This Month In Gaming (July 2017)


I’ll start off by saying I completed a game this month; Yay me! That may not sound like a massive thing to most people, but I am famously bad for starting ALL THE GAMEZ and finishing none of them. The game in question was PS1 era FF VII, which is one of those “must play” titles if you’re a gamer. Don’t worry, I’ve not actually been playing it since the PS1 – although that would make its completion a little more monumental. Having now beat the game, I am left feeling a little lost without it. This happens to be quite a lot. It’s nice to reach that goal you were aiming for, but the fun is in the process of getting there, not in the destination; Life’s a journey.

Speaking of journeys, Pokemon Go got its UK release this month and, being a Pokemaniac, I was of course compelled to download it straight away. If you’re that one person that hasn’t got the game yet, here’s the deal: Pokemon GO (or “NO” as I refer to it, due to it’s broken overloaded servers) is google maps on your phone, but with a Pokemon theme over-lay. As you walk around the real world, phone in hand, your little Pokeman trainer avatar does the same on Poke-maps. If you look down on the map, you’ll see certain points of interest are “pokestops”, others are “Gyms” and then wild Pokemon will appear sporadically as you wander about. Get close enough to Pokestops and you can click them for items, close enough to Gyms and you can battle other Pokemon and close enough to Pokemon and you can catch them in Pokeballs via an “augmented reality” mini game – a term that sounds waaaaay cooler than it actually is.

Conceptually, I think it’s brilliant. None of the individual elements are particularly new or groundbreaking, but they’ve been brought together to make a type of game I’ve never seen before, and one that I think works really well…when it works. See, Pokemon Go is a great concept, and it seems millions of people agree – I’ve never witnessed such a phenomenon before. Everywhere I go I see people walking around with their phones out playing the game. I don’t mean in the way I might see someone else playing Clash of clans on the train and thinking “Oh cool, they play Clash as well”; I mean the fuckers are literally everywhere. It’s had widespread success and it would seem that this success is taking it’s toll on the servers.

As it stands, Pokemon Go is unfortunately a buggy mess. I am assuming here that it is down to sheer numbers, but it’s very unreliable and this in-turn is very frustrating. Seeing as it’s a free application I can’t get too mad about it, but I’ve already considered removing it a few times just from sheer annoyance. The other big negative is how much battery it uses. My poor phone battery already gets a bit of a hammering as I’m on it constantly, but Pokemon Go really drinks the juice. Reports suggest about 40% of your battery for 1 hour of gaming, which is a little disturbing. With it sucking you dry like the worlds most over-zealous hooker, Pokemon Go is a bit problematic as a mobile game. It may make walking more fun, but you’re going to want to make sure your destination is somewhere you can charge your phone when you get there or you’ll need to invest in one of those mobile power packs to recharge on the go.

As I say; the concept is great, and it makes walking much more interesting, but I fear the game could ultimately be as short-lived as your phones battery. The battle mechanics at gyms is far too simplistic and buggy, making them a bit of a let down. It’s worth taking on gyms for the reward in gold coins, but not for the entertaining gameplay. If there is to be any long term appeal, it will come from trying to collect the full set of Pokemon – other than that, the game is going to need a major overhaul in later updates to really revise battling, bringing it more inline with the source material. A tactical turn-based system could add some much needed depth and even the playing field a little. As it stands, the only real tactic is to level up the highest CP (combat power) Pokemon you can muster and just hammer away with attacks.

Overall, Pokemon Go is a bit of a mixed bag. Fun, exciting and interesting at first, but quickly reveals its complete lack of depth. The competitive nature of trying to find more than your mates, or have the strongest Pokemon will certainly hook many, but for others, it will simply remain as something to enhance the walk to work: I personally won’t be dedicating my evenings to playing it.