Review: ‘The Last of Us: Remastered’ is a classic polished for the PS4 – 7/29/2014

‘The Last of Us’ was probably one of the most iconic games of 2013, having become a modern classic not due to its technical and gameplay innovations but because of its groundbreaking story.

With over 200 “Game of the Year” awards, The Last of Us has made its mark not only on video games but also on the cultural arts.

However one should not be foolish enough to compare The Last of Us with Grand Theft Auto V as they are nowhere in the same league. BioShock: Infinite would be its only true rival of 2013 as they both are story-driven games that shared the same concepts of a father and daughter relationship during a troubled era.

It’s always a challenge to improve an already perfect work of art but Naughty Dog would not settle for having The Last of Us be remembered as one of the best games of 2013. Like a perfectionist devoted to their work, Remastered is a polished improvement of a modern classic for the PlayStation 4.

To recap the story: 20 years after a deadly pandemic brings about the collapse of civilization, the survivors try to live on within the quarantine zones or out in the wasteland. Players take on the role of Joel as he becomes Ellie’s guardian during a journey to a resistance camp, as her blood may hold the cure to the infection that has ravaged the world.

As a narrative-driven game, The Last of Us was a flawless masterpiece that had an environment created with the picture-perfect graphics along with an ideal musical score. However it would be wrong to neglect the deep emotionally-driven performance of Troy Barker and Ashley Johnson in the main roles.

The game also brought something that has been long absent in the horror survival genre, the actual concept of horror survival. The gameplay is a return to the roots of the genre when gamers had to actually struggle to survive the horrors of the environment as opposed to fighting waves of zombies (or monsters). While many horror games have traded their survival concept for a Call of Duty-imitation, The Last of Us has instead drawn influence from classics like Resident Evil.

The Last of Us: Remastered sets itself apart from the original taking full advantage of the PS4’s hardware capability with a visual display of 60fps at 1080p. This gives the game a crisper visual image that adds more depth to the game’s environment while improving the fear factor.

However this is not simply another HD remake as the game offers more than a new coat of paint. As a bonus feature, the game also includes all the multiplayer map packs and the critically acclaimed DLC, Left Behind.

So why should a gamer give The Last of Us: Remastered a play-through if it was perfect back in 2013? The best answer is they missed their chance because they were most likely too occupied with Grand Theft Auto V or their last console was an Xbox 360.

Like Grand Theft Auto V and BioShock: Infinite, this is a title no gamer should have overlooked back in 2013. However for those who missed out on playing The Last of Us on the PS3 should add Remastered to their PS4 collection.


Final Score:
5/5

Written for Digital JournalĀ 
07/29/2014
Original Article: Review: ‘The Last of Us: Remastered’ is a classic polished for the PS4

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Op-Ed: A minor delay is better than a broken game – 7/26/2014

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It appears that the 2014 Holiday season is going to be a dry one for gamers as so many highly anticipated titles have been pushed back for a 2015 release.

Early this week, gamers got the news that Electronic Arts is pushing back the release date of Battlefield: Hardline from October 2014 to an unknown date in 2015. They are not alone as Ubisoft had announced before E3 that Batman: Arkham Knight and Tom Clancy’s The Division would be delayed until 2015. CD Projekt RED has also made the hard choice to push back The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for a Winter 2015 release.

While gamers will be disappointed that they have to wait until 2015 for another Battlefield, long time fans will understand that it was necessary to avoid another disastrous release like Battlefield 4.

Battlefield 4 was a very promising game and superior to Call of Duty: Ghosts in terms of the quality of gameplay. Yet due to a series of of glitches and bugs made the game unplayable upon its release. Hence many disgruntled fans began referring to it as “Brokenfield“.

Sadly a lot of the problems that plagued Battlefield 4 could have been avoided had more time gone into the development process. Yet due to an unrealistic deadlines along with the need to compete against Call of Duty: Ghosts probably pressured EA to sail full-steam ahead into the iceberg.

Common sense would dictate that delaying the game would have been the best action, yet game industry considers such a decision as a catch-22. Its a common belief that the longer a game is in development, its chances of being a disaster increases. Many studios continue to fear releasing a disastrous game like Duke Nukem: Forever while many old school fans still recall how Daikatana sullied the reputation of John Romero (I’m still confident he will have a career comeback).

However many always overlook that games like Duke Nukem: Forever and Daikatana were in development for more then four year while undergoing multiple software changes that forced the development team to start from scratch. Meanwhile Arkham Knight and Hardline are being delayed because more time is needed to fix the glitches and patch-up the bugs.

The decade long murky production of Duke Nukem: Forever has now become the textbook example of how not to develop a game. Production started by 3D Realms Studio back in 1996 using the Quake II engine until they switched to the Unreal engine in 1998. Meanwhile as the industry model began to change in the early 2000’s, 3D Realms failed to adopt while being in constant conflict with its parent company, Take-Two Interactive.

After a long production time, Gearbox acquired the intellectual property and took over the project with the goal of a 2011 release date. When the game was finally released for all major consoles, it was universally panned by both critics and gamers. Despite a decade long production, the game was neither innovative or cutting edge while also suffering from a series of annoying glitches.

Meanwhile successful games that have had long production time have been both innovative and groundbreaking while the staff had been focused on a set goal. The obvious example to look at would be Grand Theft Auto V, which development started back in 2009 and was released in 2013. Rockstar North had setup a series of goals that had to be meet while working with the RAGE engine along with adding components of the Euphoria engine and Bullet Physics.

Finally when Grand Theft Auto V was released in September 2013, it was highly praised by critics and gamers. Its story was highly praised for its in-depth analysis of the American Dream in a post-2008 crash society in a style influenced Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson. It also became one of the biggest selling media properties by generating over $1 billion in three days while going on to generate almost $2 billion by December.

Yet the production of Grand Theft Auto V might be a unique example while Ubisoft has demonstrated that a small delay payoff when the final game is a hit. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and Watch Dogs had their release date pushed back while South Park: The Stick of Truth needed to be delayed as Ubisoft acquired the rights after THQ went bankrupt.

Ubisoft has demonstrated that a small delay is always necessary if time is needed to ensure the game is flawless when hits store shelves. The botched release of Battlefield 4 has taught the gaming industry the backlash of releasing a broken game outweigh the disappointment when it has to be delayed.

Gamers who were hoping to play Hardline or The Division are better waiting for a flawless game rather than playing a broken one in 2014. On the bright-side; Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Far Cry 4, and Destiny should keep gamers entertained.

Written for Digital JournalĀ 
07/26/2014
Original Article: Op-Ed: A minor delay is better than a broken game

Rumored ‘DmC: Devil May Cry’ port reignites old animosities – 7/13/2014

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According to details posted on a Russian online retailer, a Next-Gen version of ‘DmC: Devil May Cry’ may be in the works and it has reignited old friction between old school gamers against fans of the reboot.

Retitled as DmC: Devil May Cry Ultimate, the game is a port that rumored to bring the series to a new audience. Not much details have been given but its expected the game could be unveiled at Gamescom.

Despite only being a rumor, the concept of a Next-Gen port has already reignited old debates among gamers. Once again message boards and chat rooms are besieged with gamers fighting among each other over the legacy of DmC: Devil May Cry.

Meanwhile many in the game media are stumped if such a port is in the works due to the game’s controversy among the fans along with its commercial failure. The reboot caused a major division between gamers who disliked the makeover and those who welcomed the change.

The biggest critique from fans was the game abandoned the series’ principal themes to make a simple hack and slash that was devoid of any real challenge. Fans of the reboot felt restarting the series was necessary while having brushed off critics as being upset over “changing Dante’s hair.”

Adding fuel to the flame were pundits in the game media who branded critics of the reboot as being “entitled“.

Due to the controversy of the reboot and the friction it caused between gamers, Capcom had to cut its projected sales by half. After its release, DmC: Devil May Cry would be critically praised while becoming a commercial failure.

Regardless if the rumors are true, old schools gamers and fans have still not forgiven Capcom for DmC: Devil May Cry.

Written for Digital JournalĀ 
07/13/2014
Original Article: