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A Year of Gaming II (October 2016 - September 2017)

Posted by g.k, 01 October 2017 · 5724 views

Hello friends,


Hard to believe a year has passed since the last installment. I have once again recorded the games I've finished in the past year. Here's the breakdown:


37 (PC)
5 (PS4)
5 (PS3)
1 (PS2)
Total = 48 games


An average of exactly 4 games per month, a handful fewer compared to last year (54). Once again the majority were on PC, but there was less diversity this year as I've moved and don't have access to all my consoles.



Five Favorites


Star Control II - My original experience with this game stems from playing Super Melee as a kid with my older brother. I finished the single-player mode about a decade ago, but with extensive help from a walkthrough. This time I decided to play without any assistance, and it was vastly different. Navigation of the huge starmap is tough, but manageable with some note-taking. You'll definitely need some patience to harvest resources for fuel, and then waste that fuel in pursuit of your next objective. I spent more than a few ~2-3 hour sessions essentially accomplishing nothing.


That doesn't affect the undeniable charm of this game, even 25 years on. The alien races are variously delightful, creepy, and fascinating, perfectly framed by catchy, mood-setting music and lovely animated drawings. Bewitching dialogue and world-building keeps you hungry for the next conversation, the next revelation about the history and fate of the galaxy. The sense of progression is spot-on, as you slowly transform your bare-bones Vindicator starship into a dominating force. Modern gamers might be put off by the near total lack of hand-holding, but this game was and is a treasure.


Life is Strange - A simple, oddly gripping adventure game that sticks with you more than it has any right to. The gameplay is highly streamlined. The dialogue has the unavoidably disingenuous ring of being written by a 40-year-old, who does a poor job of aping the slang his kids use. But the story manages to be emotionally resonant. Though similar in feel, it lacks the pretension that David Cage games sometimes possess. It keeps things moving fast enough to keep you from getting bored. A great effort from Dontnod after the unsuccessful Remember Me.


Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II - What a blast. This is the most underrated of the many shooters in the post-Quake era. The level design rides a line between linear and labyrinthine that is Goldilocks-right. The gameplay is fast and furious. No reloading, simple puzzles, no bullshit. The cheesy FMV is a joy. Half-Life and Unreal are great, but this is nearly perfect.


Prey - Most of the best games take liberally from their predecessors, and this game has no shame about it. This is the modern 0451 game you've been waiting for. The setting is rich with atmosphere. Covert and action play-styles are well balanced, with no shortage of tools for either. The Recycler/Fabricator mechanic is totally engrossing. The semi-hub level design makes for a great mix of exploration and sightseeing. The spacesuit sections are a treat. There's plenty to do, and the quests never get to the point of feeling inconsequential. Probably my game of the year.


Ninja Gaiden Sigma - People have written about this game's combat more eloquently than I can for years. It's heavy, but always fluid. It rewards both reflex and strategy. You can be as flashy or efficient as you like. It just feels great. And yes, it's difficult, but nearly always fair. The camera is the lone hiccup, but it's a blemish on an otherwise Helen of Troy face.



Five Disappointments


Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault - This might be the only game I actually hated this year. My contempt for this game has pushed all thoughts of it out of my mind, so here's what I originally posted a day or two after I finished it:


"It has possibly the worst hit detection I've ever had the misfortune of dealing with in an FPS.


The AI is anything but intelligent; you can't even call it AI, it's just pathfinding. The enemies alternate between cowering behind cover, standing stiff as a board, and rushing forward. Beautifully paired with this is a favorite of bad 90s game design-- aimbot-style, instalock accuracy.


Coupled with low-res bushes and trees that obscure everything, the jungle levels are an infuriating mess.


Most of your guns aren't worth a damn, and ammo is maddeningly scarce for those that are decent. Your squadmates are similarly worthless.


The cherry on top is the awful health system. Health packs are rarer than a night in which Bah's mom doesn't get penetrated. You can call over a guy to heal you twice a level, which doesn't always work, and you can die while being healed.


It's not a matter of being dated. This was released in the era of Far Cry, Half-Life 2, Doom 3, The Chronicles of Riddick, and other fine titles which still hold up.


A curse upon the “Comunidad en español” Steam group for helping me acquire this steaming hot basura."


XCOM 2 - This wasn't awful, but the RNG was highly problematic. You don't see the figurative dice rolls, so when your "80% chance to hit" shots continually miss, it's infuriating. I don't care what the developers say, it's not confirmation bias. While the first XCOM was maybe a bit easy, XCOM 2 is too fucking hard. This made me skip side missions so I could finish it faster, which only made things more difficult. I never found the ADVENT stuff particularly interesting. A good game, but not a worthy follow-up to the 2012 iteration.


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain - The gameplay gives you a ton of freedom, and generally feels great. There is an absolute wealth of side missions, collectibles, and upgrades if you're into that sort of thing. Unfortunately it's all in service of a story that is mostly non-existent and far from competently told; one that I would struggle to call even mediocre. Call me crazy, but I love the bonkers plot of MGS 1 (which had silly characters but a relatively grounded premise), 2, and 4. Big Boss is just not an interesting character. The prequel MGS games have a weird focus on real-world war that doesn't mesh with the rest of the series. MGS should have ended on the PS3. This is the game that is credited with provoking Konami to exit the industry, and for that reason alone, it is a monumental disappointment.


Mirror's Edge Catalyst - The movement is still a rush, but this game is just riddled with open-world game design scheisse. The story missions are fun, but the many side missions were churned out with little care. You retread the same ground (literally) over and over again as you collect various trinkets and help people run bullshit errands in a poorly constructed, bootleg YA-fiction dystopia. The characters are lame and unlikeable. The plot goes almost nowhere. In their infinite wisdom, EA decided to focus on the worst part of the original, the combat. Every once in a while you'll face a few mandatory waves while waiting for a door to open or something. The rest of the time, you're better off running. Just replay the original.


Mad Max/Far Cry 4 (tie) - Mad Max is Generic Open-World Game 2015. I am losing hope that this trend will die. It could not be less creative if it tried.


Far Cry 4 is Far Cry 3.



Honorable Mentions


Killzone: Shadow Fall - Honestly, I thought this was pretty fun. It has some interesting non-linear levels, and the combat feels good. It's solid, but nothing special. I don't have much to say about it, but I feel like it didn't get much recognition. It's better than the usual launch fodder.


Doom (2016) - This was an awesome game, but you already knew that.


Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair - A really fun arcade shooter. It's a bit longer than you'd think, so it gets tiresome. Probably better if played with a friend. The cheesy dialogue is cute.


Uncharted 4: A Thief's End - The best of the Uncharted series. It's the same as the rest, but it's great.


Cold Fear - This game is famous for being an RE4 ripoff, and, well, it is. But it's entertaining, and short enough not to overstay its welcome. Forgettable, but fun.


Battlefield 1 - The campaign is aces. Amazing visuals, visceral gunplay. The anthology-style missions make for great variety and a perfect pace, and the mini-stories were well crafted.


Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire - I don't know what it is with me and Star Wars games. I'm honestly not even a big Star Wars fan. This isn't a very good game, and it doesn't really hold up. But the almost naïve simplicity is alluring. You have lives. There's platforming. There's auto-aim. There are vehicle stages. You might chalk it up to nostalgia on my part, but it's just fun.


Full list follows for those who are curious.


Thank you for reading!



October 2016
Shadowrun Returns (PC)
Star Control II (PC)
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic (PC)
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II (PC)


November 2016
Unreal II: The Awakening (PC)
Hitman: Blood Money (PC)
D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die (PC)
Mad Max (PC)
Star Wars Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight (PC)


December 2016
Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus (PC)
Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair (PC)


January 2017
Gal*Gun: Double Peace (PC)
Killzone Shadow Fall (PS4)


February 2017
Far Cry 4 (PC)
Star Wars: Rebel Assault II (PC)
Ryse: Son of Rome (PC)


March 2017
Bet On Soldier (PC)
Life Is Strange (PC)
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith (PC)
Doom 2016 (PC)
SiN (PC)


April 2017
SiN: Wages of Sin (PC)
SiN Episodes: Emergence (PC)
Rez Infinite (PS4)
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (PS4)
Cold Fear (PC)
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (PC)
Ratchet & Clank (PS4)
The Order 1886 (PS4)
Beyond: Two Souls (PS3)


May 2017
Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition (PS2)
Prey (PC)


June 2017
Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault (PC)
The Saboteur (PC)
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PC)


July 2017
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PC)
Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Deleted Scenes (PC)
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst (PC)


August 2017
Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (PC)
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (PC)
Battlefield 1 (PC)
Lollipop Chainsaw (PS3)


September 2017
Starhawk (PS3)
Journey (PS3)
Titanfall 2 (PC)
Ninja Gaiden Sigma (PS3)

>>> Uncharted 4: A Thief's End - The best of the Uncharted series. It's the same as the rest, but it's great.


Interesting... I've mostly heard its not the best, still good/great but others did it better.  I've not played it, no PS4, so if you can tell me why its the best without spoilers I would love to hear it.  (My rankings UC2, UC, UC3)

While I liked the first, I thought the gunplay felt a bit janky. 2 and 3 were better in that regard, but they got a bit ridiculous with the set pieces (climbing the crashed plane hanging off a ledge, running away from the Humvee thing in the alley, etc.). 4 is comparatively more grounded. To me it has the best story by a mile, and the levels and cutscenes are well integrated into the story. There's a nice amount of variety in the scenery and settings. It is the closest realization of the "interactive movie" thing the series is going for. The gameplay is otherwise almost identical.

EDIT: Oh yeah, and the visuals are just amazing, even on a non-Pro PS4.

The grenade use in the first one is the only thing that holds it back in my eye...  That in no MP, which at release a 60 dollar game for a 6 hour game was a bit much to ask for. 


I think UC 2 was the pinnacle of the series, the MP was amazing for what it was (simpler than the UC3 and better for it), and the best campaign...  UC3 The campaign was just horribly written for an UC game...  So many plot holes.  


Honestly, I think UC2 was the best game of last gen...  (and it still wasn't enough to get me to buy a PC4. lol )


Anyhow, thanks for the info. :D

    • g.k likes this

So MOH Pacific Assault is that bad? I still haven't played it but maybe I'll remove it from my list of games I wanna play sometime in my lifetime because of that, I suppose it didn't age very well because a lot of the other fps that you mentioned there are still somewhat playable today.


Did you manage to complete The Phantom Pain? I mean the missions after destroying the big robot.

    • g.k likes this

It's awful, don't waste your time. MOH: Airborne wasn't bad, maybe give that a whirl.

Yeah, I finished all the new missions in Chapter 2 of MGS (I think there were only 7?), but I didn't bother with the remixes of Chapter 1 missions.


I don't know why they even included the remixes, the game was long enough. All they did was make it more evident that the game was rushed out.

Far Cry 4 was BETTER Far Cry 3.  Pretty much all my gripes about FC3 were fixed in FC4: Boss forts, better travel, taking a base didn't sterilize the area of any hostiles, more open world stuff, etc.  It was the same basic structure but improved upon in almost every way.  I suppose how much you like it depends a lot on how well you received FC3 and are happy to have a better version of it.


Mad Max was generic and yet just plain fun for me.  Loved the combat -- which I know is a WB staple but it was so much better than Shadow of Mordor -- and the driving was always enjoyable for me.  Yes, I fought eleventy-thousand car with harpoon and spiked wheels but it never really got old for me.  Plus it made for endless kick-ass screenshots.


So, in conclusion, I disagreed with you about two games out of forty-eight so you're a terrible person.  Redemption may be found in you also thinking MGSV:TPP was trash which it indeed was though few are elevated enough of mind to recognize it.

    • g.k likes this

I loved Far Cry 3, but I finished a whole lot of the content which is maybe why I wasn't excited to play it a second time, reskinned. None of your gripes really bothered me.


I didn't think Mad Max was bad, it just didn't do anything exciting. I picked on it a little bit because I'm really worn out when it comes to that formula, but Ubisoft is by far the worst culprit. That, and post-apocalyptic settings don't do much for me.

I just played Journey last month for the first time since I bought it over a year (years?) ago.  Finished with it pretty quick, but it would be funny if we played it together.

    • g.k likes this

Star Control II is one of my all-time favorites -- especially the 3DO version. Have you tried the free Ur-Quan Masters source port?

    • g.k likes this

jimbo: It's totally possible. Was it on a weekend? I was shocked that there were still players.

hal: Yeah, that's actually the version I played most recently.


I know it has some improvements over the original, though I can't remember exactly what (music?). I did turn the voices off as I prefer my imagination's rendition.


Did you ever play SC3? All the bad things I've heard have put me off.

December 2020

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