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Games Inbox: What will be in the February State of Play?

Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League – its last chance to impress (pic: Warner Bros.)

The Wednesday letters page wonders how current advances in AI will affect video games, as one reader tries to decide the best year in gaming.

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State your theory
So there is going to be a State of Play this winter after all, but already the warning is that it probably won’t be that great. Funny that both Microsoft and Sony had events but neither really revealed much, and yet Nintendo actually had a pretty good show. Obviously we haven’t seen Sony’s event yet but it doesn’t sound like they’re even going to show Spider-Man 2, let alone announce anything new.

I hope Suicide Squad turns out well, but so far everything has been super underwhelming and it still seems really weird that they’ve only got those four characters, none of which have superpowers. Unless there’s some big secret they haven’t shown, which I don’t think there is, that’s going to seem a bit of a mistake.

As for what else they could show, it’s hard to say really. Maybe Final Fantasy 16 again, but I’d prefer to see what Capcom’s working on after Resident Evil 4. We haven’t seen a thing on Dragon’s Dogma 2 or a new Devil May Cry. I guess we can give up on hoping for XCOM 3 at the moment but maybe Death Stranding 2 or the new Tomb Raider?

Mind you, they did emphasise indie games as well, so maybe it’s best not to expect too much…

Moving the pieces
It might not be amounting to much so far but this sudden trickle of information from Nintendo… I think they’re building up to an announcement and I wouldn’t be surprised if the new console was announced this summer or autumn. It’s unfashionable at the moment but Nintendo often announce big things quite a long time in advance – think about how long we’ve known about Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom, without really knowing anything at all.

I certainly don’t think the new console will be any later than next year, but beyond that all beats are off. But it’s worth remembering that we got a mainline Zelda and Mario in the first year of the Switch and I’m sure Nintendo will want to replicate that situation as closely as possible if they can. Sounds like they’re slowly manoeuvring towards that set-up, plus hopefully a few brand new things too.

I also wonder if there’s going to be some kind of clue as to what Mario Kart 9 is going to be like in the final DLC of 8. It’s almost a decade since 8 first came out and I don’t think it’s going to be long until we see a proper sequel to that too.

Game of the movie of the game
I will call it now. Super Mario Bros. Movie: The Game.

It should be a doozy.

As it’s CGI, it will have most of the 3D assets ready to knit together into a game.

From the crazy trailers, it could be quick jumps in and out of platforming, Smash Bros. fights, and Mario Kart races.

GC: We hope it’s better than Street Fighter: The Movie.

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List vs. list
Random ruminations of a ravenous gamer: which of these vintage years in gaming, if any, were your favourite?

1994: Super Metroid, Ridge Racer, Tekken, Daytona USA, Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Virtua Fighter 2, Streets Of Rage 3, Final Fantasy 6, Super Punch-Out!!, Mega Man X, NBA Jam, Shining Force 2, Donkey Kong Country, Sonic 3, Sonic & Knuckles, Doom 2, X-COM, Alien Vs. Predator (coin-op), Super Return Of The Jedi, EarthBound, Castlevania: Bloodlines, Darkstalkers, System Shock, Live A Live, Road Rash, Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, Killer Instinct, and The King Of Fighters ’94.

1997: Final Fantasy 7, Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night, Banjo-Kazooie, GoldenEye 007, Star Fox 64, Grand Theft Auto, Fallout, Tekken 3, Blade Runner, Final Fantasy Tactics, Diddy Kong Racing, Quake 2, Mega Man Legends, Doom 64, Turok, Mischief Makers, Einhänder, Bushido Blade, Klonoa, Total Annihilation, Bloody Roar, International Super Star Soccer 64, Grandia, Theme Hospital, and Armored Core.

1998: Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, Metal Gear Solid, Half-Life, Resident Evil 2, Radiant Silvergun, Gran Turismo, F-Zero X, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Sonic Adventure, Soulcalibur, Virtua Fighter 3 TB, The House Of The Dead 2, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, Space Station Silicon Valley, Quake, Body Harvest, Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus, Crash Bandicoot 3, Brave Fencer Mushashi, Grim Fandango, Parasite Eve, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tomb Raider 3, Xenogears, Thief: The Dark Project, Turok 2, Marvel Vs. Capcom, Tenchu, Metal Slug 2, and Street Fighter Alpha 3.

2001: Jet Set Radio Future, Devil May Cry, Halo, Rez, Super Monkey Ball, Silent Hill 2, Advance Wars, Gran Theft Auto 3, Metal Gear Solid 2, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, F-Zero: Maximum Velocity, Castlevania: Circle Of The Moon, Crazy Taxi 2, Pikmin, Gran Turismo 3: A Spec, Wave Race: Blue Storm, Final Fantasy 10, Star Wars: Rogue Leader 2, Luigi’s Mansion, Animal Crossing, Ace Attorney, Dead Or Alive 3, Project Gotham Racing, Shenmue 2, Sonic Adventure 2, Onimusha, Jak And Daxter, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Virtua Fighter 4, Pokémon Gold/Silver, Pro Evolution Soccer, Black & White, SSX Tricky, and Virtua Tennis 2.

2004: Half-Life 2, Ninja Gaiden, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, GTA: San Andreas, Halo 2, Doom 3, Far Cry, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Burnout 3: Takedown, Metroid: Zero Mission, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Zelda: Four Swords Adventure, Fable, Astro Boy: Omega Factor, Onimusha 3, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, Rome: Total War, Viewtiful Joe, Pikmin 2, Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape From Butcher’s Bay, Tales Of Symphonia, Katamari Damacy, Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic 2, Shadow Hearts: Covenant, and Project Zero 2.

2010: Super Mario Galaxy 2, Bayonetta, Sin & Punishment: Successor To The Skies, Deadly Premonition, God Of War 3, Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2, Xenoblade, Vanquish, Limbo, Cave Story, Super Meat Boy, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Bioshock 2, Amnesia: Dark Descent, Final Fantasy 12, Halo Reach, Fallout: New Vegas, Alan Wake, NieR, Sonic Colours, Blur, Singularity, and No More Heroes 2.

2017: Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, NieR Automata, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Persona 5, Cuphead, The Evil Within 2, Resident Evil 7, Sonic Mania, Hollow Knight, Horizon Zero Dawn, Nioh, Yakuza Zero, Gravity Rush 2, ARMS, Splatoon 2, Metroid: Samus Returns, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Divinity: Original Sin 2, Prey, Undertale, Steamworld Heist, Tekken 7, Overwatch, Pyre, Snipperclips, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Little Nightmares, Night In The Woods, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, and The Sexy Brutale.

Let’s hope 2023 is yet another vintage year for gaming, ‘cos lord knows it’s been a while since we had one!
Galvanized Gamer

GC: Clearly it’s 1998, but 2017 was pretty amazing too.

Another State of Play
I hope everyone who is getting a PlayStation VR2 today enjoys it. I’m looking forward to the State of Play for PlayStation VR2 games and hopefully the new Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League will be good too. I saw there is a sequel to one of the games I thoroughly enjoyed on the first PlayStation VR, called Another Fisherman’s Tale, that’s being released on PSVR2.

If readers are unaware of the original, it is a very good but very short story adventure game with puzzles and is set in a lighthouse and is very atmospheric. On PlayStation VR1 it uses the Move controllers which aren’t perfect but work as well as they can. I highly recommend it.
Andrew J.
Currently playing: New Tales From the Borderlands (PS5)

Breath of the mushroom
I know, I know, it’s always futile to try to predict Nintendo but that last comment by Miyamoto-san did get my imagination running wild.

‘Maybe we can send Mario to Jupiter’.

Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system by some margin.

Are Nintendo going to create the largest world they’ve ever created for Mario to explore?

The Mario and Zelda titles don’t have a lot in common, but they have been known to borrow ideas from each other from time to time.

It certainly would be a new avenue for the Mario games to explore. As long as it doesn’t look anything like Breath Of The Wild and Sonic Frontiers and looks more like the Mushroom Kingdom from the first trailer of the new movie. I could definitely get on board with that.

Of course, I’m going to be completely wrong here and Jupiter will turn out to be the project name for their new console.
freeway 77

GC: It did seem an odd turn of phrase. We certainly wouldn’t be surprised if the next Mario was open world, as Bowser’s Fury seemed to be a rough sketch for something of that sort.

Shooter exclusives
Two things about the Call Of Duty deal. 1. The switch has a shooter already, the squid paint one Splatoon and Splatoon 2.

Sony should give EA an exclusive crack to revive the Battlefield franchise. It needs a more focused approach and a cash injection from Sony might be the thing to help it.

GC: There’s also a Splatoon 3.

Skynet is real
Trico from the Last Guardian is the only AI I can honestly say was completely believable, however I’ve got to say I’m genuinely surprised at how good the Sophy AI is in the latest Gran Turismo update. Whilst it seems to revel in passing me with ease it does so in a Queensbury Rules style way. Watching the replays I was studying the manoeuvres and never once was there a cheap tactic or an unfair move and it did feel like playing against someone who was trying to figure out my driving style. It seemed to find out that I have a terrible one, considering how many times Sophy waltzed past me.

I have been commenting on VR tech limitations recently, but AI is one of the worst areas in games and in desperate need of a something resembling an advancement. I tried The Last Of Us trial and man oh man that AI really doesn’t age well. Ellie exposed right next to a clicker in a ducking pose with no response from either her or the clicker looks ludicrous. I do see that AI advancement however, poses a problem. As much as I loved Trico and his unpredictability, others couldn’t bare it and found him infuriating.

Having an animal AI that doesn’t listen might be annoying but implementing an AI with even remotely complex human characteristics could potentially be an utter nightmare. Characters that question your judgement calls or who refuse to serve under such an nincompoop, and just leave the mission, could be rage inducing. In-game facial animations that speak volumes about their contempt for you, all the while spreading rumours amongst team members of your stupidity in decision making.

I enjoyed using Quiet in Metal Gear Solid 5 mainly because she would arrive at the enemy camp, you’d assign her to one of the sniping points and then you’d tag sentries who you wanted taken out. It was pretty simple but effective. To listen to her openly question my choices and discuss a better alternative would be great to a degree but also quite unnerving. Having your authority as the dominant player challenged by an AI in a single-player game is something some might not take on board.

You’ve only got to read this unsettling article to see how we must tread softly with AI.

Inbox also-rans
Maybe it won’t happen for a while but I don’t believe for a second there won’t be a The Last Of Us Part 3 eventually. Sony will just bring in someone else to make it if Naughty Dog don’t want to, but I bet they do.

I can only imagine the favours Microsoft has had to pull in order to get these deals that make them look better to investigators. I wonder what Nintendo is going to ask as payback? The full rights to GoldenEye 007 maybe?

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was inspired by reader Crombie, who asks whether you’re spending less on video games now than before and during the pandemic?

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about value for money but have your spending habits changed since the end of the pandemic and the start of the current economic crisis? Are you spending less on games overall and has that lead to you playing them less – or has that not changed?

Do you currently have a set budget for what to spend on games and how does that account for new hardware purchases and things like microtransactions?

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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 and content.

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

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

MORE : Games Inbox: GTA Trilogy still broken, Tales Of Symphonia Remastered, and Metroid Prime dissension

MORE : Games Inbox: Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom length worries, Xbox always-one, and XCOM 3 uncertainty

MORE : Weekend Hot Topic: What’s the best value video game?

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