What I’m Playing, part 8

I didn’t really finish too many games this year, but I did play a lot.

As far as games that I played to completion that were released in 2016, this list goes: Rez Infinite, Batman (Telltale), Ratchet & Clank, TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan, Republique, The Witness and of course Destiny: Rise of Iron.

As for games that were released in 2016 that I started and never finished, that list goes: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, Hard Reset Redux, Mighty No. 9, Doom, Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Song of the Deep, Ninja Pizza Girl, CoD: Infinite Warfare, EVE: Valkyrie, EVE: Gunjack, Loading Human, Neverwinter, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Type:Rider, Amplitude, Firewatch, ADR1FT, Dex, Broforce, Layers of Fear, Pac-Man Championship Edition 2, The Tomorrow Children, Lumo, Titanfall 2 and No Man’s Sky.

Games that I finished this year that were released last year: Bloodborne (released March 2015) and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune Remastered (released October 2015). I also played some Awesomenauts Assemble which was released in March 2014.

Rez Infinite – The VR component made this game fresh and exciting for me all over again. Using my head to track the targeting reticle and adding in a new level? Yes please! Here’s my money! I hope to get the platinum for this game eventually. This is thankfully one of the VR games that doesn’t give me motion sickness. If anyone out there ever does decide to play it on VR, here’s a pro tip: get up out of your chair and turn completely around if the boss of the 4th level ever starts attacking you from behind. I thought that was a very clever thing to do.

Batman (Telltale) – I was highly put off by the price point of this Telltale series since their other games have been much cheaper in the past, but it turns out that this game is definitely worth the cost of entry. I’ve finished all 3 episodes that are currently available and waiting for the 4th to be published is hell on earth. I won’t/can’t say anything since it will spoil the game, but if you’re a Telltale or Batman fan you should give this a shot.

Ratchet & Clank – Definitely loved coming back to this series after such a long hiatus. Loved the weapons, the platforming, the puzzles, the boss battles, the witty dialogue, loved everything about the game. I’ve finished it and now the only thing left is to complete the trophy list.

TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan – While I don’t follow TMNT like I used to when I was a kid, this game brought me back to the days of TMNT 2: The Arcade Game on the original NES. Definitely more fun as a multiplayer co-op than it is to play this by yourself. I think Platinum did a great job with the game. Movement is smooth and actually fun and the combat is fast and fun.

Republique – This is another 5 episode adventure game that I loved so much I did all 5 episodes in ONE NIGHT. The game is about a girl that lives (and is trapped in) a totalitarian state and you are her eyes and ears as she tries to escape. The tension is very high in this game as the protagonist has no way to fight so she must be as stealthy as possible. If you’re into mysteries and stealth games, maybe give it a shot.

The Witness – This is a puzzle game that’s definitely out there and will test your patience and thinking/observation skills. I got through a small amount of puzzles on my own and after running into a wall where solutions to puzzles that I thought would work didn’t, I resorted to using a guide and even then the solutions that I used didn’t make any sense as to why THAT was the answer. I might go back to it at some point with a new perspective.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – I absolutely LOVE Deus Ex: Human Revolution and I feel that this game is definitely a worthy successor. I stopped playing it simply because I don’t want it to end. I love just about everything about the game except only being able to get and use your pre-order bonus items once. After that, you’re on your own. I also don’t like the fact that you can literally pay to win by using real world money to get Praxis Kits to level up. For real world money, you can become OP from the beginning of the game if you want.

Song of the Deep – if you love Metroidvania style games, you’ll like this one. I stopped playing it out of frustration of not being able to figure out where I was supposed to go next. I’ll eventually go back to it as I have a burning desire to know what eventually happens with the girl’s father.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst – this one was definitely worth the wait. I stopped playing it because the day I brought it home, I managed to get 50% through the main story in 6 hours and, again, I don’t want it to end.  I’ll go back at some point I’m sure so I can find out what happens to Faith and the others.

Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness – the grind is real with this game.  I was amazed at the look and feel at first, but once the game really opened up after several hours of playing the main story, the complete lack of any sort of fast travel really turned me off (unless I’m just dumb and didn’t find it or get to that point in the game yet). Trying to do any kind of side quest in the game requires LOTS of back tracking so I think that having no fast travel is a disappointment.  I just don’t have the time or patience for JRPGs like I used to.  Here’s hoping that I don’t drop Final Fantasy XV part way through because of something similar.

Hard Reset Redux – I love the idea of a cyberpunk FPS, and it’s not bad for the most part but there are instances where I definitely could have used more ammo and others where I could have used some sort of direction or hint as to what to do.  I really want to finish this at some point.

Doom – I was very skeptical of this game until I bought and played it.  Doom (the original one) will always be one of my “comfort food” games; one of those games that I like to go back and play every now and then.  Sort of a gaming palate cleanser if you will.  I loved how detailed the environments are in this game and I really loved how fast the character moved.  I also enjoyed the nods to the original Doom that are scattered through out the levels as hidden items and sub levels.  Hopefully I’ll go back to it at some point, though I doubt that I’ll ever do the multiplayer portion again.  I just don’t care for it.

Call of Duty:  Infinite Warfare – So the trailer for this game first grabbed my attention back at E3 this year.  Watching them seamlessly transition from combat on the outer hull of a space ship to it’s interior definitely grabbed my attention.  I am by no means a Call of Duty fanboy, but this game was definitely doing it for me.  Combine with that the fact that I’ve been playing Destiny with someone that helped to work on the game and I wanted to support him and his team it was pretty much a SOLD! when I found out that this year’s zombie mode was going to be an 80’s theme.  I picked it up on a buy 2, get one free sale and was not disappointed.  I was intrigued by the story of a Martian colony at war with Earth over resources (which could one day be a reality in all honesty) and I like how each of the guns in the game fires and sounds different (unlike Destiny where a lot of the guns sound alike and fire similarly).  I positively love the zombie mode though.  Listening to 80’s music while running around a zombie infested 80’s style theme park is the most fun I’ve had in a shooter in a while.  I can get up to wave 4 just about every time before they over run and kill me.  Definitely looking forward to finishing this game and playing more zombies.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance – I was very happy to hear that they were bringing this back on PS4.  I remember this game and it’s sequel quite fondly, though at launch there were a lot of issues with the camera which have since been fixed at the time of this writing.  It’s still a grind to try to level up all the characters in the game, but it’s at least a fun grind as each character has different abilities and a different feel.  Flying is still shoddy as is trying to land but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 – Definitely a case of taking an already awesome (dare I say perfect) game formula and improving upon it.  Much like the predecessor, how far you get in the game depends on how fast you can play.  At the time of writing I’ve managed to unlock the base level of each game mode in the game, so now the only thing left to do is start perfecting my skill and getting faster as was the case before.  Definitely a score chase game that I don’t mind repeating over and over again.

EVE:  Valkyrie – The demo on the disc that came with my VR unit was what sold me on this game.  From the moment the demo began and I was dumped in the cockpit of my ship before being launched out into space and left to fend for myself, I was sold.  I didn’t care about the cost of the game, just shut up and take my money.  This game was the first in many many years that gave me motion sickness.  I was ok until I did my first barrel roll in the ship, that’s when I had to suppress the urge to projectile vomit everywhere.  At the time of writing I’ve played the full game enough that I’ve desensitized myself to the sensation but it’s still quite thrilling to fly around in the ships.  I haven’t gone very far into the story mode or the game as a whole since the in game currency is confusing (gold, silver and credits which can be bought with real world money) and the single player seems a little short so I want it to last a while if possible.  I was pleasantly surprised upon playing the game that it’s a sort of murder mystery in that you’re trying to find out who killed you.  In the EVE universe you can re-download your consciousness into a new body when your current one dies (think of the Cylons from Battlestar Galactica) and you’re in your new body trying to figure out what happened and who is trying to kill you.  I can tell that even after I’ve finished the main game the PvP might not be that bad.

A sort of companion game to this one EVE:  Gunjack is a short but sweet score chase type game where you are a Gunjack charged with protecting a mining ship from incoming enemies in waves.  Very good use of head tracking as it is used instead of manually moving the targeting reticle around to shoot at enemies.  There aren’t many levels in the game, but then again it was only $8 USD so I can’t really complain.  All in all it’s a fun little diversion.

Dex – another cyberpunk game in the same vein as Hard Reset, this one is a mashup side scrolling 2D beat ’em up combined with bits of a choose your own adventure style storytelling.  The combat in the game is very reminiscent of an old arcade game called Rolling Thunder where your reflexes determine whether you live or die.  I have a feeling that in some of the dialogue choices you’ll get the same result whether you try to be an asshole or not.  I thought that it was fun but the price admission was a little high for what I got.

Broforce – This was another case of a game being free on PlayStation Plus that I didn’t think too much of based on appearance.  Turns out that it’s actually a lot of fun!  Very reminiscent of old side scrolling shoot ’em ups from back in the day.  The movie character references are hilarious (like for example 007 being changed to Doublebro Seven.)  The only negative is trying to play the game online co-op with friends.  It’s a real pain in the ass trying to get in the same game as your friends and even if you do, the lag is terrible.  I doubt I’ll ever go back to it unless I can play with people because I got as far as a boss battle in the game’s version of Hawaii and never could get passed it, but at least it was a free game and fun while it lasted.

Lumo – This was a cute little isometric puzzle game where you are running around trying to find your way to the next area of the dungeon/maze and solving puzzles and platforming jumps along the way.  There were a lot of secrets and collectibles to be had through out (like those damn rubber ducks I never could figure out how to collect without dying) and I didn’t get terribly far in before I gave up and went back to Deus Ex.  It’s too bad really, it’s a lot of fun for such a cheap game.

Titanfall 2 – This was another game that I was skeptical about before buying.  The first one didn’t review well at all and if I remember correctly was a strictly online only PvP game.  This one has a story mode to it that I very much enjoy.  The movement and combat is very fast paced and fluid and piloting the Titan is a joy.  I very much love giant mech games and this one fills the void that I’ve had for years (probably not since the old Mechwarrior games to be honest.)  The main story line took a turn that I was not expecting and I’ve been wondering what’s going to happen next so I need to get back to it while it’s still fresh on my mind, but with Final Fantasy 15 due out in 2 days it’s not likely that I’ll be back any time soon.

Games I played this year that were disappointing:

Mighty No. 9 – Wow…I don’t even know where to start.  I thought this was going to be the game to bring back Mega Man but boy was I wrong.  The graphics and sound are good and the play controls are ok, but the mechanics are what killed the game for me.  You have to shoot enemies to stun them, then run into them to kill them and you get rated based on how much damage you did to them before you run into them (ranked S, A, B, C, D and E as is the usual case with Japanese games.)  You also have to use this mechanic to defeat the bosses in the game and even if you hit them, it only takes off a portion of their health.  I was never able to kill any of them no matter how hard I tried, so this game only stayed on my hard drive for less than a day before I gave up on it.

Firewatch – man is this game pretty, but boring at the same time.  I expected (from the trailer) that it was going to be action packed and full of adventure.  Instead, you get a half-assed adventure game where you have to quickly read and choose a list of responses during the lengthy dialogue in the game.  And if you don’t choose quickly enough, the person you’re talking to (your in game work partner) gets angry and thinks that you’re ignoring her.  Sometimes, I missed the chance on responding to her just because I was caught up in listening to them talk and didn’t notice that the prompt had appeared.  There are (apparently according to the trophy list) only 4 in game days for you to complete and if they were anything like the first day (which was the only one I completed) it’s going to be a dull ride.

Loading Human – a VR adventure game?!?!  Yes please!  Oh, wait…  This was another case of the trailer making a game out to be better than it actually was.  You have the “option” of either using 2 Move controllers or a Dualshock to control your character, and since I didn’t feel like getting out my Move controllers, charging them and then pairing them with my PS4 I decided to just use the Dualshock which the game immediately protested.  I immediately found that the control scheme is quite irritating in that the game uses head tracking in order for you to pick up/examine any item in the environment and you literally have to be right on top of anything that’s laying on the floor in order to pick it up, and even then you have to pretty much double over in your seat with the VR unit on in order for the game to figure out that you’re looking at that item on the floor.  Once you finally get around that hurdle and finally pick the item up, trying to put it down without throwing it is a whole other ballgame.  There was no simply putting it back where you got it, oh no.  Your character had to throw anything that he was finished with.  I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to this game before I give up and trade it in for something better.

Amplitude – I was so excited when I heard that Harmonix was bringing this series back.  However, what I ended up getting was a little disappointing.  I don’t know if they were just trying too hard or if it was me, but it just wasn’t as much fun as the original.  A lot of the music in this game sounded the same and some of it was hard as hell to find the beat/rhythm.  There was also a lot of fucking up on my part as to when was the most strategic time to use any of the power-ups in the game.  I guess it requires more trial and error and replays than I’m willing to invest.  I could also be suffering music game burn out still (a la Rock Band.)  The graphics were good and the play controls were pretty responsive, but all in all it wasn’t worth the wait.

Ninja Pizza Girl – this looked like a fun side scrolling game from the trailer, but it’s actually a little annoying.  My major complaint is that the levels are timed.  I hate playing games where I’m timed, doesn’t matter what it is.  If I ever feel like being aggravated I might go back to it.

Neverwinter – An MMO set in the famous Forgotten Realms city of Neverwinter seems like something that would be amazing, however amazing is not how I would describe this game unless it’s the phrase ‘amazingly bad.’  It’s very laggy, the interface is confusing and for being on PS4 the graphics aren’t that great.  I more or less joined out of peer pressure since I’m always skeptical of free to play MMOs in the first place.  More or less a case of you get what you (didn’t) pay for.  Still, I did have some fun when the game was working properly but it’s still your standard MMO affair of “go kill X number of these” and “go run through this dungeon.”  If not for the fact that some of the D&D races that I would like to play as were behind a rather steep pay wall ($70 USD for an expansion pack with one of the races and some other cosmetic things?  No thanks) I probably would have kept playing.

Type:Rider – I like history, so playing a game about the history of typefaces seemed like a good idea.  What I ended up with was a platformer with frustrating controls and a lot of cheap, one hit deaths.  The only mercy was that the checkpoints were plentiful.  For being a cheap game I certainly got what I paid for.  Save yourself some money and just go read up on the history of these typefaces on Wikipedia.

ADR1FT – Frustrating, frustrating, frustrating, frustrating and frustrating.  I would have thought a game about exploring a high Earth orbit space station that’s been sabotaged would be fun, but it’s anything but.  You have one resource: oxygen.  Trying to grab the small canisters as they slowly float by you should not be this annoying.  You need oxygen to stay alive, however, you also have to use it as a means of propelling yourself around the debris of the station.  For people like me that like to explore every nook and cranny of a game world, this resource doesn’t really give you that luxury since you’ll burn through it rather quickly trying to get anywhere.  Definitely not something that I’ll go back to.

Layers of Fear – It looked like a fun horror game from the trailer, but as I never seem to learn, trailers can be deceiving.  The atmosphere is great and the graphics are decent, but the game itself is rather lackluster.  It’s basically a set of 6 “chapters” where you’re trying to recreate some horrible painting that’s locked away in the main character’s studio.  Every time you finish a chapter, the house re-arranges itself to lead you back to the studio and you get to see how the painting has changed.  It’s full of cheap jump scares and not really much in the way of combat that I can remember, just a lot of item collecting and running and listening to the tale unfold through story bits provided by the items that you find in the house.  The strange part is, they released an expansion for it not too long ago so I guess you can drag the monotony out even further if you like.

The Tomorrow Children – I don’t even know where to start with this one.  Developed by Q-Games, I thought this would be another fun diversion like their Pixeljunk games were, but this game is more like a second job than anything.  It’s all a little confusing at first, but you begin to slowly understand that the majority of the game is just resource gathering to rebuild civilization one town at a time after some vague apocalyptic event, and unless you plan on spending a ridiculous amount of time in the game doing other things in the town that you’re randomly dropped in, that’s about all the game has to offer.  I tried helping to defend the town that I was sent to first from the giant creatures that randomly appear out in the Void (the empty space around the towns) and once it was gone, I was thrown in jail for destroying some structure in the town thanks to some idiot poorly placing the turret.  Getting out of jail, by the way, consists of completing a button mashing sequence that’s quite boring and simple but lasts for several minutes.  Oh, and once you “complete” a town you can’t even go back to see the end result as it is permanently locked.  This game is a waste of time and drive space.

No Man’s Sky – at the time of this writing, the months long silence from Sean Murray and Hello Games has finally been broken to reveal the first in what is going to be a series of updates to the game to add in more features and content that was “missing” when the game was launched.  I’m not one of the ones that was viciously hateful about the game at launch, but I do have to say that once the leak about what happens when you reach the center of the galaxy was out, I was highly disappointed.  I’m also not one of the ones that wanted his money back either.  Still, despite its flaws I did enjoy my time with the game and once the updates start rolling out, I will be back to see their progress.