Ghost Of Tsushima – the PS4 goes out with a bang (pic: Sony)
A reader explains why PS4 exclusive Ghost Of Tsushima is his favourite game of last year and why he prefers it to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
2020 was clearly a different and difficult year in lots of ways, leaving many seeking sanctuary in gaming. Perhaps then it shouldn’t be, on reflection, a surprise that one of the gaming success stories of the year was Ghost Of Tsushima. More by accident than design Ghost Of Tsushima turned out to be the PlayStation 4’s swansong, and what a swansong it is.
If there’s one word that could sum up this game, it’s fun. I haven’t had this much fun with a game for a long time and it’s a great tonic to the current difficulties. Yet there’s much more to it than just fun. Ostensibly this appears to be an Assassin’s Creed game with a samurai theme, complete with familiar open world tropes, but when it’s executed this well it is so much better than that. What I assumed would be just another repetitive open world cut-and-paste slog turned out to be an amazingly rich experience with a solid, robust combat system, a compelling story, and stunning visuals.
The graphics are absolutely gorgeous – I’ve used the photo mode in this game more than all other games I’ve played put together. The art design and the vivid colours are at times breathtaking.
The vast map isn’t peppered with icons everywhere, that usually signify cookie cutter side missions that are needed to complete to level up (and there’s no microtransactions either). Instead, icons are kept to a minimum as exploration is greatly encouraged instead of gameplay acting as a list to be ticked off.
Side missions are as good quality as the main quest, if not better, and they are varied and interesting. A lot of time and effort has been put into both. There are no clumsy intrusive arrows showing you where to go to the next marker, instead you follow the wind, foxes, or certain birds which show you the way to missions or places of interest. A simple but brilliantly effective idea of maintaining immersion. Every point of interest has a purpose, whether it’s to increase health or increase charms.
But it’s the combat where this game really excels. It can be as simple or as complex as you wish. With four different sword techniques that you can change mid-combat, and with multiple move sets per technique, it makes for some impressive, nuanced and visceral combat. Bandit camps are not a repetitive, tedious level-up method and instead, because of the variety and the intense combat, they become something to look forward to. The game throws into sharp relief Assassin’s Creed Valhalla with its grindy, microtransaction-based mechanics.
The game does have a few minor quibbles, for example the camera needs a lock-on during combat. Too many times it got caught up behind a bush or obstacle meaning you can’t see, sometimes resulting in losing the fight. But overall, this game is absolutely superb and with its brilliant free DLC multiplayer mode this game gets nearly everything right.
Yet this time last year this game wasn’t on my radar for games to buy in 2020, until it came close to launch. But having played it and completed the platinum Trophy it’s easy to see why despite a relatively low key launch, this game is a classic example of success by word of mouth. As a result, both Sony and Sucker Punch (the developer) have been blindsided by its popularity.
As a Sony exclusive I feel this is a fitting send off for the PlayStation 4, and for me Ghost Of Tsushima is my game of the year.
By reader Paul Williams
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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