Games and Gimmicks Reviews – No Man’s Sky (PS4)

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It’s been a little time, but we’re back again with a review of the new space exploration game, No Man’s Sky for PS4.

Truly Something Different

No Man’s Sky was, and has always been a super hyped game even from it’s initial introduction at VGX 2013. No Man’s Sky is brought to you by the folks at Hello Games, a small development company comprised of 15 individuals that brought you the break out hit for PS3, Joe Danger and Joe Danger 2. Fearing that they would be pigeon-holed with Joe Danger, Sean Murray, the founder, set out on a path to break away from multiple sequels to create something new. And boy oh boy did they create something different with No Man’s Sky.

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I loved this game.

The concept is this: each star system in the game is procedurally created. For those of you not down with the gaming lingo, this basically means that the items, ranging from crazy combinations of plants and animals to planets and cave systems were placed by an algorithm and a random number generator. Still follow?

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Well, it means that the designers of this game built the seeds for many of the items and things you encounter in this game and then the algorithm randomizes all that information. It also means that this game was designed in a way that seems to be less rigorous than the traditional way games are currently made. Rather than having to model every single item and place it in a predetermined spot, the game’s algorithm does that itself. I’m sure some items were still tweaked even after the algorithm does its magic, but this is amazing to see in action. So case in point, you may run into fauna that has characteristics of a cow, but also has wings and a platypus like tail. This is truly ground breaking. I even ran into an animal that looked exactly like a T-Rex. You also get the ability to name every new discovery that you find; that means everything from planets to plants and animals. Seriously, has any other game tried this before and been able to successfully release their product? I personally haven’t heard of any game marketed this way to the general consumer. Now maybe your saying, Joey, I just want to play the game, who cares?

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This game is important for saving the single player genre on modern consoles. It also means that the player is treated to an experience that is very personal. Everything you encounter is randomized, so no two players “should” see the same flora or fauna or even planets and stars. In the first few hours after this games release, user’s found over a million different combinations of new plants and animals. Within 24 hours, there were over 10 million, yes, MILLION combinations.
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I also love this game because as stated above, this console cycle is all about the ‘SHARED EXPERIENCE’ and Multiplayer. Personally, I could give a crap about multiplayer experiences unless that is what the game is suppose to be doing: giving you a good multiplayer game. But in this case the designers of this game have built a universe so vast that it would take you till the end of time to see it all. Now, I typically don’t buy into pointless marketing, but after a few hours playing this game you truly do get a feeling that you could play this game forever.

Gameplay

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Well, to start out with, you explore! And exploration you shall have! Your player starts out on a planet after your ship has crashed and become inoperable. You will quickly pick up on how to scan, using the L3 button, for materials such as Plutonium to power your ship. With the help of your trusty Multi-Tool, you can then break down those materials from plants and rocks to create all new items to help you along your journey. After repairing your ship, the player can fly to different areas such as Colonial Outposts, Transmission Signals, and even giant ancient Monoliths.

I will say however, that your player tends to walk very slowly, and if you encounter things such as an ice storm, you’ll find that your jetpack doesn’t work as well in the cold temperatures. You can run, but you’ll need to upgrade your Exosuit with stamina schematics to really start making some tracks. I did find that you walk at such a snails pace in the beginning of the game that you should really just concentrate on upgrading and repairing your ship. Yes, it is important to upgrade your material slots to carry more items as you go, but seriously, walking around during the beginning part of the game became a bit monotonous.

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And. That is basically the core gameplay. Not really vast as the universe Hello Games has created, but this is primarily what you are doing. And yes, there are space battles as well, but I will detail that in just a moment. The player also has the choice between a predetermined Atlas path towards the center of the universe (which is your ultimate goal), or you can hop around to different star systems at random after you have fully upgraded your ship.

As you progress through the game, you’ll encounter multiple highly advanced alien races that can also help you along your journey by providing you with new schematics for building upgrades to your Exosuit, Spaceship and your Multi-Tool. The really fun part of this game is that as you learn more words from the Monoliths on each planet, the aliens that you speak with in the game will provide you with hints toward solving some conundrum for them. The more you help these aliens, the more they will reveal to you in terms of upgrades. I had a really fun time jumping from Monolith to Monolith just trying to reveal more of the Korvack language.

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Last but not least (not even in the slightest) is space travel and flying. I preordered the game so I got the special ship, however through bartering with other aliens at Colonial Outposts, you can trade up and get a better vehicle. I do want to say that there are some downsides to flying and space battles. You will constantly run out of fuel for your ship, and while their are upgrades to slow that pace, simply taking off from the ground will expel enough energy that you’ll need to make sure you are picking up Plutonium each time you land. A bit of a downside but not really the worst thing the game throws at you. Space battles themselves are fun, but they can get a bit annoying if you haven’t fully upgraded your ships’ shields. I think the main issue is there really isn’t a great way to turn the ship quickly unless you come to a complete stop and then speed back up. Honestly, whenever I get attacked by a group of pirates (which is usually after you break orbit from a planet) I just turn right back around and land on the same planet. Once you land, you can take back off again and once in space, the pirates will be gone (60% of the time)

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So, that’s pretty much it! I would say this game is best served when you really aren’t looking for a specific goal, the game leaves it up to you to draw your own conclusions and remember, this game is primarily about exploring. If you don’t want to do that, this isn’t the game for you.

Music and Sound

Really one of the coolest part of this game is the lovely synth music backing up the score of this game. If you have a chance to play this game, appreciate the amount of time these sound designers put into creating lovely futuristic sounding music and the freaky noises that the planets, space ships and animals create. Below you can watch my first play through with No Man’s Sky, feel free to skip around, it’s a long video:

Final Word

This game was for me, but it may not be for everyone. I’ll be honest, usually around about 4-6 hours of playing this game, I typically have had my fill. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t come back to it. I haven’t yet completed the main storyline (mostly because I realized early on that I switched my focus to star system hopping instead of focusing on the Atlas path) but I come back for the shear act of discovery. It’s awesome to be part of a large community of fans that love playing this game and love it simply for the idea of being the first to discover something. I also like the little addition of adding my name to something, knowing that my imprint on this game will live on for as long as the game is available.

Lastly, I want to state that the whole manufactured controversy of multiplayer not being in this game is stupid, it distracts from just enjoying what is already out there. And yes, Sean Murray did state on Colbert that we were suppose to see other players in the universe and those twitch streamers did prove that this wasn’t the case, but I don’t really see the issue with this. The game is primarily focused on you and you alone in the universe. You meet other alien races and animals and things you’ve never seen before. GET OVER IT! Not everything is about playing with your friends and needing to be validated by your existence in this game (or the actual world). And even if this was suppose to be in the game and isn’t now, eventually it will be (there was too much stupid backlash now for them to not be working on some solution).

Despite all of that, thepoorassgamer really thinks that you should give this game a shot.

Thoughts? Feel free to leave any comments below

-thepoorassgamer

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Games and Gimmicks, the podcast discussing Video Games, Professional Wrestling, and Everything In Between! Hosted by E_HUFFY and thepoorassgamer! Check us out! Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/gamesgmmicks Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gamesandgimmicks Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkfQuuwZgDYQk1ZUvatb6kA?view_as=public

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