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God of War’s PC port is an improvement on perfection • The Register

The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Long may this trajectory of PlayStation titles eventually coming to PC continue – because we now have God of War.

How do you make a flawless PlayStation exclusive even better? The answer seems to be to port it to PC, which is what happened with God of War on 14 January. Back in 2018, The Register was lucky enough to receive a copy ahead of its original release. We played it and loved it, though without a dedicated spot on the site for gaming it would have felt strange to suddenly write about the experience.

Things have changed. The RPG has entered its third year as God of War becomes the latest in a number of erstwhile “exclusives” that have made the leap to the desktop. In that vein, this column has previously covered the PC releases of Death Stranding (not for everyone) and Days Gone (not perfect), and we’ve learnt that the measure of a port is “how badly have they fucked this up?”

Because although the aforementioned were shining examples of stability and performance, the process doesn’t always go smoothly. Horizon: Zero Dawn, the other PlayStation stablemate to be brought over, was a dumpster fire on launch. We never got round to it for precisely this reason. There are no such concerns with Santa Monica Studio’s God of War.

Chaurli sits on top of the Witch of the Woods house, with a tree growing out of his back

‘Chaurli’ sits on top of the Witch of the Woods’ house, with a tree growing out of his back

Sadly, it’s not often that you can describe a video game as “magical” – but God of War fits the bill. Santa Monica has been developing the series since 2005 on the PlayStation 2, where it started as a hack-and-slash action game with a fixed camera view, but the PlayStation 4 entry, which shares the same name with the debut, is a soft reboot of sorts, a fresh beginning and new direction. You can safely start here without having touched the previous titles.

Venturing into Helheim, realm of the dishonourable dead

Venturing into Helheim, realm of the dishonourable dead

The franchise follows Kratos, a Spartan warrior who becomes a Greek tragedy after being tricked into murdering his family by the war god Ares. He goes on a rampage driven by rage and vengeance, slaughtering much of the Greek pantheon over the course of three games. It transpires that he is a demigod and a son of Zeus (the chief deity’s habit of raping mortals is well documented).

Ruined statues of the Aesir stick out of Midgard's central lake

Ruined statues of the Aesir stick out of Midgard’s central lake

Now hiding out in Midgard – not the literal “Earth” as such but a representation of the realms of Norse mythology where gods, dwarfs, elves, dragons, and other monsters dwell – Kratos (now voiced by Stargate SG-1’s Christopher Judge) appears to have cooled down a bit, grown a sick beard, and fathered a son, Atreus, whose mother has died under unexplained circumstances at the beginning of the game. Her dying wish was to have her ashes scattered from the top of the highest peak in the realms. Therein lies your quest. It sounds simple, but the resident gods have become suspicious of Kratos’s presence, and the journey turns out to be anything but.

The aftermath of a particularly difficult and bloody battle

The aftermath of a particularly difficult and bloody battle

This God of War switched things up by shifting to a third-person, over-the-shoulder camera (à la The Last of Us) where the player can freely look and go anywhere. As such, it could be loosely defined as an open-world game. There is a large hub-like map that can be freely explored, where you’ll find a substantial but not overwhelming number of side objectives become available as the story progresses, ranging from dungeons to collectibles to optional bosses.

The interface through which Kratos can travel to other realms

The interface through which Kratos can travel to other realms

One of the more material changes, however, is Kratos’s weaponry. Ashamed of his past, his “Blades of Chaos” have been shelved in favour of the “Leviathan Axe”, an enchanted heirloom he inherited from his deceased wife, though the blades are forced to make a reappearance down the line. In a nod to Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir, the axe can be aimed and thrown at enemies, zipping back to the wielder’s hands with a button press, as well as being used as an outrageously powerful melee weapon. The visceral mechanics surrounding the axe are some of the best in the gaming and never get old.

Trolls are intimidating foes

Trolls are intimidating foes

The approach is more grounded than the older titles. There’s no crazy jumping around, though Kratos can vault obstacles, lift up huge rocks to pass beneath, and scale cliff faces. During combat, however, he will often be surrounded by many varieties of enemies with different attacks and abilities at a time, meaning you sort of have to multi-task – being aware of what is behind you, who is about to hurl a magic projectile at you, blocking, parrying, dodging, and rolling before counter-attacking to stay alive. So the hack-and-slash element has been preserved but it can also feel like a brawler (Bayonetta, Devil May Cry) – just heavier, more brutal, slower-paced.

On that note, God of War is gleefully violent. One of the earliest boss fights – and another up there with the very best of gaming – is between Kratos and a man who cannot feel pain. Though his identity is shrouded for the sake of the narrative, students of Norse mythology should be able to work it out. This guy bangs on the door of Kratos’s house and starts casting aspersions, luring him into an almighty brawl where the attacker is smashed through a house and a hillside, crushed by a huge crag of rock, and has his neck broken. He walks it off. Alongside health, enemies and bosses also have stun bars, which are most efficiently built up when Kratos sheathes his axe and takes them on with his bare fists. When filled, the player can trigger a variety of brutal execution animations – like so (I think my expression says it all).

Enemies will often attack in groups

Enemies will often attack in groups

But on top of the ultraviolence, progress in God of War has depth and intricacy. You don’t “level up” simply with the accruing of experience points – those are used to unlock button combos and attack abilities. Instead there is a crafting system, with the help of the dwarves Brok and Sindri, to create or upgrade armour, weaponry, trinkets and talismans, paid for by hacksilver and rare items dropped by vanquished monsters. The better the item you equip, the higher your level will be – so it’s important to be on the lookout for drops that can help craft rarer equipment (denoted by the classic MMO colour code of green < blue < purple < orange) as the story unfolds and enemies get tougher.

Jörmungandr is one of the best encounters in any video game

Jörmungandr is one of the best encounters in gaming

Onto the graphics then. Goodness me. It was stunning what the devs could achieve with PlayStation 4 hardware (now last-gen and superseded by the fifth iteration of the console), and this is where the port shines. Midgard is a wonderfully dramatic and colourful place, ranging from lush enchanted woodland and valleys to snow-capped mountain peaks, and now you don’t have to play with the framerate locked to 30fps!

Certain set pieces really stand out as capturing God of War’s magic – your first encounter with Jörmungandr, the World Serpent, a truly spectacular entity of Titanic scale, or the colossal tortoise anticlimactically named “Chaurli” who lives above the wood witch’s home. It’s like reliving The NeverEnding Story in video game form. Bosses too can be towering, with trolls and ogres regularly ambushing Kratos and Atreus. The latter can be ridden when weakened and used against other foes.

God of War is full of beautiful environments

God of War is full of beautiful environments

Then there’s the central hub machinery, sunken in a lake, a mysterious set of buildings and towers constructed by the gods for the purposes of realm travel (there are nine worlds in Norse mythology). Once Kratos has the Bifröst (the rainbow bridge of the old tales but in the game a key-like item), he can interface with a representation of the cosmic tree Yggdrasil. The process of travelling to another world is pure eye candy, with the tree’s roots writhing into a bridge. Just… take it from me. Everything in the game is pure eye candy.

Ex-dwarf Fafnir, now a dragon

Ex-dwarf Fafnir, now a dragon

There are a few graphical settings with finer granularity that can be tweaked if necessary. “Original” is the PlayStation appearance, already fantastic and with the unlocked framerate to boot. If your rig can’t handle that there’s “Low”, otherwise shifting to “High” or, even better, “Ultra” will push the port to its full potential. We played on “Ultra” and performance was flawless. We opted to use a gamepad, just because it was more familiar since we played the original, but the keyboard-and-mouse controls feel perfectly viable too.

A portion of the game takes place on and around the body of a slain giant

A portion of the game takes place on and around the body of a slain giant

So as to “how badly have they fucked this up?” the answer is: not at all. It was a perfect action-adventure game on PlayStation 4 that’s only been made better by the port. I couldn’t find a single bug or oddity anywhere, and honestly the PC gaming community should jump at the chance to play. It’ll fascinate fans of Norse mythology with its many references to Eddic lore and delight gamers with its meaty mechanics and Kratos’s gradual development from stern and distant father to something almost resembling tenderness. God of War is set to remain in Scandinavia for the next instalment, Ragnarök, this year. We can only hope it will one day come to PC as well, otherwise it might be time to grab a PlayStation. ®

Rich played God of War on Twitch as ExcellentSword. Chuck him a follow for more video game impressions as they happen! Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from around 8:30-9pm UK time.

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Congratulations, Privacy Just Took A Great Leap Out the Window!

Your Data Is Being Used Without Your Permission And Knowledge

The Voice Of EU | In the heart of technological innovation, the collision between intellectual property rights and the development of cutting-edge AI technologies has sparked a significant legal battle. The New York Times has taken legal action against OpenAI and Microsoft, filing a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court. This legal maneuver aims to address concerns surrounding the unauthorized use of the Times’ content for the training of AI models, alleging copyright infringements that could potentially result in billions of dollars in damages.

READ: HOW YOUR DATA IS BEING USED TO TRAIN A.I.

This legal tussle underlines the escalating tension between technological advancements and the protection of intellectual property. The crux of the lawsuit revolves around OpenAI and Microsoft allegedly utilizing the Times’ proprietary content to advance their own AI technology, directly competing with the publication’s services. The lawsuit suggests that this unauthorized utilization threatens the Times’ ability to offer its distinctive service and impacts its AI innovation, creating a competitive landscape that challenges the publication’s proprietary content.

Amidst the growing digital landscape, media organizations like the Times are confronting a myriad of challenges. The migration of readers to online platforms has significantly impacted traditional media, and the advent of artificial intelligence technology has added another layer of complexity. The legal dispute brings to the forefront the contentious practice of AI companies scraping copyrighted information from online sources, including articles from media organizations, to train their generative AI chatbots. This strategy has attracted substantial investments, rapidly transforming the AI landscape.

Exhibit presented by the New York Times’ legal team of ChatGPT replicating a article after being prompted

The lawsuit highlights instances where OpenAI’s technology, specifically GPT-4, replicated significant portions of Times articles, including in-depth investigative reports. These outputs, alleged by the Times to contain verbatim excerpts from their content, raise concerns about the ethical and legal boundaries of using copyrighted material for AI model training without proper authorization or compensation.

The legal action taken by the Times follows attempts to engage in discussions with Microsoft and OpenAI, aiming to address concerns about the use of its intellectual property. Despite these efforts, negotiations failed to reach a resolution that would ensure fair compensation for the use of the Times’ content while promoting responsible AI development that benefits society.

In the midst of this legal battle, the broader questions surrounding the responsible and ethical utilization of copyrighted material in advancing technological innovations come to the forefront.

The dispute between the Times, OpenAI, and Microsoft serves as a significant case study in navigating the intricate intersection of technological progress and safeguarding intellectual property rights in the digital age.


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Conflicted History: ‘Oppenheimer’ And Its Impact On Los Alamos And New Mexico Downwinders

‘Oppenheimer’ And Its Impact On Los Alamos And New Mexico Downwinders

The Voice Of EU | In the highly anticipated blockbuster movie, “Oppenheimer,” the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man behind the first atomic bomb, is portrayed as a riveting tale of triumph and tragedy.

As the film takes center stage, it also brings to light the often-overlooked impacts on a community living downwind from the top-secret Manhattan Project testing site in southern New Mexico.

A Forgotten Legacy

While the film industry and critics praise “Oppenheimer,” a sense of frustration prevails among the residents of New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin, who continue to grapple with the consequences of the Manhattan Project. Tina Cordova, a cancer survivor and founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, expresses their feelings, stating, “They invaded our lives and our lands and then they left,” referring to the scientists and military personnel who conducted secret experiments over 200 miles away from their community.

The Consortium, alongside organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists, has been striving to raise awareness about the impact of the Manhattan Project on New Mexico’s population. Advocates emphasize the necessity of acknowledging the human cost of the Trinity Test, the first atomic blast, and other nuclear weapons activities that have affected countless lives in the state.

The Ongoing Struggle for Recognition

As film enthusiasts celebrate the drama and brilliance of “Oppenheimer,” New Mexico downwinders feel overlooked by both the U.S. government and movie producers. The federal government’s compensation program for radiation exposure still does not include these affected individuals. The government’s selection of the remote and flat Trinity Test Site, without warning residents in the surrounding areas, further added to the controversy.

Living off the land, the rural population in the Tularosa Basin had no idea that the fine ash settling on their homes and fields was a result of the world’s first atomic explosion.

The government initially attempted to cover up the incident, attributing the bright light and rumble to an explosion at a munitions dump. It was only after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan weeks later that New Mexico residents realized the magnitude of what they had witnessed.

Tracing the Fallout

According to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, large amounts of radiation were released into the atmosphere during the Trinity Test, with fallout descending over a vast area. Some of the fallout reached as far as the Atlantic Ocean, but the greatest concentration settled approximately 30 miles from the test site.

Now I Am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.

J. Robert Oppenheimer

The consequences of this catastrophic event have affected generations of New Mexicans, who still await recognition and justice for the harm caused by nuclear weapons.

A Tale of Contrasts: Los Alamos and the Legacy of Oppenheimer

As the film’s spotlight shines on the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, a contrasting narrative unfolds in Los Alamos, more than 200 miles north of the Tularosa Basin. Los Alamos stands as a symbol of Oppenheimer’s legacy, housing one of the nation’s premier national laboratories and boasting the highest percentage of people with doctorate degrees in the U.S.

Oppenheimer’s influence is evident throughout Los Alamos, with a street bearing his name and an IPA named in his honor at a local brewery. The city embraces its scientific legacy, showcasing his handwritten notes and ID card in a museum exhibit. Los Alamos National Laboratory employees played a significant role in the film, contributing as extras and engaging in enlightening discussions during breaks.

The “Oppenheimer” Movie

Director Christopher Nolan’s perspective on the Trinity Test and its profound impact is evident in his approach to “Oppenheimer.” He has described the event as an extraordinary moment in human history and expressed his desire to immerse the audience in the pivotal moment when the button was pushed. Nolan’s dedication to bringing historical accuracy and emotional depth to the screen is evident as he draws inspiration from Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

For Nolan, Oppenheimer’s story is a potent blend of dreams and nightmares, capturing the complexity and consequences of the Manhattan Project. As the film reaches global audiences, it also offers a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the downwinders in New Mexico, whose lives were forever altered by the legacy of nuclear weapons testing.

The Oppenheimer Festival and Beyond

Los Alamos is determined to use the Oppenheimer Festival as an opportunity to educate visitors about the true stories behind the film’s events. The county’s “Project Oppenheimer” initiative, launched in early 2023, encompasses forums, documentaries, art installations, and exhibits that delve into the scientific contributions of the laboratory and the social implications of the Manhattan Project.

A special area during the festival will facilitate discussions about the movie, fostering a deeper understanding of the community’s history. The county aims to continue revisiting and discussing the legacy of the Manhattan Project, ensuring that the impact of this pivotal moment in history is never forgotten.

As “Oppenheimer” takes audiences on an emotional journey, it serves as a reminder that every historical event carries with it complex and multifaceted implications. The movie may celebrate the scientific achievements of the past, but it also illuminates the urgent need to recognize and address the human cost that persists to this day.


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GSK’s Mosquirix Is Revolutionizing The Fight Against Malaria

GSK’s Mosquirix And The Fight Against Malaria

Over the past three years, the global focus has primarily been on the Covid-19 pandemic, diverting attention and resources away from other infectious diseases that disproportionately affect vulnerable populations in the Global South. Among these diseases, malaria continues to be a pressing public health concern, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of people each year, especially children in Sub-Saharan Africa. While significant progress has been made in preventing and treating malaria, innovative solutions are needed to combat this deadly disease.

Advancements in Malaria Prevention:

Researchers have made remarkable progress in both prevention and treatment strategies for malaria. The World Health Organization’s recommendation of dual-ingredient insecticide-treated bed nets in March 2023 marks a significant milestone in preventing malaria transmission by Anopheles mosquitoes. These nets, including those with more lethal insecticide combinations and those disrupting mosquito growth, are key tools in malaria prevention efforts.

LEARN MORE: ALL ABOUT HEALTHCARE

The Importance of Cost-Effective Antimalarial Medicines:

Cost-effective antimalarial medicines play a crucial role in combating malaria. In 2021, approximately 45 million children between the ages of three months and five years received seasonal malaria chemoprevention, which involved monthly doses of therapeutic drugs at a cost of less than $4 per person. While this approach has shown promising results, the development of a groundbreaking vaccine brings renewed hope.

GSK’s Mosquirix (RTS,S) Vaccine:

GSK’s Mosquirix, also known as RTS,S, is an innovative vaccine that has the potential to transform the fight against malaria. This vaccine offers hope in preventing the disease, particularly among children in malaria-endemic regions. Although the current cost is relatively high, around $40 per child for the first year, it presents an essential step forward in malaria prevention efforts.

The Persistent Threat of Malaria:

Despite substantial investments of $26 billion to combat malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of cases has seen a slight increase between 2000 and 2019, although the number of deaths has decreased. This highlights the need for new prevention measures tailored to vulnerable populations, especially children. Taking inspiration from the Covid-19 pandemic, where monoclonal antibodies have demonstrated their potential, similar approaches could be explored in the fight against malaria.

The Potential of Monoclonal Antibodies:

Monoclonal antibodies, laboratory-made copies of immune system proteins, have shown immense potential in combating various diseases, including cancer and autoimmune disorders. Their remarkable selectivity and ability to target specific molecular markers make them an attractive option for preventive interventions. Researchers at the United States National Institutes of Health, led by Robert Seder, have identified two antibodies that target CSP-1, a protein used by the malaria parasite to invade liver cells. Clinical trials are currently underway in Mali and Kenya to assess their safety and efficacy, focusing on seasonal and year-round malaria transmission settings.

Game-Changing Potential:

Monoclonal antibodies have the potential to be a game-changer in malaria prevention, advancing the long-sought goal of eradication. The latest generation of antimalarial antibodies offers extended protection, with a single dose potentially safeguarding a child for at least three months, if not longer. Clinical trials will determine the extent and duration of this protection and guide future improvements to achieve a once-a-year injection.

Making Monoclonal Antibodies Accessible:

While monoclonal antibodies are often associated with high costs, efforts to increase their potency could significantly reduce expenses. It is estimated that an injection as small as one milliliter of the antibody drug being trialed in Mali and Kenya could protect children at a cost of only $5-10 per person. To ensure accessibility, it is crucial to engage national regulatory agencies and involve affected countries in the production of these biologics. While manufacturing antibodies is a complex and regulated process, investing in the necessary technology now would greatly benefit developing economies burdened by endemic malaria.

Addressing Disparities and Raising Awareness:

Currently, demand for monoclonal antibodies primarily comes from high-income countries, with Africa accounting for only 1% of global sales. This disparity underscores the importance of working with national regulatory agencies to address public health concerns and involve affected countries in the production and distribution of these life-saving biologics. Collaboration among government, academia, and industry is crucial to coordinate advocacy efforts and raise awareness about the potential of monoclonal antibodies in malaria prevention.

Preparing for Success:

While the deployment of the first generation of antimalarial antibodies is expected to occur no earlier than 2027, it is essential to start preparing for their potential success now. These antibodies hold tremendous promise as a powerful weapon in the fight against malaria, alongside bed nets, medicines, and emerging vaccines. Clinical trials will provide vital information on the extent of their efficacy, duration of protection, and dosage requirements. It is imperative to remain proactive and ensure that the necessary infrastructure and policies are in place to facilitate the widespread adoption of these breakthrough treatments.

Combining Science & Research:

As the world continues to battle the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it is crucial not to overlook the persistent threat of malaria, especially in regions heavily impacted by poverty. While significant progress has been made in malaria prevention and treatment, the development of innovative solutions like GSK’s Mosquirix vaccine and the potential of monoclonal antibodies offer renewed hope in the fight against this deadly disease. By harnessing the lessons learned from Covid-19 research and engaging in collaborative efforts, we can work towards a future where malaria is no longer a major public health concern. Together, we can strive for the eradication of malaria and ensure a healthier future for vulnerable populations worldwide.


By Laura Richardson | Independent Contributor “The Voice Of EU

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