Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Horizon Zero Dawn Review



Long ago, in a far distant future, this could be the opening words of Horizon Zero Dawn. The last evidence of previous civilizations are dated to 2066, after which nature has reclaimed the world around them and the metal has ceased to exist as we know, were born from the tribe almost primordial beliefs and customs, dominated by superstition.

One can also see evidence of the past, from the presence of machines, robotic creatures resembling animals that act on their own, while a kind of corruption is spreading and bandits are willing to do anything they want, to impose their own domain in the form of slavery.

Then there is the main protagonist, Aloy, which will follow the path in search of answers, those on birth and on the same machines. This is all I will tell you about the history of Horizon Zero Dawn, the title of Guerrilla Games that we've already got to try on so many occasions, the last in order of time during our visit to the headquarters of the Dutch developer.

As for the version that will hit stores, we had ten days to actually comb through the features of the title: the videos more body will arrive in about a week, at maturity an additional embargo, in the meantime, make yourself comfortable in reading what are the points of strengths, and weaknesses, on the entry of the creators of Killzone in the open world of the world.

Like any self-respecting title like that, Horizon Zero Dawn part plan, introducing the game dynamics and the shape of the map, thanks to missions that allow you to experience the stealth phase, direct clashes and the close encounter with the first cars. Each has a metal coating able to ensure protection, as well as behavior and a different mode of attack with specific weak points, represented for example by a circuit that governs the distance shots, a flush tank (flammable liquid) and a control unit for activate the radar.

After a handful of missions meet more complex robots: to get the better so you need to exploit weaknesses and maybe turn off the most hazardous components, so as to face the rest of the clash in the best way possible. Just the dualism between Aloy and machines is the most successful part of its excellent combat system.

In this case you can take advantage of the high grass for silent deletions or face the most impressive machines through epic battles, never banal; the challenge level is always quite rewarding during the dozens of hours of gameplay offered by Horizon Zero Dawn.

The robotic creatures, however, represent only a piece in the entire story because bandits and other human power hungry players are able to turn the tide of history and harness the machines at will. In relation to this, there are several missions that require you to interact with other people or address them as antagonistic, not only during the main missions, but also in secondary activities of outposts liberation.

In this case the stealth approach is the one that pays the most, because it is very populated settlements; in the unfortunate event of being caught, the general entertainment suffers a backlash, since the clashes are less exciting and artificial intelligence manifests its shortcomings to a greater extent.

There are some situations, in fact, in which you deal with this type of missions along with a companion, and things get even more coarse because his presence is ignored completely by the opponents, at least until Aloy is discovered and part of the head to head. A kind of syndrome to The Last of Us, we would say, but fortunately the variety of situations means that such moments are only a small factor in the general economy of the experience, and when the AI does not excel ever particularly even during clashes with machines the pleasure of using the Aloy arsenal, as well as the skills required to win, largely to make up for these problems, giving immersive combat.

The faithful companion of the protagonist is the bow, which can be upgraded or exchanged for a better version; no shortage variants in the form of flaming arrows, as well as gadgets like the slingshot, crossbow to create elementals and other gizmos traps that can be purchased from merchants scattered across the map exploiting elements and weapons capable of generating a wave impact lets you take advantage of the weaknesses of each opponent.

With the circle button it makes the dodge, jump with X; the triangle allows you to interact with objects and collect resources, L3 to run and digital cross to use healing items and offense. L1, finally, leads to the weapon wheel without going to break, but slowing down the time to allow the correct selection or creation of "ammunition": the accumulated resources (or purchased) serve precisely to provide independently all it takes for the support of the main protagonist.

Another very important item is the Focus, which is activated by means of R3: in this way you can locate enemies through obstacles, mark them with a triangle, highlight their route in order to take them by surprise; in the case of machines highlight the weak points on which to focus their firepower. The scanner becomes absolutely vital when you arrive in a new outpost populated by bandits or corrupt machines, need to avoid rushing headlong in the clash exponentially increasing the difficulty.

The genus belongs to Horizon Zero Dawn is positioned within the action RPG, with the first component very strong, as evidenced, flanked by an RPG full-bodied but not as complex and deep as the leading exponents of the genre. The red-haired heroine can advance level by improving its own energy, also it has three branches skills - predator, bold, picker within which spending to developing athletic and functional characteristics.

We then weapons and equipment of different rarities, with modifications slot capable of altering such resistance or elemental attacks. And yet, the main and secondary missions, specific committees and liberations of outposts, machines Collolungo to climb to unlock the points of interest in the surrounding area, by way of Far Cry. In short, the basis of the RPG are all there, just that they are less deep or reduced by the quantitative point of view, closer to those of Ubisoft titles to classics such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and The Witcher 3.

The overall economy, however, do their homework because they do not inundate the player with a huge amount of stuff to do similar, but are engaged in a constant narrative progression, alternating from exploration and fighting for a result from our point of view balanced and not too tight. No doubt there are repetitive sessions - the idea of the outposts was bored enough - but when playing Dawn Horizon Zero you can feel a sense of discovery and constant innovations, synonymous with a great job used by developers in an effort to mitigate déjà vu or sections identical.

We particularly liked the moment when, after a specific mission, the game world is open completely, allowing the protagonist to explore the entire map. To make you understand our feelings we make a bold comparison with Hokuto no Ken when it comes to the island of demons, the first impact is brutal.

We meet at least four types of extremely unpublished machines and there is a feeling of enormous danger and in the meantime you can appreciate new views absolutely inspired by the visual point of view. Or even the way which allows to reach the first great city of the game, while on the side there is a boundless desert setting and the other meets the first, enormous mechanical beast and hard to break down.

We played Horizon for 36 hours, making about 80% of total assets. You can also continue after finishing the main story, in order to complete the rest of the missions and the collection of collectible. Four, from easy to very difficult, available immediately. Increasing the level recorded mainly on the damage done by enemies, not on artificial intelligence. No, not even related to the brightness: the game part in HDR and 4K depending on the type of connected TV.

Aloy can create everything in autonomy starting from ammunition up to the insertion of the changes in weapons and equipment, as long as you gather resources even from carcasses by enemies, some of whom also available at the merchants.

The main story of Horizon Zero Dawn is quite fascinating, as it leads the player to address the root causes of Aloy, learn new information about the past civilizations thanks to glyphs and other objects identified by the Focus discover the genesis of the machines and bring at the same time forward several nontrivial secondary missions, which are developed in several steps. The game board among others is very well reproduced in the main menu. From the top in three dimensions, it is large enough to offer a variety not only visual, but also to fauna.

We counted 25 different types of machines, together with humans and some animals to hunt to recover material relevant for merchants. While browsing, you can find viewpoints, ancient artifacts, metal flowers. Do not expect many cities with important dimensions but rather different outposts and settlements that serve as support to key places in terms of history.

This does not translate into the presence of large gaps with a few things to do, because often there are mountains, hills, ups and downs, forests, in short, an excellent density of vegetation; especially so many areas populated by robotic herds.

In addition to the surface elements are bunkers to explore and cauldrons, as harbingers of classic dungeon levels of technology "alien", often manned by generously sized machines: their exploration permits to acquire narrative information and knowledge to override the behavior of creatures robotics, the so-called override. Aloy when approaching a car without being discovered, in fact, you can press the triangle to gain control the steeds and Ferrariete, for example, can be ridden to move faster, the Scavengers and Secondonti become allies by attacking other machines, providing a competitive advantage and confusion over the others.

Action in Horizon Zero Dawn is undoubtedly one of the strengths of the production as the quality of the time spent in using the bow and the other important gadgets returns a sense of contentment, and even after several hours of play we never tired in hunt and openly address the hostile machines.

As mentioned is not all gold that glitters, because the clashes in the outposts are less exciting and humans do not denote the same care of the rest; Other problems are related dialogues and intermission sequences: polygonal models are excellent, but the cold is mediocre at best, with a static acting and little care in the transitions between one shot and the other, including major events of history.

Do not want to be snobby or always expect the level reached by Naughty Dog - albeit become inevitable yardstick - but where they already Killzone sinned greatly from this point of view, in Horizon Guerrilla has failed to make decisive steps forward. Only joy and elation, however, for the rest of the technical sector: developers have repeatedly claimed to have deliberately chosen a lush and colorful world, in perfect contrast to the post-apocalyptic settings so dear to recent productions.

The result is simply outstanding, both from an aesthetic point of view and that of artistic visual variety. The Tenth Engine, direct evolution of the chart used to Killzone engine, it really sparks from this point of view, on the PlayStation 4 smooth and PlayStation 4 Pros. The visual distance is boundless, the textures have an enviable variety. The machines are made with a wealth of truly surprising details; their animations, footage from those of real-life animals, represent the pride regarding animated elements of the game.

Again to enjoy the worst realization are the human antagonists, less impressive from the point of view of the polygonal and movements: it is clear that major efforts used by Guerrilla were referred to the game world, the metal structures and robotic creatures but also humans would have deserved greater care as an integral part of the game world. The frame rate is in the vast majority of the time pegged at 30 frames per second on the PlayStation 4 Pro, with some more uncertainty on the basic version. The situation is much better than our test of Amsterdam, and the fluidity is never a problem in both versions.

The lighting system, however, elevates everything to the nth degree, with truly sensational views during different times of day: dawn to dusk, in foggy or rainy conditions, with the full moon or blurred, with the direct sun or through mountains and forests, Horizon Zero Dawn are wasted moments during which one remains speechless, material for budding photographers who often stop to capture a memorable shot. Among other things, in the photo mode, you can modify in real time the time of the day, immediately appreciating the same glimpse in a completely different light conditions.

Playing with HDR enabled an even greater challenge what is written above walk around at night, while the rays of the full moon through the trees and reflected in a realistic way on the water of the surrounding stream, is surely one of the most beautiful visual moments that you've come to appreciate ever in a video game. The quality of the rendering does the rest, especially on PlayStation 4 Pro where we have an image soft, clean even in stressful areas from this point of view, such as forests, the resolution should be achieved through 4K checkerboard technique, colored visual orgy supported by a great artistic sector.

The realization of Aloy we liked, is a strong and charismatic female character, well characterized since her hair moving to the wind pass. It heroine can create empathy from the start; pity that suffers like the rest of acting to limits. The graphics of Horizon Zero Dawn, however, is not an end in itself, because it elevates the involvement while playing, a continuous discovery is when you browse a new section that will reach cities and outposts the world of Horizon Zero Dawn definitely succeeded, we are sure will remain engraved in the memory of the players.

The soundtrack is equally fine workmanship, starting from the main theme that immediately enters our heads, to the songs that accompany the action as well as the topical aspects of the adventure. Same for the sound effects, are peculiar and varied in relation to the type of arrows, traps, types of machines.

Horizon Zero Dawn is a diamond in the rough. It finished in the dialogues and cutscenes, less fun in clashes with humans and education with regard to artificial intelligence. But also has many qualities fully expressed, related mainly to the excellent combat system and the arsenal of Aloy, the larger map and varied, the beautiful main story, up to a resounding technical sector, enhanced by a lighting system which leaves mouth open more than one occasion.

In short, the Guerrilla Games entry into the open-world world can be called successful: we were pleased during the many hours of gameplay offered by the title, net of those critical issues that mitigate overall judgment. Horizon Zero Dawn therefore represents a new intellectual property that has broad shoulders to accommodate future chapters, and as early as this will be able to excite and entertain the PlayStation 4 owners who love the genre.
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