Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a premise you’ve probably experienced many times in videogames before. You play as someone who has settled down with a wife and children and you must perform regular day to day tasks. Oh, and you’re an octopus. In a suit. And everyone treats you just like a regular guy. OK, so it probably isn't something you see everyday but it’s from this ridiculous premise that this indie game is born and creates an experience that is very unique on the PlayStation 4 right now.
The challenge comes in controlling Octodad with the two sticks and shoulder buttons as things go about as well as you would imagine if an octopus was made to mow the lawn or create a cup of coffee. At times I became a little frustrated with the random element to controlling Octodad that seemed to never go away. However, the entire game and it’s humor relies completely on this mechanic and if things went smoothly it just wouldn’t be the same experience. The carnage and unintended havoc that happens from the most simplest of tasks is part of the fun and it’s in the face of these issues that it does feel rather great when you pull off what you were trying to achieve.
The game is relatively short, it took me under three hours to finish my first time playing. The trophy list is smart as it adds more of a challenge to the game such as throwing the ring onto your soon to be wife’s finger instead of just placing it. Trying for these more difficult approaches to scenarios adds more length if you crave more after the game is finished. While it would have been nice if it were longer, I’m glad the game continues to be funny throughout its duration instead of outstaying its welcome at any time.
There are a bunch of different environments to explore and cause havoc in and the game progresses at a good pace so you never get tired of a section, for the most part. Some sections require a stealth approach, while others focus on creating the least amount of havoc as possible. My favorite sections are when a simple task is hard to achieve. It’s a shame these sections are more towards the start of the game as the experience does fizzle out slightly the further you progress.
Octodad actually has a surprisingly good story and can be somewhat touching at times. The whole thing is tongue in cheek but when we learn of his origins and after he gets split up from his family I definitely felt more for the characters than I ever expected to before playing. It’s nice that from a crazy premise, the developers managed to create a decent story with interesting characters. And a very good villain throughout.
Some sections definitely drag on more than others however. Shopping in the supermarket is a joy and perfectly nails the tone of trying to complete simple tasks with hilarious consequences. But when in an arcade and we have to complete numerous different games before being able to progress, it does feel rather tedious. Some of the games are so luck based that I just really wanted to move on and the joke became very close to becoming annoying before eventually managing to progress to a more fun section.
Comedy in videogames is something that for many years was assumed to be kind of an impossible task. With timing being everything, and the nature of how we experience games in our own time it seemed inevitable that these elements would clash. This year, with first the release of the incredible South Park: The Stick of Truth and now Octodad: Dadliest Catch, it seems this idea of comedy not being possible has been completely thrown away. Even games like Goat Simulator show that games can make you laugh if they are approached in a completely different style to other areas of comedy. It seems in this still new medium that developers are finally starting to realize this more than ever before.
There is a co-op mode where up to four players can control different limbs of Octodad, just in case you thought he wasn’t hard enough to control in the first place (No one will think this). It once again cranks up the difficulty and therefore at times can be funnier but also maybe too hard for some of the more intricate sections of the game.
The Playstation 4′s commitment to indie titles has already become increasingly obvious with titles such as Outlast and Mercenary Kings finding great reception on a console you would assume owners would want to play blockbuster games on. Octodad: Dadliest Catch is another example of a fresh and unique title that doesn’t have next gen graphics or features but is still a very fun but somewhat basic game that should be played by anyone wanting a smaller experience and many, many laughs.
It is a slight miracle that South Park: The Stick of Truth has even got released. This game’s turbulent history has been well publicized over the years from THQ’s collapse and switching publishers to it’s numerous delays. You would be forgiven in fearing the worst for this title. After playing the game for 30 minutes those fears soon evaporate and you quickly realize you are playing something special here. South Park: The Stick of Truth is not only one of the best licensed games you’ll play, it is a deeply rewarding RPG that will keep you entertained throughout it’s entire duration. As long as you don’t get offended by anything like fighting Nazi Zombie aborted fetuses or throwing your excrement at a enemy that is.
The story is straight out of the classic South Park playbook and if you’ve seen the recent console wars trilogy of episodes you will be immediately aware of what’s going on here. You play as a new kid who has moved to South Park for unknown reasons and you must simply make friends and settle in as much as possible. The boys are of course playing their usual role playing games and this time it involves keeping hold of the all powerful stick that controls the universe.
Once you have initially chosen you character class (four options including the aptly titled Jew) and given brief tutorials on how to battle, you are given freedom to most of the entire town to explore. Some areas are inaccessible due to needing keys or new powers that you will learn later in the game in classic RPG fashion, but initially the area you can explore is rather remarkable.
Pretty much the entire town has been plotted out for the first time in the show’s history and you can walk straight from your house, take a trip to see the goths hanging by the school, swing by the church and see if you can ‘find Jesus,’ or just go for a drink at Skeeter’s Bar. Huge fans of the show will find it incredibly fascinating to just walk around for the first few hours of playing and see all there is to offer in this world, and there is a lot.
Battles play out very similarly to turn based games such as Paper Mario in the genre, where you fight up to four enemies at a time alongside your buddy of choice which you can switch at any time from the likes of Butters and Kenny to fan favorite Cartman. Each character has their own special moves so you won’t just want to stick with one character as the fun you get from experimenting with each one is great.
I found the combat to be extremely rewarding, something which I did not expect going in. At first it seems slightly basic as you can rely on the same moves for a lot of the early enemies but as time progresses you really have to start thinking about what you can do in each battle. The difficulty progresses nicely to the point that by the end of the game you are pulling off combos and moves that you wouldn’t have dreamed of doing when you first started playing. Don’t let the game’s length fool you. This may not be a tradition RPG but it is certainly as fun to play as any I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
The game looks identical to the show, something which must have been harder than it looks to pull off. So many different areas are filled with gorgeous art that you will only see once, it is clear that an incredible amount of work and care has gone into making this the most faithful recreation of the show that we’ve ever seen. Growing up watching the show and now playing the game as a young adult, it’s really a dream come true to finally feel like you are in the show.
The sound design is perfect as all the characters are voiced by their TV show counterparts and everything feels just like it should. So many little touches have been made such as hearing Terrance and Phillip episodes when you walk past a TV to hearing so many songs from the show’s past when you walk into a shop such as the montage song or Sexual Harassment Panda’s theme tune.
The loot you collect which can be sold for money is mainly references from the show which ranges from every episode throughout the show’s history. Basically, if you have a favorite episode, there probably is at least one reference to it in this game. The fan service on display is unlike anything I have ever seen in a game before and the more you like the show, the more you are gonna love playing this game.
Outside of the main quest is a bunch of different side quests that have you meet tons of familiar faces from the show’s past. They range from the simple such as helping Stan fight his older sister Shelley to get his iPod back to the epic such as helping Al Gore track down ManBearPig, with hilarious consequences. These all help to break up the main quest and lengthen the game to be around twelve hours long to finish. This is short for an RPG but this isn’t a traditional RPG.
There is zero grinding involved in the entire game. You also rarely have to go to the same place multiple times, there are actually entire sequences you will only see once. With grinding and repeating content, they could have easily doubled the time it takes to finish but there really is no need. It feels like a complete and focused experience this way. Plus you can always replay it if you crave more like myself.
Character customization plays a huge part in the game as you can choose pretty much everything you see on your character. After initially choosing your characters looks you can change your outfit from hundreds of different options, each with their own battle benefits. You unlock more as you progress as well as buying them from the cash you procure. You can even change your characters looks by going to Tom’s Rhinoplasty for an expensive procedure. I’d recommend the Hasselhoff nose job for one of the game’s best jokes.
One of the big draws of South Park: The Stick of Truth is of course it’s humor and jokes as you basically get around twelve hours of new South Park content to dig into. I wouldn’t dream of ruining any of them here but I was astounded at how the game kept me both entertained and in hysterics for a majority of the time. Towards the end of the game when you would expect things to tail off it just kept getting better and one of the final sequences is one of my favorite things I’ve ever played in a video game.
I should note that I played the EU censored version of the game. The only parts that are censored involved anal probing and abortions and I have watched the respective sections online so I know what I missed out on. I think it’s actually ridiculous that the censors chose these scenes to censor as they are nowhere near the most offensive in the game. I think they just wanted to show they censored something to avoid the inevitable complaints, but really this is just a small footnote in what this game has to offer.
Some slight issues I had with the game involved not explaining some sections that greatly. The fart tutorials in particular did a horrible job of showing how they are done and I was stuck on how to get passed it for a few tries. In game they are really easy to execute I just felt that the tutorial was very misleading. Having beat the game twice already this is a very minor issue, but I feel I should mention it as it did frustrate me during my first time playing.
When it comes down to it you really have to ask yourself, how much do you like South Park? Even though I thoroughly believe that this game has very solid and fun RPG mechanics, it is still wrapped up completely in South Park’s brand of humor. If you don’t like the show it will be hard to put up with a fart joke for the 10th time in a row just to play the game. If you like the show then I can’t see how anyone wouldn’t have a blast playing this game.
As a fan who grew up loving the show and has faded in and out of love with it over the years, South Park: The Stick of Truth was a complete breath of fresh air and has invigorated the entire show for myself. After completion I immediately wanted to go back and watch old episodes and reminisce all the great moments that are so greatly represented in this game. I don’t think we’ll ever see a bigger love letter or faithful recreation of a TV show like this again and this is definitely one to soak up and enjoy for a long time indeed.
A House Divided is one of the more interesting episodes of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead, across both seasons, so far. Clementine has been through a lot (to say the least) since she was first introduced to us. Growing up in this world has made her far tougher and grown up than she should be at her age and she has pretty much nothing left to fight for except herself and yet still finds a way to carry on. But perhaps most devastatingly the worst is probably yet to come, and that could be just around the corner in an episode that nicely sets up how the rest of this season will play out.
One of the best character introductions so far this season is that of Carver, voiced by the impeccable Michael Madsen. From the second he hits the screen you immediately feel unnerved by his cigarette and whiskey soaked tones, but there is also a slight sense of maybe he is just being unfairly represented. Just because you have a deep voice doesn’t make you a bad guy and this element of which way a person will go is something which is heavily present throughout the whole episode.
Trust plays a huge part in this world as knowing who to side with can really be the difference between life and death. This episode plays out like a civil war, with Clementine stuck right in the middle. We see two clear factions developing with people we both like and dislike on both sides, and choosing where to lay our allegiances is rather difficult. We are constantly being pulled both ways and it doesn’t feel nice.
Something as simple as choosing where to sit to eat dinner becomes one of the most difficult decisions you have to make as you don’t want to alienate either group. Ultimately you can only look after yourself and if certain people don’t like you, so be it. You can chose to align with a few individuals to help you along the way, but in the end it is just you against the world. A world that is out to kill you at every second.
There are more references to previous events here than we have ever seen before, pulling you in emotionally by bringing up the past. Lee’s presence is still felt as he is mentioned by name on several occasions and is a constant reminder of both the best and worst this world has to offer to a young girl trying to survive. It doesn’t feel gratuitous though, and makes sense in the story after the impact he has had on so many people to be a strong influence on the remaining survivors.
Many wondered if Clementine would return for this season let alone be the protagonist and we speculated how things may play out. Introducing an entirely new plot inside the same universe would have been nice but with how invested we are in this character, it would have been a complete waste of something special. It is becoming increasingly more obvious than ever before how important she is to this franchise, as this whole thing could completely fall apart without her.
New characters can come and go so quickly, it could become slightly close to all feeling rather pointless. If we don’t have enough time to establish a connection with someone, I really don’t care what happens to them. Without Clementine, we have no stakes. I hope other characters get enough time to build a status within the game, and this episode does this job far better than previously with Carver’s introduction, but perhaps having only one star of the show could potentially hurt the franchise in the future. Only time will tell.
Also present are some of the best dialogue scenes Telltale have crafted and they seem to just be improving as time goes on. The options we are given to certain situations all feel very natural and what we might actually say given the chance. It goes beyond just completely agreeing or disagreeing with someone and helps to further blur the already fuzzy lines of trust in the narrative.
The lack of action in the episode wasn’t a problem at all and perfectly showcased how it isn’t really needed. It didn’t feel dialogue heavy as the tension on offer did more than enough to pull me in than any scene involving killing a bunch of walkers ever could. When the story is at its best, it does the talking.
Also it is with great happiness that I can report I experienced zero issues with the game during my entire play through on the Xbox 360. Every episode of both seasons so far have at least some small frame rate issues and I wondered if it was just a problem with their engine which would never be fixed on this platform. It seems that is not the case and this small niggling problem I’ve had for sometime should now hopefully be a thing of the past.
The final moments are the perfect conclusion to the episode and one of the most tense situations we have ever been forced to endure. It equally sums up an episode while also setting up the next, a fine balance to strike which has been executed here perfectly. The length was exactly what we have grown to expect at this point and doesn’t drag or rush by too soon. I always feel left wanting more in the best way possible.
Since Telltale released the first ever episode of The Walking Dead back in 2012, I’ve slightly wondered when they are gonna finally slip up. Maybe release one episode that is way below the standard and we all ponder if they can get back on top. Sure, some episodes have been better than others but the overall standard of each episode has been incredible when you stop and think about it. If this were a TV show we would be applauding how it continues to deliver over and over again, and I only hope this fantastic trend continues throughout the rest of the season.
Last week brought some very sad news. You can read about all the details here but the short of it is this, Irrational Games as we know it is no more. Ken Levine will be working with a smaller team and BioShock‘s future is in the hands of 2K Games now. So what does this all mean? Let’s first start with Irrational Games.
Ken announced he was “winding down the company” and will continue to work at Take Two with a smaller team of around fifteen people. Of course the worst part about this is many talented people will be losing their jobs and that really sucks. After building a huge team to finish BioShock Infinite, it was no surprise that they couldn’t keep the same team and lots of other development studios have already reached out to the effected team members in looking to recruit these people. Whether Ken will keep the Irrational name is still unclear, but it is unlikely at this point and it is a real shame this great studio is no more.
Hopefully all the developers will find work at other studios or perhaps even make their own, smaller indie studios. Maybe we get a bunch of new indie games come out of Boston due to this closure and it creates the next indie boom within the industry.
Arguably the most interesting aspect of this news is what Ken Levine does next within the industry. Ken is, in my opinion, one of the true auteurs of video game development and one of a very select few that I would argue could stand among the best film directors around. It is no surprise to me he has been tapped up by the film industry to write the script for the re-imagining of Logan’s Run.
With this project already ongoing I wouldn’t be surprised if Ken isn’t entirely ready to jump back into another project like Infinite that took around six years to complete. A smaller team to start pre-production makes complete sense and as the years and development ramps up they can always recruit when necessary.
And of course there is the future of BioShock games, which in complete uncertainty. With 2K acquiring the rights, you can guarantee we will see more games and don’t be shocked if it comes in the near future. It is well documented that Infinite wasn’t profitable after it’s long development period and they will want to gain more on that investment as soon as possible.
A sequel set in Columbia that uses all the previous assets and animations seems almost too easy for 2K to make within a pretty short time. It is highly unlikely that whoever the new studio that takes over the franchise will build their own world rather than just borrow from both Rapture and Columbia, an interesting idea could be a game that takes place in both worlds at the same time.
The positive is that the possibilities are endless and the thought of revisiting Columbia certainly doesn’t feel contrived at this point. Without the sense of wonder or the incredible narrative of Infinite the game certainly wont feel the same, but the amount of things still to explore definitely leaves future games with way more potential than you might first think, even without Ken at the helm.
I absolutely adore BioShock Infinite as a video game and won’t shy away from calling it one of my favorite games of all time. The fact that this news has happened is really unfortunate but also adds to the entire Infinite story. This game is fascinating from a development standpoint and we might not see chances taken of a huge ambitious project like this one for a very long time, at least outside of maybe one or two studios.
Hopefully the news doesn’t have a negative effect on the game’s lineage and be remembered as the project that killed the studio but rather something special that might not ever be recreated. The game sold well but with the costs over the years mounting it really needed to ship 15 million plus to become profitable, something which is just impossible.
I hope every single person that worked on the game that was laid off finds themselves a worthy project now this chapter has ended. Hopefully Ken Levine continues to put his creative output in this industry rather than elsewhere, be it smaller projects or ones of this scale. And I really hope that whoever takes over the BioShock franchise treats it with half the amount of care and love that it’s previous owners did with it.
Single player DLC for story based games is a tricky one. The best stories are usually self contained and any attempt to try to add to that later always seem below par or rather pointless. Add to the fact that it comes eight months after the game’s release and doesn’t involve the main protagonist you would think this would be a recipe for disaster. Well Naughty Dog doesn’t care. With Left Behind, they have just delivered the best DLC since Rockstar’s releases for Grand Theft Auto IV. If you enjoyed The Last of Us in any shape or form, I highly recommend you to play this release. I promise you won’t regret it.
Left Behind shows us a different side to Ellie, one that further adds to the character and proves that this can’t be the last we see of her. She’s just too good for Naughty Dog to not include in the inevitable sequel. This time Ellie is joined by Riley, a character we previously only saw in the excellent prequel comics that were released. Set before the events of the main game, this is not the battle hardened Ellie we knew by the end of our time, but more fresh faced and innocent to the world around her.
Most of the game involves Ellie and Riley exploring an abandoned mall and plays out just like two teenage girls visiting a familiar place, of course set against a post-apocalyptic world. We see just how close the two were and the chemistry between them as they playfully make fun of one another and tell jokes. We see how the simplest things can cause such joy like playing around with water guns. This game is filled with touching moments like these that are best experienced for yourself.
Of course it wouldn’t be The Last of Us without some conflict and it plays out similarly to that of the main game. However this time instead of just fighting infected or survivors we come across both at the same time, something that wasn’t present before. This small change does have a big impact on how scenarios play out and is something that I really hope they build upon in the future of the series. Throwing a brick near some approaching survivors so they get attacked by infected and then slowly picking off what is left of the battle feels fantastic. Especially as Ellie who would rather avoid combat than Joel who isn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty.
Speaking of Joel, this game does slightly lack due to his absence but not as much as I expected. To me, Joel is one of the all time great protagonists so he would have always been missed, but Riley and Ellie’s relationship as friends who have seen better times fills the void perfectly that is left by the lack of the father/daughter dynamic that progressed previously.
Left Behind isn’t afraid to pull punches and contains many moments that will shock and surprise you. Of course talking about them here wouldn’t be fair, but if you thought the opening of the game couldn’t be topped, I think they may have done it. Never becoming cheesy or shocking for the sake of it, everything plays out the way you would expect and the way the characters should react and is a fine addition to what is becoming an incredible video game story. If you were worried this DLC would feel sub standard to the main game, fear not.
Once again the game is absolutely stunning to look at and the different locations are beautifully well created. Perhaps the game’s crowning achievement is that of its voice acting, arguably the greatest the medium has ever seen. Riley is an exceptional new character and my only complaint is that it took this long for us to see her. Ellie is even better here than she was previously and it seems obvious she is the star of the show going forward for the franchise.
Some will feel short changed by the game’s length which only took me two hours to finish, but I don’t agree. As the end credits rolled I was left both fulfilled and wanting more. This is perfect as I am now even more interested in a sequel than I was before, hoping that everything we have experienced both here and in the main game will continue. The main game’s final moments now have even more resonance and I’m excited to see how Ellie’s story will continue. Left Behind is definitely worth the price of admission and is the perfect way to close this chapter or to start the next one. Now I’m left dying to find out what happens next.
The ability to release episodic content instead of a complete product can have both positive and negative effects. On one hand it means you are delivered a story at the pace the developer wants you to consume it, you have time to think things through and speculate what might happen next and are left chomping at the bit for when you will be given more. On the other hand it can slow the pace of a story down as you can’t completely remember all the intricacies and you could lose interest in a story that perhaps you would have been gripped by, where it say a book where you can read it at your own pace.
A four month gap is not what Telltale would have wanted for The Wolf Among Us and I have already said this shouldn’t happen for the next episode, so does it impact the story? It is testament to the writing that so far I am still very invested in the characters and world, even though I maybe had hoped for a little more in the long awaited return of the series. In today’s world of TV box set marathons and Netflix binges it’s rather painful at times waiting for new content but if you have the patience, you definitely won’t regret it.
Following Episode 1 was always going to be tough as it was so excellently executed in nearly every area. Being introduced to all the characters and their back stories as well as setting up what the main plot of the story will be was fantastic and trying to build upon that foundation is no easy feat. With a massive cliffhanger at the end of Episode 1, fans have been dying to find out more and that’s where expectations could have possibly exceeded what you should have expected.
A twist shortly after the episode begins does somewhat negate the impact of it’s predecessor but in the long term I think it makes for an even more interesting story, even if we are heading in a different direction to the one you could have possibly been speculating on for the previous months. The world and it’s rules are really starting to take shape now and feel very fleshed out. If the term “Glamour” isn’t a regular part of your vocabulary by now then maybe this game isn’t for you.
Bigby is becoming more interesting and layered as time progresses and is really starting to become one of the great video game protagonists. Choosing to be kind to some while mean to others is not just a basic button prompt but rather a personality trait that you are learning to develop. I find myself for the most part being nice to someone in the beginning as I would like to think people are willing to cooperate with a sheriff in the middle of a murder investigation. But if someone won’t help after being asked nicely or is being irrationally aggressive, I’m not afraid to get physical. Hell, last episode I ripped a guy’s arm clean off for being a jerk.
The supporting cast also isn’t just there to fill up the numbers but rather integral in both setting up the story and the key to solving what is going on. I am starting to feel sorry for The Woodsman after initially being very hostile towards him and wonder how many people know more information than they like to let on. Mr. Toad is still an hilarious character which is very well voice acted and it was nice to see repercussions from the actions of the last episode.
The introduction of Georgie is maybe the best scene in the whole episode as we see him in his natural habitat and are immediately filled with different emotions on how to deal with him. It is most likely that you wanted to hurt the guy and I don’t blame you, but ultimately he isn’t the worst person we will encounter during time in Fabletown. Perhaps the only flaw is that the entire cast can’t all get an equal amount of screen time. Where is the love for Colin?
Once again the only complaint to be had is the frame rate issues and lag that like to rear their ugly head on a rather unfortunate consistent basis. Prevalent in both the previous episode and in The Walking Dead, it seems to just be a problem with Telltale’s engine on Xbox 360. It is not enough to ruin the flow or break the gameplay but a seemingly small problem that, if fixed, would just make an enjoyable experience that much better.
The adult nature of the story continues in full force showing that Telltale really isn’t afraid of pulling any punches. We are tasked with examining a corpse, interrogating (with the option of torturing) someone for information, visiting a strip club, and also searching a murder scene. The dialogue again is excellent whether it’s Bigby’s interactions with Magic Mirror, Mr. Toad and his love of F-bombs, Georgie and his unique turn of phrase or Beauty with her almost heart wrenching pleas of innocence in the face of danger. The exceptional voice work combined with fantastic writing helps every single character develop their own personality which is the key to establishing the tone and setting.
Smoke and Mirrors is a fine episode that is keeping with Telltale’s high standards of late and is definitely a worthy addition for the season. By the time the entire season has been released I don’t think it will be remembered as the best or the worst but rather a solid entry that sets up more than it progresses. A long wait does unfairly impact this episode more than it should as I really wanted more, another unfortunate consequence of Telltale creating such a fantastic story. In short, I thoroughly enjoyed the episode and am already looking forward to the next one. Let’s hope it comes sooner this time around though.
If you missed it earlier Microsoft announced some pretty big news that affects the future of the Xbox One. They have purchased the Gears of War IP from Epic Games for all existing and future games as well as entertainment experiences and merchandise rights. Not only that they also announced that Black Tusk studios will be developing the next game in the series and that Rod Fergusson has joined the studio in a leadership role to oversee the future of the franchise. Thats definitely a lot to take in.
Lets backtrack slightly and look at the history of the series which shows this was pretty much an inevitability. After Epic finished work on the trilogy it was clear they had no further plans for the series and many key players at the studio left. After what now looks like pressure from Microsoft to release a new game, Epic worked alongside People Can Fly and released GOW: Judgment which is as close to a cash grab in a franchise you can get. It makes sense that Epic have done everything they want with the series and with it being Microsoft’s 2nd biggest exclusive franchise on the Xbox 360, it’s no surprise they want to continue releasing new games. So this deal pretty much benefits both sides.
So what does this mean for the series itself? The trilogy was wrapped up very nicely and Judgment showed that even with a nonsense story that made no sense, fantastic gameplay and entertainment can carry you a very long way as it was still a fun game. It would make sense to try and set up a brand new trilogy as it not only is the most profitable idea but it seems to be the in thing to do right now. That leads them with two options; use all the old characters from the first 3 games or start a brand new story with new characters in the same setting.
I think brand new characters is what would be best for the series as I really liked the conclusion in GOW 3 and wouldn't want them to start messing with it by trying to find ways to start the conflict once again. Of course trying to sell brand new characters even in a recognisable brand is very risky and something I think Microsoft have zero intention on doing. Considering how reluctant they are to make Halo games without Master Chief, which is a more well known franchise, this shows me the chances of a new trilogy without Marcus and co is very small indeed. Which is a real shame.
Of course there is no need to totally jump into a new trilogy right away. They could just make another stand alone game and try out many new ideas and concepts. After all, this is brand new hardware and an almost completely different team working on the series for the first time. Again history shows us Microsoft isn’t too worried about this after 343 Industries dived straight into a new Halo trilogy (They did Halo Anniversary but this wasn't a new game) so it wouldn't surprise me if they do the same here. Again, I just don’t think the business decisions they are likely to make reflect what I think is best for the franchise.
I personally love the Gears of War franchise. It gets a lot of hate for being a bro shooter but I still think it has by far the best third person shooter mechanics in any game and is still one of the most fun experiences I have playing with friends via co-op, horde or multiplayer. I do however find myself extremely reluctant to get excited about a new game. Some things are best left untouched and after an incredible trilogy, I would be happy if I never played another game in the series. I would rather see the talented people that made it do something else and this is pretty much what has happened.
There are two people that made the series what it is today more than anyone else. The first is Cliff Bleszinski who left Epic after GOW 3 and since then has been enjoying his retirement. He has talked a lot recently about wanting to form a new studio and create a new shooter for the PC and to me that is more exciting than anything GOW related in the future.
The 2nd person is Rod Fergusson. Him being involved in the future of the franchise is the only thing that gives me a glimmer of hope that the new games could be anywhere the quality of it’s predecessors. However even with Rod involved he is still only one person and with a completely new team and ideas on what the franchise should be, who knows which direction the new games will go in.
Considering the amount of money Microsoft had to spend to get this IP it wouldn't surprise me if their goal is to release a new game every other year alongside Halo so they have at least one game from the two franchises released each year. This is exactly what I don’t want from the franchise and it is with love and a heavy heart that I would rather see the series disappear than just become some annual thing that never feels new or exciting.
I will obviously reserve judgment until the game is released but as my favorite series from the last generation, I want experiences on the next generation to not be the same old thing as before. Hopefully they can make it feel like something new in a familiar setting but the chances of that actually happening are so slim, I would rather just keep the great memories I had with the franchise and move on.
Better late than never. I just remembered I did some gaming predictions for the year of 2013 back in January 5th last year and I haven’t checked the results yet. Last year I got 3 out of 5 correct so let’s see if I can do better or fail miserably! These were posted on this very blog so you can go back and check and I’ll reveal my 2014 predictions after these results. Here are my 2013 predictions.
1. A Call of Dutygame will NOT be the best selling game of 2013, across all platforms.
CORRECT. For the first time in 4 years, a Call of Duty game was not the best selling game of the year. Not much to add to this one other than I incorrectly predicted this in 2012 and the game that beat it ties into my next prediction.
2. GTA V will break the entertainment launch record (Overall income in 24 hours).
CORRECT. GTA V holds multiple records and one of them is best overall income in 24 hours. I was entirely convinced this would happen from the second it was announced back in November 2011 due to how high the install base currently is for Xbox 360 and PS3. A worthy holder of the record.
CORRECT. This is a pretty boring one just because it was a 50/50 shot anyway. My thinking was that Sony would announce first because they wouldn't want to be chasing Microsoft like last time and it ended up being announced pretty far ahead of the Xbox One. A whole 3 months to gain goodwill with the public and it definitely helped create the good buzz the console seems to currently hold.
4. Smash Brothers on Wii U will be officially announced this year. It will NOT come out in 2013.
WRONG. This was pretty dumb on my part. Turns out the game was first announced back in 2011 so this was a silly thing to say. We didn’t see anything or even get a logo back then but it was officially announced by Nintendo at E3 2011 so I was wrong. It didn’t come out in 2013 so I could give myself half a point but screw that, this one was just plain wrong.
WRONG. This one I feel slightly unlucky on. We already knew about Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain had been shown but was not officially known as a Metal Gear Solid game so this prediction seemed completely unlikely to happen. Then The Phantom Pain was revealed as MGS 5 with Ground Zeroes acting as a prologue and suddenly this wasn't so silly. Unfortunately the game is coming to everything and isn't exclusive so no points here. Damn you Kojima!
So 3 out of 5 once again. Not too bad but considering they were pretty safe and one prediction had zero chance of being right, I didn't do so well. Here’s the exciting part, new predictions! Here are my 5 gaming predictions for 2014:
Pretty safe one to open things up. I’ve been saying this for over a year that the game would come to PC at a later date. Sort out the launch problems, get the DLC out and then port the game. I feel like if this doesn't happen then something very strange happened to Rockstar in 2014 that stopped it.
2. Fallout 4 will be announced but won't be released in 2014.
OK, so this is extremely safe but I want it to happen so I’m still going to include it. The leaks for this game are getting silly now and there’s no smoke without fire. I can’t see how we get past E3 and this game still isn’t officially announced by Bethesda. Just talk about it already!
3. Rockstar Games will announce their next game in 2014 but it won't release this year. It will be Bully 2.
This may surprise some people so I should give some context. A new Rockstar published game has been released every year since 2008 (GTA IV, Episodes from Liberty City, Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire, Max Payne 3 and GTA V). I think most of 2014 will still be focused on GTA V. New DLC, add ons to GTA Online and porting to PC. I do however think towards the end of the year Rockstar will want to tease what they have planned for 2015 and I think it will be Bully 2.
They have talked about it for ages now and are clearly fans of the franchise and want to make another. Unlike games like Manhunt that never get mentioned, Bully pops up in developer conversations all the time. The team that made Bully then made Max Payne 3, and since that game shipped they seem to be working on something else. I also think it makes sense to release a somewhat safe game as the first foray on the new consoles. They won’t want to dive straight back into Red Dead until the install base is higher so I think Bully 2 is the perfect title for them to begin building open world games on the new consoles and will be lapped up by the hardcore community.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone talk about this as a possibility but I thought of the idea a few months back and think it seems like the perfect idea. I don’t know if the new Kinect is powerful enough to track individual finger movements so you could play air guitar and it know what notes you are hitting but if it can then this could be huge.
Rhythm games were massive at one point and I think if you can remove the need for silly plastic instruments you could potentially have a system seller on your hands. Again, I have no idea if this is even capable but if it is, the potential is insane.
5. Resident Evil 7 is announced. It continues the shitty, downward trend of the franchise and depresses survival horror fans around the world.
I saying this one with a pinch of snideness but I really hope I’m wrong. I hope the next time we see Resident Evilit is a complete reboot and starts things from scratch. New consoles is the perfect time as you don't need to rely on numbered sequels anymore but I can’t see it happening. What I see is RE7 announced, looks even more action-based with machine guns and helicopter crashes and makes me want to cut myself. I love this franchise too much to see it treated the way it currently is.
I included this as a bonus prediction as I’m one of the only people that want it to happen but I’m hoping this somehow serves as a self fulfilling prophecy. I wrote a post before about how I think Sony having it’s own exclusive open world crime game could be great for the system and considering they own the IP, theoretically nothing is stopping them. Except the fact that the previous games didn't sell that well and would cost a lot to make but those are just minor roadblocks right? I really hope so.
So there we have it. 5 more predictions that will make me look very silly in one year’s time. These are just for fun so let me know what your predictions are, however safe or ridiculous they may be. Until next time...
I’ll try and keep this brief as we are already into 2014 so I’m slightly late finishing this list. Unlike my top 10 games where I’ve pretty much played everything I was interested in, I haven't had the same luxury with films. Most have only had a cinema release in 2013 and without being available on Bluray yet I could include them on next year’s list but as they were officially released in 2013 I’ll just give them a name check now. I am yet to see Machete Kills, Gravity, Oldboy, Anchorman 2, Don Jon & The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Also, a couple of these films were released in 2012 in US but I assure you in the UK where I live we had to wait till 2013 for these fantastic films. Anyway, let’s finally start the list!
10. Bad Grandpa/Metallica: Through the Never
Yep, I’m breaking my own rules straight away by including two films into 1 entry but it’s the only time I’m doing it for either list so deal with it. I only watched both these films in the past week and are both related to things I personally like a lot. I’m a huge Metallica fan (see the username) so it’s obvious I would enjoy this concert film and I’ve loved Jackass my entire life. The “Old Man” sketch was one of my least favorite throughout the show’s duration but this is still great. Any new Jackass related content I will take and this is definitely the funniest it’s been so far. It’s also more heart-warming than you would expect and some parts made me cry of laughter. OK, now that weird entry is out of the way the real list can start.
9. Star Trek Into Darkness
I was never remotely into Star Trek and have only seen the two most recent films which is probably why I enjoy them so much. I’m a huge J.J Abrams fan and I just think they are super fun action sci-fi films. I really like the cast and some of the sequences in this film are incredible. Special mention has to go to one of the best actors around currently, Benedict Cumberbatch who kills it as Khan and completely steals the film.
J.J is the only guy that could get me interested in Star Trek and any new Star Wars films for that matter. With two great films so far under his belt and the huge task of the directing Episode 7 up next I am fascinated to see what he comes up with.
8. The Class of '92
This one is pretty niche if you aren't from the UK or aren't into football (soccer) but if you are it’s pretty much a must watch. A documentary that details the story of 6 young footballers who grew up together and achieved unprecedented glory in the game. Being a Manchester United fan it was always going to resonate with me and the subject material is perfect for a documentary.
As far as documentaries I don't think it is particularly well made. A great documentary can get you interested in something you had zero interest in beforehand. This film won’t do that. But if you are into the subject it’s great and definitely worth checking out.
7. Pain and Gain
Easily the best Michael Bay film I’ve ever seen. And easily the best performance from The Rock who is equally hilarious, scary and sympathetic. Mark Wahlberg is also fantastic and overall I was so surprised with how much I enjoyed this film. I really enjoy the subject matter of 80’s body-building and the story is ludicrous and over the top which works perfectly as a comedy story.
Criticism of the film was that it portrayed killers based on real life people as funny, loveable clowns. I don’t agree as I know this isn’t a documentary trying to tell a real story. Sure, its based on real life events but that's just the starting point to create a fiction film. I was thoroughly entertained and will watch again many times for many more laughs.
6. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
Another film that won't resonate that well outside of the UK. I’ve been a huge fan of Alan Partridge for years and talks of a film have been ongoing for as long as I can remember. Based in my home town of Norwich, Partridge is something of a local legend and the wait for a film was definitely worth it.
Most admirably I liked how the film doesn't rely on old jokes or fans knowing the character inside out. It works as a self contained story if you've never watched Partridge before as most comedies take the easy way out which they certainly did not do here. Long life Alan Partridge.
5. We're the Millers
This was definitely my biggest surprise of the year. Having seen the trailer and thought it looked great I heard that the film wasn't so good. I decided the trailer was strong enough to still give it a watch and was completely shocked with what I got. I don’t know why this wasn't better received as I thought it was completely hilarious. I actively dislike most comedies these days such as the awful Hangover films but this is exactly what I wanted. It doesn't take itself seriously, has a nonsense story which only serves for comedic purposes and does not run for 30 minutes too long.
The performances of all 4 actors are very solid with the chemistry between them all great for the story. Particularly that of the seemingly perfect Emma Roberts who I have to give a name check to for continually being awesome in everything she does. If you just want a flat out funny comedy like the ones of the 90’s that I feel are a dying breed these days, you could do far worse than giving this one a try.
4. Wreck-It Ralph
Yes this came out in November 2012 in the US but in the UK it didn't arrive until early 2013 but was worth the delay. You've probably heard of this film so I don’t really need to add much. What I really liked is that it has the foundation of all my favorite animated films, a great story. Many animated films can be funny but rarely do they have a solid foundation when you strip away all the jokes. It’s what makes the Toy Story films so perfect. This is similar and deserves to be watched whether you are a kid, super into games or none of the above. Just an all round great film.
Also, as I mentioned I haven't really liked comedies the past 5 years or so but this year was fantastic. Half of this list can be considered comedies and that’s a huge trend which I hope continues in 2014.
3. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
What a film this is. An Unexpected Journey narrowly missed my top 5 last year (it was 6 when I wrote the list) but after watching it multiple times this year and reading the book I was super hyped for the film. Overall it’s very good but what makes it shoot up this list is the last 45 minutes. When the attraction that everyone has been waiting for hits the screen, Smaug the magnificent, I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. I don't think I exhaled for the entire final moments of the film and the ending was perfection.
Having only seen the film once at cinema, I cannot wait to relive it multiple times this year on Bluray before the trilogy ends this December. Peter Jackson’s middle earth films are one of the best achievements in the history of film and this was a worthy instalment.
2. Evil Dead
Finally a horror film! I’m insanely into horror and this has been a truly horrendous year for the genre, which I’ll get into at the bottom. But Evil Dead was a shining light which stood out amongst utter garbage. Being a huge fan of the original, this project could have went wrong in so many ways. In the end I think they made the best Evil Dead film that is possible and if I have the option now to watch any, this is my favorite of all entries.
Well written, finely acted especially by Jane Levy who is just incredible and some amazingly orchestrated gore makes this by a mile the best horror film of 2013. Fede Alvarez deserves huge credit and I hope he stays in the genre with something original for his next project. I don’t think they should do a sequel as this is perfect the way it is but whatever happens next, this film deserves every single bit of praise I could think to heap on it.
1. Django Unchained
Feels like a lifetime since this came out. Released January 2013 in the UK, this is another film that it seems silly to try and add to what has already been said. For me personally Tarantino is the reason I studied film for 5 years and every time he releases a film it’s unlike anyone else in the industry. I don't think this is remotely his best film but Tarantino is on another level to 99% of directors out there.
Compared to how long the ideas for his previous films took to marinate in his mind before release, this film was almost an afterthought. It shows that whatever he comes up with, its guaranteed gold. Special mention to Leonardo DiCaprio who was once again snubbed for an Oscar (funny enough this time by a co-star). Fuck those guys, you are one of the best actors of your generation.
Quick mention to some films I enjoyed that narrowly missed the list which include Now You See Me, This is the End, Olympus Has Fallen & Monsters University. The worst film I saw in 2013 was without a doubt Kick Ass 2. Complete trash. Also, I mentioned it being a poor year for horror as I was really disappointed with many horror films this year. VHS made my top 5 last year and I was underwhelmed with it’s sequel. ABC’s of Death had a great concept but was a chore to sit through in the end. I love Rob Zombie but Lords of Salem was bad and You’re Next which I waited two years to see was my biggest disappointment of the year. I really hope 2014 is a better year for the genre but until then I’ll just keep watching Martyrs. It’s the best horror film of the year no matter which year you watch it.
I've been updating this list throughout the year as I've played each game so should be a pretty accurate representation of my favourite games. Also there's usually a bunch of games I'm interested in that I didn't play but I mostly got to play everything this time. I don't have a Wii U so I unfortunately can't judge Pikmin 3, Wind Waker HD and Super Mario 3D World and on the new consoles only Dead Rising 3 has my interest so far. And I only just got Pokemon Y so can't really place that either and still need to finally jump into Fire Emblem: Awakening at some point.
Also after reading other lists I think my choices consist of mainly "obvious" (probably because they're good?) games and some that people either loved or hated. If you want to learn of some crazy obscure game you have never heard of then I'm sorry but these are just the games I enjoyed the most. OK? OK, let's go...
I had insanely low expectations for this game going in which probably helped me actually enjoy it. Yeah it's nowhere near as good as Asylum but it's still got really fun gameplay and the story was very unexpected. The initial plot wasn't that interesting and the developer really kept a lot secret. If you don't know what this game is about then definitely give it a go because the story is a hell of a lot better than what the pre-release talk focused on.
It's the first Arkham game that I didn't feel the need to keep playing after the story and get all the collectibles but for just a stand alone, linear experience I had fun for the game's duration. Some of the boss fights were also excellent and actually better than most from the previous games. In short, this game is probably better than you would expect but still not as good as it could have been.
This game gets a lot of hate and some is warranted but definitely not all of it. It's the worst Gears' game so far, but it still contains the best cover based shooting mechanics in any game, a very enjoyable campaign that's nonsense but super fun when played with friends and the multiplayer is hit or miss but I'm glad they at least tried something different instead of releasing the same game yet again.
No Horde mode really sucks and the new multiplayer ideas are good but unfortunately not as good as anything previously. In spite of all this I still played this game for 100 hours. I love Gears for its gameplay and it's still by far my favourite game to play with friends. Even though I'm a huge fan of the series I would be happy to see it retired for at least 3/4 years then maybe revived if any new ideas come up. If not, I thoroughly enjoyed the trilogy and Judgment was still fun even if it wasn't as great as previous entries.
Oh Beyond: Two Souls. I don't think I've played a game that I believe deserves such differing opinions before. I've heard valid arguments that this game is garbage and many complaints I don't disagree with. But there's also plenty of things I love about this game in spite of its obvious flaws. I really did like the story for the most part even though some of it is nonsense and really liked the themes of afterlife that it brings up.
My favourite section was without a doubt the homeless scene where you must find your own way of acquiring food for the night. It made me feel completely in the character and I 100% believed the situation I was playing. Overall I'm just glad games like this exist. Anything so divisive and opinion splitting definitely deserves to be played, even if it is to just see which side you end up on. You may be surprised at what you get with this game. I know I was.
Even though I was impressed with the early showings of this game, playing it was still a great surprise. Sure, there's the typical open world sort of jankiness but if you've played enough games to overcome these slight issues, hidden away is a really fantastic game. I loved the look and feel of the game which was genuinely tense at times, something that Dead Rising (a game I really enjoy) has always lacked.
I sometimes forget this wasn't a full release because it really doesn't feel like any other XBLA game I've played. Now it's on PC and an MMO sequel that will eventually come to Xbox One, I'm really glad this game did well. Microsoft criminally under market their games and without the push of Summer of Arcade this could have easily flopped so it's great to see the audience react so well. Definitely give this game a try if survival open world zombie-ness is your sort of thing.
This game is such a delight. I was bored one Friday and decided to check the PSN for something to play and saw this as a new release. I had heard good things but didn't know how it played or what it was about. I decided, what the hell, let’s check it out. For the entire weekend I couldn't stop playing it until I got the platinum trophy. Gorgeous to look at, great sound and one of the tightest controlling games I've ever played made this such an awesome experience.
Since that weekend I haven’t gone back to the game at all after mastering everything there was to do. I definitely want to go back but the first time of learning and unlocking all the new mechanics that completely change the way you play the game was just astounding. The combination of platforming and fighting with the same controls was special and the game slowly got more challenging without ever becoming frustrating. Just a completely unexpected all round fun experience that is unlike most games I've played before.
The year of Luigi’s biggest highlight. All jokes aside, this game is fantastic. The fact that Nintendo has franchises such as this or Kid Icarus that they can revisit from their past at any time makes them unlike any other developer out there. The tone of this game from the start is fantastic with Luigi playing the scaredy cat rather too convincingly at times and the use of 3D environments is by far the best I’ve seen since Super Mario 3D Land. The level design and puzzles are excellent and the way each mansion offers up something new each time keeps things fresh for the entire duration.
I enjoyed my time with this game so much that to try and prolong its length I even found every gem and collected the Boo ghost in every level. What felt rushed and underutilised on the GameCube has found it’s perfect home on the 3DS and I really hope this isn't the last bit of ghost busting action we see for Luigi. Even if his year of glory has come to an end.
This was the latest addition to my list. I started playing on Boxing Day and for the next three days I could not put it down. I've finished it now but am going to try and collect anything I missed and probably going to start a new game via Hero Mode. Having never played A Link To The Past there is no nostalgia present here for me personally. It was a brand new experience that was so much fun, it's easily one of the best handheld games I've ever played.
I loved the combat, the way you can tackle the dungeons in any order and the puzzles are genius. The wall merging mechanic is so clever and completely changes the way you approach the game. It was one of the only 3DS games I've played with the sound and 3D turned all the way up as both play an integral part in the experience. The 3DS has one of the best games libraries currently across all platforms and this may just be it's crowning achievement so far. Now give me Majora's Mask 3D please.
These next 3 games are almost impossible for me to separate as they would all make my top 10 games of all time list for sure. TLoU is getting many awards for all the things it does so well by so many. Story, characters and visuals are some of the best I've ever experienced in the medium. But I do think a sequel could be better which is why it only makes my number 3 slot.
I loved the early combat sections of the game. Stealthily sneaking around in the dark to avoid clickers, occasionally having enough resources to build a shiv and then choosing the perfect moment to use your only weapon. It was fantastic survival horror. Then the game became more of a blockbuster by forcing me to fight humans with guns, filling areas with enemies and became like Uncharted with no ammo. I'm not sure why this happened but a sequel with the emphasis on stealth and avoiding combat whilst also facing infected far more than other survivors would be a huge improvement. Considering Uncharted 2 was 1000 times better than the first game I know Naughty Dog can improve upon an already incredible formula.
I really, really wanted to give this game my number one spot and if it was released any other year except 2013 or 2010 it would have destroyed the competition. From the initial reveal trailer that trolled everyone by thinking we was returning to Rapture only to then show you this incredible new world I was blown away. Finally playing the game lived up to my expectations and more. I personally loved the story as I'm a big fan of time travel/multi-verse craziness even if it doesn't totally make sense and I had zero problems with the combat like so many people have cited. It's by far the most fun I've had playing a FPS, the combination of Vigors and guns is more enjoyable than ever and with the Skylines thrown into play to create speed and verticality to each environment, it was a total blast.
The performance and characterisation of Elizabeth is one of the best in any game and Columbia might be my 2nd favorite video game world I've ever played in. The opening of the game is so well constructed from the beginning in the boat till the moment you first see Columbia in the clouds, the sound and reworking of popular songs is just beautiful and Songbird is just so freaking cool. I've beat the game 3 times and just talking about it makes me want to play it again. Quite simply the reason I play video games is for experiences like this that no other medium can replicate.
I've wrote an obscene amount about these game over the past two years I really don't know what else needs to be said. I looked forward to this game on a daily basis from the second it was announced and my expectations were that it would be the best game ever made and more importantly my favourite game ever. It is neither of those things (San Andreas will always be that). But what we did get was probably the most impressively created world to explore in any video game.
I did have some problems with the story and characters, the online component reached nowhere near its potential yet and I've haven't played the game for a month. But I still put in 200 hours so far, 100% the game within a week of release and am still astounded every time I see Los Santos in its all beauty from the seat of my blimp. Such a visually impressive open world game on old hardware with an unrivalled amount of content is a feat that 99% of developers are simply bedazzled by. If you can only play/buy one game this year, this would have to be the only choice.
Its been a strange year for me with so many conversations regarding GTA, it's like the whole world talking about your family all of a sudden. I sometimes forget being in my superfan bubble that GTA is such a huge franchise that everyone has to have an opinion on. Maybe 2014 will be the year when most fanfare has died and I can go back to just discussing/playing the game with fellow crazies like myself in the bubble again until the next game comes out and everyone jumps on the bandwagon. Until then, I will continue playing GTA V for a very long time indeed and I hope it holds up as well as the PS2 games that I still play to this day.
And that's that. Overall I think it may be my favourite year of video games for a very long time. My top 3 as I mentioned are some of my favourite games ever and I don't think they'll be a strong a year for what I like personally for a very long time. I will post my top 10 films shortly (within the week) so look out for that one also. Hope you enjoy, until next time...