far more difficult than I expected (more on this later) and we have yet to move into a place of our own. Our return won't feel complete until we've achieved both these things. A mix of Brexit and Abenomics have made it very difficult to transfer our savings from the UK to Japan - the exchange rate is dire - so we are having to live more frugally than we would like.

Some hiccups then, but we're still very happy to be back. Just a few more things to sort out, and then we can get on with making the most of our new life…