One of the most challenging aspects of video-games culture for a newcomer, especially for a busy parent, is trying to learn and understand the many, many acronyms and specialised terms. GameHub HQ entries are jargon-free, so you can get the information you need as easily and painlessly as possible, but there are still some words worth knowing. Every Monday, we break down one Word Worth Knowing from the world of gaming.
We’ve covered a bunch of companion apps over at GameHub HQ, including the iFruit Companion App for GTAV and the ctOS Mobile companion app for Watch_Dogs. But what actually is a companion app?
What It Is: Companion App = a mobile game that supports an existing console/pc game
What It Means: A Companion App is intended to suppliment a game played on the console or PC with additional content. The app might track the player’s stats, allow them to chat with other players, or even offer tasks that directly affect the main game.
Why You Care: Companion apps are often a great way to enhance the replayability of your main game. Companion apps tend to be free, and offer useful features to enhance the primary game, such as mini-maps, manuals/guides, and mini-games that interact with the main game. Parents need to be aware, however, that some companion apps also offer functionality not present in the main game, such as the ability to talk to strangers online. Some companion apps also function are shops for virtual or real-world merchandise, so if you don’t want your credit card maxed out, that’s something to be aware of too!
Today on GameHub Concierge, we are talking about Grand Theft Auto V. Or, more to the point, we are not talking about it! GTAV contains strong sexual themes, depictions of violence and adult humour, as well as nudity, prostitution and scenes of characters taking narcotics. At GameHub, we always strive to encourage and empower parents to make the decisions correct for their own children – their interests, their level of maturity and so on, and, whenever possible, to talk about the contents of the game they are playing with a friendly adult. Grand Theft Auto V however, is one of the few games where we really struggle to recommend it for a player below the age of 18, as the dark satire requires a grown-up understanding of humour, for example where the player graphically and protractedly tortures an obviously innocent character, then gives them a lecture about how torture is an ineffective method of gathering espionage. However, the game also contains a lot of content that isn’t to do with murder, sex, drugs, or rock and roll. It’s an enormous open world, with secrets to find, puzzles to solve and vehicles to race. For the overwhelming percentage of players, it is this amazing freedom that primarily attracts them to the game. But you don’t need be playing GTA in order to experience an incredible open world. In this GameHub Concierge, we advise a mother on some alternatives for her son, who, at 15, she feels is too young for GTAV, but still in love with the idea of exploring and roaming around a digital playground. Here is what we came up with…
Any Assasins Creed game
Batman Arkham City
Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
Infamous is essentially a toned down copy of a rival game “Prototype” in which the main character is turned into a mutant and goes on a mission to work out what has happened to him. Basically a kind of superhero/antihero story. Electricity is his superpower, so its a GTA style of gameplay, but with sparks instead of guns.
Assassin’s Creed games are GTA in an ancient city from historical Italy. There are lots of games in the series, focusing on different cities, including Venice, Milan etc. You free-run across the city exploring rooftops and doing missions. Any game in the series is good really, except the first one, so just look for something along the theme of “Assassin’s Creed: Word or Number.” The side missions quickly get dull, as they are very repetitive, but the core gameplay is superb. Of the three, however, it bears the least graphical resemblance to GTA.
Batman Arkham City is the most critically acclaimed of the games in the list. Its a dark and gritty superhero story about…Batman! Big open city, lots of stuff to do. Unlike most movie tie-ins, the Batman franchise is extremely well respected as a video game, they are very high quality and something you want to be seen as having played.
The Saboteur is GTA set in WW2 era occupied Paris. You can race cars, kill Nazis and destroy munitions to liberate the city. Your actions are reflected in the colour scheme, as with each district liberated, the game goes from being Black & White back to colour. Be advised, it does have an in-game strip club, though the nudity can be toggled on and off. To be honest, however, the strip club is pretty tame, think sophisticated “ladies of the night” rather than “XXX Youtube PornStar” sex-workers.
The Elder Scrolls Skyrim is a superb free-roaming fantasy game, with a truly enormous map (a whole country instead of the other games I’ve listed, which cover a whole city) packed with ruins to explore, dungeons to raid, monsters to fight, quests to do, and dragons to kill. Big, long and full of content, we sometimes refer to it as “GTA with swords.”
And here is her response:
“Thankyou so much – my son read this and was really pleased and impressed with your suggestions especially infamous and the saboteur – big smiles all round as I am happy with 15 rating and he is happy with suggestions. Thankyou so much!”
Another successful outing for the GameHub Concierge! There is a whole world of video games out there and we can help you navigate it so if you’ve got a question for the Concierge, contact us via email, social media or the comments box below.