My 2015 GOTY thing

I'll be honest, I only really played about 4 games this year. I mean I played more than that, but a cursory run through and an actual play through are two different things. I technically played Bloodborne, but I didn't play enough of it to know if it's really great or whatever. I wasn't a Souls vet so the game didn't have a pedigree with me personally. I like it. I liked the look of it and I enjoyed the small amount of time I spent there, but I couldn't adequately gauge it's worthiness in a year end wrap-up. I bought and played Forza 6, technically. But I didn't take the deep dive that I did with Horizon 2 or Forza 5 so while I can assume it's more of the solid racing goodness I actually don't really know.

So instead of a Top 10 list, I'm just going to point to the 4 games that I actually spent enough time playing to say that I liked them (or didn't).



This was kind of the big one for me this year. I know many of you will likley have enjoyed Witcher or Metal Gear more, but I never got around to those games (yet). I'm a huge nerd for Fallout though and from the announcement to the release, speculation and hope were pretty much all consuming activities. Happily, I can say that I enjoyed it greatly. Or rather, I AM enjoying it greatly as I have played nothing else since Novermber 10th.

I know the game has been criticized for being too similar to Fallout 3, but for me that is pretty much exactly what I wanted it to be. More of that thing I loved so much 6 or 7 years ago. And darn it all, it works for me. I'm not the biggest fan of Elder Scrolls, I've never played a Witcher game, but Fallout is the open-world game that just gets me. I like the dark sense of humor, I like the setting, I like the alternate version of history they've built over the years. I. Like. Fallout.

So this one is my best of the year easily and hands down. I've put over 200 hours into it already and I am not even near finished with my first playthrough. Heck, the first week it was out one could have been forgiven for assuming I played it just as a base-management sim. Settlements have occupied way too much of my time over the past month but it's all been a joy.


Batman: Arkham Knight

I bought Arkham Knight and played it for a good amount of time. I finished its story (97%, never did get those last 120 Riddler trophies) and I guess I enjoyed it. But it wasn't a lot of fun. It certainly wasn't the end of an era game I was hoping it would be.

ROCKSTEADY has made two games that I adored (Asylum and City), but Knight did not grab me. I still love Batman in comics, films, whatever. But the game constantly forcing me into that Batmobile over and over to keep blasting away at endless Drone tanks just didn't sit well with me. I wrote a review you can read if you really want to know more. LINK

Bottom line; Liked it, didn't love it. Good, not great. And since Asylum and City were great, it felt like more of a misstep than a finale. Too bad. I hope whatever ROCKSTEADY works on next is fun both for fans and for them. Eager to see what they do next.


Mortal Kombat X

In my younger days, I was a fighting game enthusiast in every way. Big fan of Street Fighter 2 in the arcade scene of the day, big fan of MK, of SNK, KI, even Tekken and Virtua Fighter to a degree. Though the 2D fighter will always be my favorite.

MKX felt great to play, it was fun and it had an entertaining story. I can't say it had a good story but it was bad in that way that all MK stories have been "bad". Like a bad B movie that you just love to watch over and over. I loved it.

This one ended up being fun for me on mutliple levels as well. Not only was it fun to play both as a single player game and a mutliplayer game, but I ended up using it as fodder for silly YouTube music videos. They're dumb, but I enjoyed making them anyway. I doubt anyone would want to see them, but if you do, here is a link to the playlist: LINK

And MKX gave me something I've wanted since I was 11 years old, I got to play as Jason Voorhees in a video game. Game, set, match. This one was a winner.


Fallout Shelter

It feels strange putting a phone/tablet game on my list. I normally wouldn't have done that. But I did play a lot of Fallout Shelter this year. More than a lot of other games that I could have. As I said up above, I love Fallout. And this game was fun enough. It isn't great even for a mobile game. But it's simple comforting busy work kinda engagement and I kept wanting to see my vault grow.

But the main reason I kept playing this one was that my girlfriend started playing it with me. She's not a gamer. She's a nurse and her career is her main focus. But it's also a stressful job and I've suggested that a fun game to relieve the stress and take her mind off of things for a bit, might be beneficial. And Fallout Shelter ended up being that game. I still help her with it more often than not. But we both check in on our vaults and dwellers together and have a good time with it. Surprisingly, it ended up being one of the games I played the most this year.

Honorable Mentions

Mario Maker and Splatoon. Both good games that I enjoyed, but didn't play enough to really give them a spot on the list. I actually had more fun watching Mario Maker stuff than actually playing it. From Dan and Patricks throw-down challenge to watching my daughter get consumed by Splatooning, it was a good year for Nintendo even if the controller wasn't technically in my hands for much of it.


And here's a few games that I plan to get around to playing if I can ever stop playing Fallout 4

  • I definitely want to give the Witcher games a try. I'm thinking I'll probably start with 3 rather than starting at the beginning. It looked great and all my friends have played it so I'll definitely give this one a whirl. Probably when I can grab a copy on Steam somewhere in the new year.
  • I know many people have been praising Rocket League. I never played it but it looked fun. I am normally not much for multiplayer games, but I may give this one a spin just to see what all the hype is about. The Quick Look made it seem fun so I need to get around to trying this one.
  • Until Dawn looks great. I borrowed a copy from my daughter's girlfriend and I'm going to try it out soon. Love horror games so this should be a no brainer.
  • Bloodborne. I did play a bit of this, but I want to go back and give it the attention it deserves. I was distracted when I played it and couldn't really commit to it and it seems like a game that needs you to commit. I'll revisit this one in 2016.


Post Christmas UPDATE

Well I guess I'll get to Witcher 3 sooner rather than later. I received Witcher 3, Just Cause 3, Mad Max as well as the next gen version of GTA V as Christmas gifts from my family.

Geez, 4 open world games at once. It's an embarrassment of riches! Although now I have the difficult albeit fun task of deciding which to tackle first. It's a good problem to have!


Giant Bomb/Star Trek mash-up

This one may take some 'splaining.

A week or so back in the community Spotlight, they featured a game by @havochq. I thought it was really neat, so I did some fan art for it. You can see the whole thing here: LINK

I then noticed that she'd also made a game called "Commander Ryckert". This, coupled with the Bombcast having some Star Trek talk in recent episodes, made me want to do a mash up of TNG and our beloved Giant Bomb crew. Sadly, I'm not the best at drawing caricatures (or anything really), but this is my best attempt and I hope you like it. :)

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I had to make a couple of major edits to the TNG crew since Giant Bomb has almost no women. I cheated with Mary Kish, but she was around from time to time. With Troi and Guinan, I just had to go with the gender swap. I thought about giving Vinny Troi's low cut outfits, but we'll save that for "season 2" perhaps. :)



To those of you who follow comics, you've likely heard about Spider-Gwen in the last few months. She was a new version of the Gwen Stacey character, reworked as an alternate universe where she got the spider bite powers instead of Peter Parker.

Almost instantly embraced by fans, she's made quite a stir and is even set to get her own series now because of the outpouring of fan support for a one-off story in a lead up to Marvel's latest Spider-verse event.

Anyway, I really dig the character so I thought I'd take a shot at drawing her. Here is the result. I hope you like it.


And here's a picture of what would happen if Spider-man really had organic webs instead of Web Shooters and Web Fluid that he invented. :)

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A GotY list? Not really

This year has had some high points. There's no denying it. Shadow of Mordor was pretty good. I'm enjoying the GTA5 re release on my PS4. Wolfenstein managed to be a nice surprise.

All that being said though, a huge part of this year has been layers upon layers of disappointment. Halo: Master Chief Collection, the long running Assassin's Creed series, InFamous:Second Son was much less than it's predecessors managed even though it looked pretty.

Between the extremely piecemeal way some folks are trying to sell games now and so many various problems, I just don't think I can really get behind a Game of the Year list this year. It'd be full of asterisks. Too many games that were twice the hype for half the game (Destiny), games that tried something new with old concepts and left me wanting more (Titanfall), games that frankly should have been delayed (Master Chief Collection, Assassin's Creed), and even the games that I ended up liking were still hampered by a feeling of franchise malaise (InFamous) or just plain old missed opportunity (Sunset Overdrive).

This year has been a mixed bag. Elation, disappointment, happiness followed by heartache. It just feels like making a list of "Best of" would be disingenuous and hollow.

About the only game that really grabbed me with no caveats this year was Civ: Beyond Earth. Never having been very interested in Civ, this was my first one. Adding aliens and terraforming made it appeal more to the sci-fi nerd in me. I'm much more interested in science fiction than history, so I decided to finally give Civ and honest try. And I really ended up having fun with it. My PC has been giving me trouble of late, otherwise I'd probably still be playing it. Maybe next year I can finally get a new machine and give it another go. In the mean time I guess I can play on the Wii U. Mario Kart 8 was pretty great. So those two are my games of the year I guess. Congrats Sid Meier and Nintendo. You guys managed to make a couple of true gems this year. Kudos.

How about you? How was your year of gaming? Do you share my disappointment or am I being too dour? I'd love to hear how other folks have felt about this year in gaming. And if you've got a GotY list going, how about a link? I'd love to take a look. :)


I hope Shadow of Mordor gets ripped off... a lot.

Like many video game fans, I picked up Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and I've been having a bunch of fun playing it this week. (I didn't start it the week it was released because of Forza Horizon 2)

After spending quite a bit of time playing ME:SoM, I really hope that other game makers rip it off (as the title suggests). There's a lot about the Nemesis system to praise and I'm sure you've all read much of it like I have over the past couple of weeks.

The real point of this though, is to share something I was talking about in passing with some friends. What I'd love to see happen is the makers of Star Wars games to look at ME:SoM and steal their little hearts out. The entire time I've been playing it, I can't help but wish it was a game based on a Force wielder.

As I imagine it, a Shadow of Star Wars type game would need to make only a few changes. Most of what works in Mordor would work well with only tiny tweaks to accommodate the license. Instead of a Wraith, you'd have to be in Force purgatory. Instead of Orcs, you'd need to be fighting Bounty Hunters. You could be specific even. Say you were fighting a colony of Mandalorians for instance. That way the Nemesis (NemeSith?) system could have the same kind of naming conventions as ME:SoM. In that you have a list of names and titles and the random generator throws a character together from the various tables or whatever they're doing behind the scenes to give the Orcs such interesting personalities in the game. They could have that unique Mandalorian armor basic style and as the action figures show it would be easy to come up with nearly infinite varieties.

They can even keep the dynamic where a fallen foe regularly comes back after defeat. Make the fights as brutal as you like, and after a defeat they can come back with robotic augmentations, scarred armor, blaster scoring, etc. And with the lesser enemies a lightsaber lends itself to the same kind of brutal combat we see in ME:SoM as well.

The one thing that would need to be changed or added would be some kind of morality system. Usually the binary Good/Evil morality systems are silly because humans are not binary creatures. We exist in the gray. But with the Jedi/Sith it works fine since that's kind of the whole point of the Light/Dark dichotomy. However they decide to implement the system, it should play out in the upgrade screens where you pick your skills. Characters should be similar to Cole from inFamous. With skill sets that favor aggressive saber moves and Lightning for Dark characters, and Stealth and more Force Push/Pull/Grab style maneuvers for the Light. Obviously Light side Jedi shouldn't be shooting Force Lighting and using Force Choke. Although a Kyle Katarn or Starkiller style character would be a must. Someone you could build a story around but also give the player the agency to travel either path but still keep the narrative flowing.

Anyway, this has just been an idea that's been kicking around my head while playing over the past week. I guess we all have our "dream games" we wish were real. So what are some of yours? And if they made a Shadow of Coruscant (or whatever) like I describe here, do you think it would be fun? In this dream scenario lets pretend that EA won't be developing it so we can avoid any fear that comes from them holding the Star Wars license for the purposes of this discussion. :)


The Monks

Watching SpikeTV's "Deadliest Warrior" and they're pitting Shaolin Monks against Maori Warriors. But seeing as the Shaolin were a pacifist order, wouldn't "Deadliest Warrior" be an insult to them?


The Beenox conundrum

For those not in the know, Beenox is the developer who is currently at the helm of the Spider-man franchise. A license owned by Activision and currently in the process of being milked and ruined in the Activision crap crank machine.

Not that I mind them cranking out Spider-man games. At least in theory. I love Spider-man and playing games with him as the main character are like Kryptonite to me. I just can't seem to resist them, even though I know they're ultimately going to fall short of expectations.

But really, what do we expect? These aren't really "gamers games" now are they? These are games designed to appeal for the under 10s. Games meant to get the kiddos to remember moments from the movies or afternoons playing with whatever action figure features Spidey's likeness these days. They aren't meant to be for the hardcore. This ain't Arkham City folks.

After an afternoon and an evening playing the new Amazing Spider-man game, I can't help but feel a bit let down. It's not really even Beenox's fault at this point. I honestly believe that they are trying to make a Spider-man game that will appeal to all of us. But Beenox doesn't get what gamers want. Gamers, at least gamers I know and associate with, would rather fail on their own than play a game that does all the work for them. Gamers would rather have a set of mechanics that allows for them to pull off amazing things, not have a magic "hold my hand" button that makes you look amazing while barely doing any of the work. I'm talking about "Web Rush" in case you don't know. Look up the videos if you aren't following me on this. It's essentially a "be badass" button that has the ol' webhead flip, jump, wall-run, and dive to any point you dictate after pressing the right bumper. And for what it is, it works OK. Not great. Not all that exciting. But the barrier to entry is low and I guess that's what we've allowed to happen. We've let developers hold our hand so long that they don't know how to make anything else.

Many of us fondly remember Spider-man 2: The Movie: The Game. And for good reason. The web-swinging mechanics in that game were unmatched before or since. They gave you an engine to perform amazing feats if your thumbs were nimble and your hands were skilled enough. It was exhilarating in every way to pull off a solid line with Spider-man's web swinging. Everything else in that game was busted though. In anticipation of the new Amazing Spider-man game, I dug out my PS2 and played SM2 for the better part of a day. Fighting bad guys was as formula as it can be. The random crimes were repetetive and the voice over was phoned in and flat. For all intents and purposes, the game doesn't work. Except for the one thing that works so very very well. The swinging. I spent hours just swinging around SM2's virtual world and I know many others did as well. And because it was all based on skill rather than "hard cloud theory" and "web rush". Not everyone was tough enough of course, and the game catered to them as well. There was an "easy swing" mode for those not interested in learning the game. Those who just wanted a tangential movie experience without a lot of effort could have exactly that and more power to them. It's the fact that the games developers gave us the choice, that is why we still remember it to this day.

Beenox, for their part, have made a decent super-hero game this year. It's not the worst of the Spider-man games that I've played (Friend of Foe, I'm looking at you here). I just wish that someone would come along and realize that Spider-man is primed to get his Arkham City. A game that balances great combat, which is almost there in ASM, and great web mechanics like SM2 with interesting visuals, maybe something like Ultimate Spider-man from the PS2 era. A game that uses stealth options like the Noir segments from Shattered Dimensions and gives us the option to really master the mechanics like we did oh so long ago. I guess until then, we'll just have to keep settling. Or, Heaven forbid, skip a few games so they get the message? Nah, that'll never happen. :P

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