Games Inbox: What is the best-looking video game console?

The Monday Inbox discusses the best way to choose between the PlayStation 5 and Xbox One, as one reader remembers Gangs Of London on PSP.

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Plastic box
It’s still technically a black box but the Xbox Series X already looks different to most video game consoles and if the DualSense is anything to go by the PlayStation 5 will probably be a break from tradition as well. I’m hoping so anyway, as the flat, black slab of plastic is getting really old.

Which makes me wonder, what is the best-looking console so far? Of the modern consoles I’d say all the PlayStation ones are pretty boring and only the Xbox 360 impresses from Microsoft. It’s actually a difficult question to answer as so many are so boring and functional.

My favourite traditional design is probably the Dreamcast but to my own surprise as much as anything I think the best looking may be the Wii. It’s one of the few to try to be stylish and it looks very distinctive and cool sitting at an angle in its stand. It’s still looks nice out of it and on its side.

The new consoles will have to be bigger than that, because of all the fans if nothing else, but I’m hoping they can better it and give us something that looks good as well as plays good.

Virtual tourist
I played Gangs Of London, but the controls were so clunky I barely touched the story. Knew at the time it was a Getaway spin-off, which is why I tried it; having never got to try The Getaway itself, I thought it would fill the void.

Gangs Of London did have a tourist mode though, which let you free roam with the objective being driving around London taking photos of famous landmarks, which you had to find yourself. That’s where I spent most time as it was easier to pick up and play than the story, because you didn’t have to try shoot enemies with the dodgy controls.

Lead format
RE: Next gen specs. Will PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X different specs mean cross-platform games will never be as good as they could be?

I am what you would class as a casual gamer, with no technical knowledge, with both a PlayStation 4 and Xbox, however the likely launch cost of next gen means I shall have to decide on one over the other. From what I have read the PlayStation 5 will have a faster SSD meaning load times will be better than the Xbox Series X but it has better ray-tracing and processing power (I know there are other factors but you get the idea).

Does this mean that any game released on both platforms will need to cope with the Xbox Series X’s slower load time but also the PlayStation 5’s inferior ray-tracing and performance, i.e. games will be designed to the lowest specs of each console meaning only exclusives will ever truly show off the true potential of each system?

GC: Multiformat games are usually designed on the PC first and ported from there, or if not it’s the most popular console that’s the lead format – not whichever is more powerful. But let’s wait and see what the difference is between the consoles in practice. Tech specs, especially pre-launch, are never a good indication and more likely the difference between the two consoles will end up relatively mild.

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

Complete experience
RE: Tiddleydwarf and Monster Hunter: World. Firstly, I’ll second GC’s thoughts, hope you’re taking care of yourself and I have nothing but respect for anyone working front line at the moment.

On to Monster Hunter: World, this is absolutely a game worth trying, and in my top three of this generation. GC’s comment is somewhat disingenuous though, as the game is immensely enjoyable as a single-player game. Most of my near 1,200 hours have been played solo (I even wrote a Reader’s Feature about it back in the day).

Note there are a few quests designed as multiplayer only, which is signposted, and these are best tackled as such. Getting a good four-man squad is the best way to play, but games with random players vary massively, failing a quest due to one bad player isn’t fun, for example.

It’s not perfect, and in fact had one of the most infuriating aspects of this generation for me (another feature I wrote about) but all in it captured my heart in a way few games ever have.

A lot has changed since launch, and some of the recent additions brought to the Iceborne add-on have mitigated a lot of the issue I allude too and they are still delivering content with at least a few more monsters to come.

The base game is solid, but Iceborne really completes it and is almost a whole other game added on top. You can buy them separately if you want to try the base game first.

If you do go for Iceborne a word of caution, this adds a range of weapons and armour called defender to the base game. These are very strong in the initial difficulties (it raises as you play through) and will in effect let you speed run the base game. Don’t use them. A lot of the progression is based around increasing your skill, these weapons let you brute force through difficulty spikes designed to teach you about fight mechanics and you’ll regret it later on.

Happy hunting!

GC: Disingenuous means dishonest and insincere, so we hope that’s not what you meant.

RE: Friday’s letter about XCOM. I wouldn’t worry about there not being an XCOM 3. I don’t think that Chimera Squad was born out of some marketing person telling the dev team that they need to make a simpler XCOM game to sell more units.

I think it was genuinely something that the dev team wanted to do as a spin-off, to perhaps introduce more people to the franchise. After all, XCOM 2 was a commercial success as far as I can tell. Sure, it’s not GTA numbers but it was still good numbers and that’s just on PC, let alone the other consoles and it’s coming to Switch soon.
Angry_Kurt (Twitter)
Now playing: Half-Life: Alyx and SteamWorld Heist (Switch)

Ludicrously hard
Quick question to help me decide between two games. I’ve always wanted to get Salt And Sanctuary but I’ve just played Blasphemous and was impressed.

I’m assuming they’re similar types of games so my question is simple: which one should I get?

At the moment they’re similar in price on the eShop.

I don’t want anything that’s too ridiculously hard..

Living Monster Boy and Doom 64!

GC: That depends on your definition of ‘ridiculously’ hard. They’re both very difficult games, just as you’d expect given the Dark Souls influences. If you’ve already taken to Blasphemous though we’d give that a try.

History lesson
I’d just like to thank comfortablyadv who wrote in on Tuesday about the Assassin’s Creed Origin Discovery Tour.

I tried playing Assassin’s Creed 2 and Black Flag years ago when they were free on Games with Gold but could never get into them or the series as a whole, so was not aware of the standalone virtual tour game. But I bought this last night and I’m quite impressed. I’d even go as far as saying it’s one of the best things around at the moment to share with the whole family (especially in the current climate) who don’t need to be gamers to enjoy it.

One of the things that struck me was just how much effort and passion went into making the original game and the tour.

For anyone that’s not a fan of the series but is curious, there’s and eight-hour video of the whole thing that of course doesn’t include the free-roaming aspect but after watching bits of this, I decided to buy it.

Ubisoft have also done a tour for Ancient Greece too and as of writing, both are half price on the Ubisoft store (Egypt: £6.24, Greece: £8.49).

I still probably won’t be playing through a proper Assassin’s Creed but I’m now more interested in the in the upcoming Viking game, if that is indeed what the setting is and will be looking out for a virtual tour of that one.

Web of holes
RE: tarantula island. I should mention that the tarantula only seems to give chase if you have the bug net equipped, seeing as you should be running around seeing off tiger beetles and wharf mites every time they are spawning, it often occurs that you’ll run right into a tarantula.

The best method is to have dug four or five holes in the ground that you can lead the Tarantula to, simply run behind the row of holes, leaving the tarantula running in circles trying to get at you when it can’t. Its easy picking from there on.
Bad Edit

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Knack 3 and beyond
Just to throw my thoughts into the debate of deciding which console to buy without having much information released yet. I have owned a PlayStation each generation since they were released and it’s most likely that will continue with the next gen (I’m pretty heavily invested in the ecosystem at this point). However, I consider myself open-minded and will look at Microsoft’s offering with eagerness and hope it offers a tempting product, after all competition is only good for the consumer.

With all the developers bought over recent years I expect Microsoft to come out punching with a stream of exclusive titles. It’s also easy to see the excellent value of Game Pass, so whether they keep that up will be interesting.

Now, whilst the tech specs are interesting to a degree, gaming is and should always be, about the games. And for my tastes this is where Sony have had a significant lead over the last few years. Exclusives like Marvel’s Spider-Man, God Of War, Bloodborne, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Death Stranding, and more (you know the rest) offer a quality and breadth of game that the Xbox can’t compete with.

Whilst there’s certainly an element of the ‘Sony formula’ across some of these, the consistency across multiple developers gives me confidence that this will continue into the new generation. I might be getting carried away but I’m imagining a scenario where Sony finally reveal the PlayStation 5 alongside a presentation of launch window games that rivals E3 2015.

Sequels to Spider-Man, God Of War, and Horizon Zero Dawn are a shoe-in. Crowd pleasers like Demon’s Souls, Silent Hill, and a Resident Evil 4 remake will keep the more hardcore happy. This is where the PlayStation brand has a lead already, regardless of what the console looks like or how many terrors it can flop.

Of course, something will go wrong. History teaches us that when one company builds a lead they tend to drop the ball in some spectacular fashion. Which is why I’ll always be interested in competition. Regardless of which I choose on day one (hardware launch issues and Knack 3 be damned!), it will be with an intention of purchasing the other eventually. The dawn of a new generation of consoles is always exciting for me as a gamer. I hope both sides deliver fantastic machines and can’t wait to play on both!
ProEvoSan78 (PSN ID)

Inbox also-rans
Was Bloodstained a hit? I recently played and enjoyed it. I’d love to see a sequel. Do you think it’s very likely?

GC: It’s almost impossible to tell with a primarily digital-only game. It was certainly a very successful Kickstarter and we think most backers were happy with the end result.

Count me as another person that’d been playing a lot of Destiny 2 lately even though I don’t really like the game. It’s at least more interesting than Discord though!
Tony T.

This week’s Hot Topic
Inspired by the release of Predator: Hunting Grounds, the question for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Grackle, who asks what movie would you like to see turned into a video game?

After almost giving up on the concept, publishers have recently started making movie tie-ins again and, unlike previous generations, a lot of them have turned out pretty well. But what other film or film series (including those that have had games in the past) do you think would make a good game?

You can also include TV shows and other licensed properties, like comic books, but how do you think they would work in practice and what elements would be easy to adapt as a game and what would be more difficult?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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