Games played in 2018

Another end of the year, another load of lists.

TBH I just doing this to pass the time while Smash installs.

Anywho - here's how my list works:

I currently own every modern console bar a ps4 - so you will not be seeing any ps4 games on this list, and to be honest apart from Spiderman I don't give a crap about Sony's exclusives. So no God of War, no Detroit, no Spiderman - none of that.

In all honesty I only played a couple of games that were released this year that I would even consider putting near this list - so many of these games will not be from this year - hence the title.

I also got a Switch this year - which is nice.

Here's a list of most the games I either finished or dropped that I played this year and felt a need to write an off the cuff response to these are by no means all the games I played but most of the ones I finished.

I'm currently recovering from surgery so apologies if this makes little sense or is too brief.

So here are the games that I played this year that I actually want to talk about in some measure:

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Xenoblade 2:

Cards on the table - I think the original Xenoblade is one of the most overrated RPGs ever. I thought that the characters were beyond bland, the storyline was just a poor rehash of concepts from the earlier series and that the combat is just...fine. I'll give credit where credit is due and say that the OST is pretty good and that the environments are fantastic. With Xenoblade Chronicles 2 I'd hoped they'd fixed the problems with the original and improved what was good about the first game. Nope. Nope nope nope nope nope.

I'll say this again, just because I know how people are today, but IN MY OPINION this game is just a mess. Yes the environments are stunning, but it's not much fun to get around them when the map is one of the worst since SMTIV. Field skills go from being irrelevant to blocking off story progression without any warning. I could write an essay on how bad the characters are - only Nia gets any sort of growth throughout the game while the main character just...he's nobody. He doesn't whine, so that's great..but...that's about it. Everything that's been said about the character designs has been said. The only saving grace of the game, for me, was the combat...and for some reason they thought it would be fun to just break that in chapter 7...

I actually went back to Xenosaga 1 just to see if my memory was playing tricks. Apart from a whole load more cutscenes - the storytelling in Xenosaga's first hour far eclipses Xenoblade's whole story. Shit, Allen has more of a personality than nearly everyone in this game.

I finished XB2 in 40 hours or so...I made myself finish it due to how much it had cost me and the hope the ending might redeem itself...hahah no.

Im glad the game did well and that people enjoyed it - hopefully we'll be getting more (and better) RPGs in the future..but for me, this was not a great experience.

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Monster Hunter World (Xbone) and Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate (Switch)

I've been playing Monster Hunter for a very, very, very long time. Not all the way back to ps2 days but psp Freedom Unite. That's long enough for me to have an opinion here - and it'll probably surprise no one that I...er...didn't really enjoy World as much as I wanted to. Don't get me wrong, it's a fantastic game that I'm sure will bring in many many new players..which is a good thing. For me, though, I just felt that it lack the spark of the earlier games.

My main issues were monster variety and the maps.

Let's start with the maps. I don't enjoy spending time trying to find my prey in a forest with multiple elevations - which meant that the first map just wasted my time constantly with running around these dumb areas. There's too much time spent traversing and not enough time in battle for my taste. With the original games, you can see which zone is which and where you need to be. Absolutely a personal preference but one that I felt strongly.

Then the big one. Monster variety. To be blunt, bar old faithfuls and the flashbulb dino I did not care for any of the new monsters. Where was Zinogre? No I don't want this crappy knockoff. Where was Brachydios? Where was that crazy owl and soap bubble dragon? Nergi what? It was all just so...serious? Even with the inclusion of later DLC I just couldn't get into it.

Generations Ultimate was the first game I picked up on the Switch - not Zelda (meh) not Mario (hard pass) not Splatoon (nope). I haven't put that much time into it given that I'd already played through Generations and XX recently, but Monster Hunter is the ultimate 'dry season' game that you can come back to whenever and pick up where you left off.

So again, glad MonHun is doing well...it's just not what I'd want. Maybe next time.

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Dragonball Fighterzzzzzz, Blazblue CrossTag Battle and UNIL:ST

Another great year for fighting games. Who can forget EVO and the Cell roar? That was the hypest thing next to Lil Majin's King. Great stuff.

That said...I could not get into DBFZ for the life of me. It just..felt like a mess to play. Too much going on from too many sides. I had a similar problem with MvC3 but this took it to another level. It's a hell of a fun game to watch but...not really for me to play.

BBCTB had similar issues. I don't think anyone would say it was a beautiful game to watch but it could be fun..if everyone didn't scream at each other all the time. Thing is, picking this game up on the Switch last week - it's dead. Deader than Tekken TT2 on WiiU dead. I wonder how much that had to do with Smash, and how much it had to do with the game itself. Releasing a game without an Arcade mode in this day and age..nobody would be that stup...oh.

That brings us to, by far, the best fighting game I've played in years that isn't Tekken. Undernight Inbirth Late:ST. If you like fighting games and haven't touched this gem yet, please go buy it. It strips the anime fighter of most of its over the top systems and relies heavily on footsies. It's closer to classic Street Fighter than current Street Fighter. Hopefully its inclusion in CrossTag raised its profile so those raging Persona and RWBY fans might actually be interested in something else (doubtful).

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Fatal Frame IV (Wii with Eng patch)

Hands down the best game I played this year.

Only released in Japan (I believe it was going to be released in the West but they refused to patch the game and thus....) this is my favourite of the series. There's none of the creepy twincest nonsense that showed up in 3 nor any obvious fanservice that I noticed.

The story is a prequel to the original game that follows 3 characters as they try to understand what happened to them 10 or so years earlier. Controls are mapped to the nunchuk and wii remote. The remote acts as both flashlight and camera controls and I found it very easy to use. There are a couple of puzzles that require pinpoint accuracy with the remote which can be really annoying, especially when they are timed and on the last boss fight.

There's a longer review on my list above, with spoilers, so if you're interested keep that in mind..but please do check this game out if you can. It's fantastic.

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Sakura Wars: So Long My Love (WII)

First off - turn off the voices or play the ps2 version of the Japanese.

Okay?

Right. Sakura Wars is a SRPG game crossed with a visual novel and a romance game. I think the series originated the concept actually...like Persona? Well..this is where most of the modern DNA of that series comes from.

Set in 1920s Steampunk New York - Sakura Wars tells the story of the New York Combat Revue. A group of highly trained theatre actors who also pilot mecha to stop evil demons and the demon lord Nobunaga from destroying the world etc etc. I swear I've killed Nobunaga more than any other historical person. The game is split between Visual Novel segments where you advance the plot and romance the ladies of the Revue, and SRPG battles against enemies.

In all honesty, the battles are probably the worst part of the game. They go on far too long, especially at the end which is just battle after battle after battle...what makes up for that is the writing, characters and music. The characters are, well, fantastic. I ended up with Subaru and it surprised me how well Subaru was represented given that the game was originally released back in the late 2000s. There are some issues with Subaru's representation as a non-binary person, and I'm sure someone who knows far more about that subject would find other issues but given when the game was released and the way the character is respected by the cast it was...a nice surprise. If you're open to something a little different to Persona, or with the new Sakura Taisen game having been annouced are interested in the series - So Long My Love is your only choice in English - so give it a look.

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Mary Skelter: Nightmares (Vita)

From respectful to...Compile Heart? ergh.

Mary Skelter is a Dungeon RPG in the style of Wizardry, Grim..err..not lock but Grim something, Might and Magic or Etrian Odyssey. It's a really really good one, too, if you can get past the Japanese fanservice that seems to infect nearly all of these types of games.

Themed around fairytales, MSN sees you (the only guy) and your harem of fairytale girls (snow white, sleeping beauty, red riding hood) attempt to escape from a prison. The game leans very heavily into the horror aspect of the Grimm fairytales and because of that, it can be a fun ride. Sadly the mechanics of the game involve covering the girls (who fight) in your blood in order to calm them down or allow them to go into a berserk state. This, of course, leads to clothes disappearing and lots of rubbing once you get back to base...because of course it does.

sigh.

With that out of the way, the game systems themselves are easy to follow and tbh this game makes for a very good introduction to dungeon crawlers, especially with the ability that lets you return to your base whenever you might die or just need to go back. The dungeon designs aren't over the top either and the enemy designs range from standard to pretty great. Even the blood mechanic, which appears to be a cheap attempt at titillation, actually works well within the systems of the game.

Mary Skelter: Nightmares is a good game, which is well worth playing..as long as you can deal with the fanservice.

Now for two games that are among the worst I've played this year - if not down right offensive in one case:

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Dynasty Warriors 9: Xbone

A mess. A complete and utter mess. Adding an open world to a mission based game was a complete mistake. Last years Legend of Sanada had a partially open world that allowed you to gather resources, but everything else was still mission based. That worked really well. This did not.

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Muv Luv: Alternative (Vita)

One of the highest rated Visual Novels ever...which goes on and on and on and on.

And then there's (mostly censored) tentacle rape by aliens, and then the way the character talks about it afterwards.....sorry. I just found the way they dealt with the character and subject matter so offensive I couldn't continue with the game. First time that's ever happened.

There are some other games I'd like to mention like The Last Story (great Wii RPG), Octopath (only really just started it), Hunter:Call of the Wild (certainly best atmosphere), Starlink, Celeste...but I'm recovering from surgery and to be honest I think I've said all I want to say.

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Jazz's Favourite Games Played in 2017

Here we go again:

First up, this is a list of my favourite games that I played this year. Emphasis on favourite(not best) and played (not released) - so many of the games will not have been released this year, and my opinion will not be the same as many other people. If you don't agree, well, that's the magic of individuality - embrace it but also respect it.

I have no ps4 or switch to answer any obvious questions about 'why isn't X here'

For those interested:

Here's last years list - spoilers: I liked Tomb Raider

Here's a list of the games I've finished (so far) this year, each has a mini review

Here's a list of my 3ds playtimes..just for fun

*shrug* I like useless lists.

Let's get the big one out of the way shall we?

Game of the Year

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PC release.

This will be on quite a few people's lists, though I doubt it will be at the top for many. Ninja Gaiden Black was a game I loved back while I was at Uni...yes, I am old...and merging elements of NGB with the Souls series was always going to win me over. The combat is glorius, and if we could get a Monster Hunter game (not Tokiden or however you spell it) that played like this..well..I would be happy for a very long time. That said, the lack of enemy variety and some poor level design bring this game down, at least for me. Others would point to the plot, but I have a working knowledge of both English and Japanese history - so I know who most of these people are and how the relationships work.

There's not much I can say about the game that hasn't already been said - for me, it was just a hell of a lot of fun and I really enjoyed my time with it. Though I am sick to death of siding with that bastard, Ieyasu...sigh. *cue Troy Baker screaning Ieyasuuuuuu*

Honorable mention: Injustice 2/Tekken 7 and Dishonored 2: Death of the Outsider.

Okay? That's my favourite game of the year, that was released this year. Right, now I can talk about the more interesting stuff.

Favourite 'WTF is happening in this game' of the year

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DS

Okay...okay..you'll just have to work with me on this one.

Inazuma Eleven is a Level 5 RPG game, with anime, that's based around football/soccer. You have a team that you can add to through a pokemon type system, and the game is..well..unique. It's difficult to describe how the game plays - but it's a real time touch screen based system, where you pass/move and shoot using the touch screen. Then there's the special moves which each character has, some unique and some are learned from manuals and can be shared - that's where the DBZ/Naruto shonen stuff happens. Comets of fire, ice wolves..all sorts of crazy stuff happens. It's great...and expected of this kinda thing.

What's not expected is how dark this show can get. None of it is truly explicit, bar one character, but...oh boy. The game starts off with the school being essentially nuked by 'aliens'. Who knows how many people died, they never say..but the school is gone. What follows is you travelling the most British version of Japan you'll ever see, attempting to collect the best in the country to take on these..cough..'aliens'. I should note that the VO and the amount of regional variation they put into each of these areas is really..just..sweet, I guess. Charming. It's barely holds together and can be more than a little ridiculous but..I love it. Especially when Axel sounds like a 30 year old man in a 13 year old body..but that probably makes a lot of sense given the trauma these kids go through. Oh and girls are allowed on the team now, which is cool.

So, what's this trauma I speak of?

a) The power of friendship (because of course)

b) Kidnapping

c) Attempted Murder

d) Doping and performance enhancers

e) The Military Industrial Complex

f) PTSD and Split personalities

g) Revenge plots

h) Broken families and child abuse

i) Brainwashing, cults, and slavery

J) Ancient Aliens.

The only explicit ones are the PTSD and the Military Industrial Complex. One of the characters (not forgetting the whole of the team that survive the destruction of their school) is the sole survivor of an avalanche that killed his parents and twin brother - which becomes a key point in his character growth.

I'm not saying that all of these issues are dealt with well, or are explicit - but, holy crap, this is a show/game for children and they've got all this shit going on underneath it? The main thrust of the game is that they have to stop an alien invasion by using football otherwise everyone has to live under..well...the Man in the Commentary Box I guess. They're at war and these children are soldiers..it's crazy.

Or maybe I'm crazy? I dunno. Either way - no other game made me go WTF more than Inazuma Eleven 2 this year.

Honorable Mention: Maiden of Black Water. Great game, I didn't understand all the hate or all the 'sexism' stuff thrown at it. Maybe I just missed something (or didn't bother with the costumes).

Favourite new fighting game character

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I should note, that I rarely ever play fighting games online..my internet sucks for stable connections and I hate not being in the same room as people when playing fighting games *shrug*

This year was a fantastic year for fighting games. Injustice 2 and Tekken 7, updates to Guilty Gear and SFV, the announcements of Soul Calibur 7, Blazblue Cross Tag Extreme Words Added at the end and of course DBFZ..oh and there was MvCI I guess.

Anyway, there were a lot of new fighting games and a lot of new characters added. I probably ended up playing Injustice 2 far more than any other - despite my issues with the story, the single player modes and the gear system really help that game. As such, I played a hell of a lot of Blue Beetle. I enjoyed his half rush down, half zoner playstyle. I also really enjoyed playing Black Canary. Tekken 7 had..err..yeah, I just played my mains in that one - Drag and Nina. Nothing new there. I'm a fan of the Answer in GGXrd and MvCI brought us Gamora (I still say that like the turtle) and..finally, Black Panther. Black Widow kinda looks sick too.

However, it was Kolin that stole my (frozen) heart. She is just so much fun to play. From here parabellum EX - air grab, to her quasi vortex with her icicles, to her OTG V-trigger and counters. She is just so much fun to play, and flashy as hell. She also, at least in her standard costume or (my favourite) story costume, doesn't look like a DOA reject. Yeah she has her own issues, ridicc issues, but..urgh..she's so great. Juri would be second for me - and lord knows what they did to Ibuki, but I'm not happy about it.

So yeah - Kolin, favourite new character in a fighting game.

Honorable Mention: Blue Beetle in Injustice 2

Favourite short form story/adventure

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This was a tough one - I loved Virginia more than I thought I would. For a game with no dialogue it did a fantastic job of creating a coherent narrative within a specific time and place.

However, the Shivah was something I was neither expecting nor was it something I had really seen before. It's a short adventure/scumm type game - probably only 2 hours long and I think was one of the first games produced by the wonderful wadjet eye, better known for the Blackwell games and the blade runner esque Gemini Rue.

The Shivah, unsurprisingly, stars a Rabbi who is drawn into a tangled web of murder and money. The story is little more than an Agatha Chirstie novel really, just set in and around a synagogue in New York (I think). The spice that brings it alive is, as always, the little things. According to the game, Rabbis always answer a question with a question, which plays into the..er...'rabbinical combat?' in the game. It's hilarious once you understand what's happening, and the NPCs even call you out on it. The interactions with other characters and the VO is really well done, especially given that shoestring budget. The graphics are decidedly old school but suit the game perfectly. Some of the puzzles can be a bit..odd, but the internet exists for a reason.

I would love to see a return to these characters, or perhaps to a mosque. Allowing different cultures some time in the spot light helps show that, in the end, we're all the same people - and games can help with that.

Honorable Mention: Virginia, Blackwell Legacy

Favourite 'oh, it's actually really good' game of this year

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PS2

Well this was an eye opener.

Like many people, when FFXII originally came out (again when I was in Uni, the first time..sigh) I didn't know what to make of it, how to play it, and why Vaan was so annoying. Thus I threw up my hands and said 'this is crap, what the hell square?'

Ten years later, an english patch and the Zodiac version later..this is probably my favourite FF game that I've completed. I'd rank it above 8 - I still haven't finished 4 or 6. I don't like 9 and 7 is fine. I'm playing (and enjoying) 15 at the moment. Weird how there wasn't a 13 game huh?

Anyway, the updated (patched) version of the game on ps2 isn't that different from the re-release bar graphics, some tweaks and allowing two jobs. Once I had got to grips with the gambit system - I did in fact let the game play itself..mostly on fast forward. That's not to say there's a huge amount of depth here..it takes time to tweak your gambits and sometimes you just need to take control, especially during bosses..but wandering around Ivalice, beating the crap out of mobs at double speed and going through dungeons meant that I got to the story beats far faster - and that was a benefit.

Vaan may suck, but the other characters are great. The storyline, as Shakesperian as FF has ever been, is one of the better ones. This isn't really about gods from ages past destroying the world (though they are there..as usual) it's about power and land. It's Fantasy Star Wars..quite literally I think, given the character archetypes. I'm surprised Penelo didn't turn out to be Vaan's sister.

I enjoyed it enough to start a second playthrough as soon as I ended the first - that's my seal of approval.

Honorable mentions: the update Xcom on BC Xbox One was a lot more fun than I remember.

Favourite Musou of the Year

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PC

We had a lot of musous this year (that being 'Warriors type games, or the evolution of beat-em-ups as most people think of them). A lot of musous. Off the top of my head we had:

Fate/Extrella - fine

Berserk - wasted potential

Fire Emblem Warriors - fine

Warrior All Stars - awful

Relaunches of Dragon Quest Warriors/Warrior Orochi 3 on the Switch

Just...a lot of mowing down dudes going on this year.

However, the best that I've played has to be the Samurai Warriors spin off - Spirit of Sanada.

Unlike it's lackluster Basara counterpart (see my short review in my finished games list) Spirit of Sanada/SoS is so long, I still haven't finished it. It marries the tried and true SW4 combat system with a more open world set up that looks like the testing ground for DW9. It's not truly open world, but you can go and forage for items to update your weapons or other items in the crafting menus in certain areas between battles. There's a multidude of mini games - and yes, fishing.

The main difference in the game is that it focuses on the life and times of the Sanada clan, mostly Yukimura and his father. Different characters can be played via different missions but the narrative focus stays on the Sanada clan. I'm not a fan, personally, of the Sanadas. I find Yukimura annoying as hell, and if he wasn't Yoshitsugus son in law..well, I wouldn't be bothering. Luckily we actually get to be on a side that isn't IEYAAASUUUUUUU's this time...which is nice. He's also shown to be the ruthless bastard that Ieyasu as was, so thumbs up from me.

I guess if the game had any weaknesses, it would be the fact that if you don't like these types of games, you're not going to change your mind here. That's pretty much all I can say negatively. It needs to put these new ideas into a fuller form, but as an initial experiment it's pretty good.

Honorable Mention: Sengoku Basara 4: Sumeragi - I only got it this year.

Favourite game I'm most looking forwad to next year

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Hardly surprising anyone.

I don't like GTA these days - the satire isn't really my kind of satire and..well...I just have no interest.

RDR though was probably my favourite game of last gen - so I am most certainly interested in what Rockstar will do with the sequel. I've got a friend working on the game as well, so here's hoping that it blows away the original in every way.

I'm also looking forward to SRW X - though I have yet to pick up V. The price for the vita version is ridiculous, so I guess I'll just have to wait some more. Other games, well SF:AE looks like it might solve some problems, especially the lack of arcade mode, and then I can play some more wonderful wonderful Kolin. Dynasty Warriors 9 will be interesting, though I'm not so into DW as I am the Samurai Warriors series - despite being a total Wu fanboy.

Can't really think of anything else to be honest. Oh Project Octopath, but no switch..ya know.

Honorable Mention: Super Robot Wars X

Least Favourite botch up of the year

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Man, wtf happened here.

So - I'm not going to talk about the engine issues I suffered through, or how bad the patented Telltale 'choose your own adventure' thing falls apart - especially in this game. What I will talk about is the writing.

It's terrible - like...All Star Batman and Robin terrible. They set this game up as a look into Batman's psyche, and yet it's not. It's not the Bruce Wayne that we know, it's a very odd Elseworld version of Bruce Wayne who does really stupid things (end of episode 3), is suspicious of Alfred (eh?) and has his arse kicked by some random person because....plot? The whole section where he is sent into the asylum makes little to no sense, except to set up 'John Doe'. It's not like they hadn't seen what this drug did to people before, and I controlled Bruce and didn't let him beat the shit out of 'not-penguin.' I guess they were going for the Gotham penguin..just without any of the charm, deviousness and fantastic acting by Robin Lord Taylor.

I dunno, this whole thing was a mess once we hit episode 2 and just got worse for me. I'm not touching the sequel series and I question whether I'll bother with any further Telltale games really..I dunno man, it was just sad.

Dishonorable mention: This was very close, but Evil Within 2. It's a fine as a game, far more than Batman..but oh god, the storyline is trash, the general gameplay is not what I wanted from a sequel, and the atmosphere is nothing like the first. I can accept that many, many people prefer the second game..but not for me.

And that's it for this year.

Hope next year has as many great games as this year...and that everyone has a great holiday season, whichever it may be.

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Games I played and enjoyed this year and some other things (2016)

Well, this year was hellish in so many ways, wasn't it? But video game releases was not one of them (hurray!)

We may have lost our lord and saviour Ziggy Stardust (among many many others) but aliens have destroyed us yet - here's my list of games I played this year and enjoyed - in no particular order and not all from this year. At the end we'll have some bonus mentions of non gaming stuff..

Grim Dawn

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Winner: Game most likely to be confused with Diablo but is probably better than Diablo 3.

It's been a while since I played the game - so excuse the vagueness from what I can remember.

From the makers of Titan Quest (via kickstarter) this long awaited arpg surprised me. I'd played the beta and hadn't been impressed with it but upon full release something clicked (and clicked and clicked and clicked and clicked) and I began to enjoy its take on loot hunting monster mashing. It's own twist is the dual class system that opens up at level 10 - allowing you to mix two classes together to become an omnipotent druid from hell..which was sadly the defacto class choice during my play time. There's also a sprinkling of Cthulhu nonsense which always helps...sadly the final boss was terrible but you can't have everything.

Doom (2016)

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Winner: Best Soundtrack to play Dawn of War 2 and anything with SPAICEEE MAHRINES in.

Much has been written about Doom this year - a game that I think surprised everyone with how good it was and how, as a series, it is still relevant..unless you've played Brutal Doom and you kinda knew that anyway. Of the two FPS games I played this year for any significant time, I'd say Doom was the better of the two. However, it made me realise that I'm just not that interested in shooting people in the face anymore..if I ever was. I'll get into this more later..probably..but as someone who isn't a great fan of gratuitous violence (unless for comedy purposes - see Mortal Kombat) it begins to wear thin. As did the game - especially once the core combat loop of shoot, strafe, rip, tear, repeat began to be really really repetitive without a decent storyline driving it.

Don't get me wrong, it's a great game for what it is - one of the best of the year...but not for me.

Titanfall 2

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Winner: I played Cloudbuilt with Optimus Prime award

The second FPS of the year. A fantastic parkour game with a subpar story and narrative that holds it back along with understandable but lackluster Mech combat. Just, for a second, imagine what they could have done with the 'Cause and Effect' mechanic if they hadn't been strapped to that boring narrative? The movement is so good, so very good. Add the smart pistol in and it's fun times all around - it's just everything else is kind of a bore. 'We gotta fight these guys because blah blah and they're created the death star so blah blah one shall stand one shall fall blah blah AMERICA FUCK YEAH blah blah" I get that it was a big thing to have a single player in the game given the original didn't so perhaps complaining about it's lackluster storyline is missing the point but..there it is.

Sleeping Dogs

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Winner: Best use of Cantonese and worst use of Emma Stone

If someone asked me what the best game I played this year was, I'd tell them Sleeping Dogs. To quote my write up:

Infernal Affairs (fuck you Hollywood) is in my top 5 movies of all time, so it may come as no surprise that I loved this game. The story of an undercover cop rising through the ranks of the Sun On Yee (as opposed to the real Sun Yee On..see what they did there..oh and 14k instead of 18k ((or 24k but..well)) Multiple parentheses ftw) was gripping, amusing, dark and heartwarming all at the same time. Yeah it trod the well worn steps of most undercover movies...Donnie Brasco I'm looking at you...but the setting and writing overcame that.

Gameplay wise the mildly modified Arkham combat was fun as ever and didn't get boring. Driving was mildly loose but had enough of the guys who worked on Need For Speed to make it work, gun combat was meh. Graphics were good for an open world game and evoked Hong Kong well, Voice acting was superb throughout and the inclusion of Cantonese every so often was great.

My opinion hasn't changed, and if you happen to have an Xbone and XBL it's currently part of the GWG rotation so give it a shot. I'll be going back to finish off the DLC at some point.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

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Winner: Game with a terrible name that's actually really good.

If someone asked me what would be my GOTY that was..arguably..released this year I would say Rise of the Tomb Raider. A game I'm still playing through with all the DLC.

This is an odd one for me, due to the fact that I didn't enjoy the original games nor the reboot the first time I played it on PS3. However, coming back to the reboot on Xbone I really enjoyed my time with it - I'm not entirely sure why it clicked this time..but it did. Buying the sequel was inevitable..and I'm glad I did.

My god is this game beautiful, even on the Xbone. The windswept Siberian plateaus alone are worth the price of entry. The storyline is serviceable so far (I've also finished the Baba Yaga DLC which was well worth the pennies I paid for it) and Lara isn't intensely annoying, nor..thanks to the origin story being over..do we suffer from the usual dissonance of 'kill everything - but I'm just an archeology student'. That said..even though we're dealing with a secret organisation, where do they get all these men? Do they sign waivers? What about all their children? And why isn't there a single woman in the grunts so far? Questions questions..

Soccer Spirits and Fate/Grand Order

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Winner: Best time wasters when you should be doing something more productive on your tablet

Two Gacha games - Soccer Spirits is a Korean..err..card game where you play football with the car...hmm. It's anime space jam just 'Soccer' rather than Basketball. The drop rates are fair, there's a storyline which is visual novel esque and the game itself is fun. The waifu-laifu element of the game is a bit of a drag so YMMV.

Speaking of Waifu-Laifu - the ultimate in Waifus, Saber of Fate Stay Night (Rin best girl) returns in Fate Grand/Order...currently only available in Japan and China with no English translation. It's a typical RPG style game where you collect servants from random rolls on the gacha system and use them to walk through a very very very long story mode. It looks gorgeous and is easy to play without knowing a lick of Japanese. Both have had their time on my tablet, but thankfully I have better things to do now.

Elder Scrolls Online

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Winner: Game most likely to get you to join the Argonian freedom fighters or hit your download cap.

I have a problem with Bethesda games. Apart from the jank (the massive massive jank..I have to use mods just to be able to play a rereleased 5 year old game on my xbone to stop the bugs and crashes...literally wtf Bethesda?) I just find the worlds boring. Fallout being the worst offender. After Fallout 1&2 (two games I remember fondly) 3 was a travesty and New Vegas..well..they tried, I'll give them that. Elder Scrolls though..hmm..I've tried multiple times to get into the games. I own all of them and the amount of times of bounces of Morrowind would take fingers to count than I have. I'm currently reaching frustration point with Skryim on the Xbone..seriously who cares about going miles to shout at something, honestly..urgh.

That said..playing through the early levels of ESO actually gave me a feeling of place, of the problems faced by the competing races, my sympathy for the Argonians and the..err..Cat people. The betrayal by the Dark Elves (who need to be a bit more..err...Khainite for my liking...also Lizard mounts..yasss) and the machinations. It's good stuff. It's a shame that the combat and magic tree have been stunted so much compared to something like Skyrim or Oblivion. No bound weapons even..which to me is very sad. It also takes up 71gbs on my tiny tiny Xbone hard drive...which is ridiculous. Sigh.

Resident Evil 7 and Shadow Tactics

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Winner: Demos that will probably be better than the game.

Finally on the game side of things my two favourite demos of the year.

Resident Evil 7 is an odd one. Following from the popularity of PT was always going to be a dangerous gamble but for the most part this constantly updating demo manages to bring the survival back to the horror of Resi. I'm a bit standoffish when it comes to the possibility of 'ghosts' in a game that is very much based on crazy science rather than occult stuff. That would seem to undermine the placement of RE against the now dead Silent Hill. The first person aspect works well and I'm looking forward to playing the demo again..which is a good sign for the finished product.

Shadow Tactics is a different kettle of sushi. A return to the Commando school of tactical gameplay (real time, no pausing, lots of vision cones) this demo was awesome. I haven't finished it yet due to being so out of touch with that type of gameplay but I intend to return for the full game. We really need a Tenchu reboot.

Honourable Mentions

Hard West - I need to go back and play some more, but I really enjoyed what I did play.

Destiny - While I enjoyed it when I was playing, time has mellowed me significantly on whether it was worth it at the time. Destiny 2 really needs to step up its game.

Battleborn - It's not Overwatch. It's not trying to be Overwatch. It never wanted to be Overwatch (unless you count how much money it wanted to make). It wants to be LoL...and for what it is I enjoyed it. It has a single player mode with the usual poor Gearbox humour that grates after 5 seconds. I really like some of the character designs (Deande especially) which is more than I can say about some other game that I won't mention. It's a shame that the people who worked so hard on this game were sacrificed to Pitchford's ego and Blizzard's behemoth.

Dishonourable Mentions

Quantum Break: Urgh. Give me back my time MS please. A mess of a game that looks, at times, incredible..but falls apart everywhere else. I give them credit for trying something different but does anyone really want to sit through a TV show at the end of every level? Especially when the story was TERRIBLE? No..didn't think so.

Final Fantasy Explorers: Winner of worst game I had the misfortune to play this year. Lord of Arcana should have prepared me for how awful this game is. It has nothing...nadda. There's no weight to the combat, there's no roll or dodge, you can hammer a button and win. There's some depth in the crystal surge system and how that can mutate your skills but that's really not enough to keep me interested in this poor mans PSO. Just play Phantasy Star Nova instead if you can, or Monster Hunter...or God Eater or..yeah, you get the point.

And now for something a little different:

TV Show of the Year that was broadcast last year:

Nirvana in Fire

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available at viki.com

Now..bare with me.

A Chinese (Mandarin) version of 'The Count of Monte Cristo', Nirvana in Fire is the best TV show I have ever seen. I don't say that lightly given my fondness of Twin Peaks and Sandbaggers...but, my god this thing is incredible. Based on a web novel this 54 part series tells the story of Lin Shu and his quest for justice following the death of his family and army 13 years previously. Saying any more would ruin the show but if anything it's worth watching for the costumes, intrigue and the acting.

The main actors all do incredible work but Hu Ge, the main character, is incredible. He is capable of implying so much by micro-expressions and the depth he brings to Lin Shu is something to behold. This was reinforced once we began watching The Disguiser where he is the lead again - and completely different. Oh and he sings the ending theme..which is incredible. It should also be noted that the relationships between the actors are rock solid - they all play off each other incredibly well. Shout out to Badass Commander Meng - forever known as Mengarrus as he is essentially Garrus in human form. He is the ultimate bro. Not sure if the West could handle the endings though..every Asian show I've watched this year (IRIS, Shanghai Bund, 3 Kingdoms etc) has not ended well...especially IRIS and Shanghai Bund..oh boy.

In short, if you're looking for a show that has beautiful scenery, amazing costumes, great character acting, fun martial arts sections, intrigue, murder, despair and little mystical nonsense that Wuxia stuff goes in for than NiF is perfect. It's the Chinese Game of Thrones if they spent more time thinking about plot and less time thinking about blood and tits.

Which brings me to talk about Westworld.

I found watching Westworld really tough after watching NiF (we actually generally watch just Chinese TV shows these days in my house - currently The Disguiser and When a Snail falls in Love...both of which are top tier TV as far as I'm concerned). I get what they're trying to do - spoiler it's Paradise Lost with robots and I like the way they're using tropes such as violence and nudity to play into that, so this isn't so much a criticism of Westworld rather than Western medi..hold on a second I see what they did there..but both NiF and the Disguiser (which have their own issues such as rampant Nationalism) don't need such graphic violence to tell a good story - in fact there's little bloody violence beyond the odd splash of blood even in full out war scenes. In Western media it just comes across as being gratuitous for the sake of driving ratings because who needs Colosseums any more right? Blood for the blood god..etc etc..or should that be bread and circuses? Hmm, I guess I'm rambling.

My point is that watching TV from other countries does rather open your eyes to different ways of telling stories that don't just devolve into the HBO mantra of 'plot tits tits blood tits tits tits plot' that seems to be creeping in everywhere..though that's still an improvement on Korea's 'spy action action 30 mins of romantic comedy action action stare out of a window while we watch flashback to romantic scene from 20 mins ago flashback action' that was Iris. Aiyaaa what a mess.

Secondary shout out to Aljazeera's The Listening Post - a weekly examination of the how the news is reported rather than the news itself. Well worth watching if you spend a lot of time wondering about how the media works and what is going on in other countries besides the US or Britain.

Favourite Album of the Year

Rap Monster Mix Tape

Technically released last year but eh, who's counting. That's the whole album right there by the way - the track it's playing is 'Joke' and if you want to understand why I picked this as my album of the year..press play.

Namjoon don't know how to breath innit.

As I side note - I spent most of the last year producing a radio programme about Asian music - mostly focusing on Japanese and Korean pop though I did delve through Hip Hop, RnB, Indie, Metal, Rockabilly (Kimchibilly I shit you not) and other bits and pieces. Kpop is a really divisive thing..which I find odd given that it's essentially 90s American music. New Jack Swing is the defacto RnB groove of Korea and as someone who grew up during that period I'll take Zion T, Crush and Dean over modern American stuff thanks. The growing popularity of EXO and BTS in Western countries will be interesting to watch..and hopefully CL can go back to being queen rather than whatever the hell that 'Lifted' track was...maybe the West isn't really ready for her yet?

I'll leave you with CL herself and the wish that we all have a far better year next year. Please...pleeease.

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I played these games and liked them this year.

It's that time again.

It's been a long year and a good one for gaming - well..no yeah it's been a good year.

As such here is a selection of games I enjoyed playing this year - not in any particular order and not all of them are from this year.

Atelier Rorona Plus (VITA)

I'm a big fan of handheld gaming. I actually prefer it to sitting in front of a TV - being able to stop and start as you wish is a boon for someone who generally has 15 things going on at once (and a very bossy cat to deal with). Rorona Plus is the updated version of the original ps3 release for this long running series. It's a game about a cute girl doing cute things with alchemy. That's it. There's no world ending mystery, no masked final boss giving it the old BWAHAHAHA who turns out to be your evil clone (urgh, too much Gundam). The only impediment to progress is a time limit on the amount of days you have to get stuff done - and it's hardly taxing. It has a great turn based battle system, amusing dialogue and is really refreshing after all the usual JRPG storyline cliches to just work in an alchemist's shop. The only real downside is the engine/frame rate not really being optimised and I hit a hard crash point, but I was able to work my way around it.

If you can stomach the anime kawaii and want a different sort of RPG which places crafting ahead of combat - please try the series. It's worth it.

Knights of the Old Republic II - Sith Lords (PC)

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away I originally played this on my OG Xbox (which I still have and love by the way) but it wasn't until earlier this year that I found out how much was cut from the game. Obsidian weren't given enough time to finish the game and the overall package suffered - but by the gods it was a great RPG to begin with. So 10 years later and with the hard work of Stoney and Zbyl2 (among others) the cut content has been mostly restored. Is it worth playing again? Hell yes. It's among the best representations of the Star Wars universe in gaming. It's one of the few Star Wars games that understand that shades of grey exist and that both the light and the dark have their drawbacks.

Highly recommended for RPG fans.

Freespace 2/ Freespace Open(PC)

This is TBK's fault...just so we are clear.

I never played Freespace when it was originally released. I was too busy playing FFVIII (We don't talk about IX where I'm from) and Tenchu 2..probably. I didn't have a machine capable of playing Freespace nor did I have a joystick. I now have a hotas and..not that much time to play anything - but when I do have time I play Freespace. I played a ton of the original Descent (it's direct forefather) but not Freespace. With the added work and improvements brought about through the Freespace Open project (not to mention the mods, the glorious glorious mods) there is really no excuse not to play this wonderful space combat sim. I can't say I'm a fan of open world games - I prefer mission based games so I don't have to faff about getting to the next trigger point, I can just play the mission and move on..and this delivers in every way. I've completed Freespace and I'm half way through Silent Threat (it's expansion)..and then I got bogged down in mods (*glares at TBK*..yes I will finish Age of Aquarius). I would highly suggest anyone who enjoys being a cockpit jockey try thi...what am I saying, you all already have and I'm late to the party.

Highly Recommended.

Life is Strange (PC)

For me this has been the year of adventure games. I have played through all of Telltale's output this year, I have my beloved Dreamfall Chapters waiting to be played and D4 is giving me the come hither look. I'm not entirely sure that LiS is the best of the games I've played in this genre (second playthrough didn't really stand up with a friend, we went straight back to Game of Thrones which she loved) but it's certainly the one that I enjoyed the most the first time through. As mentioned elsewhere much time was spent discussing the ins and outs of the plot and possible meanings (spirit animals yo) but I think the most important thing the game managed - at least for me - was how well rounded the relationships were between Max, Chloe, Kate, Warren and the other characters. As someone who grew up mostly in the late 80s and 90s it really hit that 'John Hughes' nostalgia and whatever else people may say about it - I thought that was hella great.

Her Story (PC)

As someone who spent a good chunk of their recent past working in criminal defence I had a whole load of deja-vu going on while playing this...game. I am a big fan (BIG) of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and what they game attempted to do so when I heard Sam Barlowe was working on something new I had to check it out. For those who haven't played it I will avoid spoilers (and thus avoid talking about the game pretty much) though I do like that there is an open question at the end. I think the framing device is absolutely fantastic, and even half inched it for one of adaptations for radio. If there are faults it's that perhaps the system is too open ended - it comes across as more of a novelty than a game, something that would be on an ipad. That's not to discredit what has been done here or the fantastic performance by Viva Seifert (of Witcher 3 fame..cough) it's just so different to gaming standards it might throw some people off, or just feel like another day at work to others..sigh.

Cloudbuilt (PC)

I love this game. I absolutely adore this game.

Take Megaman, good 3d Sonic, speed running and Prince of Persia - slap it all together in an almost perfect whole and you get Cloudbuilt. Easy to play, near impossible to master. Just watch the above video - if that doesn't sell you on the game then nothing I can say will. Extra levels have been added over time, new routes have been found to shave those precious seconds off. There are few things that have made me feel so good as getting an S rank in some of the more difficult stages - or beating my friends times on the leader board.

Marvel Heroes 2015(PC)

Probably the game I sunk the most time into this year. I don't entirely know how I feel about that. As most know this is a diablo style game - click, click, click, press number key,loot, rinse and repeat. That's it. To be honest that's generally enough for me - I love Diablo style games. However the amount of love for the Marvel Universe that has been layered on top is staggering. The small little things like Lockheed or HERBIE...dammit Magik is in this game - if you want to get me into something shove the New Mutants into it - that's my childhood right there. While I had an issue with the late game progression and moving on to the cosmic midtown etc (it's a massive power gap for a first time player without enough Omega points) I think I enjoyed a good 80% of my time with the game...it probably went up to 90% when I turned off the chat - especially around the release of the FF movie, god help us all.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate(3ds)

Probably the game I actually sunk the most hours into this year that I would admit to in public - and I know exactly how I feel about that. Fantastic. I picked up a new 3ds for this beast and I was not disappointed. While I prefer the environments from 3, the new combat mechanics, verticality and general ease of use changes were great. Adding online play to the 3ds version made it even better - granted most people didn't know what they were doing but that was fine until the 2nd carting...sigh. Perhaps the most interesting thing for me was that I went from being a die hard dual blader to a staff user solo (need that added mobility) to being a gunner/horn user when playing multiplayer. That bowgun that auto reloads when dodging is hilarious in the early game. Not slime bow level of hilarious but still..pretty crazy. It's good to see that MH is slowly beginning to crack the west, and X will probably take that a tiny bit further if it's ever released here. Oh and the free DLC mission and items/costumes...from Capcom? Who would have thought?

Ar Nosurge Plus: Ode to an unborn star (VITA)

Another Gust game on the vita, and one I have yet to finish.

It's a traditional style RPG which uses the song battle system from the earlier Ar Tonelico series (which this is a spiritual sequel to) with added wave clearing mechanics (build up song power over time and then blow them all away). The real issue is that Ciel Nosurge, the prequel to this game and a visual novel, was never released in the West (though there are subbed playthroughs up online) and a lot of the backstory and meaning is lost - similar to how Xenosaga 2 was the only game of the series released in the EU. The game suffers from a degree of fanservice that I could do without but the base storyline, themes and..god..the music are fantastic. They actually created their own functioning language to sing in and that kind of attention is prevalent throughout the game. There are still some issues with the engine but it's far more stable than Rorona..at least at the moment..and I look forward to finishing the game when I have time.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

This needs to be emphasised - ONLY ACT 1

I was totally on board up until everything went Orwellian - and by that time (after 20 hours or so) I said enough was enough and stopped. I didn't need any extra story - I had closure..but it just kept on going. I think everyone can agree that there are serious issues with both the narrative, characters and progression systems. I also think that nearly everyone agrees that the baseline gameplay systems are the best that stealth has ever been. It never stops being fun sneaking into a base and messing around with the enemy AI or just getting out of there unseen. The gameplay loop is so damn tight that you almost forgive everything else...almost. I am fascinated to see what happens with the series now that Kojima has left and Konami seem determined to make another game without him - I'm equally interested to see what Kojima does now, free of the idiocy of Konami. Do we finally get that Snatcher game we (me) all have been waiting for? Does ZOE return with a few name changes and a new lick of paint?..or will we get David Cage mark 2? It'll be something - that's for sure.

So that's a brief look at the games I enjoyed the most this year that currently come to mind.

Honourable Mentions

Downwell: Simple yet brilliantly done platformer with a deceptive amount of depth (see what I..nevermind) that recalls the best times of the Gameboy.

TellTale's Game of Thrones:

If I'm honest I probably enjoyed this more in the end than Life is Strange, if only for watching a beautiful Brazilian woman scream and throw the controller around when anything involving QTEs happened on screen. Top quality entertainment.

Pokemon Alpha Sapphire:

I have never been able to get into Pokemon. I remember playing Yellow on a friend's gameboy when it originally came out but it just didn't grab me. It wasn't until everyone at Uni started talking about it (postgrads..what can you do? *shrug*) that I thought it would be a laugh to make each one of them their favourite Pokemon. Let me tell you - that adds legs to the storyline like you wouldn't believe. Inter framework romances have hit a new level and the talent shows are hotly contested.

Blazblue Chronophantasm Extend:

Terumi - that is all.

Tie Fighter:

Do I...Do I need to explain this?

9 Comments

On growing older and changing tastes

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War may never change but people do...especially when it comes to things they enjoy.

I've been thinking about writing this blog for a couple of months now, but it's taken the last couple of days for me to really come to grips with how much my taste in gaming has changed recently...and that I can only really equate this to growing older. I'll be 31 in October and my interests have, naturally, shifted a hell of a lot since I was a kid.

Let me give you an example or 30:

Here's a link to my favourite games list.

As you can see there's a lot of long form games on there - and it's pretty easy to work out which period in gaming that I grew up in - there's a Sonic game on there. Looking quickly through the list you'll see that there are quite a few RPGs and SRPGs..there's even an ARPG. Growing up I pretty much spent all of my time playing the latest Final Fantasy, Tri Ace or whatever JRPG I could get my hands on. Narrative was the main draw for me (however poor it might be in some cases) and long form storytelling was what I was looking for.

The last couple of years have really been about handheld for me. I've been ill and had work on and off in various places over the last 2 years and handheld RPGs and fighting games got me through a lot of loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong nights. I pretty much played the whole of the first Devil Survivor (imported from the US - fuck you for making us wait Atlus) in acute pain over two very long days. Most of Fire Emblem and Masou Kishin were done the same way. Bravely Default and Blazblue got me through late nights after work where I had no intention of watching shitty TV or reading whatever was on my kindle.

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This past year or so has probably seen the greatest change in my gaming tastes. You may recall that I spent a lot of last year trying to understand MOBAs (if you're interested the blogs are still there). I don't play them any more due to not really having the time or the desire to be insulted..I mean work with other people that I did - but it started an interest in me to explore genres that I generally don't play. My next experiment (which I may do a blog on at some point) was on Shooters, or if you prefer explicitly Danmaku/Bullet Hell games. Turns out I looooooove Bullet Hell games. I could wax lyrical about Shikigami no Shiro, Espgalude or Twilight Insanity for a while.

I also took a look at Arena shooters and FPS games in general - beyond the original Halo, Mirrors Edge and FEAR I don't have much time for FPS games that aren't from 1993 and made by Id. That hasn't really changed - though I did come across Tribes REVengence and had some fun skidding and sliding all over the place. When it comes to stuff like Quake 3 or Toxikk/Shootmania/Reflex/CSGO I just don't have the sort of twitch reflexes you need to actually hit someone. Shit, playing Killing Floor is bad enough - friend of mine only just stopped short of essentially shouting 'YOU SUCK GET OFF THE STAGE' at me the other day while playing.

This leads me to my biggest 'wtf' moment of the year..and for me this is a big one. Turns out I like racing games. I should give some background to this:

My brother is a massive car freak. Once he made enough money the first thing he bought was a Porsche. The only thing I remember about it (this was about 22 years ago) is that it was really low to the ground and that I had thought it was a massive waste of money. I think that my reaction to cars is probably based upon wanting to differentiate myself from my brother and also that I fucking loathe driving. I've had a licence since I was 18 and I've probably only actually driven for about 5 of those years. Cars have, up until the last month, been anathema to me. Don't ask me why, I probably panic for some reason or have a deep seated trauma relating to cars. Naturally my brother's children love cars too. While other children beg to play GTA or COD or (in one case) Dark Souls - French kids eh? - my brother's children always want to play Burnout Paradise. Always. Wars are almost started because of it. The eldest of the lost, she likes to slowly drive around the open world and obey the traffic laws..which is lucky given she's almost old enough to drive. The second eldest like to race or just drive into things - shockingly he's male. The youngest, at 8, likes to annoy everyone by doing everything she can to not crash (crash means handover) and drive like an 80 year old woman with cataracts. After going on..hmm..5 years? of putting up with Burnout Paradise (which I can't say is my favourite of that series) I decided it was time for a new open world racer.

I sat there for a while considering which one. NFS? Midnight Club? GTAV? But then I had an epiphany. Which game not only game you an open world but a completely insane storyline, dumb avatar stuff, dancing, customisation and really easy driving..but without shooting people? Well there's only one that contains all those things:

Keep in mind that it's Brad playing it - but as an arcade racer it's really dumb fun. Really...and that lead me down the rabbit hole. From there I looked into driving games on the PC and now have a health amount - I'm waiting for Steam Sale for Assetto Corsa and Eurotruck 2. I even picked up (and patiently await) a G27 Wheel - partially to see how much my Niece and Nephew will flip out and partially to enjoy these games more. GT6 and Forza are now on my radar when, before, I would have just ignored them completely. Shit, I watched F1 the other day and was fascinated.

So I currently sit here, at my desk, with Witcher 3 downloaded (my poor computer can just about play it) and Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition in my hand. If you'd asked me even a month ago which I would be playing I could have easily answered you. Now..now, not so much.

TLDR:

War never changes, but I have.

10 Comments

32Play Blog: The henshin that was lost in translation - Kamen Rider

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And now for something a little different.

I've made passing mention of this in my blogs before - but I am a massive Kamen Rider fan.

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Kamen Rider is a super hero show (tokusatsu genre - live action special effects) that has run since 1971 with a ten year gap in the 90s - much like Dr Who. When I was a kid a friend of mine from Hong Kong had a bunch of tapes that he'd picked up in a market - those rather crappy tapes had some episodes of Gundam ZZ, Tekkaman Blade, Macross and Kamen Rider Black on them. This was just before the Power Rangers came to the UK and you can imagine that my mind was blown - especially given that I had grown up on Thundercats, Robotech (oh the irony) and Transformers in the late 80s. Naturally it was all in either Chinese or Japanese but at that age it was just cool to watch dudes in plastic suits and robots beat the crap out of each other.

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Skip forward a couple of years and previews of 'Masked Rider' showing up on UK tv tying into Power Rangers showed up..I even recognised Black RX as the Rider in question. The hype was real for my 12 year old brain..however what we got was..well..not what I was expecting. Time for a little compare and contrast:

with the first episode of Black (RX - the source of Masked Rider fight scenes is a continuation of Black so..I prefer Black anyway)

Both are 'kids shows' and Black is from 1987. I take the, probably controversial, view that Kamen Rider is the Japanese Dr Who - something that both kids and adults can enjoy. Now obviously the demographic (and time period) is different between these two programmes - Saban wanted to tap into the Power Rangers demographic while Black had it's own thing going - but going from one to another was deeply annoying for my 12 year old self. Rewatching Black now I'm not even sure that it qualifies as a kids show..there's some scary stuff in there. I never looked at Silkworms the same way again after episode 5.

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After the disappointment of Masked Rider in '96 I forgot about Kamen Rider until around 2011. Trawling the internet (as one does) I came across some mention of a new series - at that time it was W - and was surprised to find out that there had been new Kamen Rider series since 2001. I decided to start with the most recent which was Decade..both a good idea (short and a good premise) and a bad idea..but the bad idea didn't become apparent until after I'd watched some of the previous shows. Decade acts as a retread/revisiting of all the Heisei-era (2001-2009) Riders before him - the dimensions are being destroyed and in order to stop the collapse of reality Decade must travel to all the previous Heisei Kamen Rider worlds and destroy? those Riders..thus we get a whistlestop tour of all the series since 2001 starting with Kuuga. Unfortunately all the characters and plotlines have been changed to such a degree that it really annoyed fans of those characters...add to that the confusing nature of what is actually going on - Diend alone can start fights between fans - and that the ending of the show is only seen in the movie I can only suggest Decade to new viewers or people with a love of pink cameras. It should probably be noted that in 2009 Saban once again attempted to bring Kamen Rider to the west with Dragon Knight (Ryuuki) and fair play to them..it was a lot closer to the source material. Some liked it..others didn't. I've only seen a handful of episodes and I don't like Ryuuki anyway so..I don't really know on that count.

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Following Decade I watched some of W - a fantastic concept of having a Kamen Rider made up of two people - two halves - with a sprinkling of 'Soft Boiled Noir'. It's a fun show, as is OOO's - the one that followed. However that's when we really began to hit the kids demographic. Den-O was the beginning of the trend and the recent Fourze and Gaim have just..overdone it to my mind. Kamen Rider has increasingly become about themes and..well..selling toys. Blade has the card theme, as did Ryuuki. Kabuto has a bug theme, while Decade has a Kamen Rider theme. Gaim has a fruit (yes) theme, Fourze has a space theme and Deno-O has a train theme..with added possession in the mix. Don't get me wrong - I accept that people enjoy Fourze and Gaim but I'm just not one of them. The Kamen Rider I want to see is Faiz (mass murders of teenagers, suicide attempts, introspection, laundry) and Kabuto (super speed, asteroids hitting earth and decimating Shibuya, bodysnatching, Tendou Souji, miso) not..fruit based powers. Not people screaming 'Space KITAAAA'..it's turning/turned into Masked Rider and that's not something I want to see.

This

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vs

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However I can appreciate, again much like Dr Who, that some people will swear by Den-O and think that Faiz is terrible. You'd be crazy but you're allowed to be crazy..

For those interested in watching Kamen Rider - my personal suggestion would be to start with Black if you can handle the old school charm or Faiz and Kabuto. Kuuga is fine too as it leads into Agito. I would avoid Den-o, Hibiki, Fourze and Gaim but ymmv. All of these can probably be found in subbed form on Youtube - much like Black above. KRDL is also a great website in that regard.

To close out this little retrospective of my Kamen Rider journey (and to be honest what prompted this blog post..and seeing @corruptedevil user icon all the time) I've been recording some videos of my Kamen Rider games - mostly on psp. Here I take a look at Eighting's Super Climax Heroes on the aforementioned console - it's a fun, yet dumb, fan game with a great selection of heroes and villains.

I make a bunch of dumb mistakes in the video regarding time frames and characters..Coming up I have a look at Rider Generation 2, Lost Heroes and hopefully Battride War. There are other games that riff on the Kamen Rider idea - most notably Viewtiful Joe and Wonderful 101 - though that's more Sentai than Kamen Rider.

Anyway thanks for joining me down this highly opinionated trip down memory lane. Seriously, if you enjoy Dr Who or just fun TV Shows - give Kamen Rider a try. It won't be for everyone but it's worth seeing if only for the henshins, fight scenes and dramatic poses.

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32Play Blog: If only I was more like Koji Kabuto

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Disclaimer:

I have only been playing League and Dota for just over 2 months. I am not very good. This is the story of me trying to get better with the help of two friends. We decided to produce a blog and podcast about that and many other things. Please cringe and applaud at the appropriate times. Be prepared for salt and whining about secret shops and Blitzcrank. Don't take things too seriously and enjoy watching me squirm.

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Apologies (or perhaps felicitations) for the lack of a podcast this week. I have been both lazy and incredibly angry/frustrated/worried about what is currently happening north of the border - where a good chunk of close family reside. This with a mixture of ennui regarding gaming and continued attempts to find a job have left me rather raw. Context in all things.

Learning League

Issues abound in League for me this week. I was beginning to tilt pretty heavily last week due to the...obsession people seem to have with the game - be it hitting imaginary CS targets that 'pros' hit or just winning without actually enjoying the game. At my level (again 15) I just want to have fun..not really bother about winning so much. Anyway as such (and due to the massive ping hits, 40 -500 at least 3 times a game) I took a break..until this morning only to play a custom match at 300 ping. Sigh. No other game has this issue..just League and their EU servers. So here's a video I made 10 days ago or so.

Please don't take the above video as any indication of serious playing. Once it was obvious that we'd be a dual lane ADC combo I decided to just try and help while mucking about - especially that flash dive. It was team builder by the way...

  • I did have time before the servers went Wakko, Yakko and Dot on my end to try some new (to me) champions.
  • Heimerdinger is an interesting one. His turrets allow him massive amounts of zone control while also keeping the pressure of poke alive. I really like his E as long as you get the stun off..even his Ult (which empowers his other abilities - thus giving a rocket turret or a row of three grenades) is a lot of fun to use at the right time. I'm surprised he isn't used as much as other mid mages. Perhaps not flashy enough or not enough sustain/escape.
  • I enjoy playing Twitch (badly as the above video will show) if only for his dots and my love of Skaven. His attack speed is great for applying those dots and tearing through most champions but as with all ADCs he's so squishy. Having not really played ADC it's another learning experience.
  • Kassadin was blergh.
  • Shaco was a laugh..his jack in the box can cause all sorts of issues for the other team and his passive dodge can help against minions if you get caught in a wave.
  • Cassiopeia (I went to school with a girl named Cassiopeia..she just seemed angry about something all the time) is interesting. Given that I played her at 300 ping this morning I didn't really get much of a chance to fully try her out but her reworked passive + the right build (tear, seraph, rabbadon?) seems to dish out a hell of a lot of damage. I don't like her ult though. I can see it would be helpful in a team fight..shame she doesn't have an ability that works better when people are turned with their back to you but that may be OP.

So League has become something of a drag for me at the moment. Too serious and too..perhaps aggressive isn't the right word but it conveys the right idea.

Old Gods

As with last week I have spent some time playing Smite - if purely to play something similar but different to League. You also gain levels and their IP equivalent in bot matches so that is a great deal more soothing than my experience in the above. I have a couple of videos up on YT about Smite. I intend to look at each role at some point from a beginners perspective.

I should probably state that I picked up the Ultimate God pack (all current and future gods) on Monday and as with League have been learning some of them. My current favourite is Janus - if purely because he's so completely different to anything I've played in a moba before.

  • He uses portals - and yes they do work as you would expect - to get around the environment, provide allies with help or just damage the opponent.
  • You can shove a portal on a wall and skip to the other side - which also gives anyone a speed boost that uses it and empowers Janus' next magic attack by 35%(?).
  • His Ult is even more insane - it's a portal kamehameha - I think it goes the length of the map in a straight line - it does some damage to anything in it's way but..but..it also creates portals through everything it hits. Thus you can portal run from one side of the map to the other to help gank in the opposite lane.
  • Now it's not just one portal to another, you have to cross the other lanes - and enemies can't use portals. It's kinda mindboggling.
  • His 2 is a wavy dual projectile which can be difficult to land and his 3 is a barrier that slows and debuffs while buffing you.

Generally he's a mid mage but he can play support.

Smite continues to just exist as my moba of 'not really giving a damn/why so serious' choice. As I have also previously stated I really like the god motif. I'm having fun with it..more so than with League.

Path of the Tenno

Another game where you end up banging your head against the wall occasionally. People popping survival capsules at 95% leading to a failed mission 3 times in a row (with 3 different teams) despite asking them politely not to use the capsules until 40% at the start of the mission..each..fucking..time can lead to massive amounts of frustration - especially when you're on a time limit. I actually went so far as to explain why not to do it and I was ignored. Sigh.

A quick video looking at my Kubrow (now in stasis due to the RIDICULOUS upkeep costs for what they are) and picking up Trinity and playing a defense mission while half asleep.

  • Digital Extremes went a bit 'Alert Happy' this week and as such a lot of difficult to get mods/frames were available if you happened to do the missions (and not have a bad team..3 times...). As such I picked up some rare stances and Vauban ze Frenchframe.
  • Current frame of choice is the recently buffed Oberon, mostly because I like the way the frame looks. His 1 shoots homing balls of energy all over the place that seem to proc something..probably radiation or something.
  • 2 is a buff area that gets rid of debuffs
  • 3 is a heal
  • 4 is like mags ult - lift them up and smash them down..it's cool.

Beyond that there's not much to say about Warframe - it continues apace. Oh and I made my own clan of 1. hmm should have called it OMAC. Oh well.

Extra Credit

Youtube seem to have cut the top and bottom of the screen for some reason. I remember really enjoying Shinobi when it originally came out on the ps2 (and Shinobi 3 on the megadrive but that's another video). The controls (especially the reversed x axis) can take a little getting used to..as does the camera - but as an arcade style hack n slash I still think it really holds up. Available on PSN its definitely worth a look.

One of my older videos and one of the first ps2 videos I made to show my love of the Super Robot Wars/Taisen series. SRW is essentially a Japanese mecha fanfic that went out of control and was made into an SRPG. I was actually a good way through a lets play of SRWOG before my ezcap gave out..that and Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders. Anyway join my loathing for Gundam X and wishing for Gaogaigar as we play the first couple of levels of SRWZ on the ps2.

ETC

Steam ID is Jazz and my LoL ID is JazzGB or Ahriman Efreet

Gunslingerpanda's Twitch Stream - link

Lolking link to my profile - link

Dota2 profile on DOTABuff - link

You can find Adam's reviews at Critical Gamer

Summoner School can be found here

My YT channel is JazzGB

Chris' YT is Teebeekaay (currently in production)

Adam's YT is TheBMPanda

Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoyed the show..please leave any comments you have in the area below.

Start the Conversation

32Play Podcast - Episode 4: Stargate wants its helmet and gods back.

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Okay disclaimer time:

I have only been playing League and Dota for just over 2 months. I am not very good. This is the story of me trying to get better with the help of two friends. We decided to produce a blog and podcast about that and many other things. Please cringe and applaud at the appropriate times. Be prepared for salt and whining about secret shops and Blitzcrank. Don't take things too seriously and enjoy watching me squirm.

No Caption Provided

Welcome once again to the show that never ends. Following on from my previous blog series 'Learning by Comparison' this series will be about free to play games - League, Dota2? and Warframe in particular. We will discuss other games..probably..but those will be our focus. At the moment there is a heavy focus on League mostly because of patch/new champion and we all play it but I'm hoping to slowly introduce more Dota, eventually. Yeah that's not really happening at the moment. Please burn your effigies of our team in the proper airy environment to reduce smoke damage.

Food poisonee: Jazz aka Jaspar

Hates people with glasses: Gunslingerpanda aka Adam

Losing to win: TBK aka Chris

EMAIL: cabcast@mail.com

Cabcast episode 4 - Of Old Gods and Feminists

You can download the mp3 here if you so desire..with added Getter this time.

In this episode we discuss Diablo 3, Orcs and Men and Danganronpa. We check in with Chris' Pillars time and learn that wolves will probably eat him.

League talk focuses on Azir and the recent patch changes, the nonsense surrounding upcoming Worlds and a quick look at Aatrox and Caitlyn. We also talk a bit about wards and Reddit's Summoner School programme.

Warframe talk comprised of the recent updates to Oberon and Torid as well as eyerolling over the new Arcwing mode.

I briefly talk Adam into trying Smite and then descend into discussion about Persona protagonists, Anita Sarkeesian's latest video and other such sundries.

CabVids

We've all been relatively busy this week so not much in the video section:

Learning League:

Another Sona video - though I have been trying out some ADCs and a very poor Vel-cro. Chris mentions in the podcast that my warding of bottom lane isn't.hmm..'optimal'. I consider warding to be one of the most important aspects of the game so I welcome any help in that regard, though I did point out that the amount of times I've been saved by that ward in the bottom brush is innumerable - that probably only applies to low elo and not against Udyr or Zed/Akali. Also it's not always easy to reach the river when the other side are pushing as hard as some do. Nevertheless it's why it's called Learning League and not 'KSWTFNOOB League'..which is what I get a lot of these days while playing as an ADC. Sigh.

Old Gods: Smite

I take a look at a Co-Op game of Smite while playing as Apollo - one the most OP heroes I have ever played in anything. Audio levels were messed up for some reason but I manage to fumble my way through the basics while really annoying a Fenrir who should have known better. Will probably do more Smite coverage as we go on just for something slightly different on the moba scene.

Extra Credit:

It may have not been clear on the Podcast but Adam does not like Sequence..at all, but for you dear viewer he will go into the depths of hell..or something to that effect.

And finally Adam and his cousin go into the SRPG desert in order to find talking..animals?

ETC

Steam ID is Jazz and my LoL ID is JazzGB or Ahriman Efreet

Gunslingerpanda's Twitch Stream - link

Lolking link to my profile - link

Dota2 profile on DOTABuff - link

You can find Adam's reviews at Critical Gamer

Summoner School can be found here

My YT channel is JazzGB

Chris' YT is Teebeekaay (currently in production)

Adam's YT is TheBMPanda

Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoyed the show..please leave any comments you have in the area below.

2 Comments

32Play Blog post - Of Neverwinter Teemos and Men

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Okay disclaimer time:

I have only been playing League and Dota for just over 2 months. I am not very good. This is the story of me trying to get better with the help of two friends. We decided to produce a blog and podcast about that and many other things. Please cringe and applaud at the appropriate times. Be prepared for salt and whining about secret shops and Blitzcrank. Don't take things too seriously and enjoy watching me squirm.

No Caption Provided

Welcome once again to 32Play - no cabaret this week as Adam had to run off somewhere at a minutes notice, but we'll be back on the podcast tip soon.

Remember to email us at cabcast@mail.com

Learning League

Well..boy, there's been a ton of news this week. Patches dropped, Azir was named (as Chris rightly said 'Stargate called and wants it's helmet back') and previewed as well as Sugar Rush...if you could dodge the DDOS and massive lag. Soraka/Cassie/Viktor reworks are in the pipeline (as well as that ever elusive Sion rework apparently) and new skins..we'll probably deal with those next cabcast.

From my point of view the most interesting thing this week was watching CRS vs CLG on Monday/Tuesday. I've never actually spent the time to watch a 3 match set and it was really interesting. Completely different to soloQ naturally but..interesting nevertheless. The aggressive beginning and the fact that..thank god..EVERYONE warded was the most interesting thing. The power of Syndra in mid (IF you are quick enough to hit your E..thus Chris talks me out of buying her) and Zilean (powpow) cannot be mistaken. I'm sure I probably missed the big plays so if you want to bring stuff up - please do at the bottom.

I picked up Sona in the early week sale and have pretty much just been playing her in Team Builder. My win rate had gone up pretty hard (it was 5/1 at one point..now not so much) since I started with her.

  • I find that she has so many little tricks be it with her Q aura or W..or geeze even E has saved me more times than I can count.
  • Flash R is something I would do more often IF I played in a steady group but it's too much 'all eggs in one basket' when there's typical soloq stuff going on.
  • Speaking of which today I had the great pleasure of laning with a very angry Vayne who blamed me for her suicidal tendencies against a Tristana and Braum...but what can you do eh?
  • I try to get as many aura based items on her as well as CD boots. Now I know many people swear by mobility boots these days but CD for Sona seems to me a bit more helpful as E can get you away fast enough.
  • SOOO many non ADCs playing the ADC role this week..I mean..Gnar gtfo.
  • Best lane I've had is with Sivir..mass murder all over the place.

If I'm having a bad game or two I'll go into a bot match..or what has become known as my 'Therapy session' with beginner bots and play top Evelynn running a dual build of AP and AD. Yeah its just bots but the massacre that follows always makes me feel better...she really needs a better skin, or at least to show less of it..also that dance is yuuuuck.

Chris has been hitting for six in the Summoner School over in reddit land. Apparently his mid Diana snowballed hard and it shouldn't have..or something. I'm sure he will elaborate.

Do you even Dota2?

Nope..this week I don't. Chris however did and had a bit of jolly co-operation with a Russian in a co-op game. I'll let him expand upon that in the comments if he wishes. Techies is coming out soon?? I guess...

Path of the Tenno

Again a ton of stuff happened in Warframe land..most of which I ignored because there's only so much time I have in my life for gaming at the moment. Update 14.5.1 dropped a revamp of the mod system (confusing) some new loot (eh) and a new tileset and mission to go with it.

Chris and I boldly venture forth into the snow with more Russians, this time wearing gold codpieces..t'was the season of their discontent. I won't say this took a ridiculously long time to upload but..thanks Chris for sticking it out. We also only made one video..honest.

Extra credit

All 3 of us, with only Chris and I remaining, took a good long look at the FTP MMO Neverwinter on Steam. Here I look at the first 45 mins or so in the life of a rogue halfling in Neverwinter.

For some reason obs decided to only film the middle of the screen, so apologies for that. Following this recording my account disappeared into the ether so I had to restart. It may not sound like it during the video but I actually enjoyed playing as a rogue and restarted..Chris and I are currently around level 17 and we may do a video looking at the user generated content, the major draw of the game. Also turns out that my new Drow rogue is kinda OP....

In other news I've been playing Of Orcs and Men and rather like it. I had an interview on Tuesday for some work..so fingers crossed.

Adam has gone down the Diablo 3 rabbit hole again and we should probably send out a search party.

Chris has been....working?

Etc

Steam ID is Jazz and my LoL ID is JazzGB or Ahriman Efreet

Gunslingerpanda's Twitch Stream - link

Lolking link to my profile - link

Dota2 profile on DOTABuff - link

You can find Adam's reviews at Critical Gamer

My YT channel is JazzGB

Chris' YT is Teebeekaay (currently in production)

Adam's YT is TheBMPanda

Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoyed the show..please leave any comments you have in the area below.

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5 Comments

32Play Cabaret! Podcast - Episode 3: A Tangential Salt Mountain

Okay disclaimer time:

I have only been playing League and Dota for just over a month. I am not very good. This is the story of me trying to get better with the help of two friends. We decided to produce a blog and podcast about that and many other things. Please cringe and applaud at the appropriate times. Be prepared for salt and whining about secret shops and Blitzcrank. Don't take things too seriously and enjoy watching me squirm.

No Caption Provided

Following on from my previous blog series 'Learning by Comparison' this series will be about free to play games - League, Dota2 and Warframe in particular. We will discuss other games..probably..but those will be our focus. At the moment there is a heavy focus on League mostly because of patch/new champion and we all play it but I'm hoping to slowly introduce more Dota, eventually.

Introducing the team:

Clueless Master of Ceremonies: Jazz aka Jaspar

Effervescent Bouncer: Gunslingerpanda aka Adam

Long suffering Bartender: TBK aka Chris

Cabcast 3 - A Tangential Salt Mountain..and fries.

You can download the MP3 here (with added Trombe!). If you want to send us an email drop us a line at cabcast@mail.com

In this week's episode:

Adam, Chris and I rattle through some of the games we've been playing this past week including Amazing World, Endless Space, Pillars of Eternity and Sword Art Online...oh and P.T.

We then move on to League, discussing the Gnar changes coming up and throwing the spotlight on Chris' choice of Diana and Ryze..with some Karma love thrown in for good measure.

Dota is Dazzle all the time, with some talk of our favourite champions.

Warframe is discussion of the Gamescom announcements and possible burnout.

We end with a conversation that goes everywhere and in the end says nothing..especially about FFXIII.

32Play Video section...porn's in the back.

Our weekly dose of videos that tie into the above podcast..follow our journey into the heart of darkness each week.

Learning League:

My first Karma game didn't go to plan..at all. There was a lot of argument before the game started about positions and..well it speaks for itself. I should probably apologise to Olaf as he was right about the fact that nobody was bottom lane so obviously they would come mid but...some wards would have been nice. Never mind eh?

Do you even Dota..2?

vs

These two videos probably say EVERYTHING you need to know about low level Dota play. I don't claim to be any good at anything but..damn son. Also weird thing that while I was playing the first game I didn't see Gyro AA ever..it just didn't register on my screen which is why I was so baffled. Video recorded it but I never saw it.

Path of the Tenno

Adam continues his journey into the land of the Space Ninja Simulator. This time he looks at his choice of Warframe and load out.

Extra Vidisoity

Once again Adam goes where no one else would to take a look at Amazing World on Steam..an FTP MMO where you...walk into things and they go 'Poof'?

Adam takes a look at Secret Ponchos and finds much to like.

After playing PT I got that itch to go back and play what many consider to be the best Silent Hill game.

and finally what happens when Revengeance and Dark Souls get together have some tequilas and take the piss out of Resident Evil? Ninja Blade...that's what.

Etc

Steam ID is Jazz and my LoL ID is JazzGB or Ahriman Efreet

Gunslingerpanda's Twitch Stream - link

Lolking link to my profile - link

Dota2 profile on DOTABuff - link

You can find Adam's reviews at Critical Gamer

My YT channel is JazzGB

Chris' YT is Teebeekaay (currently in production)

Adam's YT is TheBMPanda

Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoyed the show..please leave any comments you have in the area below.

5 Comments