Game of the Year 2019 Users Choice

_________________________________________________________________

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (PS4) - My Game of the Year.. I guess?
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (PS4) - My Game of the Year.. I guess?

Introduction

Felt like a weird year for games.. for me at least. Sort've to be expected with new consoles around the corner? Even just a couple months ago I didn't think I'd have enough newer stuff to talk about but the year has really come into it's own for me in with Divinity: Original Sin II, Blasphemous, and Death Stranding. Now I feel like I won't really have this list properly tidied up til the very end.

My PSN 2019 Stats
My PSN 2019 Stats

Should I get Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order? Eh, I don't know. I've also thought for years that a new, proper console Pokemon game would be the single best reason for me to finally pick up a Switch. From the looks and sound of it though, Pokémon Sword/Shield still isn't that. A bit of a weird, random flight sim kick in there, albeit brief. Ton of old racing game pickups, which I had expected to jot down general thoughts for some, if not all for this list. That was so long ago in the year now that I don't think I even could.

Dabbled in VR again with X-Plane 11, Hot Dogs, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, and Aircar. Another expansion for FF14; higher highs and lower lows. Quick stroll down memory lane with an FF11 classic server. Explored Cities: Skylines in more depth.

Death Stranding (PS4)
Death Stranding (PS4)

Yea, looking over what I have on this page so far, definitely a weird one. Some great games that I forgot I even played. Some stuff that is probably great but I didn't get enough time in, for whatever reason. But here we are, now. This time next year, I'll probably be writing this up with a PlayStation 5 next to me. I've loved my PS4, base and then the Pro, and have had zero issues with either. I think it's been an excellent generation.

No Caption Provided

A New Challenger Approaches! The Neo Geo AES

Picture of actual unit I bought! Beautiful condition.
Picture of actual unit I bought! Beautiful condition.

I didn't really need to get a Neo Geo AES as it's mostly just fighting games, something I don't have much interest in. Except it was always this mythological system, with insane game prices and some stunning looking sprite work, some I would say still looks better than 2D games these days. So there was something alluring about it. Thought about it for many years and, for some reason that I can't remember, I finally said F'it and bought one. And because I was mostly buying it to physically have in my collection, I wanted one that was in at least good shape with the box. That of course commands a higher price, though not that much higher? Saw the pic (right) for this one and studied all the images closely, along with other listings for comparison. This one seemed to be in amazing condition so I pulled the trigger.

Eventually it arrived and as pictured. Nearly perfect. There is something special about the look and feel of the box and unit, perhaps because of all the stories, but also because it's just different than any other console I've owned. Had to buy one legit game for testing so I picked up Riding Hero as it's a racing game and one of the cheapest titles in the Neo Geo library. I also purchased a Neo Geo CD gamepad as that'd a control device I'm more familiar with, plus a new-in-box memory card unit. Followed by a Unibios 4.0 chip that I installed myself and then UniBios 4.0. Now, I'm kinda dumb for buying this, but not so dumb that I'm going to spend thousands on games: Enter TerraOnion's NeoSD Pro, a ROM/Flashcart solution. Very expensive in itself (nearly double the price of the console!) but still way more affordable than the real cartridges and boy it's a real quality piece of kit. Nice packaging with fit and finish to match. Was able to put every game released (I think) on it and all of it worked great.

TerraOnion's
TerraOnion's "NeoSD Pro"

After spending some time with the console, I decided I wanted to neaten it up a bit so I ordered some replacement parts: A set of Sanwa buttons with a ball to replace the cracking original. I spent awhile trying to find colors and fitment that would match as close to the original as possible. In the end, I think it turned out great.

So what about the games? First thing I want to know is: How does anyone play any of these games without cheats? I get that arcade games are designed to be money sinks but I'd imagine they'd want people to make it far enough and enjoy themselves that they'd want to continue popping quarters in. Instead, for me, I get Game Over after 30 seconds on most games and am like "Fuuuck this.. Why do they even make it if you can't beat it?" Luckily the NeoSD Pro lets you adjust dip switches and enable cheats so running through them with infinite lives and taking in all the beautiful artwork made it quite fun.

Games I've enjoyed so far:

No Caption Provided

- Garou: Mark of the Wolves

- Windjammers

- Shock Troopers

- Neo Turf Masters

- King of the Monsters 2: The Next Thing

- Metal Slug

Final Fantasy XIV - Silverware's Stupendous Store Tour

Ugh, took about 12 hours to put together this 5 min video but I think it was worth it in the end. While getting back into FF14 for the Shadowbringers release this year, I finally got around to finishing up the house. For years, the top floor was pretty complete and I may have even been hitting the item count restriction? SE doubled the cap at some point but I didn't quite have an idea of how I wanted to do the lower floor or I ran out of interesting furnishings to decorate with. Now in 2019, I reluctantly rolled up my sleeves, and dug in: Completely rebuilt both floors in, if I remember correctly, a span of 12 hours one day. And this was the result!

____________________________________________________________________________

The Racing Game Collection Expands!

Another year, another old game wave. Picked up a bunch of the games I've had my eye on for years and kinda splurged. Some I've owned before (I think?), some rented a bunch as a kid etc. It was earlier in the year though so I don't have fresh thoughts about them in my mind, but I did go through and play every one for a bit on my lovely 24" RGB modded Toshiba CRT (see GOTY 2017 list here for more info). Too many here to talk about all of 'em and some aren't even worth mentioning!

No Caption Provided

Touge No Densetsu: Saisoku Battle (SNES) - Not knowing Japanese, my ability to play this was limited but it's basically a motorcycle version of the Shutokou Battle games. Seems awesome, riding through mountain roads instead (or as well as?) circuits. Seems like it has a career/story mode to it. Wish I could truly get into it.

No Caption Provided

No Caption Provided

Motor Toon Grand Prix (PS1) - From designer Kazunori Yamauchi, this is sort've the precursor to the Gran Turismo series. Vehicles definitely have a unique handling model for the time.

Rollcage (PS1) - A product of Psygnosis, Rollcage seems to be a bit of a cult classic? Sought it out due to the reverence. I think I can see why as there is something to the feel of it that's.. tight? Reminds me of the Need for Speed games in control but Wipeout in looks. The gimmick of being able to drive upside-down and around the tubes is good fun but dizzying.

No Caption Provided

No Caption Provided
No Caption Provided

Colin McRae Rally 2.0 (PS1) - Quite a famous title, CMR2.0, and the cost certainly reflects it. Probably the most expensive game on here? Hence why I questioned buying it for so long, but after doing so, I can see why. I spent the most amount of time with CMR2.0 vs other games by far. I must've made it close to the end of a career championship because I was playing it a lot. Handling took some getting used to but once you do, you can really drive balls out. Even the difficulty seems to require it. I reached a certain series of stages that I was just unable to nail a consistent, first place time. I tried over and over: Clear the first two courses, then make a single screw up on the third or vice versa. Great game, lived up to the hype for sure.

Stunt Race FX (SNES) - One of the special "FX" chip games on the Super Nintendo, I remember renting this at least once from our local video store. Low poly-count vehicles with eyes and equally low frame rates. After you adjust to it, I found it to be quite fun, setting best lap times and such. I think this game gets a bad rap but I dig it.

No Caption Provided

No Caption Provided
No Caption Provided

GT Advance 3 (GBA) - Oddly jumbled up in my memory, I always thought I had played the original GT Advance way back when, but upon actually looking at them all, it was the third entry? One of my earliest experiences with ROMs that I can remember. Played the hell out of this on an emulator way back when, getting all golds on every race? The music, the engine sounds, the gradual speed increase with the cars as you progress, and really getting the flow down until you were in one giant, long drift around the whole course. Love all the little sprite models for the tons of real cars. To this day I still think someone could design a really popular, free-to-play model of this game for mobile, PC, and consoles. Tons of fun.

Cruisn' USA (N64) - A classic. This was the racing game in arcades when I grew up. I remember you had to stomp the gas pedal twice to do wheelies or get on two wheels I think? I remember seeing someone hit the colored buttons on the cabinet to display the alternate cars blowing my mind. And then I remember dying to have an N64 to play this. I might've played it at a friends house who had rented the system and game? I couldn't get the wheelies to work on console so maybe I'm doing something wrong. And my god that box art. It's so simple and perfect, I can still see it now on the wood store shelves.

No Caption Provided

No Caption Provided
No Caption Provided

Top Gear Rally 2 (N64) - Big disappointment here. The original Top Gear Rally was quite formative for me. My friend and I would go into Time Trial mode on the "Mines" level and cruise around. The way the cars behaved; their bounce and suspension was the star of the show. I played it not that long ago and was hooked, going through a whole championship. So where does Top Gear Rally 2 fall into this? I want to say it's hot garbage. The cars didn't feel the same at all and the look was different. Maybe made by a different dev but.. Don't buy.

F-Zero (SNES) - Another classic. Somehow I never owned this particular F-Zero release, but my friend had it and I'd watched him play it a lot. Finally in my own hands. Great music. Tight controls. Great sense of speed. I remember when McDonalds had a kids meal toy for F-Zero? You slammed down the plastic air pump thingy that would shoot the little hovercraft off the end of it and go flying. I can only find the Hot-Wheels one online now so maybe I'm crazy but I swear there was a Blue Falcon. And Nintendo being Nintendo, they haven't released a new F-Zero in over a decade? Almost two? Idiots.

No Caption Provided

No Caption Provided

GT64: Championship Edition (N64) - Again, distinctly remember always looking at the box for this one on the Blockbuster shelf. I may have rented it once or twice and didn't like it? Seems like it doesn't have many tracks and got fairly bad reviews. Also interesting to me is that this might be considered a sequel in the line of "Zen Nihon GT Senshuken (All-Japan GT Championship)" games? There's the one I have for Super Famicom that is pretty neat and one for the original PlayStation.

F355 Challenge (DC) - Cult classic for the Dreamcast here, a lot of what I read online suggested this was something special. I think it's.. okay? Handling took some getting used to and I'd say the extreme lack of traction isn't very realistic, but hey, they tried. Neat that it has a nice interior view. Weird soundtrack.

No Caption Provided

No Caption Provided

World Driver Championship (N64) - I feel like this and GT64 are getting blended together in my head. Pretty sure I remember driving the yellow Mustang around lap after lap as it was quite satisfying getting a grasp on the handling and trying to run harder and harder. More fun than I expected and probably a worth pickup for the N64.

Some of the other pickups that I don't really have thoughts on:

____________________________________________________________________________

Blasphemous (PS4)
Blasphemous (PS4)

Final Fantasy XI (Eden Private Server)

No Caption Provided

Although I only leveled one or two jobs to 10-12, that took plenty of time as it was on top of running all over the world unlocking outpost warps and doing side quests for gear rewards. It was fun! Love this game. I think the next step would've been to start grouping up in the Dunes for experience. I would be interested in SE opening an official "Legacy" server since I can't help but imagine my character data somehow being lost due to this being a privately run server.

American Truck Simulator: The Expansion East Continues.. Slowly

Turns out I haven't written anything about American Truck Simulator since my 2016 list? I thought for sure I had complained about it at least once since it's release. Well then, it's overdue.

It's December 2019 and the state of Utah was recently released marking the fifth additional paid DLC expansion of the North American map. I want to note that February 2016 is when ATS was originally released. This game.. is so slow.. in every conceivable way. Don't get me wrong, I like these trucking games; according to Steam I have nearly 150 hours on ATS alone. That doesn't count the time I spent with Euro Truck Simulator 2, or all the old trucking games from the original Hard Truck in 1998 to 2002's Hard Truck: 18 Wheels of Steel. That last one is of importance here because it was developed by SCS Software, the very same SCS Software that has laid the Euro Truck and American Truck Simulator series before you. It's been a long time since I played those 18 Wheels of Steel PC releases, but if memory serves, they are very similar to what is on offer today, both in structure and appearances. What I'm trying to get at is that this series, the genre, has barely evolved in nearly 20 years. And it is beyond frustrating.

No Caption Provided

In particular, my frustration has been reignited by the announcement of Microsoft's Flight Simulator 2020. I'll speak in terms of ATS here, but I think my thoughts are applicable to ETS as well. The gameplay loop on offer is nearly devoid of entertainment. At most, it makes for a passive background experience while watching Youtube videos or listening to podcasts. And yet, again, I said I have 150 hours on this thing. My only real explanation is that there just isn't anything else available out there in this genre.

No Caption Provided

Imagine what Microsoft could do maybe leveraging some of that Bing satellite imagery it's using for FS2020 but for a general road network layout of North America? What if this game, this "simulator", had actual physics? What if it was something like an MMO and players could operate shipping companies, effectively the same thing as a guild or clan, and play together? If there was a global economy/point system or something. My mind runs rampant with ideas, even simple ones that leave me baffled as to why the games haven't changed with the times. What are the point of weight stations as is? It tells you whether or not to pull in; if you do, you roll up to a glowing marker, hit Enter, it tells you your weight and off you go. You can't ever exceed a weight limit or anything. Why don't the trucks get dirty after driving thousands of miles? What is the point of building and buying your own trailers when it seems to make you less money when doing those shipments? Surely they could make a lot of money through cosmetic micro-transactions and in-game advertisements--which I might add, would not look out of place on highway billboards and such.

No Caption Provided

I mentioned the additional states they've added since release but also.. Why even bother at this point? This engine, the platform these games were built on, was pretty ancient and crappy when it was released. Years later, it's even worse. They've opened up maybe 20-30% of the United States at this point? At this rate, we'll all be dead by the time they make it to the east coast. IMO, they should've abandoned this whole thing and started over on more modern tech. Release an entire US map at launch with as much density as possible within reason, then continue to flesh out and add more routes and cities through patches. Hasn't ETS and ATS been pretty successful for the company? Where is that money being re-injected into the games because I don't see it..

There are so many more complaints I have and just as many ideas for a new game. Another factor in my frustration is I started a new job a little over a year ago working at a truck dealership. I drive all over the state of NJ, five days a week, and constantly see and look at trucks. I deliver to everything from backyard mechanics to huge shipping depots. There is SO much they could implement here. And I'm just really disappointed with where it's at and I wish someone like Microsoft with their resources, could take the reigns and really deliver us a solid package.

____________________________________________________________________________

VR Update: The Valve Index

No Caption Provided

+ VR is still a very compelling platform or medium with loads of potential. With Half-Life: Alyx on the way, perhaps the market is about to get a healthy boost in interest.

- I really need to build a new PC if I want to get solid performance out of a VR game. The 'ol Intel i7 2600k and GTX 1080 just isn't going to cut it anymore. And a new rig along the lines of what I'd expect to build will be very pricey.

(Sneak peek: I actually built a new PC in Dec '19 after I wrote most of this list up, but I'm going to save that for next years list.)

____________________________________________________________________________

Flight Simulator; From Ugly Kid to Techno-Supermodel

Been a long time since I had any real interest in a flight simulator. I think I still have my copies of Microsoft's Flight Simulator 2000 & 2002 in their big PC boxes. At least as a young kid, I was primarily in awe of their visuals and intrigued by the complexity. Fast forward about 20 years and, at least at a glance, they didn't appear to have made any leaps and bounds in fidelity with often flat 2D terrain and dreary lighting. Sure, the planes themselves started to look better but not much else. Meanwhile, generations of hardware have come and gone with substantial increases in technology.

X-Plane 11 - Beechcraft Baron 58 - Alaskan Sunrise
X-Plane 11 - Beechcraft Baron 58 - Alaskan Sunrise

Finally, seemingly out of no where comes Microsoft with Flight Simulator 2020 at the E3 press conference. I was curious, yet cautious at first as it seemed a little too good looking to be true. A few months later, various Youtubers from the flight sim community were invited to a private event to get an early hands-on. To everyone's delight, the reports back were that it was indeed as good as it looked and how they are doing it sounds rather futuristic.

Where does X-Plane 11 come in on all this? Well, FS2020 isn't available of course, and during one of my boring weekends, I started watching the new footage and then other current sims as a comparison.. and then peeking into the Twitch streams.. being somewhat weirded out because of the incredibly niche but passionate players (they'd probably prefer to be called pilots I imagine.) So now I've got this itch to try something, flip some switches, press some buttons.. oh X-Plane 11 supports VR? Hmmm.. I guess I could try using my Thrustmaster A-10 Warthog HOTAS.. Do I I want to spend $60 on this sim when I know it doesn't look as good? Once an idea is in my head though, it almost always gets the better of me.

X-Plane 11 - Cessna 172 Skyhawk - Atlanta, GA
X-Plane 11 - Cessna 172 Skyhawk - Atlanta, GA

And here we are: I initially bought the Logitech/Saitek Yoke and Throttle quadrant and rudder pedals, then shortly after came across the Honeycomb "Alpha Controls" Flight Yoke, which I think I had briefly seen in my research but assumed it was very expensive. Turns out it was only a little more than the Logitech stuff. Shame on me, I fucked up. Now I've got that and trying to get into the FS2020 Alpha test. 15 hours in XP11 and about as much if not more time spent on Youtube watching tutorials on start up procedures, ATC systems, ILS/VOR approaches, Googling' real airport diagrams and planning flights with legit online tools, downloading a dozen mods and gigabytes of hi-res satellite imagery to overlay my state. A pile of various switches, potentiometers, rotary encoders, and some Leo Bodnar boards at my side because you can never have enough buttons and switches when it comes to simulators. Fortunately, I've drawn the line at spending $20-40 for a single third-party plane add-on or $40 for weather or scenery add-ons (..but that weather one would be cool I bet.)

While X-Plane 11 doesn't have all the pretty bells and whistles that FS2020 is promising, I at least feel like I'm learning and acquiring knowledge and equipment for whenever it does eventually come out. I'm sure I'll fly around in it a bit and then be done after a handful of hours lol

____________________________________________________________________________

Pathfinder: Kingmaker (PC)
Pathfinder: Kingmaker (PC)

Other Misc. Games I Put Some Time Into - 2019 Edition

No Caption Provided

Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete (PS1) - This was actually at the very end of 2018 but it counts. Put some real hours into Lunar which caught me by surprise as for the most part, it seems these older JRPGs don't get their hooks in me like they used to. The animated cutscenes looked great and I think the music was good as well. It was cool to try a JRPG with turn-based combat that didn't function quite the same as all of the Squaresoft stuff I'm used to playing. I can't remember how far I made it in the game or why I stopped.

____________________________________________________________________________

No Caption Provided

Cities: Skylines (PC) - This is obviously a revisit but this time I tried some more of the mods stuff out there. Bought a couple of the DLC packs I didn't have as well. Managed to find one of my old save files and continued building on my last big city. I really started to dig in and tweak the traffic patterns at particularly busy intersections. Recessed the main highway that goes straight through the city which came out pretty great. Re-did one of my big "central park" type areas with the new Park add-on. And eventually built an amusement park/boardwalk area (as best I could) on the beach front.

____________________________________________________________________________

Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past (PS1) - This was interesting to put some hours into (maybe 15 or so?) but good lord did it drag and that was probably still just the very beginning of the game. Maybe too raw of a JRPG for me, especially these days.

____________________________________________________________________________

No Caption Provided

Eco (PC) - Love the concept. It's like Minecraft but what if everything you did to the world functioned more realistically. Also, there's a meteor heading towards the planet and you need to try and build a rocket to blow it up before it reaches the surface.. Provides some sense of motivation, right? Then there is this deep progression system of trade skills.

Unfortunately, the progression seems to have been tailored toward multiplayer? So it's been extremely slow moving by myself. I want to play more of this but it requires a lot of time. Part of the unique design is that they have a whole system of player run governance for use in multiplayer servers. With a bunch of different people, you can focus on a specific trade for yourself and then trade/buy/sell materials and products with other players. You can all vote for leadership and policies relating to pretty much anything. It's great in theory. But I'm just by myself so..

On top of all that, this is a pretty robust simulation so my PC struggles a bit to run the thing. I'd like to get farther in it but I don't really have the time.

____________________________________________________________________________

No Caption Provided

Monster Boy and The Cursed Kingdom (PS4) - Ehhh.. This was sort've a cross 2018/2019 game. Saw it mentioned by various people. Looked and sounded good in videos. I have that other Wonder Boy game for PS4, but it's still sealed. Thought I'd give this a shot and.. I think it's more evidence that these sort of platformers just aren't for me?

I made it through the first few levels and eventually kept dying on just some basic enemies. The idea of a difficult or "tight" platformer seems to just annoy me. It doesn't seem fun. Maybe I wasn't in the right frame of mind but yea. That's about all I did.

It's a shame because it is pretty and the music seemed decent, if not repetitive.

____________________________________________________________________________

Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled (PS4) - A late entry here, I picked CTR up for $15 on a Black Friday sale. Wondering if kart racers aren't my thing now. The original PS1 release seems to be fairly well regarded, so they made this remake/remaster, and I thought I'd give it a whirl. After only a few races I was frustrated and turned it off. I do not like how the drift/boost system is handled. The idea that you slide and time three button presses should work alright, but the way the karts turn combined with course design/scale means any time I tried to drift, I would immediately swerve into a wall or something. The way you have to be turning while pressing the hop button also felt off. Most of the time I'd hop into a turn and then it wouldn't engage the drift because I wasn't full lock on the stick. I was actually faster if I just focused on driving normally and using power-ups. I feel I should note I was playing the Adventure mode on "Medium" difficulty but it seemed very hard.

No Caption Provided

Later in the day I decided to give it another shot; I cleared the first boss and a handful of races after. Most of them took multiple attempts. The drifting initially felt better and then crap again. I changed my kart characteristics to emphasize speed and decreased handling way down. It seemed like this helped as the kart was less inclined to dart in every direction and touch walls and having more speed meant I could move through these large, long curves on the tracks. Then the courses got tighter and/or had no walls so you'd fall off. This meant any sort of drifting usually resulted in me flying off course. Enemies would constantly barrage you with weapons etc etc. I wasn't having fun.

The game looks pretty great though? I bought the Mario Kart 8 on the Wii-U way back when and maybe never completed a single race due to Nintendo not letting you customize the controls. Pissed me off so much and I've never played it since. I might give CTR another go today, maybe try lowering the difficulty. Anything that would allow me more margin for error with the opponents would make it more enjoyable.

____________________________________________________________________________

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown (PS4)
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown (PS4)

Biggest Waste of Money Award Goes To..

No Caption Provided

Rage 2 (PS4) - I must've played this for maybe an hour? Two? Felt so generic and uninspired, I had zero interest in continuing to play. I think I pre-ordered it way back when it was first announced with that decent looking trailer? Wanted to get the $10 Amazon discount before they took out that Prime member perk. Something like 8 months later it arrived and whatever. Meh.

Still Sealed: Deeper And Deeper

  • Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner MARS (PS4)
  • Knack II (PS4)
  • Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition (PS4) - Already played a fair amount of this on PC a couple years back. Never finished it. I'd like to revisit it in some form. Picked it up alongside Divinity: Original Sin 2, $20 each.
  • Zoids Assault (X360) - Pretty sure this is a tactics game with Zoids? I liked watching the show(s) after school when I was a teen. There are a few Zoids game but I decided to go for this one. It's not sealed per-say but I never got around to actually trying it as I didn't have my 360 hooked up.
  • Dragon Quest Builders 2 (PS4) - Black Friday $25 pickup
  • Monster Jam: Steel Titans (PS4) - Black Friday $15 pickup. Tried on PC and seemed better than I expected. Waited for it to get cheap. I'd like to show it to my nephew.
  • Children of Morta (PS4) - $20 pickup on sale

Some Game Music Picks for 2019!

Blasphemous - "Cantes de Confesión"

Blasphemous - "Una Senda de Pasos Blancos"

FFXIV: Stormbringers - "Full Fathom Five"

FFXIV: Stormbringers - "Unwound"

FFXIV: Stormbringers - "The Twinning"

FFXIV: Stormbringers - "Sands of Amber"

CHVRCHES - Death Stranding

Divinity: Original Sin 2 - "Rivellon Light"

Boneworks OST - Pick It Up (Ima Say Ma Namowa)

Boneworks OST - What Am I?

Resident Evil 2 (PS4)
Resident Evil 2 (PS4)

List items

  • I finished my first playthrough this past weekend with I guess what people are considering the "true" ending. Around 55 hours on the clock. Overall, I think it's a very high quality game.. but I must admit that, either the magic of the From Software recipe has lost some of that pzazz, or just that Sekiro's aesthetic and theme had a little less variety than the Dark Souls games?

    In terms of the difficulty curve, I seemed to have the same arch as many others where it felt extremely brutal up to the first main Ashina Castle boss fight. For some reason after that point I had about the average amount of trouble for a Souls game. Handful of tries per boss. Most mini-bosses I was wrecking. I cleared as much stuff in the single playthrough that you can I think.

    Now, since I'm only a few trophies away from Platinum, I'm going back and forth on whether I want to bother or not. I'm eager to see how much easier it'll be for me to blow through the game since I kinda know whats up.. but also not looking forward to grinding out tons of skill points to finish out the trees.

    Anyway, awesome game but who knows if it'll stick my GOTY #1 spot like many of other From Softs' games have.

    12/22/19 Update: Looks like it is indeed my #1 for 2019. Reading my thoughts now, I do seem a little melancholy about it, but it was very enjoyable. I did play through the story at least one more time to work towards the Platinum trophy, and all that was pretty fun, further reinforcing how much you grow and improve as a player compared to when you first start a new From Software title.

    Unfortunately, I have no gotten the Platinum. I think I settled somewhere around 70-80 hours by the time I felt a bit burnt out on it. I'm pretty sure all I need to get the Platinum was play through again to get one of the last special story branch bosses. It's been all year and I haven't returned to it so that ship as likely sailed. Still, Sekiro was well worth the time investment.

  • Late entry, a middle of December release. I think.. Boneworks might be a very important release for VR. If it weren't for Valve having just announced and soon releasing Half-Life: Alyx, I'd say this was VR's "Half-Life"

    There is a lot to say and ponder about Boneworks. I'm not feeling in the mood to write it all here, but wow. Full physics modelling of the environment, objects, weapons, tools, and your characters body. It is sort've a fan-made love child of Half-Life 2 and Portal. It feels very much like HL2 in the way the levels progress and feel somewhat disconnected from each other but for a reason? Or it doesn't matter? Kinda like a series of tech demo levels but makes it sound less impressive than it is. From Portal, it takes the weird narrative and some clean aesthetic design for certain areas.

    Took me about 15 hours to clear the Story mode series of levels. The narrative was kinda weird and sloppy but it was enough to just keep me curious to see what was different about each stage. After seeing credits, you unlock the Arena mode which was is pretty standard fair for VR, but because Boneworks feels and sounds so damn good, I found the Arena mode to be a great way to run around and have some fun practicing free movement and aiming. The infinite and liberal use of a "Slow-mo" button is unnecessary but great fun. Excellent set of music and ambient tracks that work well when tied with certain scenes and moments, really bumping up the heart rate or causing a suspenseful tension.

    As with something this unique and cutting edge so to speak, there are a few issues. Your arms and hands can get caught up on the environment or objects in buggy ways. The way your virtual head is physically present in the game can make the rifles unwieldy and frustrating for aiming down scopes or iron sights. The pistols, particularly the Glock, function perfectly while feeling and sounding absolutely delightful.

    I didn't touch on the couple of very fun, unique, key moments I had during my playthrough or how playing it for so many hours over only a couple days was affecting me outside of the game..

    At this point, based on what I've seen, I fully expect Half-Life: Alyx will be structured and play very similarly but have a higher budget presentation and polish. What I find intriguing though is that I'm not entirely sure if Alyx be a better game.

  • Bit of a predicament here. See, I bought Divinity OS2 Definitive Edition for PS4 a couple months ago for the lovely price of $20. Once I got over the initial small hurdle of actually booting it up, making a character (that took awhile), and getting the ball rolling on the game.. I was hooked. I believe I played it non-stop for two weekends straight. It's the sort've title where I need time to settle into a groove and immerse myself in it's pace, which means it doesn't lend itself to playing on weekdays after work. The roughly 50-60 hours I put in were wonderful and I was still only in the second area/island.

    ..Then Death Stranding happened and now, a handful of weeks later, and awhile after beating Death Stranding, my fears are confirmed: After stopping D:OS2 to play Death Stranding and be a part of the zeitgeist for 70 hours, I'm finding it incredibly difficult to come back to this. Some kind of mental shift. I couldn't stop playing it before, and now, for whatever reason, I feel disengaged.. Bored? I did manage to put a few more hours into it one day and progress to the third island/area but that felt like a natural stopping point. Feels like I have zero motivation to continue.

    And that's where I'm at. The game I want to put at #2 on my list, but I haven't finished it and I'm just not in the mood to play it anymore. But when I was enjoying it, it was excellent. The music was great. The combat was fun.

    I did have a few complaints during my time: Wasn't really a fan of the character/party creation process. I think I would've liked something with a bit more flexibility? Choose the way my party looks and their roles etc. I kinda didn't really care about the pre-made characters and their stories. I also had an issue with inventory organization. I thought by eventually getting various backpacks for my party members, I could compartmentalize a lot of the clutter but then you just have a bunch of bags that look the same. In a patch they released, just as I stopped playing no-less, they added new bag system to solve exactly that. Guess what? You have to manually enable it and when you do that, you lose the ability to get PS4 Trophies. Same with a feature that allowed you to sell wares to NPCs from any of your characters while stilling factoring in whoever had the highest Barter skill. Idiotic.

    I don't think I'm mad at the game, just disappointed that the ship has seemingly sailed, at least for now. Maybe someday I'll continue with it. Or not?

  • I am here now, on the other side of Death Stranding after about 70 hours. Courier grade 267. 901 pieces of cargo delivered. Walked 478 km and only 5 tumbles. 97,781 Likes from other players.

    Hard to sum up a game like this but I enjoyed my time with it almost exclusively due to the gameplay. I am happy I can say I finished it; I saw it through myself, I can form an opinion of my own, and as the next decade of games comes along and Death Stranding is brought up, for better or worse, I know first-hand what it was.

    The Mads Mikkelsen character/story was great. Some of the coolest and heart warming scenes in any game. The motion capture and renderings were overall pretty good, though Mads and Tommies' characters and performances were particularly incredible in certain scenes. Outside of that, the story was kinda incomprehensible to me. I can't even begin to talk about it. I thought the Metal Gear Solid series was a bit hoaky and fun but still felt sort've grounded? Death Stranding just goes full off the rails sci-fi.

    The gameplay and systems, Kojima's wonderful mix of mechanics and gadgets to play with, is the draw of Death Stranding for me. I'm curious how much of the look and feel of the game, being built on Guerilla Game's "Decima" engine, the very same used for Horizon: Zero Dawn (my 2017 GOTY), has to do with my enjoyment. The character movement and animations have such a great look and weight to them, a real sense of physical presence in the world.

    There is just too much to discuss, both good and bad, about Death Stranding. I'm a little excited to see what Kojima does next. I can't imagine what he could do if he went down the PT route and made a horror game. His super unique and weird take on stuff might lend itself better to that? It's kinda scary to think about. One thing I do know though: I hope he doesn't make a sequel to Death Stranding and decides to do something different.

  • Completed my Leon A playthrough mere moments ago. "C" Rating. Standard difficulty. 9 hours. 48 saves. (I was constantly shifting inventory and saving whenever I could etc)

    That means it's time for a steamy thought dump.

    Overall: Loved it. I haven't touched the original RE2 since I first completed it maybe around 2001-ish? So I have a vague memory of various areas and events. So, with that perspective, I really like what they did with the game. It looks fantastic. The puzzles/backtracking is fun. I wish they would've had the old music playing in the police station hall. The damage modeling on zombies, blowing off chunks of their head etc looked fantastic. This game is an example for the rest of the industry of a remake of a game done right, if you want to do something like this. This is how SE should be doing FF7. Wonderful, updated graphics, updated control scheme, and minor tweaks to various things. I believe it captures what was so special about it way back when it was released and why so many people still talk about it to this day. Some, like myself, believe it to be the best in the series.

    Think I'm slightly disappointed that Mr.X was moved into the first playthrough? I remember going through my B run with Claire back then and Mr.X scarying the living shit out of me. Sheer terror. That scenario just freaks me out. Like in Metroid Fusion. I always remember it being one of the scariest, most well done things in a horror game back then. When he popped up in the A run I was like.. Wuuut?! Then he starts following you through the police station and I was shitting bricks just like the old days. Hiding in a shitty little room, hearing the heavy foot steps nearby.. Ugh. Did feel like he tracked me a little too well at times which ruined the fun a tad. So now I'm slightly curious as what role he'll play in my Claire run. Theres a certain scene I distinctly remember from back then, one where she enters a room and goes around to a control panel and then you see Mr.X in the security camera coming in the way you did.. and thats the only way out. I'm dying to see if they replicate that moment. Also want to see if he'll crash through any walls in the police station? Because that was the other amazing terrified/surprise moments I remember and he didn't do it at all with Leon. I'll be disappointed if they don't utilize that tactic.

    Negatives? That last boss fight on the elevator was stupid. I think I went through the last 1/3rd of the game with pretty much no health items. I don't know why, as I felt I was being pretty conservative with them for the rest of the game. Wasn't til I entered the sewers and I felt like there was a sudden difficulty spike in bullshit enemies that you can't really dodge, avoid, or easily kill. So I went into the second-to-last boss fight with no health but they put one in there. Use that in the fight of course because you're going to get hit once I'm sure. So last fight I had nothing. Died over and over again. Can't really dodge his attacks too well. Needs a dodge roll button for that. Just very very annoying. I'd get to the rocket part and he'd immediately lunge and kill me before I could do anything. That happened about three times. Anywaaaaay.. umm.. other negatives..? The Lickers were a bit annoying. Neat concept for the whole keep-quiet shit, except they kept just leaving them right in the middle of where I had to go. So it's not like you can sneak around them. Just have to walk away and re-enter hoping it'll move their location.

    Yea. Good stuff.

  • One of this years random, fun surprises! Never seen or heard of it, didn't know it existed, and didn't know Giant Bomb even covered it. Was just bored as hell, endlessly browsing around Steam hoping to fill the emotional void when I saw this. After battling my usual indecisiveness, finding out there was no physical release yet, I picked it up on PSN as I've had $75 of credit just sitting on there forever.

    Glad I did because it's kinda awesome. The visuals, the music and, for the most part, the gameplay. I'd call it a mix of Dark Souls, Diablo 2, and Castlevania. I've got about 15 hours on it, currently paused and writing this because breakfast and being pissed off at these bullshit rooms that are clearly designed to frustrate a person. Prior to this, the game has been relatively easy/simple, which I like! I know everyone rants and raves about Hollow Knight; I've tried it, I like the visuals, but the gameplay and combat is too tight and fast for me. I want to relax and enjoy it but not sure I ever made it beyond the first boss. For some reason I can do all the Dark Souls games, the combat and patience, but I just don't have those skills in the 2D environment. Old mario games are lame.. /bringit

    My only complaints are like.. very tiny, specific movement or hit/grab detection elements. For the most part it's not a problem but sometimes you're trying to grab a ledge and it doesn't for some reason and then you fall and or die. Or dodging through attacks can be an issue. Like I said though, it's been somewhat easy so far which means it hasn't been an issue. Until this stupid area I'm in. Also have no idea what is going on with the story but I'm intrigued and the cutscenes look cool, and lots of lore stuff, and voice overs are generally good if not a little uneven in quality. Like some were recorded in a studio and others while on a toilet.

    Really cool game. Certainly around the top of my GOTY list. I'm hoping the devs or Limited Run puts out a nice physical copy so I can add it to the collection.

  • Shadowbringers is a return to form after the disappointment that was Stormblood.

    Some great music as is expected. The story was decent. I took Monk to 80 first, then Paladin, and ended the stint with Fisher to 80 with some levels on craft stuff just because. Wasn't really interested in leveling Dancer or Gunbreaker.

    Unfortunately, because of how formulaic the game has become, I was pretty unmotivated and kinda done at that point. In the past, I'd have felt some guilt or some drive to find activities to engage in, and now I just saw it for what it was and thought.. Eh okay, guess I had my fill /logout.

    Now we wait another two years for the next expansion.

  • Credits rolling as I write this. The story is weird ass, incoherent junk but that seems to be the case for all of them? Bad dialogue and meh voice acting.

    But who gives a shit about any of that when it's fun to play. Couldn't help but notice no "Pro Enhanced" on the back of the box? It looks and sounds pretty good but could definitely be better. Found that I turned the music and speech down to about 75% volume but cranked up the volume on my receiver and you get some pretty good effects.

    Not much else I can think to say. I really wish there was a jet game that mixed the fun and ease of entry as this with the graphics, sound, and realism of the sims on PC. This kinda makes me want to try DCS World but at the same time I kinda know that it isn't really the sorta "game" I want?

    Hopefully Ace Combat 7 sells well enough that they figure it's worth making another.