Gaming

Ghost of Tsushima review: Making of a legend

A samurai’s journey

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Vengeful Samurai
Rids his land of invaders
Haunting. Like a ghost

Ghost of Tsushima is the last major PlayStation 4 exclusive before the PlayStation 5 hits the shelves. It has the unenviable task of closing a chapter in gaming, and it does so with a lot of heart and subtle flair.

You play as Jin Sakai — a samurai who survived the first confrontation against the Mongols. Among the samurais in the battlefield, it was only you and your uncle Lord Shimura who survived the attack, with many believing you had also fallen in battle.

KOMODO BEACH. Samurais clash against Mongols early in the game.

Your mission is to take the island back by any means necessary. Sometimes, that means going against the way of the samurai which you had dedicated your life to.

The story has several beats but the dilemma between tradition and progression is a constant theme. Many tales along the way reveal that people haven’t always stayed true to tradition, and how that’s not always necessarily a bad thing.

Fight like a samurai

Combat takes a lot of patience, discipline and precision. Especially during the early stages of the game where you’ll really have to rely on your skills to get through enemies.

I thought I had already learned to take my time in combat with a few previous games I played. However, my general lack of patience worked against me. Timing your parries can be hard even with visual cues from your opponents. Either that or my timing is just plain terrible.

Once you get the hang of combat, you’ll develop a thirst for battle. This is because the game does a good job of rewarding you with every successful execution.

You gain resolve with each kill. Resolve is what you use to replenish your health. So if you’re low on health and resolve, you’re actually encouraged to go into battle so you can live to fight another day.

You’ll also encounter different types of enemies. Each one can be dealt with more easily by using a certain sword stance.

You’ll acquire all four stances as you progress to the game, but you will definitely encounter foes you don’t have the exact stance for. This is where your parrying and dodging skills will really be put to test.

Stone, Water, Wind, and Moon – these are your fighting stances

There’s also a stand-off mode where you call out an opponent and you face each other head on. It’s pretty easy at first but, again, timing gets complicated when your opponent starts adding feints to throw you off.

Lastly, there are duels. It’s mostly reserved for key story moments or when acquiring certain mythic items. In terms of combat execution, it’s pretty much the same except your opponent won’t go down after a few thrusts and slashes.

Haunt like a ghost

You don’t always have to face your enemies head-on. You are, after all, trying to take down an entire invasion. Certain tales or missions require that you strike from the shadows. This is where your ghost skills and tools come in.

Much like the sword stances, it will take progressing through the game to unlock all the ghost skills and tools. Skills like focused hearing alter your surroundings so you can tell where each target is at. You move slowly at first but you earn skill points as you build your legend to unlock more skills.

The ghost tools are unlocked after certain points in the story. Some of them aid you in assassinations but some can be also used in direct combats. One especially useful tool is the smoke bomb.

You will inevitably face a horde of Mongols at certain points with a bunch of them attacking you almost simultaneously. Dropping a smoke bomb confuses your opponents and leaves them open to one slash or one thrust kills.

If you’ve played older Assassin’s Creed titles, raiding strongholds and assassinations will feel familiar in Ghost of Tsushima. Approaching from high ground, creating distractions to misdirect attention, all in the service of that slit-throat kill — all these come into play when attacking stealthily.

Every tale adds to your legend 

Ghost of Tsushima probably has the best side-quests in games released from the last two years. Everything you do in the island is interconnected and is aided by environmental cues.

To get to certain shrines you follow either a fox or a yellow bird. The fox only really guides you to the Inari shrines which help open up charm slots to aid you in battle.

Meanwhile, the bird guides you to mostly every other objective — be it an item you can retrieve, a spot to reflect and write a haiku, or the next tale to tackle to continue Jin’s journey.

The game offers a style of play where you rely solely on these things to progress. For an open-world game done as well as Ghost of Tsushima, that’s a perfect way to get lost in its world.

The island of Tsushima is divided into three main areas. The main story will have you progressing towards the north of the island to ultimately rid the place of Mongol forces. But progressing through the story is only half the fun.

The island is teeming with stories that range from gut-wrenching to light-hearted moments to help balance the general grief everyone in the island feels.

Ghost of Tsushima_20200708233214

The side quests do not seem like side quests at all. Each one feels like a small chapter in the bigger story that is being told. Tales from villagers will have you facing off against bandits or taking down Mongol strongholds.

There are also tales corresponding to key characters — allies in your battle to liberate Tsushima. All of which reveal an unexpected truth with each character. The way of the samurai is held in such high regard, but some of the tales will show how even those devoted to that path can stray from it.

Slay in subtle style

Everything about Ghost of Tsushima’s style and visuals is just absolutely stunning to me. Persona 5 was lauded for being a very loud and stylish depiction of modern Japan, this game should be lauded about style but for a different reason.

First, the environment. I’ve seen people talk about grass mechanics. Honestly, it’s not one of the things I usually look at when playing, but rest assured this game does it right just as well as the best ones.

It is, after all, built upon the idea that you can explore the island with a minimal game hub. This is so you can take in Tsushima in all its glory and explore every nook and cranny of the island to your heart’s desire.

The color palette of the game’s menu screen is also extremely satisfying. It’s mostly neutral colors highlighted with red or yellow/gold. It certainly took a minimalistic approach — a characteristic that most associate with Japan.

The Mythic Tales are also done exquisitely. These tales net you key items or techniques — all born from the legendary stories told amongst Tsushima’s inhabitants. In this case, you search the island for musicians who will tell the tale.

Each tale is told with the visual aid of Sumi-e or Japanese Ink Painting. Every tale feels epic as it is being told, and each item or technique learned in the pursuit of each tale proves incredibly useful in battle.

Everything flows seamlessly

Every single element in Ghost of Tsushima flows seamlessly. From combat to exploration, absolutely nothing feels out of place. It all makes sense within the confines of the story.

There are no mindless fetch quests or fighting for no reason. You roam different parts of the island with the ultimate goal of freeing it from the Mongols’ control. This, while also dealing with bandits and traitors — which also goes to show how not even a single, formidable enemy can unite a people.

You will deal with many emotions as you progress through the game. The constant tug of war between the traditional ways of the samurai and the necessity to fight in the shadows is reflected in many different tales of the story. It’s the theme that, at its facade, feels old and tired, but is given new life and deeper meaning in the story.

Being the sole surviving samurai following the initial Mongol siege, you turn into the de facto hero. Jin, naturally, was reluctant at first. But as his legend grows, so does the hope of the people that they can indeed fight back and reclaim what is rightfully theirs.

This hope is forged through your countless exploits around Tsushima. Freeing one area after another, taking down strongholds, and using both all you learned as a samurai and the ghost methods you’re forced into by necessity — all of it adds to one grand legend. The legend that is the Ghost of Tsushima.


Ghost of Tsushima will launch on the PS4 on July 17, 2020

Gaming

We’re getting a Star Wars game from Ubisoft

It’s a story-driven open-world adventure

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Star Wars Ubisoft
Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash

May The Force be with Ubisoft! The company just announced that it is collaborating with Lucasfilm Games on a new story-driven open-world video game set in the beloved Star Wars galaxy.

The game will be developed using next gen tech including the Snowdrop engine. There aren’t any specific details yet as to what the game will be about exactly. The companies involved — Ubisoft and Lucasfilm Games — have expressed excitement over the project.

“The vast Star Wars lore is an incredible source of inspiration for our teams,” said Yves Guillemot, co-founder and CEO of Ubisoft. “This is the beginning of a long-term collaboration with Disney and Lucasfilm Games, and we are pleased to be working hand-in-hand to build upon the incredible legacy of Lucasfilm to create a game that we know Star Wars fans will love.”

“We are inspired by the passion and talent of the team at Massive, and together we share a vision for the type of original stories we want to tell with our players in this expansive galaxy. They have the creativity, experience, and community understanding to bring awe-inspiring authenticity, depth and innovation to this new Star Wars game,” said Douglas Reilly, VP, Lucasfilm Games.

More information about the game and the release date will be shared at a later stage.

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Gaming

CD Projekt Red publicly apologizes for Cyberpunk 2077

Promises fixes for 2021

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Though it was one of the most hyped video games in recent history, Cyberpunk 2077 became the most polarizing game of 2020. Especially on older consoles and lower-end PCs, the game suffered endless bugs — some of which were game-breaking. So far, CD Projekt Red, the game’s developers, released three hotfixes to fix the most outstanding bugs. Now, Marcin Iwiński, CD Projekt Red’s founder released an apology video for Cyberpunk 2077.

In the video, Iwiński personally accepted all responsibility for the fumbled launch. The launch unsurprisingly didn’t meet the developer’s expectations. Game stores like Sony and Xbox have offered full refunds for dissatisfied customers. According to the founder, CD Projekt Red focused too much on high-end PCs, causing errors to go undetected on other consoles.

As such, besides the apology video, CD Projekt Red released a timeline for upcoming updates. Later this year, the game will get two definitive patches — 1.1 and 1.2 — for major improvements and fixes. After which, the developer will keep outing “multiple updates and improvements” including free DLCs and a free next-gen console update.

Though the game is already out on Xbox Series S/X, the PlayStation 5 is still expecting to get Cyberpunk 2077 sometime this year.

SEE ALSO: Cyberpunk 2077 PC review: Looks can be deceiving

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CES 2021

New Legion laptops, accessories announced at CES 2021

Plenty of gaming goodies to look forward to!

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Legion

Lenovo Legion is going all out for gamers at CES 2021. They’re coming out with the latest in AMD and NVIDIA processors, high-resolution 16-inch displays, AI-driven frame rates and exciting upgrades.

Lenovo Legion 7

The Lenovo Legion 7 sports the latest mobile processors for PC gamers — up to the latest AMD Ryzen 9 5900H Mobile Processors and up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 GPUs.

It comes with the new 16-inch 165Hz IPS display with 16:10 aspect ratio, 2560 x 1600 resolution, NVIDIA G-SYNC, 100 percent sRGB color accuracy, 90% screen-to-body ratio, 11% more screen estate (vs conventional 15.6-inch screens), and Dolby Vision.

The Lenovo Legion AI Engine optimizes system performance via machine learning to deliver the highest possible framerates whether your game is CPU or GPU-intensive. For 16 of the most popular triple-A gaming titles, the Lenovo AI Engine will run them at finely-tuned settings for maximum frame rates.

Legion TrueStrike Keyboard

The Legion TrueStrike Keyboard features innovative soft-landing switches that deliver deeper strokes with equal force on every strike. This enables you to strike enemies with extreme precision, hair-trigger speeds and satisfying keystrokes.

The full-sized keyboard with number pad is also illuminated in over 16 million colors via Corsair iCUE support with a glass trackpad that is 23% larger than previous generations. You can easily launch the Lenovo Vantage software with the dedicated Super Key to custom-calibrate your system.

The Coldfront 3.0 thermal management system packs an intelligent intake system that features turbo-charged dual-fans and quad-channel exhausts with vapor chamber technology.

Nahimic Audio drastically improves your gaming experience with its immersive 3D audio. Experience crystal-clear communication with teammates with background noise suppression. If you have additional Bluetooth speakers, you can connect them to your Legion laptop to create a surround sound field.

For privacy, the Legion 7 offers a 720p integrated webcam with E-shutter which allows you to cut off power to the webcam and prevent camera hacking with the switch located on the side of the laptop.

Available from Q1 2021.

Lenovo Legion Slim 7

The Legion Slim 7 is the successor to the world’s lightest 15-inch gaming laptop with NVIDIA RTX graphics released in 2020, and now comes with AMD’s latest processors.

At under 1.9kg, this ultra-svelte beauty is a perfect fit for any boardroom or tournament setting with unbridled performance under its magnesium cum aluminum chassis in the Shadow Black hue.

It is powered by up to the latest AMD Ryzen 9 5900H Mobile Processors and up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 with Max-Q Design GPUs. Its key features include: Legion TrueStrike Keyboard, Nahimic Audio, Webcam physical shutter, among others.

Available from Q1 2021.

Lenovo Legion 5 Pro

The Legion 5 Pro offers the same 16-inch 16:10 QHD display as the Legion 7 and is powered by up to the latest AMD Ryzen 9 5800H Mobile Processors and up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GPUs.

Its key features include: Legion TrueStrike Keyboard, Nahimic Audio, Webcam physical shutter, among others.

Available from Q1 2021.

Lenovo Legion 5

The Legion 5 brings the balance of style and savage power to gamers in 15” or 17” sizes. It will also be available in two hues — Phantom Blue or Stingray White.

It is powered by up to the latest AMD Ryzen 9 5800H Mobile Processors and up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GPUs. Its top features include: rueStrike Keyboard, Nahimic Audio, Webcam physical shutter, among others.

Available from Q1 2021.

Microsoft Xbox Game Pass for PC

Every Lenovo Legion gaming laptop comes with a complimentary one-month Microsoft Xbox Game Pass for PC, unlocking hundreds of great games for non-stop gaming. Play over 100 high-quality PC games for one low monthly price with XBOX Game Pass.

Lenovo Legion S600 Gaming Station and H600 Wireless Gaming Headset

The new Lenovo Legion S600 Gaming Station has an always-on charging capability that solves multiple power problems at once.

It features hang-to-charge technology for the new Lenovo Legion H600 Wireless Gaming Headset and a Qi-enabled base that charges compatible smartphones (up to 10W output) and other supported devices such as wireless gaming mice.

The station’s modern-looking stand is lightweight at just 919 grams and features two USB-A pass-through ports on the bottom for high-speed connectivity and device charging.

Available from Q1 2021

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