2019 has just begun, so let's put a ribbon on your 2018 in gaming.

Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#1
Last year I posted my gaming year in review. It's something I do for myself, and I thought I'd share in our newer, more intimate community. I thought I'd do this again this year, but I didn't want it to be a thread just about myself and my 2018 year in gaming. So anyone who is interested in telling us about your year with this hobby in 2018, feel free to chime in.

If you want to make a list, if you want to write a paragraph, an essay, post your own reviews, whatever - feel free to express yourself in whatever way suits you. As for myself, I like to share my reviews. It will take me a bit of time to post everything, and I'll probably only post a couple per day, but I'll get through my personal countdown sooner or later. Feel free to pepper in your own joys and disappointments from the year gone by in gaming.

And without further ado,

Ok, I'll finally try and put this thing together. First of all, I played a fair amount of a couple of games that I didn't get around to finishing because of upheaval in my personal life. (My separation from my wife being the largest factor.) I plan to get back to the following two games and finish them sometime in 2019:

Earth Defense Force 2025
Digital Devil Saga

I was having a great time with both of those, but circumstance pulled the plug before I could finish, and I ended up shelving them despite really loving them both. So, hopefully they'll be on my list for this year.

I also re-played 2 games from my past. I don't count those in my yearly rankings because they've already made their mark for me, but sometimes I love a game enough to revisit it and that's what I did on two occasions this year. Here are those 2 to start my 2018 yearly review before my countdown begins.

A final note. I rate my games on a 5 star scale for those who care about the numbers. In this day and age with so many games to play - past and present - you can consider anything rated a 4 or 5 as recommended by me. 3-star games are often enjoyable enough, but they can ultimately be skipped without missing much.


Some games are just thrilling and immediate. There's no plot development, character back-stories, in-depth systems, world-building, etc. They just smack you in the head with simplicity and action, and when the action is as well executed as it is in Rocket League, you forget all about what it isn't, and fully lose yourself in what it is. And what Rocket League is, is simply a blistering good time. The back and forth of both teams looking to nudge things in their favor is spell-binding and constant. Every boost, touch and response dance together in a ballet of pure joy as things play out in frantic and desperate fashion. Tensions build and rise on a seemingly endless basis, and the adrenaline flows freely, resulting in a throbbing orgasm of electricity.

I've played Rocket League in years past, but I spent enough time with it again this year to put it on my list. It's so compelling to me that I considered deleting it so I wouldn't be tempted to pick it up in favor of some other games I wanted to play. It's not that I necessarily love it more than some other games I was trying to get to, but it's just so easy to pick up and play. There's such a low barrier to instant fun, that it often becomes too tempting to bypass in favor of something that's more of a slower burn. Anyway, it's still a 5/5 and almost too much fun.



I bought ICO back on its release date in the US on PS2. (I may have mentioned this before, but that's just something I almost never do.) I was so drawn to the little I was able to absorb from gaming magazines which I loved to read back then, having subscriptions to several. There was something unique and wonderful apparent, even with the minimal exposure afforded via those publications, and I had to have it immediately. Thankfully my sense of things was, for me, correct and ICO became one of my all-time favorite gaming experiences. But it was one of those situations where it was so affecting that I did not want to play it again. I was afraid it would lose its luster and magic with closer inspection, and I definitely didn't want to allow that to happen.

Fast forward 16+ years, and I finally felt enough time had passed to allow for a sense of reasonable freshness that would allow me to enjoy this gem again without a feeling of over-familiarity. Looking at things again through the eyes of the present after so much has happened on the gaming landscape, I was honestly a tiny bit afraid that I would not view things with as positive a disposition. The industry moves forward and we change along with it and with the general passage of time. It would have hurt me to see ICO as anything less than brilliant, so strong is my sense of nostalgia for this one. I would have hated for that warm feeling to go away. But I think playing The Last Guardian last year reminded me with greater clarity of the flavor of ICO, and I really wanted to take that journey again.

My impressions playing this time, so long after the PS2 release, are thankfully as glowing as they were then. I think the first thing that struck me this time was how cohesive the whole game feels. Ueda's philosophy of design by subtraction really serves to accentuate what ultimately does remain. Everything feels like it has purpose. Nothing feels extraneous or wasteful. I was also surprised with how good it looks, given its age. I did play the HD version this time, and it is conceivable that the low res textures would suffer in this enhanced treatment, but the art direction is beautiful and the fact that everything is bathed in a soft glow serves multiple purposes, both adding to the otherworldly sense of place while also masking the technical limitations of the (original) hardware. I was also reminded, in this trip back to the mysterious island castle on the sea, of the sense of scale which was very unusual at the time and on the hardware. Structures felt enormous and imposing and there was often a vertigo-inducing sense of height. I can only imagine the challenges in creating the sense of space here, given the paltry 32 MB of total system RAM. Textures aside, things still look wonderful today, and not entirely due to art design. Everything ultimately comes together to create a believable, if somewhat alien, locale.

Visuals aside, the possible themes explored within ICO are as resonant as ever. Touching on ideas of exploitation, discrimination, oppression, slavery, class warfare, friendship, loyalty, and revolution; so much is said with an absolute minimum of waste. There is such a beautiful restraint in Ueda's works, and it absolutely stands in stark contrast to almost everything else in the industry. His ability to deliver a powerful tale in a subtle and thoughtful manner is absolutely unique, and reason enough to imbibe his works. His creations are proper compost to a fertile imagination, leaving enormous room to play with possibilities. Who is the Queen and what is her relationship to Yorda and the horned boys? Why does she speak the language of both? Who were the people that brought ICO to the castle and where did they come from? Why do they sacrifice horned boys? Why are horned boys occasionally born to begin with? I could go on and on with questions generated that really spark my curiosity. By refraining from filling in all gaps, the potential for engagement is magnified. You want to know more than you are ever told, and this fosters such a beautiful sense of mystery and leaves a permanent mark on the mind.

As with anything, you could plumb the depths looking for flaws if you want to polish your spectacles and really lean in to scrutinize. The controls, firstly, could be tighter. They are serviceable, but certainly lacking finesse. The jaded and leathery gamer may view Yorda as nothing more than a glorified skeleton key as you drag her from lock to lock. And the game is brief, especially if you know what you are doing. However, all flaws are dwarfed by the magnificence of this creation and only observable with undue inspection. At the heart of things, there is an absolutely wonderful bond created between Ico and Yorda - a bond forged in silent commiseration of a shared state. Ico is apparently intended for sacrifice/imprisonment until death. Yorda frail, slow and at the mercy of a powerful Queen, is as much a victim to forces beyond her control as the horned boy. Together they presumably share the same desire for freedom and rescue, despite the long odds against them. They take their journey together in the hopes of upsetting the status quo and preserving their own lives, and what a spellbinding journey it is. After re-experiencing this beautiful tale, I'm pleased to report that it is just as wonderful as it ever was. For me, replaying ICO just cemented its status as a timeless classic and one of the absolute best from the PS2, or any era for that matter. An ageless 5/5.
 
Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#2
Don't leave me all alone guys / gals. :p Tell us about your highs and lows, your victories and defeats with gaming in 2018 - whatever you want, if you want.

#21 Papers Please (PC)


Sometimes your personal opinion is just going to be outside the chorus of the crowd. Take Papers Please, for example. It has (at the time of this writing) an 85 critic and 8.5 user score on Metacritic. It's a well and thoroughly loved game. And wow, I do not agree. To be fair, I can recognize some of the appeal. It's clearly got an interesting theme revolving around a totalitarian state. And on an even deeper level, it challenges the ideas of societal order, the obligation an individual has to follow or disregard the rules. It's also got a suitably powerful and oppressive sounding title theme reminiscent of Soviet-era Russia.

But, it is the antithesis of fun. Thematically congruent or not, pushing papers around and looking for minute details in personal documentation is nearly as tedious in execution here as I imagine it to be in real life, perhaps more so because of the need to hurry in order to earn enough wages to feed and care for your family in accordance with your apparent contract-based salary, all under the watchful and unforgiving eye of the callous system -oppressive indeed. And while it may convincingly place you in the shoes of an individual living under such bleak and insufferable conditions, it is in no way enjoyable. Personally, I play games to enjoy myself. Fun can come in many forms, from bouncy platforming to dark horror and all the flavors in between, but it doesn't come from being a nervous, paper-pushing peon - not for me at least. I was uninterested in the dilemmas of these digital denizens. Papers just screamed drudgery and about the best thing I can say about it is that it turned me off so quickly and completely that I wasted little time in coming to peace with putting it down. I'll usually give a game a couple of hours, at least, but not this. 2/5 - saved from being a 1/5 only because of its effectiveness in replicating the sensation of the role you inhabit. Not for me.

#20 My Word Coach (DS)



I have a love/hate relationship with language. On one side of the ledger, I am drawn to the notion of articulating experience in a way that can be related/shared. It's a tool that has allowed for a great many things we all enjoy in life, including video games. Additionally, language is one of my hardwired strengths. I love writing, reading and even the mechanics and subtlety of language in all its various forms. I've studied a fair bit of Latin because of my interest in the roots of a significant portion of modern language. I speak Swedish, having lived in that country for a while, and have been told by a variety of Swedes that they didn't know I wasn't Swedish after speaking with them. (Granted, this was some time ago, and I'm not at that level currently.)

On the other side of the balance sheet, I have always felt that language, as useful as it is, keeps us at arms length from truth, from pure experience. Language, by necessity, is abstraction. No matter how deft you are with its use, both in expression and comprehension, you are always a step removed from "life" when bringing it into application, into the moment. Language can never BE what it represents, and can only convey a notion, always a bit obscure, never quite the real thing. And I've always felt torn because of this sensation. A part of me yearns for experience completely removed from words, yet once you've used a tool as extensively and consistently as we all do with language, it becomes so intimately woven into the fabric of experience that the possibility of comprehending life without it becomes next to impossible. Yet, I feel there is an almost-unattainable beauty that is forever hidden because of language, and I have sought to find it over the years in a variety of ways such as meditation, for example. Nevertheless, language, and my interest in it, persists. I find myself searching for the impossible within its confines, looking to find the undiluted harmony of being in a tool that can never be reconciled with the indefectible "now", despite its coexistence within the ever-present moment.

Because of my love for language, I long ago picked up My Word Coach for the Nintendo DS in a bargain bin somewhere. I hadn't played it for so long because I was fairly certain of its limitations, if only because of media capacity. However, my (ex) wife is a non-native-speaker, and I remembered that I had this buried in my library of software. She had recently expressed an interest in going back to school, feeling that she needed to increase her fluency with the English language. I recalled this DS title and decided that I'd also give it a bit of my time for the sake of checking another title off my backlog.

The first thing that happens here is that you're given sort of a placement exam to determine your proficiency with the language, a term it labels as "Expression Potential". This is not a comprehensive evaluation, by any means, and that was my first problem with this software. It doesn't do enough to establish your comfort with the English language, and because of this, I was only sporadically introduced to exotic vocabulary, making my time with it mostly redundant. I did learn a handful of new words, and that warrants praise, but it was too infrequent. Another issue I have with My Word Coach is that there is no audible pronunciation of words, something that could be invaluable to someone who might really get use out of this. I understand that size limitations probably made this unavoidable, but they could have at least included phonetics. If they had done so, it would have gone a long way toward helping anyone who might be using this as a legitimate tool. Another limitation is the scope of definitions offered. Multiple definitions of the same word are not offered, and the definitions that are given are rarely thorough. Finally, many of the word games aren't really engaging, and providing a stimulating set of activities for learning always goes a long way in the process of expanding your knowledge. I won't say that this is an awful piece of edutainment software, but there are so many better options for anyone looking to expand their capabilities with the English language that it makes it impossible to give a recommendation. It's simply not comprehensive enough and its execution of what it does offer is lackluster. I have to give this a 2/5, if only because of the fact that it can't even compete with a paper dictionary, as far as I'm concerned. Those looking to grow their competence with the language would be better served by looking at all the better options available.
 
Apr 5, 2018
468
598
225
#3
Ok my gaming High was Yakuza 6 - A song of life




Why was this a High point ? Well I had an opinion ( in hindsight a bad opinion ) that Japanese games had Shite stories , ive also really thought that. However i picked this up on a whim , the first time playing any Yakuza game , And BOY this game completely shattered my expectations . This game and especially the story was incredible. The story in this game puts 99% of Western developers to shame , an astonishing achievement , its fun and intriguing. i enjoyed it so much i put it down as my Neogaf GOTY which it thoroughly deserves.

the lesson i will take from it is , stop gong into games with a predetermined idea in what you think you will get.

Now i just need to find time to get around to the other Yakuza games.
 
Last edited:
Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#4
the lesson i will take from it is , stop gong into games with a predetermined idea in what you think you will get.
That's a great point. It's always better to let your personal experience inform you and let go of bias, if possible. I'm at a point where I don't even read gaming reviews until after I've finished playing something. I like to go in clean and impartial.
 
Likes: klosos
Apr 5, 2018
468
598
225
#5
That's a great point. It's always better to let your personal experience inform you and let go of bias, if possible. I'm at a point where I don't even read gaming reviews until after I've finished playing something. I like to go in clean and impartial.
Exactly , all i really do now is watch a you tuber play 10-15 minutes of game so i can gauge if it it's for me to be honest ( preferably a silent you tuber) and base my purchasing decisions of that.
 
Likes: synchronicity
Apr 18, 2018
8,091
13,307
555
USA
dunpachi.com
#6
Before I add my own post I wanna just say:




Thanks for investing the effort into a quality OP. Always a pleasure to read long, thought-out posts here on GAF.

Anyway.

---

I finished off a lot of physical collections in 2018. Game purchases slowed to a near-halt for the last few months of the year as a result. For me, this is the biggest highlight of 2018. My goal over the past two years has been to stop buying games and to instead play what I own. I'm pretty close now. Handful of PS4 and Switch games and I'll be set. I got a few more gems on Super Famicom and Saturn that I was missing -- like Sparkster, Gundam W Endless Duel, and Sakura Taisen Columns -- but most of my money was actually spent on new 2018 titles. Got a lot of Switch and PS4 stuff.

Some highlights for me:

Dodonpachi: Daioujou (PS2) was my most-played game of the year. There were stretches of days and weeks when it was the only game I was playing. Overall, I sunk 500 hours into the game, probably more. It is taking me a long time because I am trying to play for score, not only for a 1CC. Shmups take a lot of practice, similar to doing lab work in a fighting game. I haven't focused my time on just one shmup in a while. There's a razor-sharp simplicity when you do this. The game still has many more unpeeled layers.

I'm learning more about the genre as I dig deeper, which is a reward unto itself. Soft skills transfer from shmup to shmup and I've noticed my "casual play" in other shmups drastically improving even though I am not specifically practicing those titles.

I play Type B - Exy. The wider shot of B-type helps me maintain my chain throughout a level as there are many parts where I have to quickly reach an enemy on the other side of the screen to avoid dropping the chain.

I would encourage anyone interested in a challenge to put "1-credit-clear at least one shmup" on their bucketlist. Or better yet, play for score and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Flinthook (Switch) blew me away, so much so that I wrote a whole post about it.

Octopath Traveller (Switch) was a wonderful return to 16-bit RPGs. The story structure allows room for your own imagination. Swimming through volumes of dialogue is not always the way to go. I acquired all the extra classes, beat most of the post-game quests, and sunk 130 hours total. Octopath qualifies for most time spent on a single playthrough in 2018 if we're excluding DOJ above.

The combat is exceptional. Octopath is one of the rare RPGs that avoids skill-creep. It isn't until the very end of the game (when you start aquiring the four post-game classes) that certain classes become irrelevant, but for the rest of the game the power balance between characters was handled expertly. The range of elements and physical attack types prevents any one party member from being able to handle all situations. Buffs, shields, and debuffs are very important which is definitely a callback to the old 16-bit RPGs.

I loved each and every party member. Hannit and Alfyn were my favorites.

Music was divine. Reminiscent of the Suikoden II soundtrack in a lot of ways.

Monster Hunter World (PS4) was another big 2018 game for me. I miss the expanded movesets from Generations, but overall World was a great step forward for the series. We mainstream now, baby! World is my least-played Monster Hunter game in terms of total hours but I think some of that is due to the reduction of necessary grinding. I felt like the game was fairly easy overall. It wasn't until the post-game Elder Dragons that I started to feel the sting of death.

I mostly cheesed through the game with Hammer. The aerial attacks plus hammer is overpowered, in my opinion, since the AI doesn't handle aerial attacks very well (still). I can easily get three mounts and three stuns per session, which trivializes almost any monster. In retrospect, I wish I played with a completely unfamiliar weapon (like gunlance) to stretch out the playtime.

Lance and Light Bowgun were two other favorite weapons. Lance has been broken for two games now and it's still broken in World: pretty easy to defeat most monsters without getting damaged even once. The Lance's mobility takes some getting used to but its always fun to impress the scrubs by ninja'ing around the map with the "clunky/sluggish" lance. Light Bowgun was my support weapon of choice. Keeping the enemy poisoned, sleeping, stunned, paralyzed, knocked out of the air, and generally locked down is always entertaining.

I started to get into Hunting Horn (again) toward the end of my playtime but then I lost interest in the game. I think the post-game content was weak but I'm sure Iceborne expansion will pique my interest again.

I got back into Dance Dance Revolution (PS2) toward the end of this year. Not much to say. It's DDR. It's incredibly fun and rewarding. Everyone should play it.

My son and I began playing Cyberbots (Saturn) together, which ended up being my most-played fighting game in 2018. I wish the pilots affected things somehow in Versus mode, but other than that I enjoy trying out the variety of mechs. My favorites are FORDY and REPTOS.

It isn't a typical 6-button CAPCOM fighter. You have a Weak and Strong Attack, a 'Weapon' button, and a Boost button. This makes it feel more like a mid-00s anime fighter than your typical 90s arcade fighting game.

The backgrounds deserve special attention. Fighting on a space-station as it enters the atmosphere and burns up is NEVER NOT COOL. Everything in this game is flashy, bombastic, and pure anime. It's truly a shame that CAPCOM never took the series further.

Columns III (Genesis) and Money Puzzle Exchanger (PS1) were my most-played puzzle games this year. Sadly, my friends weren't as interested in getting crushed playing Versus with me this year as they were last year, so most of my puzzling was a solo affair. Should I have gone easier on them in Puyo Tetris? :pie_thinking:
 

Kadayi

Probable Replicant
Oct 10, 2012
6,101
3,551
710
theconclave.net
#7
I didn't quite get as much gaming in as I'd have liked to in 2018, but the release of Life is Strange 2 and The Awesome adventures of Captain Spirit inspired me to replay Life is Strange and finally get around to playing its prequel before the Storm, which had been sat in my backlog for a while which albeit I didn't necessarily have high expectations for, actually turned out to be quite entertaining and rounded out Chloe's character somewhat. Looking forward to seeing whatever Deck Nine produces as SE gave them the go-ahead to develop their own project based off of its success.. I was very impressed with what Dontnod delivered with LiS2 and the marked improvement in the appearance and animations compared to LiS, though I'm hoping that future episodes are less prone to being as on the nose with the political commentary, because albeit that might be flavour of the moment, its not the sort of thing that's going to age all that well in my view. As for LiS itself I was quite surprised how well it held up, and I really dug the director's commentaries which gave a lot of insight into the games conception and the design choices.

Kingdomcome Deliverance
. Wow, I wouldn't say it's perfect and I've held off finishing it as I kind of want to wait until all the DLC is released before doing so, but very impressed with what Warhorse delivered and how it plays. I really dig the systems, nature of the world and environmentally it looks spectacular. The fact that it has been eschewed by certain quarters of the gaming press (the US especially)for BS reasons is a sad indictment of that particular industry and how out of touch they are with gamers. I'm legitimately excited to see what Warhorse deliver in terms of a sequel though I wouldn't be opposed to seeing an enhanced edition of KCD either if they decided to go down that route either.

Low point would probably be Telltale Games going under. I kind of felt that the firm had lost its way somewhat and it did feel to me like they needed to up their quality after Dontnod came out with LIS, but ageing game engine aside I actually really enjoyed their takes on Batman, Game of Thrones and GoTG so I was very sad to hear of the firms sudden collapse. I hope that all those affected managed to secure good positions elsewhere.

No Mans Sky. Credit where credit is due, Hello Games really have put a tremendous amount of effort into both rejuvenating NMS and in restoring player confidence in their brand. I think 1.5 was a fantastic update and it seems that since then they've added even more.

Hitman 2. IO making a perfect sequel to a perfect game. By far one of my favourite distractions. If you've not played it, you're missing out.
 
Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#8
Before I add my own post I wanna just say:
Thanks for investing the effort into a quality OP. Always a pleasure to read long, thought-out posts here on GAF.
Thanks. As mentioned, I do my reviews for myself anyway, so I figured why not share. Plus I also enjoy reading others reviews of what they play and figured some others may feel the same.

Dodonpachi: Daioujou (PS2) was my most-played game of the year. There were stretches of days and weeks when it was the only game I was playing. Overall, I sunk 500 hours into the game, probably more. It is taking me a long time because I am trying to play for score, not only for a 1CC. Shmups take a lot of practice, similar to doing lab work in a fighting game. I haven't focused my time on just one shmup in a while. There's a razor-sharp simplicity when you do this. The game still has many more unpeeled layers.

I'm learning more about the genre as I dig deeper, which is a reward unto itself. Soft skills transfer from shmup to shmup and I've noticed my "casual play" in other shmups drastically improving even though I am not specifically practicing those titles.

I play Type B - Exy. The wider shot of B-type helps me maintain my chain throughout a level as there are many parts where I have to quickly reach an enemy on the other side of the screen to avoid dropping the chain.

I would encourage anyone interested in a challenge to put "1-credit-clear at least one shmup" on their bucketlist. Or better yet, play for score and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Love seeing people still playing their PS2. I still have a pretty substantial PS2 backlog, and it's still my favorite system ever. There are a few games from other generations that I have ranked higher than most stuff on PS2 (although many from the machine are all-time favorites high on my personal list), but nothing can really compare with the vast ocean of what's available for that console. (PC excluded of course) So many quirky and interesting games that would likely never see the light of day today.

As for the shmup genre, I've never really been able to get into one really deeply. I can only imagine, based on your description and what I know in general, that it would be incredibly rewarding to really lose yourself in one - or the genre itself. Maybe one day I'll get sucked into one.

Monster Hunter World (PS4) was another big 2018 game for me. I miss the expanded movesets from Generations, but overall World was a great step forward for the series. We mainstream now, baby! World is my least-played Monster Hunter game in terms of total hours but I think some of that is due to the reduction of necessary grinding. I felt like the game was fairly easy overall. It wasn't until the post-game Elder Dragons that I started to feel the sting of death.

I mostly cheesed through the game with Hammer. The aerial attacks plus hammer is overpowered, in my opinion, since the AI doesn't handle aerial attacks very well (still). I can easily get three mounts and three stuns per session, which trivializes almost any monster. In retrospect, I wish I played with a completely unfamiliar weapon (like gunlance) to stretch out the playtime.

Lance and Light Bowgun were two other favorite weapons. Lance has been broken for two games now and it's still broken in World: pretty easy to defeat most monsters without getting damaged even once. The Lance's mobility takes some getting used to but its always fun to impress the scrubs by ninja'ing around the map with the "clunky/sluggish" lance. Light Bowgun was my support weapon of choice. Keeping the enemy poisoned, sleeping, stunned, paralyzed, knocked out of the air, and generally locked down is always entertaining.

I started to get into Hunting Horn (again) toward the end of my playtime but then I lost interest in the game. I think the post-game content was weak but I'm sure Iceborne expansion will pique my interest again.
I've always wanted to play this series, but haven't made time for it yet, despite having a couple in my backlog. Maybe I'll rectify that soon.

You seem to have similar gaming habits to me in that you play across wide spans of time and genres. Enjoyed your post.
 
Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#9
Kingdomcome Deliverance. Wow, I wouldn't say it's perfect and I've held off finishing it as I kind of want to wait until all the DLC is released before doing so, but very impressed with what Warhorse delivered and how it plays. I really dig the systems, nature of the world and environmentally it looks spectacular. The fact that it has been eschewed by certain quarters of the gaming press (the US especially)for BS reasons is a sad indictment of that particular industry and how out of touch they are with gamers. I'm legitimately excited to see what Warhorse deliver in terms of a sequel though I wouldn't be opposed to seeing an enhanced edition of KCD either if they decided to go down that route either.
KCD is very high on my must-play list. Sometimes you become aware of a game that you are sure that you will love, and that's how I feel about KCD. I still can't believe Humble gave it to me for free for signing up for a 3-month sub a while back. What a deal! :messenger_smiling_hearts:

Low point would probably be Telltale Games going under. I kind of felt that the firm had lost its way somewhat and it did feel to me like they needed to up their quality after Dontnod came out with LIS, but ageing game engine aside I actually really enjoyed their takes on Batman, Game of Thrones and GoTG so I was very sad to hear of the firms sudden collapse. I hope that all those affected managed to secure good positions elsewhere.
I'm not the biggest fan of the minimally interactive cinematic genre, but I do enjoy them from time to time. Strangely enough, I just finished Batman and I really enjoyed that. I think that it (or Tales of Monkey Island, although I don't fully consider that a Telltale game, of course.) is my favorite of the games I've played from TT. (I've only played TWD, Jurassic Park, Poker Night 2, Tales of Monkey Island and Back to the Future.) FWIW, Until Dawn is the peak of this genre for me thus far.

But yeah, stinks to see a developer have to close up shop, but this business is cut-throat and it's hard to stick around.

No Mans Sky. Credit where credit is due, Hello Games really have put a tremendous amount of effort into both rejuvenating NMS and in restoring player confidence in their brand. I think 1.5 was a fantastic update and it seems that since then they've added even more.
I've always been very interested in NMS in concept, but I was a bit hesitant when all the backlash occurred on release. I still plan to play it at some point, and I know that they've been very committed to continual improvement. Kudos to Hello Games.

Thanks for your input.
 
Last edited:
Likes: Kadayi
Apr 18, 2018
8,091
13,307
555
USA
dunpachi.com
#10
As for the shmup genre, I've never really been able to get into one really deeply. I can only imagine, based on your description and what I know in general, that it would be incredibly rewarding to really lose yourself in one - or the genre itself. Maybe one day I'll get sucked into one.
After looking around the genre a bit, your best choice would be to pick one -- and only one -- shmup that seems really fun to you, then play it faithfully for three whole months.

That's a reliable method of tasting high-level play which is where all the fun is (in the case of shmups). Too many people "get into" shmups and immediately begin hopping between a dozen different shmups (shmup tourism, I've called it). This would be like playing a dozen different fighting games and a dozen different characters in each. You're not really going to grasp the nature of the genre when you do it that way. You'll likely get too frustrated or bored to stick with the genre, too.

Hope you have a fun year of gaming in 2019, too!
 
Likes: synchronicity
Jun 13, 2018
1,442
2,074
325
#11

Slay the Spire
From the beginning I knew this game would be up my alley. The roguelike elements fit in perfectly with the card mechanics making for a deep and replayable game. There are a lot of monsters, a lot of card synergies, deck archetypes and special events to discover. It also has a final boss which beats my ass to the point where it made me wonder if I'm just one of the worst players or if that's something a lot of people deal with. A week ago they added workshop support to it which makes me feel like I'll be playing this way into 2019. The one thing that I have against it is the amount of RNG. It's to be expected from a game that combines two genres that relies heavily on it and the game gives you enough fall-backs to help you against these odds but it's still a bummer when you draw all your attack cards in a turn when the enemy does half of your hp.


La-Mulana
This is a game that I tried getting into a few times but the difficulty pushed me away. I did try it once more because of all the hype surrounding the La-Mulana 2 release and... I was hooked. I don't actually know what it was that gave me the final push. Was it the lore that is so well-done and integrated into the game's puzzle, the presentation of all the different mythologies and all these weird places or the amazing soundtrack? It really made me feel like I'm discovering these ancient civilization. I will say that the game is not without flaws, the controls for example are maybe not as smooth as I would like them to be and some of the puzzles are way too cryptic. You'll also learn this pretty early on but the game loves to screw you over. It fits into this Indiana Jones-like setting where every step could lead to you falling into a pit of spikes, where every missed whip-crack could hurt some deity's feelings. And you do not want that unless you like having some volts sent into you.
 
Last edited:
Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#12

La-Mulana
This is a game that I tried getting into a few times but the difficulty pushed me away. I did try it once more because of all the hype surrounding the La-Mulana 2 release and... I was hooked. I don't actually know what it was that gave me the final push. Was it the lore that is so well-done and integrated into the game's puzzle, the presentation of all the different mythologies and all these weird places or the amazing soundtrack? It really made me feel like I'm discovering these ancient civilization. I will say that the game is not without flaws, the controls for example are maybe not as smooth as I would like them to be and some of the puzzles are way too cryptic. You'll also learn this pretty early on but the game loves to screw you over. It fits into this Indiana Jones-like setting where every step could lead to you falling into a pit of spikes, where every missed whip-crack could hurt some deity's feelings. And you do not want that unless you like having some volts sent into you.
La-Mulana is another game I feel certain that I will really love. In the Steam backlog. Too many games, too little time, lol.
 
May 26, 2011
12,852
1,330
715
#13
My year in review:

PS4:
Red Dead Redemption 2 - started this, but havent returned because i've been so busy with life.
Rocket League (again) - revisited RL like the OP. just so easy to pick up and play. can always come back to this and get addicted for a few weeks/months
Xcom 2 - massively disappointed
Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment - awesome
Hell Divers - bleh. i dont think the mechanics hold up in modern day.
Resident Evil 0 - enjoyed it. Kinda wish there was more time on the train.
Titanfall 2 - just wasnt feeling it. maybe i wasnt in the mood for FPS at the time...
Life Is Strange - boring.
Bloodborne - hated it. hated it. hated. LOVED IT! my first souls-like game. I stuck with it long enough for it to click. Ended up dropping it though, because I didnt want to waste any more time on it. A game I'd be happen to return to though.
Grand Kingdom - enjoyable, but i didnt feel like spending the time and effort to get deep into it. didnt want to deal with any online features
Knack - dumb.
Tales from the Borderlands - decent narrative adventure
The Evil Within 2 - Enjoyed. Different than the first, but I still enjoyed it. Felt like production fell off a cliff by the last 1/3 of the game though.

Switch:
Super Mario Odyssey - mediocre game
Cosmic Star Heroine - decent combat, but mediocre game
 
Last edited:
Sep 25, 2015
5,391
2,680
340
Somewhere in space
#14
My year has been a good mix of returning to some classics and trying out some new stuff.

Classics
Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition

DMC4 Bloody Palace, full clear as Dante, no super costume. I've been going for this on-and-off since I finished the game at launch 10 years ago, and it's finally done.
I also cleared it with Nero, but Dante mastery has always been one of those things that seemed completely out-of-reach when I first started. Between the style switching, 3 melee movesets, 3 gun movesets and no less than 3 different on-screen meters to keep track of, his kit is so damn complex that I thought I'd never get good with it, and you really do need everything in order to overcome the game's hardest challenges.

Thankfully, I did. Aw yea :messenger_bicep:

Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition
On top of the above, I also cleared Dante Must Die in DMC3. Doing this felt like a trial from the gods, and is without doubt the hardest thing ever I've attempted in a video game. Bloody Palace in 4 is a trial because it requires you to be at the top of your game for two hours straight with the most complex character in the genre, but Dante Must Die in 3 is a war.

Enemies devil trigger and get heavily buffed partway into each encounter, making target prioritization and fast kills a must. Most of them are manageable so long as you're making good use of your DT, staying aggressive and leveraging your enemy knowledge, but the longer ones become a nightmare thanks to the enemy devil trigger mechanic.
It's notable that the game's boss encounters are designed such that you end up seeing new mechanics as you optimize your strategy for each one- I never knew you could trip Nevan and extend her vulnerable state using high DPS DT'd ice damage from Cerberus until I was forced to play perfectly by the difficulty. Very well designed. Vergil 3 is a motherfucker though, disappearing from the playfield to attack while regenerating health in his final phase.

Whoof. Another one off the bucket list.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Series
I played through S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl and the Anomaly megamod after reading this thread, both of which were really fascinating examples of immersive sim mechanics.
The most interesting part is that the games actually simulate NPCs in maps that you aren't in. The originals didn't tell you this and so it wasn't very apparent unless you noticed something significant had changed upon returning, but Anomaly adds an event ticker on the HUD that gives you an insight into just how much stuff is happening when you aren't around to see it. Really unique experience that I've not seen the like of before.

Thief Series
I also played through the Thief series in almost its entirety, but I've already talked about that quite enough in my LTTP thread back in April.

New Stuff
Monster Hunter World
I jumped straight into Monster Hunter World when the PC release rolled around, and what an excellent game. I have somewhere in the region of 380 hours clocked now, and it's been a really fun time playing with friends. I started off with the long sword, my long-standing comfy main, but eventually got around to trying everything for a bit and settled on gunlance- another old main that I used to play in 3U.
You don't see many of them around, but it's a really fun weapon to play once you get used to the box strafing movement and figure out how to shell properly. The damage is gonzo too- my current build averages 50% of the team's total output thanks to a rare Wide 4 gunlance that I got from the Kulve Taroth siege event.

I think I'm about done with it for now- tried the Behemoth event the other day and I wasn't feeling it, but I'm looking forward to picking it back up when Iceborne comes out and there's some really meaty new content to get into.

Hitman 2
Hitman 2 is another excellent game that I played over christmas. I decided to revisit all of the old legacy pack content from the first season that I didn't finish due to my completionist playstyle burning out by sapienza, and it's been great. Thus far I've made it to Bangkok.
Fantastic stealth game with tons of different and creative ways to bump somebody off. I do worry that I'm going to fall off the game again before I even reach the Season 2 content though- there's just so much stuff to see and do. Well worth the money.

Polybius
I want to shout out Polybius as well. It's a fantastic trippy arcade shooter from Jeff Minter that released on PSVR (and more recently on Steam with Oculus Rift compatibility) and kind of flew under the radar. It's fully playable without VR, and is a sublime experience if you're into video game-ass video games:


In traditional Minter fashion, the entire thing is absolute nonsense. There are cows flying everywhere, bouncing amiga ball enemies, fried eggs that you can blow up for temporary invincibility, bull horn gates that boost you upon passing through, and all sorts of other stuff.
It's wild. Minter himself described the gameplay like skiing- your first run will be slow and timid, descending safely as you try not to break your neck, but gradually you'll get to grips with it and eventually end up barrelling down the slope grinning like a madman.
This is accurate, because Polybius is all about going fast. The more boost gates you hit, the faster you go, the longer your invincible shield will last between gates, and the more shit you can barrel through face-first without a care in the world. It's fantastic, and the soundtrack is really something if you're into electronic music of any kind.

EXAPUNKS
Last of all, I'll mention EXAPUNKS. It's the latest Zachtronics puzzler, from the guy that made Spacechem, Infinifactory, TIS-100, Shenzhen I/O, Opus Magnum and probably some other things that I'm forgetting.
Aesthetically it has a cool 90s hacker culture vibe going on without tipping into cheese territory (you get to print your own hacker zine!), and the mechanics are a clever extension of the programming introduced in TIS and refined in Shenzhen.
The focus is now on multi-threading by way of programming tiny spider robots that can self-replicate in order to perform tasks simultaneously, which was apparently inspired by the structure of the STUXNET virus and how it 'unfurls' into a target system.
The story revolves around hacking your way into a variety of corporate or government systems in exchange for an antidote to a fatal medical condition that gradually turns a person's body into useless electronic components. One hack, one dose. Sometimes you even get to hack yourself!


If you enjoy Zachtronics games then you'll like it, but you probably already knew that :messenger_grinning_smiling:

Shark Dating Simulator XL
Oh! And an honourable mention goes to Shark Dating Simulator XL courtesy of @strange headache's Unkindness Club thread, though perhaps not for the same reasons as the games above :messenger_winking:

I grinned when I saw this. Your name has inspired a mental image of someone who exists to play shmups :messenger_grinning_smiling:

I would encourage anyone interested in a challenge to put "1-credit-clear at least one shmup" on their bucketlist. Or better yet, play for score and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
I second this. The more intense bullet hell type shmups intimidated the hell out of me until I decided to man up and figure out exactly what Touhou 8: Imperishable Night was all about without simply credit-feeding my way to victory. Turns out it was great- pick one and go to it!

Maybe I'll rectify that soon.
 
Last edited:

ayumarcan

Neo Member
Dec 19, 2018
44
12
100
#15
My post will be relatively short, as, have to admit it, I only played Skyrim and Lineage 2 Classic. I play Skyrim when I'm stressed, It's like some coping mechanism for me, when I'm stressed I go to kill dragons.
And L2C, a sudden discover, first I played on some private servers, but they were often shutting down. And then I found Skelth and was lost to the world haha.
 
Likes: synchronicity
Apr 18, 2018
8,091
13,307
555
USA
dunpachi.com
#16
My year has been a good mix of returning to some classics and trying out some new stuff.

Classics
Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition

DMC4 Bloody Palace, full clear as Dante, no super costume. I've been going for this on-and-off since I finished the game at launch 10 years ago, and it's finally done.
I also cleared it with Nero, but Dante mastery has always been one of those things that seemed completely out-of-reach when I first started. Between the style switching, 3 melee movesets, 3 gun movesets and no less than 3 different on-screen meters to keep track of, his kit is so damn complex that I thought I'd never get good with it, and you really do need everything in order to overcome the game's hardest challenges.

Thankfully, I did. Aw yea :messenger_bicep:

Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition
On top of the above, I also cleared Dante Must Die in DMC3. Doing this felt like a trial from the gods, and is without doubt the hardest thing ever I've attempted in a video game. Bloody Palace in 4 is a trial because it requires you to be at the top of your game for two hours straight with the most complex character in the genre, but Dante Must Die in 3 is a war.

Enemies devil trigger and get heavily buffed partway into each encounter, making target prioritization and fast kills a must. Most of them are manageable so long as you're making good use of your DT, staying aggressive and leveraging your enemy knowledge, but the longer ones become a nightmare thanks to the enemy devil trigger mechanic.
It's notable that the game's boss encounters are designed such that you end up seeing new mechanics as you optimize your strategy for each one- I never knew you could trip Nevan and extend her vulnerable state using high DPS DT'd ice damage from Cerberus until I was forced to play perfectly by the difficulty. Very well designed. Vergil 3 is a motherfucker though, disappearing from the playfield to attack while regenerating health in his final phase.

Whoof. Another one off the bucket list.
Impressive work on DMC3 and DMC4. Seems like the conclusion to a hard-fought journey. Do you plan to take things even further in either of those games or are you satisfied with what you've achieved?

I grinned when I saw this. Your name has inspired a mental image of someone who exists to play shmups :messenger_grinning_smiling:
More or less true nowadays, but I only got heavily into them within the past two years. Fighters and Vs Puzzle are my other two loves.

I second this. The more intense bullet hell type shmups intimidated the hell out of me until I decided to man up and figure out exactly what Touhou 8: Imperishable Night was all about without simply credit-feeding my way to victory. Turns out it was great- pick one and go to it.
I've noticed that if a person likes rhythm games (Guitar Hero, Rock Band, DDR, etc) and/or puzzle games (Tetris Attack, Puyo Puyo, Magical Drop) they have a high chance of enjoying the shmup genre. There are a lot of similarities, surprisingly, and shmups kind of scratch both itches. The player learns patterns similar to a rhythm game, and "performing" a song level flawlessly feels similar in a shmup. Like a Vs puzzle game, you learn the systems for scoring, chaining, and utilize special tricks that require precise timing.
 

Kadayi

Probable Replicant
Oct 10, 2012
6,101
3,551
710
theconclave.net
#17
KCD is very high on my must-play list. Sometimes you become aware of a game that you are sure that you will love, and that's how I feel about KCD. I still can't believe Humble gave it to me for free for signing up for a 3-month sub a while back. What a deal! :messenger_smiling_hearts:.
It has a steep learning curve when it comes to combat. Don't be put off by it initially. Early on you're a complete chump, but when you get to Rattay you'll have the opportunity to learn some proper moves and you should avail yourself of them.
 
Sep 25, 2015
5,391
2,680
340
Somewhere in space
#18
Impressive work on DMC3 and DMC4. Seems like the conclusion to a hard-fought journey. Do you plan to take things even further in either of those games or are you satisfied with what you've achieved?
For the minute I'm satisfied since mastering Dante was my big goal. At some point I plan to return and do all difficulties Vergil in 3, and all difficulties + bloody palace as Vergil, Lady and Trish in 4.
Each of those on its own is a big time investment though, so it'll probably be a while. And that's to say nothing of the RE2 remake and DMCV coming out over the next few months. I'm going to be mighty busy!

There's also DMC1 DMD, S-ranking all missions on all difficulties and tackling 3's bloody palace, but those are real far out ideas considering that I have other character action stuff that needs mastering. Ninja Gaiden Black, Ninja Gaiden 2, Bayonetta 2, Metal Gear Rising. The list goes on...

I've noticed that if a person likes rhythm games (Guitar Hero, Rock Band, DDR, etc) and/or puzzle games (Tetris Attack, Puyo Puyo, Magical Drop) they have a high chance of enjoying the shmup genre. There are a lot of similarities, surprisingly, and shmups kind of scratch both itches. The player learns patterns similar to a rhythm game, and "performing" a song level flawlessly feels similar in a shmup. Like a Vs puzzle game, you learn the systems for scoring, chaining, and utilize special tricks that require precise timing.
When you frame it like that it makes a lot of sense. I enjoy a lot of the games you mentioned, and can see both the run learning / optimization of rhythm games and the reactive pattern-matching of puzzle games applying to shmup gameplay. I wonder what the genre equivalent of a Double Triple Cannon would be...

Also, speaking of the Donpachi series (DoDonpachi series? DoDoDonp- ah fuck it), is there an entry that's widely considered the best? I played some of the first two saturn games casually back in the day, but never tried the PS2 or 360 ones. I'm curious to take another look.
 
Apr 18, 2018
8,091
13,307
555
USA
dunpachi.com
#19
I wonder what the genre equivalent of a Double Triple Cannon would be...
Something like this, probably.

Also, speaking of the Donpachi series (DoDonpachi series? DoDoDonp- ah fuck it), is there an entry that's widely considered the best? I played some of the first two saturn games casually back in the day, but never tried the PS2 or 360 ones. I'm curious to take another look.
Dodonpachi and Dodonpachi: Daioujou are both considered masterpieces. The other games in the franchise are still considered good but have some peculiar flaw or quirks that prevent them from reaching perfection like DDP and DOJ.

They're good picks if you want to blow stuff up and get a 1-credit-clear. I think the reason why they've endured, though, is the scoring is insanely deep. Plus, you can do a second loop in both games.

I've played DOJ "seriously" all 2018 (like I mentioned in my post) and the last few months of 2017. So, I have over a year invested in the game. I feel like I still have at least another 2 years of solid improvement ahead of me. Some gamers hear that and cringe, but since you're already talking about S-ranking DMC games and seem to appreciate games with high skill ceilings, I'm pretty sure you're familiar with what I'm describing.
 
Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#20
My year in review:
Resident Evil 0 - enjoyed it. Kinda wish there was more time on the train.

Life Is Strange - boring.

Knack - dumb.
I feel the same as you about LiS and Knack. Knack was technically competent, but it was just so dull. Interesting that your liked RE0. I know it's not the most popular in the series, and it's one of the few I haven't played. Sitting in my backlog. Maybe this year.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Series
I played through S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl and the Anomaly megamod after reading this thread, both of which were really fascinating examples of immersive sim mechanics.
The most interesting part is that the games actually simulate NPCs in maps that you aren't in. The originals didn't tell you this and so it wasn't very apparent unless you noticed something significant had changed upon returning, but Anomaly adds an event ticker on the HUD that gives you an insight into just how much stuff is happening when you aren't around to see it. Really unique experience that I've not seen the like of before.



Another series I really want to get to. I've had Stalker sitting in my steam library forever. Why must there be so many good games?! :p (I've never been one to understand the complaint about lacking good games. Over the span of this medium, you could never play all the great stuff in a lifetime.)

And yes, I know I need to get to MH, in some form or other.

It has a steep learning curve when it comes to combat. Don't be put off by it initially. Early on you're a complete chump, but when you get to Rattay you'll have the opportunity to learn some proper moves and you should avail yourself of them.
Thanks, I'll make sure to remember that. I have no issue enjoying challenging games, and I'm a very patient gamer in general, so hopefully all will be well.
 
Last edited:
Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#21
#19 Claire Extended Cut (PS4)



Being the month of October, I found myself in the mood to play something in the horror genre, and so I decided to fire up Claire on the PS4, a PS+ freebie. On the plus side the 2d visuals are well-done and the sounds and atmosphere are quite nice, giving off a spooky enough vibe. There was certainly some good here for the horror fan. However, things weren't as deep, either mechanically or psychologically, as I would have liked. I also found the map and navigation a bit cumbersome, and although not unlike some of the genre greats, this one didn't have enough special sauce to overcome its deficiencies. Not a bad game, but not enough to draw me in sufficiently to complete the (apparently very brief) game. 2/5

#18 The Witch and the Hundred Knight (PS3)



I only knew a little about The Witch and the Hundred Knight upon going in. I knew that it had a mixed reception, and I was aware that one of the main characters, the Witch, was more than a little rotten. I was in the mood for a niche RPG though, so I decided to pull it from the backlog to see what was what. I was immediately introduced to a plethora of unfamiliar terms and systems. GigaCals, Tochkas and Facets, among others seemed to avalanche and I found myself a little overwhelmed with information in the beginning. It was a little off-putting because the game did not do a good job of introducing the various concepts in a user-friendly and comprehensive manner. But I'm a patient bloke, and I stuck with things. And after several hours a good deal of the fog did indeed begin to lift, and I found myself intrigued enough to consider the possibility of getting into things. Just as I began to feel a movement and rhythm with everything, however, I spent a particularly long run through a "field", accumulating all manner of goodies, only to have the game crash back to the XMB. I was, like anytime something like this happens, a bit frustrated. For some reason, I decided to venture online to see if this was a known and/or fixable issue. Sadly, I found out that this is common, never-fixed (at least in the PS3 version), can happen fairly often, and even has potential to cause hardware issues with the PS3 fan. Um, no thanks. Besides that, the game had barriers to enjoyment prior to encountering that unaddressed bug. The top-down perspective play area is obscured by trees all over the place, often resulting in you not having a good vantage point for the action. Top-down is not my favorite perspective in the first place, but whoever decided it was a good idea to have the screen littered with trees towering over your little Hundred Knight - and blocking the player's view - ought to look for a new line of work. The Witch, who brought The Hundred Knight into existence, seems to be the villain, and what a mean and cantankerous villain she is. She swears like a sailor incessantly and has no sympathy or mercy for anyone. She really is a vindictive, raging, evil bitch of a witch. Now, I did find that a bit interesting honestly, but the voice work that brought her to life was not great, making her character seem like a raging adolescent. Intentional or not, it wasn't my cup of tea, and I found her delivery quite grating.

When all is said and done, I'm a bit frustrated with this experience. It was not immediately accessible, but once I'd pushed past that barrier to get into it, it presented a crushing technical problem. This game reminds me of a girl who is convinced she's a one-of-a-kind prize, unaware that they're lots of other fish in the sea. I mean yeah, she's got some charms, but how many hoops do I have to jump through to see the reward. I'll only work so much for it, but why bother, when there are so many more pleasant and agreeable alternatives out there. Not hard to move on to something better. If she'd only make things a bit simpler, she'd get more investment from those wanting to get to know her. I've heard the PS4 may have fixed the technical issues, but I don't know if I could wash the bitter taste out of my mouth. A regrettable 2/5.
 
Dec 22, 2018
13
0
80
#22
Well, please, don't get me wrong, but Lineage appeared as a powerful competitor in 2018, as a game from 2003's it is still in online games top charts, and I'm glad that's it so!
 
Last edited:
Jan 9, 2019
41
6
75
#23
Well, please, don't get me wrong, but Lineage appeared as a powerful competitor in 2018, as a game from 2003's it is still in online games top charts, and I'm glad that's it so!
Well yes, I think it's second most popular MMORPG now. Although maybe Lost Ark can make a great competition
 
Dec 22, 2018
29
9
85
#24
Well, please, don't get me wrong, but Lineage appeared as a powerful competitor in 2018, as a game from 2003's it is still in online games top charts, and I'm glad that's it so!
I'm pleased to see L2 fans in the thread!

It's right, I see that now a lot of servers are being opened
And official servers are flourishing, it's really good for the industry. The main thing is to keep up the pace
 
Jan 9, 2019
41
6
75
#25
I'm pleased to see L2 fans in the thread!

It's right, I see that now a lot of servers are being opened
And official servers are flourishing, it's really good for the industry. The main thing is to keep up the pace
Now the majority play on the European servers, and it can not please, on the server that I play, even in connection with the new event, there were so many people, but even the servers weren't buggy
 
Jul 26, 2013
200
89
320
#26
My year was all about Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and it's expansion. I started the game just after Christmas 2017 and I think my time with it now stands close to 400 hours. I probably play games about 60 hours a month so we're talking a full half of my year was spent in Alrest. It kind of blows my mind when you think of 1 game lasting 6 months, I tend to buy 1 or 2 games a month so the ol' backlog is going to hit the ceiling if I keep up like this.


 
Last edited:
Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#27
My year was all about Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and it's expansion. I started the game just after Christmas 2017 and I think my time with it now stands close to 400 hours. I probably play games about 60 hours a month so we're talking a full half of my year was spent in Alrest. It kind of blows my mind when you think of 1 game lasting 6 months, I tend to buy 1 or 2 games a month so the ol' backlog is going to hit the ceiling if I keep up like this.


Wow, 400 hours. I had no idea that you could put that much time into it. I have the first and Chronicles X in my backlog. One day.
 
Dec 22, 2018
29
9
85
#28
Now the majority play on the European servers, and it can not please, on the server that I play, even in connection with the new event, there were so many people, but even the servers weren't buggy
Niceee and how many hours online do you have in l2?
I have tried L2, but I like shooters more. However, I believe that Lineage 2 is one of the MMO staples
 
Jan 9, 2019
41
6
75
#29
Niceee and how many hours online do you have in l2?
I have tried L2, but I like shooters more. However, I believe that Lineage 2 is one of the MMO staples
I spent about 2000 hours on Skelth. I just can't get away with it for a few years, you want to play with me?
 
Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#31
#17 Q*bert Rebooted (PS4)



When I was a young lad, when arcades were still all the rage and helicopter parenting had yet to reveal a populace terrified of the world, I would walk (or bike) a few miles from my home to a local establishment called The Fun Club. It was here that I found one of my favorite arcade games of the 80's in that bizarre, bouncing, cube-color-changing creature known as Q*bert. I think what I liked about it initially was that everything was clearly defined and immediately obvious in terms of what the objective was - not always the case with some of those old arcade games. Everything was clean, colorful and wonderfully quirky, and the sound effects and characters added to the fun and off-beat vibe.

Also during this time period I was, like many children of the 80's, the proud owner of an Atari VCS or 2600. This machine was the "beneficiary" of many arcade-to-home ports, although the system was incredibly power-constrained, making these conversions the roughest of approximations most of the time. Nevertheless, the naive and ever-hopeful youth that I was, became convinced that the 2600 version of Q*bert was going to be AMAZING, and I successfully begged my aunt to buy me a copy. Obviously what followed was initial excitement followed by a bit of disappointment, given the limitations of the 2600. It wasn't a bad effort, but the reality of the game fell well short of the fantasy of having Q*bert in my home to play whenever I wanted.

So when this reboot became available digitally, I was interested in seeing if I could finally satisfy the dream of that child long after it was crushed by the reality of the humble capabilities of the Atari VCS. There are two parts to this release of the game. There is the original arcade game that has been ported and there is a reboot where Q*bert is reimagined. I was hoping to see a reboot in the vein of Pac-man Championship Edition - a fresh and exciting re-examination of the game, but what I got was a lethargic, unimaginative and boring attempt at things, failing to even get close to the original in terms of quality or fun. Happily though, the arcade original was fully intact and I was pleased to finally have an arcade-perfect (at least from what I remember) version of the game for my enjoyment at home. Unfortunately the dual-shock controls can be a bit finicky and not always as responsive as they ought to be, resulting in some unintended deaths. But still, it was great being able to play this and finally live the dream of my childhood. Unfortunately though, dreams fade with time, and this is just too-little too-late to make the impact that would have blown away my younger self. It's not bad, and I still enjoy the arcade original though, so it wasn't time wasted. 3/5.

#16 The Forest of Doom (PC)




As a kid, choose your own adventure books always seemed kind of magical to me. The idea of reading a "regular" old book with possibilities to make your own decisions and experience various outcomes was incredibly exciting for me. And much of that appeal is present in gaming in general. Despite some games having more of a linear nature, everyone will have somewhat of a unique experience in all but the tightest of "corridor games". We get to live out adventures and interact with untold variety of different worlds and have an impact on them.

With all that gaming has to offer, it was only a matter of time before someone would merge the CYOA novel with the digital entertainment that so many of us love, and that's exactly what we have in this example, The Forest of Doom - a digitized version of an earlier physical book. In terms of the narrative, it's nothing fancy or exceptional, but it gets the job done as standard fantasy fare. The mood is set nicely by an epic-feeling, if overly short and looping, soundtrack. There are a nice variety of pieces of still-frame art to add flavor to some of your encounters. I didn't find them to be great artistically, but they were good enough to add to the sense of place, creating a deeper level of involvement than text alone. Overall, the presentation was quite well done and I found it engaging. There are quite a large amount of items to collect and use, some of which can be pretty important in completing your quest. I really appreciated the in-game map, which helped you keep a sense of your bearings on repeat plays as you tried to find the two missing items needed in order to complete the story. The dice-roll combat was classic old-school, and while not incredibly exciting, it did up the drama a bit in particularly tight encounters.

There are some things I had issue with in this game. Firstly, the fact that you couldn't retrace your steps was frustrating. I'd have like the option to turn around and go back from whence I came, although I suppose this is true to the original. But it also makes it easy to hit a dead-end where you are funneled to the climax without any possibility of "winning", and that's an annoyance necessitating starting over, which to be fair, is part of the design. Also, much of your prospects for success can be hampered or enhanced by your initial dice rolls for your stats, giving maybe too much weight to the initial set up. And if you strip away the interactive elements, the concept of choice, you're really just left with a middling (generously speaking) fantasy story. Yet, there's something nostalgic in this type of experience, albeit in digital form. I can't say I was blown away, but I did enjoy my time with it, and I think the genre has potential. I'll check out more of what this niche brings to the table down the road. A 3/5.
 
Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#32
#15 War of the Monsters PS2


Growing up, I really loved 50's era campy monster movies - everything from King Kong to the Creature from the Black Lagoon, although my favorite movies and character came from the Godzilla entries. So when firing up War of the Monsters from Icongnito for the first time, I decided to make a run through the game as the Godzilla-like character, Togera. Reliving the vibe of these colossal clashes, albeit with unlicensed versions of these classic characters along with some unique creations, was a compelling premise for me, for sure. I really enjoyed the fact that the world/buildings could be destroyed as these behemoths squared off, indifferent to the havoc and human misery they were creating. Watching the little humans flee in terror in some levels was a really nice touch and added a great deal to the flavor of being a massive titan. Unfortunately the campaign was quite brief and the various monsters, while playing somewhat differently from each other, weren't unique enough in practice to warrant going through an identical set of missions multiple times. I also found the camera to be a little too loose, but in fairness, there is a lock-on feature to minimize that issue. The controls weren't as tight or involved as I would have liked and things felt overly floaty in action oftentimes. Because of that, I didn't feel as big and weighty or powerful as I would have liked, despite the chaos surrounding the fights. War of the Monsters is certainly a decent game, and a game with an outstanding premise in my view, but it just isn't great enough to warrant a strong recommendation for me. It's worth the modest amount of your time to go through the campaign once, and you may get more mileage out of this one if you get into the two-player action, but I didn't play in that mode at all. This War knocks down 3 buildings out of 5.

#14 NFL Gameday 2004 (PS2)



I have a real affinity and sense of nostalgia for the NFL Gameday franchise, dating back to its roots on the PS1. Being a huge NFL fan and a new owner of the first gaming console from Sony, and a prior Madden player on the Sega Genesis, I was eagerly awaiting the new offering from EA Sports on my shiny new 32-bit console. But as EA ran into trouble with developer Visual Concepts (who made the greatest NFL game ever in NFL 2K5) and had to skip a year, there was a void left in the realm of digital pigskin. Thankfully, Sony (989) stepped up to the plated and delivered NFL Gameday, an incredible experience to fill that vacancy in the beginning. And I enjoyed multiple iterations of that franchise on the PS1.

As time shifted to the PS2, and after Madden had regained its foothold on the PS1, ultimately delivering the better NFL experience (in my view) on that console, I had also gradually shifted back to a regular and exclusive Madden player, in terms of NFL gaming. The launch of the PS2 and its wonderful versions of Madden, along with the horribly reviewed early entries in the Gameday franchise, only cemented my stance, and I found myself foregoing the idea of playing any new versions of NFL Gameday, despite my affinity for the PS1 entries.

Fast forward to three or four years ago where my curiosity finally got the better of me, and I ordered NFL Gameday 2004 online, hoping to see if that formerly beloved franchise was ever able to right its ship and offer an interesting version of the classic sport. It was not an urgent situation obviously, and only this year did I find myself reaching for the box to see what was what.

I was pretty impressed with things graphically at the outset, given the fact that my last memory of the franchise was on the prior generation's machine. It wasn't as good as Madden of the day in some regards, but it held its own nicely from a visual standpoint, given the time period. I thought there were some really nice animations at times, although there are often some hard/awkward transitions from one to the next, making things less fluid. I also loved hearing the late Dick Enberg again. His smooth delivery wasn't perfectly replicated, of course, but it was wonderful hearing the long-time broadcaster's voice. As for the gameplay itself, it's um, not bad. I can't give it the praise I wish I could because of several factors, but hey, it's video game football, and that's pretty good for an NFL fan, generally speaking.

Unfortunately, the transition to a new generation of consoles, saw 989 lagging further and further behind, and despite making some strides as time progressed on the PS2, it unfortunately delivers some slower and less responsive gameplay in comparison to the competition. (I couldn't believe how slow it felt to control Michael Vick after trading for him to my beloved Panthers.) The AI is not very adept either, resorting to a weird mix of cheating at higher difficulties while simultaneously still being easily exploited. Of course, multiplayer would alleviate this complaint, but it's a little hard to find an online match for a 2003 release on the Playstation 2. I also thought that there were some weird and unintuitive design choices. In the way of example, there is no global depth chart, forcing you to micromanage everything by formation which is very tedious. The menus in general were also poorly designed and frustrating. The commentary is inconsistent with the on-field action, which is not that uncommon in sports titles. One hilarious and unfortunate oddity is that one of the darker players I've ever seen in the NFL, DeShaun Foster, is white in the game. There were also many instances of throwing a pass to a receiver running a hook/curl, and when he catches the ball facing the line of scrimmage, he almost always runs back to the line a couple of yards before the game gives you control again, even if he's stationary when making the catch. Obviously, this results in some bad outcomes. When you add up all the little things, it becomes a hurdle to significant enjoyment.

Despite the collection of negatives, I won't say GameDay 2004 is horrible, but it lags too far behind the competition of its day, and that makes it difficult to recommend. Unfortunately this series just lost ground in the race for pigskin dominance and was never able to recover. It's a generous 3/5, making concessions for the time period, my nostalgia for the franchise and the fact that I just love the NFL and sports games in general. But if you're hankering for some PS2 gridiron action, you'd be far batter served playing any version of Madden or the incomparable NFL 2K5.
 
Last edited:
Apr 18, 2018
8,091
13,307
555
USA
dunpachi.com
#33
#16 The Forest of Doom (PC)




As a kid, choose your own adventure books always seemed kind of magical to me. The idea of reading a "regular" old book with possibilities to make your own decisions and experience various outcomes was incredibly exciting for me. And much of that appeal is present in gaming in general. Despite some games having more of a linear nature, everyone will have somewhat of a unique experience in all but the tightest of "corridor games". We get to live out adventures and interact with untold variety of different worlds and have an impact on them.

With all that gaming has to offer, it was only a matter of time before someone would merge the CYOA novel with the digital entertainment that so many of us love, and that's exactly what we have in this example, The Forest of Doom - a digitized version of an earlier physical book. In terms of the narrative, it's nothing fancy or exceptional, but it gets the job done as standard fantasy fare. The mood is set nicely by an epic-feeling, if overly short and looping, soundtrack. There are a nice variety of pieces of still-frame art to add flavor to some of your encounters. I didn't find them to be great artistically, but they were good enough to add to the sense of place, creating a deeper level of involvement than text alone. Overall, the presentation was quite well done and I found it engaging. There are quite a large amount of items to collect and use, some of which can be pretty important in completing your quest. I really appreciated the in-game map, which helped you keep a sense of your bearings on repeat plays as you tried to find the two missing items needed in order to complete the story. The dice-roll combat was classic old-school, and while not incredibly exciting, it did up the drama a bit in particularly tight encounters.

There are some things I had issue with in this game. Firstly, the fact that you couldn't retrace your steps was frustrating. I'd have like the option to turn around and go back from whence I came, although I suppose this is true to the original. But it also makes it easy to hit a dead-end where you are funneled to the climax without any possibility of "winning", and that's an annoyance necessitating starting over, which to be fair, is part of the design. Also, much of your prospects for success can be hampered or enhanced by your initial dice rolls for your stats, giving maybe too much weight to the initial set up. And if you strip away the interactive elements, the concept of choice, you're really just left with a middling (generously speaking) fantasy story. Yet, there's something nostalgic in this type of experience, albeit in digital form. I can't say I was blown away, but I did enjoy my time with it, and I think the genre has potential. I'll check out more of what this niche brings to the table down the road. A 3/5.
If you're interested in digitized "choose your own adventures", I highly recommend Joe Dever's Lone Wolf, which is on several different platforms.





Real-time combat, too, so you can offset randomness with a bit of skill (but to be honest, the combat is not as "deep" as the description leads you to believe).
 
Likes: synchronicity
Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#34
If you're interested in digitized "choose your own adventures", I highly recommend Joe Dever's Lone Wolf, which is on several different platforms.





Real-time combat, too, so you can offset randomness with a bit of skill (but to be honest, the combat is not as "deep" as the description leads you to believe).
Thanks a lot for the recommendation! Looks great. I put it in my Steam wishlist. I'll pick it up sooner or later.
 
Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#35
# 13 Kirby Mass Attack (DS)



Kirby is one of several longstanding franchises that I've never experienced. Despite knowing that Mass Attack is not the most traditional Kirby going in, I decided to pull this one off the shelf and give it a try. The Pink Puff provided plenty of polish for which Nintendo is popular. Everything was colorful and cute, and the stylus-only controls were interesting and sometimes innovative, making the omission of traditional controls a relatively minor issue - something I found surprising and quite impressive. There were a wide variety of scenarios, types of levels, and ways to interact with the world in this Kirby title, and because of that, the game remained fresh throughout its often-lengthy 40+ stages/bosses. The downside to some of the levels being quite long was that if you did make a mistake or lose all your miniature Kirbys, you'd also lose a fair bit of progress and have to do it all again. But, I won't knock too much off for that because the game isn't overly challenging, unless you're going for all the unlockables via the acquisition of certain medals scattered and sometimes hidden about the levels. Speaking of which, there are a good number of min-games to acquire and play outside the main campaign, and they are mostly quite fun. I especially enjoyed the Kirby pinball table, and I probably spent near as much time with that as I did the main game. But while the game was obviously well-made and polished, it never deeply connected with me. It had some nice ideas and execution, but it wasn't compelling in the way that better platformers are, in my view. Despite the solid implementation of stylus-based gameplay, it didn't feel as good as traditional button presses which I am used to in this genre. The constant swiping and tapping were done about as well as I could hope for, yet the old-dog part of me did find learning this new trick less satisfying than the familiar ways of playing. I will say that if you're really taken with the game, it can be quite lengthy, allowing for significant play past the end credits, earning new things and enjoying those bite-sized experiences. For me, though, it was good enough to warrant my time, but not entertaining enough to earn a strong endorsement. Having consumed this cuteness, I don't currently consider myself a constituent of the cult of Kirby, but I carry no contempt and can't kick this classic curvaceous clump to the curb, especially considering that the current case wasn't conclusively characteristic of the contents of the complete collection A 3/5.

#12 Mega Man 9 (PS3)



I love a good platformer and I love a good challenge, so in theory Mega Man ought to be right up my alley. Having never played any entry in this venerated franchise, I decided to give 9 a try, knowing that it is quite beloved by fans of the series. The retro graphics neither entice nor repel me. I'm able to enjoy any game I find fun, regardless of visuals, so it gets no added points for being old-school from me. It had suitable music to match the visuals, sounding authentically 8-bit in nature. Again, as with the visuals, it wasn't a real pro or con for me. What IS most important for me in the vast majority of cases is that I'm having fun. Now fun can be measured differently, so perhaps it's more appropriate to say that I want to find myself thoroughly engaged in what I'm playing, and various factors contribute to that sense of engagement. In the case of platformers that comes usually from a sense of joy in simple movement. Running, jumping and performing various actions can feel quite satisfying if the controls are right. In the case of Mega Man 9, I certainly found the controls to be precise, which is very important, but I didn't garner enough pleasure in those actions. It wasn't like Mario, where I'm simply thrilled to be bounding around. As to why I wasn't properly enjoying myself, I think there is an easy explanation. This game is absolutely punishing. One mistake will undo you, and it's incredibly easy to make a mistake at any point in any level. I found myself re-runnning levels over and over again even when I was playing very well because of a single small error, albeit different from the time before. On the other side of that coin, there is a satisfaction in learning a level so thoroughly, an achievement that only comes with great repetition. And it is very satisfying to beat a boss and earn a new weapon - such a nice sense of accomplishment. But, the cost to value ratio is skewed too heavily on the cost side of the equation for me personally. Mega Man 9 is not a bad game, by any means. Quite the contrary, it's a well-made, incredibly precise and satisfying in very clear ways. But despite its obvious strengths, I was just unable to find the desire to press on at a certain point. I might be open to trying another in the future, and I see the appeal, but I can't count myself as a member of the Blue Bomber fan club from playing this entry in the series. A 3/5.
 
Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#36
#11 SSX (PS3)



The SSX franchise appeared on the scene in a big way (no pun intended) in the early days of the PS2. It felt fresh, was super fun and had loads of personality. I only played the original and SSX3 - never Tricky, On Tour, or Blur (Wii) - and they're both great, but SSX3 is my favorite. At some point EA decided to reboot this series on the PS3 with the simple title of the original SSX. And there are definitely some things that carry over nicely from the previous generation of titles. The sense of speed is great. It's always fun to find that line and get into that "flow". Hitting jumps just right to launch yourself into the sky for some insane tricks is generally consistently thrilling. The various mountains look pleasing and the controls are responsive and pretty smooth. In many ways this reboot feels very much like the older entries in the series.

However, there are unfortunately some problems that prevent it from reaching that rarefied air the PS2 titles enjoyed. The most obvious issue is the lack of charm. The previous entries were full of color and life and a sense of fun. In this reboot, everything just feels soulless and drab. Gone is the character and identity that helped to makes the originals so unique. It feels like this was made as a job, granted a job done by talented people, but a job nonetheless. In addition to the feel of things, I don't know who decided it would be fun to have the player regularly have to deal with falling in crevasses, avoiding freezing by staying in the sun, or outrunning avalanches as you make your run towards the screen (a la some levels in Crash Bandicoot). None of these elements are fun, and in fact quite the opposite is true. They are tedious, break up the flow of the game and just make things unnecessarily cumbersome, taking away that lovely feeling of joy and freedom you get from descending a peak.

I don't want to be overly harsh. There is plenty to enjoy in this reboot, but it doesn't capture the essence of its glory days. When you'd rather play older entries in a franchise than spend time with the latest and "greatest", it's not a good sign. Certainly not a bad game, but I can't strongly recommend it unless you are just super curious. It's a 3/5 for me.

#10 RIME (PS4)



The world of "artsy" games has grown over the years, almost into its own distinct genre. Games like ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, Journey, Abzu, Flower and many others find their niche in beautiful visuals, affecting music, and often moving, if sometimes sparse and ambiguous, narratives. Rime was a game that seemed to find itself in this space when the first screenshots were released, and ultimately it does find itself in this group of art-house gaming experiences.

Right off, we are greeted with some stunning imagery. Initially on an island setting, everything is wonderfully colorful and the night skies are peppered with innumerable stars and a big bright moon. The architecture evokes an otherworldly and alien feel. The water is a mixture of blue-green hues and the lighting coinciding with the day/night cycles is particularly impressive. At first inspection things appear to be no more than a simple puzzle game, be it in an attractive setting, and that's what it is mechanically. But as things progress we encounter a wider variety of environments and learn that maybe things aren't so straightforward as a boy solving a sequence of minor mental challenges. For a while, everything felt like a series of connected rooms, lacking a cohesive totality, but it doesn't feel out of place given what is occurring narratively, even if things aren't entirely evident from the beginning. Speaking of the narrative, and I can't say much without spoiling things, but I will say that I did, by the end, find it a touching and poignant experience, and it was worth seeing things through to the finish, even if you aren't totally enamored with the nuts and bolts of the ride.

I can't say I loved every facet of Rime. I felt like things were too drawn out for what it offered mechanically. It felt longer than it needed to be, despite its relatively modest length. The puzzles were also pretty easy, although there were a couple of brief moments where I was not entirely sure what to do. The platforming, while mostly responsive, sometimes aggravated as the boy didn't seem to know when I was urging him to jump to a ledge opposite his position. And through much of the game, I felt like the music was always trying to establish a sense of climax which seemed out of place. Although I will say that an argument could be made in retrospect, it nevertheless could have been handled better, knowing that the player is in the dark about the full content of the experience for a while. Having a constant crescendo does little to establish any sense of meaning for the player, and it felt like it strained unnecessarily for the suggestion of sentimentality.

On the whole, I did enjoy Rime. I won't call it a must-play, but if you enjoy things that are striving for an emotional element or things that are artistic leaning in terms of their sensibilities, then I would say it's worth playing. I enjoyed my time with it enough that I didn't feel disappointed, but it didn't reach the heights of category icons such as ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. For me, it's a solid 3/5 that most certainly reaches its zenith if seen through to the conclusion.
 
Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#37
#9 Breath of Fire Dragon Quarter (PS2)



Some games just make it so difficult for you to love them, I think. Take Breath of Fire : Dragon Quarter for instance. Firstly, I want to say that I really enjoy unique games, and often find myself championing certain titles that aren't necessarily in the mainstream of gaming culture. I had known for a long time that BOFDQ was polarizing because of challenge and its deviation from prior series installments - something that many longtime franchise fans apparently didn't appreciate. (Personally, I've never played an entry.) On the other hand, there always seemed to be a vocal contingent praising the title for its differences, differences from the earlier franchise as well as differences from many rpgs in general. That "unique factor" always triggers my radar, because I know that if it clicks for me, I'll probably love it passionately. It has long been in my backlog, and I have long imagined the day I would play it. Well, that day came in 2018, and I have to say that I'm pretty ambivalent.

First off, the battles can be quite slow and drawn out, but there is definitely a certain enjoyable tactical element to most of the confrontations, so I put up with the snail-like pace. The beginning was dragging for me because of the pace and the fact that the art style isn't really my cup of tea. The doe-eyed anime characters are not inherently off-putting, but they aren't a style that pulls me in, all things being equal. And I didn't find the characters, visuals aside, very deep or compelling early on. And the enemies did nothing for me in terms of design either. I almost put it down after a couple of hours, but I like to stick to things, especially in the case of an rpg since it can't really show you what it is in a brief examination. So, I stuck with it, and I started enjoying it. I was particularly fond of the premise of subterranean humanity searching to get back to the surface after living so long underground by necessity. And I was even more drawn in by a narrative element - that I won't spoil - giving impetus for trying to see the mythical sky once again. Also, as things developed and I acquired a couple of party members with some unique skills, it opened up confrontations in enjoyable, albeit still plodding, ways. But, I was sinking my teeth into things and really hungry to reach the surface. I was also enjoying the tension created by knowing that you couldn't let your ever increasing dragon-form meter (your super power ability that rapidly increases percentage on use and slowly ticks up 1/100th of a percent at a time as you explore) reach 100% or it was curtains for your game. It created a nice sense of risk-reward, and not knowing how long it would take to make it to the end, I was forced to use it extremely judiciously, else it was lights-out for the protagonist and his group's quest.

However, and this is the biggest problem for me, the game's structure ultimately undid things. It's kind of rogue-like in terms of composition. If you die, or if you reach the max on your super meter, you are going to have to start over, or lose experience and revert back to your last hard save - something that is very limited due to it being item-based like the ink ribbons in Resident Evil. But these save tokens are even more sparse and the save terminals are less common than the typewriters in the aforementioned series. So, it should be obvious that it is quite easy to lose a significant portion of your progress. Now, in many rogue-likes this isn't a problem because the game is propped up on such concepts with the understanding that you're never really losing progress in any significant way. In Dragon Quarter, however, I reached a point around 7 hours into the experience where a boss I was fighting simply exploded after sitting on 0 health for a few turns, without any clear indication that this was about to happen, or if there was, it missed me completely. When this boss popped, it killed me and all my party in an instant. (Edit: In fairness, after replaying this section, the boss does give an indication that it will explode.) I didn't want to lose a bunch of progression, but I chose to restart, which is one of two options you're given upon death. You can "Restore" to your last hard save, or "Restart" presumably with all your experience, I thought, but I was back at the beginning as a level 1 character again. Ugh. I had my learned skills and gear, but the thought of trudging through all of that ponderous combat again just to get back to where I was, uncertain if I would have the same thing happen again, was just too much. I felt like the game was daring me to continue playing, and I didn't want to accept the challenge. It's really a shame because I was just starting to really get into the whole experience, and as mentioned, I truly wanted to see the surface, imagining that to be quite the cathartic moment both for the characters and myself, as the player. But, I'm only willing to do so much in order to see things through in a game, especially in a game that already had some hurdles preventing a smooth experience. I just couldn't do it. It's not a bad game, and if it was structured with a little more forgiveness, I would have happily pressed on. But the idea of slowly retreading my steps through the already-monotonous underground environments and the molasses encounters was sadly a deal breaker. It's just unnecessarily punitive design. I'm even more disappointed because I was really anticipating to fall in love with this one, having built it up in my mind over the years. But if you want me to replay big sections of your game, you had better be extraordinary, and I can't say that here. It teased me and finally turned me on and I found myself wanting to fully love it, but it won't let me. Dragon Quarter gets a blue-balls 3/5 from me.

...and after I wrote all of that, I went back to it because it did so much that I enjoyed. So, I played on another dozen + hours and fought the first Regent (a member of the upper class of this netherworld, I suppose), Deamoned. You have to do so much damage to him because of his defenses that many attacks will ultimately not meet the threshold to cause any damage AT ALL. I finally managed to build up enough AP (ability points which governs how much you can do on any given turn) by waiting while getting attacked and sometimes killed to unleash some attacks that could slowly whittle away his health. It was a long, long war of attrition through which I wore down his health little by little until victory, but it wasn't a pleasant experience. And then shortly after, I met another Regent which seemed to offer the same level of resistance, and I realized that completing things was going to ultimately give a sense of relief more than any sense of satisfaction or pleasure, and that's not why I play games. Hey, as stated, this is NOT a bad game. In fact, it does many things so very well, but it just wants to bludgeon you along the way, almost challenging you to extract the fun. As I said, I really wanted to love this because it has a lot of good to offer, and I gave it a second and third chance and ultimately played close to 30 hours, but I just wasn't able to squeeze enough pleasure out. It felt more like work than recreation in the end, and it didn't offer enough in return for my time to warrant the punishing grind. I'm sure there are those who would be spellbound by this title and would have no problems doing what was required, but it was too much for me. I stand by the conclusion of the previous paragraph and previously concluded review - picking it back up again got me closer to the surface, but didn't change my opinion. It's a 3/5 that could have been so much more with just a little fine-tuning and user-friendliness. I'd rather youtube the ending than undergo any further self-flagellation. I appreciate much of what Dragon Quarter has to offer, but things are ultimately more frustrating than fun, it's just too much.

#8 Injustice : Gods Among Us (PS4)



I'm not the biggest fighting game aficionado in the world, but I do count a number of them as all-time favorites. I'm also about as fatigued as can be with the common and over-used staple of super heroes. There are just so many movies, shows, and games, and many of them are just eye candy without any real depth or substance in my view. However I still found myself picking up and playing Injustice : Gods Among Us on the PS4, largely due to all the praise that had trickled into my awareness over the years. To be clear, I don't necessarily hate - or even dislike - many of the characters in these universes, it's just that they've reached a point of oversaturation for me, and the quality is more budget-related than real craft and heart for my money.

But I thought I'd give this highly acclaimed fighter a chance and, to the point, I'm glad I did. There is a great deal of polish and spectacle on display here. There's a nice weighty sense of power and heavy impact - befitting characters of this ilk. It does a good job of making you feel like a genuine super hero in action. The controls were fluid and responsive, and it was nice that there was a fairly lengthy story mode that forced you to play as a variety of characters from the roster. I also thought the interactive and multi-level stages were a nice touch along with the unique - and definitely cool - super powers on display.

It wasn't all power of the Earth's yellow sun however. There was a sprinkling of kryptonite. The character graphics could have been more refined for one. They moved well and didn't necessarily look bad, but they are lacking detail and just feel a bit generic. Also, while there are a good number of unique moves to learn for the various characters, they largely feel the same as each other in terms of mechanics. (In terms of fighters, I think I'm forever spoiled by the grace and elegance of Virtua Fighter.) And the multi-dimensional story perhaps served its purpose, driving the action, but was ultimately uninspired as far as I'm concerned. Finally, I really missed Mark Hamill as the Joker. The actor chosen just didn't deliver what I've come to enjoy and expect from the character.

But the good outweighs the bad overall, and I did have fun with this game. It's not one of my all-time favorites or even an all-time favorite within the genre, but there was some good fun to be had. 4/5.
 
Last edited:
Apr 18, 2018
8,091
13,307
555
USA
dunpachi.com
#40
Thanks.

I know I have motley gaming habits. I'm certainly not keeping up with the flow of what's relevant today in gaming. I usually tend to be a bit all over the place, playing stuff from many eras and genres.
Breath of Fire: DQ is not a common sight nowadays, that's for sure.

But picking and playing what you want is a more enjoyable way of gaming anyway.
 
Likes: synchronicity
Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#43
yeaahhh playing a 2004 sports game in 2019 is a little weird ;), but i get why
Yeah, it was just a curiosity thing for me. I guess I explained in the review. Anyway, on with the countdown.

#7 The Order : 1886 (PS4)



Going into The Order 1886, I had less than great expectations. I had absorbed an impression over the intervening years between release and my time with the game that it was ultimately a disappointment, albeit a gorgeous one. I usually try not to allow the background noise that infiltrates my system an opportunity to dissuade me from giving any game a chance or allow the crowd-voice to inform my own personal opinion prior to personal experience. However, I will admit that here I didn't expect much due to the aforementioned chorus of the crowd. So I picked up the controller with a bit of a slant eye, unfairly judging something completely foreign to me. As I played, however, the opinion I had adopted from others gradually shifted until, by the end, I found myself quite impressed with this work from Ready At Dawn.

Right off the bat, even the most cynical and jaded of graphics-first gamers would have a difficult time finding themselves anything but wowed by the visual mastery. I knew it had a reputation for looking good, but quite honestly, this may be the most stunning visual experience I've ever had with controller in-hand. Surely technically, and arguably artistically, The Order dazzles at every opportunity. The alternate historical timeline of late 1800's England is brought to life with an incredible attention to detail that effortlessly transports you into the world and its fictional history. Both characters and locales are modeled believably and with the highest quality I think I've ever seen. This is most certainly one of those titles you may be inclined to show off to your non-gamer friends and family, knowing full-well that all eyes will come away impressed. In many ways, Ready At Dawn have outdone Naughty Dog, the enduring coding masters of visual splendor. It's not a one to one comparison, with The Order showcasing smaller more intimate locales than Uncharted 4, nevertheless what you see on screen is easily on par with the masters behind Nate Drake's adventures.

Looking great is a feather in the cap, but I like to enjoy my mechanical interaction as well, and here, the third-person shooting is handled competently enough with a wide variety of fictional weapons, some invented by a creative permutation on the great inventor Tesla, who I loved seeing in the game - even referencing his (so-called) competition with Edison. The shooting mechanics are responsive and enjoyable enough, and certainly did not detract from the game. I wouldn't call the mechanics the main reason to play The Order, but they are serviceable enough to not impede your enjoyment. Aside from the gun-play, I thought the voice-work was some of the best I've ever heard, and blended well into a narrative that was both mature and found excellent use of creative license to tell the tale of some classic baddies from popular fiction. I don't want to spoil anything, but some classic characters make unique appearances that really bring the tale to life, giving it a distinct creative flavor.

I won't say that I loved everything about 1886, despite my enjoyment. Sometimes, as with other similar genre works, things could be overly cinematic - eager to wretch control from your hands in favor of showing you another cut scene that, however cool, always pulls me out of the game when appearing overly frequent. I'm usually torn by these types of games because despite what they do well, they want to entertain me in a non-interactive way as much or more than allowing me to engage with things directly. This genre is ultimately like the cotton candy of gaming for me. It's often sweet and enjoyable in the moment, but it can't really compete with more substantial gaming staples. It's just too light and devoid of real gamer nutrition.

That said, what it does, it does so well. It's easy to compare to the Uncharted franchise, as I think they follow more or less the same blueprint in many ways. I can't say that I enjoyed it as much as Uncharted, but there is certainly a great deal of potential in this well-realized world Ready At Dawn have created, and I would love to see a return to this fictional world in an offering that offered a bit more substance along with all the visual bells and whistles that they have most certainly nailed down. As this entry stands, however, it's already a very enjoyable experience, and I can comfortably recommend it to anyone who enjoys the cinematic shooter. For me, it's a 4/5, and a hope for a sequel that builds on the strengths and addresses the weaknesses from this entry.

#6 Until Dawn (PS4)



The interactive drama genre seems to be gaining prominence in the gaming landscape, and I think it's easy to see why. People love movies and people love games, and with this genre there is a sort of marriage of the two formats of expression. Personally, I've never been greatly impressed by one, but that has as at least a little to do with my personal preferences within gaming. I do, however, see potential within the concept, and I continue to allow the category an opportunity to show me what it can do.

With that in mind, I gave the PS4 exclusive, Until Dawn, an opportunity to show me its stuff. I was immediately drawn to a couple of elements. The graphics are absolutely amazing - a few uncanny valley facial movements aside - and the characters are very nicely voice acted, given the premise. The remote winter mountain setting is a wonderful location for stressing these lab-rats for our viewing amusement as they navigate the brutal and wintry exterior conditions along with a variety of sometimes spooky indoor locales, including a decaying sanatorium. At its core, Until Dawn is a teen slasher movie adapted to video game form, and it comes with a lot of the tropes you'd expect to find. You've got the teenage politics and the stereotypical character profiles - the jock, the nerd, the bitch, and so on. In terms of character interaction, the dynamics between them all were nicely crafted and coupled with the great voice work, I found myself accepting these people as real, well, as real as they would be in any similar horror film anyway. Along the way there are some twists and turns and it was quite engaging, honestly. I found myself more invested in the story than I would have in a movie of the same ilk due to the potential impact of my choices - choices that oftentimes must be made with little time to consider. In addition to some weighty decisions, you'll be faced with chase sequences that play out in quick time fashion, but the window of opportunity is generous, and I don't think too many players would be negatively impacted by not having enough time to react. Of special note in regards to interaction was the implementation of needing to be absolutely still (with your controller) in some cases of great stress. I thought that was a novel way to handle things, and I enjoyed that bit of creative execution. Without spoiling anything, I'll just say that there are some really intense and brutal scenes that you'll encounter, and knowing that there's a possibility for a devastating outcome really heightened my focus and increased my investment.

It's not all praise from me, however. There were some awkward and fixed camera angles at times. Sometimes you'd encounter situations where you weren't sure if you could progress in a particular direction, and a few instances where you would be controlling a character that had moved so far away from the camera that you could hardly tell if you were moving forward. I know that fixed angles allow for more control of user experience, but they usually make me feel less a part of my environment. Of lesser offense is the sometimes cheesy narrative, but Until Dawn knows what it is and ultimately revels in that identity to positive effect. There are also plenty of cheap jump scares, but they honestly don't feel out of place for the genre, or its film counterparts. Finally, this brand of gaming is always going to be more "watch" than "do", and that is at odds with what I love about the medium in the first place, so it's quite a hurdle to overcome, but UD strikes the best balance I've found.

All in all, though, I found this to be the new ceiling for the "you-are-playing-a-movie" genre. I went in telling myself that I'd only do a single play-through, hoping that it would magnify the excitement levels, and coupled with the timed decision making, it certainly did so. I ended with four survivors (Sam, Emily, Chris and Jessica), and despite making a couple of mistakes that I immediately knew I shouldn't have, it drove home the feeling of being in such a stressful situation nicely. I have to say that, in the end, I enjoyed it more than I was expecting. I knew that it was highly praised going in, but I tempered that with knowledge of my own lukewarm feelings about the genre. But thankfully I was pleased, and would definitely look forward to playing another Supermassive entry in this niche. A 4/5.
 
Apr 18, 2018
8,091
13,307
555
USA
dunpachi.com
#44
I loved Until Dawn. I had a cool experience playing through the game: me and 7 other players (the crowd of friends was more like 10) each took on the role of one character and we passed the controller whenever that person's turn came up. We all played it blind this way for the first time and it was a fun experience. Took about 1 month to get through all the chapters together. We'd spend a few hours each Friday and then reconvene the next week.

I don't watch horror movies but some of my friends who participated were big horror-movie buffs. They expressed that the playthrough was a lot of fun and mirrored the "group participation" of a cheesy, enjoyable horror flick ("no you idiot! Don't go into that shed in nothing but a bra and underwear!").
 
Last edited:
Likes: synchronicity
Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#45
I loved Until Dawn. I had a cool experience playing through the game: me and 7 other players (the crowd of friends was more like 10) each took on the role of one character and we passed the controller whenever that person's turn came up. We all played it blind this way for the first time and it was a fun experience. Took about 1 month to get through all the chapters together. We'd spend a few hours each Friday and then reconvene the next week.

I don't watch horror movies but some of my friends who participated were big horror-movie buffs. They expressed that the playthrough was a lot of fun and mirrored the "group participation" of a cheesy, enjoyable horror flick ("no you idiot! Don't go into that shed in nothing but a bra and underwear!").
That's a really interesting way to play - never considered that. It definitely was a fun game though.
 
Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#46
#5 Sly Cooper : Thieves in Time (PS3)



The platformer genre is something of a gaming comfort food for me. Even when they're not the absolute best, you can usually count on a pretty enjoyable time. They're usually colorful and low-stress. They can be funny with interesting characters and stories, and they hearken back to the early days of gaming, which is always good for nostalgic warmth.

Having only played the first entry in the Sly Cooper series, I decided to skip ahead to the only entry not developed by Sucker Punch, Thieves in Time. After only a brief exposure to this fourth entry in the series, it became apparent that this Sanzaru developed entry was worthy of the Sly name, and was not just a hand-off, cash grab. Everything was very reminiscent of the first entry for me, both in terms of mechanics and presentation. This absolutely felt like the Sly I remembered from my only exposure long ago. The team of Sly, Bentley, and (the) Murray were forced to go back in time to meet Sly's ancestors in this episode to deal with the stinky (he's a skunk) Le Paradox, who was out to eradicate the Cooper clan. As with any time travel themed game, we get to experience a variety of periods, which is always nice for variety's sake. In each period there are several varying missions resulting in an eventual boss encounter. I have to say that the villains presented in Thieves were entertaining in their execution. They were all funny in their own unique and twisted ways, and were voiced quite well, really adding to the enjoyment. Mechanically, everything felt familiar with the jump, double jump, and perch buttons making their return. I also enjoyed getting new costumes and abilities for the various characters, opening different areas/secrets and allowing for different ways of problem solving. Having not played parts 2 and 3, I'm not sure if these are returning elements, but it's a nice addition to the franchise, if not.

Not everything is great with the Sly family, however. The game is pretty full of various mini-games for the different characters. Bentley has 3 types of hacking mini games, none of which were very enjoyable. They weren't necessarily horrible, but they were mediocre at best. One of them used the now-antiquated tilt (motion control) mechanic, and it was not fun. Murray had one mini game in the Old West setting which was particularly poor. It was a boxing match where you pretty much had to circle strafe around your opponent for an unnecessarily long time, diving in for a hit every now and then. It was really pretty dreadful. There were also some DDR style rhythm-matching musical games which were also very vanilla and didn't add anything worthwhile to the experience. All of the mini-games felt like padding and really added nothing to the experience other than breaking up the pace a bit. Of lesser offense is the large amounts of collectibles. I enjoy this type of thing much more in theory than I do in practice. Wandering all over the map looking for that last hint bottle to unlock the safe might sound fun, but when you scour the map multiple times and still don't find it, things become tedious. If I was gaga over the game or didn't have tons of other stuff to play, I might be interested. I really think collectathon developers should always have a streamlined solution to finding all the doodads for those who don't want to waste tons of time. Make it optional, but offer a bit of a shortcut for those who want to see everything, but aren't invested enough in the game to find everything via endless searching. Maybe they could offer a radar of sorts that can be purchased if you acquire enough coins, a radar that doesn't give you the exact location, but points you in the general direction of whatever it is you're looking for. Anyway, it's not that big of a deal. I just view it as bonus gameplay for those who want it. I was interested, but not enough to jump through the hoops to get all the goodies here.

In total, however, I had a really good time with Thieves. The light-stealth gameplay, while not difficult, is consistently enjoyable nonetheless. And the excellent presentation wraps everything up in an overall package that is easy to recommend to any fan of the mascot/collectathon platformer. It's not an all-time great or even an all-time platformer great for me, but it was certainly good fun and well worth playing. A comfortable 4/5.

#4 Yakuza 0 (PS4)



I'm a relative noob when it comes to the Yakuza series. Having only played the first one long ago, I had started to feel overwhelmed by all the releases, and it felt like too big a task to catch up - despite really loving the first in the series. They can be (judging by my only experience) really long games, and with so many out there that I hadn't played, it became a daunting proposition. However, in steps Sega to soothe my anxiety and overcome my hesitance by releasing a prequel to the series in the form of Yakuza 0. It felt like a lovely point to re-enter the world of Japanese organized crime, and so I drank some Oolong tea and began my journey.

I was immediately reminded of playing the first game in the series since the same location is used, and although more refined than the original, it is still very recognizable in its layout. I was a little surprised at how familiar the setting was since I hadn't played the original in so long, so I'm sure that it's quite similar. As nice as it was to revisit the location of Kamurocho - a locale apparently modeled quite authentically to the real Kabukicho area of Tokyo - I was happy that there was another area (Sotenbori) included in 0 to add some variety to the virtual tourism. And it was fun to follow the stories of Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima in their respective locations, with both having their own lives, ambitions and activities to pursue.

The tale of this prequel was full of drama, energy, humor and a cast of characters that were nicely developed with their own motivations providing the grist for the movement of the engaging and twisting narrative. I truly enjoyed the original Japanese voice work, and some of the characters were really stand-outs. I thought Awano was really brought to life with a voice of a cold, cynical and worn gangster. There were also numerous others that really brought some electricity to this story through their performances. There were some wonderful moments throughout the development of the plot and side stories, and I won't spoil them, but I will say that there were emotional scenes across the spectrum of human feeling, and as a result, everything was kept fresh and lively from beginning to end.

Of course with Yakuza, most all narrative beats result in the need to crack some skulls, and the familiar combat returns. There were a plethora of abilities and upgrades, both to styles and equipment that could be obtained through various means, and the combat was fun albeit repetitive and lacking the sheen of other more focused brawlers and action titles. It would have been nice to see some greater finesse in the combat since it's so prominent throughout, but given the fact that the game is packed with other activities and reasons to lose yourself in this 80's era Tokyo, I can't penalize it too much. And while the combat is no God Hand or Bayonetta, it still remains fun, if simple in execution.

Speaking of side activities, I really got lost in the batting cages - as I remember doing in the first. I eventually got perfect scores in all the cages, the last of which was pretty tough. Having a special place in my heart for baseball, like the Japanese, this fun distraction was really compelling and well-done in my view. I also enjoyed the pocket circuit racing. It was pretty exciting trying to build your perfect racer. And the hostess club was really enjoyable. I never knew how much fun it was to play dress-up and manage a stable of ladies. Being a digital pimp of sorts was more fun than I expected. As fun as some of the games were, there were however problems with some clumsiness and simplicity in many of them. Fishing was boring, for example, and the cat-fights were tedious. Often things devolved into button mashing or really simplistic interactions, and while having so many things to do is nice, I would have preferred some real craft put into all the distractions that pulled you off the main quest line.

As for other issues I had with the game, I can't say that I'm a hug fan of invisible walls, and there were many to annoy here. I also thought that the game would sometimes interrupt your flow or direction by forcing an interaction or side-quest on you simply by passing by someone. I didn't always care for that, but it wasn't constant or a huge problem. I also thought the transformation of Majima felt forced and inauthentic. I enjoyed his character, but at a certain stage late game, I felt like they handled who he would eventually become without much real thought or execution. It just came off poorly for me. Also the narrative as a whole sometimes felt bloated and overweight despite some excellent moments and an engaging central plot. The narrative could have been more impactful with the application of a little restraint in my view.

Despite my issues with some things, I thoroughly enjoyed this trip back into the world of the Yakuza. I really got into the flow of things and felt like living a virtual life in 80's Japan. I spent over 100 hours with the game before completing the main story line, and I still went back for more after things were done. I think that gives some insight into how I felt about Yakuza 0. It's truly a great game, and a 5/5 for me.
 
Dec 16, 2011
1,786
464
525
#47
#3 Uncharted 4 (PS4)



I think of the Uncharted formula/series as the "summer blockbuster" of video games. It's full of spectacle and light on any real substance, either mechanically or thematically - for the most part, but it tickles that spot in most all of us that just wants to be entertained by a rip-roaring yarn, full of action and romance. What could be more romantic than a treasure hunter embarking on adventure in search of the lost riches of history, and Uncharted has always satisfied wonderfully in what it sets out to do.

Naughty Dog are real technical masters, and their work always shows a skilled set of hands and minds behind the visuals on display. In this entry on PS4, the visuals are utterly sublime, with so much detail and quality that it's incredibly easy to lose yourself in the various locales. I'm not a graphics-first type of gamer, but some games just set the bar so high that it's hard not to be wowed by what's happening on-screen, and Uncharted 4 certainly impresses throughout the journey. I found myself moving slowly through the various environments and really appreciating the artistry, both technically and creatively.

Aside from the next-level eye-candy, things were mostly status-quo for the series. In search of treasure - in this case the lost booty of Henry Avery - we bounce from clue to clue, as we are led from one gorgeous environment to the next, all the while battling opposing forces in search of the same valuable loot lost to the passage of time. The gun-play was a little more sparse here than in entries-past, but it's good simple fun in this installment, much like the original trilogy on PS3. There's a bit of room for creativity with the enemy "rooms", and I really enjoyed being stealthy while trying to thin out my foes without being spotted. Also new to the series is a grappling hook, which in addition to standard navigation, allows for some greater fluidity of movement in combat and some exotic launching takedowns. I really enjoyed this addition to the franchise, both in and out of battles. There were also quite a few semi-open spaces to explore, both via vehicle and on-foot, and I thought that really facilitated the sense of adventure you want to experience in this series, helping to mitigate the series' familiar sensation of being funneled from one grandiose set-piece to the next.

In terms of narrative, I thought that they handled the conclusion of the Nate Drake story line very well. The subtitle and box art were suitably ambiguous, leaving the conclusion open to doubt and interpretation, which kept things suspenseful for anyone who might be engaged with the story from the beginning. But I think that most who have followed the series since its origins will be pleased with the outcome. I was quite fond of the epilogue in particular which, without spoiling things, really put a nice bow on the entire package and left me fulfilled and ready to let the story line go. The voice acting was, as always, top shelf. I was particularly fond of the voice performance turned in by the primary antagonist, Rafe Adler - voiced by Warren Kole. He, along with the script, did an excellent job capturing the psychotic greed and ruthless, narcissistic ambition of such a villain. Kudos to his performance along with all the returning cast who continued to demonstrate a skillful command of their characters. In terms of Rafe, though, I thought this was the best final boss of the four main installments. It was a bit clunky and unintuitive, like the rest, but was handled better than any of the final showdowns from the first three.

All things are not perfect with UC4 or the franchise at large. Everything has always been more than a little unbelievable with Drake and friends being easily the greatest free-climbers the world could ever know. Also, the chaos and danger they encounter over and over would be enough to send most anyone running for permanent safety after a single occurrence, but they are always back and eager for more. The ridiculous nature of things wouldn't be so startling were it not for the realism of the visuals and the well-acted characters, but things tends to sit at odds with each other, thereby given an incongruent feeling oftentimes. It's not a big problem, easily enough passed off as just a pulp, Indiana Jones video game, but the sensation did stick with me over the course of the series. Also, the bullet sponge enemies return, and some of the foes take far too much damage to be believable. It's not a major issue, given the overall tone of other elements, but it can be frustrating at times. Another thing I always found funny in this series is when characters might be having an in-game conversation that was not in tone with the action you were performing on-screen. It makes for some hilarious moments, though. Finally, to be sure, the series is more than a little formulaic at this point, which can impart a sense of diminishing returns from your adventures with Nathan and company.

However, the reason anything has an opportunity to become formulaic in the first place is because the formula is so good to begin with. And here, I'm thoroughly pleased with this final adventure of our wise-cracking hero. It's been thrilling circumnavigating the globe in search of romance and riches with this, now-familiar, crew. Uncharted 4, and the series overall, may not be the deepest, but it knows what it wants to be and fully embraces its identity to wonderful effect. I'll give this final adventure a 5/5.

#2 Ratchet and Clank (2016)(PS4)



Since the initial entry on the PS2, I've always been very fond of the Ratchet and Clank Series. They've always been such an intoxicating mix of wonderful humor, quirky characters, excellent visuals, and just-deep-enough gameplay to really be the whole package. And the fictional space setting always scratches the right itch for me as well. The series is really about as "for everyone" as a game series could be in my view. But it's been a while since I last took an adventure with the Lombax and his mechanical companion, and I figured it was about time to set things right.

The first thing that hit me with this reimagining of the initial PS2 installment on the PS4 was how stunning everything looked. Insomniac are really technical wizards. Everything is so clean, sharp, and vibrantly alive with color. And stylistically, the characters and environments tempt with a playful and incredibly inviting vibe. I find myself just wanting to spend time in this universe that Insomniac has created. Having played Uncharted 4 also this year, I was reminded of the friendly rivalry and collaborative relationship between Ted Price's studio and Naughty Dog over the years. Both studios are excellent at their craft and what they do, and Sony is so fortunate to have had a close relationship with both over the years - of course a bit closer with the Sony-owned Naughty Dog.

As for this entry in the Ratchet franchise, everything is just incredibly fun, like always. Getting new weapons and upgrading them for maximum mayhem is addictive as always. I enjoyed the two new items added to your arsenal in this installment - the Pixelizer - a shotgun that morphs enemies into 2D pixellated images that eventually break apart into little pixelized bits, and the Proton Drum which is an area of effect weapon that eventually shoots out electrical arcs stunning and killing enemies over a large space. I also love the little rewards that come from finding collectibles. I had a great time changing the appearance of the bolts to colorful balls of light (among other things) that, when coupled with a fully upgraded RYNO, left the screen in a glorious state of psychedelic chaos as bullets, "bolts" and enemies blurred into an overwhelming and indistinguishable visual feast. Playing with the various outfits, heads and screen filters also gave things a different flavor and feel.

Another plus for this entry was that I was enjoying myself so much, I found myself wanting to pursue the platinum trophy just to extend my time with the game. Usually I don't care about trophies, but when I'm having such a wonderful time, I sometimes find myself engaged in pursuing them. I played through the game five times in a row - more than needed for the Platinum, and that is something that I just don't do. I remember playing Resident Evil 4 back to back, long ago, and I'll occasionally do that if I'm really into a game, but I never play anything so many times in a row. Granted, after the first run and a half, it probably only took a little over an hour or so to complete with a maxed-out RYNO, so it does sound a bit more shocking than what it probably was - in terms of time commitment. But the point remains that I didn't want to put it down.

There are some minor points to make against the experience here. I thought the voice actor for Nefarious seemed to struggle to capture the character as well as he did in Up Your Arsenal (and other entries). I don't know if he was mailing it in or maybe the strain of doing that voice was just too much as he's gotten older, but I definitely noticed a downgrade in comparison to Up Your Arsenal. I was also pleased to find out that he was "Stan the Caddy" on Seinfeld when looking up information about the voice work - something I certainly didn't know. Also, although I love the character of Clank, I've never enjoyed his sections as much as the rest of the game, but they do provide a bit of space for the action to breath, so they do serve their purpose. On the whole though, I thoroughly loved this entry in the series, and it is an easy 5/5 for me.

#1 Out of the Park Baseball 18 (PC)



The crack of the bat, the smell of the grass, the thud of the ball hitting the leather, the long tension that builds in between moments of explosive action, the most majestic cathedrals in all of sport, and on and on and on I could go. I love everything about baseball. Growing up, baseball was life to me. I absorbed every drop of hardball I could, both on and off the field. And still to this day, diamond dirt courses feverishly through my veins, while for many others of my era and younger, it has been eradicated from their system. I adore the national pastime. In addition to that, I love numbers and statistics my personality orients strongly in that direction. So when you combine those aspects of who I am with my obvious love for gaming, Out Of The Park Baseball was a winner for me before the first pitch was ever thrown.

It's not like this is my first experience with sports simulations though. I've been a long-time Strat-O-Matic player, and I've also played Football Manager a fair bit. Being a numbers nerd, a hard core sports fan and a hard core gamer, the sports sim/management genre converges at a special cross-roads for me personally. If you want to be inundated with endless minutiae regarding all things baseball, OOTP will thoroughly satisfy any itch you could have in terms of hardball fantasy. It seeps deep into your bones, to the point that your team occupies all your free mental moments. You find yourself scrutinizing moves you have made as well as moves you are contemplating. You may find yourself looking up real world prognoses and estimated recovery times for injuries to your "fictional" players. (I use quotes because they seem so real. And, I've actually done this.) You obsess over protecting a guy on your 40-man who has a 20 rating because he had a really promising season in single A ball. You consider firing your scout because a new guy becomes available that has a legendary rating in evaluating amateur talent. Your team/your league becomes every bit as real as the actual sport in your mind after having spent significant time with your organization. Watching everything unfold is every bit as compelling as following the actual sport, and that is high praise indeed.

If you want customization options, this game has you covered. Everything can be tailored to suit your own personal preference of an experience. You want a cake-walk to glory, you can make the CPU a pushover for trading, and become the ruler of the dynasty you always wanted. For me, I like a challenge, so I make things as tough, yet realistic, as I can. You can set the rate at which players age/deteriorate and develop. You can determine the randomness factor for change in talent/performance so you get guys that can have flash-in-the-pan seasons of greatness, just like in the real game. It really goes as deep as you want.

In comparison to the aforementioned Strat-O-Matic, which I also love dearly, I have come to prefer OOTP. The prospect of watching not only your team, but entire organization and league, develop over as many years as you would like and building a history is much more compelling for me than replaying individual seasons, despite how much I love that. Also the ability to manage on a pitch-by-pitch basis is far more engrossing and representative of the actual sport. OOTP really seems like its own little baseball universe - shrunk down to be viewed from the comfort of your chair. Given the scope of the experience, there is admittedly quite a bit to digest in the beginning, but if you are a ravenous baseball fan, it's like an all-you-can-eat buffet of the finest foods.

All things considered, this game feels like it was tailor made for me. When I was very little, and not playing real baseball, I used to try to replicate baseball seasons on a pocket pinball baseball game I had. I would play game after game and keep records of the games on paper. But as much as I loved that little game, those small ball-bearings could never replicate the feeling of real players, of the real sport, without extensive use of my childhood imagination. OOTP takes that childhood fantasy, and brings it into reality. It is baseball nerd heaven. I think I need rehab.

* Note - Normally I don't consider replays for my yearly rankings, and I've played OOTP before, which is largely the same year to year, like most sports titles. However, I put so much time into OOTP 18 this year that I had to do give it its due. The pic represents the number of hours I played in 2018 alone. (I took the pic on January 2nd this year.) I got it in a humble bundle for a single dollar a while back and didn't start it until earlier in 2018, so my cost has worked out to around roughly .0018 cents per hour of entertainment at this point. I'd call that about as good a value for your entertainment dollar as you can find - without the slightest hyperbole. It's obviously by far my most-played (and enjoyed) game of 2018.