Sunday, April 28, 2019
By: Patrick Morris
Hey everybody welcome back to LegalSpeak a ColdNorth Production. I'm TheLawMorris and this is the video essay series where I get to talk about the games I've been playing and what I think of the medium as a whole. You can see everything we do all in one spot over at ColdNorthPro.com and don’t forget to hit that subscribe button for a new video and two new podcasts every week! This week we will be talking about my top five favorite games of all time so lets get right to it!
Please consider this your official spoiler warning. I will announce the game I am about to talk about then everything I have to say afterward is fair game so if you hear a game you don’t want spoiled make sure to hit pause and back away from the video slowly. But also the newest game on this list came out in 2013 so I think we are beyond the statute of limitations on all of these.
#5 Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
I have made some bold statements about Metal Gear Solid in general over the past year on our podcast and I'm about to make some more. Metal Gear Solid is the best multi part story ever told in a video game series. It's like Star Wars but better. And of all the Metal Gear games Snake Eater is the best. Knowing that Big Boss would eventually go on to become the main villain of the series but still agreeing with him and becoming so invested in his motives and decisions as a character made me want to play Peace Walker as soon as Snake Eater was over. The progression of the fall of Naked Snake throughout the big boss trilogy is one of the best character arcs ever written and it all started with Metal Gear Solid 3.
#4 Halo Combat Evolved
All Halo fans that have been with the series since the first game remember the first time they heard that song and saw the main menu. I was stopping by my friend Evan's house after school one day in December of 2001, he asked if I wanted to play Halo with him and having no idea what it was I declined but as I was on my way out the door I heard it and I froze. Halo completely revolutionized first person shooters on consoles and Combat Evolved was the catalyst of a sci fi series that would eventually go on to rank amongst the top series the genre like Star Wars and Star Trek. Halo Combat Evolved is one of a kind and purely out of nostalgia I suspect it will never be surpassed by another Halo game.
#3 Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
Literally the best sequel ever made. DKC 2 takes what was established in what was already one of the best platformers not only on the console or of the generation but of all time Donkey Kong Country and improves on it in every single way. DKC 2 serves up a better story, better characters, better gameplay, better graphics (didn’t think that was possible on the SNES), better game design, and even tighter controls than it's predecessor. And it does all of this while locking up the main character from the first game and putting the sidekick center stage. Donkey Kong Country 2 is flat out the best of it’s genre and as close to a perfect game as has ever been made.
#2 Bioshock Infinite
I am a huge fan of thriller stories and no not that kind of thriller. So I'm always chasing that next huge revelation moment whether it be a game, movie, TV, or a book those twists that nobody could have possibly seen coming are some of the most treasured moments for me in the media I consume. I'm also a big fan of sci fi and time travel stories so naturally BioShock Infinite had to show up somewhere on this list right? I just don’t know how this one evaded me until the BioShock collection was released in 2016. But anyway, that game really sunk its hooks into me when I played it and had me guessing all the way up until the end. Then at the very end when its revealed that Booker and Comstock are the same person from different universes and in order to kill Comstock Booker has to have never been given the opportunity to be baptized…wow. BioShock Infinite left my jaw on the floor and that’s where it stayed for weeks.
#1 The Legend of Zelda Majora's Mask
I know I know Majora's Mask is such a typical pick and everyone and their brother has a video about how dark it is which is undeniable the game is dark, hell I even made a video a few months back all about this game. But Majora's Mask did something that is so difficult for any medium, it told an ominous story with a positive upbeat tone. The game was about the pain a child goes through as he loses his best friend but more importantly it’s about how he moves on and pushes forward with his life while accepting and properly grieving loss. Majora's Mask can serve as a lesson for us all in that everything will pass with time we just need to use the time we have to be better.
So those are my top five favorite games of all time, this is a constantly evolving list and I typically keep a really solid idea of what the top five are because my top ten would be to liquid. Are there any on my list that rang true with you? What are your favorite games of all time? Let me know in the comments down below.
If you liked what you heard don’t forget to hit that subscribe button for a new video and two new podcasts every week. You can also go see everything we do all in one spot over at ColdNorthPro.com. I will be back next week talking more about Metal Gear Solid 2 so until then just go play some games!
By: Patrick Morris
Hey everybody welcome back to LegalSpeak a ColdNorth Production. I'm TheLawMorris and this is the video essay series in which I get to talk about the games I've been playing and what I think of the medium as a whole. Don’t forget to subscribe here on YouTube or see everything we do all in one spot over at ColdNorthPro.com. This week we are going to be talking about what I think of the current state of VR so lets get right to it!
We are currently in the midst of the second coming of virtual reality that all started just a few years ago. As someone that was alive but not old enough to really have a handle on the state of VR during the first wave of consumer VR in the nineties I cant say for certain but something tells me things are going a little better this time around. There are several different headsets available that utilize different technologies to achieve a virtual reality experience that varies in quality from complete dog shit to what we all have actually hoped VR would be. For now VR has settled into two different experiences, the entry level experience and the premium experience. Three prominent players have come to the forefront of the VR industry and as it stands the industry has settled into steady growth and will continue to grow and evolve as most technologies do once they have a sustainable audience.
The first wave of VR looked bad and somehow played worse. The hardware was rudimentary and difficult to use and the single most popular headset of all the commercially available ones was the virtual boy which sported a red and black display. It was obvious even then that the technology wasn’t ready for the vision of what VR was supposed to be. The first wave of VR died quickly but what is impressive even after the death of VR round one is that the idea showed so much promise that hardware developers, software developers, and consumers alike kept it in the back of their minds for when the tech finally did catch up so they could all go back and give the VR experiment another try.
In 2019 we find ourselves in the thick of VR round two. The initial hype from 2016 has for the most part died down but unlike in the nineties there is a small but loyal fanbase that makes a small VR venture a sustainable business for a handful of companies. VR is used in a wide assortment of ways but the most popular and most prominent once again is video games. Going back to the promise of VR that was seen in the first wave many people are able to buy VR just as a tech demo of what it could eventually be and that gets plenty of people excited enough about the product to spend their hard earned money. The primary difference between the first wave of VR headsets and what we have now though is that after that tech demo there are some VR experiences that are delivering on the vision.
As a consumer we are forced to make a few choices when purchasing a VR headset; do we want an entry level experience or a premium experience? For those of us that arent 100% sold on VR the natural thought is to buy the entry level headset, essentially a plastic shell you can slide your smartphone into with some lenses that magnify the screen. Personally whenever speaking to someone about VR I urge almost everyone to not buy these entry level headsets. I had a PSVR preordered in 2016 and after using a friends galaxy gear VR I immediately cancelled my preorder. I wasn’t assuming that the PSVR was going to be an identical experience to the galaxy gear but the galaxy experience was so bad that I assumed that even a much much better VR experience couldn’t possibly be what I had hoped it would be. Luckily I was wrong.
About a year after trying the galaxy gear my girlfriend surprised me by buying me a PSVR as a birthday present. I put on that headset and as soon as I was in the calibration grid I was immediately sold. The premium VR experience is so much better than entry level headsets that it's difficult for me to even call them both VR. It's me in college working in a warehouse compared to me now working in an office: technically the same person but a completely different experience for everyone involved.
As for the premium experience there are three viable and supported option: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR. Prices of all three have come down significantly since launch but generally the same principal's have driven purchasing decisions. When accounting for not only the headset but the hardware required to drive the headset whether it be a gaming PC or a PS4 the Vive offers the best no compromises experience at a significantly higher price, the Rift makes some compromises in some of the most puzzling places and still comes with a pretty steep cost of entry, and the PSVR is by far the cheapest to get running but makes the most compromises of the three.
When this wave of VR began Oculus was by far the most vocal of the three companies making their headset and sadly pulled quite the Molyneaux on all of us. Talking a big game then launching a clearly inferior product at a similar price point when compared to their main competitor the HTC Vive Oculus stumbled right out the gate and honestly I think that it has been a mistake they are continue to suffer as a result of. As it stands right now Sony owns the console VR and VR hobbyist but not enthusiast market with their low price of entry and excellent selection of games and HTC is THE headset to own for VR enthusiasts. Oculus is being squeezed out of the market and has even turned to making a more mid tier level experience with stand alone headsets that provide significantly stunted games but are notably better than strapping a phone to a human face.
At this point the selection of VR games has gotten so good that the idea of a repeat of the virtual boy with its 19 total games is laughable. Fantastic games like Job Simulator, Superhot, Wipeout, Subnautica, and Star Trek Bridge Crew are all available and many of them even offer unique multiplayer experiences. But more importantly there are still so many people even in the games media industry that claim that VR hasn’t gotten it’s killer app yet. That one game that completely revolutionizes and legitimizes this new technology, the one that everyone NEEDS to play. But that game is already available and regularly on sale.
Resident Evil 7 is a superbly terrifying game when played on a TV. Gameplay is engrossing and tense and the story is gripping. But when played on PSVR RE7 becomes an entirely different experience. Suddenly what was a really solid jump scare is screaming and yelling as you hide from whatever just appeared on screen. What was gripping the controller extra hard becomes twisting and throwing the controller until it nearly breaks. What was clammy sweaty hands is a cold sweat across your entire forehead. Im not the type that typically rocks back and forth with the movement or becomes vocally startled at all while playing but there were multiple instances of me screaming and tipping over my entire chair while playing RE7 in VR. Resident Evil has revolutionized VR in the same way Super Mario 64 did 3D gaming and Halo Combat Evolved changed the first person shooter genre on consoles. RE7 is an absolute must play.
So overall virtual reality is here to stay. The technology has gotten to the point where games are convincing enough that people continue to want to play them and people playing those games means that developers will continue to invest in making them. The Vive pro is a fantastic device that is worth it's insanely high price tag and the PSVR will probably move forward into the next generation with the PS5, fingers crossed for that rumored wireless headset. As the technology increases more people will buy it and games will continue to become more immersive. The virtual reality foundation has been poured and construction has started.
Do you own a VR headset? Which is your favorite game to play in VR? Let me know in the comments down below.
If you liked what you heard you should hit that subscribe button for a new video and two new podcasts every week. You can see everything we do all in one spot over at ColdNorthPro.com. Ill be back next week talking about my top five favorite games of all time so until then just go play some games.
By: Patrick Morris
Hey everybody welcome back to LegalSpeak a ColdNorth Production. I'm TheLawMorris and this is the video essay series where I get to talk about the games I have been playing and what I think of the medium as a whole. You can see everything we do all in one spot over at ColdNorthPro.com. This week we are going to be talking about Sony's Remote Play endeavor so lets get right to it!
Remote Play is actually quite the technological feat even by todays standards. For the uninitiated: when a PlayStation user plays using a remote play capable device their PlayStation is doing all the heavy lifting somewhere else and simply streaming a feed of what it's outputting to the players screen over the internet. Then as the player inputs controls through that device whether it be a dualshock 4, the god awful on screen controls on the iOS and android apps, or even the almost entirely useless rear touch pad on the PlayStation vita the device then streams those inputs back to the PlayStation. What makes this so incredibly impressive is the round trip that all this data is taking can be done quickly enough for some less twitchy games to even be playable.
Remote play is a seriously intense technology but it hasn’t been able to really gather any meaningful momentum in the years since it's inception because not only is the tech extremely situational but the use cases haven't been really well defined or at least they haven't been advertised to the end user effectively. What we have seen of remote play in advertising has been college students playing giant adventures like The Witcher 3 in between class on their PS vita's or gathered together on their lunch hour playing online multiplayer games on their vita's. Come on Sony we all know that there hasn’t been two PlayStation vita's in the same room since they left the factory, that’s about as laughable as people gathering to watch a Killzone Shadowfall match. Now I understand the point of showing off these idealistic use cases is to make the consumer believe that if they buy into the product this is what their life will be, its simple advertising but those arent use cases that I would want.
After watching several ads for the PS4, PS vita, and PSTV I was only able to find one ad that portrayed the exact message Sony should be trying to send with remote play: use this shit like a Wii U. When you want to have something else on in the background, when someone else wants to use the TV, or when you cant decide between spending your entire Saturday in bed or playing PS4 that’s when you should be using remote play! Frankly remote play is an incredible concept that was introduced before the technology was ready for it but now the tech is catching up and we can only hope that Sony doesn’t abandon such a good idea as they prepare to move onto the PlayStation 5.
It's funny that technology is finally catching up to concept as we close out the PS4 generation because remote play was introduced in early 2010 on the PSP and PS3. At the time it was seen as a pie in the sky idea that nobody really wanted but over the last nine years Sony has continued to stick with it developing hardware and software to cater to what they see as a major feature in the future of gaming. The PS vita was released shortly after the announcement of remote play and what was a cool idea on PSP was suddenly starting to seem more realistic on PS vita. While remote play between the PSP or PS vita and PS3 was only ever really a proof of concept Sony backed the idea hard as they moved into the PS4 streamlining the development process then requiring every single game on the platform to support the feature. In the build up to the release of the eighth generation of consoles both Sony and Microsoft were positioning themselves behind one killer accessory, Microsoft the Kinect and Sony the Vita. Remote play was used as a major selling point in a ton of the advertising for the PS4 and they were trying to use the feature to sell PS vita's.
After a few failed years of their attempt to pivot the vita from being it's own robust platform the way the PSP had been to being a way to take your PS4 with you the cracks in the dam were starting to show. In 2015 Sony released the remote play app on Windows and macOS allowing users to connect a dualshock 4 to their mac or PC then remote into their PS4 from anywhere in the world. Once this was released I personally started using remote play more often and the image Sony had sold me was starting to become a reality. Suddenly a two hour break between classes wasn’t spent browsing reddit on my phone or working on homework I was sitting down in the library and playing my PS4. The picture was starting to come together for the vision Sony had used to sell me a PS4, a PS vita TV, and two PS vita's. and actually just recently another big push was made towards making the remote play dream a reality.
On March 7th Sony quietly released the remote play app for iOS allowing iPhone users the world over to log into their PS4 and play with some of the worst touch controls the world has ever seen. Overall the app works really well, connection is great, the functionality is limited but simple to use, and if you're really dying to use a controller the app is compatible with all MFI controllers. Sony has finally stopped trying to use the PS4 to sell remote play capable hardware and made most hardware remote play capable to sell the PS4 which is the direction that relationship should have been going this entire time. Now if they could just get off their asses and make a MFI certified dualshock 4 with a first party phone clip they would actually be able to sell me that hardware.
Since its release on iOS remote play has breathed new life into my day one PS4. When I upgraded to a PS4pro my original PS4 became the living room's PS4, used once in a blue moon when my girlfriend wants to play overcooked or gang beasts. But since the remote play app was released that PS4 gets played every single day. As I mentioned a few weeks ago my girlfriend is obsessed with the Sims and she loves to play her Sims on PS4. So I wanted her to be able to play her Sims in bed or on the couch while I watch TV or in my home office while I play something more interesting but once again the on screen controls became a problem. I looked into it and found a remarkably effective workaround that lets you play the PS4 with a dualshock 4 on your phone through remote play the same way you would enjoy the Wii U.
To make the explanation quick: download the remote play app on your iPhone or iPad. Don’t log into your PSN account. Create an alternate account and log into that account on both your PS4 and your app. Boot up your PS4 by connecting to it through your phone, youll automatically be logged into your alt account. Now as long as you're within Bluetooth range press the PlayStation button on your dualshock 4 and select your main account to login. Press the PlayStation button one more time to be taken to that profile and feel free to wander your house and play your PS4 like it's a Wii U. I keep saying that and it's only just occurring to me how sad it is for Nintendo that Sony was able to implement the main selling point of the Wii U into their console after release.
It's really easy to say that the video game industry hasn’t changed or innovated in years but looking back over even just the PS4's lifespan Sony has brought an ass load of innovation to market. Remote play, PlayStation VR, and PS vue all spring to mind. These are all truly game changing innovations that while they havent been able to find a ton of success this generation I really hope are maintained moving forward. With as much as remote play has improved since 2010 I want to see it continue, they are so close to what was originally envisioned. If anyone from Sony is watching this please PLEASE have a remote play app ready on launch day with the PS5, please get that MFI certification so I can connect my controller to my phone wirelessly, and please build a more portable folding version of the dualshock 5 with a built in phone mount. The age of the Sony handheld is regrettably over but that doesn’t mean that they cant pull a Sega and utilize other manufacturers hardware to keep the dream alive.
Is anyone here as big a believer in remote play as I am? What have your experiences with remote play been like? Let me know in the comments down below. If you're new here don’t forget to hit that subscribe button for a new video and two new podcasts every week. You can find everything we do at ColdNorthPro.com. I will be back next time talking about my thoughts on the current state of virtual reality. Until then just go play some games.
Hey everybody welcome back to LegalSpeak a ColdNorth joint. I'm TheLawMorris and this is the video essay series in which I get to talk about the games I've been playing and what I think of the medium as a whole. This week we will be talking about some of my favorite extreme sports games so get into it brah.
I was a suburban kid growing up in an upper middle class household in the late 90's and early 2000's so naturally I fit a stereotype. Just like most other kids I fell in love with the Tony Hawk video games which eventually led to a deep dive into a genre of games that is almost completely non-existent in todays gaming scene: extreme sports games. There was a period of time, mostly during the sixth generation of consoles, that I could not get enough of any game that gave me the illusion of extreme sports. Skateboarding, Snowboarding, even regular team sports played in an extreme way, I wanted it all! I was out of ideas this week so I just decided to make a video about some of my favorite extreme sports games. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, SSX Tricky, Tony Hawk's Underground 2 Remix, SSX On Tour, and some honorable mentions are the games that completely consumed my gaming time and convinced me that I could be much much cooler than I ever have or ever will be. So lets take a look at some of these games and what made them great!
Starting off with the big dog, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3. Not only is Pro Skater 3 the best Tony Hawk game ever, not only is it the best skateboarding game ever made, Pro Skater 3 is the best sports video game ever made and I will fight anyone that disagrees with me in the comments! Pro Skater 3 refined everything that was already great about Pro Skater 2 which is still considered one of the best video games ever made. Pro Skater 3 does everything that Pro Skater 2 did but bigger and better and it looks better while doing it. Level design, objectives, difficulty, progression, tricks, style, unlockables, cheats from head to toe, start to finish Pro Skater 3 is a damn near flawless game. And after executing on all of that Pro Skater 3 added the revert which with the exception of manuals is the single most important mechanic ever added to the series. Allowing players to string combos together from one quarter pipe to another using a revert to manual to really push those point totals into the stratosphere was nothing short of a stroke of genius. The third entry in the series was also the first to introduce online play on the PS2 and was one of the few games on the PS2 to not require the network adapter for online play. Pro Skater 3 was the epitome of what a generational jump should be for a game series. To this day as we head into the ninth generation of consoles Pro Skater 3 stands as a beacon of quality that all games should strive towards.
Extreme sports consist mostly of people either standing on or strapping boards to their feet so it comes as no surprise that the second most stand out game of the genre is SSX Tricky. Even when the first SSX game was released in 2000 snowboarding as a sport was still in its infancy and as a result snowboarding video games kind of sucked, Cool Boarders 4 was about as good as it got at the time. Come at me 1080 fans. SSX introduced a concept for a new type of snowboarding game, an idea of making snowboarding an even more extreme sport than it already was. While SSX fell short in many ways and wasn’t able to gain a whole lot of traction being a PS2 exclusive about a year after it's release SSX would be succeeded by a follow up that would realize the conceptual basis in almost every way. In late 2001 EA Big released SSX Tricky and snowboarding games would never be the same.
Tricky was the total realization and embracement of a new type of snowboarding game. From the start the developers threw out any sense of realism and immediately acknowledged that SSX was not going to be a sim snowboarding game or even a believable snowboarding game, SSX was going to be a fucking radical snowboarding game! Tricky was so full of life and oozed so much charisma that it was impossible not to be seduced by it, and even if you weren't Tricky didn’t care it was so well established and defined as exactly what it was supposed to be the game, an inanimate object, was more confident and smooth than I have been in my entire life.
Tricky looked great and felt even better. An exaggerated aesthetic gave off the vibe that this snowboarding game was what real snowboarders everywhere wished they could be. Movement felt fast and gratifying, tricks felt so good to pull off and the most extreme ones came with animations that were endlessly rewatchable, and when mashed together the gameplay experience became an incredible contest of who could strike the perfect balance of slowing down to pull off enough tricks to get the boost so they could win the race; lean to far into straight speed or just tricks and any experienced SSX player would cleanup against you. SSX Tricky revolutionized the snowboarding genre of video games to the same extent Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 did for the skateboarding genre. I poured so many hours into SSX, Tricky, 3, and on tour that every year I hope to hear that incredibly obnoxious "EA Big" at E3 and get a reveal for a new SSX game but unfortunately that probably wont ever happen, and if it does it most certainly wont be this year since EA has dipped out of E3 altogether.
Throughout the aughts my consoles were dominated by extreme sports games and I was so engrossed in them that the moment a similar experience was available on handheld I had to have it! And I'm not talking about the Gameboy Advance games or the DS games I'm talking about the handheld that showed everyone and their brother that you were a real "gamer" in junior high, I'm talking about the PSP.
Real quick backstory: When I was in sixth grade my dog had puppies and when we sold them my sister and I got $50 each per puppy. To a sixth grader in 2001 $350 was more money than I could comprehend. I saved that money in a shoebox under my bed for almost three years but then walking home one day in April of 2004 a seventh grader showed my friend and I his PSP and he was playing Tony Hawk's Underground 2. I was impressed but it wasn’t until he showed us that the god awful speaker grill in the bottom left corner of the console was a joy stick that I was blown away. I literally ran home grabbed my money and made my sister drive me to the mall to buy a PSP and THIUG2. Gone was my $350 on a total impulse purchase that I couldn’t have been happier with and when my mom found out that I had spent all my money boy did I get a talking to. My mom hated my PSP.
Tony Hawk's Underground 2 Remix…it was literally the PlayStation 2 Tony Hawk experience that fit in my pocket. The game made zero concessions! Graphics were amazing, gameplay was amazin, maps were huge and one to one recreations of their home console counterparts, everything was there and suddenly it was everywhere I went on a gigantic 4.3" screen. I played so much THUG2 Remix on that tiny little console I couldn’t have been happier with it. To this day THUG2 Remix specicially is my second favorite Tony Hawk game because of its flawless experience on a handheld. In fact in preparing for this video I watched several graphical comparison videos of THUG 2 and THUG 2 Remix and I still have trouble distinguishing between the two. That game was truly a triumph and a giant leap for handheld gaming.
But THUG 2 Remix wasn’t the only extreme sports game that the PSP gave me on the go, I also played SSX On Tour on my PSP almost nonstop when it was released. While I don’t have nearly as fond of memories of SSX on PSP as I do of Tony Hawk on PSP I do remember it being a very good game. On Tour offered a deep immersive experience with many different game modes, courses, objectives, characters and of course the patented SSX attitude all on a tiny UMD. In fact I owned and played literally dozens of games on my PSP but the ones that really cemented themselves in my mind as synonymous with the console were THUG 2 Remix, Need For Speed Underground Rivals, and SSX On Tour. I know I just mentioned it before when I was talking about Tricky but please EA I'm begging you please bring SSX back on Nintendo Switch.
So now I've spent the vast majority of this video talking about SSX and Tony Hawk games and well this is supposed to be a video about extreme sports games in general. So I'm about to rattle off some honorable mentions that I would love to see make a comeback in some capacity.
Amped: a more realistic snowboarding game that was still crazy fun and leaned more into real world snowboarding culture as the games progressed.
Skate: the skating game that finally toppled the titan Tony Hawk with innovative gameplay and finely tuned mechanics.
NHL Hitz: 3v3 hockey on the moon in big head mode 'nuff said.
All the Mario sports games: I know we got Tennis Aces last year but what about golf, hoops, and super strikers? The EA street series left a hole in a lot of peoples hearts that Nintendo could easily fill.
For many of us video games have played a huge role in our lives and it may sound stupid to say but some extreme sports games have contributed in a very significant way to my becoming who I am as a person. I skateboarded throughout all of middle school and while I wasn’t good at it I did get to the point in skating that can only be achieved through practice and that was all because of the Tony Hawk games. I snowboarded for 13 years and when I wasn’t able to be on the mountain playing SSX kept me involved and thirsty for more driving my love for the sport. My taste in music and even my personal sense of fashion are still an evolution of what I chose as an anti-establishment teenager. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic these games are part of what made me who I am today. EA, Activision, Neversoft (rest in peace) please bring extreme sports games back. The list of game announcements that could make my head explode is short but on that list is definitely Tony Hawk's Underground 3, and a new SSX game.
Did you guys love extreme sports games as much as I did? Which one was your favorite? Let me know in the comments down below. While you're down there don’t forget to hit that subscribe button for a new video and two new podcasts ever week. Don’t forget to check out our website coldnorthpro.com for everything we do all in one spot. If you're still here seriously thank you for watching my video, this is just a hobby of mine right now but I'm hoping to work in games media some day so everyone that subscribes and watches you're the ones that are encouraging me to keep going every week. Thanks. Ill be back next week talking about Remote Play so until then just go play some games.
By: Patrick Morris
Hey everybody welcome back to LegalSpeak a ColdNorth joint. I'm TheLawMorris and this is the video essay series in which I get to talk about the games I've been playing and what I think of the medium as a whole. This week we are going to be talking about a drug that all of us were introduced to at a very young age and how it has changed over the years, so without further ado let's talk about The Sims 4.
I used to play the shit out of the Sims when I was a kid, my sister played it while staying overnight at a friends house one time and the next day she begged my mom to drive her to Target to buy a copy. I had no idea what this game was all about and as a result I had very little interest initially but after seeing her play I, just like everyone else, was inexplicably driven to play this silly game. My sister and I were hooked early and The Sims went on to become one of the few games that she was more interested and obsessive over than I was. She bought ever expansion pretty much as soon as they were released and would play for hours on end and honestly some of my most treasured memories of video games are watching my sister play and feel as excited about a game as I was. It was a series that I fell off of almost as soon as the first full blown sequel was released and for a while I've wondered what has become of the games so when The Sims 4 was on sale on PSN for $8 a few weeks ago there was no better time to find out. This isn't a review of the Sims 4 its just a perspective of a player coming back to the series after a long time away.
The Sims used to be a game that was two very different experiences that complimented each other well. Turns out it's still a game that is essentially two games in one that feed off each other. The Sims consisted and still consists of a building game that allows players to design their own homes and run wild with cheats and a completely absurd life simulation game where players have to handle the smallest details like sending their sims to the bathroom on a regular basis and the unrealistic like being haunted by dead family members you didn’t even know existed. These two radically different experiences are designed in such a perfect way to make the player want to expand on the other that even before Minecraft The Sims was a life sucking monster that always pushed the player to just do this one last thing then before they knew it they had lost their entire Sunday to building and living and building more then living in the building to drive themm to build so they could live to build. Two unique games that have been engineered to fit perfectly into one another can be a dangerous thing and it is the reason I don’t get to spend as much time with my girlfriend anymore.
Not much has changed when it comes to the building game. It is still made up of what seems like unlimited options and potential but when you really need something to work a certain way the game couldn’t possibly be more limited. When I was a kid I was a firm believer that The Sims was the best way to model building a home for anyone who is rich enough to design their own home and build from the ground up; and today with absolutely no expanded knowledge on the subject I'm willing to say that hasn’t changed. It's a fantastic way for teenaged couples to fanaticize about a future they will never be able to afford, young adult couples to design something together and fight about the color of a bathroom wall that will never exist in real life, and older couples to map out how they want to put off retirement until they're 80. In fact, as I was writing this it occurred to me that The Sims is essentially just Ikea in software form…would it be considered a conspiracy theory to think that The Sims was somehow financed by Ikea? Or that Ikea is secretly owned by EA? Regardless, in the Sims 4 the building is still ridiculously easy to learn making it approachable for even the most inept players while still offering a level of complexity that makes it impossible to master. While almost nothing has changed the building portion of the Sims 4 still gets a passing grade in my book.
Once you're done building all of your houses and pools and doorless sheds you use to lock unwanted step children in so they don’t bother you while they're starving waiting for child protections services to take them away what's left is the living game and this is where the biggest improvements have been made. When I first started playing the living portion of the game I was blown away! I could take my sims to other places to meet other sims!? I wasn’t forced to just wait for the neighbors to walk past and hope I was quick enough to sprint out and have some sort of human interaction with them!? This was amazing! But then after two weddings, one failed marriage, two girlfriends, one boyfriend, two children being taken away by CPS, and an hour of gameplay it occurred to me that there were two full entries with their own numerous expansions between what I last played and this game. After some research it appears as though there has been some level of regression back to a more contained experience after The Sims 3 was a far more open and free experience. From my perspective what is available now is fantastic and fun but if I was someone that had stuck with the series I can see myself being a bit disappointed, but I'm not that person so I'm not disappointed!
As someone who only played the first game and all of it's expansions The Sims 4 is an excellent update to the core concept of the original game. Managing the needs of the Sims, progressing their lives, and providing them with social interactions is all still there but now there are some excellent new additions. When creating my Sim the very first thing I was prompted to do was select their interests and aspirations, initially I wrote this off as a stupid and meaningless decision but as I got more and more into the game it became apparent to me that those decisions that I made at the very outset are what guide a meaningful sense of progression. Sim's don’t live their lives exactly how we want them to anymore, they have long term goals that need to be satisfied in order to keep them happy. While it can still feel like a mundane game with no real progression there is a new give and take balance between the players goals and the Sim's goals and working in harmony together is how both the player and the Sim progress. It's very strange to think about but the game has gotten to the point where rather than being a hollow avatar for the player to inhabit Sim's have become the player's partner in the game and exuding desires beyond eating and going to the bathroom makes each Sim a much more unique character.
So would I recommend going back to The Sims after all these years? Yes, but only do it when the game is cheap and when you do be careful to only play the game for one day of nostalgia because above all else it is designed to be addicting. I was excited to get the base game at such a reasonable price and it wasn’t until around hour eight on my first day of playing the game when $200 for all the expansions started to not sound so bad that it occurred to me: EA is a straight up drug deal. They gave me the first taste for a measly $8 because they like me right? But then once I'm hooked they jacked up the price. It was a fun game when I was a kid and to no surprise it's still a very fun game. The improvements that have been made to the series are substantial and exciting and would definitely be worth buying if this was the only game I was playing. But it's not the only game I'm going to play. My 11 hour day with The Sims 4 was an excellent trip down a drug addicted memory lane and for that reason I don’t plan on going back to the series until The Sims 7.
Have you played The Sims recently? What was I missing out on during the formative Sims 2 and 3 years? Let me know in the comments down below.
If you liked what you heard don’t forget to subscribe for a new video every week. And if you just cant get enough check out our video games podcast HardReset for more free form video game discussion or our movies podcast NoRefunds the podcast that watches bad movies so you don’t have to. You can find those on most major podcast services and right here on YouTube. I will be back next week talking about extreme sports games so until then just go play some games!
By Patrick Morris
Hey everybody welcome back to LegalSpeak a ColdNorth joint! I'm TheLawMorris and this is the video essay series in which I get to talk about the games I've been playing and what I think of the medium as a whole. You can find everything we do all in one spot over at ColdNorthPro.com, this week we are going to be talking about Xbox Gamepass so with no further ado lets get into it!
Quick disclaimer: everything I'm about to say is based on my own speculation. I have an economics degree so its not baseless unqualified speculation but just keep in mind that it is speculation none the less.
I want to come right out and say this at the beginning: in concept Gamepass is a great idea…honestly it's a game changing idea…in concept. In execution it's a great idea with some major flaws that prevent it from being anything more than a decent service. Microsoft has positioned Gamepass and advertised it as the best to play their first party games. The problem with this is that when compared to the onslaught of third party games the emphasis should be the other way around. Gamepass should be sold as the best way of playing third party games inherently positioning Xbox as the best platform to play most games on. For the past three or arguably four generations Nintendo hasn’t concerned themselves with third party experiences and the reason to own a Nintendo console has been the first party offerings. In Nintendo's case this has been a decision they consciously made but if Microsoft were to play their cards right the first party offerings being the sole reason to own a PlayStation could be thrust upon Sony.
Regardless of whatever magical land we want to live in where everything is free and we all skip home holding hands every day that’s not the real world. Things cost money and companies like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo arent running a charity. Revenue streams need to be generated in order to fund the big budget titles that we all love and at it's current price I don’t think Gamepass will be able to simultaineously sustain the fixed operative costs of the service and fund new big budget games that are system sellers like Halo, Gears of War, Fable, and Forza (yes I am still a believer that Fable is coming back). Cost of production of massive triple A and now as Microsoft is referring to them quadruple A titles is insanely high and without the traditional revenue model funding the next major title will be difficult. It's similar to why MoviePass failed so spectacularly except in Microsoft's case they have directly related hardware sales to subsidize the losses incurred, and they have a hugely diversified business to make it so that the entire companies future doesn’t depend on this one thing. In fact I would now like to issue a formal apology to Microsoft, I'm sorry I compared you to the flaming bag of dogshit that is Moviepass. Well I suppose I now offer flaming bags of dog shit an apology too. Flaming bags of dog shit everywhere, I'm sorry I compared you to Moviepass it really was uncalled for.
When looking at the revenue that Microsoft is trying to generate from Gamepass you have to look at who their target audience is. The people who are supposed to be paying for Gamepass is, well it's everybody but the people that are actually paying for Gamepass are teenagers parents and people that are simply not that into video games. When I was 13 and 14 years old every summer blockbuster would offer a three month pass to check out one game at a time and swap it out as much as you wanted. If I'm remembering correctly it was something like $30 per month. For my mom who was working from home at the time this was an amazing value so every summer she would shell out the $90 and I could play as many video games as I wanted and I also got a lot of exercise riding my bike to and from Blockbuster. I would guess at least half of the Gamepass subscriptions are parents doing exactly what my mom did, paying a subscription fee to be able to get something done for a change.
Who I think makes up the other half of the current Gamepass subscribers are the adults and college kids that simply arent that interested in video games. The people that buy Call of Duty and Madden or Fifa every year and pretty much nothing else. To these people video games are a good way to pass the time but they aren't their primary hobby or even one of their primary hobbies. These people are willing to spend roughly $120 to $150 per year on video games and that's about it. And considering the price of Gamepass being $120 annually Microsoft is faced with a challenge. They have to either convince those people to spend their money on Gamepass all year instead of Call of Duty and Fifa or they have to convince the demographic that is one of their most casual audiences to essentially double their annual video game budget. With the omnipresence of Call of Duty, Madden, and Fifa and the increasing popularity of free to play games like Apex Legends and Fortnite I think Gamepass may be targeting the wrong audience.
Fourteen years ago video streaming was in it's infancy and over time different services have experimented with different strategies and at this point there are three fairly apparent winners, Netflix (obviously), HBO, and Hulu. Each of these three services approaches the streaming game in a different way and each has different strengths. Country club like subscription services in the Video Game industry should be able to learn a few lessons from the video streaming industry and emulate the behavior and emphases of one of the three big players in order to user their recipe for success for skip a few steps.
Netflix is in my opinion the worst of the three. Netflix's strategy in the last several years seems to have been to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks, oh and uh don’t bet on seinfeld, not their finest moment. Netflix is focused on making their original content the primary reason to subscribe to their service and every year they are either making or buying more original content than they did the year before. What started out as a fun little experiment has become an unrecognizable mass of widely varying quality like Jack Baker at the end of Resident Evil 7 and it's all called Netflix Originals. Sure we still get things like Stranger Things season one and The Santa Clarita Diet from time to time but the vast majority of the originals is mediocre at best and 13 Reasons Why at worst. And on top of the pile of originals Netflix has all the movies from ten years ago that nobody wanted to watch! What a deal!
HBO has taken almost the exact opposite approach as netflix. Yes they are still focused on their original series but that's almost all there is on HBO and they are so few and far between that when one comes you know it's going to be worth watching. I'm not a Game of Thrones fan, in fact that show is getting to Breaking Bad levels of obnoxious to where I just cant wait for it to be over so people will shut the fuck up about it. But no matter how annoyed I am with the fan's I cant deny the insane level of overall quality that show has. Production value, acting, writing, sets, story tellings, it's all fantastic. It's almost like it wasn’t a poop in the urinal they waited for their audience to find and hoped they would think it was funny.
And finally the middle of the road most level headed little brother of the bunch Hulu. Hulu's focus isn't about creating their own content it's delivering other people's content. When I don’t know what I want to watch, I go to Hulu. I go to Hulu because they put effort and investment into having a great library of third party content and that bankrolls a significantly smaller library of their own originals that for the most part kick ass, The Handmaids Tale and Castle Rock jump to mind.
Unfortunately it appears as though Microsoft is trying to emulate the Netflix model. Just throwing everything at the wall including things that shouldn't have been like Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2, and Crackdown 3. I said it at the beginning of this video and I'll say it again now: Gamepass is a game changing idea (pun intended). But what they need to do is build up a great library of third party titles then up the monthly premium so it's a better value and more intriguing to players who are the ones who will eventually adopt this as just another bill that has to be paid once per year like Live of PSN. Chase a different crowd Microsoft, I'm willing to pay $20 or even $30 per month if we get big name titles on the service within eight months of release. Increase the value to the customer to appeal to the core gaming audience then increase the price because I really don’t think we will mind! That way youll get more revenue and then use that revenue to focus more intently on fewer games. Essentially what I'm saying in this video Microsoft is that if you let Gamepass fuck up Halo Infinite I will never forgive you!
Is anyone here watching this video subscribing to Gamepass? What made you finally pull the trigger? Let me know in the comments down below.
If you liked what you heard don’t forget to subscribe for a new video every week. And if you loved what you heard and you just cant get enough you can check out our podcast HardReset for more free form video game discussion or NoRefunds the podcast that watches bad movies so you don’t have to! You can find everything we do all in one spot over at ColdNorthPro.com, I will be back next week talking about the Sims so until then just go play some games.