Leave It To Me!


Grand Kingdom • Finish off an enemy with an Assist • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 36.2% (Rare)

When I say I’ve spent more time trying to get the screenshots off my Vita than actually playing Grand Kingdom, I’m only speaking with a dash of hyperbole. I don’t know whether Sony have made some back-end changes (or removed support all together) for how email works on Vita, I had great difficulty getting Content Manager to work, along with even trying to send the images in a message to myself via the PSN.

The solution I came up with involved downloading LiveTweet, the custom Twitter application for Vita, where I could Tweet the images out from my own account and then save them from there. Not an ideal workaround for the company that pioneered the ‘Share’ button, but there you go. We have, what the kids call it these days, ‘content.’

I started a game of Grand Kingdom a while ago, but never really made it past the first level. It’s actually the kind of gameplay that really appeals to me – story rich, turn-based, semi-strategic combat with beautiful visuals. In these early levels, it’s actually fairly easy to defeat a team of four enemies without too many problems, though I can see a rapidly improving AI that is bound to cause a few headaches as the game goes on.

This achievement was for using an assist to defeat an enemy – perhaps the one move in combat that actually requires the X button. For most other moves, that actually cancels your attack and does what would normally be reserved for the O button, but instead this is a matter of choosing your assist, hitting X and letting them bring some hurt to your currently-targeted enemy. Should be the most simple thing in the world right? Turns out I’d missed a few good chances because I was too busy hitting the triangle or O button in anticipation of ‘locking in’ a move (like you have to do with the player character), so my logic is not entirely flawed.

There’s still a not-insignificant path to tred on this game, so depending on the frequency by which I play, there’s a good chance it will pop its head back onto my monthly Sony selection, or early in the new financial year.


Monster Hunter


Dungeon Punks • Defeat a total of 300 monsters • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 15.3% (Rare)

I can’t really remember if I’ve ever talked about Dungeon Punks or not. It’s, by all accounts, not really my cup of tea. I mean it should be – and the first few levels seemed OK, but I don’t come back to playing it with any great joy or regularity. In fact, it was my son who wanted to play it this month, and because it was a bit on the violent side, I tended to take control and just show him the narrative pieces – on the ship and buying goods, etc. As far as his concerned, it’s just an interactive anime, but the main game is actually a touch more violent – not catastrophically so, more M or PG, but certainly not G-Rated.

I think I this achievement must stack because I wouldn’t say that I’m very far through the game. I’ve played a few levels and died a few times, but ultimately this is simply awarded by virtue of game tenure. I don’t have any strong feelings about that – I like achievements that reward you for progress, particularly if they can be accomplished throughout the course of a normal play through, but there’s nothing really challenging in earning this trophy, other than the fact that I’ve had to replay levels a few times because I died, and ultimately, those replay kills have jacked up my tally. Quantity over Quality.

In the world of PlayStation, I’ve actually been eyeing off a return to Danganronpa, but part of me also says that this would be worth doing on PC so as to not have to revisit the three or so chapters that I’ve already done on Vita (and have since lost the save game for) … so time will tell if I actually venture back there … but I’ll likely add a word or two here if-and-when (and where) I do.

Reached level 10


Horizon Zero Dawn • Reached player level 10 • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 78.5% (Common)

I’ve decided to record a few more of my ‘other’ gaming pursuits – firstly because I enjoy the writing process, but also admittedly because it’s good content. I like using achievements, or trophies, as the subject headings for these entries, as it gives a good indication as to where I’m up to in terms of progress, as well as keeps things relatively in-line with my particular gaming kink.

The start of my session largely focussed on completing ‘The Proving’ – which I referred to as a ‘trial’ earlier (same difference) – which was actually far less onerous than I thought it would be. For something that Rost seemed to think would require years of combat and strength training, it seemed that Aloy simply had to ‘race’ to the finish. Sure, I don’t think I would be in any way, shape or form be equipped to do something like the proving myself in real life, but thematically, I think even a young Aloy was already a regular little free-runner and combatant to the point where I think that Rost’s forbearing was probably a little uncalled for.

Jumping ahead, the last few beats of the story have focussed on tracking down another tribe who ambushed the Proving competitors – meeting up with the tribal war chief, and laying waste to their campsite. Along the way I’ve climbed onto the back of a giant giraffe robot, taken down some flame-throwing behemoths and reached the titular Level 10.

If I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. This is a good game. Guerrilla have done good here.

The journey continues …

Defeated the Sawtooth


Horizon Zero Dawn • Defeated the Sawtooth that threatened the Nora • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 88.0% (Common)

Before I write anything about my PlayStation comings and goings, I need to make one thing perfectly clear. I have switched back to my existing gamer tag.

I know, I know, I dedicated a whole narrative to why I was making the switch, but the news today that by this time next year we should (read:nothing locked-in) be able to change our PlayStation username has me slightly nostalgic for all my old trophies.

Look, I play my Sony console with such infrequency these days that simply knowing it’s coming is enough to keep me on the sidelines of the ecosystem for just a little longer. Emphasis on the little.

Anyway, let’s talk about something Sony does right – their first party lineup. Specifically, Horizon Zero Dawn which I (re)started after I made the decision to go back to the old gamer tag. Last time I started Horizon I fell asleep on the couch about 10 minutes into the game, so it’s not an all together bad time to be powering through.

I’m around about an hour in, and as a lot of great narratives have done in recent years, you start off as young Aloy, preparing for what is anticipated to be a ‘trial’, a ritual designed to allow her access to tribal leaders in anticipation of finding out about her undisclosed past. The ‘young protagonist’ seems to be a favourite narrative choice lately. It had similar echoes to The Last of Us, opening the level up with Joel’s daughter and even the switch midway through to Ellie. This played out as a soft tutorial to master her ‘Focus,’ a small AR device that gives her special perception, stalking and killing (collectively, ‘hunting’) the machines that inhabit the world.

By the end of my introduction, I successfully brought down the 31st Century equivalent of a sabretooth tiger, lovingly labelled as a ‘saw tooth’ in this game, but thanks to setting the game on ‘Story’ difficulty (read: the easiest), it was a relatively simple machine to destroy (three shots instead of the typical single shot which I’d been killing machines with up until that point).

And thus, I have concluded what feels like the tutorial. Even Rost, the paternal figure to Aloy in the game, describes the battle with the sawtooth as his ‘final lesson’, so now I’m ready to commence the trial.

The gameplay thus far has been incredibly reminiscent of Tomb Raider – so much so that I can see why Phil Spencer wanted to lock in that timed exclusivity with the rebooted sequel for Xbox. Aloy’s introduction into the main game world consists of traversing a large flying-fox setup rope much the same way as Lara does, throwing something over the top of it (Lara uses her climbing axe) and sliding down. It’s effective, obviously, but I had to smile at the similarities.

I’m also not sure how the point allocation works – I’ve selected a few skills to start with that seem to ‘best fit’ the way I expect to play. Two ‘slow time’ skills which will allow me to take headshots, as well as the skill to do an attack on downed machines … something I thought was missing from the get-go, but considering its one of the skills I managed to unlock in the first hour, it’s forgivable.

Look, thus far – I’m enjoying it. Perhaps the most surprising aspect out of it so far is Ashly Burch’s performance as Aloy. I haven’t quite worked out if it’s good writing or just a damn good fit for Burch as an actor – but the delivery is second-to-none. I’m very, very impressed.

This is probably the first time in a long time – perhaps Uncharted 4 or The Last of Us – that I’ve been compelled to sit through a PlayStation exclusive. As I said at the start – the first party line-up truly is second-to-none.

It seems like such a shame, but business, as they say, is business.

Showing True Colours


Hue • Change colour for the first time • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 90.7% (Common)

This seems like a good a place as any to both list my November PlayStation Trophy as well as have a bit of a whinge. I’m going to whinge first …

You see, in less than an hour, the Xbox One X is released in Australia, and for the first time in a long while, people have been talking about Microsoft with some reverence. It’s finally here, the box that will wipe away the Mattrick taint from the Xbox brand and try, try to find a foothold in the gaming market. During my afternoon skim of the news, I found this oddly-titled post in the feed of Kotaku Australia.

It’s a mess of an option piece, starting with the argument that Xbox will fail because it’s not people’s ‘default’ system, and then concluding the article with a lengthy diatribe about how hard it is to navigate the Xbox UI. I mean, for a journalist – a games journalist – navigating the UI for one of the main consoles shouldn’t really hold so much weight over how you view the console. Surely not enough to have that much sway over it, anyway.

I’ll admit, I’m a little bias when it comes to console selection. I have good reason, and plenty of evidence I can cite in support of my opinion, but at the end of the day, it’s just that – opinion. I shout into the echo chamber of this blog once a day, but in comparison to Mark Serrels’ piece, my viewer count is way, way down.

The article feels like the “Warning: Contents May Be Hot” of articles. I mean, the Xbox has it right there on the main screen – “My Games and Apps.” My. Games. And. Apps. Did it get through that time? Complaining about how difficult it is compared to PS4 is good evidence to support the popularity of hating Xbox. When people want to pile on – they really do.

So, while the populace is hating Xbox, let’s talk about PlayStation. I’m still hating PlayStation, so I can’t bring myself to do anything on it other than watch Foxtel (the Xbox Foxtel App keeps crashing on us), so instead that business goes to my PS Vita for chasing trophies. A fun little game from this month’s PS+ titles, so I’ve spent some time with it and collected a few trophies.

The game could really do with a mini-map or some sort of navigational aid, but it’s a
small critique in an otherwise fun little title.

You’ll Need More Than That, Mantis!


Sky Force Anniversary • Destroy 1000 Enemies • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 55.7% (Common)

This month’s trophy is another Vita outing as I felt unable to properly get excited about a PS4 game tonight. I expect that I’ll get less and less excited as we move closer to the release of Project Scorpio, which my entire library is just busting to switch (see what I did there) to, and if I’m perfectly honest, so am I. 

This is a fun little top-down shooter which is already pretty hard at level three. It’s going to take some time to build up my plane enough with missiles and lasers and bombs to make it a bit easier, but I get the sense the game was designed to pack a slow burn. If anything the trophy list supports that – all the way along you find yourself grinding things you need to collect, but it’s a fun grind … just long. 

I’m ticking this one off as my achievement for the month. No correspondence will be entered into. 

I’ll be waiting …


Hatoful Boyfriend • Get the BBL Ending • Silver Trophy • Rarity 8.7% (Very Rare)

I spent this weekend and the early hours of this morning getting 100% of the PlayStation trophies for a pidgeon dating simulator. I think, if anything, that’s probably good catalyst to go away and have a good, long hard think about one’s life choices.

Look, I don’t know what the hell is going on in Hatoful Boyfriend. I tried to read the Wikipedia article and digest the plot summary and I think I’m now even more confused. The basic premise is that 80% of the game requires you to play a human teenager trying to run the complicated gauntlet of high school dating … with birds. Then, once you’ve essentially unlocked all those stories, you get to the ‘real’ story and … my God, it’s a very different tale. And a longer tale too – I thought I’d be able to breeze through it before bed last night, but ended up falling asleep and waking up with the Vita beside my pillow. So, I pushed on with the story this morning until its equally strange conclusion.

I’m not going to lie – this isn’t really my kind of game. I didn’t realise it was less a game and more a visual novel, but not in the same mould as Telltale … far more … Japanese.

If anything, this experience has given me a new appreciation for my Vita. This is portable gaming done properly – I still have a distaste for PlayStation and, more specifically, the PSN, but you can’t fault the Vita’s ability to deliver console-level quality on-the-go. If I’m to keep getting the same mileage out of my Vita as I think it deserves, I suspect I may have to get used to these style of Japanese clicker narratives.

Time will tell if that suits my tastes or not.

Chicken of the Sea


Grand Theft Auto: Vice City • Snipe a seagull • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 16.0% (Rare)

I am getting all sorts of nostalgia from playing Vice City. I’ve been chipping away at missions and trying my hand at a few side quests today that are attached to a trophy of some description – but after having a look at the trophy list, there was one that stood out to me as a ‘must have.’ Blowing a goddamn seagull out of the sky with a sniper rifle.

I first thought that the seagulls would be similar to the ones in GTA4, as in actually modelled and built into the game, but then you realise that this was released in 2002 and that you need to lower your expectations a bit. No, in this instance, seagulls are little more than a thin black line against a fairly linear background, and wow … can they move fast. It first took me a while to get a sniper rifle, finally managing to track one down at the centre of the maze at Diaz’s mansion, and then it really is a wait-and-see approach. I went down to the beach first (again, expecting the modelled seagulls), but once I zipped around there for a bit, I was fairly certain that I was doing it wrong. So, I thought about it for a minute and then realised that I’d actually have to get out and shoot one of those thin black lines.

Because this trophy was so satisfying, I’m adding it to my trophy a month list. Vice City is still an amazing journey, even after 15 years (gee graphics have come a long way), and while I’m suffering through having to play on PlayStation, I’d argue, like L’Oréal, it’s worth it.

Some flies 


Spy Chameleon • Complete the fly challenge on 15 levels • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 41.2% (Rare)

It’s the last day of August and, if I’m perfectly honest, the only time I’ve turned on my PlayStation 4 this month was to watch Game of Thrones as the horrible Foxtel Now App keeps crashing on Xbox, and, judging by internet comments, there is no appetite from Rupert to fix it. Such is life.

So, I stuck with a Vita game again for my trophy this month. And while I was tempted to use one of the trophies I earned back in the first week of August, the spirit of the challenge is that I document my encounter the day-of. So, over breakfast this morning, I spent some time tidying up a few levels on Spy Chamelon to earn the trophy for grabbing all the flies in 15 levels – otherwise known as the ‘first stage’ of the game.

Look, it’s a good game. It’s exactly the kind of game I’d expect to play on the Vita, but without the killer commute every day, my appetite, and ability, for on-the-road gaming has waned. I think for September I’ll try for one of the PS4 exclusives if I can find an affordable copy somewhere, but I’m going through such an anti-PlayStation phase at the moment that I’m not sure how much enthusiasm I can muster. That didn’t stop me from purchasing the 15 months-for-the-price-of-12 PlayStation Plus though. I’m not completely stupid. But the downside is, is that I had to do it on my original gamertag so I could keep building my Vita library.

As I say, a little bit anti-PlayStation right now.

Spy Chamelon is fine. It’s a fine game. I can’t remember if I got it for free or if I paid a few bucks for it, but either way, it’s cheap and cheerful and worth a few minutes if you want to kill time. That’s what I did, today, from my kitchen table, and I’ve met my PlayStation challenge for another month.

Opinion: Destiny’s Child

PlayStation, Xbox

Destiny 2 • Open Beta

After a fairly solid weekend of playing the Destiny 2 Beta, I thought I would collect a few thoughts about my experience with the sequel and where I think it’s positioned for its end-of-2017 release.

In short: It’s good. It’s darn good.

Everything about the beta drips quality, even the fact that Bungie have held back a lot of content for the beta compared to what they delivered for the original game means that they are taking this second outing much more seriously. [Read:No more complaints about having played the whole game by the end of the Beta]

The opening level, a strike and some crucible matches give an excellent understanding about what is the same, and what’s different for Destiny 2. When you have a good setup with the Titan-Hunter-Warlock trio, you stick with it, and D2 builds on the character classes by introducing a few new tweaks.

Overall, the handling of characters seems a little slower, but there is sufficient substance in the PvE areas of the map to keep things interesting. Enemies, in the beta at least, take a fair effort to take down, and there is a nice variety of enemy types to mix up your strategy with.

Within a few minutes of first arriving in the tower, you are presented with access to Lord Saladin’s armory, where your Guardian helps him or herself to what looks like your first look at an exotic weapon. As an aside, EB Games announced today that preorders are going to receive the Killtracker Ghost and Exotic weapon, Coldheart … so it looks like I won’t have to wait quite as long in the sequel for my first exotic.

For reference, my Xbox Hunter is still running around with the first Exotic I ever earned (the Shotgun, The 4th Horseman), and I’ve just kept upgrading it when I have the currency and the weapon parts needed to buy the components from Xur.

I aimed to try to have some playtime with each of the three character classes with the view to learning more about their super and class abilities. The Titan’s new wall and shield made for some interesting gameplay. During the strike, The Inverted Spire (which I’ll talk about a bit more in a minute), there are wave-on-wave of (what I think were) Vex, so popping a wall to crouch behind while dodging enemies from all sides was, not to understate it, very very helpful. I found the Hunter’s sword swinging special a bit hit-and-miss (pun intended), as a lot of the time I seemed to be simply slamming a fiery blade into the ground with very little damage being done to the enemies surrounding me. That’s not to say it’s a problem with the super – there’s a very high to almost certainty that the issue is between the controller and the console (read:me), and it will take some time to master the eccentricies of each character class.

Perhaps the most fun I had out of D2, was in the strike. Oh, lord that Strike was fun. The setup is fairly straightforward. Work your way through various enemies towards a big end-boss, but it was nice to tackle both a new environment and a new boss, and it gives me enourmous hope that D2 will offer the much-needed reinvigoration of the franchise that I’ve been longing for. For me, it was the combination of environment-use and the end-boss that appealed most to me. For much of D1, the best strikes (and the only raid I’ve ever done, the Vault of Glass) effectively used the environment to shape the story. Without too much spoiling, the big boss does this very effectively during your final battle with him, and it breaks up a lengthy battle with a little fun along the way.

I’ve already preordered Destiny 2, but the beta went a long way to validating my decision. Scoring an exotic at launch is a nice little perk as well, though I’m certain the appeal will wear off once everyone starts levelling and bigger, badder weapons are introduced into the world.

I would love to finally see some PC specs for the game and ultimatly decide where I’m going to play, but overall, I’ve been very satisfied with the experience on Xbox, and even if I carry across my PS4 Guardians and startup a PC team, I am fairly confident that I’ll be at home on Microsoft’s platform for at least another incarnation.

Perhaps PS4’s system update 5.0 could convince me otherwise.