Saturday, November 16, 2013

Game Diary - day two with the PS4.

Y'know the part at the end of Killzone 2 where there's this ridiculously hard room you have to stay alive in as enemies pour in?  Shadow Fall pulls the exact same thing.  I got to that point last night, died, and replayed it.  Then I died again, so I replayed it.

After a few more attempts, I pulled it out, played a bit of Resogun, and tried out Assassin's Creed IV : Black Flag. Black Flag may be the clearest example of how the next gen will offer sweeter social connectivity and sexier graphics for what are, essentially, the same games.  I've little doubt Black Flag on PS4 plays identically to its PS3 version, but...

Y'know when you'd see pre-release screenshots of an Assassin's Creed game and it looked so damned gorgeous and then you play it at home on your console and yeah, it looks okay, but nowhere near as hot as those pre-release screens?  Black Flag on PS4 looks like those pre-release screens.

All the textures are as sharp as textures can be, all the foliage in the jungles looks like some gorgeous Uncharted foliage, and the heaving emerald seas of the Caribbean are just luscious. On a clear day, you can see a ship through the wave that crests between you.  A beautiful, incredible-looking transparency, like staring through a gemstone.

Click to embiggen (it really pisses me off I can't share direct-feed quality screens, but) - observe the reflection in his eye.  Observe the texture on his jacket lapel.  My God, this nasty pirate is beautiful.

And here's the best part : Assassin's Creed IV is - thus far - as fun as (or funner than) ACII.  It is one of the good ones, and evidence we would have been in error to abandon the series after the decidedly tedious III.  And yes, playing it reminds one that these are largely the mechanics we enjoyed on the last gen - but what's wrong with that?  

Ratchet & Clank Future was just Ratchet & Clank Again, But Prettier - and that's desirable, to me.  The fact that ACIV is a launch game just makes it all the sweeter, 'cause let's be honest - the PS3 had to wait like, four years for a (good) Assassin's Creed game.  

Part of what makes IV so wonderful is that it's barely an Assassin's Creed game.  It has assassination missions, it's open world, you use the exact same platforming you did in III (except here it, so far, works 100% of the time), but really they could have tossed the AC name (and over-arching narrative), called it Pirate's Booty and I would be just as thrilled with it. 

This is very much Sid Meier's Pirates! in 1080p.  You cruise the high seas, preying on a variety of ships from nearly-defenseless sloops to towering man-o-wars bristling with cannons.  You time your cannon volleys between crests of waves (or, gloriously, can arc your fire over a wave obscuring the other ship).  You choose between brutal point-blank Heavy Shot, standard long-range shot, chain shot in your bowchasers and explosive kegs tossed from the rear. 

As you dance with your prey across the seas, you jockey for position, picking up speed or slowing with simple commands that see the game's hero calling out orders to his crew, the sails on the mighty Jackdaw whipping out to catch the wind and speed you to the souls you would send to the locker.  

When you're just out cruising the seas, your crew sings shanties!  And you collect shanties by chasing them through towns in platforming sequences!  

Honestly, I haven't enjoyed an Assassin's Creed game this much since Brotherhood.  That's... it's been three years since the last great AC. 

High time for the high seas. 

Yarrr matey!  

Chamberlain's sent me a PSN message informing me that he shattered my high score in Resogun, so a sense of friendly competition may demand I set aside the pirate's life for a few minutes, but I dunno'.  I dunno', man, I'm not sure I can give this up so easy.  

[update] Annnd high score beaten.  Now back to court my lady, the sea. [/update]


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