Games I completed in 2018

Another year, another list. I might see if I can put in games where I play them a lot but not necessarily complete them - it seems weird not to put in something like Beatmania IIDX when for part of the year it's pretty much the only game I play.

List items

  • PS4/Vita - 3/5

    37 hours for the main story. Got sick of the instant kill bullshit in the end and just cheesed the final boss in Easy.

    It's got a lot of good ideas for a dungeon crawler - the way that skills are learned in battle like Saga, the way that enemy hate is handled (it's one of the few RPGs I've seen which makes defending really matter) and the whole modern day occult setting is pretty good. There's a section in the middle which is really well done and properly brings the game together with El Shaddai that I really enjoyed. It just has too many niggling issues though; the Vita version runs so badly (and doesn't support Vita TV, infuriatingly), the game has separate trophy lists for each version which don't share, and the whole interface is about half a second too slow in every action. It takes about 30 seconds on the PS4 to revive and return a summon to your team from the menus because they're so slow and unresponsive. You have to quit and restart the entire game, which takes a full minute on Vita, if you want to upload a network shared save, because you can only do it from the title screen.

    My biggest fault in the end ended up being something which happens in other games but is particularly egregious here - if the main character dies it's instantly game over. The worst part is that there doesn't seem to be any kind of defence against instant kills, and so you can just be told to do the fight again because the random number generator rolled a 1. The last few bosses just ended up with the two main characters just kind of cowering in defence, hoping not to die from a stray attack/group hit, while my summoned "astrals", 20+ levels above them, just pounded away on the enemy.

    They clearly know it's an issue as well as there is a system where you can retry from just before the fight you died in for a fee, and that fee is tiny. All it does is waste your time and I can't help that that (plus the too-slow XP gain for the main characters compared to the Karma points you use to level up your astrals) is in service of getting that first clear time closer to 40 hours.

    In the end, frustrating and ordinarily I'd say that they'll get it right next time but I don't think there will be one. If you're interested, definitely pick it up for PS4 and don't worry about turning down the difficulty at the end, or enjoy the grinding. It's fairly well set up for that.

  • PC - 5/5

    Does what Toukiden did and made a game that I'd repeatedly bounced off - in this case Demon's Souls - and made it fun. The mission structure and the faster/higher damage combat is what made it for me. A friend explained the appeal as them making it so just pressing buttons is fun, and I think that's it. I really appreciated the stances and some of the movesets really clicked. Seeing all those Sengoku characters with new designs and voices was great too.

  • Switch - 3/5

    Definitely an improvement on the previous game but still a long way from the heights of the Dusk series, which are some of my favourite JRPGs ever. Not a great start with some initially hard-to-like characters but it's pretty good once it picks up, only to have all the wind sucked out of it by a massive, gigantic difficulty spike right at the end.

  • Switch - 5/5

    Fantastic action game, running better than ever on Switch. the decreased loading times felt like a big upgrade, almost as big as the generally smoother framerate. In portable mode it's simultaneously the most and least appropriate game to play on a commute. Classic!

  • Switch - 3/5

    Decent enough, with a great soundtrack, but really short. 4:36 with 100% of the map isn't quite enough for nearly 20 quid. Also dropped quite a lot of frames on Switch, even after the performance patch.

  • Switch - 5/5

    Good version of a great game. A better game in most ways than The Mummy was, with a lot of little bits of map cleverness I'd forgotten about since 2015. Little bit of stutter on the Switch but no slowdown, even when there's loads of stuff disintegrating with that cool effect.

    Only real issue is the way they make B the confirm button as they didn't think to decouple Confirm and Jump.

  • PS4 - 4/5

    A great JRPG, excellent writing with some great characters (too many of whom are kind of forgotten by the end of the story, unfortunately) and a really good battle system. It's great to play semi automatically because of one of the intelligent auto battle systems I've seen (it's very good at hitting weak points and making sure not to overkill stuff), but when the bosses come along there's still plenty for you to do in terms of buffs, debuffs and other special skills. The final battle in particular has a couple of fun little gimmicks and genuinely gave me some trouble.

    My first big issue is the sound, specifically two areas: music and voice. First, the music. Obviously the big issue is that it's composed by noted shitbag and war crime denier Koichi Sugiyama. Aside from that, due to said shitbag the music is entirely in a low quality recorded MIDI format which sounds like it's being played through some default orchestral synth from 20 years ago. This is not good enough for a game which cost nearly 10,000 yen new. The issue on the voice side is - there isn't any. Again, a 70 quid game.

    Finally, there's a little bonus you can get when completing the game with the true ending if you have sharp eyes. I won't go into detail as it's a bit of a spoiler in general but it's introduced in a clever way. I carry out the little bonus thing and... it was taken down from PSN at the end of January. What the fuck, guys?! Again, 70 quid game and you can afford a fancy little intro but not the ability to keep an item you own online for more than six months? Talk about ruining the moment. The payoff for 75 hours is "fuck you, too slow"?

  • PS4 - 3/5

    Tough one to rate this; I had a lot of fun playing it and the voice artists seemed to be in competition to see who could be the most over-the-top, but it's way to short; three hours for the campaign. It's a short single character campaign for a normal Basara but those games have campaigns for more than one character! If I'd bought it at full price I'd have been really mad but playing it on PS Plus for free seemed fair enough.

    I'd say 4/5 on free play but 1/5 at full price. There's no reason why the individual levels at least couldn't have been as long as normal SB stages. If they'd had that size story for the four main characters it'd have been fair, I think. As it is though, I don't think it makes for a product you can sell for any more than a very small price.

  • Switch - 5/5

    Great port and a great game when it's on - but so many rough edges. Hammering buttons, instant death QTEs and some overlong minigames are usually overcome by some great fighting. When you get into the rhythm and it becomes a self-fulfilling machine of carnage it's completely brilliant, and that's why this is the fourth time I've bought it.

  • PS4 - 4/5

    I think this was about as good as it could have been. The combat is fun in that slightly irritating way that RGG often is, it doesn't take itself too seriously and there's plenty to do - though it does get a bit fetch quest-y at points. I don't think the ending quite gets there, though, and it's been clearly made to a budget/timeline. I'm no FOTNS fan but it's definitely the best game made with that licence I've played.

  • PC - 4/5

    Really, really solid action RPG. Just incredibly speedy and responsive. Let down a bit by some repetitive environments, even for a relatively short game, and control reversing status ailments!!!!!

  • PS4 - 3/5

    A good game, very close to being great. The story is a bit darker than usual, though it soon settles down, the music is very Disgaea (same guy!) and there are a lot of interesting systems which interact well.

    I really like the idea of swapping around character classes in real time, especially doing things like bringing in summoned minions then swapping back, or specifically targetting enemy weaknesses or changing your loadout within that to change the way attacks move you around. A good example is magic attacks - you can get an ice wall which hits immediately in front of you, a single slow moving homing shot or a 3-5 way homing shot that sprays away from you so it's unreliable when point blank. I did things like bring in a weapon which does magic damage part way through a sword combo to increase a single class's viability, and even completely change weapon types halfway through to deal with a boss having constantly changing weak points. The skill system is really good too, letting you change your loadouts freely and giving you surprisingly varied options, particularly with the summoned minions you get part of the way through.

    The main issue is that the game balance kind of takes a back seat in the last third; it goes from pretty nicely balanced with tough but beatable bosses to being one-shotted constantly. I wouldn't mind so much but the evade button (and corresponding Witch Time effect are so muddy, unclear and responsive - an issue not helped by blurry, unclear graphics. Let me cancel into a dodge!

    Given how much it improved from the first to the second game, as well as how well they did with the same team on Refrain, I really do think that a third version of this game could be truly great.

  • PS4 - 5/5

    Still took me 50 hours going through on a second run skipping all the stuff I didn't care about. I'd forgotten just how sudden the end of the game is but I didn't mind it that much given there is a big 'victory lap' section before that and it sets up a load of stuff in connection to the Crossbell games.

    Managed the platinum - nearly fucked it up, which shows how much of a pain it can be. I'm just glad I managed to get the 'all chests' trophy first fun through on PS3/Vita as not getting it this time would have been insanely stressful. I ended up missing a lot of the creature comforts from Sen 3 like the quick skip button and the vastly superior battle interface; even 50 hours in I still found myself pressing Triangle to bring up the crafts menu.

    I'm really looking forward to Cold Steel 2 on the 26th. Once I've done that I'll probably go through 3 again - my opinion on how that game ended will no doubt soften with the fourth game so close.

    About the PS4 version - the port was done by Artdink and appears to be completely independent of the PC one. the Turbo Mode isn't as good as the PC one which skips all battle animations at high speed, they didn't give us any extra options like FOV, and the save interface isn't the improved one. Still, the massively improved load times and general faster pacing inside both cutscenes and battles with Turbo make it a much better game as it takes a lot of the sting (dullness?) out of some pretty languid scene direction.

  • iOS - 4/5 (part 1)

    Been chipping away at this one for the last year and a half or so. Very wordy, but some great character writing and a fun battle system. Less reliant on you having loads of top grade characters for success than other F2P games; I'd say that with a bit of effort it'd be pretty easy to get to the end of the story without any money spent at all.

    The events are what made this for me though, the game throws all seriousness out of the window and just smashes these ridiculous characters together. The fourth-wall-destroying official parody comic leaking into the game is a lot of fun too, culminating in a one-day AR shooting gallery game being released.

  • PC - 4/5

    If Origin was a high 4, this was a low 4, trending to a 3. A very good game overall but felt stretched out a bit in the last third and the party system was on the edge of getting a bit too fiddly. Super solid PC port though.

  • Switch - 5/5

    A huge upgrade over the Wii U version. Portable mode runs at about teh same rate I think, but on a screen you get much smoother (though still rarely 60fps) update. The amount of stuff to do is borderline parody level, the characters have satisfying differences betwen one another (though that means there are definitely some rubbish characters) and the game does a good job of balancing being able to do what you like and running around like a madman saving people. I think I enjoy the gameplay of Fire Emblem a little more thanks to the good quality AI direction, but the overall game structure, volume and some of the moment-to-moment action is superior in this. If you're after a Musou game on Switch this is at the top of the list (though I haven't played One Piece 3, possibly my all-time favourite, as I already bought that thing three times on the Playstation systems!)

  • PS4 - 5/5

    Takes a long while to spin up but it definitely gets there in the end. They could have done with making the first ten hours or so about half as long as they were, and they need better fast travel. I don't mind if it compromises ~your artistic vision~, I don't want to have to run for two minutes to teleport to my next objective!

    Combat is slow and boring at first but both move lists and enemy encounters improve in the end. Towards the end I was finally starting to have fights where I felt like I'd managed to completely deny the enemy any chance due to skill and field management, a key in action games. The encounter density also becomes much better; again, going back to the start of the game there was a five hour stretch or so where it felt like everything was really spaced out and it felt like there was a lot more talking than fighting. I'm still not convinced of the equipment system either, aside from a simple "number go up" thing. Some of the later runic attacks are properly good though.

    The story works at least reasonably well throughout and there are plenty of good character moments, especially again in the second half. I thought they did a good job with the tone, too, considering the material they were aiming for.

    So overall, yeah, I'd give it a 5. If you'd asked me ten hours in it'd have been a 3. From what I've seen from other people's impressions, there are a couple of turning points for them, and it was the second one which worked for me.

  • Xbox - 4/5

    Works great in Xbox One compatibility mode. I think I saw two small stutters through my entire playthrough. Quite short, but the right length. I thought there were a few too many things that were hard to evade with the controls, but after playing Crimson Dragon I definitely think the essence of the game is to keep that tied with the aiming, to keep the player only in direct control of the aiming reticle.

    Great soundtrack - great audio overall in fact - gives the whole thing an extra punch (again, CD has weak lockon and fire sounds which completely ruins the impact), and there is loads of extra stuff there to fill in the story. It's the kind of package you'd expect from a remaster, rather than an original release. I'd say to anyone who's even remotely interested to give it a go, whether from a place of curiosity about the Xbox compatibility, people curious as to how it's held up or people who've never tried this kind of rail shooter.

  • PS4 - 4/5

    Got my platinum on this one too. Going back through, it's interesting how much stuff was lost in the third game; obviously there's plot stuff behind it but I wonder if it's a product of the series's drawn out development that at parts it really feels like Rean has regressed a lot in 3. There's some pretty significant story that you can only get in the second run through of this which plays into the plot of 3, which is a bit of a shit thing to do but I'm glad I've seen it now.

    The PS4 port is really sloppy, much worse than the original. Basically every time a mist effect goes on screen - which is a lot - the framerate tanks. Every cutscene involving Vita just becomes super choppy. I'll still miss high speed mode going forward though, the whole game feels a lot snappier with it on and turning it off really makes the languid camera work even more obvious. The quick skip button in 3 works really well but there's the risk of blasting through the first few lines of a cutscene when all you want is to skip the 45 seconds slowly panning over a featureless landscape.

    I'm actually kind of looking forward to another run through 3 now, though I won't be able to bash through every single difficult encounter in Nightmare with Performance Enhancing Drugs like in 1 and 2.

  • Xbox - 2/5

    It's really not very good, though I'm happy to have played through it one more time. It did a few interesting things for the time but 14 years on it's a pretty painful experience when looking at things like shooting, platforming and the whole target lockon system. The field of view is way too tight, not helped by it being 4:3 only, movement is slow and clunky with some bafflingly long sections of just walking slowly through large featureless corridors or fields (there's a hugely annoying jumping puzzle bit near the end), and it's very easy to get disoriented with the hit reactions - all downsides of the game design in their own way.

    At the same time though, there's cool stuff there that you can see struggling to get out; the forced perspective means that they can play with your perceptions with hallucinations (something which they needed to do way more of) and it "solves" the problem of the player not looking where he wants by just jerking your view over. The start is particularly good at this but they just didn't take enough advantage; there's hardly anything you can interact with that isn't essential to the plot, it gets too concerned with its own cleverness when picking up items and the whole thing feels like it was drastically cut back.

    In the end, while it starts strong it just kind of sags towards the middle and doesn't really pay off in the end with the time travel plot. The horrible nu metal ending theme is still very much present in the credits though, so that's something to look forward to at the end of 6-7 hours I guess? I'd recommend that if anyone does play it, do it in easy. There's one encounter near the end which I remember spending hours bashing my head against but I just walked through it this time.

  • Switch - 2/5

    This ended up driving me absolutely fucking nuts. It seems to have combined pretty much all of the stuff I disliked about old platformers, particularly instant death pitfalls and spikes. If they'd removed maybe half of them, or made the player character faster (or gotten rid of that inertia), I think I'd have gotten along with it much, much better.

  • PC - 4/5

    The first AC game where I've actually managed to get to the end. Good all the way through, with a likeable main character and no tailing missions! I might be a bit burned out on open worlds again though...

  • PC - 4/5

    Mostly a really solid Metroid type thing. The use of video for the more complex animations was interesting (but a bit too obvious - higher quality next time please!) and I really appreciated the 21:9 support. The ability to place checkpoints where you liked was clever and well-implemented; it meant that while difficulty increased, for the most part it was possible to play more carefully to get through even with higher enemy density and damage.

    A few complaints - your weapon remains weedy throughout and more importantly it's pretty imprecise. The whole game has a lot of muddy feeling bits; the way you have to rely on enemies and their shots for movement and the inertia on the character aren't as sharp as I'd like. It also just kind of stops at the end!

    Those escape sections though - I can see why people complained about them. Hopefully they're either gone or tuned next time around - since they're against the clock it'd have been nice to be able to 'save up' a couple of seconds to see the next obstacle with some clean play rather than it feeling a bit like the game going "surprise!!!" and you dying. They're not long sequences or anything but I suspect that in six months they'll be what I remember because of the frustration in what was otherwise a pretty easy-going game.

  • PC - 4/5

    I haven't done the hardest difficulty as I think it's going to be too much for me but it's 10tons's best game since Crimsonland. It definitely keeps that back and forth of being a bit weak then being very powerful (swinging back if you're playing in the survival mode). Gets a bit dependent on random powerups later on though, which means that Hard difficulty might be a bit much.

    If you get it, play through the levels once before tackling the survival mode to unlock all the weapons and perks.

  • PC - 3/5

    Started out fun enough but does that thing that the ARPG genre does which is just make the enemies take more damage without giving you enough upgrades to keep up (and the game seemingly scaling by your progress made through the game rather than the area you're in). The last boss was an absolute fucker as a result. I didn't like the way the game seemed to reduce enemy counts later on in favour of big damage sponges which would slow other otherwise weaken your character.

    There's still plenty to like though; it's got that slightly wonky Eastern European humour and the base combat's pretty fun, swapping between weapons.

  • PS4 - 5/5

    Fantastic stuff. I'd dropped this for three years and started again because I just didn't click with this type of game until I went through Nioh, and I'm really glad I went back. The combat is excellent; Ludwig's Holy Blade might be in the running for 'favourite video game melee weapon' now.

    Special mention for the sound design; the sound effects really helped 'seal the deal' in terms of atmosphere.

  • Switch - 5/5

    What a lovely game. A fun concept, executed well and with so much charm. Great soundtrack too. That beetle is so damn happy!!!

    The story seems a bit short at first but on completion I only had a 53% clear rate so there is plenty of stuff left to do. Top stuff.

  • PC - 3/5

    Mediocre open world and Batman combat with some fun story missions, especially at the end. Love that Mad Max dialogue but could have done with being more focused and half as long.

  • Storm Island expansion - Xbone - 4/5

    Fun little expansion campaign. The island has plenty of character and the game sends you on some outrageous courses! Only problem is that with all the bouncing around I found myself rewinding from a bad jump a few times too many. The storm weather is excellent and really dramatic, and drifting a souped up Stratos through the mud tracks with the trees at 45 degrees to the horizontal was really impressive. Finale was a bit of a letdown though and I guess shows the limit of how much they can change weather in one go. I was expecting all hell to break loose as I did an extended gauntlet run of both the outer roads and inner gravel and mud tracks of the island but instead it was two longish laps on the muddy inner with the weather going from fine to a bit of rain. Still, a disappointing finale has become a bit of a Horizon tradition I guess after 3...

  • PC - 3/5

    I was having a lot of fun with this solo until about 2/3 of the way through. The design of the game kind of isn't really compatible with a single player; your low health and slow regen, as well as the enemy numbers and their flanking, mean that you kind of need at least one other person to split aggro, help you break down enemies and so on. On the flip side, without that pressure I don't think there's a good way to bring challenge in; if you're not losing 50-80% of your health from a burst of enemy fire there isn't that much scope for the game to overrun you which would make it boring. There were a few missions in the middle there where it was right on the balancing point and that was fun.

    The actual game is pretty solid, though, especially once in a group, with a good (if occasionally demanding) PC engine and good support for fancy PC stuff like high frame rates and 21:9. Dreadful plot though; at least I had the OTT accents to entertain me.

  • PC - 4/5

    A really interesting concept executed mostly well, and a compelling argument for increased focus with a lower budget.

    The combat dragged in the back half but it's simple enough to push through; the story and animation are what shine here and the little making-of feature on the main menu does a good job of putting the game and a lot of its aspects into proper context. In that sense it's a really impressive achievement. Sound design is absolutely top shelf too - the recommendation to wear headphones is a good one, and it goes a lot of the way to making the experience more compelling and immersive.

  • Xbone - 4/5

    Finally got round to finishing this one off. Really smart little exploration platformer with a terrific soundtrack. The humour was dated back when it came out though and it's a little cringey now.

    The actual game part is really good though - super direct control, fun combat - and it asks a bit more than you might ordinarily expect in terms of jumping around. I found the realm swap mechanic a little annoying in fights but not too annoyingly so. Looking forward to the sequel now.

  • Switch - 2/5

    Some fine tennis - great even, but wrapped up around a single player that didn't work for me. Short but frustrating, I don't think at any point during the boss fights I felt really satisfied in victory. Ironically it could have done with about three times as much straight tennis; I don't think anyone at all would have minded if they'd done that especially given the almost complete lack of doubles matches or anything else to do in terms of the game itself. It almost exclusively drills into you the power of the right stick technical shot and the aimed/special shots but doesn't set up a serve and volley type play at all, which is definitely my style in Virtua Tennis.

    I'd have given it a 3, but Amiga Power guidelines specify that a slippy slidey ice world is to be penalised. If you're just in for tennis with friends/online I think you can probably consider it a 4, though, particularly with the Simple Mode.

  • PC - 1/5

    Fucking hell, it's been a while since a game has pissed me off this much. To keep it quick:

    Horrendously buggy - constantly had to restart from checkpoints, stuff falling through floors, dodgy collisions, status effects not hitting me properly leaving me a sitting duck until death.

    At one point it decided not to save for an hour or so, not telling me until I came back.

    Equipment system is more obtuse than you think - parts have level requirements that it doesn't surface anywhere until it tells you that you can't use them.

    AWFUL combat, I mean really terrible. There's a reason there's no death penalty.

    Pathetic story with a really fucking stupid ending.

    Early on I thought there were some interesting idea there but the game just completely failed to execute and worse of all it actively seemed to piss me off. The inventory system and robot switching/movement systems are designed to just increase how long it takes to play the game rather than adding any kind of challenge.

  • PC - 4/5

    Solid little side scroller. Lots of little systems which could have been explained a little better but once you have them down you have plenty of options. I liked the facsimiles of real locations too.

  • Vita - 4/5

    A good fit for Vita, and a game I really liked at the start and especially the end. Some of the characters are really fun to play as now and it's shocking how far it's come since the PS2 version which I found pretty much unplayable. Fun to compare the two versions!

    My main issue is the sag in the middle; the game's probably too long (or rather you have to play the same shorter game too many times) and playing as Oswald caused me to drop the game for two years. Pushing through was worth it in the end, though.

  • iOS - 4/5 (Epic of Remnant arc)

    There’s still a lot wrong with the client (uses too much memory when lots of stuff is cached, slow loading, no Noble Phantasm skip) but it’s about as close to a visual novel as I’ll get on any system and the fact it’s on my phone is a big part of that. The writing has generally improved as it’s gone on and the scope has increased and I do find the battles to be interesting and fun. The Remnant arc is a kind of “chapter 1.5” between the first part of the game and the Lostbelt section which is ongoing - basically 2017’s added stories. It’s split into four instead of seven but it’s still a lot of reading and a lot of battling, especially with the number of events that go on. Summer event coming soon!

    Shinjuku - a great start. Archer was a lot of fun, the setting was a bit meh but the setup and payoff at the end was great.

    Agartha - the weakest of the four. An interesting setting that they kind of don’t really do much with, a weird and unsatisfying ending and some awful character artwork (Rider!). The character reuse didn’t do anything for me but at least Berserker reminded me of the ridiculous “Amazoness CEO” in last year’s Halloween event.

    Shimousanokuni - possibly my favourite chapter in the game so far, right up there with Camelot in part 1. Musashi was a great character to be around, your non-fighting sidekicks keep everything moving, the reused characters were great - I particularly liked the use of Tamamo, and both Rider and Berserker were good interpretations of their existing characters. I appreciated the playing around with the rules and the little intros in the boss fights. The ending was great too.

    Salem - for a while this was right up there but it kind of wound itself up quickly. The concept is really great and there are some great character moments but I was hoping it’d go a bit more into the other side of the story by the end. It’s like they ran out of time. Given how crazy the Chapter 2 prologue ended up being I suspect they had to move onto that to get it out for the end of 2017.

  • PS4 - 4/5

    A surprisingly good dungeon crawler considering it comes from Compile Heart and Zerodiv. There’s a real rhythm to the ebb and flow of the various systems at work in and out of battle which are fun to deal with while making it so that sloppy mistakes can be punished heavily.

    It even includes the entire first game remade, with significant quality of life and design upgrades. If you’re considering the original then maybe wait for the sequel unless you like the idea of taking on 100x100 maps with a tiny inventory!

    My only real problems are the usual I guess; the maps aren’t particularly memorable; the story kind of drops off after about halfway through (though it picks up again right at the end with a really weird ending) and I don’t think it needed some of the screen rubbing/fan service type of stuff (though it’s less egregious on a non portable machine I suppose). Recommended overall for genre fans.

  • PC - 3/5

    A good sequel. It spends a lot less time easing you in at the start and instead goes right for that particular Meat Boy style of platforming after a relatively short amount of time, as well as providing most of the movement skills early on so it felt like a more of a full game than the original. I didn't bother with 100% in the end; in the end the maps are big enough that backtracking through them is too much of a pain, and there are too many single hit kills. In fact I didn't die from running out of health once, it was always being knocked back into an instant kill thing or missing a platform. Doesn't quite ruin it though, as overall the game doesn't outstay its welcome and the look and sound of it really are excellent.

  • iOS - 5/5

    Very much short and sweet. A complete success in everything it tries to do, with fun physics-based gameplay, good music and some sharp writing. A highly recommended experience, and one which is significantly cheaper on iPad while not losing anything in the move to a touchscreen.

  • PC - 5/5

    Top game, good port. A few slips in the Japanese version (which seems to have been backported onto the English "original") and proper ultrawide support requiring hex-editing the EXE can't really take much away when the result is being able to enjoy that fighting and those cutscenes (even the high detail ones with the top grade animation and models) at 120fps. In many ways it's still my favourite in the series, but a high framerate Kiwami 2 port might change my mind...

  • 360 - 3/5

    Fine. Interesting levelling system. Excellent soundtrack (which was what brought the laughs more than the ingame humour). The 'mixtape' system ended up a bit restrictive in the end; I wished it was easier to change moves for different situations, for example.

  • PS4 - 3/5 (Nightmare/Platinum run)

    Going through again, this game's a real mess plot-wise. Separated from the reaction to the pisstake final scene, they basically put 90% of the plot into the last 10% of the game so it's just a barrage of plans/identities being revealed. It ends up being hard to follow as nothing has any time to sink in; maybe if they'd spent some of their 'people standing on roofs and comparing how long it's been since they last saw each other' budget on that then it'd have been easier to keep up.

    Still looking forward to my copy of the 4th game arriving tomorrow though, and happy to get the platinum (having a trophy for opening all the chests without a way to actually monitor progress really sucks, especially since it was in earlier games!).

  • PS4 - 4/5

    Hmmmmm. There's a load of stuff I really like about this game but at the same time it's just brought down by its own weight, quite a lot. In a way, they've really painted themselves into a corner in terms of the number of characters you end up having to know. This is compounded by a script that at times is infuriatingly half-arsed, constantly falling into the same lines and vocal patterns (they managed to get the roof standing and constant comparing of how long it's been since the last meeting under control at least).

    Ultimately the main character is kind of what has brought the series down. I don't rate Koki Uchiyama much as a voice actor, though he does seem to actually put in more effort this time around, and the way everyone surrounds him, as well as them bringing back romance events with pretty much any girl in the game, really pulls me out of the whole thing a lot of the time. I know what they're trying to achieve, but unlike the earlier games there's too much scope left open at this point and it just isn't as successful as it was with Lloyd.

    Fundamentally, though, as a JRPG it is still a really good one. The world is huge, with lots of (albeit significantly reused) locations, the most playable characters I've seen in this kind of game (the last bit of the game is just pure fanservice for people who have played the previous games) and loads of stuff to do - mostly packaged up very considerately for people to find for themselves, rather than having to rely totally on guides. In many ways it really is Sen 2-2, which means the middle is quite baggy, but given the scope they've set for themselves I can't think of a more elegant way to try and cover everything.

    Which leads me into my hopes for the next series. The number of characters involved directly in the story is just too many at this point. The first Sora no Kiseki had you playing the first chunk of the game with just two characters, and you never got more than a few joining you at once. There is a point in this game where you can choose from nearly forty - and for most of it you have to choose a team of 6-8 from twenty characters. Sora, Zero and Ao worked so well because they mostly kept things relatively small, and I hope they go back to that rather than having a core of 11-12 characters and then adding another 5 to that later on.

    Whatever happens, I just hope they take their time and give the whole thing another pass before sending it out. Ys and Tokyo Xanadu, while having their own occasionally painful scripts, did their own thing and were successful enough that hopefully Falcom can just let this one stew a bit more and wrap things up properly in two games - maybe even one!

  • PC - 3/5

    Bit of a mixed bag of a campaign this one. For a start, it's basically unfinished, with another of the war stories coming later. Secondly, graphically it's really rough at points, particularly when I turned the graphics down to medium to try and help my 1070 stay above 60fps (pro tip - try and keep the Terrain setting up otherwise it looks awful!) and you can't turn off the TAA.

    On the other hand, once it actually gets into the shooting part it's pretty damn good. As you'd expect from a game like this, the guns are great to shoot and when it feels like it the game can throw some interesting scenarios at you. The problem is, it rarely does and when it does it's all over so quickly. I liked what they were trying with the story and settings too, particularly the Norwegian one. Skiing across frozen lakes and throwing knives at guys was my favourite part of the game - again, too short though.

    Good trial for the Origin Premier service though, I'm happy enough to buy a month and maybe pick up another month later once the co-op stuff comes out/Anthem arrives.

  • PC - 3/5

    Not bad. I think it went off the rails a bit with the story when they tried to tie it in with the new trilogy though.

  • PS4 - 5/5

    Took a bit of consideration this one. It's a great Tetris with loads of score attack modes - the modes I love to play most - and I love the speed changes in Journey mode but I didn't like any of the vocal songs, a big disappointment especially when considering how much I liked the instrumentals.

    Zone mode in the journey made the game for me - it's one of those classic mechanics where the time and place to use it differs depending on your situation and skill. I'd say it's worth playing for that alone.

  • Xbox One - 4/5

    A really good Metroid style game, with a more level-based style. Great soundtrack and sharp controls. The exact kind of game I got Game Pass for.

  • Xbone - 3/5

    Decent, but really feels stretched out. Not enough levels for the amount of time they wanted me to play so it was both too short and too long (!)

  • Switch - 5/5

    Great version of a great game. Runs really nicely. Not much more to be said! Only gripe is that it's a bit funny when running a Season character in portable mode - it kind of wants a net connection all the time when you're doing that.

  • Switch - 3/5 (Sega Ages version)

    Hard one to rate. As a game it's really of its time; very simple mechanically and in terms of the story. As a conversion and an introduction to the series it's very good though - M2 added an automap to the screen which makes a massive difference, while also changing the XP/money gain on battles to reduce grinding. As it is it's a short little adventure across three planets with some nicely animated monsters and impressive first person dungeons.

  • PC - 4/5 (all ultimate races won, all showcases done, 150 stars in stories)

    A huge improvements on the third game. Runs much better (though I keep having to reset my graphics setting every time it updates), better map, better showcases, a better balance between 'normal' races and the gimmicky stuff. I particularly liked the stories as a kind of themed, extended bucket list.

    My main complaint is one that I've had since 3 really: it's still too easy to just take the same car into loads of events. I finished most of it in my Cossie and F40 through inertia as much as anything else; it was only really the cross country series where I had to change classes a lot. Performance class limiters would be really good too!

  • Xbone - 3/5

    Turns out I had a save near the end of this, just had the third gang to finish off. And then it just kind of stops.

    Definitely showing its age. Aiming is clunky (though the lock-on largely helps), the physics engine takes over too long, stuff like that. Blowing things up en masse is still good though - the cluster grenade in particular is an excellent weapon - and bounding around looking for the green orbs is great. Looking forward to the third one.

    On a side note, this is exactly how backward compatibility should work. Game's released for free, I just download it and after a few seconds all my 360 progress is just there, working. A game save from 11 years ago, just ready to go.

  • Switch - 3/5

    Fine, I guess, overall. A bit of a "mixed bag". Some frustrating sections kind of undermine it a little, and it does feel a bit like they had the premise and then fit the game around it which doesn't help pacing. Good music though.

  • PC - 3/5

    Tough one to rate. The fighting's as good as it has been for a while, but everything around it isn't great. The story's worthless, over half of the characters are useless, everyone takes too long to unlock (Xiahou Dun right at the end?) and once you finally unlock everyone that's it for the story, and there's nothing else to do apart from going for higher ranks.

  • PC (remastered release) - 4/5

    Now I know what's going on, this was a pleasure to play through. I dropped it for a bit but got right back in and did the last two thirds in a couple of weeks. I ended up missing the aggression and human-sized boss encounters of Bloodborne but the mechanical feel of dodging, blocking and responding remained excellent. Lots to do as well. Ran fine on my PC, appreciated 21:9 but shame it was limited to 60fps.