Sam Hines in 2019: What Games Did He Play? Did He Like Them? Let's Find Out!

List items

  • The paucity of driving games made for current consoles makes it impossible for me not to try everyone that manages to make it to market. Heard too many good things about this not to give a try, even if the layoffs at the developer make a sequel to this unlikely, remembered merely as a curio from a past era and nothing else. I've enjoyed what I played of it, but it doesn't quite hit the mark. It has a good sense of speed, the track design is solid, the "cartoons at a sterilized burning man" art style is good enough, but I spent a lot of the time anticipating fun more so than actually experiencing it. The game takes in the lineage of the Burnout games by including takedowns, but they;re not implemented very well. Any takedowns I got were accidentally not on purpose. I struggled to make them happen when I wanted to, which made some of the modes weirdly bloodless. I really liked Countdown and Lockdown, but the other too modes were mediocre. Still showed enough promise that I'd really like to see what could be done with a sequel, but that's probably not happening. Oh Well. At least we got Burnout Paradise Remastered.

  • This game's propensity to throw crosscourt passes I did not intend almost made me ragequit on my first night of playing. Got past it and mostly enjoyed the latest iteration of this franchise. Not much seems to have changed, but the core of this game is still solid and it allows me to live in a universe where the Pistons aren't trash and that's nice.

  • Golf in real life: A elitist misuse of municipal ground.

    Golf in video games: An enjoyable, lowkey way to relax after marathoning Red Dead Redemption 2. The aesthetic and vibe of this game is so exuberant that I can overlook how repetitive the loop of unlocking new tournaments can be. The controls aren't doing anything revolutionary, but they get the job done. Getting a birdie on a long putt (or even better, an eagle, shout out to tornado cups) is still really satisfying after doing it numerous times.

  • Most of my childhood is a blur, but seeing this distinctly Japanese oddity on an episode of X-Play for the first time from my suburban Michigan bedroom remains a formative experience. I ended up buying the game from the local blockbuster because buying stuff off the internet was not the wave in 2004. I still have that copy even though I don't think my PS2 will even connect to my current tv. One of my favorite games ever. The Switch remaster did a great job of reminding me of that fact. Since there's no other game designer with Keita Takahashi's sensibility, the game still holds up completely. Really hope this leads to the other Katamari games being brought to modern platforms.

  • A decent substitute for Warioware since Nintendo hasn't brought the series to the Switch yet. Does absurd irrelevance in a way that most games can't, and the puzzles are clever enough to stay interesting. The repetitive theme song drove me crazy though.

  • Shoutout to Nintendo for their dedication to making weird ideas more enjoyable than they should be. Turning Tetris into a battle royale sounds like a bad Twitter joke about how every developer is looking to get some of that Fortnite money. And somehow, it's one of the best games of the year. It's weird that the game does absolutely nothing to explain the strategies one needs to know to win a match, but the baseline game is so fun that it doesn't really matter. I felt a sincere sense of pride when I earned first place for the first time. I was also on the toilet while I did it. Greatness finds you when it finds you, I suppose.

  • Speaking of battle royale games I didn't expect to like... I was pretty disheartened when this was announced as Respawn's latest game. I bounced off Fortnite and never touched PUBG. The way the game's premise was leaked before the initial reveal made me think that this EA forcing an underperforming developer (in terms of sales, not quality - Titanfall 2 is still incredible) to chase the gaming craze of the year. Almost immediately, I was proven to be an uninformed idiot. Every tweak Respawn made to the formula lowered the barrier of entry just enough to make it fun for mediocre players such as myself. All of the loot tagging mechanics makes finding gear simple, the color coding of the gear is decipherable at a glance, and the characters are varied without becoming unbalanced. Sure, the battle pass is terrible, but whatever. I'm not playing the game less because of it.

  • Not gonna lie, kinda forgot I played this until I saw it on my trophy list. Pretty sure I would've liked it way more if I played on a touch screen system instead of a PS4.

  • I keep waiting for Three Fields to give me the Burnout revival game we're waiting for, but they still haven't gotten there yet. They're not even close, really. The lack of any soundtrack whatsoever is enough to make the feel completely lifeless, but the rest of the game does its bit to drive the point home. The level designs are uninspired, the controls are squirrely, and the lack of effort on the presentation is depressing. The explosions don't even look that good! A profound bummer of a game. At least we have that Burnout Paradise re-release.

  • It feels odd to describe a game that is so preoccupied with the unassailable presence that death has in our lives as pleasant experience, but that's how I felt playing through this game in one setting. There just aren't many games that even attempt this level of characterization. Every member of the family feels fully realized and grounded in a realistic level of humanity despite none of the stories lasting more than a few minutes and one tale in particular turning a little girl into a monstrous tentacle monster that precisely devours every member of a sailing team/squad/whatever you call the people that man a boat. It probably needs segments like that to balance out the more dismaying parts of the game, like the baby who drowns in the bathtub or the father who dies forcing his daughter to join him on a hunting trip. Those moments do bring out the most creative visuals of the game - I really enjoyed the segment that plays out like a campy 50s horror movie. And the Lewis segment gets a lot of its impact from the mundanity of his cannery job cedes ground to his fantasies that relieve his depression before sinking him forever. The game never really goes anywhere per se, but I liked that the game remains low-stakes throughout the entire "plot". There's no big morality play or life lesson forced down your throat. Just many examples of the ways life can change and end in ways you don't expect, and the stories people tell themselves to move on after a tragedy. So like I said, a real pleasant experience.