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  1. In my early torturous days of being absolutely shit I wouldn't go near the Spitmaw, but then I read about people saying being more aggressive worked better and I forced myself to pick it up whenever I saw it. It was one of the key things that made me better at the game.
  2. I spent a comical amount of hours falling to Phrike and sometimes getting nowhere near him. But when I started to get more aggressive the whole game opened up to me. I’ve never played anything I was so bad at and yet still enjoyed for that long!
  3. I'm just doing my third play through - this time with my kids calling the shots about where we go and how we tackle it - and it's just so, so great. It's hardly news, but it's incredible how far ahead of everything else this remains. I'm excited for BOTW2 but also have fingers crossed that this is the year that we start to see some of the lessons of the game built into other projects like Elden Ring.
  4. Game of the Year A1. Returnal - Should it have launched with a working save state? Definitely. Was it head and shoulders above anything else launched last year even then? No question. This is a brilliant, unique and beautifully presented experience with incredible mechanics. I can’t think of a game that feels better to play from minute to minute in the last few years. It was frustrating that it bore the brunt of Sony’s ludicrous £70 pricing and gutting that this, more than any other game this year, seemed to be the subject of debate around its value for money. That’s particularly true because I probably played this as much as I played everything else put together this year. In a generally disappointing year for new games this was a glorious outlier and I poured hours into it. A2. Death’s Door - This was a really sweet surprise. It had a really clear sense of what it was aiming for and a really lovely aesthetic and style. The fact that it’s second in my list despite being quite simple in many ways speaks to the dearth of really outstanding games this year, but it was charming and fun from start to finish. A3. Deathloop - This is a flawed game whose flaws become more apparent the longer it goes on. But it makes a fantastic first impression and I really loved the fact that it’s trying to pull off a really distinct structure even if it doesn’t quite stick the landing. A4. Hitman 3- More of the same in some ways, but with a few really clever twists that demonstrate how well IO understand what they’re doing. It’s not a series I completely adore, but it’s hard not to admire the craft and the love that goes into it. A5. Guardians of the Galaxy - In any other year this wouldn’t have made my list, mainly because the mechanics are poorly lifted from other, better games. But it’s got real panache, a real understanding of the source material and simply wins you over with sheer enthusiasm and great writing. Biggest Disappointment of the Year Z1. Overall quality - It might have been Covid biting, but this year was one of the least inspiring for me in a long, long time. The excitement of last year’s console launches seemed to fizzle out with only one really outstanding game and I ended up spending a lot of time trawling through older stuff or trying and quickly ditching lots of Gamepass fodder. Z2. Halo Infinite - I’d assumed, even with the well-documented development issues, that this would be a meaty end-of-year treat. But the campaign spent two hours flattering to deceive, the open world was pointless, empty and uniform, the story was bad even by Halo standards and the linear levels and boss fights were genuinely awful. In a year of disappointments, this one stood out. Z3. Psychonauts 2 - This probably says more about me than the game considering the general reception. But like the first one I found it slow, ugly, unfunny and mechanically dull. Sound Design of the Year S1. Returnal S2. Resident Evil Village S3. Guardians of the Galaxy Visual Design of the Year V1. Returnal V2. Ratchet and Clank V3. Forza Horizon 5 Writing of the Year W1. Unpacking W2. Guardians of the Galaxy W3. Deathloop Format of the Year F1. Playstation 5 - a really tough one to choose, with no platform excelling this year. Sony take it by virtue of having by far the best game of the year, and it being a surprisingly eccentric thing to back. Publisher or Developer of the Year P1. Housemarque - unlike platform, this was an easy choice. They made the best game of the year by miles and did it moving from two to three dimensions - an incredibly risky thing to pull off for Housemarque’s very particular form of bullet hell. It was always readable and, within the parameters of a rogue like, always fair. They also built a really atmospheric narrative to tie it all together. A stone cold classic and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
  5. It’s been a really poor year for my money, certainly one of the worst I can remember. The only really great game this year was Returnal. Beyond that there were a few 8/10s and a lot of games I personally found disappointing. My scarce resource these days is no longer money but time. And that means I actively try to avoid wasting my time on games that I don’t rate really highly. A lot of Gamepass fell into that category this year and underlines why, while others think it’s the ultimate in gaming value, it just won’t work for me until the first-party studios start to really pay off.
  6. Anyone actually managed to upgrade the Ps Plus PS4 version? I can’t see an obvious way to do it
  7. Ha! Yep - Hades was my GOTY last year and Returnal this year (by a country mile). They are an amazing illustration of the ways in which rogue like structures are being put to increasingly distinct and compelling use
  8. Same for me. So many games this year have been disappointing compared to my expectations. Returnal was the opposite. Nothing comes close to the tightness of the gameplay and the sense of tough-but-fair challenge
  9. I'm one of those who loved H:CE for its campaign and over the years felt like the aims of the series became so focused on multiplayer that I got less and less interested. Every campaign felt like a poorer blueprint of the preceding one. I barely spent an hour with Halo 4 and didn't bother with 5. So the first few hours with this really did give me a warm feeling but the longer I've played it the less I like it. Technically it's a curate's egg. But the key thing for me is the open-world structure makes it feel so much more disposable and less curated than the highs of that first game. It feels mundane rather than exciting.
  10. This game is clearly absolutely brilliant but I hate the presentation so much that it makes me not want to play it. Just one glimpse of my avatar emoting around a car before a race makes me vomit. The whole 'you're a rock star' sycophancy of everyone you meet or hear on the radio is like nails down a blackboard. I realise that this is entirely my problem but I just can't abide it.
  11. A wise dev once told me that the key to every Blockchain business is to ask if there’s any good reason that a typical database wouldn’t work just as well as a foundation. It’s an excellent rule of thumb and sidesteps the very real danger of the complexities of a Blockchain pitch befuddling common sense.
  12. Would also love an invite to the club if possible: ChrisMoranUK
  13. Psychonauts 2 I remember being incredibly excited about the first one back in the day, and then being completely baffled by the gulf between my experience of it and the critical reception. It was slow, stop-start, ugly, unfunny, self indulgent and lacking in finesse. Since it was on Gamepass I figured I'd give the new one a shot, especially because I was in such a minority on the last one. And I've found exactly the same thing. The sheer volume of tedious cutscenes would make a decent platform sink, but the mechanics here just aren't that much fun. It's complicated rather than nuanced and it's just so lacking in respect for your time that I deleted it after just a few hours.
  14. I've come back to this in the last couple of days after massively enjoying it first time out, and it's mainly just reminding me of how far ahead of any other game I've played this year it is.
  15. When NPR shut down their comments in 2015 they published a fascinating blogpost: https://www.npr.org/sections/publiceditor/2016/08/17/489516952/npr-website-to-get-rid-of-comments?t=1633622687740 “When NPR analyzed the number of people who left at least one comment in both June and July, the numbers showed an even more interesting pattern: Just 4,300 users posted about 145 comments apiece, or 67 percent of all NPR.org comments for the two months. More than half of all comments in May, June and July combined came from a mere 2,600 users. The conclusion: NPR's commenting system — which gets more expensive the more comments that are posted, and in some months has cost NPR twice what was budgeted — is serving a very, very small slice of its overall audience. It's not possible to tell who those commenters are; some users comment anonymously. But there are some clues that indicate those who comment are not wholly representative of the overall NPR audience: They overwhelmingly comment via the desktop (younger users tend to find NPR.org via mobile), and a Google estimate suggested that the commenters were 83 percent male, while overall NPR.org users were just 52 percent male, Montgomery said.”
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