Outlast: Whistleblower Review

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Outlast: Whistleblower

Reviewed on the Playstation 4

Also Available on PC

Developed and Published by: Red Barrels

Whistleblower is the first, and maybe only piece of DLC that has been released by Red Barrels for their first person horror survival game- Outlast. Outlast was originally released on the PC and released on the PS4 back in February as part of  the Playstation Plus Instant game collection. In case you haven’t played through this yet you can read my thoughts and review of it here.

This story based DLC is a prequel to Outlast. It allows you to briefly see the Asylum in its pre breakout state as you play the part of, as the title states- a whistleblower named Waylon Park. He was the anonymous worker who tipped off Miles Upshur leading him to investigate the Mount Massive Asylum and of course the shady Murkoff corporation running it. Seeing the Asylum before all hell broke loose is a nice and very interesting change of pace to the rest of the game, sadly though you don’t get too long to see it like this, before you are admitted as a patient against your will.

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First of all I have to state that Whistleblower plays exactly the same as the main game, early on you will find a camera to record what is unfolding around you and just like before it has an eerie night vision mode. The night vision ramps up the suspense as you creep around avoiding the inmates who want to make you their latest victim or work of art. Despite Waylon not being a reporter he will make notes about what he records just like Miles. It would have been nice to see a difference between how the different characters play, as in reality it could well be the same person. You quickly forget that you are supposed to be playing the part of a tech assistant who was actually working at the Asylum before the outbreak.

The asylum is once again brought to life very well, you will visit a few areas that you will be familiar with, but there are enough new areas to make the game feel fresh. I did notice that the enemies you will face are slightly different. Many more of your pursuers will be equipped with various weapons, this goes a little way to showing why you are incapable of fighting back as in the original. I found it weird that you would not even try to hit back against enemies that were no bigger than yourself. It was still strange though, running past a corpse of a guard and not being able to try their radio , pick up their gun or even just search them to see if they have anything useful as surely this would be the first thing you would do in this scenario.

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The various stages of Whistleblower do seem to have a better layout with more areas to hide away from your would-be killers and, apart from a couple of occasions, it seemed less mazy and confusing. You will still get the hugely frustrating parts where it feels like you are just playing a game of trial and error, especially towards the end of the game. It just isn’t clear what sections you can go through and also when you are well hidden or not.

If you are hoping that this trip to the asylum will be less harrowing and graphic, then you will be disappointed. This game ramps up the gore and in fact includes some of the most graphic and intense scenes I have ever seen in a video game. It can be genuinely terrifying, a fun horror game this is not. These scenes carry more weight due to how convincing the various inmates you encounter have been realised. Just like in the original title you do feel convinced that these are the sort of characters you would find in such an asylum as this, hopefully though I will never find out.

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If you enjoyed the main game and wanted to learn more about the story, then you will enjoy Whistleblower. It ties in perfectly with the original game as it is set both before and after the events of Miles. The end of Whistleblower tying perfectly into the ending of Outlast. Make no mistake though, this game has all of the flaws of the original and I did lose the fear factor towards the end of the game, as I felt I had seen all of the scares before and was growing tired of some of the unforgiving trial and error sections. Due to this I feel that Red Barrels have done enough now with this version of Outlast, it took me around 2 hours to complete any longer and it would have completely lost the suspense and terror that makes the game what it is.

A good bit of DLC that adds more to the story and also to the gore but adds absolutely nothing to the game play and I fear removes some of the terror generated first time round.

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Microtransactions: Nothing New? Time For You To Grow Up and Get Over Them?

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I have to start this off by stating that I am of an age to have grown up with more primitive games and also grown up with the many changes that have occurred as this industry has grown. The first taste of gaming I had was on a ZX Spectrum, it had the light gun that was ground breaking when I used it on a massive (for the time) 14 inch TV. This was a period of time when gaming was only just breaking into the living room. If you were serious about getting the best graphics, the latest titles and showing off your highest scores, you had to hit the arcades and make sure you took plenty of change to pay for it.

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I have always been of the opinion that micro transactions have always been a part of video games, the difference is that now instead of physically going out to the local arcade with your mates and sinking 50p’s into the latest racer or light gun game, we are being asked to just enter our bank card details into our phones and home consoles. This for me is where the similarities end. In the past you were paying the premium to play the latest games in the arcade as they just weren’t available in your home. Just like going to the cinema today to watch the latest blockbuster, you know you won’t be able to watch it in your own living room for a few months and when you do it is unlikely to be on such a big screen. This is the premium you pay to watch it first and this was how video games worked in the past.

Arcades are pretty much long dead and wont be making a return on a large scale across the country. Where we once gladly paid a premium to play games that looked light years ahead of what we could play at home. Now we are being asked to do this in our own home and on our very own consoles, tablets and phones. From what the numbers are saying many people are, but why?

Games are now released on virtually any device with a screen, from the latest ‘AAA’ titles on our consoles or PC’s to a quick time wasting game to help our journeys go faster on our phones. The traditional home release sees a one off payment to purchase the title, this is what I am used to, I call this the traditional way to game. This generally has the highest start up cost, around £40 for a new release. The newer ‘mini’ game approach used primarily by iOS and Android capable devices sees a much smaller and sometimes free initial cost. This can then allows the player to upgrade or advance through the game through the old way of grinding, or by now buying their way through the levels or rankings, of course there are a few games that use both elements.

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I personally don’t have a huge problem with the current wave of games that use micro transactions. We have all heard the horror stories reported in the media of kids racking up huge bills on their parents iPad, after buying endless numbers of coins of power-ups- but these are by and large in the minority. The majority of these games state up front and very clearly that micro transactions can be used to help you get through the game, some people just don’t have the time to grind through levels and are quite happy to spend a bit of money to speed up the story.

I do however have a big problem with games that are released as full priced games, such as Ryse that was a release title on the Xbox One. Ryse allowed players to upgrade their online character to get ahead of the game, this in my opinion is wrong. Competitive online games should have absolutely no micro transactions that allow people to buy their way up the rankings. There is no fairness and it takes the competitiveness completely out of the game. This of course on top of the £40 you already paid to buy the title.

Imagine being in the arcade and playing Mortal Kombat against someone who put in an extra pound to get double damage? It just isn’t fair and more importantly it takes all the enjoyment out of it. This type of micro transaction does just feel cheap and as though someone, either the developer or publisher, is milking the customer for everything they can get. Worryingly many people are allowing that to happen.

I personally have never used them, but I feel that is likely because of how I have grown up with games in the home and I have always taken the learning curve as part of playing the game. Difficulty in modern games is another article for another time though. I have never fully enjoyed a game that is easy to complete, part of the fun is overcoming the challenge. The journey to the end is normally far better than the actual end. I don’t play games just to complete them I play them to experience everything that they have to offer, with this in mind, I can’t help but feel that by allowing people to buy their way through the game, they are surely missing out on the actual experience of playing it?

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I have already stated that I feel as though micro transactions have always been a part of gaming, I personally don’t understand why people are happy paying a premium for something that isn’t worth paying more for. Unlike in the past you aren’t playing a far superior version of the game you can’t get elsewhere, you are playing the same game you are just making your version more expensive than mine.

One thing is for sure though, if you don’t want them to be the future then just don’t buy them. This whole industry, like most, is driven by consumer demand. If people don’t buy early access cars in Gran Turismo for more than the cost of the actual game, instead of unlocking them the old fashioned way, then the developers won’t bother putting them in. It really is as simple as that. I don’t support them so I don’t buy them. I like to know how much my game is going to cost upfront, but maybe I am just behind the times. So what do you think, do you mind them in your games, do you play them?