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Here They Lie To Be Playable Without PSVR

We enjoyed the horror game Here They Lie when we reviewed it last October, but the fact that it required PlayStation VR kept it out of reach for a lot of players. That's changing tomorrow, when the game is getting a free update that allows it to be played on traditional displays.

The update should be an automatic download for anyone who previously bought the game. New customers will get both versions, so if they decide to eventually buy a PSVR, they'll be able to play it that way as well. The update also includes customizable controls, subtitles, and a chapter-select screen.

The game's also getting a PS4 Pro patch, which includes better lighting effects.

[Source: PlayStation Blog]

 

Our Take
It's unlikely that I'm ever going to spend money on PlayStation's VR peripheral, but that doesn't mean I'm not interested in its games. I'm sure that I'll be missing out on aspects of these games that don't translate well – including that elusive sense of presence – but if it's the difference between playing and not playing, I'll take it.

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Opinion – Watch Dogs 2 Would Be Better Without Guns

Spoiler Warning: Some minor plot details are mentioned for Watch Dogs 2.

With a more jubilant protagonist, Watch Dogs 2 leaves behind the somber tone of the last game for a more vibrant and lighthearted experience. The 20-something hacker Marcus, who has a fondness for action films, video games, and crude humor, is a friendly jokester who spends much of his time making pop-culture references. While harmless outside of being able to create digital havoc, Watch Dogs 2 wants us to believe that he can also be a ruthless killer – and it just doesn’t fit.

Although the narrative introduces fascinating themes about technology, it’s negated by the existence of guns, creating a narrative dissonance that’s impossible to ignore. Marcus, who was unjustly profiled as a criminal by the mass-surveillance system, ctOS, wants to expose corporations and governments that abuse their power through technology. Gun-toting is inconsistent with his lighthearted and activist personality, making it difficult to get behind his cause when he’s printing guns out of a 3D printer and using hacks for his own personal gain.

This disconnect between story and gameplay is not a rare sight in video games. For example, it’s hard to believe that the friendly Nathan Drake, known for his dry humor, would mow down his villains without a second thought, or that Far Cry 3’s Jason Brody can go from skydiving with friends to initiating killing sprees. In Watch Dogs 2, narrative dissonance becomes all that more distracting, as it attempts to make a statement that is overshadowed by contradictory themes. You feel like a modern Robin Hood – a man of the people – when exposing shady corporations. The impact of these actions is less substantial when you can gun down those that stand in your way, which seems like too extreme an action for a goofy millennial savvy with computers.

In each mission, you have the choice to either play non-lethally or go in guns blazing. While you can approach missions non-lethally, it’s a much more challenging approach. Marcus’ stun gun has a slow firing rate, and along with a purchasable stun launcher, those are his only weapons that don't kill. A more varied repertoire of nonlethal options would have been a valuable addition. The use of firearms is an easier option, but it doesn’t make much narrative sense, and these conflicting themes are seen elsewhere in the gameplay too.

Marcus’ distrust towards CEOs of secretive large companies is founded, but almost hypocritical as he abuses the same powers they do. From one mission to the next, you steal personal data and infiltrate private properties, which is at odds with Marcus’ values. You can stroll down the street and steal from an innocent pedestrian’s bank account with the press of a button, and in the next moment you’re righting the wrongs of a social-media giant that rigged an election. I found it difficult to empathize with Marcus, or even get behind his goal, when these blatant inconsistencies were occurring so often. 

These conflicting tones are further complicated by the existence of guns, and Marcus is surprisingly skilled with them. What’s more surprising, is that Watch Dogs 2 doesn’t need guns to be a good game. This sequel improves over its predecessor by putting hacking at the forefront of gameplay, and gunplay is the least innovative quality. Gunfights are not nearly as inventive as the hacking mechanics, which allow you to buzz an enemy’s phone to distract them, or place electrical hacking traps to knock foes out. 

I much preferred hacking my way through one area to the next. Progressing through an area solely with hacking tools can make each location feel like a giant, compelling puzzle – a confounding but fun head-scratcher as you distract and manipulate your foes. The ability to blast your way through an area with bullets seems like a cheap shortcut, and a bland one at that. While there isn’t anything wrong with the gunplay, it offers little novelty as you defeat several enemies, while hacking requires more strategy. 

It would be refreshing to see more games have a better relationship between gameplay and narrative that makes sense for the world it presents. For example, Ubisoft’s decision to ditch gunplay in Far Cry Primal made narrative sense since the setting takes place in the stone age, and it was a bold move for a series that previously centered around guns almost entirely.

Watch Dogs 2’s hacking gameplay is strong and provides enough variety that it could easily exist on its own, without gunplay. After completing Watch Dogs 2’s story, it became clear to me: Marcus is not a killer. Instead, he’s a glorified prankster, a social-media enthusiast, and a guy who spends more money on hipster clothes than he’d like to admit. He’s skilled with his powerful smartphone in hand, but he’s not the type to pull a trigger. So why give him a gun?

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[Update] Skyrim’s Soundtrack To Be Performed Live In London Without Composer’s Involvement

Update: Skyrim's composer, Jeremy Soule, took to his official Facebook group to voice his displeasure over the live orchestra concert of the game. He said:

Concert? What concert???

Anyone that knows me also knows that I care passionately about the integrity of my music. Skyrim took years for me to compose and it was constructed very carefully. Today, I'm seeing reports of a concert of "Skyrim". This is the first I've heard of it. For the record, this concert has nothing to do with me, nor are they are using any of my original scores. They had to transcribe whatever notation they are performing by ear from the recordings. This is a flawed process as transcriptions are always fraught with errors. To be sure, I don't know who these people are and I don't endorse a concert that is trading on my name and music that has absolutely no oversight or involvement on my part. For my fans, I just want you to know what you're getting if you pay to attend this concert. Be wary.

Original Story (September 30 at 04:59 p.m. Central):

Celebrating the release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition, Bethesda, with UK concert promoter Senbla, is hosting a live orchestra of the game's soundtrack in London on November 16.

Held at the London Palladium, tickets go on sale on October 4 at 10 AM local time through Ticketmaster UK for those wanting to hear Skyrim's great soundtrack performed live. Game Informer's Andrew Reiner praised the music in the game, stating it was "one of [his] favorite soundtracks ever" in his review for the 2011 release.

If you want to read about how and why Skyrim isn't getting mods on PS4, click here.

[Source: Bethesda's Twitter, Ticketmaster]

 

Our Take
Skyrim's fantastic and iconic orchestral score and continued popularity make it a great fit for a live concert, even in 2016. However, the lack of Soule's involvement will likely prove disappointing to fans.

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