NBA 2K18 – Play the Playoffs.

{Please note: this column was originally published on 8 June 2018 in the Centralian Advocate} 

Advocate Column – NBA 2K18 – Matt Davies 8 June 2018 (2)

Please NOTE: this column was originally published in The Advocate on 8 June 2018 ahead of the 2018 NBA Playoffs. 

With the NBA Finals upon us, it provides us with a good opportunity to highlight one of the strongest NBA video-game series ever to grace our consoles. Not only is this a stellar basketball game, it also includes many historic and legendary playoff teams – like we currently have with the all-mighty Golden State Warriors, respect not love.

The NBA 2K series is a long established franchise, released annually which is common for the sports genre. The game improves majority of its features every year with little exception. The most recent instalment, NBA 2K18 continues the series’ excellence and presents us all with a rich and deep NBA experience that is hard to match.

It’s quite timely to write about this game while the NBA Playoff Finals are underway; one of the best aspects of the NBA 2K18 is the range of historic and legendary Playoff teams available for gamers. It’s also important to note that all of the current teams are available as well of course. The Developers support this game with regular updates to the current team rosters with trades and injuries.

NBA 2K18 has all of the modes of the previous entries in the series as well, from My-CAREER, My-League, My-GM to My-Park. But it’s the My-League mode that can provide the ultimate NBA Fantasy.

The most engaging way to enjoy these historic teams is through the previously mentioned illustrious My-League mode – which has improved features and additions. In My-League (my personal favourite mode) the most interesting aspect is you can build a league that includes NBA teams from any era – provided they are available in the game.

Players don’t have to participate in a full-regular season either; you can create your own Playoff Bracket from scratch. You could put Michael Jordan’s 95’-96’ Bulls with a Season Record 72-10, in the same playoff bracket as the 2001 Showtime Lakers who only lost 1 game in their playoff campaign. This is incredibly fun and entertaining while the real-life playoffs are occurring.

The series already had a large amount of historic teams and players to choose from and it has grown even larger with this iteration. This is emphasised with a stack of famous 2000’s teams added to the game including; the 2011 Championship Dallas Mavericks, 2012 Oklahoma City finalists team, the 2013 Miami Heat with the ‘Big Three’ and the 2016 Golden State Warrior’s with their Season Record 73-9 are also playable, just to name a couple of more recent teams.

I consider myself a serious NBA fan, I can name every NBA Champion and the opponent since the year I was born (I’ll welcome any challenge at the pub if you don’t believe it). NBA 2K18 provides the fantasy of ultimate NBA teams competing and satisfies NBA fandom with a high degree of quality.

If you want the ultimate NBA experience, play 2K18. If you want the ultimate NBA Playoff experience, play 2K18.

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Celeste Insights (Video Game)

{Please note: this column was originally published on 25 May 2018 in the Centralian Advocate}

Advocate Column – Celeste Insights – Matt Davies 25 May 2018

Celeste is a game that at first glance looks older, purely in terms of its visual presentation; it was developed with an 8bit look. Don’t let the presentation fool you though, the game looks stunning! It’s been a popular trend among modern games these days – presenting a retro aesthetic in games of today.

Celeste is a 2D, arcade platform genre (game) – the gameplay is what makes this something that’s totally worth spending time with. Although 2D platform games have been around for a long time – everyone is familiar with Mario – this one brings a suite of new elements to it that helps stand out. The protagonist (Madeline) has a stamina bar to manage which enables her to grab onto walls with a button press (L1) and wall jump. When the player wall jumps the leap projects Madeline further than a standard jump.

Madeline also has the ability to dash in a direction – in mid-air you can only dash once; this is another cool gameplay element that really keeps the game fresh and interesting. The creators use the dash ability in intriguing ways as well – implementing green glowing balls of energy that recharges the dash.

There are 7 core chapters to the game, and each chapter brings a new and different gameplay hook to levels that provide good variety for the game overall. For example one level incorporates floating gold feathers that when Madeline touches them she is granted the ability to blast through the 2D space briefly in any direction and usually there are obstacles to avoid while using this blast ability.
When you include the dash and wall grab abilities – which can also evolve as the game continues – with things like the feathers and the green glowing balls of energy, the game can be very complex, varied and challenging.

There are also many unlockable levels and end-game content that provides players with dozens of hours more gameplay depending on how willing one might be on tackling the deeper challenges. It’s another thing that the developer deserves high praise for, the additional and unlockable content; the challenges not only provide more hours of time with the game but it also adds interesting twists and alternative paths throughout the game.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the level design, which is another element of the game that is truly stellar. I only mentioned a few of the things that alter gameplay and provide other avenues for level completion – but there are a many! Each level is cleverly designed and is engineered to seriously test the abilities and gameplay alterations a player can use to provide a rich and rewarding experience.

Celeste is a game that is charming, beautiful and provides pure fun. The writing in the game is clever and whimsical and is a worthy story to pursuit. Although the gameplay is where Celeste shines, all of the aspects of the game come together strongly to create an un-miss-able experience. Also it’s available on PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC.

Published Column: God of War PS4. Centralian Advocate

{Please note: this Column was originally published in the Centralian Advocate in May of 2018} 

Advocate Column – God of War Review (2)

God of War PS4
A truly awesome game that is epic in every sense of the word.

The latest instalment of the God of War series has updated the games presentation and overall tone compared to previous entries, which was highly bombastic and visceral. Players still control Kratos, a brutal Greek Spartan / God as one explores this new foreign Norse world. The tone is a lot more serious, intense and overall more mature, and Kratos’ son is along for the ride. Adding a father son relationship could have easily given the game a whimsical quality, I can tell you, it does not.

God of War PS4 visuals are incredibly gorgeous, the game strikes a unique balance of stunning scenery animated with such detail that it seems life-like and fantastical at the same time. The result is truly beautiful. The attention to detail is amazing; Kratos’ clothes are portrayed accurately, with cloth textures looking very accurate – which an especially impressive achievement for a game where you pick and choose attire, and therefore changing textures on the character model regularly.

The combat feels good; Kratos wields a new weapon – The Leviathan Axe which was crafted by Ancient Dwarves and magically returns to him after throwing it, like a boomerang or Thor’s Hammer. The axe feels very powerful and heavy as Kratos swings it at his foes. The early hours of combat feel a little repetitive but you soon unlock many abilities and weapon upgrades which opens up many offensive options. There is an added wrinkle to the combat of God of War with a meaningful upgrade system. You are now able to upgrade Kratos arsenal of weapons, skills and amour; which is especially great because it opens up the combat immensely and provides a great deal of options to engage in the action.

The story unfolds in a strongly and at a good pace, the heightened intensity raise the stakes a lot and I was immersed immediately in what was happening with the narrative. The God of War series has always been rooted in mythology and the latest instalment is no different. What is different though; is this one is based in Norse mythology as opposed to Greek mythology. Don’t be mistaken though, you will still encounter numerous un-dead and vicious foot soldiers, and there are still plenty of larger, very powerful and truly captivating monsters to battle.

This still feels like a God of War game, just grown up a whole lot, like an adult. There are still many aspects that make this a traditional GoW game – like the mythology, the combat, fighting a variety of monsters and players are adventuring with the same legendary protagonist in Kratos. However there are enough aspects that have changed – for the better – that make this game truly outstanding.

If you’re looking for a high quality video game that will take you on an intriguing journey while enjoying spectacles. God of War PS4 is a must pick-up game.

Letter to the Editor

So far I have just been posting letter’s that I wrote to magazines- gaming magazines of course. You finish a game, you think its great, you want to say why, and see what other people’s opinion’s are of that game. Put your opinion on paper, reveal it to the gaming community, and spark some discussion. It’s great, and people love it. Now I can write a letter and just post it here instantly, I really look forward to progressing this blog, and reading other’s for help and tips. 🙂

Far Cry 3- An old letter that got into GameInformer.

farcry3.knifeFar Cry 3’s Insane Magic.

After hearing the dates for the Next Generation console releases, my initial reaction was of excitement, but then I realised I had not taken advantage of the current systems. There were so many award winning, fantastic games that I had not even played yet, especially on the offline campaign scene.

I had been looking forward to playing Far Cry 3 for a while, its setting looked great, on a beautiful tropical island, and the open world concept made it even more enticing. It did not fail on delivery and the graphics and visuals were stunning. It was a real delight exploring the map, and I would  get caught up in that alone for hours.

The gameplay was standalone fantastic, and the story was represented at the same grand quality. The game was played from a first person view the whole time, even in the cut-scenes. This encouraged me to feel more like I was actually Jason Brody, and really engrossed me into the narrative.

The story told throughout Far Cry 3 was dynamic, engaging and always had me curious as to what would happen next. There were many twists which made the game unpredictable, it was a genuine emotional rollercoaster. I especially enjoyed the hallucination scenes after being poisoned or indulging in a mushroom, and the lack of hand-holding while tripping really was confusing, which is accurate to the experience, I would say.

“Do you know what the definition of insanity is?”

This game was so good that after I showed it to a few of my friends, a couple of them went out and bought it the next day (and finished it before me) so we could talk about the story and the characters. Ubisoft you have outdone yourself! Kudos to Ubisoft Montreal, I look forward to more games from them with the same formula. The game was so engaging and the narrative so rich and well delivered that I genuinely let it affect my final decision. Which I will not state how I emotionally coped with my decision as it may be a spoiler.