: Ben's Week In Review: March 13

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Ben's Week In Review: March 13

Hope everyone is enjoying The Division and Hitman. But if you like one, would you like the other...?

Final Fantasy XV won't make anyone cry

Square Enix apparently thinks very highly of the storyline they've produced for the upcoming Final Fantasy XV but no matter how good it is, nobody is going to cry at the end of it.

This isn't a knock against this particular game; it's simply a truism that involves all open-world adventures that puts player freedom ahead of the narrative. Why haven't I been emotionally involved in any game in a long time? Because most new games these days are virtually the same in terms of structure; they're all starting to embrace the same open-world/sandbox style and as a result, the story inevitably takes a back seat. It has to. You can have the best writing in the world, the most engaging and interesting characters ever, and a setting you'll just love. None of it matters because in the end, you spend 99 percent of your time running around pressing buttons as opposed to following a story. Cut-scenes are basically dead (and if they run longer than two or three minutes, they're incessantly bashed for being "outdated" when in fact, people just can't admit they can't sit still long enough to watch them) and the central focus never wavers: You.

Or whatever avatar you've got for your virtual escapade. The Witcher 3 offered a great story but it only kicked into high gear in the second half, and while I very much enjoyed the climax, it certainly didn't get me emotional. And that's because, like with any other game where you almost never follow a story but rather do whatever you feel like doing, you just won't care as much about the main narrative thread. Final Fantasy XV won't - and in fact can't - be as emotionally involving as, say, Final Fantasy VII, due to structure and the inherent nature of storytelling. It'd be like someone telling a story for 30 seconds and then disappearing for about a week while you wandered around. Then he came back next week for like two minutes and disappeared again. This doesn't facilitate involvement on any cerebral level and that's that.

No, Square Enix. If FFXV is indeed open-world and out of a 50-hour experience, the player is paying attention to the story for about a half-hour total, he or she will not cry about anything. There could be individual moments that affect the player but the story as a whole...? Most people can't even remember the intro of a massive open-world game after they've completed it, and if you go for 10, 15, 20 hours without bothering with the story, how much of an impact can it possibly have?

Don't overlook Sniper Elite 4

It's an easy game to look past, I know. It's not like previous installments have won awards or anything. But when I heard that Sniper Elite 4 would drop this year, I was immediately excited. And that's because this is a franchise that has been "on the verge," so-to-speak, seemingly since its inception. It just hasn't managed to overcome those glaring hurdles and become a really great series. Sniper Elite 3 had a lot going for it and if the game had been given a bit more TLC, it could've been a really fantastic experience. Those who love to snipe in shooters should gravitate toward the franchise, but they're often turned away by lower-than-expected production values, repetitive gameplay, and a mediocre story. The developers tried opening up the last adventure but that was hardly all the series needed. With the next effort, though, they might really deliver a gem.

Granted, that debut trailer isn't anything too excited. But bear in mind that these games have never pushed the technical envelope; they've always put a huge emphasis on stealth and strategy, the cornerstones of any good sniper. I think they should experiment with a few different environments, and they definitely need to fine-tune the control and enhance the AI. If they can address these drawbacks, though, Sniper Elite 4 could end up being a sleeper hit in 2016. And by the way, this is actually a super franchise for co-op fun, as it gives us the chance to experience some tension-filled action with an ally.

Personal gaming update

I've been getting more involved in Tom Clancy's The Division and I'm also playing the first episode of Hitman. As for the former, I can sort of see why it's Ubisoft's best-selling new game ever; it's a heady mix of competitive multiplayer goodness that will keep you occupied for a long time. Hitman has returned to its roots so despite the odd episodic plan, it's great for those who actually want true stealth. You should see a review for the first episode early this week and then a review for The Division later in the week, as I need more time. I notice reviews for that one aren't exactly flowing like water and I think I know why...the sheer amount of time any critic needs to dedicate to that game is kinda silly.

I've reached Level 10 (max level) with Jacob and Evie in Assassin's Creed Syndicate but I've still got a ways to go. I need to clear out the last two areas, finish the story, get the last of the collectibles, etc. But the timing is just about right, because I should be totally finished before the Ratchet & Clank PS4 remake lands on April 12. And did you see that amazing new trailer?!

3/12/2016 Ben Dutka

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Comments (31 posts)

Underdog15
Saturday, March 12, 2016 @ 9:50:48 PM
Reply

I've always felt Assassin's Creed never hit as hard as it could have. Completely agree on the story-telling elements. A good plot isn't enough to tell a good story. The delivery and mode matter just as much.

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Wyatt
Saturday, March 12, 2016 @ 10:09:02 PM
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I have to disagree with open world games not being able to make players cry. I think it would depend on how long the game is and how much time someone put into it. Red Dead Redemption does it very well, where you're invested in the character and what he has to go through, and when the emotional parts come in, they hit hard.

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bigrailer19
Saturday, March 12, 2016 @ 11:46:49 PM

I actually agree with RDR. It's almost the exception. But its a different animal story wise than say Skyrim or even GTA. They certainly focused on Marstons story.

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xenris
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 12:15:07 AM

Was going to bring this up. RDR had a super emotional ending, and I was teared up at the end of it.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 3:27:22 PM

A manly tear and a lump in the throat is different in my book.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 8:50:04 PM

It was only for one section of RDR; the other 95% of the game, we weren't much invested in the story at all. This is all open-world can do. It can produce MOMENTS; it can't produce a lasting narrative impression because the narrative is absurdly disjointed given the amount of wandering the player does.

Reading the same book every day for an hour and finishing it will produce a very different effect than reading it for one hour a week. This is the nature of storytelling. The medium is irrelevant.

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bigrailer19
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 10:47:40 PM

I don't agree with that at all. I was firmly invested in the story in RDR the whole game. It's a rare exception as I said above that the side stuff didn't take the player away from what was going on in Marstons story.

You could tell Rockstar had a story to tell with this one. That probably played into the design of the game.

As im typing this I think it really depends on how you tackle open world games. But I don't think RDR fits into the same mold as the typical approach.

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BikerSaint
Saturday, March 12, 2016 @ 10:11:12 PM
Reply

I'm looking forward to Sniper Elite 4, and also Sniper: Ghost Warrior 4, whenever S:GW4 gets a sighting between my crosshairs

My PGU,
Just finished AC Black Flag, along with the DLC's, Avaline & Freedom Cry, and moved on to AC Rogue yesterday.

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TrueAssassin86x
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 7:02:24 AM

Good Luck with AC Rouge. Rouge kinda has me poed at the moment. I cant get pass the last ship battle. I just about have the store beat but i keep losing at the lastship out of 6.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 3:26:12 PM

I got Sniper Elite 3 on the cheap. Had NO idea that the slow motion bullets through bodies Xray Mortal Kombat type shiz was in there. Totally makes the game worth playing. That needs VR and then my dad can play. He was a good shooter in the air force but they didn't have snipers and he loves sniper books.

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Bio
Saturday, March 12, 2016 @ 10:16:04 PM
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I've been hit in the feels by open world games before. If anything, I feel more personally invested in them, and their outcomes, because I shaped the story. Metal Gear Solid V is a very good, very recent example of that happening.

As for personal gaming updates, I picked up ZOE HD Collection this week, and played through Second Runner for the first time in 10 years or so. Still one of the best games ever, and I can't believe how great it looked in HD.

Last edited by Bio on 3/12/2016 10:17:16 PM

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Jawknee
Saturday, March 12, 2016 @ 11:40:04 PM

MGSV was great at letting the player become Big Boss.

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Bio
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 12:21:17 AM

It was, and it was great at giving you the freedom to do that at your own pace, in your own way, and still tell a pretty great story. Not the best story in the series, but that was more due to it being incomplete (Mission 51 and all) and the fact that nothing will ever top Snake Eater, open world or not, in terms of how to finish a story.

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souljah92
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 4:47:02 AM

Man i was really disappointed with mgsvs story, the gameplay itself was nice but the story didn't do a thing at all for me compared to the past mgs games.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 3:26:44 PM

But did you weep openly as the whole world did during FFVII?

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Banky A
Monday, March 14, 2016 @ 6:34:31 AM

HIGH SPEED ROBOT ACTION.

Truly, the game defines itself inside its own intro. A singular definition only with one series as reference.

Such ingenious.

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Bio
Monday, March 14, 2016 @ 8:40:44 AM

World I didn't particularly care when Aeris died, because FFVII's story is ridiculous. I DID care when The Boss died in Snake Eater, though, if you're looking for a linear story for the sake of comparison.

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xenris
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 12:23:34 AM
Reply

If people can play FF7 and tear up they can tear up in FF15.

When was the last time you played FF7? There are a lot of moments of down time where you are running from place to place, or grinding to beat a boss, etc. There were times in FF7 I actually forgot what was going on in the story because I was breeding chocobo.

FF7 with all of its mini games and diversions still managed to make people cry, in fact FF7 essentially was open world, after a certain point in the plot it just opened up a bit slowly. But by the second disc you were pretty free to do what you wanted, and the 3rd disc was pure freedom.

I agree that most open world games the story takes a hit, although the Witcher 3 I felt nailed it pretty good.

I don't think you can say definitively that this game can't possibly make someone cry.

Red Dead Redemption did it, Shenmue was kind of open world it did it, the Yakuza games are a kind of open world, and those games have emotional story lines as well.

I don't think it is unreasonable to think that there can be an emotional ending in an open world game.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 8:52:39 PM

FFVII was not open-world. It continued to funnel you along a path, all the way until the end. You could only wander so far and that distance wasn't far at all. You were always, always compelled to follow the story. Even when you could wander farther in later discs, there wasn't a fraction of the distractions and side-quests you normally undertake in any modern-day open-world game.

It's entirely different than FFXV, which will likely allow you to go wherever you want, whenever you want, like most sandbox games. As for RDR, read my post above.

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xenris
Monday, March 14, 2016 @ 8:40:14 PM

Well my experience with FF7 was much different. It felt huge, and there were a lot of distractions what with the gold saucer, chocobo breeding and racing, ultima weapon quests, the 2 hidden characters etc.

I'm not kidding when I say that at one point I forgot where I was supposed to be going in FF7 of course I always knew that I was essentially chasing Sephiroth to save the world, but I wondered off the beat path quite a bit.

FF9 had a lot of distractions too.

I feel FF7-9 were games that started out with a restricted world but then turned open world about half way through, not in a gameplay sense but in a freedom sense.

There was a lot of extra stuff to do in these games.

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bigrailer19
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 @ 4:19:46 AM

My buddy explains ff7-9 the same way you do Xenris. In that they feel confined then all of a sudden they open up and its overwhelming. I have not played them of course so I can't say.

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wambo
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 4:47:07 AM
Reply

The new ratchet an clank trailer was awesome i thought, really looking foward to the game when it arrives in april, i've changed my mind about The Division, i know i said last week i cancelled my pre-order, i downloaded the game off the ps store yesterday will be playing some later.

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TrueAssassin86x
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 7:15:31 AM
Reply

Neither for me im waiting on hitman for the full disc release in 2017 and i couldnt careless about The Division no matter the hype or good review scores the Division isnt my cup a tea.

The only way Final Fantasy XV will make u cry is how bad it might be.Sniper Elite 4 looks intresting but im gonna wait till i see some reviews before i get it.

PGU: As i said to Biker Saint Assassins Creed Rouge has me poed at the moment so i decided to take a little break on it. Im currently playing Batman Arkham Asylum and Bioshock Right now. Im just going though my Ps3 collection and backlog before i retire my Ps3 later this summer. I cant believe i had my Ps3 now for almost 6 years good times good times.

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smileys_007
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 10:56:02 AM
Reply

@Ben Dutka: try aiming for the platinum trophy in assassins creed syndicate. it's fun, challenging, and not to difficult to earn the platinum 😀

I'm also excited for Ratchet and Clank in PS4. After watching that new gameplay trailer, I'm sold instantly on buying the game.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 2:26:43 PM

I gotta get back to that game.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 8:50:21 PM

Heh, really won't have time for that.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 2:26:21 PM
Reply

Amazing the industry hasn't realized that open world has a huge affect on strength of story but gamers know.

I've been into my Dreamcast like a boss. Soldered in a new self charging CMOS and now I have Seaman. 2 of them sucked the blood out of another and then they threw feces at me and said some mean things about my birth. Not very nice artificial creatures but I can't stop checking in on them to keep them alive and hear Leonard Nimoy's updates :) Bought D2. Playing some Shenmue to get a collection of junk before playing Shenmue II to get ready for Shenmue III. I'm getting a VGA to 1080P upscaler for the Dreamcast to see Shenmue in all its greatness. In a side by side it rivals Unreal 4's Shen III.

All this Japanese gaming makes me all into it on PS4 so I think I mentioned I got MegaDimension Neptunia VII

Can't wait for Senran Kagura this week, then Knights of Azure and DOAX3 later :)

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Banky A
Monday, March 14, 2016 @ 1:01:12 AM

Downvotes due to otaku titles. What can ya' do.

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BikerSaint
Monday, March 14, 2016 @ 12:44:39 PM

World,
Ha, see, I told you Seaman would insult the hell out of you, and also wind up sucking away your free time.

I loved that game, & it certainly was ahead of it's time with the voice setup back in the day when it launched back, along with Alienfront Online(which I never tried out).

So taking in the fact that seaman's a bit dated, how are you liking it anyway so far???

Last edited by BikerSaint on 3/14/2016 12:45:41 PM

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Oxvial
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 5:02:28 PM
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It gonna be disappointing tears.

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mk ultra
Monday, March 14, 2016 @ 2:43:54 PM
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Can't wait for SE4.

Got The Division against by better judgement and I'm loving it so far. Don't really see it as being a competitive shooter. Sure There's the Dark Zone, but your just as likely to have someone help you as take advantage of you. At least in my experience.

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