By Jazz 0 Comments
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:
*shrug* I like useless lists.
Let's get the big one out of the way shall we?
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.
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)
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).
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
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 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
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.
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.
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
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.