Friday 14 December 2018

Tetris Effect review: Block party in another dimension

Tetris Effect (PS4/PSVR) ★★★★★ Age: 3+

Tetris Effect
Tetris Effect
Tetris Effect
Fallout 76
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

For a game going on 35 years old, Tetris is in great shape. Having slotted itself into every possible platform since its creation by Soviet engineer Alexey Pajitnov in 1984, now it falls into its real niche in virtual reality.

This delightful reboot is helmed by Japanese wunderkind Tetsuya Mizuguchi, himself a disciple of the axis where music meets gameplay, and father of genre classics including Rez and Lumines.

Tetris Effect changes little about the core shape-matching fundamentals of Pajitnov's design but layers it thickly with mesmerising visual effects and a pulsing electro soundtrack that shifts in time to your actions.

It's what Mizuguchi has long strived for - an elusive phenomenon known as synaesthesia, where one of the senses (say, your hearing) is intensified by a commotion in another (for example, your vision).

In plain old 2D, this means Tetris Effect induces a hypnotic happy trance as you juggle the Tetriminoes (to give them their official name). But in VR it's a full-on sensory assault. Particles swirl around you, the blocks jiggle in your direction and the backgrounds dance a tune on your retinas.

Innovations beyond the sensory attack might be trying to improve on perfection - the pace doesn't just speed up infinitely, you can slow down time by building up a meter, for instance. But that hardly matters in such an exquisitely pitched dynamic jigsaw.

Fallout 76

(XO/PS4/PC) ★★★ Age: 18+

Fallout 76

File under Disappointment of the Year. Developer Bethesda has an incredible record of quality blockbusters, from Doom to Dishonored to previous Fallouts. But 76 misjudges the basis for shared open-world adventures, forgetting it was the evocative stories that made the nuclear wasteland memorable, not the random wandering.

Instead of hundreds of pre-written characters to gently lead you from one story beat to the next, other players rather pointlessly share the post-apocalyptic wilderness with you. The narrative is confined to tedious audio logs and a few emotive bits of scenery.

Burdened with grimy visuals, a disproportionate level of glitches and awful combat, Fallout 76 may improve over time. But it's difficult to imagine a sizeable player base waiting the half-life for this toxic radiation to wear off.

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