Ajay's 2019 Games Log

Hi, thanks for reading! I wanted to do a bit of house cleaning upfront because I'm making a few changes to the way I do my yearly list. Here are some words about it!

I started doing this list in, um... 2010? It was either 2010 or 2011, but as harrowing as it is to think about, that was nearly ten years ago at this point. I have changed a lot in that span, but so have video games and concurrently, the way I play video games. It's not like I was ever some sort of completionist, but back then my idea of getting value out of video games was to, well, finish them. It was like... if I didn't finish a video game, I didn't really have the right to say anything about it, critical or otherwise.

Today, I've done almost a complete 180 on that belief. I play a lot of video games, but I play them how I want to and I get to decide when I've had enough or not. With that, I feel like no matter how much I play or how I decide to play something, I reserve the right to express how I felt about that experience.

I think that learning how to validate my own game experiences was something really important, and has been like... the most important thing I've learned about playing video games since, y'know, I started playing them. It makes me more eager to share how and why I play video games, whether for five minutes or fifteen years. No matter how I play something, I want to talk about it.

So, with all of that said, my list is no longer going to cover just video games that I've "completed" which, to be frank is somewhat of an arbitrary thing at this point. I've never really "completed" League of Legends (unless we count when I uninstalled it in a fit of disgust over the news last year) and there's absolutely no way in hell that you'll ever get me to complete even 1/6th of Resident Evil 0, but that doesn't mean that I didn't play them... unfortunately.

OK, that's it. Bye bye! ♡

- Ajay

P.S. thank you to Daniel_Newton for iterating on my list format last year, otherwise I probably wouldn't have thought to make this change!!

Previous years: [2011] [2012] [2013] [2014] [2015] [2016] [2017] [2018]

List items

  • • January 2nd • PlayStation 3 •

    × DNF

    Man... in the precious moments prior to writing this, I had several revelations. Revelations about myself, about video games... about a lot of shit, man. I had a lot to think about while I was being slaughtered over, and over by the Tyrant in Umbrella Chronicles' retelling of the first Resident Evil game. At some point, the boss fight didn't matter as it reduced my final moments with the game to some masochistic, self-reflective therapy session. Do you know what I realized?

    I realized that the Resident Evil story is mostly, if not entirely pointless. It's pointless to me, to my social life, mental well-being, pointless to Resident Evil... to literally everything in the universe. I can't believe that I'm saying this, but I have better things to do than watch weird robed men turn into leech monsters, and listen to poorly acted Chris Redfield talk about how the Spencer Mansion didn't seem like "somebody's vacation home."

    It's weird that I came to that conclusion too since I literally only wanted to play Umbrella Chronicles to stomach the (extremely stupid) Resident Evil 0 story and fill in some of the gaps in my RE knowledge before I moved onto Resident Evil 4... but you know what? You know what, dude?

    I'm just going to read the fucking wiki page.

  • • (early) January 14th • PlayStation 4 •

    ✓ Completed all missions as Ranger

    What a glorious mess of a video game. I hope they keep making these Earth Defense Force games until the heat death of our universe.

  • • January 18th • PlayStation 4 •

    ✓ Completed main campaign

    I'm kind of in awe at how good Resident Evil 4 is. Not at how good it *still* is but purely on its own merits in 2019. It's wild, too because this game got re-released a billion times and everyone goes on and on about how it's one of the best games ever. Make no mistake, though-- I was floored when I had first played RE4 because it was tense and well-crafted unlike any other action game that I had played before. I still like, remember how much I was screaming and jumping off my seat when I first did the village fight. It was on Tony Hawk levels of excitement.

    That was a long time ago, though and it's easy to forget how good something makes you feel when you're so far away from it. It was even like, still in my memory down to very specific rooms and decors in the later areas-- stuff like "I remember some wild shit happens here" or just having it click in my head that something was about to happen. It's the sort of memory trigger that I've rarely felt when it comes to video games. I guess that kind of says it all.

    Still, though, even without my memories of it, I still think that RE4 holds up exceedingly well across the board. It still feels, looks and sounds absurdly fantastic-- even down to the corny dialogue which perfectly fits that game in its cosy, little b-movie shaped hole. Just thinking about the campy story on its own just solidifies how this could serve as the apex of the whole series. Not only does it *finally* play well and is genuinely terrifying as hell, but it also nails its ridiculous, over-the-top style in a way that isn't detrimental to anything else in the game. I hesitate to call it perfect, but it's damn near close.

    In retrospect, it is alarming just how badly this series needed Resident Evil 4. It's cutting-edge, smart and cool in a way that none of those past games could ever dream of. RE3 onwards (sans the REmake) was boring, archaic and straight up embarrassing. RE4 was rejuvenating, and even to this day I don't think any other Resident Evil game has touched the fine craft that this game has. I can't blame them.

    --

    • January 19th • PlayStation 4 •

    ✓ Completed Separate Ways campaign

    Like any Resident Evil side-story, Separate Ways is almost entirely pointless filler, filling in story gaps that were not only beats that nobody needed to know, but were also fleshed out to be completely uninteresting. Not to mention just rehashing boss fights, locations and cutscenes.

    It's still more Resident Evil 4 though, and I like playing as Ada Wong if only because a) I like playing as girls and b) I like playing as cool girls. That's basically all there is to it.

    Some stray thoughts:

    - I don't really understand, nor do I really care to understand any of the half-baked espionage between Ada, Wesker and whatever organizations that they happen to be working for in secret.

    - They didn't remaster the cutscenes for Separate Ways, so every movie feels like an exercise in distinguishing terrible movie file quality and my own awful eyesight.

    - Ada's shotgun is really, *really* fun. All shotguns needs to feel like that.

    - It's kind of cool that Ada is more or less responsible for the events of Resident Evil 5, though I kinda wish that she was in RE5 with that considered.

  • • January 24th • PlayStation 4 •

    × Dropped at Chapter 6-1

    Revisiting Resident Evil 5 was a uniquely puzzling experience, because it went both exactly how I expected and not quite how I expected. I'll explain.

    I remember Resident Evil 5 getting a lot of flak for being racist not too long before it came out-- mostly because it seemed like you were a buff American dude, going into Africa to light up a bunch of poor, savage locals. They weren't quite zombies, weren't quite human so I could kind of see where that came from. Even as someone who was terribly disconnected from their identity (and subsequent representation), I really didn't find RE5 to be all that alarming because, well, we've shot so many other races of monsters in the old Resident Evil games, right?

    Going back to Resident Evil 5 in 2019 shed a lot of light on just how deeply rooted this racism stuff can seem because RE5 is essentially some sort of half-assed colonizer simulator. Not only are you the self-identified American, going in to shoot up this vague African place, but you're also stealing heirlooms, artifacts and other precious valuables after murdering them to sell for profit. It feels... both surprisingly and unsurprisingly tone-deaf. It doesn't help that it established Umbrella's backstory as a company that scared natives off their land, brought in an army to kill them when they resisted and exploited natural resources to create their virus-- one that they would later use to basically enslave the natives as both their weapons and labor.

    I know- it's a lot and it may seem like I'm reaching here but it's also important to recognize the sensitive context and history behind all of this, and how none of it is approached with any sort of tact or self-awareness. Tact is also not something I expect from Resident Evil when dealing with sensitive issues-- the series is built upon unintentionally laughable melodrama. I just merely wanted to point out that I understand where it comes from now.

    All of that stuff aside, I still think Resident Evil 5 is pretty okay. The shooting is fine and it looks gorgeous. I just found it to be weirdly boring... this was my first time playing it solo since it literally came out, and playing it alone just highlights how much better this game is as co-operative experience. That's not to say that there's no merit to playing it alone-- I still really like the lengths that this game goes to tie all the remaining Umbrella story threads, and I do think that the meat of the Wesker story is by far the most exciting and well-done part about Resident Evil 5's story. I... just felt like I had my fill of RE5 by the time I reached the later levels.

  • • January 27th • PlayStation 4 •

    ✓ Completed Claire A campaign

    Resident Evil 2 is better than I would have given post-2012 Capcom any credit for... and credit is what I will give them, because holy moly. Original Resident Evil 2 in 2018 was exceedingly stressful and creepy all on its own, but the visuals in this re-imagining make the 1997 version look like some sort of fun-times carnival ride. In the same way that REmake felt like the perfect rendering of that cryptic, horrific, creepy mansion, there's a whole lot to love about just how fucked up everything in this game is. The zombies are nasty, the murder scenes are bloody and gnarly and just every location in the police station looks like... well, hell. It's a superb first impression, especially when that fucker Mr. X starts to chase you around. uggghhh

    I kinda felt like a bunch of RE2's charm wore off in the middle section during the literal slog through the muddy, poopy sewers. Even towards the end, the game's sense of urgency just isn't there in the same way that made original RE2's endgame so stressful. It just kind of feels like we're suddenly at the end of the game all of a sudden. Not that the game seems too short, because it fits right in there with the usual 6-10 hour RE playtime, but it just seemed like a shaky pacing issue, is all.

    As of right now, though, that's basically where my list of complaints ends because I really was a fan of everything going on in this game. I know it's scab labor, but my favorite part of Resident Evil 2 was always the Claire and Sherry dynamic, and I thought it was much, much better this time around thanks to some really convincing and touching voice work. I love Sherry so much, and seeing her and Claire bond together like buddies was absolutely adorable. Claire's characterization is much more convincing for a young college student, too. She's feisty, curse-y and real cocky. It was a super nice touch to have Claire curse out enemies as she fought them, because her and I often had the same things to say about ugly zombies.

    RE2 was also, like... way tougher than I had expected it to be. While I breezed through the RE games I played over the past few months, I struggled to get through a lot of encounters properly in this game. Not that I was dying a lot or anything-- it was more along the lines of missing a lot of shots out of panic, or making poor use of items or herbs and stuff like that. Make no mistake-- I still ended the game with a billion healing items and a bunch of ammo, but there were moments where I was getting my ass kicked and it was a total delight. Even though it was hell in the moment, I still loved trying to get through fucked up rooms with no ammo or running for my life from lickers, zombies and all other sorts of shit.

    Again, I feel like it loses steam mid-way, only to partially gain it back towards the end. Really, it's Sherry that carries that last third of the game and I don't know if that weight will hold for everyone. Still, overall it's a wholly entertaining spookfest with tons of nasty gore, messed up enemy encounters and good ol' fashioned survival horror.

    Some stray thoughts:

    - As of right now, I still like original Resident Evil 2 better. You could chock that up to some sort of nostalgia, but I just think it nails the feeling of persistent dread more consistently.

    - Though the helplessness of Alyson Croft's Claire will always be in my heart, this new Claire is a much, much more likable character... even if she has an out-of-place baby face.

    - Thank you for promoting Marvin from eventual-zombie to eventual-zombie-side-character.

    - Like the original, I kind of wish that Mr. X played a more prominent role as a persistent bastard that wouldn't stop chasing you. It definitely would have taken me longer to finish this game if that was the case.

    --

    • January 28th • PlayStation 4 •

    ✓ Completed Leon B campaign

    Aww, man... I had a lot to say about this and I wrote it real good, too!! I accidentally busted up the page and lost all my writing... I'm so sad.

    So, I'll nail it down in bullet points.

    - This Resident Evil 2 remake really stood up on its own. Not only did it respectfully call back to some of the original's most memorable scenes, but it did so in a way that didn't treat the audience (nor itself) like a drooling dummy fed purely on fanservice.

    - I liked Leon's story. The characterization for Ada and Leon is a lot better this time around, especially since they gave Ada some life that wasn't "lady in red femme fatale" sorta stuff. They made Leon legitimately hot.

    - Real good final showdown on the platform. Cathartic, too.

    - The B final boss was always my favorite Resident Evil boss design. It looks really fucking gnarly here. I loved it.

    - Good game. Sad I lost all my writing. :(

  • • February 9th • PlayStation (played on PC w/ RetroArch) •

    I occasionally have these bouts of total fascination with the Gran Turismo series. It usually ends up with me playing one of them for a little bit, only to realize that the Gran Turismo games are not for me.

    This is another one of those instances, though the help from emulation features allowed me to easily get past a lot of the mundane stuff like long loading times and redundant license tests. It's the ever-present reminder that these Gran Turismo games are surprisingly weird for being part of such a massive series. I'm not sure if it's fit for car enthusiasts because of how needlessly complicated just about every single part of this game is. As someone with just a casual interest in cars and extensive interest in video games, the Gran Turismo games are always total headscratchers when it comes to UI design, control, mechanics, you know, video game stuff. At least aesthetically it looks and sounds good to the point where I'm actively fawning over its visual style every time I play one of these games.

    Anyway, my time with GT2 was short-lived, but I still came away relatively satisfied with... well, whatever it was I wanted out of this game. If anything, it made me realize that I don't think that I will ever click with one of these games... but at the least, I can admire just how weird and dedicated they are.

  • • February 22nd • Xbox One •

    ✓ Completed main campaign

    Crackdown 3 is one of the more bizarre new releases that I have played in a while, mostly because they just don't make video games like this anymore. It's exactly that sort of B-tier open world game that I've always been way into-- with the likes of Wheelman, DRIV3R and to a much lesser extent, Sleeping Dogs. It's just totally janky as hell, repetitive, super generic and inconsequential in just about every way possible. It doesn't bring anything forward, nor does it pull that whole genre back a level. It's vapid, mindless explosive fun and I really, really enjoyed my time with it.

  • • (early) February 26th • PC •

    ✓ Completed

    I need to lay down.

  • • February 28th • PlayStation 4 •

    ✓ Completed main campaign - (O) ending

    My favorite moments in Far Cry 5 were either gentle or over-the-top. For the former, I think of when I was fishing along the river at night time, while my cat and dog companions peacefully swam along. For the latter, it's me crashing a helicopter into a field and being ambushed by a violent badger, to which I kicked it in the face with my bare foot until a companion shot it with an incendiary round and sent it running away in flames. In these moments, Far Cry 5 was distinctly Far Cry-- beautiful environments, unpredictable wildlife and ridiculous, wanton gun violence. These are the moments that made me think "man, Far Cry rules a lot."

    I think that's where those thoughts ended, though because Far Cry 5 otherwise feels...pointless. Pointless, dated, archaic, formulaic, directionless... all the most unflattering ways. The crappy stealth, frail health system, and recycled layout (to the point where you can set your watch to its tropes) are all at odds with how this sort of game should be played. Far Cry 5 should have been an evolution of this series, but instead it tries to ride on a format that should have ended with 4.

    There is fun to be had, but its shortcomings make me long for games that have done this much better since, like Metal Gear Solid V. There's even a silly joke when climbing the only radio tower in the game... something along the lines of like "don't worry, I'm not gonna make you climb towers all over the valley" which, to be fair, is exactly the sort of thing I was thinking about. No, I wasn't climbing towers, but I was basically doing all the other same shit.

    The story is... annoying, too. Like, it's exceedingly fucking stupid in a bad way. Not that the story pretends that it makes sense, but, really-- NOTHING makes any damn sense in this story. At some point, all the stupid shit that everyone was saying was just breezing over my head. It's all the same stuff since Far Cry 3, too: monologues from vaguely psychotic looking dudes who maintain eye contact the entire time. It's a great idea, but it only really worked out with the main baddie this time-- Joseph. That's to say that there's too much time spent on pointless dudes and not enough on the striking charisma of the main guy.

    In a way, I guess that basically sums up my feelings on the whole thing: Far Cry 5 feels like a misguided, uneven waste of talent across the board. There is so much potential for the premise in this game but it's squandered on **bad** writing, outdated jank and tons of frustrating glitches.

    Maybe next time?

    Some stray thoughts:

    - I **loved** Joseph Seed, from his design to his dialogue, and ESPECIALLY the fantastic work done by his actor. Actually, all of the main baddies have some excellent talent behind them-- just that the story and writing don't back them up.

    - I gasped "oh my god" at the ending I got. For how absolutely stupid the rest of the game is, that one moment at the very end was amazing.

    - It might sound like I hated this game, but I had a lot of fun playing it. It's just that its flaws are really, **really** starting to weigh the whole thing down.

  • • March 24th • PlayStation 4 •

    ✓ Completed all tracks

    Uhh... OK.

  • • March 30th • PC •

    ✓ Completed all levels + costumes

    I like these sorts of games. Niche doujin games with simple 3D graphics and MMD models are charming, especially when they're totally fine to play, at that. Not really much more to say than that.

    Some stray thoughts:

    - More games about BDSM, please.

    - The tribute to the creator's friend and his rope book was really sweet. I didn't expect something so sincere in this game.

  • • March 30th • PC •

    ✓ Completed all story levels on normal

    This is definitely a lot more polished than the original Cinderella Escape, though it still keeps its doujin game charm. This is more or less a Senran Kagura knockoff, but the combo system isn't too exciting nor is the level design all that great. It's still a lot of fun though, especially if you cheated like me to get a lot of money to play dress up with Cinderella's cool fetish outfits.

    The story was surprisingly nice, too, even if it the twists were a little confusing towards the end. Robert in particular has a hilarious character design, but it's all light-hearted and fun. I'm excited for Hajime's second Huuma Mina game after playing this one.

  • • April 14th • PlayStation 4 • Definitive Edition •

    ✓ Completed main story

    Watching Dashie's ridiculously good Sleeping Dogs videos made me want to play this game again... so I did. It's still good.

    Honestly, for whatever reason this felt like the first time I had played Sleeping Dogs since it came out in 2012. I'm pretty sure this was the first game I finished on my new PC in 2017, but that memory just kind of faded from my head... It's not like I didn't have a good time, but for some reason, it kicked in a lot harder this time. I had much more fun playing it this time around, too. It helps that the add-on content was nicely distributed throughout the game's length so I had plenty of extra, ridiculous side junk to get lost in and unlock.

    I don't really have much to say about it this time around, except that I finally realized why I like this game. For the longest while, this game felt special... in spite of how decidedly average it is across the board, something about Sleeping Dogs really clicked with me. Playing it again, I was hoping to figure out what exactly that special thing was-- if it existed at all.

    Turns out, it's not anything profound. In fact, the writing and dialogue is a lot worse than I remember-- with some of it just being flat out awful. A lot of the gameplay stuff is totally by-the-numbers, too. Also, while it is still super entertaining, none of the story stuff is that great, either. It sets up a foundation to explore gang violence, and proceeds to just paint over it with more violence instead of any actual answers. I'm not disappointed, though, because a lot of that violence is really fun.

    I think that's the key word here... "fun." It's just, fun. It's fun to drive around, beat up dudes and shoot people in the face. It's fun to explore the beautiful city, do all sorts of whatever side missions and just goof off. The thing that resonated with me this time around is that Sleeping Dogs is an awful lot like that Tomb Raider reboot series. They're comfort food, or like super entertaining popcorn flicks. These games aren't revolutionary-- quite the contrary, but they're not trying to be. These games could be *SO* much more than what they are, but what they do is straight up video game-ass shit and that shit still happens to be really, really fun. Who would've figured?

  • • May 13th • PlayStation 4 •

    ✓ Completed main story

    I really, really liked this game. I don't really have much to say about it-- just that I liked it. That's all.

  • • May 19th • PlayStation 4 •

    ✓ Completed campaign on Light

    Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is more Uncharted 4 but with:

    ✓ Chloe

    ✓ Cool girls that beat fools up and shoot dudes in the face

    × Whitewashing

    ✓ Another excellent Troy Baker performance

    ✓ My favorite set piece in an Uncharted game

    ✓✓✓ Chloe

    So, pretty fantastic, all things considered.

    A stray thought:

    - 4 > TLL > 3 > 2 > 1

  • • May 30th • PlayStation 4 + PC •

    I uninstalled Siege today to make room for the Infinite Warfare campaign, so I figure that I'm done with it for the next little while. I love this game a lot, because it brings me back to my earlier day of playing weird FPS games. Not that Siege is "weird" but it's that sort of tense, tactical, thoughtful sort of multiplayer combat that I've kind of always dreamed for. When this game is cool (which it basically always is) it's REALLY cool and rewarding, especially when your team works together to do some cool ass shit. I also love the map design and how the whole game is basically some attacking/building a giant deadly base.

    I've had my time with it, but I know that I'll return to it relatively soon. I can't wait until this game's cool shit gets me deep into it again.

  • • June 1st • PlayStation 4 • Remastered Edition

    ✓ Completed campaign on Recruit

    Still good. Still lacks self-awareness. Excellent remaster.

  • • June 4th • PlayStation 4 •

    ✓ Completed campaign on Regular

    It's easy to say that this was the best Call of Duty campaign in a long time, but in reality, most Call of Duty campaigns are usually up to this sort of quality. Save for WWII (which I admittedly haven't played yet) I can't really think of a "bad" COD campaign. Even Ghosts, for as underwhelming of a follow up as it was to Black Ops II, was at least pretty fun in its own right. All of this to say that this is another really good, explosive, nonsensical, totally fun Call of Duty campaign.

    Not much to say other than that, honestly.

    A few stray thoughts:

    - Bonus points for Brian Bloom and Claudia Black on the cast

    - Kit Harrington had a lot of potential but I wish we saw more of him... he was more or less just this vague threat.

    - I can't believe we're getting another Modern Warfare instead of a sequel to this cool-ass shit. I hate nerds.

  • • June 15th • PC •

    ✓ Completed season pass + headhunter DLC

    For the most part, this is just more Borderlands. For the most part, all the writing is pretty grating and in one particular case, it was the worst writing out of all the content they made for this game. Not much to say there.

    I was surprised by the Tiny Tina DLC, though. I always heard that it was a cool concept (which was true) but what I didn't expect was, like... the relative nuance of their character work. The campaign as a way for Tina to cope with her trauma was... not something I was expecting at all, nor was I expecting the emotional swing towards the end. It wasn't profound, but it was really nice to see in a game that really doesn't know when to stop its attempts at being funny. I kinda wish that more of the game was like this.

  • • June 22nd • PlayStation 4 •

    ✓ Completed all five episodes

    By the virtue of just having fundamentally better writing, Tales from the Borderlands is by far the best Borderlands has ever been. That's not to discredit the fantastic design that has gone into Borderlands 2, but more so that the consistently poor writing has dragged the rest of BL2's excellent parts down with it.

    This is not only the best Borderlands game, but it is the best iteration of Telltale's rapidly aging technical work that I've seen. The QTEs, exploration stuff and everything mechanically speaking is pleasant-- which is much more than what I can say about the action in other TT games. It is still very much a facade of choice, of which those choices are very transparent, but it doesn't stop this from being just... totally engaging and easy to emotionally invest in.

    Big fan, and given the tornado of drama that surrounds this game, its talent and associated companies, I am terribly disappointed that this is the last that we'll see of this. That, and whatever these characters and stories will appear in next (cough cough BORDERLANDS 3 ahem cough) will absolutely, positively, undoubtedly sink far below this game's strengths.

    The games industry is cruel, don't you think?

  • • June 25th • PlayStation 4 •

    ✓ Completed story

    I felt like playing Grand Theft Auto III, so I did. Good game.

  • • July 15th • Nintendo 64 (via 1964 PC emulator) •

    ✓ Completed campaign on Agent

    Look man, sometimes you just need to play some Goldeneye on the easiest difficulty. Feels good.

  • • July 16th • Super Nintendo (via MMXLC on PS4) •

    × Dropped at final Sigma stages

    This was my first time playing Mega Man X and I... do not like it that much. I don't really like the way it handles difficulty, mostly because this is an old ass game and old games tackled difficulty by always sending you back. The Legacy Collection doesn't help make it all that accessible, either so I stopped having fun at some point.

    At least the music, sound and graphics are fantastic and the attention to detail in the stages and with interactive elements are all really cool. This was basically the first Super Nintendo game that I've played for more than 15 minutes and it's apparent that I need to play SNES games.

    When it comes down to it, though, I like playing old games out of curiosity and not out of challenge or some sort of achievement or fulfillment. I wish that the rookie mode in this collection did more to make it easier for me, but in the end I just stopped having fun. I can see the appeal, but this sort of challenge isn't what I'm looking for in old games.

  • • July 27th • PlayStation 4 •

    ✓ Completed campaign as Jessie on Easy

    Wolfenstein: Youngblood is pretty good, and pretty bad. I'll explain.

    For this latest stretch of Wolfenstein games, I was always under the assumption that it was supposed to be an unstoppable-Nazi-murdering-machine simulator, especially considering until this continuity, that was more or less his sole personality trait. That's why I always played these games on their easiest difficulties-- because I wanted to enjoy the ridiculous dual-wielding, over-the-top gore and cathartic, hilarious fascist murder with as little challenge as possible.

    I think when it comes to the wanton murder, this game is just as fun as all the others. It's still extremely funny to me to just be a bullet-sponge, walking up to dudes and either hacking at them with a hatchet or blowing their arms, legs and head off with shotgun blasts to the face. This is playing Wolfenstein at its bare minimum-- and to me, at its absolute most enjoyable.

    It kinda ends there, though. Any time Wolfenstein: Youngblood tried to ratchet up some challenge with annoying robot bosses (or, any bosses actually) or level restrictions and, um, basically any semblance of difficulty, it stops being fun. I don't think this either this game or Wolfenstein II are designed all that well at all. The levels are incomprehensible mazes that, for as gorgeously rendered and well-decorated as they are, are hair-tearing nightmares to navigate through. It's not that I don't like needing to use my noggin occasionally-- it's just that the way I'm supposed to figure these levels out are stupid. Just consider the design of the last boss, and I think you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

    Incidentally, the thing more fun than barely playing Wolfenstein is, well, not playing it at all. Wolfenstein II was at its 100% absolute best watching its excellently characterized, tremendously acted, delightful colorful cast unfold the increasingly bonkers-ass story before my eyes. Youngblood is... decidedly a lot less bonkers-ass, which inherently isn't a bad thing except, well... nothing really happens. Likewise, not inherently bad-- I liked The Old Blood a lot and I don't remember a damn thing that happened in the story. I think the issue is that it more or less lacks what made Wolf II stand out as much as it did. It's not like I was expecting "more" but I was still hoping that it'd be a little more eccentric, or unpredictable, or less hamfisted like it was.

    At least Jessie and Sophia are weird enough characters. I don't think Jessie is much of a character at all, actually but I cracked up a lot hearing Sophia go all "oh hell yeah dude, we're gonna smoke some nazis with that big ass gun" and other sorts of goofy shit. And of course, Brian Bloom's BJ is as lovely as ever, in spite of his brief, uneventful presence.

    I had a ton of fun with Youngblood until the awful, awful endboss and the bad design choices that mad it even worse. It's weird to think that for as much potential as a righteous nazi murdering simulator as Wolfenstein, as a series has, it's apparent that I like playing these games as little as possible, or not at all.

    Games are weird.

    Some stray thoughts:

    - Like I said, awful last boss. One of the worst I've played in a long time.

    - I was disappointed that the girls can't a) dual-wield giant weapons or b) use their hatchets to dismember nazis' legs or arms in takedown animations

    - I... really don't know where the story goes from here, but past the inevitable slaughter of Adolf Hitler in Wolfenstein 3, I get the feeling that this series will start to drag.

    - "Fuck yeah, dude" I love Soph a lot.

  • • (early) August 6th • PlayStation 4 •

    ✓ Completed season as Stanley Cup champions

    It's the exact same game as last year, with all its highs and lows-- just with much, much more glitches. Honestly, I'm just glad to be done with it so I can make more space on my hard drive.

  • • August 15th • PC (via GZDoom) •

    ✓ Completed episodes 1-3

    There is something seriously comforting about playing original Doom in 2019, while watching videos in the background. It's definitely one of my more favorite "classic" video games, none too held back by its historical significance and technical marvel. If it weren't for just how damn fun Doom still is, it would be exciting enough just to go back and see how cool, imaginative and bizarre of a world that id software created with such smart design. I'm glad that I finally got to finish this game after so long.

    Also, it's really nice to just play a thing with levels. It sounds like a small thing, but having the game fragmented into digestible pieces instead of being an overwhelmingly massive world is... a nice change from the sort of stuff I've been playing lately.

  • • August 26th • PlayStation Vita •

    ✓ Completed Hejibo Academy story

    I feel like I have been playing Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus for a million years at this point. It's closer to 5ish, but they feel like the same thing at this point. On that note, the Hejibo story is... well, basically the same thing as the other stories, in that one-track-minded ninja teens are too hot-blooded, but inevitably learn about the power of friendship in the end. It still made me tear up a little, considering how much of a weakness that is for me... It reminded me of why I still want to see all the story in these games.

    • August 31th • PlayStation Vita •

    ✓ Completed Homura's Crimson Squad story + Last Battle

    After so long... I am... finally... done... I think for as long as they continue to develop the core ten characters, I will want to keep playing these games forever. And cry to them.

  • • September 7th • PC (via GZDoom) •

    ✓ Had my fill around level 20

    I hadn't played Doom II in a while, so I realized that I was probably done with it for a while. I love this game a lot-- much more than the original Doom. The levels are wild, and sometimes really weird in terms of visual and gameplay design. They're so much fun, and it's fascinating to see renditions of everyday earth locations through the bizarre Doom engine.

    This was my first time trucking through a lot of this game, so chances are I'll return to this in the future to finish it up once I get the itch again. Good game.

  • • September 18th • PlayStation 4 •

    ✓ Completed main story

    They did it. God dammit, they did it.

  • • September 21st • PlayStation 4 •

    ✓ Completed campaign as monk

    I'm cooling off of Red Dead 2 with some smaller, more mindless, less taxing video games. This is the first time that I've finished Diablo III, and I think it really helps that I got to play it alone, at my own pace while listening to other stuff in the background. Good game.

  • • November 2nd • PlayStation (via Retroarch PS1 core) •

    ✓ Completed story

    Resident Evil 3 really embodies the feeling of finality, at least in a few pretty significant ways. It definitely feels like a side-story that aimed to mop up the last bits of meaningful narrative bits left in Raccoon City, even if the story itself is more or less pointless in Resident Evil's grand story. Even though the bits deep in the city take place before RE2, they still feel like you're one of the last people in hell and you're scraping by in any way to get through the nightmare. I like it a lot, especially since the despair of Raccoon City's destruction feels a lot more morbid once you're pushing your way through places that thousands of people used to occupy. It's a kind of eerie that I don't think any other Resident Evil game captures as well, mostly because the first two tackle their own kinds of horror and the games following this one, well, kinda went off the rails...

    That's not to say that Resident Evil 3 isn't totally bonkers, though. You can totally see the signs starting to form of the series' later over-the-top, stupid action movie shit. Towards the end, the set-up, action and contrivances all start to feel a little stale-- and thankfully I think the developers knew this much because it's a pretty short and easy old-school Resident Evil game. Even though they were developed alongside each other, you can kinda see how the ridiculousness in this game helped paved the way for how fucking stupid Code Veronica ended up being.

    It's archaic, that's for sure-- more than 1 and 2 feel, oddly enough. The boss battles really suck and the action elements don't quite feel good enough to rely on as a casual player of these games. Still, it holds up as well as a clunky-ass game like this can. As someone who will probably replay these games in the next few years, I can't really ask for more than that.

    Some stray thoughts:

    - Nemesis is still god damn terrifying, though does feel a bit like a gimmick this time around

    - Nikolai's explosive antics are so stupid, I sincerely hope that they were meant to border on comedic

    - Jill's "I'll give you STARS" line is still A+ and probably one of the best lines in the whole series

  • • November 24th • PlayStation 4 •

    ✓ Completed story

    Corny... I hope that Life is Strange 2 isn't this predictable.

  • • (early) December 5th • PlayStation 3 •

    ✓ Completed story on normal

    I have been thinking about Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive lately, so I'm glad that I got to play this game in, um... one sitting.

  • • December 7th • Xbox 360 (via Xbox One BC) •

    ✓ Completed story on Path of the Warrior

    Ninja Gaiden II is much better than, much worse than and exactly how I remember it, all at the same time.

    I guess it's hard to have anything other than complicated feelings about a game that you've spent a lot of time playing, in a series that means a lot to you, by a studio that, by all means has defined your adolescence. Though in retrospect, playing this game years and years later just sinks in how overly confident Tomonobu Itagaki and his studio were at this point-- to the degree that it's responsible for most of the faults of this game... and there are plenty. It almost feels like a Team Ninja clone made this game, given its wide gaps in quality and consistency. It's probably the most flawed game that Team Ninja has ever made in their prime, of which I can argue that Ninja Gaiden II marks the end of Team Ninja's golden years.

    I still like it, but I'm also deeply fascinated by what must have happened behind the scenes during this game's development-- with the Microsoft partnership, and Itagaki's strained relations with Tecmo hitting its breaking point. I think I'm going to do a bit of reading on this before I move on.

    Some stray thoughts:

    - Jesus christ is Sonia ever the most non-character that anyone could have ever come up with. I don't even think somebody says her name until like half-way through the game.

    - I love Genshin and his tiny redemption arc. How it leads into the game's post-credits scene is probably my actual favorite part about this whole game.

    - I wanna see how NG3: Razor's Edge feels right off the heels of this game. Part of me feels that they actually got it better than this game, but who knows?

  • • December 7th • PlayStation 3 •

    ✓ Completed extra character chapters

    Short, but sweet. For as much as I love Ryu, I wish that we could have gotten a lot more with the girls than three super short chapters.

  • • (early) December 10th • Xbox 360 (via Xbox One BC) •

    ✓ Completed story on normal

    I haven't played Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge in almost five years, so coming back to it... I feel like this is one of the most incoherent video games that I have finished in a very long time.

    I think everyone involved deserves better. Ryu and the rest of the talented cast (actors included) deserve better. Team Ninja deserved better. The fans deserved better. Ninja Gaiden's legacy deserved better. There's no other way to put it, I think. This game, for as much fun as I had in its extremely mashy base combat, is a god damn mess in every sense of the word.

    It sucks to say it, because I remember being cautiously optimistic about the new Team Ninja making Ninja Gaiden their own around the time NG3 was coming out. For much as I love the older games in this series, I'm also not trying to attach myself to the Itagaki cult of personality. If they could make something new out of Ninja Gaiden, I was all for it... but instead we got something that was extremely unfocused. The story, for all the emphasis they put it on it, is absolute nonsense to the point of frustration. The payoffs this game creates are undeserved, and it honestly feels like nothing going on in the gameplay, structure or story follows any sort of cohesion. It's all messy and inconsistent and when it's good, it's only good because I get to mash buttons and watch dudes explode in blood and guts. It's fun, but... in the grander scheme of things, it's not enough to sit through all the garbage.

    I don't think anyone wins in this situation, either. I think it's commendable that Team Ninja put together a structurally different video game in less than 12 months, but as a result this just feels like a bizarre Ninja Gaiden II mod for base 3. The blood and gore, for how much fun it is, really just seems like it's not working properly half the time and all of the weapons, systems and enemies shoehorned in from II feels cheap. It feels cheap to both me and the dev team because it's clear that they tried to make good changes based off of feedback, but as a result we get something in the middle that isn't old Ninja Gaiden or anything forward. Their vision - as wack as it was, was compromised in a situation where the fans weren't going to be happy regardless of what they did.

    I'm unhappy because there's just... so much talent and potential behind this amazing team, and the sheer lack of focus and good ideas led to something that feels like a disaster on a disc. There are shining moments of brilliance in Ninja Gaiden 3, like the flash moment before Ryu cuts down the Goddess, or the warm and cosy feeling you get from revisting the Hayabusa Village and seeing all the cool ninja shit again. It just feels... off in a way that it never should have.

    I'm glad that Team Ninja tried to take a risk, but I would have been much happier if they stuck to a sound plan and carefully honed every element until it felt like the quality we used to expect from them. Now after playing this and Dead or Alive 6... I don't know, man. It doesn't feel like we're getting the same love anymore.

    Some stray thoughts:

    - The additional Ayane chapters are fantastic, and the additional playable characters are great too - all with their own cool unlockable abilities.

    - I cannot stress how bad the boss battles and enemy design is in this game. Jesus christ, dude.

    - For some reason, the entire time I was thinking about how bad I felt for Ryu's voice actor and how this character (and actor) had to get caught up in such nonsense. I love the idea of a more human Ryu, but preferably in a way that isn't so god damn cliche and hokey.

    - After this, I'm probably going to play Dragon Sword (I never finished it), DOA6 story mode (never touched it) and Nioh (curious to see if TN's still got it)

    - If I ever play this game again, it'll probably be for the mashy ninja trials. I know that I will play this game again down the road... but for now, I cross my fingers that I never get to play this story again for a long time.

  • • December 29th • PlayStation 4 •

    ✓ Completed campaign on regular

    Not bad at all. Unsurprisingly, Modern Warfare is an ever-present reminder that Infinity Ward is really good at the shit that they do - in that they can craft some pretty tense scripted sequences with lots of military jargon and vaguely threatening consequences. And, as always, these paced sequences are almost universally better and more fun than the giant battlefields of explosions, chaos and gunfire. If anything, what Modern Warfare has proven is that these games are at their most effective when they're keeping the situation tense, the pace slow and the stakes high.

    I liked it a lot, though sometimes it tried just a bit too hard to be edgy and the story just kind of ends without too much of a ramp-up. If there was one thing that was rapidly apparent in past Modern Warfare games, it's that shit was getting super crazy and that we needed to kill the bad guy and end this war now. The grander conflict just doesn't feel as exciting as it should, nor does it convey any sense of urgency. Perhaps this is why I like the smaller scenes more, but maybe I also just like the change in pace.

    All things considered though, for a world where we didn't get a sequel to the stellar Infinite Warfare campaign, this was a pretty damn good substitute, if not nearly as creative and different as IW's last game.

    Some stray thoughts:

    - I appreciated the little nods to the past MW series, though the part where all the characters just have the same names is a little weird.

    - The Hadir story is a little weird, but Farah is fantastic and I'm thrilled that they made good on her.

    - Thank you for adding the photo of the crew at the end of the credits. I was waiting for it.

    - Soooo... I really want Modern Warfare 2 now.