Wednesday 17 January 2018

Games: Remembering to forget a trauma

Get Even (PS4/XO/PC) ★★★★ Age: 18+

Get Even opens with the kidnap of a girl
Get Even opens with the kidnap of a girl
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Memory is a slippery customer. Can't be trusted, can't be verified, can't be objective. Get Even is hardly the first game to explore this inconsistency. But while it employs the usual trope of the amnesiac protagonist, this psychological thriller layers it among a stack of disparate ideas that strive to be more than the sum of its parts.

Get Even flits between elements of a shooter, a grim horror, an emotional interrogation and a mystery. Some feel more convincing than others but the game rarely dwells on one as it unfolds a macabre tale of a kidnap rescue gone wrong.

Protagonist Cole Black fails to stop a bomb exploding in time to save the teenage girl while he himself ends up in a coma. From here, Black and his handlers explore his memories via an experimental brain scanner. Roping in everything from corporate espionage to scummy drug dealers, Get Even pings from theme to theme while obfuscating furiously.

It's never less than interesting, though you half-suspect it's disappearing up its own fundament for the sake of it. Special mention goes to the chilling soundtrack, which weaves haunting sounds and eerie tunes into an atmospheric fog of fear.

WipEout: Omega Collection

(PS4) ★★★★★ Age: 7+

Sony's stylised future racer has survived many incarnations since its inception in the 1990s - the capitalised E was jokingly supposed to refer to the prevalence of ecstasy at the time - but travelling at 1,000kmh in a sleek hovercraft has never looked so trippy.

This collection has the vibe of a snake eating its own tail, for it's a remaster of several titles that were themselves compendiums of earlier versions. No matter, really, because their innate brilliance, now polished to 4K HDR at 60 frames a second, shines anew. The frightening sense of speed becomes even more apparent now the visuals are crisp enough to sear the eyeball. Spread across 26 neon-scorched tracks, the challenge rarely lets up but such remorselessness defines WipEout, as it has since day one.

If there are any regrets, it's the lack of sight of the era-defining originals, whose genesis enthralled a generation.

Dirt 4

(PS4/XO/PC) ★★★★ Age:7+

You can't serve two masters but plucky Dirt 4 has a bash at it. Presumably as a reaction to the resolutely hardcore racing in 2015's Dirt Rally, Dirt 4 offers two handling models: gamer and simulation.

Picking the former reveals an immensely enjoyable but improbably untrue version of rallying. Choosing the latter dials up a massive reality check but, with the absence of many real-world stages, begs the question why you wouldn't go back to Dirt Rally. Both modes entertain their audience to an extent but there's a real sense that Dirt 4 pulls in two directions and can't please everyone.

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