I have had a lot of time to write this week and as such I have 6 posts scheduled for posting and another 4 in my drafts close to completion. Although I have now been sitting here twiddling my thumbs waiting for Friday and the next post in the queue. However, I got bored so as such decided it would be a good idea to inform you all of the Game of the Year winners in my hiatus. I will try and do these updates year by year in-between my main Friday pieces. I may also add some smaller posts once I’m up to date with my awards.
Assassins Creed IV: Blackflag
The Last of Us
I did write a review on The Last of Us and mentioned It would have been my Game of the Year 2013 but now I’ve officially given it its due. The Last of Us was a beautiful written, beautiful executed experience. I didn’t spend as long paying it as I did Assassins Creed IV but The Last of Us is a lot more “straight to the point”. As well as some beautiful aesthetics and characters, The Last of Us is sure to be a fan favourite with anyone who enjoys a deep and enriching story coupled with some of the greatest cinematics on the PS3, which is further improved by the Remastered version on the PS4.
Thank you, Thank you. Yes it’s good to be back. I know it has been a very very long while since I did one of these (discounting Tomb Raider because I started that before my hiatus). I’ve been busy moving house and getting a dog and such, but please don’t think that it makes me unprofessional (a shout out to any potential employers as much of a long shot as it may be). This time I’m reviewing my favourite game of 2013. The reason it’s my favourite is probably due to the fact I didn’t play Grand Theft Auto V or Bioshock Infinite. Without further or do, The Last of Us.
The Last of Us starts before the outbreak. A young girl named Sarah wakes to find her farther Joel missing, he then appears barking like a madman and proclaims that they have to go. Her Uncle and his brother Tommy appears in a car and they proceed to escape the town. Car crashes, Sarah is shot and killed then the story skips ahead 20 years, to present day where a grumpy, middle aged Joel is working with a woman called Tess as smugglers in the militarised safe zone of Boston. During an operation Joel and Tess finds Marlene the leader of the terrorist group The Fireflies. She tasks Joel and Tess to smuggle a teenage girl Ellie out of the city and thus the story begins. Lets get one thing straight right now. The Last of Us may have been my game of the year but it still falls short of the other holders of that title (Far Cry 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim & Heavy Rain). It does have a number of issues, my biggest one must be the lack of immersion. I just couldn’t get sucked into it. I’d stick it on, play for an hour or so and then find something else I’d rather do. I really wanted it to be one of those games I’d start playing at 7pm and find myself still playing it at 11am in the morning… 3 days later. As regular readers will be aware I do like a good story well told, but to make a good game it’s got to be seamless with the gameplay, neither sacrificing one for the other. Sadly in the case of The Last of Us, it only get 2 out of 3 of these right. The story is very good and it’s told well (if a bit choppy at times), unfortunately it’s gameplay is the turd in the custard. Now I’m not the best person at playing video games but I like to think since I’ve been playing games for roughly 20 years I’d like to think that I’m defiantly above average. With that in mind, the amount of times I died because as I was sneaking up on an infected* only for it to miraculously know I was there and lunge with it’s unblock-able kill move, it’s controller snappingly frustrating. Ammo can be plentiful if you insist on resorting to melee or stealth and like the continual look of the loading screen, or fairly scares if your name is Nathan Drake. It gets easier the further into the game you get and the more guns and upgrades you have at hand. The stealth engine as mentioned before can be overly sensitive, meaning enemies can pick up a sparrow fart from 5 miles away or the complete polar opposite and not notice a rhino charging through a china shop from which they’re purchasing a rather lovely vase. Some middle ground would be nice. This is just one of many examples of issues I’ve had with the gameplay, all of which effects the pacing of the story causing it to stop and start, stop and start constantly, which in turn effects how I feel about the story, which then has effect on my overall view of the game. A couple of tweeks to let the gameplay flow a bit more would have changed The Last of Us from a fairly good game to a rather excellent game. Now for my final thought. Despite all the nasty stuff I said about The Last of Us, I have given it my “Game of the Year” badge over titles such as Papers Please, Tomb Raider, God of War Ascension, Remember Me, Metal Gear Rising & DMC. Sure had I played Bioshock Infinite, Grand Theft Auto V, Assassins Creed IV, Batman Arkham Origins, Saints Row IV, Beyond Two Souls, Total War: Rome II or Company of Heroes 2 I’d have given it to one of them, but the bottom line is this. Out of the 3 games I played last year that I’d recommend, The Last of Us I would recommend the most (the other 2 out of interest are Papers Please & Tomb Raider). Finally because it’s a new year like last year I’ll share the game I am looking forward to the most this year. The nominees are as follows:
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
InFamous: Second Son
The Elder Scrolls Online
Dragon Age: Inquisition
The Walking Dead: Season Two
And the winner is:
Every trailer and every piece of game play footage I see gets me that little bit more excited each time. Graphically it looks amazing, it’s gameplay look smooth and seamless but most of all, it’s something new and something relevant to our modern way of life. That’s all for now and have a wonderful 2014.
* In this scenario, the infected does not refer to zombies but are human husks made from a mutated form of the ophiocordyceps unilateralis fungi which is known for infecting insects using their spores and take over their nervous functions.
Today I find myself yet again sitting behind my desk with nothing to do. So instead of the usual (watch QI) I’ve decided to do something a little bit more constructive. I’ve decided to go on an adventure. Searching for the lost kingdom of the Yamatai on a remote island deep inside the Dragons Triangle far off the coast of Japan. It’s here I must learn to survive if I’m to ever find my way home. I am Lara Croft and I am a survivor… I’m not really, I’m actually overweight and jobless. Anyway, here’s Tomb Raider.
The opening sequence begins with Lara and the rest of the Scooby Gang sailing towards the lost kingdom of Yamatai, which just happens to be located within the Dragon’s Triangle, a dangerous no go area for all things maritime. This scares the jinkies out of some of the crew, but not Lara, no. She’s out to prove herself as a real archaeologist like her farther before her. Naturally as to be expected, shit goes down, the ship gets ripped in two and Lara and the rest of the Village People are stranded and looking for a way home. I’ve enjoyed the Tomb Raider series since the beginning but given the fall in standards throughout the series it was defiantly due an over-haul sooner rather than later. So when I heard that a reboot was on the way I was really looking forward to it. When the first trailers and game footage was released at E3 in 2012 I was even more so. Then I got a copy, played it, put it down to sleep now and again, then completed it and thought to myself “For a reboot they really haven’t changed a lot”. The story still had the stain of the weird and wacky like all Tomb Raiders before it. Which is a shame because it starts off so well. Trapped on a remote island, good, island is a home to a psychopathic cult, understandable, psychopaths believe that the storms surrounding the island are caused by a goddess’s vengeful soul, far-fetched but as long as they aren’t right about any of th… oh, they are right? Dam, and I was hoping the series had before serious. Tomb Raider is a good example of why you shouldn’t get excited about a game based on it’s trailers alone. For example, the trailers would have you believe that the game had a whole island to play around on, nope, you explore less than a third of the island even then it’s just linear interconnected corridors with the odd larger area to roam around. Also if the trailers were to be believed there would be survival mechanic in which you must find time to eat, sleep, drink and heal like Metal Gear Solid except without all the snakes. Again, you’d be wrong, there’s one moment at the beginning where you must hunt deer and make a fire in a tutorial esque fashion and after that it’s never seen again. It’s as if the game suddenly caught a bout of amnesia, came to next to a copy of Uncharted and continued like that was the norm. Now, I like the Uncharted series, but I like Uncharted being Uncharted, not Tomb Raider being Uncharted. The jumpy explory bits expected from a Tomb Raider game are as good as it’s ever been but when the actiony shooty bits start you might as well be playing Uncharted if Nathan Drake was a British, student girl on a gap year gone horribly wrong. The game was described as telling the story of how Lara changed from a young naive child to a battle hardened, stone cold killer. Bless the game because you can tell it’s trying to humanise Lara but fails in it’s consistency. For example when she first kills a deer, she’s crying and is apologising to it. Or when she kills her first person after her attempted “rape” she’s crying, in distress and mentally and physically exhausted, feeling hopeless and overwhelmed by the situation she’s in. At this point you think “wow, this is a pretty dark, serious Lara”. Seconds later however, she capping crazy psychopaths like it’s going out of fashion. At that point all seriousness is lost and the series falls back into old habits again. Now for my final thought. Tomb Raider really does suffer from a lack of ambition. It starts off very well by characterising what a good reboot should be. It’s new but has a sense of familiarity to it. Sadly though this drive isn’t continued throughout the game, it’s lost after the first half an hour, becoming less like a new spirit child and more like the old one in new pyjamas. The set for a serious, darker Tomb Raider is lost in favour for the same old song and dance from years gone by. Not that it was a bad game, in it’s own merits it’s one of the stronger games of the series but it had the potential to be so much more than it is. And on that bombshell it’s time for me to end, thank you very much for reading, Goodnight. *Then plays Jessica by The Allman Brothers*