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After spending a considerable amount of time testing and reviewing the Noblechairs Hero gaming chair, it was time to move onto a new project. We decided to stay in the Noblechairs family, mainly because we have the entire range in office, but more importantly it allows us to compare the two in-depth to see which one truly comes out on top!
As many will know, choosing a gaming chair can be an extremely time-consuming task thanks to the overpopulated nature of the current market. That’s where WEPC comes into the equation. We spend hours of time, in house, testing, and comparing the best gaming chairs money can buy to inform you which ones are worth your time and money.
Today we get to test the Noblechairs Epic Real Leather chair which, we feel, is somewhat of a cross between a gaming chair and an all-around office chair. I’ve been using this chair for the best part of a month and I feel now is the time to make my final verdict on what is currently, one of their most affordable chairs.
Before we get into the specs and performance, let’s go over some brief pros and cons of the epic, Epic gaming chair. See what I did there? Nevermind… pros & cons!
For those reading this in the UK, why not head over to overclockers to check pricing and availability.
26.4 x 27.9 x 55.1 inches
19″ to 23″
Premium design and materials
Great for tall people
Plenty of color options to choose from
Four directional arm rests
On the expensive side when compared to the rest of the market
Could have better back supportWhat’s In The Box?
Noblechairs, like most chair manufacturing brands, if truth be told, take extreme care when packaging their products. The Epic came wrapped in several layers of protective plastic & polystyrene to help prevent scratches and other potential damage hazards. The box itself was a thick double-layered cardboard that was built to house the chair perfectly leaving no room for internal maneuverability.
In the box you will find the following:
5 x PU casters
The assembly process for the entire Noblechairs range has been engineered and developed to make assembly as user-friendly and intuitive as possible. This being said, the Epic chair wasn’t the first of the series to be assembled, making it a very easy process second time around.
We put all the parts flat on the ground then followed the simple step-by-step instructions to make sure assembly went as smooth as possible.
The hardest part of the process is fitting the chair to the base because it can be a little fiddly.
Apart from that, the only thing worth noting is that the mechanism that works the backrest is pre-loaded so to speak, so don’t touch the leaver or you WILL get a nasty injury. Check pic below.
Apart from that, the only thing worth noting is that the mechanism that works the backrest is pre-loaded so to speak, so don’t touch the leaver or you WILL get a nasty injury. Check pic below.How Does It Compare?
I feel the best way to compare this chair is to break the process down into a few different areas. This way it will give a more rounded comparison and a better picture of what the chair has to offer.
As a gaming chair
As the Epic is primarily, a gaming chair, it would only be natural to compare it with other gaming chairs first and foremost. So, how does it stand up against the top gaming chairs in today’s market?
The first thing that is worth mentioning is the build quality and materials used for this chair. They are clearly high quality and built to last which you don’t always get in the gaming chair market. Especially with all the lower budget brands floating around at the moment.
The style is certainly in tune with the rest of the gaming chair industry thanks to the bucket racer becoming the go-to design. It does have 4D armrests which add an extra level of adjustability which again, isn’t standard on all chairs.
However, when comparing it to the likes of Secretlab’s Omega, I feel the chair falls a little bit short. No disrespect to the Epic, it’s a great chair, this being said though, the Omega is an amazing chair.
Overall, I’d say it was well up there as far as gaming chairs go. Certainly, one to consider if you’re looking for top quality.
As an office chair
Comparing the Epic with some of the top office chairs out there is an unusual one, mainly because the design is so out there.
The main features of an office chair are comfort and style, which, if I’m being honest, I don’t this chair has. From a gaming point of view, the Epic looks great. However, I couldn’t see this in an office environment, not unless you run some sort of computer website!
As an everyday desktop chair
Now, even though we don’t think the Epic would make a great office chair, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t make a great home desktop chair, does it?
As far as looks go, I personally think the Epic looks great. The design of this chair, which we’ll touch upon in more detail shortly, looks great in a home environment. Furthermore, the comfort, over short periods of time is really quite enjoyable.
If you’re looking for a quality, well-built chair which is going to stand the test of time, then I think the Epic would be a great selection.
Why not have a look at our best gaming chairs guide to see what we ranked as the best of 2023.
Well, let’s first talk about the Epic’s design.
Obviously, you don’t have to choose white, however, the model we got sent was the all-white edition which certainly narrows their target market. Personally, I think the white looks pretty good, however, I did wear a freshly bought pair of black jeans on it and you can clearly see where I’ve been sat, so I’d probably recommend against it. Unless you’re super clean.
Colour aside though, the Epic comes in 3 different materials forms which include PU leather, Real leather and the luxurious Nappa leather which, as you probably guessed, will increase the chair’s price exponentially. It is also the blueprint for some of their special edition models which include football team designs to eSports designs alike.
Discussing our chair though, you can tell straight away quality engineering and materials have been used to make this chair. The stitching looks and feels well made, as does the overall skin to be honest. We have the real leather version which feels superb. We compared this to the PU leather of the Hero and the difference is clearly for everyone to see. If you have it in the budget, I would highly recommend real leather, there is no substitute.
Moving onto the armrests, as I mentioned earlier, they are four directional meaning they move, up/down, left/right, backwards/forwards and swivel 45degrees in either direction. Unlike many gaming chairs where the armrests feel quite flimsy, I was pleasantly surprised to see Noblechairs had equipped the Epic with some rather robust feeling armrests. The actual rest feels on the firm side but definitely offers solid comfort as well, so don’t be put off by that.
Finally, we have the base, which has been constructed out of high-grade metal and has a nice luxury finish to it. When assembling the chair, I noticed the base is quite weighty which fuels me with more confidence especially when referencing how long I think this chair will last.
Overall, I think the Epic looks pretty good. Even though it isn’t ideal for an office environment, that’s not to say it wouldn’t look great in your house or a part of your gaming setup, quite the opposite actually.Features
With most top tier, premium gaming chairs, it’s not just looks and comfort which draw the consumer in, they also come with a huge list of features and benefits. The Noblechair Epic was no different. Let’s jump straight into what I believe to be the most practical and noteworthy features the Epic comes equipped with:Armrest
Functionality aside, the armrests feel very robust which is something you don’t always see either. Let’ s take the Secretlab Omega for example. That chair is fantastic, however, the armrests feel quite flimsy and I can see issues surfacing somewhere down the line because of it. The Epic on the other hand, I can’t see this problem occurring anytime soon, they really are superbly built, as is the entire chair.Tilt Mechanism & Backrest
Like all Noblechairs, the tilt mechanism of the Epic is superb and can be adjusted via a sensitivity dial underneath the chair. Whether you have it firm or quite loose, the actual movement it provides is smooth and fluid. I did notice that the ’tilt sensitivity’ as we’ll call it, was definitely affected by the position of the backrest. All the more reason to have a sensitivity dial I suppose.
The backrest itself was definitely on the firm side and provided average to good backrest once I found the sweet spot. You might have to play around with the position a bit before you find the ideal spot.
Even though it was a racer bucket seat, it still gave back support to people over 6foot which is definitely a plus.Pillows
The pillows are definitely a plus as many chairs don’t come with them at all, however, when you compare them to the memory foam pillows that come with other high-end gaming chairs, the Epic’s simply don’t cut the mustard.
You do get some additional functionality with Epic’s pillows though. One has been designed to accommodate the headrest position, whereas the other, has long straps that wrap around the backrest vertically meaning you can suspend the pillow almost anywhere. If truth be told, I couldn’t actaully find a practical position for the pillow and don’t use it, however, a few people really enjoyed it in the office so it gets a thumbs up from those guys.
It’s a tough question really because, with most chairs, it all comes down to what you like the feel and look of. This works really well for gamers, with a cool design and a nice racer bucket seat which does provide comfort and back support. It’s well built and made with quality materials so you know this thing is going to last years into the future.
However, for me, I found the chair a bit too much on the firm side. Some people will love that – it’s just a personal preference that’s worth noting.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for a racer style bucket chair that is well built and going to last, the Epic is recommended. However, if you want a chair with extra comfort and cushioning, you should look elsewhere.
Interested in the Noblechairs Epic? UK readers can head over to Overclockers to see pricing and availability.
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Everyone likes free games, and Epic Games Store knows that pretty well. While the intention behind their offering free games every week might be, well, new gamers coming to the Epic Games Store. But, at the end of the day, it means free games for gamers like us. And quality-wise, the game offerings are great for the most part. Unfortunately, keeping track of the free games weekly can become a little tedious, but this article aims to help with that. We are compiling a list of free games on the Epic Games Store and will update this article every week to help you grab the latest free deals.Epic Games Store: What Game Is Free Right Now?
For this week’s free game on the Epic Game Store, users can redeem the indie puzzle visual novel Murder By Numbers, and the MMORPG Elder Scrolls Online.
Murder By Numbers is a visual novel that combines puzzle-solving with an interesting murder mystery story. Set in the 90s, you play as Honor Mizrahi, a detective partnered with a robot named SCOUT. You will uncover clues, question suspects, and solve mesmerizing pixel-art puzzles to uncover the answer to mysterious murders. Murder By Numbers makes a great game for people who are bored of online games and want to spend some time in narrative-heavy single-player games.
You can claim this game starting today, July 20, 2023 (Thursday) up until July 27, on the Epic Games Store.Next Free Game on the Epic Games Store
Up next week, starting from July 27, 2023, at 8:00 AM PST, we will have Homeworld Remastered and Severed Steel.
Homeworld Remastered is the remastered classic RTS title, where you commandeer your own fleet and play through an epic story through the vast spaces. The game features deep strategy gameplay focusing on fleet formations and clever tactics. If you enjoy RTS, Homeworld Remastered is the game to try out. Severed Steel is a stylish fast-paced FPS where players get access to practically every cool thing imaginable on this planet at their disposal. Destructible voxel environments, bullet-time, a unique protagonist, an electronic soundtrack, and fun gameplay. Severed Steel has it all.List of Free Games Offered on Epic Store (2023)
In addition to bringing you the latest free games, we are also maintaining a catalog of all the games offered by the publisher every year. Train Valley 2 joins the ranks of the following titles:
GameOffer DurationTrain Valley 2July 13 – July 20GRIMEJuly 6 – July 13The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of ChaosJune 29 – July 6The Hunter: Call of the Wild, Idle Champions of Forgotten RealmsJune 22 – June 29Guacamelee 1, Guacamelee 2June 15 – June 22Payday 2June 7 – June 15Midnight Ghost HuntJune 1 – June 7Fallout: New Vegas – Ultimate EditionMay 25 – June 1Death StrandingMay 18 – May 25The Sims 4 Daring Lifestyle BundleMay 11 – May 18Horizon Chase Turbo, Kao the Kangaroo, Against All OddsMay 4 – May 11Breathedge, Poker ClubApril 27 – May 4Beyond Blue, Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)April 20 – April 27Mordhau, Second ExtinctionApril 13 – April 20Dying Light Enhanced Edition, ShapezApril 6 – April 13The Silent Age, TuncheMarch 30 – April 6Chess Ultra, World of Warships — Starter Pack: IshizuchiMarch 23 – March 30Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of WarMarch 16 – March 23Call of the SeaMarch 9 – March 16Rise of IndustryMarch 2 – March 9DuskersFebruary 23 – March 2WarpipsFebruary 16 – February 23Recipe for DisasterFebruary 9 – February 16City of Gangsters, Dishonored: Death of the OutsiderFebruary 2 – February 9Adios, Hell is OthersJanuary 26 – February 2Epistory – Typing ChroniclesJanuary 19 – January 26First Class Trouble, Gamedec – Definitive Edition, Divine KnockoutJanuary 12 – January 19Kerbal Space Program, Shadow Tactics – Aiko’s ChoiceJanuary 5 – January 12
Epic Games Store is necessary but it’s tearing the community apart
Epic Games is disrupting the gaming market and, just like any disruption, not everyone’s too happy about it. It’s easy enough to see the appeal of Epic’s battle cry: better profits for developers and more choices for users. But in order to effect any significant change, Epic Games is employing some business strategies to get developers on its side. Those same strategies, however, are causing gamers and even some developers to draw the line in the sand, splitting the gaming community into sometimes very vocal camps.
While yet another digital PC game distribution platform, the Epic Games Store’s biggest carrot was its 88/12 revenue split between developers and itself. In a world that has begrudgingly accepted the 70/30 imposed by almost all stores, that was nothing short of revolutionary. Naturally, it got game developers listening.
But Epic wasn’t just fighting for fairer developer shares. It was also challenging monopolies. It was high time someone reminded Valve that it isn’t invulnerable or to remind developers that Unity 3D isn’t the only game engine around. It was, in effect, fighting for choice but, ironically, it’s moving against that along the way.
Epic isn’t hiding the fact that it is dangling large sums of money to woo developers into its nascent ecosystem. From establishing a fund to coax developers away from Unity 3D at the height of a recent legal squabble to paying them to get exclusive rights to distribute a game, Epic doesn’t seem to be ashamed to publicly show it has the money and it isn’t afraid to use it.
That exclusivity is what’s ruffling feathers in the PC gaming industry. That is something the market has been able to avoid for decades, unlike on consoles where exclusives are what help sell hardware. Even those who do agree that Steam has had too much a monopoly in the market find issue with Epic’s strategy. It is, after all, practically bribing its way into a favorable position. And it isn’t just gamers either. A number of developers are also speaking out against Epic’s current plan of attack.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what Epic needs to disrupt the status quo. Simply ranting will do nothing to change anything. Ever since it launched its Store, Valve and Unity have had to readjust their own strategies. Its tantrum over Google Play Store has shed a spotlight on that 70/30 cut, which may lead to a change even in mobile app stores. It may look like underhanded tactics but, in an industry where money speaks louder than principles, Epic Games does have its hands tied behind its back.
Developers shouldn’t expect that bribe to last long, though. Epic is unlikely to continue paying for exclusives in the long run. Just long enough to get its Store well-established as a second Steam. That may take quite a while, though, if the outcry on the Internet is any indication.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is a deliciously suave and glamorous vampire murder mystery that succeeds in navigating easy blood-thirsty predator tropes to deliver a decidedly mature and cerebral role-playing experience. It’s one of the most surprising games of the year – so far – that unshackles itself from being billed as a timely RPG-heavy VTM top-up while Paradox Interactive sorts out the Bloodlines 2 mess.
Their reach extends far. Take veganism: a dietary fad promoted by vampires to improve the quality of human blood. Wars? Climate change? The vamps are somehow involved. Then there are blood bars serving up expensive vintages, concocted from a blend of experimental drugs fed to not-so-willing mortals. It’s such a compelling and cohesive world that it’s tough not to be entirely sucked in, even for those indifferent to the cult tabletop game.
Three’s a Crowd
Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong throws you into this world in the role of three vampires bound to the Boston court, tasked with solving a gruesome massacre through detective work and hard-fought conversational skirmishes to extract vital information from reluctant or downright dangerous characters.
We have the stone-cold and persuasive elder court henchman Galeb; Emem, a bright and likable go-between for the city’s many rival factions; and Leysha, a mother afflicted by premonitions and fragile mental health often manipulated by the Council. They feel real and nuanced, each with personal motivations, allegiances, dubious morals, and preoccupations that shape and propel Swansong forward with a credible human touch.
It’s a genuine pleasure to explore and guide their individual stories as the murder mystery premise rapidly unravels into an existential threat that concerns all of Boston’s invisible vamps. Leysha’s story, in particular, shines through for its depiction of abuse and mental illness, tackling it in a way that highlights the oft-difficult task of separating the fabrications of a lapsing mind from reality.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Each character comes with their own set of abilities to explore Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong’s diverse chapters, which is where the more numbers-based RPG aspects play out.
Depending on how well you navigate its interactions and secrets, each completed chapter nets you a stock of points that you can dish out into skills and disciplines. These range from physical attributes that allow you to blink across vertiginous gaps to mental aptitudes such as rhetoric and psychology. There are also more functional skills, such as the ability to hack technology and locks.
Agency is a key theme here. You build up and shape these characters’ skill-sets as you see fit. Much of your time is spent putting these into play as you decrypt murder scenes and sift through documents for precious clues, all in preparation for Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong’s show-stealing word duels. How you go about doing this is up to you.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong’s Word Dueling
Every decision feels weighty and impactful, often leaving you questioning whether you made the right call. Killing off a character has effects that ripple throughout the rest of a play-through. Upgrading a particular skill over another simplifies an environmental puzzle but may complicate a tough conversation. Missing a crucial piece of information cranks up the difficulty of the next chapter. You get the idea.
Unlike many other branching path games, your choices don’t calcify into an immovable narrative end, nor does each scenario need to play out based on a defined set of steps. It’s ripe for multiple play-throughs and having completed the game once, there’s a sense Swansong has plenty more to offer.
The mental sparring offered by Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong’s conversational confrontations are a delight. They are a test of wits where the wrong answer or a botched virtual dice roll can have your vampire fumbling in the face of an NPC’s mental might. You’ll also need to manage sparse focus and hunger points, feeding on unwitting mortals away from prying eyes to replenish your stocks but not draining these blood vessels so much as to raise suspicion. It’s beautifully intense and rewarding.
Pen and Paper
When you’re not fielding sharp barbs and toiling over hefty decisions, Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong puts you face to face with some tricky old puzzles. Whereas dialogue operates within a well-defined interface, the game’s puzzling and problem-solving are far more open.
You’re free to comb through apartments, offices, and rival hideouts to amass a blend of information drip-fed through reports, Polaroids, paintings, audio logs, and sticky notes. These all carry clues to revealing concealed rooms, deciphering passwords, and tracking down narrative-important NPCs. One, in particular, has you glaring at a four-piece spread of Oedipus-inspired paintings, jotting down the directions the mother-wedding Greek lad’s pointing towards to best a bookcase puzzle.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong throws a lot of information your way in that sense and is best played alongside a notebook to jot down potentially valuable details. It’s a game for the patient, for those who enjoy immersing themselves in lore, and those who like the gratification of wielding logic and curiosity to progress.
Aside from the odd quick time event and a thrilling late-game encounter with a certain feral beast, Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is largely free of combat and heart-rate raising action. It’s violent, bleak, and grisly, though most of this doesn’t come from a flurry of deft button combos but simple interactions and cut-scenes.
While Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong environments and settings are lavishly detailed, the same can’t be said for the character models and animations. Many drag themselves around with an unmistakably artificial gait, bearing stiff, at times, gormless facial animations. Though these initially detract from the hard work on Big Bad Wolf’s part to present a stylish and believable world, they’re quickly forgotten and excused as an endearing quirk thanks to the quality of the voice acting performances and strong writing.
Though you’re unlikely to encounter any performance issues during a play-through of Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong, we did stumble on the occasional challenging progression block. For example, doors failing to open after short cutscenes and narrative-crucial NPCs missing interaction prompts. These usually disappeared with a reload or, at worst, restarting the chapter, but we’d like to see Big Bad Wolf patch these up in time for release.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong Conclusion
Feeling like a blend of Disco Elysium, Deus Ex, LA Noire, and Detroit: Become Human with a good dose of Telltale’s narrative-driven design, Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong adds an oddly human depth to a vampiric power trip through the World of Darkness. It convincingly ports the gothic intrigue and freedom of an engrossing late-night pen-and-paper session.
Each chapter is a rich showdown of wits and sleuthing skills, successfully granting players a level of agency that few other games do. It won’t be to everyone’s taste. But for those happy to slide into the shoes of a gang of conflicted bloodsuckers and experience a gripping story punctuated with twists and turns, Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is something really rather special.
Uhura recounts her epic Star Trek talk with MLK Jr for Neil deGrasse Tyson
Today on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2013, actress Nichelle Nichols – better known as Uhura from Star Trek: the original series, spoke with space exploration evangelist Neil deGrasse Tyson about her one legendary encounter with MLK, Jr., himself. While some of you Star Trek factoid aficionados may already know, it’s important today of all days to understand the importance of not only what Uhura represented to the future of our society on her own, but what her one talk with Martin Luther King, Jr. meant for the world as well. Listen in and/or read what this chat was all about and keep the spirit alive with a drop on over to Netflix for some cool original series action (they’re all up!)
What Chief Communications Officer Lt. Uhura represented to the world back when Star Trek’s original television show was originally on the air was a strong, black, female presence on the bridge. The bridge being up front and center of the Enterprise, the spaceship around which the entire show centered. As StarTalkRadio host Niel deGrasse Tyson recounts:
“The original Star Trek series was created, as many of you know, by Gene Roddenberry and was groundbreaking on many fronts. For me the most important feature of that show was that the deck of the starship Enterprise was international. Lieutenant Uhura herself represented – again this is the future – the United States of Africa. Not only was she there but there was representation from Asia, from Europe, from the Americans, and even planet Vulcan – of course, in the guise of Spock.
The point is, if you were a science fiction fan of the day, and you viewed how authors and producers portrayed the future, it was a future that did not include people of color. A really frightening prospect if you happened to have been a person of color.
And now comes the series of Star Trek, and you see a woman who is dignified, who has poise, who is not somebody’s maid, and who is in fact an educated communications officer of the deck of the starship Enterprise. And is fourth in command, by the way. And your vision of the future can change overnight.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Speaking about her aspirations for being a stage actress and ultimately hitting Broadway with her skills as a dancer and a singer as well, Nichols made it clear that she originally planned to only be on the show for a short while. At the end of the first season, in fact, she handed in her resignation to Roddenberry, who tried to convince her that her part was “more than just a role” and with choice words such as “don’t you see what I’m trying to do here” he implored that she take the weekend to think about her decision.
The weekend in question, Nichols was a celebrity guest (that Saturday night) at an NAACP fundraiser in Beverly Hills, California. This was 1967, by the way, right after the first season of Star Trek had completed filming. Nichols recounts what happened after she’d been formally greeted by the crowd:
“Just as I’m getting seated and getting ready to turn to the other celebrities, one of the promoters walked up from behind and said ‘Miss Nichols, sorry to bother you’, I said ‘no problem’, and he said ‘well there’s someone who wants to meet you, and he says’s he’s your greatest fan.’ And I’m smiling and I say ‘of course’ and I’m getting up to turn and say ‘where is he?’ and he says ‘right over here.’ And I’m thinking it’s a Trekker, you know, maybe it’s a child, maybe a little man – someone that just wants to congratulate me.
And so, delighted, I turn, and I see this man across the room with this brilliant smile – which you didn’t often see on his face. And I remember thinking to myself ‘whoever this little Trekker is, they’re going to have to wait, because this is my leader’ – Dr. Martin Luther King walking towards me with a smile on his face. And I never met the man, you know, this like I’m starting to tremble.
And he walks to me with this smile, he says – and puts his hand on my shoulder and says, ‘Miss Nichols, I am your greatest fan.’ I thought – ‘what an incredible moment.’ I just, was flabbergasted. And he begins to speak about my role on television, and the power of Star Trek, and how important it is.
In the meantime, for the first time in my life, I had no words to say. I could speak anyway, I’m shaking in front of this man. And he is saying how important Star Trek is to the future. That this man who has written this, who has produced this, has seen the future – and we are there, because you are there.
He said “you have one of the most important roles. This is a first. It’s non-stereotypical, it’s brilliance, it’s beauty, and it’s intelligence. And you do it with warmth and grace.”
And I’m just standing there watching him and listening to him, and I’m thinking the only visions I’ve seen of this man, really, are nightly on the news with marching, and black people in the south, marching and demanding their rights to sit at a lunch counter. And having fire hoses turns on them, attack dogs turn on them, men, women, and children, and this man leading them and marching and the face of all this. Being arrested.
Every night I ever saw him I said, ‘they’re gonna kill him. It wont happen past this time.’ But it did, and so he became this power, of hope. And here I am playing this character – that I’m going to give up – and I said to him, ‘Dr. King thank you so much, I’m going to miss my co-stars’ – before I could say ‘because’, he said ‘what are you talking about?’ And I said, ‘I’ve just told Gene that I’m leaving the show after the first season. Because I’ve received’ – and he said ‘you cannot.’
My mouth just dropped, and he said, ‘you cannot leave. Do you understand, it has been heavenly ordained. This is God’s gift, and onus for you. You have changed the face of television. Forever. Because this is not a black role, it is not a female role – anyone can fill that role.’ He said, ‘it can be filled by a woman of any color, a man of any color, it can be filled by another Klingon or an alien.’ He said, ‘this is a unique role and a unique point in time that breathes the life of what we are marching for: equality.’ He says, ‘besides, you’re Chief Communications Officer, you’re fourth in command!’
I’m thinking, ‘nobody told me that.’ He knows Star Trek is built on the Air Force, on the rankings, so he knew the rank. And he said, ‘you have no idea the esteem that we hold for you.’ And I start shivering. And I’m just looking at him, and my mouth was quivering. And he said, ‘Nichelle, you have no idea the power of television. This man has shown us, in the 23rd century, this man has created a reality. And because it’s in the 23rd century and you are Chief Communications Officer – 4th in command on a starship on a 5 year mission going where no man or woman has gone before. It means that what we are doing today is just the beginning of where we’re going.’
‘You cannot leave,’ and then he smiles again, and says ‘besides, Star Trek is the only show that my wife Coretta and I allow our children to stay up late and watch. And Nichelle, I can’t go back and tell them this, because you are their hero.'” – Nichelle Nichols
Needless to say, Nichols went back to Roddenberry and asked to stay with the show. She recounted the words King had spoken to her to Roddenberry and, with tears rolling down his face, he said, “God bless Dr. Martin Luther King, someone realizes what I’m trying to achieve.”
Have a peek at SlashGear’s full Star Trek tag portal for more of one of the greatest science fiction universes ever to have been birthed, and have a happy MLK day all day long!
The Last Guardian is beset by performance problems, camera complaints, and feline frustrations, and your enjoyment of the game will to a large extent hinge on how much these bother you. Some will probably find that these flaws get in the way of the game as a whole, but for our part The Last Guardian’s undeniable accomplishments were enough to overcome the occasional frustration. The beautiful world, thrilling platforming, and tense combat alone would make the game worth playing, but it’s Trico that makes The Last Guardian one of this console generation’s best. The dynamic, organic relationship between boy and beast is unlike any that’s come before, and feels like a pivotal moment in gaming’s development as a medium. Yes, The Last Guardian is flawed. But it’s also powerful, unique, and just may be unmissable.
To say that fans have been waiting a while for The Last Guardian is a bit of an understatement. First announced in 2009, after entering development in 2007, The Last Guardian is the third game by Fumito Ueda, the creator of PlayStation 2 classics Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Along the way the game has appeared at multiple E3 events, looked to have been cancelled a few times, and suffered countless delays before eventually arriving on the PlayStation 4. So, now that The Last Guardian is finally out, was it worth the wait?
Read next: Most anticipated games of 2023
While it was initially announced for the PlayStation 3, The Last Guardian skipped that console generation entirely and has instead come out as a PlayStation 4 exclusive. The game finally reached UK stores on 9 December 2023, but there are a few different versions of The Last Guardian available, with different bonuses tied to different retailers.
Also see: Best Games Deals
If you’re happy with a standard digital edition, you can buy it from the PlayStation store for £49.99, which comes with an exclusive PS4 dynamic theme. If you’re willing to wait a couple of days for a physical edition you can get a better price, however. The best deal we’ve found so far is from Amazon, which has the standard boxed version of the game for £42.94 right now. You can also get an exclusive steelbook version from Game for £44.99, while ShopTo is offering its own exclusive version for £49.85, which has an exclusive cover and a mini soundtrack.
Finally, there’s a Collector’s Edition of the game, which contains the steelbook, an art book, and a statuette of the boy and Trico. Game has that for £104.99 at the time of writing – though these will no doubt sell out fast.
The Last Guardian starts out cryptically. You control a young boy who awakens in a strange cave next to a giant “man-eating beast,” who you later name Trico. As you begin to explore the space, your actions are narrated by the boy’s older self, recounting his memories as an adult – a system the game cleverly uses to provide occasional hints as to what you should do next.
When you first awaken, Trico is badly wounded and panicked – and as dangerous as any wild beast would be in that situation, not least a giant, magical, half-bird half-cat thing that can shoot lightning from its tail. As a result, your first task is to calm it down by finding barrels of food to feed it and carefully removing the spears lodged in its side. It’s a striking introduction, cleverly introducing a few key gameplay mechanics while also establishing Trico as both dangerous and vulnerable – a potential threat as much as an ally and companion – a dynamic the game continues to play with throughout.
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Across the campaign (which took us about 12 hours to complete) you’ll learn to work with Trico to escape the derelict, ruined castle in which you find yourselves, solving puzzles, navigating platforming sections, and fighting enemies. There’s little in the way of explicit story (and even less in the way of dialogue) but the game carefully drops details of its world along the way – though never so much as to lose its sense of mystery.
That’s partly because the real story here isn’t about the castle or even your escape from it: it’s about the relationship you build with Trico as you work together and save each other countless times. Trico is one of gaming’s most complex and lifelike AI characters yet, and The Last Guardian does an absolutely astonishing job of slowly building trust between the two of you. Every development in the central relationship feels both organic and earned, leading to some heartstopping moments along the way and a finale that packs an almost unbearable emotional punch. Indie developers have been exploring emotional spaces in games in various ways over the last few years, but not since The Last of Us has a AAA game hit this hard. The relationship with Trico is the beating heart of The Last Guardian, and without a doubt its finest accomplishment.
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So, what do you and Trico actually do when you’re navigating this mysterious world? The game is split into three rough types of gameplay: platforming, puzzle solving, and combat, and each is used in unique ways to reinforce the bond between player and beast.
Let’s take the platforming first, which is a curious mix of climbing around the world and climbing around Trico. That’s because at any time you can grip onto his feathered back, clambering up and around it to reach new heights – or just give it a nice stroke. This is especially important because as the game goes on and your bond grows stronger, Trico will allow you to ride on its shoulders as it leaps to perilous perches you could never hope to reach on your own, or will lift you up to platforms and doors with no obvious climbing route. Sometimes you can gently guide Trico forward, suggesting where it should head next, but at other moments he’s in full control, leaving you only to cling on for dear life and enjoy the game’s spectacular views.
When controlling the boy himself, The Last Guardian does a fantastic job of using both animation and the control scheme to reinforce his youth. He stumbles when he runs, limbs flailing with childish abandon, and skitters nervously when he gets too close to an edge he might fall off – it’s a sharp contrast to Trico’s feline grace. Still, he’s a pretty capable explorer, and the game owes a debt to Tomb Raider and Uncharted games, setting you to leap, crawl, and climb around ruins that might come toppling down at any moment. Inevitably, at times they do, leading to some impressive sequences as either you or Trico accidentally a destructive chain reaction, forcing you to scramble your way to safety.
At times the path forwards isn’t always clear however, and that’s where the game’s puzzle elements come into play. The disparity between the boy and Trico’s sizes means that the challenge is often to find a way for you to both progress for the next area, as you scout ahead to find a way to open a gate or unblock a passageway. Other puzzles are more closely tied to Trico, as you have to work to convince it to jump down into a pool of water (the poor thing doesn’t like swimming very much) or have to find a way to destroy one of the ‘evil eye’ symbols dotted around, which leave the beast frozen with fear.
The puzzles are mostly well designed, making good use of your skillset and requiring solutions that encourage careful observation of the environment around you. Unfortunately, they can at times be one of the game’s most frustrating elements, thanks to an unexpected problem: Trico is too well designed. To be more specific, Trico is meant to be a giant, wild animal. And, well, it acts like one. You can shout instructions or guide it towards specific objectives or directions, but there’s never any guarantee that it will do what you want it to. Remember that old expression about herding cats? At its worst, that’s The Last Guardian in a nutshell, and the frustration of guiding Trico will no doubt prove too much for some players to bear. In another sense it’s a fascinating wrinkle on the game, turning Trico itself into the puzzle as you have to figure out what it wants and how to convince it do what you want – but it’s not always easy to see it that way as you’re stuck tearing your hair out, knowing exactly what you need Trico to do but with no idea how to persuade it to do it.
Thankfully, none of those frustrations are to be found in the combat, which is a smart inversion of the typical gaming power fantasy. Anyone who’s played Ico will immediately spot the evolution from that game to this, though the system has been flipped on its head. There, you fought off shadowy figures who couldn’t really harm you but would try and seize your companion, who you were tasked with defending. In The Last Guardian, the magical automata who attack are too small to really threaten Trico, but will do everything in their power to kidnap you, leaving you almost entirely dependent on the beast for protection.
You can contribute, but your options are limited: you can shove guards to briefly knock them over, and on occasion you can pull the helmets off ones that Trico has already knocked to the floor, taking them out of the fight for good. Later in the game you play a bigger role in combat, as you encounter guards carrying miniature versions of the ‘evil eye’ symbol that Trico is so afraid of, leaving it up to you to disarm them and help Trico get back in the fight. Even early on though, the combat is surprisingly compelling, given that you don’t really get to do much fighting at all. Games rarely make us feel truly vulnerable, and even less often leave us reliant on someone, or something, else to protect us. That The Last Guardian not only tries this, but makes it both intense and satisfying to play, is an impressive accomplishment.
The Last Guardian’s lengthy, troubled development raised a lot of question marks around its ultimate performance, and there’s both good news and bad. The good: the game looks absolutely gorgeous. The bad: the original model PS4 suffers some occasional (but pretty serious) framerate stumbles in order to make it happen.
First, the good. As mentioned before, the game’s animation is top-notch, and Trico in particular looks uncannily lifelike (considering it’s a made up mish-mash of different animals) as it leaps, flaps, and paws its way about the world. Its feathers ruffle in the wind, its back hunches as it readies to jump, and its eyes widen expressively as it looks your way for guidance. Anyone who’s had a pet (especially a cat) will recognise in Trico some strikingly familiar body language, and the design is as much an achievement in real-world observation as it is in technical accomplishment.
Fortunately, the world around Trico is beautiful enough to keep up. The castle design is for the most part consistent – don’t expect hugely varied environments as you progress, barring a few exceptions – but it’s been assembled with an impeccable eye for detail. Your journey is not an entirely linear one, and the game has a remarkable way of surprising you by dropping you back into an area you’ve explored before, but from a new perspective. The result is that this world of crumbling towers and spacious ruins feels as real as it does beautiful – and boy is it beautiful. The game’s vistas in particular are breathtaking, and we often found ourselves pausing just to take in the view, spotting the buildings we’d explored before, looking ahead for the towers we were yet to climb, and generally soaking in the spectacle.
Unfortunately, all of that comes at a price, and despite being built specifically for the PS4, The Last Guardian’s performance is still occasionally lacklustre. In most sequences the console happily keeps up, but a handful of sections saw frame rates plummet on our PS4 Slim. Luckily it didn’t happen often, and it was mostly during the game’s more cinematic sequences, which don’t require split-second timing. Still, it’s a frustrating blemish for a game that was so long in development, and a potentially worrying sign for PlayStation 4 owners reluctant to make the jump to the PS4 Pro – we can only hope there won’t be too many more titles down the line that require the Pro to run smoothly.
We also encountered a few bugs and glitches through our playthrough, which occasionally forced us to reload the last checkpoint (thankfully these are very frequent) in order to move ahead. There’s also at least one puzzle in the game that seems frankly broken: it requires the player to stand in such a specific (and arbitrary) position to trigger Trico to act that there’s surely no way it can be working as intended. The camera is also an occasional frustration, especially when following Trico through narrower spaces, which is really the only element of the game that feels like a hangover from its PS3-era origins.
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