13 reviews liked by nogibullsh1t
What about the things that make this a game, though? I would argue that Naughty Dog clearly failed to put the same degree of thought and care into the gameplay. It still runs into so many of issues that plagued the first three games. The shooting is pedestrian, with little to differentiate it from an untold number of mediocre third person shooters that have been relegated to the dustbin of history. Same goes for the stealth, which is much more of an emphasis here than in previous games. It’s just same thing you’ve done in a thousand other games: sneaking around in tall grass, choking enemies out from behind, etc. As for the climbing and navigation, it’s very similar to previous Uncharted titles - Nathan Drake does cool-looking shit as the player idly sits by, tapping the same button over and over again.
This’ll sound harsh, so I want return to the fact that I enjoyed my time with this game - the story and characters had their hooks in me from the beginning until the bittersweet end. But, a few days after I finished this, I distinctly remember asking myself to name just one single gameplay innovation in Uncharted 4, and I simply couldn’t do it (some people have mentioned the increased openness of the level design, and while that’s definitely an improvement on the previous games, it just doesn’t qualify as an innovation for me when other games have included open level design for years before this). That lack of innovation is simply unacceptable for a company with the resources and prestige of Naughty Dog (if they are going to be this lazy with their gameplay but so thoughtful about writing and presentation, they should really just become a movie studio). I liked Uncharted 4 - and other Naughty Dog titles likes The Last of Us - but I don’t much care for what their massive success and influence has meant for the discourse around AAA games of the past decade.
you're forced through neverending boring, painful sections just hoping for that fun, well crafted shooting sequence to show up again, and said sequence doesn't even last long before the beatings begin again
what an experience
Replayed this game recently, even though a lot of the ideas are a rethreading of things already displayed on the earlier games I think there's a very bold difference on how aesthetics and vibe are transmitted to the player. I feel the music and story aren't the focus anymore unlike some of the earlier games. It goes all out on visuals and manages to deliver some of the prettiest landscapes I've seen in a video game. Being in a dogfight where you see blue, traverse the clouds and then find yourself under a grey sky and above a black sea is something that I can't quite put into words and feels alike to looking at the ocean through your window when a storm is coming. Other moments like flying really low above water while droplets fall on the camera and the sun filters through it while speeding past a bridge are pure magic and feels like use of hardware to its every extent to make a concept into something almost tangible.
Forza Horizon 5
FH5 is the final GaaSification of the Horizon formula. Just an endless tangle of player retention mechanics crawling over each other in the form of weekly, daily and seasonal tasks, missable cars, an ever present roulette spin for every time you level up, car-specific XP rewards, forzathon points grind, and probably more I'm just missing. Everything fits together and creates a system to keep the player paying for Gamepass, and just goes to show how much harm this business model could do to the quality of AAA launches.
The story is genuinely one of the most embarrassing things I've ever put up with, and a lot of it is non-skippable at that. T10 really went all out to show what it thinks about the player with its cringe, corporate, safe, lifeless dialog, filled with non-characters that are borderline racist caricatures and just won't shut up (Trust me, I tried. The character voice volume slider doesn't even work).
Story events are a huge pain to go through and what's worse is they aren't even fun on their own. Exhibition events got way too big and they're just lifeless and goofy scripted 5 minute stretches at this point. There was a moment of realization when I played the monster truck event where you have to knock some giant bowling pins where it struck me, there's no more denying to it, the target audience's age for the game went down at least 10 years since FH1.
The game perfected the physics and the driving sensations, now enhanced by the vibrating triggers on the Series S/X. That's a big plus and something really solid in the game. There's a big amount of cars (even if the DLC is prohibitely expensive) and despite the absence of a few big brands, it's generally a good job even if some of the models are now generations old. That said, there's a lot of customization options on each car and seeing a lot of them have special body kits now is quite good and allows for a lot of player expression.
However as it comes to the racing itself, it's a game where nothing matters anymore. Railings, trees, stone walls, doesn't matter, the car will just destroy it and carry on. There isn't even almost any traffic at all unless you select a specific offline mode. It is a frustration free package, races are extremely short and rarely ever go past the 3 laps. No thought required, no learning curve of any sort while offline. Online is just rolling the meta car with the meta tune and trying not to get punted out of the track.
Visually the game looks really, really good. Really blows me away at times, it also makes a great use of the console's SSD, making fast travel almost instant.
There are also a lot of bugs in the game. I remember playing it a month or two after release and being unable to fast travel and then drive. The controller would stop responding in game requiring a restart. The text-to-speech would also activate on the main menu screen and the option to turn it off wouldn't work. This still happens.
There are a lot of legacy issues coming straight from FH4 and FH3 even. Namely the auction house still being broken. The controller remap menu still being pretty much useless and even some cars being listed as barn finds (but actually aren't) because apparently they forgot changing that from one of the previous games where they actually were barn finds.
The music choices were interesting. Overall I'm not a fan of it but I took a couple songs for my personal playlists. Listening to the radio stations absolutely butcher already tame songs to fit that E for Everyone rating was some sort of salt on the wound when you pair it with the literal Fortnite dances, the goofy character costumes and the hypercars doing off road, cartoonish stunts to an announcer calling your avatar a superstar in spanglish.
Overall I'm just really unimpressed with the game. I consider it one of the most disgusting things I've ever played and a biopsy of the cancer that eats away the AAA sector. The actual one with the 10/10s, not the latest EA flop people will bash anyways.
This is all to say that back then I loved the formula. But playing an Uncharted game now makes for a slightly disappointing experience. The gameplay felt unsatisfying. I couldn't climb anything I wasn't meant to climb. The shooting was hard to aim, and it was obvious the designers would have preferred you turn on auto assist instead of programming better shooting. The story and pacing were sluggish and every chapter is repetitive, and the few chapters that aren't exactly the same as the others manage to be the most boring in the whole game. I could only ever see myself replaying the chapters in Madagascar. Besides that, there's only a few worthwhile segments in the whole game.
The difficulty is way harder than in past entries, making stealth the optimal play style. This strikes a great balance between the mandatory shoot and cover sections and the stealth sections. It's the puzzles and climbing that bog everything down. There's definitely ways these sections could be way more enjoyable, but in this state they feel like glorified cut scenes. Especially when all the puzzles beg to spoil the answer if you cant solve them after a few minutes.
My biggest problem in particular is everything they do to make this feel like a cutting edge current-gen game that end up feeling like half measures. There are massive open areas for you to explore, but unless you explore it in the exact on-rails fashion the game demands you to, you cant actually explore. The graphics are amazing, but yet the game feels the exact same, if not less than, the amazing games the series was born from a decade ago.
Besides all my complaints I still had fun and the online is great too.
Cuckmann told us that he likes to tell simple stories with complex characters, right? Then where are those characters? We have amazingly cartoonish bad guy who wears his hair backwards just so everyone knows he is bad. We have Nate's brother who were never mentioned anywhere at all for the sole reason to die/disappear/go away. Drake is a lost lamb who does not know what to do. Elena is a strong independent woman who knows exactly what she and Nate should do. The only character here is Sally who appears in couple of episodes and just plays dad role for everyone. Also the dramatic moment in the end where Nate is going after his brother alone because others cant get over the wall is bullshit considering the game has been wanking off to Drake's rope for 20 hours.
The music and sounds are shallow as a puddle. Elena is most likely voiced by a neural network.
The environments are overloaded as fuck. It's pretty, sure, but there is no character to it. This should not be a tech-demo.
Gameplay-wise we only have dudes shooting at us and they come in three flavors. Ordinary ones, armored ones and minigun ones. And you can distinguish them by... nothing. It's just same dude shooting at you with different pew-pew sticks.
The story is dragged-on somewhat over 15 hours but might as well be a six year imprisonment in a tower on an uninhabited island. It has nothing to tell, nothing to show but surely wants to have all of your time.
Overall compared to the previous installments, even the goddamn first one it does not stand. It was a drag to play, a drag to listen and a drag to remember now.
Fuck this game.