gaming

Microsoft Xbox One X: Best of Both Worlds?…

Microsoft Xbox One X: Best of Both Worlds?…

Has the Xbox always been the best of both worlds in regards to gaming PC and console gaming?

The original Xbox came through with more than a splash – it came through with a wave of power. The big powerful console was the closest a console could be to a gaming PC at the time, which allowed console gamers to feel competent when in conversation with a PC gamers debate. PC gamers will highlight that they have always been and will always remain ahead of the console market. We all understand that but gamers buy consoles for different reasons and the Xbox brought power to the console market not yet seen before as well as the ability to play music whilst gaming.

Yes playing music whilst gaming was massive for console gamers back in the early 2000s when this was yet to come to console games. A controller, that for many was the revered controller as a slightly heavier, slightly chunkier design and feel. Which for me was reminiscent of the infamous Dreamcast, which I lost many hours playing Sonic Adventure. But for me, the number one thing that impacted me and my view of gaming, the flourishing industry and what helped contribute to a heightened love for gaming, was the moment I was enchanted by Halo.

I have to thank Microsoft and Bungie for that moment. I first played Halo with my friend Connor when we were the tender age of 11, cruising along Friar St and rolling into the then HMV store. We were fortunate, two little boys rolling into the store and being pleasantly surprised that the Xbox had no queue. As most parents will attest too, Gaming consoles are like magnets for children, and for us, this was the new Xbox we had heard so much about. So we jumped on Halo, and I and Connor had spent over 4 hours glued to the spot playing through the story of Halo: Combat Evolved – making the most of our half day.

Yes, this was when in-person co-op (sofa play) was still prevalent. (Industry professionals, please don’t ever relieve us of this joy. Thank you.) The game was truly enchanting, the graphics, the aesthetics were stunning – better than what I was used to at the time. The mechanics and physics of the game, the story and a soundtrack which resonates with my ears like the Star Wars anthem. This immediately endeared to the console, along with the built-in ‘multi-tap’ allowing 4 players to immediately play.

The built-in hard drive which at the time was equivalent to your Dropbox or cloud storage because space seemed limitless. School home and Xbox was the routine for a very long time. I got right into Splinter Cell, Half-Life 2, Star Wars: Republic Commando, Def Jam Fight for NY, Burnout Takedown, Fable and for me one of my favourites franchises to this day, Rainbow Six. For those who don’t recall, there was much life in the franchise before the critically acclaimed Rainbow Six Siege. The tactical shooter was a far cry from the wet n wild style shooters I was used to, and it quickly engaged me.

Splinter Cell was one of my favourites after Halo, lurking in the shadows and using real precision and tactics drew me in. The realistic quality of the graphics again reflected the power of the Xbox. As I write this it dawns on me that a lot of my favourite franchise today actually started out life on the Xbox, such as Splinter Cell and Rainbow Six.

The Xbox 360 also stormed into the world in 2005, peacocking with graphics that console gamers had yet been blessed with. I remember King Kong being one of the launch titles to run in tandem with the movie release and being inspired by how amazing the lighting, weather effects and the fur of animals within the game looked.

Then, of course, brought the next wave of Halo games, since the evergreen classics such as Mario and Crash Bandicoot as a child, there hasn’t been a game franchise which has intensified by admiration for gaming like the Halo series. I won’t get into the debate of which is the best one, but for me, the first two were my favourite and the one I dedicated the most time to as a carefree teen. Classics such as Red Dead Redemption which has left a highly anticipated buzz around the sequels release Red Dead Redemption 2 later this year, was accompanied by games such Bioshock, Mass Effect 2, Fallout 3, The Orange Box and Burnout Paradise.

Could it be an Xbox tribute without mentioning Left 4 Dead and most importantly Gears of War? Gears of War was for me the first game which brought a truly cinematic feel to gaming just through movement and mechanics alone, let alone a gripping story and relatable and enthralling. I remember first running a mission and the feeling on the pad and the movement of the camera added to the immersive feeling I believe they were trying to create and succeeded in doing so. The physics in the game were heightened at this period, and no other games were close.

Then came the horsepower of Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One X. Focusing on the ‘X’, Xbox has again released an ultra-powerful console which not only boasts raw horsepower, it has unrivalled online capabilities and matchmaking prowess, which is expected being born of tech and computer heavyweight Microsoft. As cloud gaming becomes more prevalent and gaming SaaS (software as a service) continues to rise, the cloud prowess and hardware expertise could see Xbox fair extremely well.

The backwards compatibility of the console is always a positive, as many gamers (and buying family and friends) appreciate all of those old games not becoming obsolete or downtrodden as the new console is out. The controller is meaty, just as many gamers like it and not only is the hardware powerful, the UI and UX of the Xbox are so sleek, so smooth, so fast it’s like drifting around on Forza Horizon in a Ferrari 458 Italia. With ironclad exclusive franchises in the light of Halo, Gears of War, Forza, Dead Rising, Quantum Break and more, we eagerly anticipate more top exclusives entering the party this year with Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2, The Last Night and a game to adventure exploration days, the Sea of Thieves! Just like Sony PlayStation and Nintendo, we’re super grateful for all the quality contributions of Microsoft Xbox to the industry.

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Is Sony PlayStation at the Heart of the Gaming Industry?

Is Sony PlayStation at the Heart of the Gaming Industry?

We didn’t want to leave anyone out with our blog post on why we all adore Nintendo. We have a lot of love to go around, and the PlayStation brand is also at the heart of the industry and for myself personally, my childhood. The PS1 startup sound is a melody that evokes sweet memories of the excitement when the classic PlayStation logo would load up on our humble sized screen. The games as a child that I would play with my sister and would be brother Jahv, would include games such as Donald Duck: Quack Attack, Tekken, Pandemonium, Spyro The Dragon and of course the infamous Crash Bandicoot — the true PlayStation mascot.

Now PlayStation, you remastered Crash Bandicoot after many years, please grace us with a remaster and continuation of Spyro The Dragon and Quack Attack. But this article would not be complete without me mentioning our love of Worms! Worms — the very simple 2D level game, wherein simple terms we would destroy opposing teams of worms in the most fun and creative ways (please go watch gameplay footage on YouTube as my synopsis is not enough justice for the game). There were many hours where myself and family would blowtorch and ninja rope across the maps, just to execute the most embarrassing and humorous kills such as the Street Fighter Ryu influenced uppercut or push if they were near the edge. Sometimes it resulted in Kamikaze, but that was part of the all loving process. Not to forget the infamous sheep…Thank you Team 17.

Coming out after the NES and the SNES, the PS1 caught me in a slightly more mature stage of childhood (5 years young) and I united with the brand ever since. As time went on, more and more classic games entered the foray such as Gran Turismo, Porsche Challenge and longtime favourite Spider-Man games. Then there were the games that also consumed many hours such as Crash Team Racing and Driver.

Upon reflection, as I write this, I think I was too young for Driver, and I most certainly was too scared to play Resident Evil when my cousin (whom I shall not name) would try to leave me to play that alone, at night as a child. I wouldn’t even do that now as an adult. Some games you don’t always play but you take solace in watching others play, and for me, Tomb Raider was one of those I would watch my dad play. The legendary Lucozade advert with Lara Croft in always comes to mind –
phenomenal marketing. The fact I remember the advert after decades, literally as it came out in 1998.

But beyond the PS1, we stepped into the era of the PS2, which for me was the best era of gaming so far for me, in terms of the number of great quality content titles we had to choose from. Many gamers would argue that today we have the best games, well I am not saying that the games today are not epic they are, in terms of gameplay, graphics, audio, story, integration, gaming as a service, online and more.

I just feel like we had even more options in the era of the PS2, this was heightened with brilliant of both the original Xbox (Halo etc) and the Nintendo Gamecube (Mario Kart Double Dash, Super Smash Bros Melee, Super Mario Sunshine etc). It’s similar to mobile phones, back in 2005 there would always be at least 5–8 great phones you would consider to buy if not more, and nowadays we have like 1–3 phones, for some just 1 great phone option. So I am talking about depth and width in terms of game quality in that era, as opposed to today where I feel we don’t have as much width, but still quality, understandably. We will discuss that another time.

I don’t have enough space to write all the PS2 classics and sequels from Final Fantasy XII, Gran Turismo 3, Kingdom Hearts 2, the Prince of Persia Trilogy, Splinter Cell, GTA III, GTA Vice City, GTA San Andreas Jak and Daxter, Tekken 5, Star Wars Battlefront 2, Dragonball Z Budokai 2, Need for Speed Underground 2, Ratchet and Clank, Tony Hawk’s 3, God of War, MGS 2 and a whole lot more. But this console and that entire era were pivotal to console gaming. The PS3 followed up with its own terrific library of games, and free online gameplay which resulted in many hours of me running around as a one-man SWOT team on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Then one of my favourite game sagas in ‘Infamous’ was released on this console, which has gone from strength to strength since. You had the multi-award-winning cinematic The Last of Us, which was so emotive and successful it was quickly released on PS4 too upon launch. With the sequel one of the most anticipated games this year. Fallout 3, Little Big Planet, Call of Duty Black Ops 1, 2 & 3, GTA V, Red Dead Redemption, Skyrim, COD Modern Warfare and 3, Assasins Creed franchise was born and a whole host more.

Fast forwarding to 2018 and PlayStation’s slogan is ‘This is for The Players’ and it is hard to disagree with this statement. Steaming into 2018 with an already solid PS4 exclusive catalogue, we are fortunate to already have Infamous Second Son, Street Fighter 5, Nioh, Horizon: Zero Dawn, which is such a beautiful game, truly stunning with an enthralling storyline. The Last Guardian, Uncharted 4, which, like The Last of Us is cinematic in quality, which comes as standard from majestically blessed Naughty Dog. Naughty Dog always had my affection since the days of Crash Bandicoot in the 90s.

This all seems to be the warm-up for PlayStation because just this year we have Spider-Man, Detroit: Become Human, God of War, Days Gone, Death Stranding, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Shadow of Colossus and of course The Last of Us Part II. This isn’t even all of their exclusives, they are just churning out high-quality exclusives like Drake in music. It feels like a warm-up, just like Aubameyang’s debut goal for Arsenal today. But for all of us gaming fans, whether we are fangirls or fanboys, we gamers are favoured with many special games. Long may it continue, as the industry needs competition. Thank you, Sony PlayStation.

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From Music with Love…

From Music with Love…

Hello, hello, hello,

Firstly, please accept our sincere apologies for the long hiatus. We were doing a lot of things behind the scene and we forgot to share or my personal favourite, document the journey we were on. (Anyone who is a Gary Vee fan will know about the document vs create). Last year was particularly fun, with an artist we represent called Stoner has been on a nationwide tour with UK heavyweight rapper Giggs, and working alongside another UK star in Tinie Tempah in the Chasing Flies music video.

We worked alongside the BBC, in both radio and TV broadcasts (which was a bit surreal), were planning things with a lot of big brands and even plotting away with Reading Football Club, The Voice and International Music festivals. With the crescendo being when Stoner was so kindly welcomed to become part of the Grime Live 3 showing alongside top artists in the scene such as Chip, Not3s, Big Narstie, P Money, Fekky, Lotto Boyz, Devlin, Big Tobz and Rude Kid down at the O2 Indigo last November.

Unfortunately, Stoner was unable to perform due to mitigating circumstances. But for all the fun of the past few years and all the amazing people, we have met along the way, especially people like Matthew. Shout out Matthew, Creating Monsters and the Grime Live movement, Buck, Giggs, Tinie Tempah, Disturbing London, Streaming Tank and everyone we have worked with closely.

Despite all this love and steady progression and some other cool things which I can’t really disclose on here, the team were still yearning. What were we yearning for? Gaming. Music is fun, and we will always love music. Music is the universal language that connects us all. I personally don’t start my day without music and for anyone who knows me, should know I go from Ed Sheeran to Wizkid, to J Hus in my performances – mood dependent. But the vast majority of the team stem from a gaming background.

Being games technology and mathematics graduates and what my sister would call me ‘a neek’, the team have experience and understanding in games programming, art, 3D animation, storytelling, maths, physics, gaming business, music and design. In addition to a dash of business acumen, web development, graphic design and games retail experience, we are pretty rounded for the gaming world. Crucially though, we adore gaming.

Now it seems a bit counterintuitive right? To stop when working with and connecting to international artists such as the above, especially when some of the team met Drake, thanks to Giggs inviting Stoner to Reading Festival 2017. Well, I try to (and the team tries) to live in a way where we minimise regrets in all areas of life. We felt that this was the right thing to do for various reasons. So after we got over the heartbreak of this (and for me, literal heartbreak) we decided to start making our own indie games, hosting intimate eSports events and producing gaming content.

Now do not expect our games to be Rainbow Six Siege, Overwatch, Fifa, League of Legends or Call of Duty – Triple-A titles; but can we strive for a Flappy Birds, Angry Birds, Temple Run or Candy Crush? Hmm, my team would say let’s cool it for now. I am always the overzealous one, the eternal optimist. But we will try, and we will be releasing them shortly.

In conjunction, we will be releasing gaming opinion, news, trends and documentation of our game development process and the really exciting part,  our aspiring eSports events. Gaming will soon be in the Olympics, it has been coming for many years, but our aim is to host intimate local eSports gaming events of the biggest and most popular gaming franchises in the world. (No, we are not trying to be EGX, Insomnia or Gamescom.) So the aforementioned Overwatch’s, FIFA’s, Destiny 2, League of Legends, Rainbow Six Siege, Mario Kart and the likes of the world.

This journey we have begun, we cannot speak on our progress as of yet, but there are some exciting things in the works. But hopefully, we can cultivate the same beautiful relationships within the gaming industry as we have in the music industry. Are we completely done with the music industry? Not necessarily, there will be members of the team or partners who occasionally do work within music, it may just be behind the scenes or under a separate brand. We still get asked about live streaming, so do not be surprised if a separate entity is formed and a team dedicated to music begins. But for everyone in the current Mavreel team. Gaming is the goal. Gaming is the motive. Love.

We want to especially thank everyone who has worked with us so far on the journey and going forward we would like to better document the journey that we have been blessed with so far. We may also showcase some of our journey up until this point so far.

Thank you for reading.

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