Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, The Last of Us remake, Timesplitters 2, new UK esports organisations and all the latest releases!
You Haven’t Seen The Last of The Last of Us
Sony have not been getting good PR lately. From expensive next-gen games to continued PS5 shortages, with the shutdown of the PS3 and Vita stores adding to their seemingly continuous missteps, they didn’t need a new story from Jason Schrier raising further questions about what’s happening with Jim Ryan’s management. And yet here we are.
In the article, we learn of a management structure that’s putting emphasis on blockbusters at the expense of everything else. And from Sony, a company that traditionally have always put out weird and quirky curiosities alongside their big hitters, that’s a real shame. A Sony with this attitude in the past would have meant titles like Gravity Rush, Ape Escape, Parappa the Rapper or even something as recent as Concrete Genie or Dreams might not have seen the light of day, illustrating the problem.
But here we are, and according to the report, it’s Naughty Dog franchises, God of War and Horizon all the way down from here on out.
And to illustrate this limited view of what games they should be putting out, there are rumours swirling about Sony pushing for a remake of The Last of Us. Now, the problem with this is that The Last of Us is the last game in Sony’s catalogue that needs a remake. The game still holds up in terms of gameplay and visuals, and it even has a remaster already available, which is already available on the PS5 as part of the free games programme with a PlayStation Plus subscription.
It’s a shame if all this is true, as a risk-averse company is boring, and PlayStation’s library has always been full of weird projects. Plus I’m honestly kind of tired of The Last of Us at this point because it feels like it’s been milked since the sequel came out. Naughty Dog have already proven they can create new IPs that sell incredibly well, so they should be allowed to do that.
Sort it out, Sony.
Publishers Behaving Badly (Again)
In the latest round of publishers getting themselves into trouble, there are a few small stories. Let’s return to Ubisoft first, notable for their practice of protecting sexual predators for years.
To show how determined they are to tackle the culture at Ubisoft and make staff feel safer, a new Chief People Officer has been hired. Anika Grant will be working closely with CEO Yves Guillemot to improve HR practices and make it feel safer.
All sounds very nice, but Grant’s previous role was in HR at Uber, a company not known for their positive staff relations, and Yves Guillemot is still calling the shots, and his track record was either protecting or being incompetently unaware of the protection of sexual predators for years. So that’s a concern. I wish them well though.
In a less serious case of publishers behaving badly, Activision also in court regarding trademarks. Specifically trademarks around hard drive hogging battle royale Call of Duty: Warzone.
You see, there’s a browser game called Warzone, and it’s been out since 2017. Call of Duty’s battle royale mode came out last year. This has put a spanner in the works for both of them, as they’ve both attempted to register a trademark for the word Warzone in relation to games.
The 2017 Warzone is a browser-based strategy game similar to Risk. So quite different to a battle royale spun off from a popular military shooter franchise. Which is in fact Activision’s central argument, that it’s impossible to confuse them. A sound argument until you realise that’s not how trademark law works, and also if they do somehow succeed with that argument, it does open the floodgates to people making games called Call of Duty as long as they’re not military shooters.
We’ll see how this plays out, I guess.
Timesplitters 2 Hidden in Homefront
Timesplitters 2 has been discovered entirely within Homefront: The Revolution.
An easter egg inside the game where you could play the opening levels of the classic PS2 shooter has been well-known for a while now, but in the past couple of weeks, it’s emerged that the entire campaign is embedded in the game’s code but a soft lock restricts it to the first couple of levels. And now the full game has been unlocked.
And this isn’t a case of “oops that wasn’t supposed to happen” either. The development team had planned on including the entire campaign from the beginning, with remastered textures. However, due to the extra development time required to make sure it all worked okay, the team restricted it to the first two levels, but left the entire code in the game as it was the easiest way to port those levels over.
During a Twitter discussion on video game easter eggs that developers are most proud of (a fun thread, I’d recommend delving into it), Matt Phillips stated that the Timesplitters inclusion was his proudest moment. He also revealed that there was an unlock code that could get players past the soft lock and play the full game. However, he has since lost the notebook containing the code and the single online mention of the code was lost to time when the friend who’d been instructed to post it to a Discord was banned, ironically for “spreading false information”.
But this news excited the internet, and intrepid sleuths set out to figure out the code. And an easy source emerged – the friend who got banned, Spencer Perreault, a software engineer for Xbox. As a result, the entirety of Timesplitters 2’s campaign is now available in Homefront: The Revolution. If you’re curious of the codes to unlock it, here you go.
Of course, you have to find the arcade cabinet that contains the game first, which is a bit of a trek, but once you get there, feel free to get your nostalgia hit as you play an older FPS inside a newer one. And that’s why video games are great!
Also in the News…
A Life is Strange: True Colours prequel comic is coming for Free Comic Book Day, ahead of its release in September. The comic will feature two stories; one featuring a side character from Before the Storm, while the other will be a story about new protagonist Alex Chen. If you’re interested, Free Comic Book Day will be happening in August, and for more details, keep an eye on Keith’s weekly Pull List as I’m sure he’ll be covering that as we get closer to the time.
Epic Games has received $1bn in funding. They will be using this to continue building their “metaverse” which is clearly code for “every IP in existence will be in Fortnite”. Interestingly, 20% of this investment came from Sony, as the two publishers continue their ongoing love-in.
Remember that viral dress photo that sparked entire civil wars over what colour it was? Nintendo clearly wanted in on that action and have announced a new Switch Lite colour – blue – although there are many who see it as Gamecube purple because those people are blind. Pick your sides now.
Ubisoft is shutting down support for a number of titles by the end of the year. Mostly this is shutting down pointless Uplay connectivity, but for some online multiplayer driven Tom Clancy titles, this will be a full server shutdown. Most of these games are quite old now, and it’s not clear how many people are playing them, but it’s still kind of sad to see they’re being discarded like the company’s sexual harassment complaints.
In an announcement that came out of nowhere, browser game Neopets may be heading to the Switch, no doubt pleasing every teen who was addicted to it in the 2000s. This is part of an attempt to preserve Flash-based content now that the web format has officially been retired.
A remaster of Sonic Colours may have been leaked through a German voice-over studio. It’s an interesting choice of game to remaster, although its previous Wii exclusivity may have something to do with it, along with it being an actually decent semi-recent Sonic title.
And now, here’s Mat with the esports update!
UK Pro-Dota Might Finally Be a Thing
Several times here and on the podcast, I lament the lack of UK talent in pro-Dota 2. There are a lot of UK personalities in the scene, but as a nation we’re pretty bad at actually playing the game – well, that might be changing.
UK-based esports organisations Into the Breach have signed a roster in the DreamLeague Dota Pro Circuit (DPC). The team includes Azdantick and Tanner, two UK players and will be playing the Season 15 DPC EU Lower Division. They’re also quite promising with Tanner previously attending multiple Insomnia and epic.LAN events in the UK, and has also played for Ninjas in Pyjamas, while Adzantick has won the ESL Premiership twice. Regardless they are marking history as the only two UK players in the DPC.
This isn’t even about national pride or anything. Dota 2 is one of the most well-known esports games in the business and, alongside the likes of League of Legends, CS GO and Star Craft, have pioneered the industry. We already have the personalities in the scene such as Pyrion Flax and formerly RedEye and TobiWan. Similarly, ESL Birmingham 2019 was the most popular ESL Dota 2 event in history.
However, if the UK is to ever be considered seriously in the esports industry as a major player, then Dota 2 is a game that we need to break into with talent.
I haven’t seen them play, but this is a bit of good news which hope will pay off. For now, you can check out the team here.
A New UK Esports Organisation is in Town!
Adamo Gaming is a new UK-based esports organisation which has come out recently with a string of announcements as they grow their team and start making waves in the UK scene.
According to Esports News UK, Adamo plans to run tournaments, field teams. Create content and even eventually offer esports-based courses.
They are building a team of more than 80 staff, including Matt Loftus, a former graduate at Wolverhampton Uni who has a considerable legacy in league operation roles for the likes of ESL.
Following these appointments, Adamo Gaming announced it’s first community tournament earlier this week as the Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Crown Cup. This tournament features a £250 prize pool and a 4v4 best-of-five series which will see players rotating on maps and game modes.
Overall, I’m always pleased to see new UK based organisations, especially when headed up by a West Midlander! Hopefully, Loftus’ time at ESL has demonstrated that Birmingham and the wider region has a lot to offer in terms of talent and venues to hold tournaments and will hopefully give our bit of the island a little love.
It’s still very early days for this organisation and they’ve got their work cut out against some of the other fantastic brands already established in the UK scene. Competition breeds incentive so I will be very much looking forward to seeing how this pans out.
If you want to catch their first tournament then it takes place on Saturday 24th April from 1pm BST, with streamer Harri games on board as caster.
Bit of a quiet one this week, with just as many re-releases as there are new titles. Let’s start with a handful of titles released alongside Nintendo’s Indie World presentation this week as ports to the Switch.
The Longing came out last year for PC, and features you guarding an ancient king for 400 days. And I do mean 400 real-time days and I first mentioned it here. There is No Game: Wrong Dimension is a weird metatextual puzzle game that’s been a hit on PC and mobile, and is likely to be for you if you enjoyed the likes of Undertale or The Stanley Parable. And the final Switch port of the week is Fez, the indie darling platformer from 2012 about shifting dimensions. A pretty good selection.
There’s also Saga Frontier Remastered, which hits PC, PS4 and Switch this week. A remaster of 1997’s PS1 Squaresoft RPG, it marks the first official UK release of the game and features updated visuals and some tweaks where necessary. If you’re a fan of obscure PS1 RPGs, this might be worth looking into.
In new releases, there’s a bunch of indie titles. Forgotten Fields (PC) is a slice-of-life narrative game about a writer revisiting his old hometown, reconnecting with friends and solving puzzles. Ashwalkers (PC) is a narrative-driven survival game about a team traversing a harsh wilderness, where you have to make difficult choices about what decisions they make along the way.
Tasomachi: Behind the Twilight (PC) is a small exploration game with more than a little Breath of the Wild inspiration. It’s about a girl with an airship getting stuck in a mysterious small town where most of the population has disappeared. It looks very cute and chill.
Game of the Week
This week’s Game of the Week is Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark, available on all major platforms. A point and click adventure set in a haunted town, this is a comedy supernatural mystery. The sequel to 2017’s Darkside Detective, this second outing for Detective McQueen places him up against six strange cases that will see him venturing to places like a carnival and an amateur wrestling circuit.
I’m generally a fan of detective-based point and click adventures, especially those with a supernatural angle, so this looks like exactly the kind of game for me, so I’d recommend giving it a shot. It currently has a demo on Steam if you’d like to try part of it beforehand too.
And that’s all for this week! See you again soon with more from the gaming world with me and Mat.