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Gaming Roundup – Going Viral

Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!

This week, GDC cancelled, BAFTAs announced, FF7 has a demo, plus all the latest releases!

Coronavirus Infects GDC Schedule

Following the numerous cancellations that surrounded the Mobile World Congress and PAX East (although the latter still went ahead), the Game Developers Conference is the latest victim of COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus. With Sony, EA, Activision and other publishers pulling their appearances, the GDC organisers pulled the plug on the whole conference.

GDC have stated that attendees can submit planned talks online where they could be streamed and issued full refunds to all attendees. Those booked into GDC-blocked hotel rooms have also been reimbursed. They state that they plan to hold a new event in summer, when hopefully conditions have improved.

It does raise questions about what the situation will be for other conventions going forward, with particular focus on E3. More locally, EGX have yet to comment on their plans for Rezzed or their main show later in the year, while MCM Comic Con and tabletop convention UK Games Expo has confirmed they will still be going ahead in May/June unless things get dramatically worse.

BAFTAs Announced

One event that’s still going ahead is the BAFTA Games Awards, which have announced the nominations this week. The best game of 2019, Control, is rightly nominated for everything it can possibly be eligible for, giving it 11 nods, while Kojima’s self-indulgent Norman Reedus falling over simulator Death Stranding has 10 nods in pretty much all the same categories except Best Game for some reason. Other successful nominees include Disco Elysium, Life is Strange 2, Outer Wilds and Untitled Goose Game.

The nominees can all be found here (http://www.bafta.org/games/awards/bafta-games-awards-nominations-and-winners-2020), but this is where I feel the awards should go (if I’m not just handing everything to Control, of course).

Animation – I love expressive animation, so Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Sayonara Wild Hearts are the best contenders here

Artistic Achievement – This one’s a tricky one, as every game in this category (except Death Stranding) makes gorgeous aesthetic choices. For me it’s Concrete Genie, Knights and Bikes or Control.

Audio Achievement – Both Ape Out and Untitled Goose Game make some really fun choices using music as sound effects, so as far as I’m concerned, they’re both contenders

British Game – Knights & Bikes deserves this one without a doubt

Debut Game – Considering what I’ve seen of Disco Elysium and how much that team have achieved with their first game, they’re the runaway winners for me.

Evolving Game – As someone who detests live service games, this category very much feels like whoever wins, we all lose

Family – This is another one that I’d be inclined to hand to Knights & Bikes, because not only is it a great game for kids, it’s also co-op so families can play together.

Game Beyond Entertainment – Both Kind Words and Ring Fit Adventure have such obvious benefits beyond entertainment that I feel either would be a good choice. Death Stranding has done nothing to deserve being in this category.

Game Design – Control, but also Baba is You and Outer Wilds have been designed with such creative mechanics that I’d be baffled if neither of them win.

Multiplayer – I generally don’t care about any of these, or in the case of Luigi’s Mansion 3 I don’t think of it as a multiplayer game at all.

Music – Link’s Awakening has done some really superb arrangements of the original Game Boy soundtrack, while Control’s moody atmospheric score does half its work, plus the entire Ashtray Maze segment deserves the award for Best Original Song if that category existed. Death Stranding is just Kojima’s Low Roar albums on repeat so therefore I feel it’s a terrible nomination here too.

Narrative – Aside from Control and its bonkers Lynchian SCP Foundation narrative, Disco Elysium feels the most deserving here just because of how inventive they got with narrative and dialogue choices.

Original Property – For me this has to either be Control or The Goose.

Performer in a Leading Role – Courtney Hope and Gonzalo Martin are both performances I loved in their respective games, while I’m a Critical Role fan so I’m biased towards Laura Bailey too.

Performer in a Supporting Role – Jolene Andersen was an excellent performance that made me unsure if I should feel sorry for her or mad at her. Martti Suasalo’s performance as a weird Lynchian janitor was a huge contributor to Control’s bizarre tone. Either of them win it for me.

Technical Achievement – Okay, this one I would accept Death Stranding winning because they sure did recreate Norman Reedus’ and Mads Mikkelsen’s faces quite well. But A Plague Tale managed to look the way it did on a much smaller budget, while Control was also good at recreating actors’ faces but also backed it up with a good game, so they’re more deserving.

Best Game – CONTROL! Of course.

What are your opinions on who you’d like to win? Let us know on social media!

Final Fantasy VII Demo Now Available

If you want to play a bit of the Final Fantasy VII Remake, good news! Square Enix stealth-dropped a demo onto the PlayStation Store, which takes you through the initial reactor section up to your escape after defeating the Guard Scorpion.

I gave it a try, and I am pleased to report that the FF7 Remake is EXCELLENT. I had some reservations about the combat system, but I quickly got the hang of it and found it really satisfying to play around with. Looking forward to seeing what it’s like with three party members as the demo only ever had Cloud and Barret in the party.

I was also worried that po-faced, pretentious modern Square Enix would butcher the more playful aspects of the original, and I’m also pleased to see that my worries were unfounded. There’s even a joke where Cloud essentially says he’s a baby because he misunderstands a question from Barret.

The demo doesn’t appear to have a time limit to play it, so grab it any time this month before the game releases in April. But note that it won’t save your progress, so you won’t be able to transfer it over to the full game on release.

New Releases

In small releases this week, we have roguelike slash-em-up Curse of the Dead Gods launching in Early Access. And then there’s also The Longing, which is a point and click game where you play a Shade who must watch over a sleeping king for 400 days until he awakens. That’s 400 real-time days, by the way, so don’t expect to finish this for over a year. Both are available on Steam.

On PS4, we have Granblue Fantasy Versus, a fighting game based on the Granblue Fantasy series. Admittedly, I don’t know much about the original RPG, as it’s a mobile game that launched in the West via a language patch rather than a full release, but if you like big flashy anime fighters, this might be worth checking out.

On the Switch, there’s Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, a remake of the first Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game, originally for the GBA. If you want to play as Pikachu in a bandana going around helping other Pokémon in a cutesy RPG adventure, then this could be for you. And now I’m wondering what other Game Boy family games are going to get remakes after this and Link’s Awakening.

Game of the Week

Game of the Week this week is Yes, Your Grace. It’s a kingdom management game. You are the king, and many people will come to seek your counsel. It’s up to you to decide whose requests you honour, and who doesn’t have the kingdom’s best interests at heart.

It looks like a complex web of difficult choices and a narrative with smart writing, along with some excellent pixel art. This one definitely looks worth checking out.

And that’s it for this week! See you again soon with more news and releases!