This week, Link and Zelda fans rejoice as the Legend of Zelda symphony returns to Vancouver. Plus, some advice on whether you should get an Xbox One X. But first, Star Wars Battlefront II escapes the clutches of microtransactions.
Star Wars Battlefront II makes you feel like you're actually in Star Wars
It's damn hard to pilot a TIE fighter. It's something you get to do early on in the first-player story campaign of EA's Star Wars Battlefront II, and I kept crashing into things. Space, at least in Star Wars, is a very busy place.
You'll notice immediately just how full the screen is here. From one side to another, there is no area that lacks detail. The forest moon Endor, one of the settings for the game's multiplayer and where the story begins, is almost claustrophobic with flora.
The first Star Wars Battlefront, released just as the new film trilogy was kicking off in 2015, provided a genuine Star Wars experience. It really felt like you were in that universe and becoming those characters.
What that game lacked, though, was a story to play. And Star Wars is really all about the story.
Motive Studios, EA's facility in Montreal, was tasked with addressing that missing element for this sequel. In Battlefront II, players become Iden Versio, a special-forces commander for the Galactic Empire, with events picking up just as the battle on Endor—Return of the Jedi's story—concludes.
Flipping the perspective on an audience—making them become the enemy—is an interesting technique, especially in a video game where the audience is actively involved in what's happening.
And it's unnerving, at first, to be shooting rebels, because for decades that's who we've been siding with.
The problem with the single-player experience here is not the story; it's that the story is embedded in an environment that was created for multiplayer.
So you've got this incredible, vast space that you can't fully roam. As you try to flank the next group of soldiers, for example, you'll get a dramatic warning to return to the restricted area that bounds the single-player mode. It's jarring and completely shatters the immersion.
As for those microtransactions that everyone's been talking about, well those have been dropped. Whether they stay dropped is anyone's guess.
The damage that the transactional element really does to this experience is in how the game needed to be designed to accommodate those transactions. Just managing your character and your ship has become this crazy complicated thing with options and cards and boosts and all these configurations.
I just want to become a character in the world of Star Wars; why are you making it so difficult to do that?
Xbox One X really is the most advanced game console, but it's not for everyone
I am loving the Xbox One X. The industrial design of the new console from Microsoft, the third in the Xbox One lineup, is simple and elegant. It's loaded with processing and graphical power that you may or may notice, depending on your interest in such things.
Really, to take advantage of what the Xbox One X can deliver—4K resolution images and high-definition range—you need a television set that can also deliver those things. And the truth is that if you don't have that, there's no point in getting this new hardware. You can play all the same games on the Xbox One S, which is available in some bundles for less than $300.
But if you do have that kind of fancy screen in your house, or if you're planning on getting one, you will notice the difference in many of the games you'll be playing.
The PS4 Pro can also deliver these graphics, but the difference between the two consoles is that the Xbox One X can also do the same for 4K video, both streaming and Blu-ray (the PS4 does not support 4K Blu-ray).
The Xbox One X uses the same cables as the Xbox One S, so if you're upgrading from that earlier model you can just swap out the units. That's the kind of attention to detail that Microsoft has been accused of lacking in the past; it's a simple thing but it demonstrates that the company is actually thinking about its users.
The $600 price tag is high, but some of the 4K Blu-ray players in stores are priced nearly that high. With the Xbox One X you get all that and a device that can play all kinds of great games, too.
The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddess hits Vancouver
The Legend of Zelda symphonic experiences are unlike any other.
For one thing, the music being played isn't typical of a symphony orchestra. The melodies at this concert were created for a video game.
And while the music from the many video games is being played, images from the games are projected onto a screen.
Unlike more formal symphonic experiences that are quiet and staid, at the Zelda concerts audiences are encouraged to respond to the emotions that the music evokes in them. Concertgoers often dress in costume and it's not uncommon for them to cheer when they hear music that reminds them of iconic gaming moments.
The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddess plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Thursday, November 30. Tickets range from $73 to $115 and are available at Ticketmaster.
Games released or releasing
- Resident Evil Revelations Collection is soon available for the Nintendo Switch.
- Black Mirror is a point-and-click gothic horror experience from THQ Nordic for macOS, PS4, Windows, and Xbox One.
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2 features a new world to explore and new characters to play on the Nintendo Switch.