My 2017 in Games Blogging

A week early perhaps.

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It’s not quite the end of the year, but the next couple of Sunday’s are Christmas and New Year’s Eve respecively so I’m going to do this now.  Don’t complain, you get me earlier than usual.  What a Christmas treat!

Merry Christmas
You’re welcome

So I’ve enjoyed a full year of blogging now.  I’ve gone from reviewing every week, to interspersing reveiews with lists and such, to doing opinion pieces and lists with fewer reviews.  I’ve found that reviewing has been a bit of a chore this year, with me enjoying the games I want to play less than if I wasn’t reviewing them.  To that end I’ve played more and reviewed less which has been quite the treat!  Anyway, here are some things from the year.

In Blogging:

At the time of writing…

  • 62 Blog Posts
  • 1500+ likes
  • 1250+ comments

Most viewed post: Modern Gaming is a Bit Rubbish

I put up 2 posts near the start of the year, one about how modern gaming is awful, one about how it’s great.  Turns out people like to read negative stuff more!  Who knew?!

Least Viewed Post: Halo Wars 2

No sure why this one was so unpopular.  I suppose I put it up a couple of months after the game’s release.  The game was disappointing anyway.

Halo Wars 2 Atriox
Dull dull dull

Most liked post: Modern Gaming is a Bit Rubbish

Mmmm, you guys sure do love it when I have a good old whinge.

Post series: The XCOM War Logs

Whilst not a hugely read set of posts, I’ve enjoyed this series rather a lot as it’s allowed me to call out the repetative nature of the mission objectives and manage to get plenty of my friends murdered.

XCOM 2 Logo
You’ve never seen this picture posted here before.  NEVER!

The Future: I’ve also been writing for Big Boss Battle on the side, something that I’ve really enjoyed doing.  However, due to events at work, I’ve had to take on more reponsibility meaning I haven’t been able to commit to my site and writing for them too.  To that end, from next year, my reviews will be appearing on their site, with links to it on mine. Trying to maintain my blog, support an excellent website, as well as put more time into my job has left me exhausted.  I hope you’ll continue to read my content elsewhere in the future.

Big Boss Battle Logo
These guys. They’re pretty cool.

In Gaming:

At the time of writing…

  • 54 games completed
  • 39 games added to the backlog

First game completed this year: Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate

Christ, I enjoyed this game for the first 5 hours, then the next 40 were an utter slog.  Why did I bother finishing it?  Lesson learned if I’m honest.

Most recent game completed: Super Mario Odyssey

Oh I’ve finished the story, but there is no way I’m finished with this.  It’s rare enough for me to mess around with post game content, so that might go some way to telling you how much I enjoyed this.

Super Mario Odyssey logo
More like this please.  It’s just so charming!

The Future: I’ve been thinking about clearning out my backlog (especially my Steam one) a lot lately, but having recently purchased a Switch, I don’t see that happening any time soon.  Added to that, seeing as I’m going to be writing for B3 a lot more, I’m more likely to be playing newer indie games for review.  But we’ll see what happens!

Before I finish up, thank you any and all of you for taking even a minute out of your busy lives to read the tripe that I post week after week.  Knowing that even a handful of people have read what I have to say (write?) makes me feel incredibly happy and, yes, validated.  With that in mind, here’s a song about feeling validated.

I’m Rob, and Here’s What I’ve Been Playing – 26/11/17

Video games mainly.

Everything in gaming has to be the Dark Souls of something right now, but Ruiner really did remind me of the series. It’s closer to Bloodborne really, as it’s very fast paced, has a huge reliance on stamina management (you have limited dodges), and the bosses are brutally tough.  Even the standard enemies can destroy you if you’re careless.  You really have to learn the bosses tells and set up your build carefully to have a chance.  I found it a little frustrating at times but I absolutely loved the experience.  The final battle was intense and thrilling and made those earlier frustrations melt away.  I finished it on normal mode and it was just on the wrong side of difficult for my liking, but I really enjoyed it.

Ruiner
I couldn’t get any screenshots of when it was all going crazy as you cam’t lose concentration for a split second.

XCOM 2 continues to fill up my PC gaming time.  You can catch up on the ever continuing campaign here if you’re so inclined.  The War of the Chosen expansion really does add a lot of content, with new enemies and different factions changing how you might approach a certain situation.  These changes really compound the challenge of the main game in which you have too many options and not enough time.  Still, more XCOM is always a good thing to my mind.

XCOM 2 Logo
Haven’t seen this image in at least 4 days.

I finished >Observer_ not so long ago.  Coming from the team that made Layers of Fear meant that I had pretty high expectations for this one.  It had certain things in common with it (the controls, the changing environments, and the shonky framerate) but it didn’t have nearly the same impact for some reason.  The story surrounds your character searching for his son in a locked down appartment complex.  You can enter the memories of different characters which leads to some genuinely interesting environments to explore, some of which were very unsettling.  I found the “real world” uninteresting to explore though, and often found myself feeling a little bit lost if only for a short while which broke up the pace for me.  It’s good, just not quite what I’d hoped for.

I also had a go at some of the “free” console games that have come out over the past couple of months.  Trackmania Turbo was fine, although the single player mode in it held very little interest.  There were some interesting tracks to download but I doubt it’ll hold my attention for long.  The same could be said of Just Cause 3.  I’m not a huge fan of open world games that have tons of filler content, and that’s exactly what this was.  Do a race, liberate a town, take over an outpost.  There were some great moments in which I would set off explosives to destroy EVERYTHING whilst escaping using a wing suit.  But with floaty controls, repetative content, and characters I couldn’t give a damn about, I was left with a game I doubt I’ll return to.

TM Turbo
It’s bright and colourful with a good sense of speed. I just didn’t care all that much.

I picked up The Evil Within 2 on the XBox Black Friday deals.  Surprisingly cheap for a game that’s been out barely a month.  I made my feelings on the original game fairly clear but I’ve heard that the follow up addresses most of the problems I had with it.  It’s not a huge loss if I don’t enjoy it, but time will tell on that front.  Here’s hoping for a good, solid, horror experience.

Evil Within 2
Well this looks like a nice friendly game.

Was I wrong about any of these?  More importantly, what have you been playing?  Something awesome no doubt.  Tell me about it!

I’m Rob, and here’s what I’ve been playing – 08/10/17

I’ve been playing games mostly.

One of my all time favourite games is Baldur’s Gate II.  I played an unbelievable amount of it over the years after it released.  And whilst I tried a number of other games set in the same world, even made with the same engine, I couldn’t find anything that hit me in the same way.  With recently releases like Tyranny and Pillars of Eternity bringing back those classic CRPGs, I decided to give one of them a try (and a thank you to my wife for buying it for me).

Baldur's Gate 2
I haven’t played the Enhanced Edition, but any enhancement on perfection can only be a good thing.

So Torment: Tides of Numenera turned out to be pretty damn great.  The main plot and side stories were engaging, the characters were varied and interesting, and the gameplay allowed you to deal with situations in a lot of different ways.  Pity about the bugs and the occasional difficulty spikes.  Still, there was a world full of different (and often very creative) things to discover and I enjoyed my time there.

Torment
Torment is pretty great. I haven’t played the original so I don’t know how it ties in.

My wife bought me Nier: Automata for my birthday.  This is a game I’ve been wanting to play since release and now I might finally get around to it.  Pretty much anything made by Platinum grabs my interest by the simple virtue of my having never played a game made by them that I didn’t immediately adore.  Metal Gear Rising anyone?  I’ll get onto this one pretty soon I think.

Nier Automata
I’ve been very keen to give this one a try. Platinum tend to make very good character action games and I’ve yet to play one that’s disappointed me.

Another birthday present I received that I’m very keen to try is Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu.  Our family would play Pandemic a lot, so any opportunity to play more of it is welcome.  I had heard of this one but didn’t know anything about it.  Having read the instructions, I’m quite excited to give it a try as this feels like more than a simple reskin.  The game plays in mostly the same way but with some significant twists, such as Old Ones rising and altering the game’s rules in place of epidemics.  Plus the board looks gorgeous which certainly helps.

 

Cthulhu
Fear great Cthulhu! And my carpet.

I picked up Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite at the weekend ago on a whim.  I enjoy playing Street Fighter V with my daughter and figured something with Marvel characters in might be fun.  We’ve enjoyed playing it together (although I regret playing as Dormamu at one point as he seemed to scare her a bit), but I haven’t touched the story mode yet.  Personally I find the gameplay a little too…floaty?  I don’t think that’s the right word.  But I feel like none of the attacks really have any impact.  I do enjoy fighting games, in spite of being terrible at them, but this one’s moment to moment action hasn’t grabbed me as well as I’d hoped.

Thanos
Still don’t want to get into a fist fight with this chap.

My new PC finally arrived, ready to take on some games that need a GPU more powerful than a cheese sandwich.  I’ve yet to really try anything particularly taxing on it, but I didn pick up the XCOM 2 expansion and I’m keen to give it a play.  Any opportunity to hop back into that game is one I happily take.

XCOM 2 Faceless
Hopefully my new computer will be able to run this at more than 30 FPS

Oh, and I downloaded and played Final Fantasy: All the Bravest.  But more on that another time…

So what about you?  Have you started up anything new and/or fun recently?  Something freshly released?  Or maybe back to the backlog or a classic that you’re returning to?  Let me know!

I’m Rob, and Here’s What I’ve Been Playing – 10/09/17

I’m struggling to get motivated to write up individual games that I have finished in the last few weeks, so instead here’s a quick look at what I’ve been playing this week!

Memes
Gotta have memes. Does this count as memes?

Year Walk – iOS 

Year Walk
Year Walk (2013)

This was on sale for £1 a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been intending to try it for a while due to it’s interesting art style and supposedly creepy atmosphere. I’ve racked up a whole 20 minutes so far and would consider it a modernised point and click adventure. It makes good use of touch controls but I feel mechanics are under explained. I had no idea I could spin a dolls head around to make it dance to give me a clue. Standard point and click moon logic.

Year Walk
I don’t know what this is!

I’m going to persevere with this one though. I like the atmosphere, and the sound is excellent. I’m sure there’s a story too but it’s quite unclear right now. I can always pop open a guide to get an idea of what to do next if I’m stuck too. Not bad so far!

Destiny – Xbox One

Destiny
Destiny (2014)

Yep, the first one.  Not that new fangled fancy one with all the graphics and whatnot.  A friend of mine happened to have a spare disc of the base game and gave it to me which I’m very grateful for.  So far I’ve reached level 16 as a Warlock.  It was fairly easy to start with but some of the Strikes can get rather overwhelming with the sheer volume of enemies.

Destiny
A promo shot, yes. But a pretty one nonetheless.

I’m enjoying it all the same.  The combat is pretty satisfying for the most part and the ever increasing power of item drops is as addictive as ever.  The bosses are a bit bullet spongy for my liking, taking far longer to put down than I’d like, but I’m having fun with it for now!

Redout – Xbox One

Redout
Redout: Lightspeed Edition (2017)

Big thanks to B3 for providing me with the review code for this one (keep an eye out there for the review popping up).  I reviewed this last week and found it to be ludicrously fast.  It’s somewhat like Wipeout and other anti-gravity racers, but with the speed turned up to infinity.

Redout
This is the fastest racing game I’ve played bar none. Still a really fun time though!

In addition to the speed, it’s also insanely hard.  I reached Class 3 (of 4) before finding it a little too hard to finish races anywhere above last due to my feeble old man reactions not being up to snuff.  Thankfully the quick restart times meant I could plug away at it for a while without sitting around on a loading screen.  It’s incredibly polished but some might consider it to be (cliché alert!) the Dark Souls of anti-grav racers.

Spaceballs
Yep. There was no way I was missing an opportunity to include this.

Elder Sign – PC

Elder Sign: omens
Elder Sign: Omens (2011)

It may surprise you to learn that I like board games rather a lot.  The difficulty is sometimes getting a group together to play, but also the setup and tear down times (Marvel Legendary is great fun but now takes about 20 minutes to set up thanks to all the expansions).  For this reason, I like that digital versions of great board games are available.  Elder Sign: Omens is based on the board game of the (almost) same name and involves dice rolls being assigned to events to earn the titular elder signs with the goal of preventing ancient gods of Lovecraft’s stories from devouring the world!

Elder Sign: Omens
A lot of the game is spent here, deciding on your current characters move before chucking those dice!

As a digital version, it sticks to the board game rather well, with plenty of different challenges and characters to choose from.  BUT.  Where is the multiplayer?!  Yes, I suppose you could play it locally by hot seating, but there is no online whatsoever.  Considering you could play and finish a game of this in around 20 minutes, an online co-op mode would fit right in.  Throw in a chat box and you have a pretty complete system.  I have no idea why this would be omitted.  Still, it’s fun to play here and there as it is.

So how about you?  What are you playing?  Anything good?  Something terrible?  Let me know below, and happy gaming!

 

Games with Gold for September 2017

This months Games with Gold have just cropped up! Whilst they are (mostly) pretty good, I’m disappointed to already own most of them. If only I’d waited!

Forza Motorsport 5 – A pretty good game even by today’s standards, but very limited in terms of cars compared to more recent outings. Would rather a more recent racer be included.

Oxenfree – I loved this game when it came out. Still do now! It’s a narrative driven walking simulator of sorts. There are consequences for your conversation choices leading to a number of different endings. It’s about 4 hours long (which is great for me) and the characters are what make the experience worthwhile.

Hydro Thunder Hurricane – This is the one I haven’t played. Jet ski racing I suppose! Might be good, might be awful.

Battlefield 3 – I’m sure I don’t need to go into this. Lots of military shooty bang bangs. The campaign was reasonably fun and the multiplayer still holds up fairly well. I imagine this release will see an increase in he online player base.

What do you reckon to this month’s offerings?

The Happiness Tag

Happiness is contagious. Or so I’ve been told.

Thanks to Google for the pictures and all that.

I have been informed that I make people “happy”!  Anyone who knows my teaching style will be aware that happiness is an emotion I try to avoid conveying during my lessons.  I prefer “bitter teacher, resentful of the youth of today” but if happiness is something I’m providing through blogging, then so be it!  Vahrkalla of V V Games recently posted a blog also entitled The Happiness Tag and pointed out that I am a blogger providing happiness to the masses.

Crazy Happy emoji
Look at how happy I’m making you all! LOOK! YOU ARE THIS HAPPY!

I’ll actually say thank you to him for the tag.  I’ve had a few of these “award” tags recently and I haven’t got around to posting my responses to them which I think looks fairly bad so I’m going to use this one to catch up.

Rules and such:

  • List 5 things that make you happy
  • List 5 songs that make you happy
  • List 5 bloggers that make you happy

Things

1. Video Games

So this one seems pretty obvious considering the theme of my blog, but gaming keeps me centred most of the time.  Good day or bad, I like to play something in the evening (or at any opportunity really).  I tend to stick to one or two games at a time so I don’t lose track of story/controls/other things but regardless of what I’m currently playing, coming back to having a game or two of it makes me happy.

2. Family

This seems like a bit of a cop-out, of course family makes me happy.  I love my wife and my daughter is amazing (she’s 4 and likes playing Street Fighter…) so, you know, happy stuff.  I’m also fond of my in-laws and my sister (don’t tell her) and her family and have just come back from a big group holiday that consisted of a week of beaches, BBQs and board games.  Happy times!

3. Whisky

Look, don’t judge me alright!  I know the idea of booze making me happy would be somewhat frowned upon, but I like whisky.  I don’t drink it to excess, but I tend to have a a glass or two over the course of a week.  Unlike my experience with most spirits, I find whisky interesting because almost every brand is different.  I love trying a single malt that I haven’t had before and comparing it to previous bottles in the never ending effort to find a new favourite (Talisker is the long time reigning champion of my mouth.  Yes, you read that right).

4.  Walking

I’m in the enviable position of living about 3 miles from work meaning I can walk to and from work every day.  It’s a great way to start and end my day, and whilst I have to leave the house very early in the morning, it allows me to reduce stress at the end of the day and get home in a better mindset that if I’d been stuck in traffic for the past 20 minutes.  Plus I can listen to podcasts and audiobooks.

5. Books

Right, I like to read books from time to time but I never really have time to do so.  I’m also a pretty slow reader for no particular reason.  This ties in with my previous reason, because I’m really glad to have Audible and the chance to spend around an hour and a half walking every day.  Rather than reading I can listen to the books on my travels.  I’ve been listening to the Dark Tower series recently as well as Yahtzee Crowshaw’s books.  I especially enjoyed Under the Dome as an audiobook.  It was like having a drama series in my ears with a new episode every day.

Songs

If you do one thing with your day, make it listening to these.

1. Superman by Goldfinger

2. Blitzkrieg by Reuben

3. Buck Rogers by Feeder

4. Second Solution by The Living End

5. (Don’t Fear) The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult

Bloggers

This is easily the most difficult one.  Choosing only five bloggers of the large number I read is tricky, but here are five for your delectation.  I’ve gone for ones I’ve followed more recently.  Do read their words!

Neko Jonez

The Dragon’s Tea Party

Musings of a Mario Minion

SquareBlind

The Video Game Virtuoso

Good evening to you all!

1 Year (and a bit) of Blogging – 12 months of this drivel

I’ve spent 12 months (and a couple of weeks, I didn’t keep track well enough) writing about games.  12 months (and a bit).  52 weeks (and a bit).  365 days (and a…I’ll stop).  I wasn’t sure I’d spend a single month doing this, but I’ve enjoyed it and found a lovely community of like minded people to share my tripe with.  And some of you read it.  And some of you even seem to enjoy it!  Madness!

Celebration Balloons
Balloons. For celebrating. Which is what I’m doing!

In that time I have:

  • Posted 57 blogs.
  • Had 3500(ish) people read this rubbish, which will seem like loads to some and next to nothing to others.
  • Had 185 (or so) people follow this nonsense.  Thank you to you all for your charity!
  • Received 475(ish) comments on this crap (excluding my responses), with The Shameful Narcissist, Vahrkalla, Defy The Majority, Lightning Ellen and Athena being the main culprits!
  • Been signed up to write for Big Boss Battle who are lovely and write lots of lovely words!  You should read them too!
  • Completed a 24-hour charity gaming marathon raising nearly £300 (thank you to everyone who contributed either money, time, or even just attention).
  • And other things that aren’t blogging related.  Like work stuff.  And family things.
  • And it all started with this poorly written tosh: Rainbow Six: Siege.
Sun_Apr_10_21-43-15_UTC%2B0100_2016
Mission Successful is right, screenshot!

This is shorter than most of my posts, but thank you to anyone who has spent even 5 minutes looking at this random collection of words at any point in the past year.  Knowing that even one person has read it is a lovely feeling, and you should all know that I fully intend to keep on writing combinations of words for your eyeholes to absorb.  Sorry about that!

The Surge
Expect a post on this at some point this year. Dark Souls with robots?! Sign me up!

And to you fine people, keep on writing too!  I love reading what you have to say and I want to carry on reading!  Enjoy what you’re doing, because I enjoy it too.  Here’s to another 12 months (or so).