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danielkempster

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I really admire you for doing this, duder. As someone with a largebacklog myself (although not quite large enough to support a year-long blog initiative), the thing I've struggled with most is letting go of games and admitting that there are some things I'll just never play. I've gotten better about that in recent months, but I still find it very difficult to 'retire' a game that I've spent money on and want to play on at least some level. Your ruthlessness is an inspiration to me as a fellow 'Pile-of-Shame-r'.

Coincidentally I'm playing through The Witcher at the moment. It's one of those games that's been on my 'to-do' list for a few years now, and all the recognition that the third game got at GOTY season has finally spurred me into action. I've put about twenty hours into it so far and I'm really digging the structure of the game and the tactical side of the combat. I'm playing from the over-the-shoulder perspective using a 360 controller and Xpadder, and it feels surprisingly natural to play that way. I'll definitely be sticking with it to see how the story develops from here, but as that's the biggest draw for me currently, I can equally understand why you'd be happy to retire it if that part of the game is already known to you.

Looking forward to reading more of these in the coming days, weeks and months. All the best with your ongoing endeavour!

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danielkempster

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The more of AC Syndicate I play, the more I start to doubt its position on my top ten games of last year. I've been revisiting it this week in a bid to push closer to that coveted 100% synchronisation, but without the draw of the excellent story missions to break up the busywork, I've found myself rapidly tiring of the territory control stuff to the point where I'm thinking about putting it down again. It's a shame, because I think the story stuff, the mechanical improvements and the unique mission design make for the strongest game in the series since ACII. I just... don't want to liberate any more children or maim any more Blighters, no matter how pretty the factories look or how satisfying the cane-sword is to use.

Also, I agree completely about the microtransactions. The fact they're forced upon you every time you boot up the game, as a sort of 'landing screen' before you can actually start playing, is particularly egregious. Before I hit side-activity burnout, I was contemplating investing in the season pass and checking out the Jack the Ripper DLC, but was reluctant to do so purely because I don't want to send a message to Ubisoft that this stuff is alright.

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danielkempster

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Welcome back to the blogosphere, duder! Good to see you back on the site and good to hear that you're doing well health-wise too. I'm looking forward to reading your take on Fallout 4 next week, I have a lot of conflicted personal opinions about that game and I find it fascinating to see how other people have reacted and responded to Bethesda's latest.

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danielkempster

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@thatpinguino: Weirdly, it's the latter. I was struggling to choose something to play and had a friend of mine pick something off my Pile of Shame lists at random. I wasn't even aware you guys were tackling Stranger's Wrath next episode, but that's got me mighty excited to listen to it!

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danielkempster

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It feels weird to say it now, but Final Fantasy VII was the game that started my love affair with the written word. I played it for the first time when I was ten years old, and it was the first video game I'd ever played that demonstrated the potential of video games as a story-telling medium. It ignited a passion in me for fantasy literature that's still burning today, not just as a reader but as a writer too. When I revisited the game ten years later, it seemed fitting to marry it with the love of writing it instilled in me. The result was Enduring Final Fantasy VII, a thirty-five part blog series dissecting the game and using my past experiences to determine whether or not it was still relevant in the modern gaming landscape. It was a huge undertaking, but a lot of fun, and a fitting testament to what Final Fantasy VII means to me.

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danielkempster

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Sorry I'm so late getting to this Mitch. It's been a weird couple of weeks both in work and in my personal life, and all of my spare time has gone into putting together my own awards and list. It's only now that things have started to wind down and normality has resumed that I've found the time to check out other people's lists.

I've chosen Axiom Verge as the first video game I'll be playing this year. I've got no previous experience with the 2D 'Metroidvania' genre, but having spent so much time with systems-heavy games in late 2015 (MGSV, Fallout 4, and I guess even Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire to an extent), it's refreshing to go into a game where I don't have to worry about much beyond clearing one screen and moving on to the next. I've only put an hour in so far, but I'm really excited to see where the game goes from here. I love the dirty 8-bit aesthetic, too.

Bloodborne, The Witcher 3, Life is Strange and Rise of the Tomb Raider are all on my to-do list for 2016. I already own the second and third and they're both really high priorities for this year. Bloodborne is in my Amazon Wishlist and I'll probably jump on it once it hits a £15-20 price point, whereas Rise of the Tomb Raider I'll have to wait for the PS4 release later this year. Damn, so many great games and nowhere near enough time, and that's not even counting what's due out in 2016! Great list Mitch, and a very Happy New Year to you and yours.

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danielkempster

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Great write-up Slag, a really interesting mix of AAA titles from the big devs and no less noteworthy titles from more humble beginnings.

I keep forgetting that Final Fantasy Type-0 is a thing that exists. It's the renamed Agito XIII, right? I remember hearing very mixed things about it initially, but I'm seeing it on a lot of these end-of-year lists at the moment, and all from people whose opinions I have a lot of respect for. And I have the ability to play it now, with my shiny new PS4! I might have to make it a 2015 priority.

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danielkempster

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Great stuff, Mento! Sorry I'm so late getting around to this, I had a busy and bizarrely disconnected week between Christmas and New Year and threw pretty much all my spare time into writing my own awards blogs. It's nice to have a little time to reflect now that's all over, and catching up on everyone's Game of the Year blogs and lists is proving to be a great use of that time.

There's very little overlap between our awards and lists this year (your cursory mention of Fallout 4 might be the only reference to a game I actually played, and even then not enough to bestow a proper award on it), but that means reading this has been an education. Undertale in particular seems to be getting so much love, not just here but on everyone's lists, that I should probably try and snap that up in the January Steam sale and make it a priority for early 2016. And speaking of 2016, your backlog list for the upcoming year reads an awful lot like mine in places. I look forward to comparing notes on some common titles next year, assuming we can both make respectable dents in our Piles of Shame.

Happy New Year, Mento. May 2016 a blogtacular one for you.

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danielkempster

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Happy New Year, Sparky! Good to hear you had an enjoyable time seeing it in. Tales from the Borderlands is definitely a high priority for me this year. I've seen it cropping up on a ton of GOTY lists and given how much I enjoyed playing The Wolf Among Us and (to a lesser extent) The Walking Dead: Season Two last year, I'm sure it won't be long before I get that Telltale itch and jump into it. Thanks a ton for gifting it to me over Christmas, you are a gentleman and a scholar. Oh, and thanks for keeping the story spoilers avoidable and under wraps.

At the other end of the spectrum, it's disappointing to hear so many people are down on Just Cause 3. As someone who loved JC2 enough to earn the full 1000 Gamerscore and still kept playing after that, I'm torn. On the one hand, the moment-to-moment stuff looks just as fun as it did in JC2, if not more so, but on the other, there seems to be a consensus that the story mission content just doesn't play to the strengths of the game, and that's a bummer. I don't remember that being the case with JC2, although that game was so light on story (only seven missions, as I recall) that I don't remember much about it, to be perfectly honest. I'm sure I'll still end up playing Just Cause 3 this year, but I'll likely do so with appropriately tempered expectations.

I struggled to decide what game to kick off 2016 with, but eventually settled on Axiom Verge. I picked that up along with a few other PS4 titles (The Witcher 3, GTAV and Elder Scrolls Online) in the PSN January sale, and seeing it sat there amongst all these huge games with deep systems and complex mechanics that demand major time investments just made it seem instantaneously more appealing. I've put about an hour in and I'm enjoying it so far, and I say that as someone with no previous experience playing 2D Metroidvania games. It's got this incredible aesthetic that I can only describe as 'dirty 8-bit' - it does a surprising amount with a limited colour palette (probably thanks to the high resolution) and everything looks grimy and industrial. It'll be nice to lose myself in a comparatively simple game for a while, I think, and not worry about experience points or side quests for a week or two.

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danielkempster

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Fantastic write-up RecSpec, really enjoyed reading this. The only overlap we share is MGSV, which I wholeheartedly agree with you on - the story stuff just never hits home the way you want a Kojima game to, but that stealth gameplay is so damn good! I'm grateful to you for covering so many story-heavy games in such a spoiler-free way, managing to big up games like Life is Strange and Tales from the Borderlands without ever giving anything specific away, it's made me feel like I need to prioritise some of those experiences in 2016. As someone who doesn't own a Wii U, reading what you've written about Splatoon makes me feel like I really need to think about investing in one, even more so after seeing all the Super Mario Maker praise as well. Happy New Year, duder! Here's hoping 2016 smashes it out of the park games-wise, too.