Proteus (PS3/PS Vita) Review – 5th November 2013 – By Scott Barker

Proteus #2

It’s somewhat ironic that Proteus – a calm and soothing Indie game based on exploration – releases on the same week as action-orientated blockbusters Battlefield 4 and Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. But this is the way with Indie games and their developers as they move away from the tried-and-tested videogame mold, and strive to give us something different. Proteus hits the mark for being different all right, and in fact developers Ed Keys and David Kanaga should be commended for boldly making a game that is stripped entirely of complications and objectives. However, Proteus‘ strength in simplicity is also where its weakness lies.

Just what the hell is Proteus? Twenty minutes in, and didn’t know what it was. It looks fairly similar to Minecraft except there’s no crafting, I thought to myself. Literally just walking. At first you may not get it, but sort of like when you’re first learning to drive and you have that epiphany moment and it just all makes sense all of a sudden. It clicked with me in Proteus; this game is about pure exploration. Essentially, yes, you are just walking around; but it’s not the same as just walking around in any other videogame; the experience in Proteus is crafted around your experience of “walking around.” The sky, the sun, the moon, the leaves on the trees will all change as seasons pass, and just like that the world you’re in changes.

 

Proteus sees you walk around from the first-person perspective. There’s no button for defend or attack because there’s nothing to attack or defend from. You walk with the right stick and look with the left. You can sit, too, and watch the world go by if you want. It doesn’t get more simplistic than this, and that’s why Proteus is the perfect sort of game to play after a hard day of work when you can just switch your brain off and walk around as the seasons and the world you’re in changes. Plenty of games drop you into a world and expect you to get to the next point of destination so a cutscene can take place and the story can progress until the game reaches its ending. Proteus does have an ending, but every player is going to get to it differently. I’ve played Proteus three times to completion now and all three times I took vastly different journeys and my game ended at completely different times. You stand still, time won’t stand still with you.

Proteus #3

Who needs a next generation of consoles when we’ve got good old fashioned pixel art? The Playstation 3 version, as expected, is upscaled and is of a higher resolution from the Playstation Vita version. But the good news here, folks, is that Proteus is cross-buy, meaning that you get both the PS Vita and PS3 version for one price of admission. Both look fantastic in their own rights, but I do believe Proteus is one of the best looking games to date on the Playstation Vita. The changing of a season in Proteus is a gaming moment that will stand out to me in time to come thanks to its vibrant colour palette and ambient soundtrack that matches the surroundings. The ending, too, (without spoiling anything) is a feast for the eyes and remains as beautifully ambiguous as the rest of the game.

There is no multiplayer mode in Proteus. It’s obvious that it was designed to be a solitary experience, but perhaps an optional multiplayer component akin to Journey‘s (where other players join your world) would’ve worked nicely. The biggest issue many will have with Proteus is that there’s no objective, nothing to interact with and, well, not a lot to do other than to walk around. Although I’ve praised Proteus for having no objectives or buttons of command, the price tag of £10/$12.50 is questionable, considering Proteus can be completed in – roughly, depending how you play – an hour or so. I’m all for short and sweet experiences, but after your first play-through you may feel the price tag is a little too high. The good news though: Proteus‘ world is randomly generated so each time you play should be different, even if the end goal is the same.

Proteus is unconventional and so left of field that it’s going to diversify gamers (even more so than usual); you’re either going to get Proteus, or you aren’t. So while most gamers this week may be immersed in military warfare or battles at sea, Proteus offers a nontraditional gaming option for those looking to escape from the real world and be lost and immersed in the ever changing, soothing and ambiguous world.

Proteus #4

The Last Of Us Abandoned Territories Map Pack Review – 28 October 2013 – By Scott Barker

The Last Of Us is going to win game of they year awards from numerous outlets, and deservedly so. In years to come TLOU may not be remembered for its multiplayer mode (that Naughty Dog was ambiguously quiet about until launch) but it will be for its incredible single-player campaign. So while The Abandoned Territories map pack isn’t the single-player DLC a lot of fans are waiting on, it does offer four new fresh and diverse multiplayer maps to an already great multiplayer mode, along with a new patch to fix and tighten the multiplayer itself.

TLOU Bookstore
Bus Depot

Admittedly I haven’t played The Last Of Us’ multiplayer component since June, so I was a little rusty and I needed to gain my bearings upon my first couple of matches. It seems like I was in the minority of people who hadn’t played the multiplayer in a while though, as I was in multiplayer matches with rank 100s, 200s and even 300s. So, suffice to say, I was getting my righteous-A kicked. So if you’re buying these maps casually like me, then be warned: these are hardcore players buying the Abandoned Territories map pack. Good news, though: You’re going to have these hardcore players on your team as well.

I mostly played the relatively new mode Interrogation — which was added a few months back — and I found that it heavily relies on teamwork — which a team-based multiplayer match should do. Every match I’ve played in, regardless of whether or not my teammates had microphones, we were working as a team. Healing each other, gifting each other items, and even moving around as a team — especially when a match first starts and you and your team are stealthily moving around to locate the other team. This is something I didn’t notice when playing The Last Of Us’ multiplayer mode there and around its launch, so it just goes to show how a dedicated fan-base and time can greatly alter how a multiplayer mode is played.

tlou suburbs
Suburbs

What about the actual maps themselves, then? Firstly, I should say that I had almost forgotten just how good The Last Of Us looks; it’s without a doubt one of the best looking games on consoles, and the four new maps are no exception to the rule. All four maps are cut out portions of certain areas you may recognise from the campaign, and this isn’t a bad thing. No map particularly stands head-and-shoulders tall above another, though, and no map particularly stands out as being bad. A healthy dose of thought and care has gone in to all of them, though my particular favourite is Bookstore; mainly because it’s the smallest of the bunch, and it’s a great map for close-quarters, shotgun-style combat. There’s still plenty of room to take the stealth route, though, either by flanking around the sides or by going up the stairs.

Hometown is the darkest multiplayer to date, and fans may recognise it from the very beginning of the single-player, in Joel’s hometown. Unlike Joel’s Hometown, Suburbs is a bright and colourful suburban area, and it actually looks peaceful and natural in contrast. Both maps are medium sized. Bus Depot, on the other hand, is the biggest of the bunch, and patience is needed to sneak around the map and seek out the other team. Not being the most patient of players, I would’ve said that Bus Depot is my least favourite of maps; however, this was up until (spoiler) I saw the giraffes in the background.

TLOU Bus Depot
Bookstore

There’s a separate DLC playlist to play all three multiplayer modes on The Abandoned Territories map pack, but for some rather bizarre reason the original maps have been included in the cycle and can be voted to play on as well.  Granted the original maps didn’t come up much, and when they did they were never voted to play anyway, but I just feel that it’s bizarre to have included them in the cycle in the first place. I was spawn-killed a couple of times and I was kicked from a match on one occasion for no apparent reason, but apart from those minor gripes the multiplayer ran smoothly and I experienced no lag whatsoever.

If you enjoyed The Last Of Us’ multiplayer the first time round and you’re looking for an excuse to jump into the multiplayer again, then don’t hesitate to purchase Abandoned Territories. If you’re eagerly anticipating the single-player DLC as well as wanting to play on more multiplayer maps then you’re going to save money purchasing the season pass, which gains you access to both the single-player and multiplayer DLC. Purchasing the season pass will also nab you a 90-minute documentary style making of The Last Of Us video, which I can wholeheartedly say you’ll love if you enjoy seeing how games are made as much as you love playing them.

tlou hometown
Hometown

The Abandoned Territories Map Pack will set you back £7.99, and the Season Pass will cost you £15.99.