Could PlayStation exist without a console? (pic: Sony)

The Wednesday letters page tries to plan out all the games worth getting this year, as a reader plays Resident Evil 4 for the first time.

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The unthinkable
I see PlayStation 5 fans are getting overly defensive again, about the thought of the Xbox Series X becoming dominant, but given the way the world economy is going I really think this console war is going to be fought on price, not games, and that is not a battle Sony has much hope of winning.

That got me thinking the previously unthinkable: could Sony ever go third party? It’s a fate that people have imagined for Nintendo for years, without understanding how much more essential hardware is to Nintendo’s business than it is to either Microsoft or Sony. But would it actually be that bad if Sony stopped making consoles, in these days of multiple subscription services?

I find it very easy to imagine an equivalent of Disney+ that is free streaming access to every PlayStation game, past and present, for a reasonable fee. Sony say that this is not currently feasible because they have to make their money back on expensive AAA games, but that’s only because people also need a console to play them on. Remove that issue and suddenly Sony has a lot more options.

If I could have only one, I’d get a streaming PlayStation+ long before Game Pass, simply because Sony has all the best games. So while going third party is usually thrown around as an insult I actually think it could be part of a very successful future for PlayStation.
Rastan

Plan of attack
Just wondering what new releases everyone else has lined up to play for the rest of the year. I’m currently playing Beacon Pines, which is a charming narrative game that I’m invested in enough to want to see what’s up.

I had planned to then play Moonscars, a 2D Soulslike, but having read a few reviews today have decided not to. Sounds like it’s got some design decisions that take it from satisfyingly hard – that’s what she said – to just annoying. So I think I will instead play Grounded 1.0, which releases today and is the full single-player game. Looks a lot of fun and a first party Microsoft exclusive this year is nothing to be sniffed at.

After that I think it’ll be A Plague Tale: Requiem, as I very much enjoyed the first game. Then it’s the big one: God Of War Ragnarök. A day one purchase for me, which I can’t wait to get wrapped up in. Then to finish the year off I think it’ll be High On Life. A couple of outliers if I have the time are SIGNALIS and Scorn.

Not a bad way to the end the gaming year at all really.
Simundo

No going back
I’ve finally got round to starting Resident Evil 4 for the first time on PC. I remember GC lamenting the lazy effort to update the graphics for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and more recently the Switch versions, so I’ve installed the Resident Evil 4 HD project 1.1 mod.

Thing is, as I’m coming to the game fresh, I’m not intimately familiar with the 2011 console/PC re-releases graphics, and so the enhanced textures, lighting, and visual effects the mod promises are probably a bit lost on me (unless I do another playthrough with the enhancements turned off). Has GC had the chance to play this in light of the standard HD versions apparent graphical shortcomings? If the upcoming remake drops the ball somehow this could be the next best thing.

More importantly, as you, and I suspect any number of readers, are authorities on the game, any tips for a first time playthrough? What guns to get and upgrade, that sort of thing?

Thanks in advance.
Meestah Bull

GC: We haven’t played that particular mod but the game was very much a product of its time and we’re not really sure if its appeal will be fully apparent now, especially not if that mod enables walking and shooting at the same time (if it does, turn it off). Resident Evil 4 was a vital milestone in the evolution of modern third person games but the only modern version that we’ve ever found worthwhile is the Oculus Quest VR one, because it’s both significantly removed from the original experience and yet also echoes its sense of being on the cusp of a technical revolution.

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Reader verified
Just wanted to thank the reader who did the F1 Manager 2022 reader review. I thought they did a superb job of explaining the pros and cons of the game and they lined up with my thoughts on what I’ve played so far.

Frontier have set a good base to build on with the game, so looking forward to the next iteration. It’s also proven to me a good Steam Deck game too, despite not being Deck verified.
Angry_Kurt (Twitter)
Now playing: God of War (PS5) and Nobody Saves the World (Steam Deck)

Another one
RE: Razzledazzle’s friend and Spider-Man, I had exactly the same problem!

I have played multiple games on hard difficulties: Uncharted 1 to 4 and Golden Abyss, all on Crushing; Devil May Cry 1 on Dante Must Die, Resident Evil 4 on Professional’ and even slogged through Spec Ops: The Line on Fubar Difficulty! But Spider-Man?!

I have never died so many times in the combat of a game in the opening missions… and this was even on the easiest difficultly! I actually gave up on it, so you are not alone!
LastYearsModel

GC: We do not understand.

The best of both worlds
I’m sure this will not be an entirely popular opinion but I’m cheerfully ambivalent about which platform subscription service is best. I’ve owned every PlayStation from the first to the fifth and I’ll gladly admit that my PlayStation 5 has only really been exercised on Horizon Forbidden West and Ghost Of Tsushima. But I have subscribed to PS Plus Extra and have dabbled with a fair number of other games. But it’s the same with Game Pass for me.

I’ve got a fairly decent PC and have loved Game Pass for games like Wasteland 3 and the ability to play some classics from the Bethesda and Obsidian line-up.

I get that Game Pass gives you new games on day one but I also get that the Sony exclusives are too expensive for them to release on the subscription model on day one and make a profit. I don’t mind waiting.

I’m lucky enough that I can afford both subs and can be patient. I can play on either and am happy to know I’ll be able to play great games when they are available.

I’m happy to wait a year or so for a first party Sony game to hit my subscription. The subscription is less than the cost of two brand new games. In the meantime, I can play some of the great new stuff Microsoft is pushing through Game Pass.

That said, there are so many games that aren’t on either service. I know I’m lucky that I can play on all three of the major platforms (as I see it). But really, I want to play the full release of Mount & Blade: Bannerlord and Baldur’s Gate 3. Neither of those will be on a subscription service (probably) so I’ll have to buy them anyway!

My point? I can’t remember.
Badger of Doom

A Jewel a day
Just a quick message to say I was supposed to be getting a physical version of Psychonauts 2 this week on Xbox Series X but over the weekend the date slipped from 27th September to 14th October, so you might want to update your release schedule.
Andrew J.
PS. I do the rewards thing on Xbox too but only a little, I usually play a game of Jewel each day to get some points but in the past two weeks or so you only get the points every other day, so I am getting less points
now than a few weeks ago.

Rock in a hard place
The recent article on Trombone Champ sparked something in me. As a guitar and bass player, the new Rocksmith+ subscription service has been on my radar for a while and seeing an article alluding to the glory days of rhythm action games sparked my interest, so I decided to take a look at the game/service.

For those who don’t know, Rocksmith is Guitar Hero/Rock Band with a real guitar or bass and seems quite effective, at least as a beginner’s tool for getting to grips with the instruments. There were a couple of games released last decade but now the game has been rebranded as a subscription-based tool for learning guitar, competing with services like Fender Play.

Anyway, I took a look at the song list, which is the big selling point of Rocksmith+. Rather than paying for song pack after song pack, as you did with the previous Rocksmith games, for a subscription you can get a song library that is constantly being updated and allegedly has over 5,000 songs. Sounds good and will probably save people some money, but having a look into the song list, the selection is pretty weird.

I was surprised to find that artists such as Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Oasis, and Paramore, who were pretty important when I began playing guitar 10 years ago, not because they’re guitar gods but because they had a lot of songs that where perfect for beginners to play along to, are nowhere to be seen. And for artists who you’d expect, particularly Deep Purple, sure they’re in the game but their hits aren’t.

Something as synonymous with guitars as Smoke on the Water is completely absent from the game but at least we get to play ‘Talk About Love (live 1993 version)’ right? With the less than inspiring (my opinion of course) song selection in Rocksmith+ I decided to take a look at Rocksmith 2014 Edition on Steam.
One of the big issues with Rocksmith when it came out was the ‘real tone cable’, a cable that connects the guitar to your computer/console.

On console such a cable made sense, on PC not so much given that Audio Interfaces exist and have been used by musicians for many years to send their instruments signal to their PC and record music. With a bit of messing around you can get an audio interface to work with Rocksmith, but if I’m honest I couldn’t be bothered with the headache.

At this point I was willing to bite the bullet and get a real tone cable along with the older version of the game, to give it a go, but then I noticed the recent reviews of the game. These reviews indicate the game and any downloaded song packs have been broken by a recent update that’s been implemented to checks notes advertise Rocksmith+. Advertisements for a subscription service in a game that’s now eight years old, making the game close to unplayable. This has to be a new low for the industry!

It’s worth noting there do appear to be fixes to get the game working again, by messing with some of its code. Seems simple enough, but again I can’t be bothered with the headache and will stick to strumming along to tabs and chord charts. And messing around in Trombone Champ.
Sunny

Inbox also-rans
I’m sure I’m not the only one that thinks Nintendo will still find an excuse to shut down Super Mario Bros. 5. Cool achievement though and kudos to the creator.
Gazza

This whole AI art creation thing is getting crazy because those once you generated for GameCentral and Metro are really kind of cool. I would totally buy those plushies!
Danstable

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Jericho, who asks what do you want from a Switch 2?

Regardless of rumours, it’s inevitable that there will be a new Nintendo console in the next few years but what form do you want it to take, both physically and in terms of how powerful it is and how much it will cost.

Now that there are multiple portable consoles that look similar how do you think Nintendo should respond and what are the most important changes and improvements from the current Switch? Or would you want to see a new console that was completely different?

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The small print
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