Did you really think a 24-hour gaming marathon would stop me?
Well, the charity marathon was a success! Over £400 raised by a whole host of beautiful people as my eyes gradually tried to escape from my head in protest over the incoming deluge of colours. It was pretty great though. Anyway, a sane person may be off games for a little while afterwards. I was not, and I played a few things.
I started the remake/rerelease/remaster/whatever they’re calling it of Shadow of the Colossus during said marathon, and I finished it during the week. It was pretty great, but the final colossus annoyed me a little bit. Still, it was a hell of a game and I kind of want to go and have a go at a few of the time trials for fun. Just not the final one or the sand snake one. They can sod off.
I started on last month’s Xbox Games with Gold offering: Shadow Warrior. Also a remake which tells me a lot about the current state of gaming. Anyway, it’s ok. It hasn’t grabbed me to the point of wanting to play it, but equally it hasn’t put me off the the extent I want to quit. It feels like the definition of average to me, although I can see that it’s actually really quite good, just not for me. The sword is fun to use though.
I finished Q.U.B.E. fairly quickly and had a fairly good time with it. The puzzles were satisfying to solve, and just on the right side of difficult so that you feel smart for solving them without being so easy you finish it in no time. That said, there were some physics puzzles that were annoying. They’re the sort where you know what the solution is, but you need to various objects to do what you want them to. Those were a little frustrating, but I did enjoy playing it, and the story had a good element of mystery to it. I also played Q.U.B.E. 2, but I can’t say anything about that yet because of embargo shenanigans. Suffice to say, it is a game. Let’s move on.
Managed to get started on Mario + Rabbids this week, but I’ve only played around 20 minutes so far so there’s very little I can say. At any rate, it seems like fun but it has XCOM to live up to, so good luck plumber and rabbit…monster…things.
Past Cure also got played. You may have seen a little about this around the internet (and especially one Twitter), most of which hasn’t been terribly flattering. It’s not great by any stretch, but that is very disappointing as you can see that the developers genuinely wanted to make something good. There were some really interesting parts of the game, in particular the nightmare sections, but the story was convoluted and the gameplay was fairly bland. The cutscene animations are mostly gorgeous which seems to be where the bulk of the budget went. A pity, and I hope the developers don’t give up and try to make something with a smaller scale.
In hindsight, I seem to have played a surprising amount in the past week and a bit! Go me! What about you though? Have you had anything good on the cards? Or something terrible? Let me know and I’ll add it to my never ending “to play” list!
Well, it’s time to end this! The aliens have been melting people down and turning them into something or other. I really haven’t been paying attention, but I assume they’re bad because the game tells me so. The first part of our job is to interrupt an alien broadcast to the world, and expose their grand plan before it’s too late. The only people I’d trust in for this are Andrew (“Terminator”), Faizan (“Beast”), and Karl (“Lightning”). So apparently aliens run TV studios in the same way we do. But with more robo-guards. A gradual move across the rooftop sees our team find a small patrol. Annoyingly, they also find themselves flanked by a second patrol, needing careful positioning to get out unscathed. Every time we try to advance, there seems to be another patrol waiting in the wings to push us back. Karl takes a few wounds as we move back and forth on the narrow walkways. He gets in sight of the central console used to broadcast the aliens signals and attempts to hack whilst Andrew and Faizan cover him. Karl‘s IT skills do not fail him, and the network is under our control. There’s also the unexpected side effect of melting the brains of the nearby naughty aliens. Job done!
With the alien’s plans revealed, there’s only one thing left to do: go and smack the ever living hell out of their fortress. Which is in the middle of the ocean. This being such a key mission, we send only our best, highest ranking soldiers. Heather (“Boomstick”), Stuart (“Cyber”), Tim (“Big Money”), Josh (“Outrider”), Bobbilyann (“Shooter”), and Emma (“Warden”) head in to get the job done. We are joined by our Commander’s Avatar (still not a blue cat person) who looks about as anime as you can get in this game.
Early exchanges result in Josh taking some wounds, but otherwise we seem unscathed. Heather and Emma manage to flank the enemy squad to finish them off. Stuart finds himself under threat from a Sectopod mech but stands his ground as Tim and the Avatar blast it into submission. The rest of the aliens retreat once their tank has fallen, but we give chanse quickly enough! The commander mind controls an alien for fun (and to use as a scout) as we continue onwards into the aliens stronghold. Heather and Emma have very little to do as their side of the area seems fairly clear. Bobbilyann though manages to take out near on every enemy in the area from long range. She misses not a single shot.
Josh finds himself wounded again, thanks to some sort of acid bomb, but he drags himself onwards with some healing from Stuart. The most recent encounter has destroyed a great deal of cover. Hopefully we won’t be exposed as we move ahead. Thankfully we get through the open ground and come across a minor squad of aliens. Josh and Stuart ably cover the Avatar with no injury.
Of course, that would be too easy. We find ourselves up against 2 Gatekeepers with their entourage. Tim opens our account by launching a grenade into the mix. Huge levels of concentrated fire put the enemies down, but not before Stuart takes a few hits. He continues to heal the squad whilt they deal the damage, eventually leading to a successful battle. And with that, we arrive at the aliens’ inner sanctum, and confront their Avatar.
It comes out swinging by summoning a large number of aliens to fight alongside it. Heather is mind controlled but after getting too close but Bobbilyann puts down the culprit quickly. Just as their Avatar falls, and victory seems at hand, another one arrives with more soldiers. The odds are looking overwhelming so Emma looks to reduce their numbers with a well placed rocket. Though damage was caused, no aliens fell. Bobbilyann is a one woman killing machine though, putting down anything in sight to keep the team together. Meanwhile, out Avatar is psychically blowing up aliens left, right, and centre which is incredibly satisfying.
The never ending alien parade continues with another Avatar arriving to join the party. Obviously we’re not giving up (because it’s a video game!) so we take the fight to one of them. One of the Avatar’s moves closer to us, allowing Josh to use his Banish ability that lets him empty an entire magazine into a target. It’s a powerful ability and has the desired result. Unfortunately in all the chaos, Heather and Emma are mind controlled, with very little we can do about it. They end up being rather exposed as more aliens turn up. Tim is wounded by one of them whilst the aliens try to take out Bobbilyann.
Just as things were looking dire, Heather’s mind control fails. Her vulnerable position suddenly becomes a lot more beneficial as she charges towards the Avatar that had messed with her brain and shotguns it DIRECTLY IN THE FACE. With their final Avatar defeated, we get a very anime cutscene signalling the end of our campaign and a teaser that suggests more XCOM to come. Maybe even a return to the classic XCOM sequel…
And that’s game! I hope you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I have. If another XCOM is released I’ll be sure to do another run. You know, as an excuse to play more XCOM.
Heather “Boomstick” – Ranger (Bond: Stuart)
Rob “Wildchild” – Grenadier *DECEASED* 12 missions/35 kills
Straight into an important mission here! Well, it sounds important: we have to investigate some brain co-ordinates for reasons. Tom, Kerry (“Hollywood”), Eugene (“Gunner”), Heather (“Boomstick”), Stuart (“Cyber”), and Faizan (“Beast”) get ready for brain hunting! Tom gets to go into action with one of our sweet exo suits that comes with a free rocket launcher! Order now for Christmas delivery! Anyway, after an underwhelming landing on a roof, we move forward to find a group of aliens! A shock, I know. He gets us started with his new toy by blowing up most of the group of aliens whilst the rest of the team finish off the stragglers. Good start! Then the Chryssalids turn up. Remember the zombie making spider monsters? Well that start by trying to infect Stuart (who is apparently immune to zombie viruses now) and Eugene and Faizan team up to take the first one down before any serious damage is done. Turns out the bastards are hiding in the ground. One leaps out to attack Heather but gets a sword straight to the face before it can cause any harm. We find the alien brain co-ordinates. Turns out it’s some sort of warp gate with an alien eye robot defending it. Looks tough, but luckily we have enough ammunition to grind it down before it can get a shot off. The mission is a success!
We get the call to go and neutralise an alien! The thought we’d been doing plenty of that, but we’re ordered to deal with a specific one. Kerry (“Hollywood”), Rob (“Wildchild”), Paul (“Solo”), Richard, Caroline (“Sentinel”), and Nick (“Slider”) get their shooting on. Very little shooting to start with as we sneak our way around. Before long though, we come across a lot of aliens, including our target. Rather than doing anything even close to sensible, Rob launches a grenade to kill the target straight away, but sets off all the other aliens at once. Cue chaos, as the rest of the team pick off aliens as we madly dash for the evac ship. Rob (deservedly) catches fire under an alien assault, whilst Kerry covers the rest of the team from her vantage point. It’s not enough for Rob though, as his wounds mount and he eventually succumbs to them. Rather than try to fight, the rest of the team get out of site as quickly as possible and make a run for it. Nick gets out first, followed by Richard. It looks pretty bad for the rest of the team though as they are blocked off from the evac point by some tough robots. Paul tries to fight his way past a huge robot, but sadly does not make it out alive. Caroline manages to charge past and escape but Kerry is cut off by an equally large number of soldiers and is also killed. A successful mission, but at what cost! Richard earns the nickname “Wolfman”
There is little time to worry about the previous mission sadly, as we are immediately called to “liberate” some alien resources. Andrew (“Terminator”), Bobbilyann (“Shooter”), Josh (“Outrider”), Emma (“Warden”), Leanne, and Tom bravely step into the fray. Bobbilyann takes up a vantage point to cover the team as they move in on the cache of supplies, spotting a group of enemies in the process. Josh picks off one of them to get the action started. Leanne, Tom, and Andrew team up to put the rest of the squad away in spectacular fashion. Of course, it wouldn’t be XCOM if things went smoothly, so we end up with a zombie swarm turning up. The team thin the herd whilst Emma gathers up the alien caches as far as she possibly can. Everyone gets a little happy with the grenades to keep the horde at bay, causing more zombies to take notice. Emma manages to acquire a lot of the aliens supplies for us, but finds herself somewhat alone when confronted by alien forces. Luckily, they are pre-occupied with the zombies, giving her a slim chance to escape whilst Tom and Leanne run in to support. In spite of this, Emma suffers some severe injuries. If it weren’t for Bobbilyann and Andrew putting up some serious damage, she would likely have met the same fate as so many of our previous team members. with that monster defeated, it’s time to head home. Leanne earns the nickname “Solar” whilst Tom is now known as “Cougar”.
We need to go and do a thing. I didn’t bother reading this one, I just assumed it involved shooting aliens. Harry (“Psy”), Pat (“Hat Trick”), Rhodri (“Papa Bear”), Andrew (“Terminator”), Stuart (“Cyber”), and Josh (“Outrider”) head out to do just that. Turns out we have to go and find a data vault or something. A slow move forward to begin with was a mistake as it turns out it’s on a timer before it explodes! Best get a wiggle on then. Andrew seems to have picked up a trait of randomly firing on enemies that he sees. This revealed our position and caused all hell to break loose. Rhodri and Harry found themselves in good positions to take down a mech whilst Josh was quite exposed forcing him to fall back before opening fire and instantly putting down a significant threat. Taking the rest out was pretty light work and things are going well. Then the big guns roll out in the form of a Gatekeeper (the big eye thing from earlier). Andrew takes a huge kicking from it but somehow stays upright. Stuart makes his move on the target and hacks it successfully, leaving us to clean out the rest of the enemies. Pat provides cover from on high, picking off threats, whilst the rest of the team works to take down the Gatekeeper. With concentrated fire, we finally put it down with only minor injuries to Stuart Job done!
One of our contacts gets in touch to ask us to rescue a survivor from some event or other. There’ll be zombies in the area, so we send Heather (“Boomstick”), Tim (“Big Money”), Faizan (“Beast”), Leanne (“Solar”), Bobbilyann (“Shooter”), and Karl (“Lightning”) off for some target practice. Things start horribly with Bobbilyann alerting the enemy to our location as she heads straight for the VIP. Karl moves up to rescue her whilst the rest of the team deal with a Sectopod. In spite of the early setback, Bobbilyann carries on towards the VIP as the team hold back the zombie horde that obviously turned up. Tim does a top job of mowing down the zombies as we move the VIP towards the evac point, whilst Faizan empies his whole magazine trying to hold of the horde chasing us. Other than a couple of minor cuts and bruises, we make it out pretty unscathed. An easy job in all!
The final few missions approach. This will all be over by Christmas. In a good way. With any luck no one else will get killed by my carelessness…
The team as it stands:
Heather “Boomstick” – Ranger (Bond: Stuart)
Rob “Wildchild” – Grenadier *DECEASED* 12 missions/35 kills
2017 was the year of the loot box. Random chance to get something good in exchange for hard cash started cropping up every other game. It’s not gambling though because the people making money from them say so. The thing is though, 2017 was actually an incredible year for games. You could exchange hard cash for pretty much any box in a game store this year and the chance of getting something good was pretty damn high. That was a very laboured way of saying “Loot boxes suck” and “Amazing games came out”.
I played surprisingly few of the big name games this year, so the bulk of the favourite games this year were lower tier releases. Even then, narrowing it down to just five was very difficult. At any rate, here are the best gaming experiences I had this year. I’ve included all the games I’ve played down the bottom, just in case you think I missed something…
A story driven FPS/walking simulator with a bizarre, horror themed story. You play Cole Black (he’s a manly man!) on a mission for find out where the hell he is and what happened to the girl with a bomb strapped to her that he was trying to rescue. Within an hour, you find yourself in an abandoned asylum with a machine that allows you to enter your memories and begin to unravel just what the hell is going on.
Yes, the FPS sections are flawed, and the stealth doesn’t work quite as well as I might hope, but there really isn’t another game that plays like this. There are events that play out differently depending on your choices without make these choices explicit, the game plays with interconnected memories in interesting ways, and the sound and music is fantastic. It’s not perfect, but it’s well priced and I doubt you’ll have played anything quite like it before.
Damn I loved this one. Four seemingly unconnected stories told in very different ways, culminating in a final revelation. I won’t say more from a story standpoint as it really should be experienced with as little prior knowledge as possible on that front. I will say that it’s a very well put together package. It starts out as a text adventure that seems to have more power over you than you over it. A bizarre point and click adventure and puzzle game involving microfilms follow before culminating in a walking simulator of sorts.
I know, I’m not really selling it at all. But it’s a great couple of hours for a low price and it’s very unlikely that you’ll have played anything quite like it before. I have a soft spot for games that mess with your expectations, and this one certainly does that. Plus, the intro music will stick in your mind for weeks after.
Super Mario Odyssey
Look, I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon, but this is just a fantastic game. I’ve never really been a big fan of the 3D Mario games, finding the controls a pain and the hunt for whatever the magic item is this time. But this was a wonderful experience. The environments are interesting and creative, it’s utterly beautiful, and the capture mechanic! Taking over the body of you enemies (as horrifying that may be for a Mario game) was a masterstroke in creative platforming and puzzles. The caterpillar creatures in the Lost Kingdon are adorable and fun the play as.
At the time of writing, I haven’t finished the main story, but as I understand it, there’s a lot more high quality content after completing it, which is saying something when the content already there is quite so good. I can see me spending a lot of time playing this. I bought a Switch especially for this game, and I don’t for a moment regret that.
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen
Yes it’s an expansion rather than a new game BUT I DON’T CARE DAMMIT! I’ve kept it a closely guarded secret, but I’ll tell you anyway. I really like XCOM. I’m sure those War Log posts didn’t make it obvious. Anyway, War of the Chosen is what an expansion should be. It changes the game in so many ways, adding new ways to play and increasing your power, but also putting dangerous new enemies in your path. The titular chosen can be a significant thorn in your side if you don’t deal with them, but dealing with them means you have to put off dealing with the greater alien threat. Deciding what to do when is even more important than ever.
To keep you in the game, you have access to new factions that grant you very powerful soldiers. The sniper rifle wielding Reapers can detonate explosives at will, whilst the Skirmishers draw enemies in to finish them at close range. Templars use psychic powers to control the battlefield by putting up new points of cover and making enemies more vulnerable. The number of new options in this is fantastic, and when coupled with an already impressive base game you have yourself one hell of a package.
I’m not going to pretend this is anything other than a stunning creative success. Platinum’s trademark fast paced combat combined with the most bonkers yet simultaneously devastating story in a genuinely interesting world is one of the best things I have played this year. For a couple of weeks all I wanted was to get home from work and play more.
I, like many others, had not played the original Nier. Whilst the story here does tie into the previous game (and a number of others in fact) it isn’t needed in the slightest to enjoy this. The cast of characters, the world itself, the brilliant combat that changes styles constantly. And the music! The music is incredible! Being told I had to play through the game three times to see the real ending put me off this one for a while, but each playthrough is so utterly different that it makes each one feel like an almost new experience. If you haven’t played it, play it.
SUPER SPECIAL BONUS MENTION!
Doki Doki Literature Club
Oooooh if there’s one game this year that I would class as the most memorable, it would be this. A few paragraphs back I mentioned that I have a soft spot for games that mess with your expectations, and this manages that and then some. It’s a free visual novel in which you join the school’s literature club and find it run by a number of attractive girls! This is a visual novel, so obviously you set about trying to impress them with your poetry. I will say no more than this: I knew it was going to subvert my expectations (thanks to the Steam reviews), but the way it went about it thoroughly surprised me.
If you do play it (and you really should), it takes about 3 hours before things start to really happen, so do play through the early stages, even if you find them tiresome (I did). And carry on playing even after it ends. There’s a lot of great stuff here and I can’t talk about it without spoiling it!
Below is the list of games that I played this year. It was stunningly hard to pick out 5 from a list of such stupendous games. I didn’t want to overlook The Sexy Brutale thanks to its inventive puzzles and memorable music. Late Shift was a genuinely enjoyable FMV experience. Everspace combined rogue-lites with a space sim to create something quite unique. The Evil Within 2 surprised me by not being nearly as bad as the first one and turning out to be a genuinely fun experience. And that soundtrack! 2017 should go down as another one of those years that should be brought up when anyone asks what the best year in gaming was.
How about you? What would you suggest for a list like this? Have I got it utterly wrong? Obviously I haven’t, but you’re welcome to argue. Let me know!
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!
Well, we start of with some serious business! Emma and Josh improve their bond. Yep. Thrilling stuff right there.
But then! Aliens attack a civilian target, forcing Nick, Dave (“Ether”), Karl (“Lightning”), Eugene (“Gunner”), Kerry (“Hollywood”), and Paul (“Solo”) into action! Cryssalids are the first thing we run into. They have too many legs, so Nick proceeds to try to shoot them off. He misses of course and needs Paul to bail him out. The problem with cryssalids is that they’re bloody fast and can infect people to turn into them. Before long we end up with a large horde to deal with. Dave uses his psychic knives to clear a path, allowing Paul to rescue some civilians…who turn out to be shape shifting flesh monsters. Going from bad to worse here! This time Nick rescues Paul before any real damage can be done. Kerry makes a number of VERY long range shots to try to keep the team in this, but the numbers are overwhelming. Civilians are mutated left, right, and centre, whilst Dave suffers some severe wounds and sadly succumbs to the poison inflicted upon him whilst rescuing the few survivors. If not for him it likely would have been a lot worse for the team. As it stands, Karl and Eugene suffered some severe wounds, but everyone else made it out unscathed. Nick earned the nickname “Slider”…
No rest though! In spite of our losses, we head straight to an alien facility to slow down their weapons development. How? By shooting aliens of course! Ben, Nick (“Slider”), Heather (“Boomstick”), Kerry (“Hollywood”), Rob (“Wildchild”), and Rhodri (“Papa Bear”) head out to do just that. It starts badly, with a run into a group of mutons with an alien in a diving suit (reasons!) leaving Ben in a lonely position. Diving suit man destroys the tower Ben was hiding in, leaving him just clinging on to life. Concentrated fire put down this enemy, but not before Heather was spotted by a group of alien soldiers. Sadly, one decided to finish off Ben before Nick could get to him to heal him up. Another death! Pushing forward, we come across a fairly solid defence for the facility. Kerry and Rhodri team up to put down the biggest threats, allowing us to plant the charges to destroy the facility.
And now for a crucial mission. You may remember that Caroline (“Sentinel”) was abducted. Well, Stuart (“Cyber”), Heather (“Boomstick”), and Josh (“Outrider”) have found where she is being kept and are heading in to rescue her! A very gradual sneak along the sides of the compound means we avoid any contact with enemies. With such a small team, we can’t risk an all out gun fight here. Unfortunately the cells were well guarded and there was no way to avoid a fight. Heather was spotted by a guard on patrol and we were forced to break cover. Stuart took a quick shot to avoid any immediate damage to the team. Heather manages to hack the door and drags Caroline out whilst Josh provides cover. The facility is on full alert now and we have an enemy drop ship on the way in. With Josh out of ammo and Heather unable to fight back, we make a hasty retreat towards the evac point as Stuart holds back the aliensas best he can. The mission ends in success, which is a surprise considering our recent luck!
The time has now come! The final Chosen (the hunter) has been found and we’re going to go and murder his face off. He’s had it coming to be fair. I’m expecting this to be a disaster, but we send in Josh (“Outrider”), Emma (“Warden”), Andrew (“Terminator”), Danny (“Boom Boom”), Bobbilyann (“Shooter), and Lorna (“Ice”) anyway. Everyone is kitted out with our best equipment (including Emma in our first exo-suit) so our first battle goes by with little trouble. The second encounter looks a bit nastier, as an overly aggressive Lorna exposes us to a group of well armoured foes. She takes some early wounds as we try to drive them back. Danny goes grenade crazy and removes all the cover the aliens have, allowing the rest of the team to pick them off at their leisure. Hopefully we won’t need that sweet boom-fruit later on. Then there are the cryssalids. Remembe them? Time to murder more of them! Lorna and Andrew put them down whilst Emma provides healing support. And now, it’s time for the showdown. We pile into the magic transporter gate and prepare for shooty action! Progressing through the chamber reveals absolutely no opposition; it has that “it’s too quiet” feeling to it. Then, the hunter appears and it’s show time. Josh goes mental and empties an entire magazine into him, putting him down long enough to allow us to start taking down the hunter’s magic regeneration thing. SCIENCE! All it takes is a shot from each team member and it goes down, signalling victory! Much easier than I expected, and now the Chosen are no more.
Due to death and injury, our next mission is sent out with rookies and 3 (count ’em!) snipers. Leanne, Pat (“Hat Trick”), Kerry (“Hollywood”), Richard and, Catherine (“Longshot”) head into battle. A battle that turns into a huge mess of zombies. Catherine kicks us off with some fancy shootin’, but things get very messy, very quickly with a big shoot out in an abandoned building. Alien soldiers, our troops, and zombies in a three-way murder party. Richard has a tough time of it and he acts as zombie catnip, before the giant stompy robots show up to make things harder still. Massive amounts of concentrated fire bring it down, but not before it can demolish Pat’s cover, leaving her dangerously exposed. She suffers critical wounds and begins to bleed out. Thankfully the rest of the team clear out the surviving zombies and get her to the evac ship in time. Mission complete!
XCOM should only be consumed as part of a calorie controlled diet.
There’s only one Chosen left now. A hunter apparently. I reckon he’s friendly deep down, and just needs a hug.
First up, a quick job to rescue a Templar from some no good aliens. Catherine (“Longshot”), Eugene (“Gunner”), Rob (“Wildchild”), Pat (“Hat Trick”), Andrew (“Terminator”), and Bobbilyann (“Shooter”) head off to do some shooting. So 3 snipers then. It didn’t proove to be too much of a problem though. Catherine took some nasty injuries after being smacked in the face with a big stick, but that was about all the trouble we had. We reached the VIP only to find an ambush waiting! Such threat! Things started to get a bit hairy, so we beat a hasty retreat to escape with no more harm coming to us. Success once more!
Time to go and “Neutralize a target”. A nice vague way to say kill some aliens I’d say! Emma (“Warden”), Josh (“Outrider”), Kerry (“Hollywood”), Rob (“Wildchild”), Ben, and Rich head on out. With guns. It seems this target is pretty important as there’s a good number of enemies protecting it when we arrive. Emma takes some early wounds but we press on! it’s at this point the aliens decide to deploy the prototype of their most powerful weapon. The Avatar (not a blue cat person sadly) is a very powerful psychic that could mess us up. Thankfully, Emma, Josh, and Ben were in positions that allowed us to get the drop on him and force a retreat. Kerry blows a hole in the side of a building to get to our target, knocks him unconcious and carries him out towards the evac point! Just as reinforcements arrive and things start to look a little bad for us, Ben throws out an overwatch shot that detonates an alien flame-thrower unit, detonating it and wiping out the whole enemy squad! In spite of some serious injuries (Josh nearly burned to death), we make it out in one piece. Rich gets promoted to Ranger whilst Ben becomes a Sharpshooter.
We’ve found the location of an alien forge. Which sounds imposrtant so we’d better go and shoot some stuff. Bobbilyann (“Shooter”), Heather (“Boomstick”), Stuart (“Cyber”), Eugene (“Gunner”), Dave (“Ether”), and Nick head out to do just that! We find ourselves up against a Sectopod – a huge alien mech that quickly sets about wounding everyone. Stuart and Bobbilyann take some serious damage in the battle. Dave uses his psychic powers to find a weakness in its armour allowing the rest of the team to cause more damage to it, which is all the opening our expert soldiers need to put it out of comission. Getting closer to the facility, we find small patrols to deal with, but nothing as dangerous as the Sectopod. We find a pod (not of the secto variety) with a humanoid inside it, so obviously it needs stealing. Dave picks it up and we make a run for the evac. Nick misses a crucial shot leading to him being mind controlled by an alien. He starts taking shots at our own team, but Heather manages to disable the controlling alien, freeing Nick. After a run through enemy fire, everyone boards the evac ship and makes it out to treat those wounds.
Up next, hacking a workstation on a alien train! Because aliens use public transport now. Leanne, Tom, Ben, Caroline (“Sentinel”), Catherine (“Longshot”), and Paul (“Solo”) suit up for action. Turns out the whole place was crawling with zombies as well as aliens. A careless dash forward from Catherine revealed our location and lead to a full on fire fight. Ben empties an entire magazine to hold off the horde and keep the aliens from advancing. Just to add to the fun, our friendly Chosen hunter turns up. I’m sure we’ll have no trouble having put him down a couple of times already. He forces us out of cover multiple times, but Caroline manages to get close to the workstation, only for a zombie horde to block her path. This one is getting messy. Leanne and Tom put down countless zombies to allow Caroline to successfully hack the workstation, now to clear out the area. Tom finds himself taking some serious damage but is covered by Catherine from a rooftop. Love those snipers! Sadly they couldn’t protect Caroline, who was captured (but not killed!) by the Chosen hunter. We will get her back! Tom gets promoted to Ranger whilst Leanne gets promoted to Specialist.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Was I wrong about any of these? More importantly, what have you been playing? Something awesome no doubt. Tell me about it!