My Favourite Games of 2017: Day Five

It’s that time again. When we as a collective come together to write, read and argue about our favourite games of the year. Not wanting to break from tradition, I proudly present to you, my favourite games of 2017.

Now instead of boring you with a traditional list, I thought I’d ‘spice’ it up a little by writing a post about each game. Don’t worry, this won’t take long. I’m a busy man and let’s be honest, you guys have read enough about PUBG and why Hellblade is amaze-balls on this blog already.

 

Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds

 PC – PUBG Corp

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I think I’ve finally found my forever game. Yes, I’ve said this before with games like Rocket League, Destiny and Overwatch, but this time I think it’s going to stick. Because even after nearly 250 hours of this ugly, buggy and at times downright infuriating mess of a video game……I can’t stop playing.

PUBG isn’t the prettiest game. It’s far from the most feature complete and it certainly won’t win any awards for polish. However its core concept is so perfect in its execution that it doesn’t matter. It’s proof that above all else, gameplay wins through.

The idea is simple: 100 people jump out of a plane armed with nothing but pants. The last person alive wins. It’s so simple that I can’t believe it’s taken as long has it has done to truly take off outside of the occasional in-game mod.

As simple as it is, don’t be fooled for thinking it’s short on depth. Far from it. Solo play delivers a genuinely nerve-wracking experience that is unmatched in the competitive online space; it’s a horror game masquerading as a shooter, and whilst it’s not the first to try this type of thing, it’s certainly the most effective.

Duo’s and Squads takes the game in a much different direction. Less tension inducing horror and more tactical squad combat. It’s a subtle difference but one that allows the game to offer two distinct types of play experiences without changing the games basic concept.

PUBG is going to change what online shooters are for the next decade. In much the same way that Modern Warfare changed how we play the FPS, Battlegrounds will surely have a similar effect on the games we’re playing over the next 8-10 years. And that’s a testament to just how utterly successful this game is at what it tries to do.

There will undoubtedly come ‘PUBG clones’. Many of them will look, run and feel better than Battlegrounds does, and I cannot wait for them. Because what PUBG gets right, it gets so right that I may never need to play another shooter again.

And so I’m pleased to say that not only is Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds my new ‘forever’ game, it’s also my favourite game of the year.

Surprise.

 

 

 

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My Favourite Games of 2017: Day Four

It’s that time again. When we as a collective come together to write, read and argue about our favourite games of the year. Not wanting to break from tradition, I proudly present to you, my favourite games of 2017.

Now instead of boring you with a traditional list, I thought I’d ‘spice’ it up a little by writing a post about each game. Don’t worry, this won’t take long. I’m a busy man and let’s be honest, you guys have read enough about PUBG and why Hellblade is amaze-balls on this blog already.

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Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

 PC/PS4 – Ninja Theory

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Here’s the thing about Hellblade. For all its technical achievements, incredible moments and it’s emotional weight, the moment to moment gameplay isn’t all that rewarding.

The combat for example, is a ho-hum affair. It’s not overly difficult, and at times it feels like it was added to give the player something to do whilst traversing the world; something to keep you interested whilst you move onto the next easy to solve puzzle or set piece. And you know what? When the rest of your video game is as good as Hellblade is, that’s okay.

As much as I enjoyed Hellblade, it isn’t a game I hear too many people talking about. In a year dominated by 100 person shooters and Robots with feelings, it fell through the cracks. And whilst it’s recently done well at the Video Game Awards, I think more people should give this game a look.

Why? Because in 2017 video games are slowly marching into a world where shorter, more digestible narratives are becoming a thing of the past. Hellblade is one of those games and it deserves your undivided attention. Not only for what it tries to do but also for what it actually achieves.

Hellblade isn’t perfect, and many would take issue with how it handles its core themes and conflicts, but in terms of putting you inside the head of a character dealing with the things she’s dealing with, no game has ever done it better. Traumatizing and deeply disturbing, Hellblade is a game that doesn’t flinch from its darkness. It doesn’t ask its player to watch as Senua’s world falls apart, it pulls them into her world and helps her re-build it.

Hellblade isn’t my favourite game of 2017, but it may well be the one that sticks with me the longest.

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My Favourite Games of 2017: Day Three

It’s that time again. When we as a collective come together to write, read and argue about our favourite games of the year. Not wanting to break from tradition, I proudly present to you, my favourite games of 2017.

Now instead of boring you with a traditional list, I thought I’d ‘spice’ it up a little by writing a post about each game. Don’t worry, this won’t take long. I’m a busy man and let’s be honest, you guys have read enough about PUBG and why Hellblade is amaze-balls on this blog already.

Super Mario Odyssey

 Switch – Nintendo

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I’ve grown up playing Mario games. From the Super Nintendo through to the Switch, Mario has been a constant bringer of joy and an unwavering sign of quality. And Odyssey may well be the franchise as its very best.

Confident in its approach, it’s willing to try new things whilst offering fans of the franchise and of the larger platforming genre as a whole a huge playground in which to explore and ultimately, have a boat load of fun in.

It’s not trying to tell you an incredibly story of overcoming the odds. It’s not looking to let you experience life as someone else and it’s not asking you to be the best in a field of millions. Instead it wants you to sit back, relax and have a truly wonderful time. And if that’s what you’re after, I don’t think a game released in the last 5 years does it quite as well as this one.

Truth be told, I’m struggling to put to paper what I think of this game. It’s a Mario game; perfected. And as I’ve said in all of these posts so far, if you like video games, you owe it to yourself to play this. I’d even make the argument that it’s worth owning a Switch for.

 

 

 

My Favourite Games of 2017: Day Two

It’s that time again. When we as a collective come together to write, read and argue about our favourite games of the year. Not wanting to break from tradition, I proudly present to you, my favourite games of 2017.

Now instead of boring you with a traditional list, I thought I’d ‘spice’ it up a little by writing a post about each game. Don’t worry, this won’t take long. I’m a busy man and let’s be honest, you guys have read enough about PUBG and why Hellblade is amaze-balls on this blog already.

What Remains of Edith Finch

PC/PS4/XBOX One – Giant Sparrow

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Rare are the games that can elicit an emotional response from me. Rarer still are the games that manage to pull two or three different ones out of me at any one given time. What Remains of Edith Finch is one of those games.

Finch is ultimately about loss, grief and moving on. It manages to tell it’s emotionally charged story with just the lightest flicker of comedy. A flicker that takes what should be a dark and gloomy tale of one families tragic past, and turns it into an emotional and yet, incredibly uplifting tale about what comes next.

it’s a relatively short game, but one that knows exactly what it wants to say and gets out before it overstays its welcome. I was never bored with it. Where Gone Home relied on the illusion of horror to propel you through its story, Finch ditches that for good old fashion story telling. Where Firewatch slowly builds to a crescendo of fire and tension, Finch remains focused on telling you the story of its characters, their lives and ultimately, their deaths.

What Remains of Edith Finch is, to be entirely reductive, a walking-simulator. But you know what? It’s the best walking-simulator I’ve ever played, and I hope we see an awful lot more games that handle their subject matter and their narrative like this in the future.

There’s always going to be a small but incredibly vocal audience who’ll avoid this type of game, but don’t let them dissuade you. What Remains of Edith Finch is without a doubt one of the better games to release in 2017 and you absolutely should experience it.

 

 

 

 

My Favourite Games of 2017: Day One

It’s that time again. When we as a collective come together to write, read and argue about our favourite games of the year. Not wanting to break from tradition, I proudly present to you, my favourite games of 2017.

Now instead of boring you with a traditional list, I thought I’d ‘spice’ it up a little by writing a post about each game. Don’t worry, this won’t take long. I’m a busy man and let’s be honest, you guys have read enough about PUBG and why Hellblade is amaze-balls on this blog already.

Horizon: Zero Dawn

PS4 – Guerilla Games

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I thought I was over the open world game. I thought I’d done my last side-quest. I thought I’d stopped worrying about pelts and boring dialogue choices. I thought wrong.

Horizon: Zero Dawn is a visual masterpiece. It’s landscapes are huge and varied. It’s  characters and interesting and well acted in equal measure and it’s story and lore are both well realized and incredibly deep. Above all else though, Horizon: Zero Dawn is an incredibly fun video game.

Where other open-world games struggle, Horizon lurches ahead, with incredibly combat and a fun selection of weapons that will make you actively seek out combat encounters. Those combat encounters feature enemies that are as diverse and varied as the world they inhabit and require skill and patience to bring down. The best part? If you’re not careful they will fuck you up in a big way.

The game’s story is just the right sort of stupid that it allows the writers to go all in on some of its ideas, blending science fiction with history and even a little light fantasy. The worlds lore is hinted at, but never spoiled. Allowing the player to think about ‘what it all means’ without ever over-selling its hand and ruining the surprise. Zero Dawn is without a doubt one of the prettiest games ever released, but underneath that incredibly well painted canvas there’s an even more interesting painting to be discovered. And hopefully in sequels-yet-to-be-announced we’ll get just that.

I really like Horizon, but I fear coming out so close to a new console and (perhaps) more importantly, a new Zelda game may have damaged the game in some people’s eyes. It shouldn’t. It’s a truly fantastic game that deserves your attention.

So if you’re reading this blog and haven’t yet allowed Aloy and giant mechanical dinosaurs into your life, fix that. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

 

 

I Played some PUBG with my brother and oh boy: A Guide

Lewis. Callum. Welcome.

First things first, don’t be alarmed. I know it seems crazy that you’re suddenly falling to earth with nothing but a parachute and a (hopefully) Utility Belt to your name. I know you’re confused by the fact that there seems to be 98 other people doing the exact same thing. However fear not. For below you’ll find six delicious nuggets of information that will allow you to survive for a short time. Maybe.

I’ll begin from the top. Or the bottom? Whatevs.

Helmets.

Callum. I love the attitude man. Who needs a helmet when you’re so good a shot that you’re going to be dropping fools before they even get a chance to fire one-off at you. Positive attitude, fantastic.

However. For the love of unholy god wear a helmet. It’ll protect you from direct head shots (for a while) and will probably grant you enough time to react and hide/fire that incredible, gif-worthy return volley.

As per everything in PUBG, level 3 is best but even level 1 is better than nothing.

I can’t emphasis this enough. If you see a helmet and don’t have one equipped…grab it.

Cars.

Cars are fun. With their horns, their engines and speed and windows and awful physics. They allow you to move quickly, run people over and even provide some mobile cover if you’re stuck between a rock and a giant-flat-field of death.

However they’re not without their problems. As we found out on Saturday morning.

I cannot emphasis this enough. DO-NOT-POKE-YOUR-HEAD-OUT-WHEN-WE’RE-BEING-SHOT-AT. You will die. It’ll be traumatic, and probably cost your partner their life as they desperately try to reverse to where they think your dying body lays in the wide open field below Pochinki.

I get the temptation, I do. Who wouldn’t want to get a kill whilst driving through the grass? The problem though, is that it’s incredible easy to miss everything whilst shooting from inside the car. And as such, it’s just not worth the risk.

Remember kid bro’s. Keep your Hands and Feet and Heads inside the vehicle at all times. Although if you see a guy and he’s sort-of-maybe-ish in your driving path then you should totally try to run him over for the lulz.

Pan Me.

You see those Pans you keep ignoring? Grab one. It’ll save your life one day. If you only pick up one thing behind a gun and body armor, make sure it’s the pan. It’ll deflect shots off your ass.

It’s an ass helmet. And it’s your best friend when you’re being shot from behind.

Hassmet.

HEALER!

Right fellas let me tell you about something called Healing. It’s a revolutionary new method of not-dying. And as such, you should try to do it at all times.

Hiding in a house? Heal. About to run out of that house? Heal. Driving in a car? Stop and Heal. You get the picture. Heal.

If you’ve got some spare items, and you’re not about to be murdered right this very second, check your health, and if necessary, heal.

Have you healed yourself yet?

Scope Em.

I get it. The shooting on the controller is kinda-difficult. However, if you see a scope (especially the 2x which is my favourite) then you’ve got to get that thing attached to your assault rifle ASAP).

I know it sometimes makes shooting more difficult, but trust me, in the long run, you’ll learn to love those things like your own children.

This isn’t COD.

There’s not many games that make killing your enemy feel as good as PUBG does. However, that doesn’t mean you have to engage with any and everyone you come across. In fact, sometimes letting them pass is the best way to ultimately get the kill.

Use your brain, and just as importantly, the environment around you. Open doors mean the house has been looted. Closed doors mean it’s either never been looted….or there’s someone inside who wants you to think that.

Be the person in the house not the one running into it with nothing but a pistol equipped.

 

 

 

The VGA’s

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m short on time. However, I do have enough of it spare right now to sit down and take a moment to talk about The Video Game awards that took place on Thursday.

As with any award show, it was chock full of badly scripted interviews, the odd awkward moment and um…lots of advertising. That being said though, I think the core concept of the VGA’s is one we can get behind: that those making the games we love be celebrated for their successes.

There’s a longer article in my head about the various ways in which the VGA’s could be improved, but as I’m a little pressed for time I’ll just stick to a few winners that I was invested in.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice – Winner: Games for Impact / Best Audio Design / Best Performance for Melina Juergens

Hellblade is a truly interesting game. In an industry that’s dominated by franchises and reboots, it’s rare to see a game of Hellblade’s quality come along and say something; anything even.

With its interesting, unique and ultimately challenging look at mental illness, it truly deserves to walk away with the award in Games for Impact. It doesn’t land all of its punches, but it does things in a mainstream game that you rarely see, and that deserves to be rewarded.

The same goes for its audio work. Now, I’m no audio designer, but Hellblade wouldn’t be the game it is; the game that took home the impact award without its incredible audio design. Play this game with headphones and allow yourself to become one with its lead character. I promise you.

Speaking of that lead character. Melina Juergens nailed it. From moment one you feel her anguish, her suffering. With every facial expression, every frightened look, and every hushed scream, she stitched the final, perhaps most important part of Hellblade’s delicate tapestry together.

Hellblade is an amazing game. And as you can no doubt tell, I’m really pleased it finally got its due.

What Remains of Edith Finch – Winner: Best Narrative

Ideally, Edith Finch would have walked away with a few more awards, but it’s a testament to just how an incredible year we’re having that it only took home Best Narrative.

I don’t really have much to say on this one, just that it’s probably going to end up as one of my favourite games of the year. Based entirely on its incredibly heartfelt narrative.

Much like Hellblade, Edith Finch tackles some incredibly difficult moments. Unlike Hellblade however, Finch chooses to handle the subject matter with a lighthearted, almost humorous bent. That’s not to say it’s not incredibly touching or even emotionally devastating though, because believe me, bring the tissues.

Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds – Winner: Best Multiplayer

What more can I possibly say about Battlegrounds that hasn’t already been said by myself, or someone else on the internet already? 2017’s most talked about multiplayer is a lot of things. It’s buggy, it’s full of cheats and it runs like shit. And yet, with all of those problems, it’s one of the most incredibly enjoyable gaming experiences I’ve ever had.