Jump to content
rllmuk
Unofficial Who

What games did you complete? 2020 Edition

Recommended Posts

20. The Gardens Between (PC Game Pass)

 

ezgif-3-0955b103b284.gif.cf2bafef6b7b6ba0e97f65e0db9eb236.gif

 

This was quite nice, if very slight, both in terms of its runtime (less than two hours) and its mechanics. The diorama-like levels put me in mind of Captain Toad, while the time control being tied to the movement of the characters was reminiscent of Braid, although it lacks the depth of either game. It looks pretty in motion, though, and the soundtrack was quite chill. A nice palate cleanser after the intensity of TLOU2. I can think of worse ways to spend a couple of hours if you've got Game Pass, just don't expect anything that you haven't seen before.

 

6/10

 

Previous:

Spoiler

1. Death Stranding (PS4) - 8/10

2. Mark of the Ninja Remastered (Switch) - 7/10

3. Firewatch (PS4) - 7/10

4. Dishonored 2 (PS4) - 7/10

5. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) (PS4) - 6/10

6. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PC) - 8/10

7. Half-Life 2 (PC) - 9/10

8. Gears 5 (PC Game Pass) - 8/10

9. Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch) - 9/10

10. A Plague Tale: Innocence (PC Game Pass) - 7/10

11. Half-Life 2: Episode 1 (PC) - 7/10

12. Lonely Mountains: Downhill (PC Game Pass) - 8/10

13. The Last of Us (PS4) - 10/10

14. The Last of Us: Left Behind (PS4) - 9/10

15. Sniper Elite V2 (PC) - 6/10

16. Amnesia: The Dark Descent (PC) - 6/10

17. Rayman Legends (Switch) - 6/10

18. Monument Valley (Android) - 7/10

19. The Last of Us: Part II (PS4) - 10/10

20. The Gardens Between (PC Game Pass) - 6/10

 

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jul

 

12/07 Life is Strange:Before the Storm (PC) I'd put off playing this for so long that I ended up buying it again on another platform. This ditches some of the supernatural devices of Life is Strange, no do-overs here if you screw up dialogue choices. Chloe though is much more interesting than Max and it probably helped that this teen drama was written buy a woman rather than a bunch of guys. It does flag a bit in the final third but for fans of the original it's essential. 

 

05/07 Assemble With Care (PC) Bought after reading @moosegrinder's write up. It is short and simple in parts but really satisfying. It inspired me to fix up a few things this weekend that needed maintenance and to enjoy the simple joys such tasks can bring.

 

04/07 Mushroom Cats 2 (PC) Not sure why John Walker enjoyed this so much. I was looking forward to an expansion on the last hidden object game but after a couple of nice first levels the rest were essentially done in seconds. It's very cheap so I can't complain. And it has cats in need of warm hats. But it's very slight.

 

04/07 Outer Wilds (PC) If you were ever a fan of Paul Woake's Damocles this is essential. If not? It's still essential. The best detective game ever. Play it. Don't look at a guide for the first ten hours. It's beautiful and terrifying in equal measures. There's so much to say. Far better for you to find out for yourself.

 

Earlier this year.

 

 

Jun
46. 20/06 Diamo XL (PC
45. 16/06 Bing Bong XL (PC) 
44. 16/06 Duke Grabowski, Mighty Swashbuckler (PC)
43. 15/06 Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge (Browser) 
42. 13/06 Shinobi (Switch)
41. 08/06 Final Fantasy 7:Remake (PS4) 
40. 08/06 Missile Command:Recharged (PC)
39. 07/06 Star Wars Battlefront 2 (PS4) 
38. 07/06 Orbt XL (PC) 
37. 07/06 Ding Dong XL (PC)
May
36. 30/05 Tales from Off Peak City:Vol 1 (PC) 
35. 27/05 30 Miles to Barnard Castle (PS4/Dreams) 
34. 24/05 Super Bit Blaster XL (PC)
33. 22/05 When the Past was Around:Prologue (PC) 
32. 15/05 Mushroom Cats (PC) 
31. 09/05 deltarune:Chapter 1 (Switch) 
30. 21/04 Donkey Kong Jr (NES/Switch) 
29. 21/04 Donkey Kong (NES/Switch)
28. 21/04 Super Mario 2 (NES/Switch)
27. 13/04 Black Mesa (PC) 
26. 11/04 Arcade Moonlander Plus (PC)
25. 10/04 There is No Game (Jam Edition 2015) (PC)
24. 10/04 The Adventure Pals (PC)
23. 30/03 Bioshock Infinite:Burial at Sea (PS4)
22. 23/03 Bioshock Infinite (PS4)
21. 15/03 Bioshock 2 (PS4)
20. 11/03 The Supper (PC)
19. 08/03 Devil's Kiss (PC)
18. 07/03 Time Gentlemen, Please! (PC)
17. 04/03 Bioshock 2:Minerva's Den (PS4)
16. 01/03 Bioshock (PS4)
15. 27/02 Ben There, Dan That : Special Edition (PC) 
14. 21/02 You've to to be Kitten Me! (PS4/Dreams) 
13. 17/02 Art Therapy (PS4/Dreams) 
12. 16/02 Art's Dream (PS4/Dreams) 
11. 12/02 Juanito Arcade Mayhem (PC) 
10. 08/02 Wolfenstein 2:the New Colossus (PC) (plus The Freedom Chronicles DLC) 
9. 03/02 The Outer Worlds (PS4) 
8. 27/01 Quest of Dungeons (PC) 
7. 21/01 Feather (PC)
6. 20/01 Paperbark (PC)
5. 09/01 The Cat and the Coup (PC) 
4. 09/01 1979 Revolution:Black Friday (PC) 
3. 08/01 Wolfenstein:the Old Blood (PC) 
2. 03/01 Wolfenstein:the New Order (PC) 
1. 01/01 Detroit:Become Human (PS4)
 

 

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

4th July 2020

 

Call of Cthulhu (Xbox one) 7h21m

 

As a game this is pretty woeful. As interactive fiction it's pretty great. Maybe only if you have a predilection for Lovecraftian bullshit.

 

It's incredibly atmospheric but technically wonky, with models clipping through things and lips that don't sync to the words. I wish there was a world where a triple A developer could make a game like this and it would sell, but to call it 'niche' is putting it lightly.

 

I might go through it again with a guide to get the other ending. There's at least one. I'm not sure what effect some of my decisions had on the game though. 

 

Just don't leave it a year to finish it like I did or you'll lose some of the threads.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/06/2020 at 22:31, strawdonkey said:

01: Shovel Knight

02: Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment

03: Racedierun

04: Super Mario Maker 2

05: Muv-Luv Extra

06. Untitled Goose Game

07. Glass Masquerade

08. Pokémon Sword

09. OneShot

10. Gorogoa

11. Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom

12. Hylics

13. LiEat

14. Sonic Robo Blast 2

15. Hustle Cat

16. Universal Paperclips

17. Animal Crossing: New Horizons

18. Pixel Session Vol. 1

19. Helltaker

 

When PSO2 launched, I swore a lot because it was a 60GB download and Microsoft Store has a habit of making you redownload the entire 60GB install if you do something as egregious as, er, accidentally click "no" when you are asked if you want to run it with admin rights.

 

A friend mentioned to me that while I'm waiting for it to download, I may as well play Helltaker. A game about acquiring a harem of sharply-dressed demon girls. It's short (if you are good, probably 20 minutes. If you are an idiot, as I am, about an hour), it's a collection of ten puzzles, it's funny, and it's completely free (though there is a donation DLC if you are so inclined). Oh and it sounds great. Basically everything about it is lovely.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

04/07/2020 - A Short Hike (PC)

 

Well this was quite a charming little thing, wasn't it?

 

I certainly don't love it, nor will I likely remember I ever played it, but there was something very calming and saccharine (but in a good way) about it. I guessed the general direction of the 'plot' from the little intro before the game proper even started, but that didn't really matter, because this is about the experience rather than the narrative.

 

As I wandered around the island, doing little tasks for people along the way, I enjoyed just that little sense of unburdened adventure; I didn't need to get to the top of the mountain to save the world (or even myself) but, well, why shouldn't I? Whilst I found the on-ground movement very slippy and a bit crude (though I almost excused it by telling myself it fit in with the (deliberate) fuzzy, heavily pixellated art direction), gliding was a joy. Indeed, just climbing something, jumping off and gliding around was a simple and yet pleasant endeavour, sometimes yielding a secret hidden coin or chest or - a golden feather!

 

What I'm most please about though is just the fact I played (and enjoyed) it. My gaming diet never used to be very broad; RPGs (of all types) and first/third person shooters/adventures and, well not all that much else. But in the last 2 or 3 years I've really taken a punt on all the many other wonderful types of games out there, some of which may be light on actual gameplay, a strong narrative focus or even just mechanics that work - but I've enjoyed some really different things. And long may it continue, else I'd never have played something like 'A Normal Lost Phone', 'Gris' or 'Night Call' from this year alone (or, indeed, this). I may not get on with all of them, but that's okay.

 

...anyway, A Short Hike is decent. Experience it.

 

05/07/2020 - Hellpoint: The Thespian Feast (PC)

 

Now, the above doesn't mean I've given up on my staple diet, so this is another free prologue/demo ahead of the full game coming out (which launches this month). Not that I'll care, because this is rubbish.

 

It's basically sci-fi Souls, except worse in every single way - and I say that as somebody who doesn't even like the Souls games. It's the same stamina-based combat, no map, resetting enemies granting energy on death which you use to increase stats...zzzzzzzzzz. This is the very definition of a love-letter written by a stalker - full of incoherent rambling and promises of being everything the recipient dreams of if only you'd give them the chance.

 

There's little going for it; the controls are very floaty - which doesn't help with the terrible bits of platforming it expects you to do; the camera craps the bed in normal movement, let alone if you try and lock on to an enemy; it looks rough as hell - like somebody took the sprites from Quake and didn't bother trying to improve them (other than to add some tits) and the environment - as much as can be seen in an hour or so - was painfully generic, bland metal walls and inexplicable holes in the floor. Whoever would design any kind of structure like this?!

 

It does have one main point of differentiation, though, which is actually quite good. You don't have a set number of medikits, instead some <thing> which is charged by you hitting enemies, thus meaning you are not stuck having a set number to use before being able to resupply at the next bonfire equivalent (which is handy, because they don't resupply there anyway).

 

Of course, it's nowhere near enough to save it from being pap and any interest in the full title evaporated quickly. I like to look on the positive though, so the silver lining is that I send thanks to the devs for saving future-me some money. Yay!

 

In addition to the above, I did complete another run of Late Shift - still got a bad ending though. Grumble. I'm not noting it down though because although there are no rules to this thread, it just wouldn't feel right (even though there's no scene-skip on PC - there is on console - so I genuinely did have to watch it all again). I just wanted to mention it really, so if I ever read back on this thread to see what I said about games (as I've done on previous threads), well, good one, @Gabe!

 

Previously completed:

Spoiler

22/06/2020 - Late Shift (PC)

22/06/2020 - Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (PC)

21/06/2020 - Final Fantasy XV (PC)

14/06/2020 - Bright Memory (PC)

11/06/2020 - A Normal Lost Phone (PC)

09/06/2020 - The Outer Worlds (PC)

07/06/2020 - Sin Slayers: The First Sin (PC)

26/05/2020 - Astrologlaster (PC)

25/05/2020 - Demon Stone (PC)

23/05/2020 - Stories Untold (PC)

03/05/2020 - Streets of Rage (PC)

29/04/2020 - Inside (PC)

21/04/2020 - Call of Duty WW2 (PC)

19/04/2020 - Wheels of Aurelia (PC)

15/04/2020 - Sword Omen: Legacy (PC)

02/04/2020 - Mother Russia Bleeds (PC)

29/03/2020 - Operencia - The Stolen Sun (PC)

20/02/2020 - Ruzar: The Life Stone (PC)

20/02/2020 - Alder's Blood: Prologue (PC)

17/02/2020 - Universal Paperclips (PC)

15/02/2020 - Gris (PC)

21/01/2020 - Gears of War 5 (Xbox One X)

19/01/2020 - Diablo 3 - Reaper of Souls (Xbox One X)

05/01/2020 - Night Call (PC)

02/01/2020 - Remember Me (PC)

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

03/07/2020 - The Last of Us: Part II

 

I wasn't going to bother with this until it hit a sale. I loved the first game, but with the state of the world right now I thought the last thing I needed was a game as bleak as this. Hype got the better of me though.

 

I'm not really sure if I enjoyed it or not. I'm certainly glad I played it, but I walked away from the game feeling drained and exhausted. I liked the first game's story, and the relationship between Ellie and Joel much more than the revenge tale this told. It didn't help that this was really, really long, and while I enjoyed experimenting with the combat for a long time, by the end I found myself getting increasingly reckless just to get them over with. The game seemed to get noticeable narrower as it progressed too, leaving the early exploration behind for more traditional wide corridor stuff.

 

The story was good mind, not to mention incredibly well acted and animated, although there were times when I felt it failed to sell the emotions of the characters enough for me to emphasise with them. This was compounded on a couple of occasions when I was forced to control, or at least interact with actions that I didn't feel were justified, which actually distanced me from the characters as a result.

 

The combat really was great though, aside from a couple of dodgy boss fights. I've just remembered that I never used the stun/smoke grenades, but even without those I always had plenty of ways to approach each encounter with the various tools at my disposal. Better yet, getting discovered rarely resulted in a forced retry. I could almost always run and hide again, or just resort to open combat and still make it through, and on normal I found the supply of resources and ammo just right.

 

So, I'm glad I played it but I don't think I'll be rushing back for new game plus. Instead I'm going to find something a bit more jolly.

 

Spoiler

January

07/01/2020 - Control (Xbox One)
26/01/2020 - Final Fantasy X (Switch)

February

10/02/2020 - Disco Elysium (PC)
22/02/2020 - Frostpunk (PC)

March

10/03/2020 - Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (Xbox One)
29/03/2020 - Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Xbox One)

April

07/04/2020 - Yakuza Kiwami (PS4)

May

04/05/2020 - Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4)
09/05/2020 - Streets of Rage 4 (PS4)
23/05/2020 - Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (Switch)

June

05/06/2020 - Vader Immortal (Oculus Quest)
07/06/2020 - Red Matter (Oculus Quest)
17/06/2020 - Beyond Blue (Xbox One)
18/06/2020 - Life is Strange 2 (Xbox One)

July

03/07/2020 - The Last of Us: Part II

 

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 26/06/2020 at 20:08, Pelekophoros said:

01/01: Superhot (XBone)

03/01: Old Man's Journey (XBone)

05/01: The Turing Project (XBone)

19/01: Halo: CE Anniversary (XBone)

01/04: Quantum Break (XBone)

02/04: Halo 2 (Xbone)

04/04: Call Of Duty MW (2019) (XBone)

13/05: Control (PS4)

02/06: Call Of Duty WWII (PS4)

18/06: God of War 2018 (PS4)

26/06: Shadow Of The Colossus (PS4)

 

06/07: Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)

 

Got to the end credits and now have the new app. I know the end game is endless, and that I'll play it forever, but that's 'campaign complete' in my eyes. Lovely little game, and I've barely scratched the surface of it.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thronebreaker - 06/07

As side games go Gwent in Witcher 3 was engaging, fun and substantial. I put a lot of time into it and a whole game of that sounded right up my street hence when Thronebreaker hit GamePass is was a no brainer for my next play. Started well, all Northern accents and cod-medieval speak setting that perfect Witcher atmosphere. I hit my first issue in the first game; the rules have changed! This may have been common knowledge but it passed me by. There are now only two rows, melee and ranged as opposed to three and cards can be placed in either removing a lot of the strategy from the W3 variant. Rows now have very little affect on the game outside of very few cards.

 

Once I was used to the change the meat of the game was still fun so I pressed on. The maps are huge. Full of resources, puzzle battles, side quest fights and a nice smattering of lore. This only really becomes a problem later as the biggest issue for me is that the game somewhat outstays it's welcome. There are five main maps, by the end of the third I was starting to wain, by the fourth I was skipping some battles and by the fifth I was plowing through the story and not even bothering with the side stuff.

 

It's a decent game with a well told, if not acted, story but for me it could have done with being about 10 hours shorter with less meandering around picking up wood.

 

 

Spoiler

01/01 – Lego Builder’s Journey
28/01 – The Outer Worlds
01/02 – Untitled Goose Game
04/02 – Wandersong
11/02 – Ghostbusters

28/02 – Darksiders Genesis

04/03 – Slay the Spire

27/03 - GTA V

03/04 - Tomb Raider Go & Monument Valley 2

10/04 - Journey to the Savage Planet

24/04 - Ori and the Blind Forest

28/04 - Murder by Numbers

29/05 - Battle Chasers: Nightwar

13/06 - Picross S4

19/06 - Xcom 2

 

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another retro classic down:

 

Karateka

 

I guess I've been playing this, on and off since it came out in (gulp) 1984. Man, that was a long time ago, and I wasn't playing on a legit copy in those days. Just finished off the iOS version (I somewhat lack an Apple II to play it properly on, so it'll have to do.) It's an interesting bit of gaming history that looks WAY better than anything else around in that time for that system thanks to the whole visual animation approach. At the same time, there's no levelling and you really only lightly "improve" your skills along the way.

 

Also, that bird and that killer sliding door are bastards. Utter bastards.

 

Somehow, despite never finishing it before, I knew that 

Spoiler

If you approach the princess in the combat stance she'll kill you in one hit

 

Which I guess must have been one of those bits of received playground wisdom from back in the day. Hmm. I wonder who I knew who *had* actually finished it back then?

  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 06/07/2020 at 14:56, Pelekophoros said:

01/01: Superhot (XBone)

03/01: Old Man's Journey (XBone)

05/01: The Turing Project (XBone)

19/01: Halo: CE Anniversary (XBone)

01/04: Quantum Break (XBone)

02/04: Halo 2 (Xbone)

04/04: Call Of Duty MW (2019) (XBone)

13/05: Control (PS4)

02/06: Call Of Duty WWII (PS4)

18/06: God of War 2018 (PS4)

26/06: Shadow Of The Colossus (PS4)

05/07: Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)

 

06/07: Resident Evil 2 (PS4)

 

First third was terrifying, middle third was weirdly offputting, last third was a bit boring if I'm honest. Enjoyed it, but in no rush to play more RE for a while.

  • Upvote 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sometime last weekend

 

Control (Xbox One) - anywhere between 12 and 20 hours.

 

Holy shit, is this ever my jam. I love the fiction, I love the world, I love the characters. Every time a new piece of lore turned up I just went "THAT'S SO FUCKING COOL!" because I'm a massive nerd for that Nightvale/SCP bullshit. It also doesn't hurt that the combat is super satisfying. Unlocking powers in a metroidvania type of way has made some people feel like it's got an inverse difficulty curve but I didn't feel that. It definitely wasn't in the league of Shadow Of Mordor in that respect.

 

Strong protagonist, strong supporting cast, paced really well with the world building done through the environment and files you find littered around. I really liked the story. It's just a fucking great game.

  • Upvote 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Spoiler

 

Piczle Colors (Switch) - I've always enjoyed Picross style puzzles and this is a collection of colour based Picross puzzles, a couple of trickier ones by the last few levels but this was fairly straightforward. Iit comes in a triple pack with two line puzzle games which seem much harder to 100%. Nice to play in short bursts or on journeys though.

 

Gears 5 (Xbox One) - I nearly didn't play this as I wasn't that enamoured with Gears 4 but I'm glad I did as this felt like a big improvement on the series to me. There are a few rough edges and some annoying insta-kills,  especially for one boss that I've talked about in the main Gears 5 thread, but overall it is still a great cover shooter and additions worked well. I don't really play much online anymore but this has got me tempted to jump in with some of the extra modes. I imagine it would be an even better experience in co-op but I'm happy to move on to other games now. 

 

Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Now Climax (360/Xbox One) - This is a game I have half played through a few times and across different platforms so I finally decided to get to the end of the game when I saw it sitting in my games list. I had a save that was most the way though the first mode so I picked up from that, I haven't done all of the modes but I got to the end of the main story thread. It still plays as well as I remembered but it is a shame that they shortened four of the game modes for this release as the levels in their place aren't the best, if I had known before that they have been part restored on the PC version I'd have gone to that instead. Good pick up and put down game that has a lot more to it than you'd think if you want to complete it 100%.

 

Wandersong (PC) - I absolutely loved this. Yes it is easy to play through and some of the platforming sections are wonky as anything but the story and characters really stand out. Genuinely made me laugh in places and I made sure that I talked to everyone as often as I could to get as much out of it as I could. It has also some of the implements music through out in interesting and different ways. As I said earlier, it isn't really a challenging game and it won't be to everyone's tastes but I thought it was charming and definitely worth a look, especially as it is available on Gamepass now and you won't have to put too much time in to work out if it is for you or not.

 

Sayonara Wild Hearts (Switch) - After my first half hour with the game I was not that impressed and I stopped playing as I found the bike annoying to control. I went back to it and finished the rest in one sitting and loved it, the build up to the end was great and I could finally see what everyone had been raving about. One of the most stylish games I've played, it is wonderful when you are in full flow and I wish I hadn't cared so much about the rankings on my first playthrough. I'd definitely recommend trying to play it all in one sitting first time through. That said I still have some gripes with the game, such as the bike controls, and it feels like getting the gold ranks will be down more to trial and error/routing repetition rather than the rhythm-action game I was expecting.

 

Untitled Goose Game (Xbox One) - This was my second playthrough having already completed it on the Switch last year. Obviously it was a lot shorter to complete but it is still fun seeing the reactions to your antics, definitely going to go back and possibly even have a go at the timed challenges and extra 'to-do' bits which I haven't done before.

 

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (Switch) - Another game that I'd played before but it had been long enough that I had forgotten the main story line and most of the cases. I enjoyed it a lot more that I did first time through, not sure if it was down to knowing exactly what I was getting into/less hype but I found its flaws less annoying. Though don't get me wrong, it is still annoying that you have to do it in the exact order that the game wants you too or when you pick an option that should work but doesn't despite the underlying logic. Overall I'm looking forward to playing though the rest of the trilogy, I think I played 2 or 3 cases in the second before and none of the third game, definitely going to have break first so I don't get fatigued from the style.

 

Feb

 

Gris (PC) - I think this definitely suffered from going into this with all of the hype I had heard about it, which meant the first 30 minutes of  fell a bit flat for me and felt like fairly standard platform fare, abeit very beautifully made. I think this was definitely down to going in with having heard so much hype about it. Once it picked up though the pacing becomes much better and the game becomes more into its own. Its an easy game to play through and I liked the narrative but I don't feel a need to go back and get all of the collectables anytime soon.

 

Phoenix Wright: Justice for All (Switch) - I can see why I never finished this game the first time round when I played it, the first introduction case is easily the worst from the first two games with lots of inconsistencies and jumping logic. The story through the rest of the cases is good enough to make up for the slow start and, as after finishing the first, I'm looking forward to finishing the trilogy off. I've heard the second is the weakest game as well so hopefully Trials and Tribulations hits the ground running.

 

Outer Wilds (Xbox One X) - I don't think I could add anything to Pob's brilliant write up on page 3 and to say too much would be to spoil it, I have put some thoughts in the main game thread. I didn't find my self as attached to it as some but it really is unique experience and a game I'm very glad I played to the conclusion. 

 

Feb/March/Time has lost all meaning

 

Old Man's Journey (PC Gamepass) - Played this through after reading someone on this forum's thoughts on it, I could have sworn it was in this thread but I've looked through and can't find it again. Pleasant and short story with some very light puzzling, a nice way to spend 1.5 hours of downtime.

 

Children of Morta (PC/Xbox One) - Really enjoyed playing this through, the ranged characters are by far the best with Linda controlling more like a twin stick shooter. Towards the end you do get a bit overpowered but I liked it enough to get all of the achievements bar the co-op ones after beating the game. Looking forward to the promised DLC that should ramp up the challenge a bit.

 

Pikuniku (Xbox One) - What an odd game, but one I'm glad I played through. Another game where there isn't much challenge but it was a nice game to unwind with at the end of the day and just enjoy the journey. I wasn't a big enough fan to look out all of the extra bits and there are challenges you can't return to post game which is always a bugbear of mine. I'd love to find out what the co-op mode is like but that won't be happening anytime soon!

 

Ori and the Will of the Wisps (PC/Xbox One) - I've already written up my thoughts on this in the main thread, overall I enjoyed it but not as much as the first game.

 

April/May

 

Borderlands 2 + all DLC (PS4) - I've been playing this through on co-op with a friend for a while now and we finally got the Platinum Trophy, we finished all of the DLC on Ultimate Vault Hunter mode (I think)  but didn't quite get through the main story on UVHM as we got burned out on the game. It's a fun game to play through and this is especially true in co-op but it does tire after multiple play-throughs especially when we had to do some grinding to get the Platinum trophy. That said we just used those points as something to do while we talked about other things and had a catch up.

 

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel +all DLC (PS4) - We then jumped straight into the Pre-Sequel and had a lot of fun with it, again I think playing through in co-op makes a big difference to the experience and we happily played through most of it again in TVHM. We didn't bother trying to get the Platinum trophy for this though as the grind was just too much! Whoever thought having challenges linked to the equipment grinder was a good idea needs to be fired. Also it is worth mentioning that we had a ton of golden keys for both this and Borderlands 2 which helped reduce the grind in finding useful weapons a lot.

 

There is No Game (PC) - I downloaded this after reading @Unofficial Who's write up and I'm glad I did. A short, fun experience that can be downloaded for free, so why not give it a shot?

 

Defunct (PC) - Picked this up in one of the recent Xbox sales for 89p and while I got my money's worth I'm not sure I could recommend it to others. It has an interesting control scheme but while it can be fun to zip along in I didn't feel compelled to go back to it afterwards to try out other routes and some of the jumping is just annoying to do. It was a pleasant enough diversion and it is short but I'm not sure that is enough. I do feel though that the general mechanics could be refined and used to make a better game, I got the feeling of the downhill levels from Tony Hawk 1 in some sections and a tighter focus on that aspect would make me much more likely to go back to it.

 

Horace (PC) - I've written up my detailed thoughts in the main thread but overall I loved it, though it can be damn frustrating in parts. The writing is great though and if you are a retro games fan than you really should give it a try.

 

Alienation (PS4) - Another game I have played through in co-op and it works well with a few rough edges. It's a solid twin-stick shooter but I don't like that enemies sometimes hide behind the scenery or that they only have health bars once damaged, making it easy to overlook them. The fact you get different drops for each player is a nice touch and you can set the challenge as you like it. We've completed 1.5 playthroughs and we'll definitely go back to it, but we've taken a break to start on Diablo3. I'm looking forward to giving it a shot on single player to see how it is as well.

 

 

May/June/July - I need to remember to update these more often
 

Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch) - Finally got to the end of Story Mode but I still have a lot of the pre-built levels to finish. At it’s best it perfectly distills the Mario template, but there a re a few items I’d happily see the back of. The angry sun and the moving skull platforms that I found too slippery for two examples. I wish you could remap buttons as well, it would be a pain as it has so many different styles but not having the Run button on a trigger shouldn’t be an issue these days. Definitely be going back and trying out some user built levels.

 

What the Golf (Switch) - Kept me glued to my Switch until it had been 100% completed, wonderfully inventive and simply a lot of fun to play. Some of the challenges are more annoying than others though I’d recommend trying both control methods if you do get stuck. I used the touch controls for 95% of the game, and this seems the best way to play, but there are a few challenges that are made easier with the stick control.

 

Minecraft Dungeons (PC Gamepass) - Enjoyed it enough to play though once but I got bored by the repeat grind pretty quickly. It would have been nice to be able to just jump up a difficulty setting once you reach the end of the main quest. I have gone back today to play the new level which is more of the same really, I’m not sure how much more I’ll play of it though due to….

 

Diablo 3 - Eternal Collection (PS4) - I’ve completed this in that I have played through the main story to the end. I’m still putting a lot of time into the post-game content mainly due to playing co-op, we’ve started Season characters as well so that’ll be many more hours. There have been a few moments that have felt repetitive and I’m not sure I’d still be playing this as much if I was only playing solo. It is still fun trying out new builds though, something that isn’t really doable in Minecraft Dungeons.

 

Don't move (PC) - I got this as part of the huge Itch.io bundle. It is one of those procrastination games which takes place mainly on one screen and you have to work out how to unlock achievements and trophies to progress. Helped as something to mess around on when I needed a work distraction but I couldn’t recommend it.

 

Kids (Itch.io) Another game that was part of the Itch.io bundle. It’s a 30 minute art piece that has some nice moments but didn’t really resonate with me. Still it’s always good to try something a bit different and it filled a lunch break nicely.

 

428 Shibuya Scramble (PS4) - Loved this, though I am a big Zero Escape and Danganronpa fan so this was right up my street. Using real actors to tell the story  though photos works really well, in both world building and keeping the story going and the cast full commits leading to some of my favourite WTF endings ever. The extra content is a mixed bag, it would also have been good to know before you start it that one extra section is basically 1.5-2 hours of only reading.

 

Seasons after Fall (PS4) - Nominally a metrovania game but with no enemies to fight so it is all about the platforming and puzzling. There isn’t really much challenge and the jumping can feel off sometimes but it was a nice relaxing game as something to switch off to.

  • Upvote 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Pelekophoros said:

01/01: Superhot (XBone)

03/01: Old Man's Journey (XBone)

05/01: The Turing Project (XBone)

19/01: Halo: CE Anniversary (XBone)

01/04: Quantum Break (XBone)

02/04: Halo 2 (Xbone)

04/04: Call Of Duty MW (2019) (XBone)

13/05: Control (PS4)

02/06: Call Of Duty WWII (PS4)

18/06: God of War 2018 (PS4)

26/06: Shadow Of The Colossus (PS4)

05/07: Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)

06/07: Resident Evil 2 (PS4)

 

07/07: Universal Paperclip (web)

 

This genre can fuck off/10

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Last of Us pt 2

 

My mind tends to wander in linear story-driven games - I engage more with sandbox stuff. For example of took me years to get through Half-Life 2 and Resident Evil 4, despite the fact that they are clearly great games. I was very bored of Uncharted 4 by the end. This, however, like its predecessor, gripped me from start to finish, despite its epic length.

 

The sandbox nature of the encounters helps a lot. Each time I died I was happy that I'd get to try again and see things play out differently. it's a bit like Halo in that regard - and endlessly fun encounter simulator. In fact I'd say it features the best close-quarter combat in any third person game ever. It's that dynamic, smooth and visceral. I tend to judge that kind of thing by how often I'm saving gameplay clips. In this, I recorded a LOT.

 

Narratively, it's very bold and it left me thinking about it days later. Some quite important things didn't quite work for me but I like Naughty Dog's ambition. The acting and storytelling is the best I've seen in a game, easily matching some of the best examples of genre TV.

 

Importantly, I felt this fleshed out the world enough that I'd love to see a pt3 that utilises the full power of PS5. Given my predilection for more open games that maximise player agency, I'd love to see ND develop the ideas early in the game that give you more control over if/when you do things. I think the structure of Metro Exodus, which mixes up linear and open environments in a survival-focused setting, would suit TLOU perfectly.

 

Spoiler

 

1. Jedi Fallen Order

2. COD Modern Warfare

3. Outer Wilds

4. Dishonored 2

5. Trials HD

6. Trials Rising

7. Streets of Rage 4

8 The Last of Us pt 2

 

 

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few games down:

 

Subnautica - a survival game for people who don't like survival game. Or, rather, those multiplayer ones where everyone's out to get you. This is single player with a definite end. Does get a little repetitive towards the midle as you have to kep crafting and keeping yourself fed, but exploring the great-looking, eerie alien depths more than pushed you forward to the end.

 

Minit - Really good mini action adventure game. Time gimmick or no, I enjoyed it, maybe because the style reminded me of other classic games: some may say Zelda, but it evoked the old Dizzy-style games of the UK 8-bits. Perhaps it was the bonus coin collecting that did it.

 

I was pretty chuffed that I managed to solve all the secrets without using a guide. That north temple one had me stumped for ages. 24 hours I spent on that game, which seems a bit ironic; when you know what you're doing you can complete the story in less than fifteen minutes!

 

Steamword Dig - A Mr Driller style adventure and another good game. I'd hesistate to call it a Metroidvania as it isn't as intricate as that, but it does get lumped into the genre because of the increasing power ups, but generally the only way is down. It's another short game which is short butwhich I managed to pad out to way more than that by getting all the achievements. The ultimate of that requires you to complete the game without dying within a time limit and with a high score. It isn't too tricky apart from the fact you have to perform a sequence-breaking jump (intentionally acknowledged by the game) to make good time. That took me a good few hours to perfect (there are easier ways but I was committed). Finally got it down enough to finish. That's about as close I've got to a speedrun strat so I'm happy with that.

  • Upvote 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mario 64 (Native PC Port) - I'd never played this. I did pick up an N64 at the end of its life, but wasn't particularly interested in platformers. While I've played Mario games since, none really rose above "pretty good" for me, and I just wrote it off as having missed the early 90s when platformers were like the default way of getting into games. I think if I'd have played this at the time, I probably would have different feelings.

 

You know you're in for something special from the very first level which acts as a vertical slice for the game, just throwing different concepts at you - moving geometry! (mocked up) physics! shell surfing! full flight! There's a real feeling of going above and beyond here, if they'd just done a bunch of levels and objectives like the first, with movement this fluid, then it would still be one of the best games of the generation, y'know? Instead they layered on really creative and varied worlds, each with their own core concepts and a big hub world full of surprises and secrets, like when I dived after the rabbit and went through the wall, and the result is something that's still incredibly impressive today. How did they manage something so accomplished this early into 3D?

 

Sonic Adventure was a proper 1/10 in comparison.

 

Gone Home - I've missed the conversation by about six years on this, and judging by the game it's moved on quite a bit. There's been genuinely so many indie games tackling the same subject matter since, but in more depth, that going back to the first feels very underwhelming, it's surprisingly low-rent, with poor accessibility options and giant chunky doors and 2ft wide VHS cassettes.

 

Spoiler

 

Observation 

A Short Hike 

Age of Wonders: Planetfall

Yakuza Kiwami

Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)

Gears Tactics

Grandia 3

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Wave Race 64

Slay the Spire

Halo 2: Anniversary

Halo CE: Anniversary 

Crackdown 3
Kingdom Come: Deliverance + DLC

God of War (2005) 

Resident Evil 2 RE

Grandia 2 

 

 

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Resident Evil 7(XB1) 8/10

2. Batman Arkham Asylum(XB1) 7.5/10

3. Halo: CE Anniversary(XB1) 5/10

4. Life is Strange(XB1) 8/10

5. Luigi Mansion 3(Switch) 8/10

6. New Super Lucky’s Tale(Switch) 7/10

7. Catherine: Full Body(PS4) 8.5/10

8. Untitled Goose Game(Switch) 6/10   

9. Sleeping Dogs(PS4) 9/10

10. Doom 2016(PS4) 9/10

11. Peggle 2(PS4) 7/10

12. Spider-Man(PS4) 9/10

13. Crash Bandicoot(PS4) 7.5/10
14. Resident Evil 3 Remake(PS4) 8/10

15. Spyro the Dragon(PS4) 6.5/10

16. The Order 1886(PS4) 6.5/10

17. Resident Evil 2 Remake(PS4) 9.5/10
18. Sayonara Wild Hearts(PS4) 8/10

19. Resident Evil Revelations 2(PS4) 7/10
20. Donut County(PS4) 6.5/10

21. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition(PS4) 8.5/10
22. Ratchet and Clank(PS4) 8/10
23. Crash Bandicoot 2(PS4) 6.5/10

 

24. Crash Bandicoot 3(PS4) - Enjoyed it more than Crash Bandicoot 2 but not as much as 1, overall I’m glad I played the N-Sane trilogy and look forward to played 4 later in the year. 7/10

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

27/06 - Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X (PS4) - even more Hatsune Miku and if you've played one you'll know what to expect - an awesome rhythm action game. However this time they added a story mode, which to put it mildly is strange and in places creepy. Hatsune Miku and her friends decide to sing some songs to revive the power of some crystals. So you sing various songs, which unlock new modules and accessories for you to dress up the characters. Each time you complete a song you'll get points which power up the crystals. Fully charge up a crystal and you get a separate request from one of the characters - which is essentially a challenge to play a certain song. All fine. The weird part is that they live in a room where other than to sing they seemingly can never leave. They talk directly to you and clearly adore you. It's all very Stockholm Syndrome and weird. Anyhow the underlying rhythm game is as good as ever and there's a massive amount of unlockables to keep you playing, just be warned it has it's moments.

 

30/06 - One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows (Xbox One) - in all honesty this is a pretty mediocre One Punch Man cash in. It's a mission based brawler that at least early on gave a budget Yakuza vibe - you run around a small compact city, running errands for strangers and occasionally getting into random fights with thugs. However it quickly turns into working your way through largely identikit missions from a list so that you can earn enough experience to unlock story missions. All the missions revolve around fighting 1 to 3 foes one on one with occasional help from another hero - you have to wait for them to turn up - who you can then tag in. Boss battles require surviving just long enough so that Saitama (the One Punch Man) turns up to help so you can then knock them out with you guessed it one punch. It's thankfully not too long but I was fed up with this a good few hours before the end.

 

Previously:

 

01. 01/01 - Persona 4: Dancing All Night (PS4)

02. 03/01 - Sayonara Wild Hearts (PS4)
03. 11/01 - Yakuza 3 (PS4)
04. 11/01 - Dead or Alive 5 Last Round (PS4)
05. 12/01 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan (PS4)
06. 21/01 - Forza Horizon 4 (Xbox One)
07. 24/01 - Storm Boy (Xbox One)
08. 10/02 - One Piece World Seeker (Xbox One)
09. 10/03 - GRID (Xbox One)
10. 01/04 - Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F (PS3)
11. 07/04 - Resident Evil 3 (Xbox One)
12. 11/04 - Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (Xbox 360)
13. 12/04 - Duck Tales Remastered (Xbox 360)
14. 14/04 - Song of the Deep (Xbox One)
15. 15/04 - Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd (PS3)
16. 25/04 - Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Future Tone (PS4)
17. 08/05 - Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana (PS4)
18. 17/05 - Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4)
19. 17/06 - Maneater (Xbox One)
20. 18/06 - Coffee Talk (Xbox One)

 

  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

16. God of War [2018] (PS4) - A brutal and breathtaking adventure through the stunning landscape of norse mythology. Cut from a similar block gameplay wise to Jedi: Fallen Order which I enjoyed so much (but arguably a bit more polished) it also doesn't quite do raw combat as well as a From Software game. However it makes up for that with a solid story, some proper 'wow' moments and generally being a lot of fun. I obviously enjoyed it a lot as I stuck with it to get the platinum trophy. Another absolute belter from Sony's exclusive list.  - 10/10

 

Quote

1. Jedi: Fallen Order (XB1) - 10/10

2. Untitled Goose Game (XB1) - 8/10

3. Gorogoa (iPad) - 9/10

4. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (XB1) - 8/10

5. Abzû (PS4) - 6/10

6. Braid (XB1/360) - 10/10

7. A Plague Tale: Innocence (XB1) - 8/10

8. Quantum Break (XB1) - 6/10

9. Oxenfree (Mac OS) - 7/10

10. Monument Valley 2 (iPad) -  7/10

11. Sniper Elite 4 (XB1) - 8/10

12. Marvel's Spider-Man (PS4) - 10/10

13. Fractured Minds (XB1) - 5/10

14. The Last Guardian (PS4) - 8/10

15. Journey (PS4) - 10/10

 

  • Upvote 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Luigi’s Mansion 3 (02/01)

2. Shadow of the Tomb Raider (03/01)

3. Jenny LeClue (04/01)

4. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (11/01)

5. Rise of the Tomb Raider (29/01)

6. Minecraft Dungeons (June)

7. Diablo 3 (June)

8. Animal Crossing New Horizon

9. Last of Us Remastered (23/6)

10. Last of Us Part Two (10/7)

 

Unlike the first one, I smashed through this without giving up, and probably enjoyed it even more. The craft in tech, gaming and story telling here was really strong. It’s hard to talk about meaningfully without spoiling, so I won’t. Just play it and revel in the solid amazingly designed world, be disgusted by the brutal violence, cry at some genuinely moving story beats, be scared by some unsettling claustrophobic encounters and participate in one of the best third person fighting/battle engines I’ve played. One of the games of the generation. Fucking loved it. 
 

Nearly 10/10

 

 

Next up. NG+, Ghost of Tsushima

  • Upvote 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Metro Exodus

2. QUBE 2

3. Darksiders 3

4. What Remains of Edith Finch

5. Ori and the Will of the Wisps

6. Doom Eternal

7. Journey to the Savage Planet

 

8. Dark Souls 3

 

I’ve completed all but one (optional) boss (and haven’t got the DLC). This is the first From Software game I’ve finished and I really enjoyed it. It’s clearly a very special game, although now I’ve finished it, I’m not exactly gagging for more - especially having heard the DLC is harder than the main game. That core loop of exploring a very dangerous area and then banging your head against a boss again and again until you finally succeed is great but exhausting!

 

The world design and lore is pretty special, too, and I really wish I’d finished DS1 back in the day as it would have helped me appreciate this one even more, but I’ve had a great time with it all the same.


I’m hoping that leaving it alone for a bit will get me in the mood to do all the DLC or play DS1:Remastered.

  • Upvote 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

15. R-Type

I knowingly bought R-Type dimensions purely for a quick nostalgia hit. I played through the first half of the first game properly a few times, before switching to infinite mode for the rest (the last few levels are horribly hard and were never as well-designed anyway). Those first five levels are still so iconic, especially 1 and 3. The music, the backgrounds, those mini set pieces scattered in at intervals. And all those little techniques and strategies that I learned up 30 years ago. Such wonderful invention for a shooter of that era. It's timeless.

 

The only downside apart from the later levels, I think, is what this version adds. Infinite mode doesn't really work as an interesting challenge, and for an easy mode I'd prefer to stick to check points, but have an option not to lose all power ups on death. Plus the new 3D visual mode (thankfully optional) is plain ugly.

  • Upvote 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

12. Quantum Break (PC)

 

And now back to our scheduled programming.  Following my belated recognition (along with pretty much everyone else in the thread, who came to the game just under a year after its release) that Control was basically GOTY for last year, I though it was finally time to play the one Remedy game I've never got around to.

 

Now I think I own, or sort at least sort of own at least three copies of this game (Xbox One disc copy, Gamepass copy and the Steam version that I actually managed to play).  In fact it played a big reason why I finally picked up a Bone in 2016 (along with Ryse and the prospect of a remastered Halo - well I'm easily pleased).  I even have an oversized t-shirt which came with the game and console.

 

But yeah as is ever the story of my gaming life I hadn't got around to it.  I picked up the Steam version about six months ago for around a fiver on the basis that it would probably be the best version and I would be far more likely to play it on my beloved laptop.

 

So that last bit was right.  Now reading back on the thread, the original PC version of this was a bit on a Windows Store car crash.  So its pleasing to report that some four years ago those problems are pretty much non existent on a middling modern setup.  Performance wise this was pretty much flawless.  60+ fps (I'm not counting it was very smooth) , very pretty in all the right places, only crashed once in 18 hours of playtime.  Yeah whatever technical failing there might have been they are no longer present.

 

QB uses the same engine as Control and whilst it might now quite boast the same levels of Pyrotechnics, it remains the case, some 4 years after release that this is a seriously pretty game.  It looks fabulous throughout and has the added benefit compared with its  successor, that it is not almost entirely based in a 60s US Office Building.  Yes we do spend an awfully large amount of time in warehouses and a dilapidated swimming pool, but there's still an impressive amount of variety in the environments and some quite simply stunning sequences (thinking mainly the bridge frozen in time as a ship crashes through it here).  There are also an awful lot of disjointed triangles because as it turns out that's what deformed time looks like.

 

Now QB s basically the natural progression of what Remedy's TV/Movie in a game obsession lead to.  This is a game crossed with a TV series so in addition to the five act drama of the 'game' we also get a four episode TV series  Perhaps more surprisingly this actually works more successfully than you might expect.

 

The games structure basically mixes some exploration with a multitude of textual and visual items to interact with, no kidding within the first 15 minutes of play you are invited t sit down and listen to a short power point presentation on time travel, followed by some highly kinetic combat sections which masquerade as a cover shooter but actually only work if you play them with frantic movement and lean into the power supply the game grants you and then you watch a 25 minute Sci Fi channel tv serial.

 

It sounds like it shouldn't work, and probably for many it didn't - but for a geeky kitsch SF TV loving nerd who likes slow motion gun play it scratched every itch I have going.  The game leans massively into its shared world, we get a multitude of backwards references to Alan Wake (graffiti, video clips, the white board notes from a lecture on his literary impact) and forwards (several references to a Federal Bureau of Altered World Events) and benefits massively from a decent script and an excellent cast.  The TV show after a slightly ropy start actually turns into something that I certainly wouldn't turn off and manages to backfill the plot gaps terrifically.   The main story is remarkably well realised for a time travel story, staying bound within its own rules (although the climax, clearly is not the end  as is abundantly clear by 2/3rds of the way through and teases a sequel that is now unlikely to happen), and spins an entertaining yarn.

 

Its a fair criticism that this is at least 50% walking simulator pretending to be an action game, but when the action occasionally erupts its well really good.  The time powers give you an immense amount of flexibility to cause maximum destruction and once you realise this really isn't a cover shooter  you can have a  whale of a time stringing them together into a bullet strewn ballet.  And I equally enjoyed the occasional diversion into a slow pace platformer/puzzler when then game plays with its central dynamic.

 

Yes a lot of the criticisms have merit, the game elements are a little thin in the overall narrative.  There is a little much too reliance on the explore and read everything ethos when the game is imploring you to press on to get the full experience.  Yes that final boss was a mistake.  But overall I loved it.

 

Not as good as Control but still worth playing / 10

 

Spoiler

January

 

1. Darksiders Genesis (PC)

 

So mystery of the week.  Why is no one talking about this game (seriously the thread has about a dozen posts (two of them by me before I even bought it).  I guess that's because no one is playing it.  And why is no one playing it?  Well fcuk'd if I know because its absolutely fantastic.

 

Okay I will admit a modicum of bias here.  I adore the Darksiders series.  Its the mix of beautiful mid 90s Imagine comics style art with the po faced but at times hilarious story beats and the way it the series realises that basically any genre is improved if you mix a bit of Zelda in there.  Here comes a history lesson:

 

Darksiders I - basically God of War meets Zelda, during and after the apocalypse.  Run around dungeons, hit things with a comically over powered sword, get items and solve clever but never terribly tricky environmental puzzles.  All with a chunky gorgeous art style.  And Vulgrum - everyone loves Vulgrum. 

 

Darksiders II - basically the above with a more mobile lead, and lashes of Prince of Persia style platforming,  an open world to join the dungeons and a dash of Diablo style loot.  Its undoubtedly one of my favourite games of the last decade, even though its oh so terribly clear how the budget gradually ran dry as the game moves towards its conclusion (massive impressive first open world area with loads of side dungeons, much more linear second map, by the third we're down to a single path).  It has its weaknesses (the plot never really goes anywhere, Death is as far less interesting character than War, its obsessed with 3 McGuffins being the key to move forwards and as a prequel it fails miserably to deliver on the best ending to a game ever (No, not alone...)).  But its great really.

 

Darksiders III - as above, but with about a 10th of the budget and no horses, less platforming, a rather shoe horned in Dark Souls vibe  but a quite nicely executed Metroidvania level design.  Its the weakest of the trilogy for sure but I still love it.

 

So yeah the Darksiders series has had a bit of a rough ride.  The first game managed to be something of a sleeper hit for THQ, surprising everyone who expected another God of War/DMC/Dante's Inferno knock off with basically the best non Nintendo version of a 3D Zelda.  It sold far better than expected.

 

Slightly desperate at this point, THQ basically threw all their money at the sequel hoping for a mega hit (they even bought all the advertising space on Time Square on release).  This was never likely for a niche title like Darksiders.  The sequel did good business despite everything but it wasn't enough.  THQ went bust.  Tragically no one saved Virgil Games but Nordic bought the IP.

 

Virgil dissolved and about half the company drifted off to form Gunfire Games whilst the other half became Airship Syndicate who made the also rather wonderful Battle Chasers.

 

A couple of HD remasters and the now THQ Nordic (because when you've bough most if the IP of a defunct company why not also take their name?) released Darksiders III from the Virgil off shoot Gunfire.  Teeny tiny budget was evident and it is comfortably the weakest of the trilogy, but it was still more Darksiders and therefore great by default.  Suggesting that AA games do have a future, despite modest sales it turns a healthy profit.

 

Which leads us to back to Darksiders Genesis.  As noted earlier half of Virgil (or so) ended up as Gunfire, but the other half of the senior team founded Airship Syndicate.  And made the really rather great SRPG Battle Chasers (basically a modern Vandal Hearts if you've not played it).

 

So we have half the creative team who made Darksiders, they are making games for THQ Nordic, they have a overhead isometric engine, they have the lead artist from Darksiders.  Why not make a Darksiders Diablo game?  You could even introduce the 4th horseman we've barely met (Strife)?

 

I'll admit I was a wee bit sceptical when this was announced at E3.  Darksiders has always been about genre mix, but I was far from convinced that Diablo dungeon crawling was a good fit.

 

I was wrong.

 

Mainly because this is not a Diablo style dungeon crawler.  Its a Darksiders game.  A proper Darksiders game.  More of a Darksiders game than the threequel in fact. It basically plays like a mix of 1 and 2 from an isometric perspective.  Or a 2D Zelda game with more hitting things and platforming.

 

Its bloody brilliant.  The combat feels great - War is just as he was from the original and despite the change of perspective the combat feels just as visceral  Strife meanwhile adds a dash of twin stick shooter to the proceedings.  The campaign is 16 levels long and meaty.  There are a shit load of secrets to find in the maps.  You get to ride you're horse(s).  The puzzles are never really full on Zelda head scratchers but keep you on your toes.  There's a surprisingly complex levelling system with the creature cores which has loads of potential for messing about with builds..  Oh and an arena mode for pure combat chaos.  And War is back and is still the best horseman by a mile.  And Vulgrim.  And Samael too.

 

If you even got a smidgeon of enjoyment out of the three preceding games you owe yourself to get this.  Its about £17 from CDkeys right now on PC.  Its out on console (would be great on the Switch) in February.  If you never played them the first 2 are free from Epic Games store until tomorrow evening so off you go.

 

Its my game of (last) year - hey I played most of it over Xmas - by a country mile.  After 33 hours and managing to get almost all the items from the maps and clocking all of the arena levels aside from the endless final one I saw the credits last night. Loved it.

 

Of course its not perfect.  Its another prequel (really, a 3rd one, after that ending?).  War rather overshadows Strife despite this being the latter's debut.  The plot doesn't really go anywhere (as its a prequel) and the MacGuffins are all present and correct.  But its just so much damned fun.

 

Phenomenal / 10

 

2. Jedi: Fallen Order  (PC)

 

So onto game number two and a game I have waited a very long time to play.  Its no secret that I am a big Star Wars fan and its also no secret that I love the Uncharted games.  So I have long waited for a Star Wars X Uncharted game where I could live out my Jedi role playing fantasies.  No really I have...

 

And it has been a long old wait full of disappointment.  Fist there was Star Wars 13:13 which looked amazing but was cancelled along with Lucasfilm games.  Then Visceral, the developer behind another favourite series of mine were entrusted to deliver a single player Star Wars game with design by Uncharted creator Amy Hennig.  Very exciting - no wait that's cancelled too.

 

So when Fallen Order was first teased from Respawn (another favoured studio of mine) my expectations were tempered - its never coming out is it?  And there hasn't ever been a decent single player Star Wars game has there?

 

Well actually that last point is patently untrue - leaving aside KOTR 1 and 2, we had Dark Forces and the Jedi Knight series, the Rogue Squadron games, Super Star Wars, Star Wars Arcade, the original wire frame Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, The Force Unleashed and its sequel (well loved them).  Me personally I even enjoyed Star Wars: Bounty Hunter but I'll admit that last one was probably was just me.

 

But it would be fair to say that since EA has had the licence there hasn't been a good single player Star Wars game.  And my dream of a Uncharted style 3rd person Jedi platform adventure looked lost to the wilds of time.

 

But no Jedi:Fallen Order is pretty much exactly the game I was looking for and is about a million times better than anyone could have expected.

 

There is no huge amount of reinventing the wheel here.  Respawn basically took what they were good at, constructing a well designed and written campaign with lots of wall running (c/f Titanfall 2); added a hugely authentic Star Wars aesthetic (say whatever else you want about this game, it looks like Star Wars) and dropped in everyone's personal Jedi  power play fantasy and et voila; you have one of the most entertaining titles of the last 12 months.

 

This is to all intent and purposes Star Wars X Uncharted; if you had any doubts then the opening level that has you scaling a massive tower before plunging you into a train chase where you end up dangling precariously from destroyed sections of the vehicle should leave you in no doubt.  It goes further however and mixes in lots of other games DNA into the gloriously tasty gaming soup.  There's more than a touch of the rebooted Tomb Raiders in the well um, Tomb sequences, complete with environmental puzzles, we get a whole dollop of Metroidvania with unlocking abilities allowing you to access previously inaccessible parts of the map.  The attempt to work in some Dark Souls both in the combat and the meditating (camp fire) mechanic is perhaps the most ill fitting addition (narratively it makes no sense whatsoever) but the combat is fast, fluid and once you are fully powered up dazzlingly entertaining.

 

Its not perfect of course; the games momentum is a little jerky moving from the on rails but striking intro level to the rather ponderous first planet but it soon gets a grip on the pace.  The absence of fast travel is inexplicable and hurts the pre end game where you want to mop up missed secrets.  The unlocking of force powers too is a bit slow, granting you only force slow for the first few hours of the game was an odd move - surely would have been best to lead with push.  Technically it generally looks fabulous (admittedly I am playing no doubt post a couple of patches and with a decent PC) but the odd sinking into the environment on occasions on Dathomir feels out of place and which idiot forgot to have BD1 move off your shoulder when you are swimming but still kept the animation of the chests  suggesting he had jumped in?).

 

But all of this is relative nitpicking.  The game is a long, well designed campaign full of fun set pieces, snappy combat and free running platforming.  Its surprisingly well written and acted, probably telling a better story than well the last two Star Wars films for one.  And the Star Wars fan service is second to none.  Despite warning of a Dark Souls vibe, on the moderate difficulty level  the game is never more than slightly challenging (the bosses all have blatant tells and weaknesses and the hardest moments tend to come when you are mobbed or forget your force powers).  I had an absolute blast.

 

May the force be with you / 10

 

3. Halo: Reach (Master Chief Collection) PC

 

So the journey is over, I have finally completed all the main line (i.e the FPS ones) Halo games.  Dare I say it, it ended with a little bit of a whimper rather than a bang.

 

So I was late to the party with the Halo series.  I did have CE on the original Xbox, but I (whisper it) wasn't really that keen.  I got as far as driving the Warthog , found it near impossible and gave up.  As far as Halo 2 goes, for some reason I never played the campaign, although I did spend many hilarious hours playing couch VS with @Gordzilla

 

And I may have bought Halo 3, Reach and indeed 4; but I never actually managed to play them.  You know just because.  And I developed a distinctive 'obviously' correct opinion that the Halo games were well a bit meh really.   Despite never really actually y'know playing them

 

So when I got a Xbone I bought the MCC collection - mainly because it was like £6 and I had a shiny new console.  But I was actually keen to give the games another go, because well all that noise about Halo.

 

And well I was wrong 18 years ago or whatever it was.  Halo is a fabulous game.

 

Anyway I have gradually made my way through the series from CE onwards and played the entire series available of the MCC (and 5 too, although the less said about 5 is probably the better).

 

I've had half an eye on playing Reach (for which I still have a 360 disc on my gameshelf) through BCC - but once the game was confirmed for the MCC collection and y'know remastered and all that jazz I decided to wait.  And as these days I have an all singing all dancing gaming laptop the PC version beckoned.

 

Not sure on balance whether that was the correct option.

 

So yeah Reach.  Its well okay.  But turns out a little anaemic.   Some this may well be down to the gimped sound; its still not fixed as far as I can tell and everything sounds well a bit tinny.  And I know the soundtrack for this is much admired; but I badly missed the actual Halo theme - it nearly appears on a couple of occasions and well its kind of frustrating.

 

Which ultimately fits with the way the game presents.  Its all a bit clinical and well lacking something. As you may be aware Reach is a tragic war movie prequel as presented through a video game, or basically Rogue One the videogame.  I may have played all of the preceding and succeeding games but I still failed to care much about Noble squadron.  I knew they were all going to die and it had very little impact when they did.  Your character, Mr proto Master chief is an ambivalent cipher (oh and look Cortana chooses him and he was second only to the Chief in various war games) but he fails to develop any personality of his own.

 

And its a pretty short campaign, definetly shorter than the numbered titles; and whilst I've heard comment that it has some of the best set pieces in the series, I wasn't quite feeling it.  I mean yes it has the Halo dynamic, it doesn't feel divorced from its predecessors like say 5 does.  But there were far more memorable moments in well, Halo 4 for example.  It feels like Halo, I was enjoying myself but I never had that feeling of wow what I am I playing like I got from say Halo 3.

 

So yeah DLD Halo rankings: Halo 3 > Halo 4 (its really good no really it is) > ODST > CE > Reach > Halo 2 > Halo 5 / 10

 

4. Shadow Warrior 2 (PC)

 

And now for something completely brainless and explosive.

 

I loved SW1, whilst I played it later, turns out it was the original prototype for the Doom reboot.  Nineties FPS game design meets 2010s graphics.

 

This wasn't as good.  Mixing Shadow Warriors vibe with the looter shooter genre ends up being slightly more miss than hit.  By having procedurally generated levels some of the fun of exploring the maps of the first game was lost.  The game also badly misses the lovely anime seriousness of the originals plot and cut scenes ; this time it goes straight for silly cock jokes with little or no messing about.  Hoji is much missed.

 

But it does have guns, lots of guns.  And the swords are still phenomenal.  Some reasonable improvements with the controls makes the special moves a lot more intuitive to pull off too.

 

It never even tries to rise above, go here, kill some demons, go over here and kill some more as far as level design goes, but it still manages to be entertaining as you blast and slash from A to B.

 

And my word it does look very pretty in places.

 

Meh I had fun but the first game was better / 10

 

5. Assassin's Creed Origins + The Hidden Ones + The Curse of the Pharaohs (PC)

 

Well that's one way to slow down my completion rate for the year, play a game that literally feels like it will never end.  In a good way mind, although after 95 hours of it I'm very ready to play something else.

 

So literally two months it has taken me to get through this, and that's with a weeks annual leave in lockdown not doing a great deal more than play it.  This is, if you let it be of course, a ridiculously long game.

 

I've only a passing acquaintance with the AC series, still harbouring a slight resentment for the fact it killed off my beloved Prince of Persia games.  I did play the original at the time of release and was not wildly impressed.  Looked stunning but not a huge amount to do.  I also plated the sequel on release but found it took an inordinate amount of time to get going, too long in fact so I got bored and gave up.

 

Fast forward 10 years or maybe more, late to the party with the PS4 my new console came with a copy of Syndicate.  And I finally completed my first AC game, and really enjoyed it too.

 

Anyway, I've had a thing for classical and ancient history (and a degree to show for it) since I was a kid, so had been meaning to play this for a long time.  I was attracted by the the RPG stylings and the reports of many of the irritants or past AC games were a thing of the past (tailing etc - although some of the sub Benny Hill chase sequences that I experienced in Syndicate were probably worth the price of admission in their own right).

 

Anyway, this is all largely true.  This doesn't feel an awful lot like the earlier games at all.  In fact it comes across more like a third person version of Far Cry (endless enemy camp infiltrations), with some incredibly expansive exploration in a fascinating and incredibly realised period of history.

 

Playing on a pretty decent PC, its hard to underestimate how pretty this game looks.  It captures Ptolemaic Egypt perfectly and the extent of the world map is just stunning.  The plot does rather stumble along, rather lost in the fun you have from uncovering question mark after question mark, exploring long forgotten tombs in the wilderness, skating down Pyramids, climbing temples and dealing silent death from above to the guards.

 

The game is neatly simplified and tweaked to make the core gameplay; get to area, scope out with your bird, silently dispatch the guards being sneaky a la Batman Arkham or with some carefully placed arrows and then killing your quarry and then go explore some more endlessly inviting. 

 

One can not stress just how huge the map is; even after finishing the main quest line I still had a third of the map to explore.  The plot is  slow moving for the majority of the game and then suddenly accelerates in a slightly odd tangent but this ultimately matters little given the engaging nature of the game loop.  The two leads however are unusually well developed, even if I didn't see the eventual twist in their relationship coming.

 

And even more surprisingly the DLC is almost equally as well done as the main game.  The Hidden Ones is a nice little expansion to the main game but clearly more of the same but Curse of the Pharaohs' is arguably the best content of the entire game - Thebes, and what they did with the tombs of the kings being a massive highlight.

 

Perhaps playing it all through was a little too much of a good thing, I have Odyssey all lined up but I need a break for now, but this was cracking stuff.

 

Hidden Blade / 10

 

May

 

6. The Division 2: Warlords of New York (PC)

 

So after my two month epic run though of AC:Origins, what better way to pallet cleanse than with erm another Ubisoft open world game.  To be fair, The Division plays pretty differently from the AC series in basic gameplay loop and well I'm a sucker for Ubi's open world formula anyway so I like the familiar whistles and bells.

 

Anyway The Division 2 was one of my highlights of last year, it basically it took what the first game did and basically did everything (from a PvE single player sense anyway) significantly better.  It is probably the best 3rd person cover shooter I've ever played, with crunchy gunplay, a real emphasis on battlefield placement and of course guns lot of guns.  I spent 80 happy hours in the game and played every piece of single player content all the way to World Tier 5, all 3 episodes and even the Kenley College stuff; and loved pretty much every minute of it.  The Division 2 is a curious game in that it wants to be an endless loot/MMO shooter but it packs so much genuine new single player content that even those who have little interest in grinding get far more than their money's worth.

 

So after the year 1 content (which was generously largely free, the season pass only granting some extra side mission (pretty decent ones) and a bit of exclusive high end gear; its paid expansion time.  As I have Uplay+ this was all available for me day one on release day along with the season pass, but 25 notes if you are purchasing; which is not cheap for an expansion pack.

 

However, this is a fairly generous expansion.  We get the setting moved back to the superior environment of |New York (the base games biggest weakness being Washington DC is not quite the iconic city NY is) and exploring a new section of the map in lower Manhattan that the original didn't cover (spoilers yes you do get to visit a certain statue, although no gun fights in the torch which seems a missed opportunity).

 

This is a decent slab of new content - we get 4 new areas which is about a 3rd of the base games map, and each with their own control points, SHD caches and bounties to complete.  The new campaign takes in 6 new main missions, all of them taking an hour or so to complete and another 7 side missions which are somewhat shorter.  They are almost all good and the new main mission are perhaps the best content in the game to date, taking in an oil refinery, an underground park and the previously mentioned statue as eye candy for the battles.  In a slightly surprising turn, this time we get some actual boss battles with personality and unique game play mechanics (although rogue agent numero uno Keener is a flipping irritating battle).

 

Its very much more Division 2, and this was absolutely fine with me.  We get the fun of starting again with the loot grind as you level from 30-40 (definitely the best bit of the original), the new map is an impressive post apocalyptic environment (this time in the Summer but following a hurricane) and all the mission are great fun to play through.  As a devoutly solo player, I happily progressed through without significant difficulty (which is just as well as only a month after release matchmaking for the campaign on story wasn't really happening); the SHD caches have developed significantly from the base game with almost all of them presenting a slight environmental puzzle to solve.

 

And so 20 or so happy hours were spent - perhaps slightly annoyingly its fairly easy to reach level 40 before reaching the climax of the campaign but the new levelling system doesn't kick in until you finish...there's a story reason for this but yeah, meh.  The plot such as it is serves its purpose but the conclusion feels rather empty given the shadow Keener has cast to date and the new big bad really comes out of nowhere but lets face it no one plays The Division for the story.

 

Perhaps most disappointingly the  post game gives little reason to play on; I was all ready to give the new season content manhunt a go but it basically consists of replaying content I've just done or did previously with no alterations....yeah nah.  There is sadly no equivalent of the WT levels of the base game or the remixed missions that offered.

 

But I did thoroughly enjoy this return to New York and the rock solid foundations of the series - I will be back but only when there is something new to play.

 

Lots of fun but maybe not £25 worth of content / 10

 

7. Metro Exodus (PC)

 

So back to getting my monies worth out of Xbox Game Pass, this was a game I was quite excited about on release, but didn't quite get around to it at time, and then being very pleased it appeared on Game Pass, before the slightly desperate realisation it might get removed before I get around to play it.  Its the new subscription service stress, will I play this before it vanishes?

 

But anyway I managed to get to it.  I have a soft spot for the Metro games and their oppressive atmosphere; I get a real Half Life 2 vibe from them somehow, along with shades of the Resi games and say Dead Space.  I've never played the Stalker games but apparently they owe a lot too (I do actually own these too but lets face it these are games on are on the Steam pile of never never).

 

Anyway both the previous Metro games were classy, pretty, story heavy and very stressful corridor shooters.  The shooting wasn't great but the atmosphere was second to none.  I enjoyed them both immensely.  This makes an attempt to break for the horizon and take the stabilisers off, although interestingly the game is most successful when it sticks to the previous formula.

 

Ultimately this is more of the same but with better and more varied environments, with an occasional side order of some open world busy work. We get a very scripted opening sequence that may ways irritate many, particularly when it leads into an infuriating stealth sequence with a sequence of seemingly unavoidable deaths. But the suddenly it all opens up once you reach the Volga and it suddenly all goes all Far Cry.  Which is fun and all that but the game plays its best hand in its heavily sequenced story sequences, we get some wonderful claustrophobic slices of game where you navigate your way through an underground substation  and a train terminal.

 

And then it goes all Rage with updated graphics and again we have some  open world navigation where we can explore, but its the scripted sections that lead the game play off.

 

In some ways I enjoyed the latter half of the game better where it abandons the freedom of the earlier sections (which is some what frustrated by some god awful vehicle navigation).  The incredibly beautiful forest section and then finally a return to the Metro in another city which was probably my favourite section of the game.

 

I got the good ending I think (my character lived) but the mechanics for this seemed a little forced.  I am not a stealth player and made extensive use of lethal weapons for taking out enemies without being seen.  I never killed an NPC who surrendered and I rescued everyone I met who needed it.  But I only managed to save 2 out of 3 member of my crew playing in exactly the same fashion. Stealth got just too frustrating during the forest sequence, so I gleefully murdered people, despite feeling bad as they were kids who didn't know much better but still saved my crew member by not killing one critical character and saving some people but during the previous  level I just killed a couple of slaves (who were trying to kill me at the time) and got the adverse outcome.  Dunno the stealth stuff doesn't quite fit with the way the game plays best, Artyom is clearly not a pacifist.

 

At its best this was fantastic, tense, beautiful and well scripted - at its worse it pisses about without going anywhere.

 

Performance wise, a year after release its still a bit broken on PC.  Despite running this on a 1060 and an i5 8 series processor I could only get a decent frame rate on medium setting (still looks amazing mind) and the game was minded to crash within 15 minutes of running before it offered to run in safe mode and then behaved itself perfectly fine - bizarrely couldn't tell the difference once I changed the resolution to 1920 x 1280...

 

great post apocalyptic zombies / 10

 

8. Mirrors Edge: Catalyst (PC)

 

So the year of catching up very slowly with the backlog continues (have I played anything released this year, this year yet - checks notes - looks like a no - oh wait The Division 2 expansion counts right?  Otherwise its a no) - so 7 down, 800 odd to go according to my GOG library....don't know what's more worrying really - the fact that I have 855 games in my library and I've never even booted over 800 of them, or the fact that I only got a PC capable of playing games 15 months ago...

 

Anyway we digress, lots of those entries in my library are down to my membership of a variety of subscription services which whilst I am undoubtedly not getting value for money from, give me a lovely warm feeling that I will never be short of something to play; well until they remove that game I was always intending to play just before I actually get to it.

 

Which leads us to the Mirrors Edge reboot.  I'm not entirely clear why it has taken me 4 years to get around to playing this game.  I adored the original; the stark white red and blue clinical futuristic asthetic, the hi octane first person platforming and kinetic campaign.  I also recall getting severely frustrated in several places, largely due to the god awful combat and successive deaths when I misread how a sequence was meant to play out but it captured a moment in time for me and I still carry warm memories of the game.

 

So at the dawn of this now dying generation I was tantalised by the prospect of a reboot/prequel/sequel.  But some 3 years later when it finally released I failed to pick it up. In retrospect I wondered whether this was due to fact I was late to the PS4/Xbone gen and only joined two years after release, but no turns out ME:Catalyst came out in May 2016, and I had owned a PS4 by that point for about 7 months.

 

So I must just have been distracted at the time.  And then after buying an Xbox One maybe a year or so later I picked up  an EA access sub, and it was high on my must play list...but I well didn't (now that was a waste of money,  a years sub to the service and I don't think I played a single title on it).

 

So yeah, a few years later and I get a gaming PC and take that £20 Origin Basic subscription because look lots of cool games I've never played - including the Mirrors Edge sequel that for some reason I never got around to.

 

And well here we are a year or so on and I decide that finally now is the time to bloody play the thing; you know the one I've been interested in now for maybe 8 years since it was first teased and only 12 years since the first game was released.

 

First person platforming is not a well trod genre, mainly because well its kind of hard to play a game where its vital to know where your feet are at any given time when the camera is not showing you your feet.  Its been successful on maybe three occasions I can think of: that Jumping Flash rabbit game on Psone; because crazy idea that's never really been done before and the world was fresh and polygonal new at that point (I seem to remember it being one of the first games ever to give me motion sickness but anyway it was different).  Mirrors Edge because it looked so stunning and gave a whole new perspective to the parkour previously only seen in third person in the like of Prince of Persia and um...Titanfall 2 is the only other game that springs to mind that stole all of ME's good idea and managed to string some excellent shooting mechanics and add giant robots to boot.  Otherwise 1st person platforming tended to be a really bad idea, like Turok: Dinosaur Hunter platforming sections bad (hmmm maybe I should replay those two given I now have the remastered PC versions - maybe I'm being unfair in retrospect).

 

Anyway ME despite its flaws was a thrilling game.  But the reboot was not well received.  For one it being a reboot failed to connect (its very clearly not even vaguely the same characters as the original game  despite the names being the same - not that they were terribly memorable in the first place).  And then it decided to be open world and that apparently didn't work.

 

As it turns out this seems to be more than a little unfair.  So plus point one; this game has not aged.  No doubt I benefit for playing it on what is now middling PC hardware but in 2016 was fairly high end; but this is a seriously pretty game and one that literally belts along at 60fps with a near future cyber punk stark vibe.  It still looks phenomenal and can be safely be played on Ultra with a mere Nvidia 1060.

 

But secondly the fact that they went for open world turned out to be almost completely irrelevant.  Yes we have an Ubisoft load of points of interest, pickups and collectables and pointless side activities but they can be safely ignored in favour of a campaign that is in almost every respect the equal of the original and a second set of side quests that occasionally are even better (a whole game made up of those Grid overload tower climbs might be the best game ever).  I actually liked the open world format with side quests to take in as you progressed through the campaign and throughout the game just like all the most successful open world games navigating through the city to the next way point was always fun.  So yes, the collectables are forgettable but fun to grab if you seem them (hello grid leaks), and the dashes and deliveries a little pointless but fun to sample; but the actual main line game and the full on side quests were almost uniformly great and occasionally truly memorable (the Shard level will live on for me for quite a while I can assure you).

 

So take it as what it is - a linear game with some open world elements and its a great first person platformer.  And there are few games that can say that.  Yes I did die needless times when I misjudged where my feet were, but when you string move after to move together and travel through the stunning environment effortlessly the thrill of Mirrors Edge has not lost its appeal.

 

There are of course a couple of silly missteps that really shouldn't have been made.  I have no truck with a levelling system; but it was rather silly to place vital traversal actions like the double wall run, recovery roll and quick turn on the skill tree and not make it clear you won't be getting very far without them.  They don't take long to unlock if you focus on them but given you literally can't complete the latter half of the game without them at least release them through the story.  And the combat - oops.  Whilst it was a decent decision to eschew guns; replacing it with the most janky first person melee system I've played in some time, which literally frequently leads to Benny Hill style chases so you can wall run and the do a flying kick was an ill-advised move.  The game works far better where you run rather than fight and should have been structured as such, rather than having half a dozen moments where you can not help but try and fight badly.

 

But when the game works it really works well.  I kept the runner vision on as it made navigating the open world city far more fun, but the game was at its best during missions where it turns itself off and challenges you to find the path; reminiscent of the best navigation based platformers.  And dashing through a hail of bullets, across futuristic skyscrapers never really got old.

 

Taking just the main quest and side content I got a decent 20 hours of playtime and had my fill of the concept; maybe the open world execution was a little half baked but there is more than enough linear well designed level design here to be more than worth the price of admission.

 

TLDR: @Wiper was right (and you won't hear me say that often I can tell you) this was one of the best games of 2016 and deserves to be revisited...

 

Adrenaline / 10 

 

June

 

9. Control + The Foundation DLC (PC)

 

Its bloody brilliant - do I need to say more?  No?  Didn't think so.

 

Yeah, well obviously I am going to add more words, well because that's kind of what I do.  So I'll elaborate as to why you should be dropping whatever you are doing right now and going to play this.

 

Now Remedy are not the most prolific of developers but I have a soft spot for them.  Possibly because Max Payne was the first game I played on the very first gaming PC I built nearly 20 years ago.  And to this day I will insist Alan Wake was a masterpiece.  Still not played Quantum Break despite owning about 3 copies of it, must correct that at sometime in the near future....

 

Anyway it is a truth often told that Star Wars games aside, the potential of a game where you play with Psionic powers hasn't been that well realised.  In fact discount Midways fantastic B movie AA release Psi Ops and Second Sight well its not even been attempted very often.

 

Enter Control - what you get if you cross a 3rd person shooter with an X files / SCP vibe in a brutalist vision of 1960s American bureaucracy and a lead character who cant throw hings with her mind.  Computers, telephones, office furniture, bits of the walls and gradually pretty much everything including for fork lift trucks.

 

You end up with quite a varied skill set of powers in Control, but the key mechanic that draws you in is flinging anything and everything against the enemy, dashing your slingshots with some bullets to grab health; playing as the classic glass canon flitting desperately through the horde.

 

And it is so much fun, really it can't be underestimated how much fun it is to smash a photocopier into a snipers face whilst you literally fly around the environment.  The games powers you up gradually, starting entirely grounded with just a handgun and ending up as a proper Captain Marvel styled levitating Psionic goddess.

 

The game is committed to its background - the oldest house is an endlessly fascinating environment to explore, full of mysteries as to who your character is in relation to what goes on there.  Its rare indeed to actually want to read those collectable documents scattered around office cubicles but Control builds a compelling narrative in these small details.

 

And of course you get to shoot and more importantly fling things at a variety of enemies whilst uncovering those secrets.

 

The plot plays fast and loose with the chosen one/right place right time dynamic and never lets the player stop and question what I exactly it is they are doing.

 

And the gameplay loop might be simple but so bloody inviting.  Turn up the atmosphere, add some Metroidvania flourishes and here we go.

 

I adored this from start to finish, I can overlook the slightly confused structure that would have benefitted from folding in side quests to the main narrative, when every environment and new location is so well realised (got to love the title cards).  Its all so stylised and on point.

 

The game nicely flits from isolated exploration to frantic combat arenas and occasionally taking a hard right turn for some off kilter side quests.   The main narrative remains compelling throughout and fits brilliantly with Remedy's previous experiments with a serial narrative.  We even get a fake out ending with credits to boot.

 

And just to add a little spice to the intoxicating punch the DLC is almost as good as the main game; adding another 5 hours content and raises just as many questions as the main game poses without fully answering.

 

So yes the map is still woeful, yes some of the difficulty spikes on the bosses are brutal (Mold -1 can go fcuk itself), but this is such a wonderful game that all this nitpicking fades rapidly. and you can just relax into the experience.  And rarely has a game made me grin quite so much as during the Ashtray Maze sequence.

January

 

1. Darksiders Genesis (PC)

 

So mystery of the week.  Why is no one talking about this game (seriously the thread has about a dozen posts (two of them by me before I even bought it).  I guess that's because no one is playing it.  And why is no one playing it?  Well fcuk'd if I know because its absolutely fantastic.

 

Okay I will admit a modicum of bias here.  I adore the Darksiders series.  Its the mix of beautiful mid 90s Imagine comics style art with the po faced but at times hilarious story beats and the way it the series realises that basically any genre is improved if you mix a bit of Zelda in there.  Here comes a history lesson:

 

Darksiders I - basically God of War meets Zelda, during and after the apocalypse.  Run around dungeons, hit things with a comically over powered sword, get items and solve clever but never terribly tricky environmental puzzles.  All with a chunky gorgeous art style.  And Vulgrum - everyone loves Vulgrum. 

 

Darksiders II - basically the above with a more mobile lead, and lashes of Prince of Persia style platforming,  an open world to join the dungeons and a dash of Diablo style loot.  Its undoubtedly one of my favourite games of the last decade, even though its oh so terribly clear how the budget gradually ran dry as the game moves towards its conclusion (massive impressive first open world area with loads of side dungeons, much more linear second map, by the third we're down to a single path).  It has its weaknesses (the plot never really goes anywhere, Death is as far less interesting character than War, its obsessed with 3 McGuffins being the key to move forwards and as a prequel it fails miserably to deliver on the best ending to a game ever (No, not alone...)).  But its great really.

 

Darksiders III - as above, but with about a 10th of the budget and no horses, less platforming, a rather shoe horned in Dark Souls vibe  but a quite nicely executed Metroidvania level design.  Its the weakest of the trilogy for sure but I still love it.

 

So yeah the Darksiders series has had a bit of a rough ride.  The first game managed to be something of a sleeper hit for THQ, surprising everyone who expected another God of War/DMC/Dante's Inferno knock off with basically the best non Nintendo version of a 3D Zelda.  It sold far better than expected.

 

Slightly desperate at this point, THQ basically threw all their money at the sequel hoping for a mega hit (they even bought all the advertising space on Time Square on release).  This was never likely for a niche title like Darksiders.  The sequel did good business despite everything but it wasn't enough.  THQ went bust.  Tragically no one saved Virgil Games but Nordic bought the IP.

 

Virgil dissolved and about half the company drifted off to form Gunfire Games whilst the other half became Airship Syndicate who made the also rather wonderful Battle Chasers.

 

A couple of HD remasters and the now THQ Nordic (because when you've bough most if the IP of a defunct company why not also take their name?) released Darksiders III from the Virgil off shoot Gunfire.  Teeny tiny budget was evident and it is comfortably the weakest of the trilogy, but it was still more Darksiders and therefore great by default.  Suggesting that AA games do have a future, despite modest sales it turns a healthy profit.

 

Which leads us to back to Darksiders Genesis.  As noted earlier half of Virgil (or so) ended up as Gunfire, but the other half of the senior team founded Airship Syndicate.  And made the really rather great SRPG Battle Chasers (basically a modern Vandal Hearts if you've not played it).

 

So we have half the creative team who made Darksiders, they are making games for THQ Nordic, they have a overhead isometric engine, they have the lead artist from Darksiders.  Why not make a Darksiders Diablo game?  You could even introduce the 4th horseman we've barely met (Strife)?

 

I'll admit I was a wee bit sceptical when this was announced at E3.  Darksiders has always been about genre mix, but I was far from convinced that Diablo dungeon crawling was a good fit.

 

I was wrong.

 

Mainly because this is not a Diablo style dungeon crawler.  Its a Darksiders game.  A proper Darksiders game.  More of a Darksiders game than the threequel in fact. It basically plays like a mix of 1 and 2 from an isometric perspective.  Or a 2D Zelda game with more hitting things and platforming.

 

Its bloody brilliant.  The combat feels great - War is just as he was from the original and despite the change of perspective the combat feels just as visceral  Strife meanwhile adds a dash of twin stick shooter to the proceedings.  The campaign is 16 levels long and meaty.  There are a shit load of secrets to find in the maps.  You get to ride you're horse(s).  The puzzles are never really full on Zelda head scratchers but keep you on your toes.  There's a surprisingly complex levelling system with the creature cores which has loads of potential for messing about with builds..  Oh and an arena mode for pure combat chaos.  And War is back and is still the best horseman by a mile.  And Vulgrim.  And Samael too.

 

If you even got a smidgeon of enjoyment out of the three preceding games you owe yourself to get this.  Its about £17 from CDkeys right now on PC.  Its out on console (would be great on the Switch) in February.  If you never played them the first 2 are free from Epic Games store until tomorrow evening so off you go.

 

Its my game of (last) year - hey I played most of it over Xmas - by a country mile.  After 33 hours and managing to get almost all the items from the maps and clocking all of the arena levels aside from the endless final one I saw the credits last night. Loved it.

 

Of course its not perfect.  Its another prequel (really, a 3rd one, after that ending?).  War rather overshadows Strife despite this being the latter's debut.  The plot doesn't really go anywhere (as its a prequel) and the MacGuffins are all present and correct.  But its just so much damned fun.

 

Phenomenal / 10

 

2. Jedi: Fallen Order  (PC)

 

So onto game number two and a game I have waited a very long time to play.  Its no secret that I am a big Star Wars fan and its also no secret that I love the Uncharted games.  So I have long waited for a Star Wars X Uncharted game where I could live out my Jedi role playing fantasies.  No really I have...

 

And it has been a long old wait full of disappointment.  Fist there was Star Wars 13:13 which looked amazing but was cancelled along with Lucasfilm games.  Then Visceral, the developer behind another favourite series of mine were entrusted to deliver a single player Star Wars game with design by Uncharted creator Amy Hennig.  Very exciting - no wait that's cancelled too.

 

So when Fallen Order was first teased from Respawn (another favoured studio of mine) my expectations were tempered - its never coming out is it?  And there hasn't ever been a decent single player Star Wars game has there?

 

Well actually that last point is patently untrue - leaving aside KOTR 1 and 2, we had Dark Forces and the Jedi Knight series, the Rogue Squadron games, Super Star Wars, Star Wars Arcade, the original wire frame Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, The Force Unleashed and its sequel (well loved them).  Me personally I even enjoyed Star Wars: Bounty Hunter but I'll admit that last one was probably was just me.

 

But it would be fair to say that since EA has had the licence there hasn't been a good single player Star Wars game.  And my dream of a Uncharted style 3rd person Jedi platform adventure looked lost to the wilds of time.

 

But no Jedi:Fallen Order is pretty much exactly the game I was looking for and is about a million times better than anyone could have expected.

 

There is no huge amount of reinventing the wheel here.  Respawn basically took what they were good at, constructing a well designed and written campaign with lots of wall running (c/f Titanfall 2); added a hugely authentic Star Wars aesthetic (say whatever else you want about this game, it looks like Star Wars) and dropped in everyone's personal Jedi  power play fantasy and et voila; you have one of the most entertaining titles of the last 12 months.

 

This is to all intent and purposes Star Wars X Uncharted; if you had any doubts then the opening level that has you scaling a massive tower before plunging you into a train chase where you end up dangling precariously from destroyed sections of the vehicle should leave you in no doubt.  It goes further however and mixes in lots of other games DNA into the gloriously tasty gaming soup.  There's more than a touch of the rebooted Tomb Raiders in the well um, Tomb sequences, complete with environmental puzzles, we get a whole dollop of Metroidvania with unlocking abilities allowing you to access previously inaccessible parts of the map.  The attempt to work in some Dark Souls both in the combat and the meditating (camp fire) mechanic is perhaps the most ill fitting addition (narratively it makes no sense whatsoever) but the combat is fast, fluid and once you are fully powered up dazzlingly entertaining.

 

Its not perfect of course; the games momentum is a little jerky moving from the on rails but striking intro level to the rather ponderous first planet but it soon gets a grip on the pace.  The absence of fast travel is inexplicable and hurts the pre end game where you want to mop up missed secrets.  The unlocking of force powers too is a bit slow, granting you only force slow for the first few hours of the game was an odd move - surely would have been best to lead with push.  Technically it generally looks fabulous (admittedly I am playing no doubt post a couple of patches and with a decent PC) but the odd sinking into the environment on occasions on Dathomir feels out of place and which idiot forgot to have BD1 move off your shoulder when you are swimming but still kept the animation of the chests  suggesting he had jumped in?).

 

But all of this is relative nitpicking.  The game is a long, well designed campaign full of fun set pieces, snappy combat and free running platforming.  Its surprisingly well written and acted, probably telling a better story than well the last two Star Wars films for one.  And the Star Wars fan service is second to none.  Despite warning of a Dark Souls vibe, on the moderate difficulty level  the game is never more than slightly challenging (the bosses all have blatant tells and weaknesses and the hardest moments tend to come when you are mobbed or forget your force powers).  I had an absolute blast.

 

May the force be with you / 10

 

3. Halo: Reach (Master Chief Collection) PC

 

So the journey is over, I have finally completed all the main line (i.e the FPS ones) Halo games.  Dare I say it, it ended with a little bit of a whimper rather than a bang.

 

So I was late to the party with the Halo series.  I did have CE on the original Xbox, but I (whisper it) wasn't really that keen.  I got as far as driving the Warthog , found it near impossible and gave up.  As far as Halo 2 goes, for some reason I never played the campaign, although I did spend many hilarious hours playing couch VS with @Gordzilla

 

And I may have bought Halo 3, Reach and indeed 4; but I never actually managed to play them.  You know just because.  And I developed a distinctive 'obviously' correct opinion that the Halo games were well a bit meh really.   Despite never really actually y'know playing them

 

So when I got a Xbone I bought the MCC collection - mainly because it was like £6 and I had a shiny new console.  But I was actually keen to give the games another go, because well all that noise about Halo.

 

And well I was wrong 18 years ago or whatever it was.  Halo is a fabulous game.

 

Anyway I have gradually made my way through the series from CE onwards and played the entire series available of the MCC (and 5 too, although the less said about 5 is probably the better).

 

I've had half an eye on playing Reach (for which I still have a 360 disc on my gameshelf) through BCC - but once the game was confirmed for the MCC collection and y'know remastered and all that jazz I decided to wait.  And as these days I have an all singing all dancing gaming laptop the PC version beckoned.

 

Not sure on balance whether that was the correct option.

 

So yeah Reach.  Its well okay.  But turns out a little anaemic.   Some this may well be down to the gimped sound; its still not fixed as far as I can tell and everything sounds well a bit tinny.  And I know the soundtrack for this is much admired; but I badly missed the actual Halo theme - it nearly appears on a couple of occasions and well its kind of frustrating.

 

Which ultimately fits with the way the game presents.  Its all a bit clinical and well lacking something. As you may be aware Reach is a tragic war movie prequel as presented through a video game, or basically Rogue One the videogame.  I may have played all of the preceding and succeeding games but I still failed to care much about Noble squadron.  I knew they were all going to die and it had very little impact when they did.  Your character, Mr proto Master chief is an ambivalent cipher (oh and look Cortana chooses him and he was second only to the Chief in various war games) but he fails to develop any personality of his own.

 

And its a pretty short campaign, definetly shorter than the numbered titles; and whilst I've heard comment that it has some of the best set pieces in the series, I wasn't quite feeling it.  I mean yes it has the Halo dynamic, it doesn't feel divorced from its predecessors like say 5 does.  But there were far more memorable moments in well, Halo 4 for example.  It feels like Halo, I was enjoying myself but I never had that feeling of wow what I am I playing like I got from say Halo 3.

 

So yeah DLD Halo rankings: Halo 3 > Halo 4 (its really good no really it is) > ODST > CE > Reach > Halo 2 > Halo 5 / 10

 

4. Shadow Warrior 2 (PC)

 

And now for something completely brainless and explosive.

 

I loved SW1, whilst I played it later, turns out it was the original prototype for the Doom reboot.  Nineties FPS game design meets 2010s graphics.

 

This wasn't as good.  Mixing Shadow Warriors vibe with the looter shooter genre ends up being slightly more miss than hit.  By having procedurally generated levels some of the fun of exploring the maps of the first game was lost.  The game also badly misses the lovely anime seriousness of the originals plot and cut scenes ; this time it goes straight for silly cock jokes with little or no messing about.  Hoji is much missed.

 

But it does have guns, lots of guns.  And the swords are still phenomenal.  Some reasonable improvements with the controls makes the special moves a lot more intuitive to pull off too.

 

It never even tries to rise above, go here, kill some demons, go over here and kill some more as far as level design goes, but it still manages to be entertaining as you blast and slash from A to B.

 

And my word it does look very pretty in places.

 

Meh I had fun but the first game was better / 10

 

5. Assassin's Creed Origins + The Hidden Ones + The Curse of the Pharaohs (PC)

 

Well that's one way to slow down my completion rate for the year, play a game that literally feels like it will never end.  In a good way mind, although after 95 hours of it I'm very ready to play something else.

 

So literally two months it has taken me to get through this, and that's with a weeks annual leave in lockdown not doing a great deal more than play it.  This is, if you let it be of course, a ridiculously long game.

 

I've only a passing acquaintance with the AC series, still harbouring a slight resentment for the fact it killed off my beloved Prince of Persia games.  I did play the original at the time of release and was not wildly impressed.  Looked stunning but not a huge amount to do.  I also plated the sequel on release but found it took an inordinate amount of time to get going, too long in fact so I got bored and gave up.

 

Fast forward 10 years or maybe more, late to the party with the PS4 my new console came with a copy of Syndicate.  And I finally completed my first AC game, and really enjoyed it too.

 

Anyway, I've had a thing for classical and ancient history (and a degree to show for it) since I was a kid, so had been meaning to play this for a long time.  I was attracted by the the RPG stylings and the reports of many of the irritants or past AC games were a thing of the past (tailing etc - although some of the sub Benny Hill chase sequences that I experienced in Syndicate were probably worth the price of admission in their own right).

 

Anyway, this is all largely true.  This doesn't feel an awful lot like the earlier games at all.  In fact it comes across more like a third person version of Far Cry (endless enemy camp infiltrations), with some incredibly expansive exploration in a fascinating and incredibly realised period of history.

 

Playing on a pretty decent PC, its hard to underestimate how pretty this game looks.  It captures Ptolemaic Egypt perfectly and the extent of the world map is just stunning.  The plot does rather stumble along, rather lost in the fun you have from uncovering question mark after question mark, exploring long forgotten tombs in the wilderness, skating down Pyramids, climbing temples and dealing silent death from above to the guards.

 

The game is neatly simplified and tweaked to make the core gameplay; get to area, scope out with your bird, silently dispatch the guards being sneaky a la Batman Arkham or with some carefully placed arrows and then killing your quarry and then go explore some more endlessly inviting. 

 

One can not stress just how huge the map is; even after finishing the main quest line I still had a third of the map to explore.  The plot is  slow moving for the majority of the game and then suddenly accelerates in a slightly odd tangent but this ultimately matters little given the engaging nature of the game loop.  The two leads however are unusually well developed, even if I didn't see the eventual twist in their relationship coming.

 

And even more surprisingly the DLC is almost equally as well done as the main game.  The Hidden Ones is a nice little expansion to the main game but clearly more of the same but Curse of the Pharaohs' is arguably the best content of the entire game - Thebes, and what they did with the tombs of the kings being a massive highlight.

 

Perhaps playing it all through was a little too much of a good thing, I have Odyssey all lined up but I need a break for now, but this was cracking stuff.

 

Hidden Blade / 10

 

May

 

6. The Division 2: Warlords of New York (PC)

 

So after my two month epic run though of AC:Origins, what better way to pallet cleanse than with erm another Ubisoft open world game.  To be fair, The Division plays pretty differently from the AC series in basic gameplay loop and well I'm a sucker for Ubi's open world formula anyway so I like the familiar whistles and bells.

 

Anyway The Division 2 was one of my highlights of last year, it basically it took what the first game did and basically did everything (from a PvE single player sense anyway) significantly better.  It is probably the best 3rd person cover shooter I've ever played, with crunchy gunplay, a real emphasis on battlefield placement and of course guns lot of guns.  I spent 80 happy hours in the game and played every piece of single player content all the way to World Tier 5, all 3 episodes and even the Kenley College stuff; and loved pretty much every minute of it.  The Division 2 is a curious game in that it wants to be an endless loot/MMO shooter but it packs so much genuine new single player content that even those who have little interest in grinding get far more than their money's worth.

 

So after the year 1 content (which was generously largely free, the season pass only granting some extra side mission (pretty decent ones) and a bit of exclusive high end gear; its paid expansion time.  As I have Uplay+ this was all available for me day one on release day along with the season pass, but 25 notes if you are purchasing; which is not cheap for an expansion pack.

 

However, this is a fairly generous expansion.  We get the setting moved back to the superior environment of |New York (the base games biggest weakness being Washington DC is not quite the iconic city NY is) and exploring a new section of the map in lower Manhattan that the original didn't cover (spoilers yes you do get to visit a certain statue, although no gun fights in the torch which seems a missed opportunity).

 

This is a decent slab of new content - we get 4 new areas which is about a 3rd of the base games map, and each with their own control points, SHD caches and bounties to complete.  The new campaign takes in 6 new main missions, all of them taking an hour or so to complete and another 7 side missions which are somewhat shorter.  They are almost all good and the new main mission are perhaps the best content in the game to date, taking in an oil refinery, an underground park and the previously mentioned statue as eye candy for the battles.  In a slightly surprising turn, this time we get some actual boss battles with personality and unique game play mechanics (although rogue agent numero uno Keener is a flipping irritating battle).

 

Its very much more Division 2, and this was absolutely fine with me.  We get the fun of starting again with the loot grind as you level from 30-40 (definitely the best bit of the original), the new map is an impressive post apocalyptic environment (this time in the Summer but following a hurricane) and all the mission are great fun to play through.  As a devoutly solo player, I happily progressed through without significant difficulty (which is just as well as only a month after release matchmaking for the campaign on story wasn't really happening); the SHD caches have developed significantly from the base game with almost all of them presenting a slight environmental puzzle to solve.

 

And so 20 or so happy hours were spent - perhaps slightly annoyingly its fairly easy to reach level 40 before reaching the climax of the campaign but the new levelling system doesn't kick in until you finish...there's a story reason for this but yeah, meh.  The plot such as it is serves its purpose but the conclusion feels rather empty given the shadow Keener has cast to date and the new big bad really comes out of nowhere but lets face it no one plays The Division for the story.

 

Perhaps most disappointingly the  post game gives little reason to play on; I was all ready to give the new season content manhunt a go but it basically consists of replaying content I've just done or did previously with no alterations....yeah nah.  There is sadly no equivalent of the WT levels of the base game or the remixed missions that offered.

 

But I did thoroughly enjoy this return to New York and the rock solid foundations of the series - I will be back but only when there is something new to play.

 

Lots of fun but maybe not £25 worth of content / 10

 

7. Metro Exodus (PC)

 

So back to getting my monies worth out of Xbox Game Pass, this was a game I was quite excited about on release, but didn't quite get around to it at time, and then being very pleased it appeared on Game Pass, before the slightly desperate realisation it might get removed before I get around to play it.  Its the new subscription service stress, will I play this before it vanishes?

 

But anyway I managed to get to it.  I have a soft spot for the Metro games and their oppressive atmosphere; I get a real Half Life 2 vibe from them somehow, along with shades of the Resi games and say Dead Space.  I've never played the Stalker games but apparently they owe a lot too (I do actually own these too but lets face it these are games on are on the Steam pile of never never).

 

Anyway both the previous Metro games were classy, pretty, story heavy and very stressful corridor shooters.  The shooting wasn't great but the atmosphere was second to none.  I enjoyed them both immensely.  This makes an attempt to break for the horizon and take the stabilisers off, although interestingly the game is most successful when it sticks to the previous formula.

 

Ultimately this is more of the same but with better and more varied environments, with an occasional side order of some open world busy work. We get a very scripted opening sequence that may ways irritate many, particularly when it leads into an infuriating stealth sequence with a sequence of seemingly unavoidable deaths. But the suddenly it all opens up once you reach the Volga and it suddenly all goes all Far Cry.  Which is fun and all that but the game plays its best hand in its heavily sequenced story sequences, we get some wonderful claustrophobic slices of game where you navigate your way through an underground substation  and a train terminal.

 

And then it goes all Rage with updated graphics and again we have some  open world navigation where we can explore, but its the scripted sections that lead the game play off.

 

In some ways I enjoyed the latter half of the game better where it abandons the freedom of the earlier sections (which is some what frustrated by some god awful vehicle navigation).  The incredibly beautiful forest section and then finally a return to the Metro in another city which was probably my favourite section of the game.

 

I got the good ending I think (my character lived) but the mechanics for this seemed a little forced.  I am not a stealth player and made extensive use of lethal weapons for taking out enemies without being seen.  I never killed an NPC who surrendered and I rescued everyone I met who needed it.  But I only managed to save 2 out of 3 member of my crew playing in exactly the same fashion. Stealth got just too frustrating during the forest sequence, so I gleefully murdered people, despite feeling bad as they were kids who didn't know much better but still saved my crew member by not killing one critical character and saving some people but during the previous  level I just killed a couple of slaves (who were trying to kill me at the time) and got the adverse outcome.  Dunno the stealth stuff doesn't quite fit with the way the game plays best, Artyom is clearly not a pacifist.

 

At its best this was fantastic, tense, beautiful and well scripted - at its worse it pisses about without going anywhere.

 

Performance wise, a year after release its still a bit broken on PC.  Despite running this on a 1060 and an i5 8 series processor I could only get a decent frame rate on medium setting (still looks amazing mind) and the game was minded to crash within 15 minutes of running before it offered to run in safe mode and then behaved itself perfectly fine - bizarrely couldn't tell the difference once I changed the resolution to 1920 x 1280...

 

great post apocalyptic zombies / 10

 

8. Mirrors Edge: Catalyst (PC)

 

So the year of catching up very slowly with the backlog continues (have I played anything released this year, this year yet - checks notes - looks like a no - oh wait The Division 2 expansion counts right?  Otherwise its a no) - so 7 down, 800 odd to go according to my GOG library....don't know what's more worrying really - the fact that I have 855 games in my library and I've never even booted over 800 of them, or the fact that I only got a PC capable of playing games 15 months ago...

 

Anyway we digress, lots of those entries in my library are down to my membership of a variety of subscription services which whilst I am undoubtedly not getting value for money from, give me a lovely warm feeling that I will never be short of something to play; well until they remove that game I was always intending to play just before I actually get to it.

 

Which leads us to the Mirrors Edge reboot.  I'm not entirely clear why it has taken me 4 years to get around to playing this game.  I adored the original; the stark white red and blue clinical futuristic asthetic, the hi octane first person platforming and kinetic campaign.  I also recall getting severely frustrated in several places, largely due to the god awful combat and successive deaths when I misread how a sequence was meant to play out but it captured a moment in time for me and I still carry warm memories of the game.

 

So at the dawn of this now dying generation I was tantalised by the prospect of a reboot/prequel/sequel.  But some 3 years later when it finally released I failed to pick it up. In retrospect I wondered whether this was due to fact I was late to the PS4/Xbone gen and only joined two years after release, but no turns out ME:Catalyst came out in May 2016, and I had owned a PS4 by that point for about 7 months.

 

So I must just have been distracted at the time.  And then after buying an Xbox One maybe a year or so later I picked up  an EA access sub, and it was high on my must play list...but I well didn't (now that was a waste of money,  a years sub to the service and I don't think I played a single title on it).

 

So yeah, a few years later and I get a gaming PC and take that £20 Origin Basic subscription because look lots of cool games I've never played - including the Mirrors Edge sequel that for some reason I never got around to.

 

And well here we are a year or so on and I decide that finally now is the time to bloody play the thing; you know the one I've been interested in now for maybe 8 years since it was first teased and only 12 years since the first game was released.

 

First person platforming is not a well trod genre, mainly because well its kind of hard to play a game where its vital to know where your feet are at any given time when the camera is not showing you your feet.  Its been successful on maybe three occasions I can think of: that Jumping Flash rabbit game on Psone; because crazy idea that's never really been done before and the world was fresh and polygonal new at that point (I seem to remember it being one of the first games ever to give me motion sickness but anyway it was different).  Mirrors Edge because it looked so stunning and gave a whole new perspective to the parkour previously only seen in third person in the like of Prince of Persia and um...Titanfall 2 is the only other game that springs to mind that stole all of ME's good idea and managed to string some excellent shooting mechanics and add giant robots to boot.  Otherwise 1st person platforming tended to be a really bad idea, like Turok: Dinosaur Hunter platforming sections bad (hmmm maybe I should replay those two given I now have the remastered PC versions - maybe I'm being unfair in retrospect).

 

Anyway ME despite its flaws was a thrilling game.  But the reboot was not well received.  For one it being a reboot failed to connect (its very clearly not even vaguely the same characters as the original game  despite the names being the same - not that they were terribly memorable in the first place).  And then it decided to be open world and that apparently didn't work.

 

As it turns out this seems to be more than a little unfair.  So plus point one; this game has not aged.  No doubt I benefit for playing it on what is now middling PC hardware but in 2016 was fairly high end; but this is a seriously pretty game and one that literally belts along at 60fps with a near future cyber punk stark vibe.  It still looks phenomenal and can be safely be played on Ultra with a mere Nvidia 1060.

 

But secondly the fact that they went for open world turned out to be almost completely irrelevant.  Yes we have an Ubisoft load of points of interest, pickups and collectables and pointless side activities but they can be safely ignored in favour of a campaign that is in almost every respect the equal of the original and a second set of side quests that occasionally are even better (a whole game made up of those Grid overload tower climbs might be the best game ever).  I actually liked the open world format with side quests to take in as you progressed through the campaign and throughout the game just like all the most successful open world games navigating through the city to the next way point was always fun.  So yes, the collectables are forgettable but fun to grab if you seem them (hello grid leaks), and the dashes and deliveries a little pointless but fun to sample; but the actual main line game and the full on side quests were almost uniformly great and occasionally truly memorable (the Shard level will live on for me for quite a while I can assure you).

 

So take it as what it is - a linear game with some open world elements and its a great first person platformer.  And there are few games that can say that.  Yes I did die needless times when I misjudged where my feet were, but when you string move after to move together and travel through the stunning environment effortlessly the thrill of Mirrors Edge has not lost its appeal.

 

There are of course a couple of silly missteps that really shouldn't have been made.  I have no truck with a levelling system; but it was rather silly to place vital traversal actions like the double wall run, recovery roll and quick turn on the skill tree and not make it clear you won't be getting very far without them.  They don't take long to unlock if you focus on them but given you literally can't complete the latter half of the game without them at least release them through the story.  And the combat - oops.  Whilst it was a decent decision to eschew guns; replacing it with the most janky first person melee system I've played in some time, which literally frequently leads to Benny Hill style chases so you can wall run and the do a flying kick was an ill-advised move.  The game works far better where you run rather than fight and should have been structured as such, rather than having half a dozen moments where you can not help but try and fight badly.

 

But when the game works it really works well.  I kept the runner vision on as it made navigating the open world city far more fun, but the game was at its best during missions where it turns itself off and challenges you to find the path; reminiscent of the best navigation based platformers.  And dashing through a hail of bullets, across futuristic skyscrapers never really got old.

 

Taking just the main quest and side content I got a decent 20 hours of playtime and had my fill of the concept; maybe the open world execution was a little half baked but there is more than enough linear well designed level design here to be more than worth the price of admission.

 

TLDR: @Wiper was right (and you won't hear me say that often I can tell you) this was one of the best games of 2016 and deserves to be revisited...

 

Adrenaline / 10 

 

June

 

9. Control + The Foundation DLC (PC)

 

Its bloody brilliant - do I need to say more?  No?  Didn't think so.

 

Yeah, well obviously I am going to add more words, well because that's kind of what I do.  So I'll elaborate as to why you should be dropping whatever you are doing right now and going to play this.

 

Now Remedy are not the most prolific of developers but I have a soft spot for them.  Possibly because Max Payne was the first game I played on the very first gaming PC I built nearly 20 years ago.  And to this day I will insist Alan Wake was a masterpiece.  Still not played Quantum Break despite owning about 3 copies of it, must correct that at sometime in the near future....

 

Anyway it is a truth often told that Star Wars games aside, the potential of a game where you play with Psionic powers hasn't been that well realised.  In fact discount Midways fantastic B movie AA release Psi Ops and Second Sight well its not even been attempted very often.

 

Enter Control - what you get if you cross a 3rd person shooter with an X files / SCP vibe in a brutalist vision of 1960s American bureaucracy and a lead character who cant throw hings with her mind.  Computers, telephones, office furniture, bits of the walls and gradually pretty much everything including for fork lift trucks.

 

You end up with quite a varied skill set of powers in Control, but the key mechanic that draws you in is flinging anything and everything against the enemy, dashing your slingshots with some bullets to grab health; playing as the classic glass canon flitting desperately through the horde.

 

And it is so much fun, really it can't be underestimated how much fun it is to smash a photocopier into a snipers face whilst you literally fly around the environment.  The games powers you up gradually, starting entirely grounded with just a handgun and ending up as a proper Captain Marvel styled levitating Psionic goddess.

 

The game is committed to its background - the oldest house is an endlessly fascinating environment to explore, full of mysteries as to who your character is in relation to what goes on there.  Its rare indeed to actually want to read those collectable documents scattered around office cubicles but Control builds a compelling narrative in these small details.

 

And of course you get to shoot and more importantly fling things at a variety of enemies whilst uncovering those secrets.

 

The plot plays fast and loose with the chosen one/right place right time dynamic and never lets the player stop and question what I exactly it is they are doing.

 

And the gameplay loop might be simple but so bloody inviting.  Turn up the atmosphere, add some Metroidvania flourishes and here we go.

 

I adored this from start to finish, I can overlook the slightly confused structure that would have benefitted from folding in side quests to the main narrative, when every environment and new location is so well realised (got to love the title cards).  Its all so stylised and on point.

 

The game nicely flits from isolated exploration to frantic combat arenas and occasionally taking a hard right turn for some off kilter side quests.   The main narrative remains compelling throughout and fits brilliantly with Remedy's previous experiments with a serial narrative.  We even get a fake out ending with credits to boot.

 

And just to add a little spice to the intoxicating punch the DLC is almost as good as the main game; adding another 5 hours content and raises just as many questions as the main game poses without fully answering.

 

So yes the map is still woeful, yes some of the difficulty spikes on the bosses are brutal (Mold -1 can go fcuk itself), but this is such a wonderful game that all this nitpicking fades rapidly. and you can just relax into the experience.  And rarely has a game made me grin quite so much as during the Ashtray Maze sequence.

 

So yeah love the mythos, love the key mechanic (and it never gets old), love the imagination that went into the Altered Item quests (particularly the ones in the first DLC).

 

So yeah love the mythos, love the key mechanic (and it never gets old), love the imagination that went into the Altered Item quests (particularly the ones in the first DLC).

 

GOTY retrospectively for 2019 / 10

 

10. Wolfenstein: Young Blood (PC)

 

So that's impressive for me, double figures and we are only just over half way through the year; almost unprecedented you will almost undoubtedly not hear me say (if I hear anyone say unprecedented in relation to 2020 again I swear there will be blood).  I'd say yeah but Lockdown, only I've been working full time in an office throughout because yeah key worker (meh).

 

Anyway Wolfenstein, kill Nazis, pretty graphics and deep and meaningful characters with increasingly bonkers plot twists.  Well that's been the tale of the reboot of this franchise to date anyway.

 

I've enjoyed the revitalised Wolfenstein games ever since The Darkness/Riddick developer got hold of the IP.

 

The mixture of their engaging physical take on the FPS genre combined with the unusually well developed characters for the genre is quite an alluring combination.  The New Order was basically bloody (very bloody as it happens) brilliant, The Old Blood was a fun play on the origins of the characters via the medium of the earlier games and The New Colossus had quite simply the most bonkers plot threads I've seen in a shooter that you are somehow compelled to take seriously just because of the depth they added to the characters.  That last game however had some real issues in marrying the story narrative to the gameplay; basically we were presented with a game far too tricky on 'normal' but way too easy on well um easy.  Which kind of lead it to be an interesting game but not that much fun to play in places.

 

So Young Blood is the series second spin off; this time we jet forward 20ish years and enter an alternate early 1980s.  One where electro and post punk sonically dominate but well um the Nazis still won WW2.  So we have a pair of new wise cracking protagonists who don't seem to give a damn where they are historically and a side order of Borderlands/GaaS content.

 

Narratively Young Blood undoubtedly disappoints; compared to the complex plot twists and well developed characters of the previous two mainline games with get a pale facsimile.  The structure of a hub  populated by NPCs is replicated but none of them are even vaguely interesting.  The main questline never gets beyond, find the missing character and kill Nazis.

 

So I'm playing post numerous patches, and many of the issues that plagued earlier incarnations of the game have been extinguished.  Nothing I fought felt too much like a bullet sponge, I quite enjoyed the interplay with different enemies having different shields that were best dealt with by varying your weapons.  The stealth which dragged earlier Wolfenstein games down has been tamed and now its fine to sneak around invisible or run around with a shotgun blazing; both approaches are viable.  I can see where I'd have given up in earlier versions (crazy refusal to checkpoint missions that can last over an hour of gameplay).But post  patches this is a lot of fun.  The sisters are engaging leads and have a kooky charm, the guns once powered up have some raw physicality to the shooting and the loose structure is fun to mess around with.  Lots of short side quests that give engaging gameplay and reward you with powerups.

 

The main questline is short and still badly weighted for the time poor ; I don't want to spend an hour playing and end up bounced back to the beginning of a level but the addition of boss check points makes it at least approachable.  That said that last boss can go fcuk himself.

 

Anyway much tweaked I didn't run into to many of the previous complaints; play the side quests in order and you are never under levelled.   Make sure you have some time free before playing a raid and you'll be fine.  

 

Its very, very pretty played on a fairly modern PC (runs very hot mind) and the basic loop is both engaging to continue and well fun.

 

Pale imitation of the earlier titles it may be; if you want to kill Nazis, marvel at some lovely lighting and fire some crazy guns you could do at a lot worse.

 

Middling Nazi killer / 10

 

11. Devil May Cry HD (PC)

 

So that's game number three for June, shocking in both that and this was not the game I expected to be writing about next and also that I certainly wasn't expecting to be writing in this thread again this month.  Now maybe 14 months ago I finished Devil May Cry 5 and enjoyed it so immensely I though it'd be nice to have the whole series on PC with a view to a full series playthough (that alluring combination of cheap keys and accumulating a library that is PC gaming).  I even got as far as installing the HD collection; thinking I might give it a whirl in a few weeks.

 

So yeah many months later, I unexpectedly find myself finishing Wolfenstein Young Blood on a quiet Saturday afternoon where I had that rare luxury of some uninterrupted child and wife free  game time.  With nothing installed on my play next list, and not really wanting to use this as an excuse to actually go and do something useful with my weekend, I thought I'd give the original game in this series a shot whilst I wait for a 70gb download to complete.

 

Now the first Devil May Cry made quite an impression on me at the time, it was the first PS2 game I ever completed and the first time I'd really played a 'character action' game as the genre has come to be know, a genre that over the years I have come to love.

 

My memories of the game really boil down to it being pretty atmospheric, stylish, set in a castle and it had a huge spider chasing you down hallways who was a real arse to kill.  Oh and it being really hard;  I think it took me weeks possibly months to finish it at the time.

 

Now as a remaster this is lazy, lazy stuff.  The collections front end seems fine, but as soon as you select the title, you are suddenly thrown into a 4:3 screen crop and an attract sequence of incredibly blurry FMV of the game being played through what can only be described as N64 vision.  Did games really look like this in 2001 on my CRT telly?

 

It doesn't get that much better when you hit start and are treated to more god awful FMV, before the game switches to an in game cutscene which thankfully is 16:9 but still looks rather rough.  And oh lord that voice acting and script - this is not the Dante I remember.  Actually I do remember the script and acting being fairly awful, just perhaps not this awful.  Just for good measure the sound is out of sync with the action in most of the cut scene (a problem that continues to happen erratically throughout the game, although weirdly not in every scene).

 

Thankfully once we reach Mallet Island and actually get into the engine, the remaster finally shows up.  It may be nothing more than an upres with some antialiasing, but in 2020 DMC 1 still looks actually really good.  The weird Marionettes that are the first enemy of the game still look both cool and creepy and the castle, pre rendered as it is still has a mean and moody feel to it.  Basically this art was clearly there at the time but with modern technology we actually get to see the detail that was always there.  And you can really tell and I mean really tell that this started life as a Resident Evil game, the atmosphere, the slightly off translated text that appears when you interact with things, even the action to use an item for a puzzle.

 

The game also quickly reminded me why I loved the game at the time, the combat obviously is massively simpler than say the most recent title, but it is fast and fluid and draws you in quickly.  Not sure what the original played at but this version maintains a perfect 60 fps which is nice.  Phantom has not lost his impact or become much less of a pain in the neck in the intervening near two decades.  I'd also forgotten how bite sized the game is, particularly compared to the most recent entry and indeed modern gaming in general.  Each mission is a snappy 15-25 minutes in length (and a few much less) and this pulls you in.  I quickly went from just having a mess with this to deciding I may as well go through the game properly.

 

Some aspects of course have not dated quite so well.  The fixed point camera seems completely ridiculous in retrospect for a game of this type and it takes a long time to rewire your brain that you have no control over it at all.  It also makes some of the boss battles significantly harder than they perhaps should be (yes I'm looking at you Nightmare).  It also showed just how much I'd forgotten as I'd completely not realised at all whilst playing DMC5 that V's familiars are bosses/enemies from this game - actually I'd completed omitted Griffin from my memory of this full stop.

 

And interestingly, despite my reflexes now being of those of a decaying of a gamer in his early 40s rather than 20 something, I didn't find the game anyway near as hard as I remembered.  The yellow orb system remains rather stupid, but the missions with boss difficulty spikes are in the main short enough to make getting back to the boss not the end of the world (and actually yellow orbs are around and even the escalating cost from red orbs if you buy them isn't as mean as I remembered).  Phantom might have  got me the first few time we fought (the 3rd battle in particular) but he went down the third time.  Neo Angelo is very weak to Irfit.  I remember finding the first encounter with the ice demon things really tough but again Irfit duffed them up good and proper (actually maybe part of my problem 20 years ago was I didn't use the gauntlets enough).  I cleared this game in basically 3 sittings - its not easy but its far from impossibly difficult.

 

In general this still holds up as a damned good slasher and one trimmed of much of the fat that passes for modern gaming.  Yes we have a skill tree but its a relatively simple one and levels don't extend on for ever but control the pace with a little bit of moody exploration, some snippets of action and then into a boss battle.  Its a model that still works, even with the ever present camera woes.

 

There are however a few things that I had omitted from my memory that probably should have stayed forgotten.  The slow paced swimming sections (on the bright side at least Dante can hold his breath indefinitely), space harrier combat sequences with your controls reversed from what they should be.  The Griffin battle on the boat.  And actually that whole final boss battle (well penultimate one as he gets a Terminator style pop up in the closing escape the crumbling castle mission),  which basically ignores what made the combat in this game great and instead substitutes it for shooting, even when you get on the ground.  I will have to admit that I cheesed the item supply I'd picked up through the game to scrape through that as it really wasn't fun.  Actually I guess this is where those stupid levels came from in Bayonetta?

 

But overall I'm glad to have played this again - although I suspect this will be the final time.  The later games took this template and undoubtedly made it better (just having camera control is a huge plus) and while DMC5 may have an over abundance of combat options, you do miss many of them compared with where we started.  And there are enough ropy around the edges bits to make this fun to revisit but probably not to repeat.  I won't be accepting the invitation to run through the game again on hard.  On the other hand if they ever do a full remake, the material here could easily warrant it.

 

But I probably will move on to DMC3 in the near future (not DMC2 - I already remember that as being a bit shit at the time so on this experience that probably means it now could only be described as awful).

 

Turning a dark soul to light / 10

 

 

 

  • Upvote 8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Forza Horizon 4

 

Driving games. I love driving in games. So why do I keep buying driving games, play them for a few hours, then drift off to something else? Why can't I stick with them? Why is the last driving game I really got addicted to the first PGR, which is now almost 20 years old?

 

Over the years, it's become clear. It's the glut of content. It's the lack of a compelling structure, or the need to drive well. Driving games have way, way more cars than you'll ever use, let alone get to know intimately. There are so many events it all just feels pointless. They are endless, and often don't even require you to get on the podium. You just keep driving and driving forever. I loved PGR1 because you actually needed to do really fucking well to make progress. You needed to learn the courses and nail them to unlock a car fast enough to do the next event. It was engaging and demanded skill. You worked your way up through power-levels of car. There was a manageable number of cars and courses. It wasn't designed around multiplayer or doling out hundreds of cars. I learned recently that the game was accidentally made overly difficult. That's hilarious - it's what I loved about it.

 

On the surface, FH4 is the nadir for the modern driving game. A map entirely obscured by icons. Complete one event and 10 more appear. Drifting, drag-racing, jumping, time trials, bonus boards - all chucked at you. Do anything, whenever you like. Use any car on any event. You came last? Doesn't matter - here's another set of events anyway. You've unlocked 30 new cars! And some hotpants! 

 

So why I have I now spent 70 hours on this particular game when all the previous Forzas and PGR sequels couldn't hold my interest?

 

It's because it's a service game. Fight your way through the confusing nest of laggy menus and you'll find a set of weekly events called the Festival Playlist. A manageable sub-set of hand-picked events that take you on a journey of different event types and vehicles. Time-limited and handed out at a reasonable pace. A new set and a new season each week. You need to do well to get the best rewards. You need to put some thought into your car choice and the tuning setup if you want to win. The open world becomes a test driving playground in this scenario, with other things to do while you're at it. Cars are like Pokemans, awarded via RNG in loot box-like rewards as you progress . You need enough so that you have a decent selection for the challenge ahead, so that you have something that meets the event requirements.

 

Over time, the reward loop gradually started to make sense. Credits are needed to tune your cars, and also to buy expensive properties, which act is convenient garage spots for buying new cars and tunes. Forza Points are available in limited supply solely from the weekly events and are the only way to buy rare items from the shop, which again refreshes its wares weekly. Eventually, you feel as though you're actually making progress - you're ticking off multiple things within a single event. Daily challenges, weekly challenges, overarching 'influence' levels. It's still about ticking stuff off, but it all interlocks in a satisfying way, as the best service and loot-based games do.

 

I've also been using the game in conjunction with the Microsoft Rewards programme, whereby I get points for getting an Achievement every day. This adds another welcome layer of progress that encourages me to explore different facets of the game.

 

Behind all that is the best arcade handling model ever. But lots of games have lovely handling models - I just need a compelling excuse to keep experiencing them. Forza Horizon 4 provided me with that. It just clicked. 

 

Quote

 

1. Jedi Fallen Order

2. COD Modern Warfare

3. Outer Wilds

4. Dishonored 2

5. Trials HD

6. Trials Rising

7. Streets of Rage 4

8 The Last of Us pt 2

9 Forza Horizon 4

 

 

  • Upvote 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

January

Injustice 2 (story)

 

February

Don’t Die, Mr Robot

Untitled Goose Game

Titanfall 2 (campaign)


March

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Middle Earth: Shadow of War

 

April
Rogue Aces

Burly Men At Sea

COD: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered

Rory McIlroy PGA Tour

Prey (2017)

 

May

Prey: Mooncrash

Far Cry: New Dawn

 

July

 

Stardew Valley

 

After 200 hours think I’m more or less done. I finally hit my arbitrary end point of earning 10,000,000g. And then played for another week to catch all the fish and cook all recipes.

 

Have one artifact left to collect but after one game month of doing nothing but digging for it (plus the previous five game years without finding it) think I’ll let it go undiscovered.

 

A truly wonderful game, and easily the best value I’ve had out of a title in 2020. The level of detail is staggering, with hours easily lost to the various mechanisms. Apparently the 1.5 update will have some new content so maybe I’ll pop back to An Field Farm, but even if I don’t, Stardew will comfortably be of my favourite games of this or any other generation.

 

Was hoping to platinum it as an end game target, but besides the museum collection, which I’m sure I’d have completed eventually, there’s no way I could...

 

Spoiler

...finish Journey of the Prairie King without dying.
 

That must be one of the rarest trophies/cheevs out there, so kudos to anyone who has managed it :)

 

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Previously...

 

1) AM2R - PC - 2016 (1991)
2) Ecco The Dolphin - Mega CD - 1992/3
3) Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - 3DS - 2012/14
4) Mega Man X - SNES - 1993
5) Super Metroid - SNES - 1994
6) Donkey Kong Country - SNES - 1994
7) Chrono Trigger - SNES - 1995
8) Star Fox 2 - SNES - 2017 (1995)
9) Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island - SNES - 1995
10) Xenogears - PS1 - 1998
11) Sonic the Hedgehog - Megadrive - 1991
12) Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars - SNES - 1996
13) Kirby Super Star - SNES - 1996
14) Earthbound - SNES - 1995
15) R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 - PS1 - 1998/9
16) Tomb Raider III - PC - 1998
17) Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation - PC - 1999
18) Tomb Raider Chronicles - PC - 2000
19) Shenmue HD - PC - 2018 (1999/2000)
20) Shenmue II HD - PC - 2018 (2001)
21) Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy - PS3 - 2012 (2001)
22) Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness - PC - 2003
23) Jak II: Renegade - PS3 - 2012 (2003)

 

 

24) Jak 3 - PS3 - 2012 (2004)

Completed all story missions (approx. 12 hours), didn't bother with all the little challenges littered around because they're all a bit dull. "Find this hidden orb" again and again. Nah, I'm good.

 

So, Jak 3 is very much a reprise of Jak 2 (sorry, 'Jak II: Renegade'). Jak is still angsty and Daxter is still a sex-pest, but the action extends beyond the walls of the hovercar-jammed police state and into the lawless desert wastelands. The structure of the missions is still the same but things are tweaked to be ever-so-slightly less annoying, with less map-reading, missions placed closer together, a little more variety, better checkpointing, and no cops to worry about when free-roaming. Out in the wastelands, the new dune buggies are fun to control, bouncing and skidding around. Everything else is more or less the same as it was in the previous game. Even the guns are the same, just with extended extra firing modes (to be fair, these are quite fun), and most of the same characters return as the story wraps itself up finally. There's a fun twist to the plot that's amusingly irreverent.

 

I kinda enjoyed this overall but it wasn't exactly great. Its mixture of gameplay styles means you never know what you're going to get next, either a checkpoint challenge or a race or an escort mission or a platforming section or an on-rails shooter or a hoverboard challenge, or whatever. None of them are especially bad, none of them are especially good. That said, the penultimate showdown that takes place across the massive desert against a gigantic spider-robot is the most impressive scale of action I've seen from a PS2 game. It's like a Shadow of the Colossus battle but even bigger and not at 12fps. Naughty Dog's trademark production quality shines through, from the smooth framerate to the expressive character animation to the environmental art design, and this remastered HD version faithfully captures their technical wizardry. I haven't played the original but I gather this is the best way to play it today. The game itself is just... okay. An imperfect end to an imperfect trilogy.

  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Sprite Machine said:

Previously...

  Reveal hidden contents

1) AM2R - PC - 2016 (1991)
2) Ecco The Dolphin - Mega CD - 1992/3
3) Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - 3DS - 2012/14
4) Mega Man X - SNES - 1993
5) Super Metroid - SNES - 1994
6) Donkey Kong Country - SNES - 1994
7) Chrono Trigger - SNES - 1995
8) Star Fox 2 - SNES - 2017 (1995)
9) Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island - SNES - 1995
10) Xenogears - PS1 - 1998
11) Sonic the Hedgehog - Megadrive - 1991
12) Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars - SNES - 1996
13) Kirby Super Star - SNES - 1996
14) Earthbound - SNES - 1995
15) R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 - PS1 - 1998/9
16) Tomb Raider III - PC - 1998
17) Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation - PC - 1999
18) Tomb Raider Chronicles - PC - 2000
19) Shenmue HD - PC - 2018 (1999/2000)
20) Shenmue II HD - PC - 2018 (2001)
21) Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy - PS3 - 2012 (2001)
22) Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness - PC - 2003
23) Jak II: Renegade - PS3 - 2012 (2003)

 

 

An imperfect end to an imperfect trilogy.

 

Ratchet and Clank series playthrough next?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.