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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (442)

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Celeste 4.5/5
Dark Quest 2 3/5
Just Cause 3 3.5/5
Guacamelee! 2 4/5
The Incredible Adventur... 4/5
Rise of the Tomb Raider 4/5
Dead Rising 3 4/5
Layers of Fear 3.5/5
Prey 3/5
Zero-K 2/5
Tales from the Borderla... 4/5
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 4.5/5
Hammerwatch 3/5
AereA 1/5
Divinity: Original Sin 4.5/5
The Yawhg 4/5
Sword Coast Legends 3.5/5
Spelunky 2.5/5
We Are the Dwarves 1/5
Seiken Densetsu 3 ( Sec... 2.5/5
No Man's Sky 3.5/5
Shadow Warrior 2 3.5/5
Foto Flash 3.5/5
Warhammer: End Times - ... 3/5
Windward 3.5/5

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No Man's Sky   PlayStation 4 

Two Years Later, It's Nearly There!    3.5/5 stars

Hello Games, and company director Sean Murray promised a lot of things into the release of No Man's Sky. When the game was released, it was immediately hit by a wave of angry gamers, rightfully pissed off about a wide range of missing features (including multiplayer) that were long promised. After several updates, the No Man's Sky of today is very different than the No Man's Sky of release. While it doesn't fix the anger and issues, it is a much better game, but still not quite the original game that was advertised.

Presentation: No Man's Sky looks beautiful - though that wasn't always the case. Originally, the game was rather drab, with brown and rocky being the most defining feature. Sure, there were plenty of creatures, but many complained that the variety wasn't nearly as impressive as promised, especially in regards to giant creatures. There were also complaints the aliens were generic, as well as the buildings and even the ship design. Over the past two years, Hello Games has done a good job of updating many aspects of the game, including the look. Now you have many-hued planets from vibrant red to deep purple. Even the grass looks lush. There is more vegetation, a greater variety of creatures and everything just looks much more polished. While the buildings are still quite utilitarian, at least they made the aliens a bit more animated (even adding a whole other race to the mix).

The main character is of the quiet protagonist variety - in that no voice. Alien species do talk, but since they're alien all you hear is guttural growls or raspy groans. The game is text-based and in order to understand each species, it is required that you find stones scattered across worlds that unlock words for each of the species: the trade race of the lizard-like Gek (who also communicate by pheromones), the scientific race of artificial Korvax (who all share a collective mind ala Borg - though not as evil) and the war-like monster Vy'keen (it's no coincidence the name resemble Viking). THough Monoliths (also scattered about planets) you can learn the history of these races (short story - each race are kind of dicks), as well as unlock words to the Atlas - an all-encompassing god-like presences that has scattered Sentinels along every planet and whose voice you follow throughout the game in order to reach the center of the universe. The music is calm and subdued - perfect for exploration and perfectly suited for the game, though not memorable in the slightest.

Story: The game begins with your characters (dubbed The Traveler) awaking on a random planet, their ship damaged. A being known as Atlas contacts them, telling them how to repair their suit and ship and travel beyond. This Atlas beckons the player to explore, gathering knowledge of the various alien species while making their way to the center of the universe. Early on, players will also encounter a pair of aliens, Nada and Polo, who seem to have a deeper understanding of the universe than the other aliens as well as giving the Traveler a choice of following the Atlas or using a black hole to take a short-cut to the center of the galaxy. As the player travels from world to world, they will learn the history of the alien races, as well as improve their ship, suit and exo-tool and even build a home base or purchase a massive freighter if they choose. The story, however, is really secondary to exploration as the planets, from frigid ice to scorching deserts, are teeming with creatures both benign and dangerous, plants and minerals to harvest and secrets to discover. One could spend hours exploring a single planet, and each system houses several planets and moons (as well as a space station). Updates that have been released give the ability to build a home base, various vehicles as well as take on individual missions while also expanding the story to something a bit more deep. It's not perfect, but it is an improvement.

Gameplay: No Man's Sky is a solitary experience. Despite the promise of multiplayer, the closest one can get is to take on exploration with other people (who appear as glowing balls rather than actual people) - up to 16, but it's not really true multiplayer. Most of the game is hopping from planet to planet, looking for strange lifeforms, harvesting material, finding blueprints to upgrade your suit and exo-tool and ship, surviving and learning about the aliens. Each (living) planet is littered with various places: there are massive bases you can land your ship, trade and take on missions, crashed ships that will reward (or punish you) with units (the currency) or even upgrades and even the ability to take the ship as your own (I was incredibly lucky to stumble on a great ship - completely by random, early in the game and I have stuck with it ever since), there are abandoned bases where the music turns creepy and you find long-lost messages that are Outer Limits-level disturbing (though they do repeat), small outposts, underground cave systems, oceans, monoliths that give you information about the alien races and even massive crashed freighters (released with an update). Planets can have be sparsely populated or just dotted with buildings everywhere. You can name almost everything: creatures, plants, way stations, planets and even systems (provided you discover them first). And while there was some discussion of the game wiping your saved discoveries, as far as I know all the ones I have discovered have remained (aside from some changes that may have been brought on by the various updates). Even if no one else ever sees them, they're all mine.

Planets can be varied, one can be frozen, another have literal fire storms, another acidic toxicity or some may have mad Sentinels that will attack you on site. Every so often, however, you'll find a near-perfect planet - no storms, no hostile creatures, standard Sentinels - and, if you so choose, can make this your "home" base. This allows you to build a base, recruit aliens to help you out and open up the ability to build exocraft (vehicles) and even take on missions that give you better equipment and warp drives. I spent a lot of time wondering when I was going to get the blueprint in order to harvest the materials need to build a bigger and better warp drive only to find out that the only way to get that was to build a home base. Thus, the reason I have never technically got the "end" game (center of the universe) is because I burnt myself out looking for something I could have built a long time ago. I may go back one day, but for now I'm content where I stand.

Replayability: The game essentially resets itself when you reach the end, and with the near-limited amount of procedurally-generated planets, you're not going to run out of places to explore. That being said, even with the improvements it still gets rather repetitive and even for someone who likes to name every weird creature and plant and planet, it does get old.

Overall: No Man's Sky has come a long way since its (rightfully) troubled launch. Even so, it is still not the game that was promised - close but no cigar (yet).

Presentation: 4/5
Story: 3/5
Gameplay: 3/5
Replayability: 4/5
Overall (not an average): 3.5/5

 

 


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Nelson Schneider

Nelson Schneider- wrote on 05/07/18 at 02:08 PM CT

 

I'm not quite sure how a mediocre story and mediocre gameplay manage to reach "good" status just because the product looks alright.

 
 
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