Games Inbox: Are you excited for NFS Heat?

The Morning Inbox is unsure whether Saints Row can make a successful comeback, as one reader is cautiously optimistic about Bubble Bobble 4.

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Need for something

So after all the waiting and leaks and everything the Need For Speed looks… like the old Need For Speed and, for that matter, the Need For Speed before that. People talk about Call Of Duty having too many sequels but at least they’re different every time. I thought after al this secrecy and waiting we were going to get something new but this just seems like the same old game again.

I say that out of frustration because I do want a good Need For Speed again, but I haven’t really enjoyed any of them since Criterion stopped doing them. Forza Horizon is basically the only decent arcade racer around anymore and that’s an exclusive so EA had a real opportunity here, but I don’t see any sign yet that they’re really take advantage of it.

And what kind of reveal is it where you get more information out of a badly formatted Amazon product listing than the actual reveal trailer? I’m not impressed.


Cave of monsters

I do love GC’s enthusiasm for Rainbow Islands and to be honest if they are bringing back stuff like Ninja Warriors then I think there’s a chance. A lot of the more recent Space Invaders games have been really good, so Taito still have some good people, but I agree that a more retro graphical look would’ve been better for Bubble Bobble.

The minute you try and turn any of these 2D sprites into 3D characters you shave off all the rough edges and they just end up looking bland and creepy. Why not just make it look like the cabinet art? They look like the sprites but they’re also much higher detail and something that can be turned into a modern character.

I’m hoping for the best though. Four-player is a decent enough gimmick and if they don’t manage to mess up the music too much it could be a lot of fun.


Unhappy birthday

It’s a bit of an unfortunate anniversary given what’s going on in Hong Kong at the moment but it’s seven years now since the release of Sleeping Dogs and I just want to speak up for what I still think is the best GTA clone ever made and a game I’ve enjoyed more than anything Rockstar has ever done.

For those that don’t know It’s an open world GTA style game set in Hong Kong where you’re an undercover policeman infiltrating a Triad gang. The basic gameplay and driving is similar to GTA but the combat is much more like the Batman: Arkham games – and therefore much better than Rockstar’s usual lame fighting.

The attention to detail in the city and the storytelling is really good, with a much more coherent plot rather than Rockstar’s usual chain of random things that happen. I don’t mean to have a dig at GTA so much but it’s frustrating that Sleeping Dogs is so good, and was basically ignored, but Rockstar’s has sold a billion copies.

The developer is shut down now, so there’s no point hoping for a sequel, but I wish it had happened when there was a chance.


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Doomed and loving it

Playing Doom 3 for the first time and impressions after around five hours are delightedly auspicious. This bold reinvention of the classic series feels so compelling to play with its slowerpaced, more methodical, hellishly atmospheric design choices. Still haven’t fully processed how drastically different it feels to the other Dooms.

But the graphics warrant special praise: the dynamic lighting and shadow casting effects are pretty impressive even by modern standards, and some of the texture and facial details belie the game’s years. And I believe playing on the Switch’s small screen accentuate these visual qualities.

It’s so easy to see how Doom 3 had the most state of the art graphics upon its release in 2004. I vividly recall poring over the unbelievable screenshots and feeling insanely envious of PC gamers with monster rigs being able to experience Doom 3 in its optimal form.

So to see how smooth and crisp it plays and looks on the Switch’s handheld mode is quite something, encapsulating just how far video game technology has come.

If I had any gripes with the game it would certainly be the slightly less refined shooting mechanics compared to laser-cutting precision of previous entries and its successor. Thankfully, the lovely presentation, deliciously dark atmosphere, effective lore, and some rather interesting level design lessen this point of contention for me.

Now how I’d love a perfect port of Half Life 2 on Switch next. Perhaps even the original Far Cry, Supreme Commander and Crysis. When in doubt, give port maestros Panic Button a shout!
Galvanized Gamer
PS: Really enjoyed the 2016 Doom reboot and its reinvigorating visceral combat mechanics, so I was wondering if you had played the VR edition and whether you deemed it was a worthwhile investment or not?

GC: Not really, we reviewed it back when it was first released.


Old reliables

RE: Jellybelly. Surely FIFA and all the Call Of Duty games, etc. released year in, year out are always in the top three for best sales and being the most popular, but surely what with the demise of probably both genres lately, and the popularity of Fortnite and Roblox, etc. hasn’t the actual physical sales of these two big juggernauts actually greatly decreased compared to only a few years ago when they would of sold a hell of a lot more?

GC: Whether the sales are digital or physical doesn’t matter as long as the overall numbers are the same, especially when so much of the profit comes from microtransactions.


Striking when the iron is cold

I think they’re going to end up regretting the decision to make Agents Of Mayhem. Not only did it turn out bad but it’s six years since Saints Row IV now and presumably at least another one or two till there’s a new one.

In theory that sounds like a good idea, because constant sequels every other year is annoying, but nine times out of 10 what happens in these situations is that you wait all that time for a new game and then it turns out just the same as before anyway. Case in point Borderlands 3.

If you want your series to go on for a long time it’s much better to have a plan and execute it, rather than just do them at random and call a reboot every time it’s been a bit too long. Hoping for the best but fearing the worst.


Job security

I still can’t believe that THQ went onto 8chan and did an AMA. I just… what did they think was going to happen? What’s all the more unbelievable is that I don’t think anyone involved even lost their job over it. In a way it makes me want to work at the company because there’s no mistake I can make that’s big enough to be fired, so bring it on!

But seriously, publishers, as I think GC said in a recent interview, are weird. The Outer Worlds release date is another one recently but what gets me is why they always have to make everything so difficult. Just release your game at a sensible distance from everyone else’s and don’t try and promote it on a paedo website. I don’t feel you need a three-year marketing degree to know that.


Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here


Proof of life

Hearing the news that Timesplitters isn’t a dead franchise after all definitely made me smile. I’ve never got to try the first one, but I have 2 and Future Perfect on the GameCube and played them A LOT. I loved the crazy set-ups for the challenges (I remember one where you played a gangster, haunted by the ghosts of all the arms of the people you’d chopped off during your career and another where you had to stop a rival bunch of IT professionals from floating their dotcom business on the stock market before you could launch yours). And just reading all the character profiles used to crack me up sometimes. There can’t be many other franchises where you can play as, or massacre an army of, sock puppets.

However, given how much time has elapsed since the last one I’m curious as to how a modern day entry would work. In it’s own way, I feel like maybe Borderlands is the closest modern equivalent, mostly due to the heavily stylised art work and irreverent comedy tone, even if the structure is totally different. I hope the developers are able to find a way to reinvent the series in a modern style and keep it feeling like it’s own thing, without resorting to a perma-online 100 vs. 100 deathmatch-only format or having a 300-strong character roster you can only unlock with loot boxes and endless tedious grinding.

I also have a feeling this might end up being something that would really work best on Switch, as the original games always seemed to come divided up into short-but-sweet sections, perfect for on the go.

Wasn’t there some kind TimeSplitters 4 teaser trailer a long while ago featuring a ‘Monkey Chief’ parody of Halo? Maybe with Halo Infinite on it’s way that concept might be able to be run with properly.

If the trend for reviving older franchises continues I’ve got my fingers crossed someone decides they want to give Vanquish another chance.

GC: TimeSplitters 4 has been mooted a number of a times in the past, plus there’s the fan-made project TimeSplitters Rewind which we think is still going on.


Inbox also-rans

Hyper Light Drifter and Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is free on PC on the Epic Games Store from today.
Andrew J.

GC: Both of those are very good and surprisingly recent.

That River City Girls game does look great, so I had a dig around and found out WayForward are also working on a fifth Shantae game called Shantae And The Seven Sirens. Not bad for a series that started as a super obscure Game Boy Color game!


This week’s Hot Topic

The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Tolly, who asks what’s your favourite strategy video game?

Although they’re usually quite rare there’s been an unusual number of strategy and strategy role-playing games released this summer but what is your favourite of all time? What is it you like about it and how does it compare to both other strategy games and action titles with a similar setting?

If you don’t play strategy games why not, and is there anything that might convince you to give them a go? Do you think they’ll always be a niche genre or could you see them becoming more popular in the future?

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear twice daily, every weekday morning and afternoon. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

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