Games Completed 2019

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Sinclair Gregstrum
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by Sinclair Gregstrum » July 29th, 2019, 1:37 pm

Jan - Streets Of Rage 2 - (Switch)
Jan - Detroit: Become Human (PS4 Pro)
Feb - Quarantine Circular (Switch)
Feb - Yoku’s Island Express (Switch)
Feb - Shenmue (PS4 Pro)
Mar - Rise of the Tomb Raider (XOX)
Apr - Gunstar Heroes (Switch)
May - Street Fighter 5 (PS4 Pro)
Jun - The Division 2 (XOX)

Jul - Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Switch)

I hadn't played a turn-based strategy in a good while (Fire Emblem: Awakening on 3DS might have been the last), and this game served as a great reminder of how much I love this genre, making up for what it lacks in complexity with top drawer execution.

The game is a little basic early on as it teaches you to suck eggs a little, but I can forgive that as I imagine there are quite a few folks brought in by the Mario and Rabbids brands that are unfamiliar with the style. Things ramped up nicely as the game progressed though, and while nothing ever reached particularly tricky heights, there was enough of a challenge to keep it engaging and every victory satisfying.

The thing that really elevates the game beyond a fun if unremarkable TBS though is the creative execution. Firstly the game is gorgeous, with its colourful, crisp environments and characters all animated beautifully. Then there's the sound. Of course all the usual Mario audio cues are here, but Grant Kirkhope's score is a joy that really adds to the atmosphere of the worlds during both exploration and battle. Finally, the writing is fantastic, and this is were you really feel the Ubisoft influence. It's much cheekier, more irreverent, and just straight up funny than your average Nintendo script, with the sarcy, quick-witted robot Beep-O being a particularly humorous highlight.

If you're not into TBS games then this isn't going to convert you, but if you've got even a mild penchant for the genre, and you're a fan of either Mario or the Rabbids, then this should absolutely be on your list to pick up in the next eShop sale.

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Alex79uk
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by Alex79uk » July 29th, 2019, 2:37 pm

Alex79uk wrote:
January 20th, 2019, 4:10 pm
JAN - Super Mario Land (Nintendo Gameboy)
JAN - Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle (Megadrive on PS4)
FEB - Professor Layton & The Curious Village (Android)
FEB - Donkey Kong '94 (Nintendo Gameboy)
FEB - Donkey Kong Country (SNES)
FEB - Chuchel (Android)
FEB - Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4)
MAR - Spider-Man (PS4)
MAR - Florence (Android)
MAR - Where On Google Earth Is Carmen Sandiego (Browser)
MAR - Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered (PS4)
MAR - Final Fantasy X (PS Vita)
MAY - Söldner-X 2 (PS Vita)
MAY - Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (PS4)
MAY - The Punisher (Arcade on PS Vita)
JUN - Super Mario Bros. (NES on Switch)
JUN - Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (PS4)
JUL - Windjammers (Arcade Mode) (PS Vita)


JUL - Detroit: Become Human (PS4)

I'm going to preface this by admitting I'm a huge David Cage apologist. I loved Fahrenheit, thought Heavy Rain was brilliant, and really enjoyed Beyond Two Souls.

This is his best work yet. I loved it. Great story, looks amazing and the sheer scope and range the story choices can deliver hasn't ever been matched in a video game I've played before. I really liked the characters, enjoyed all three story arcs and reached a satisfying - although somewhat upsetting - conclusion.

The gameplay was interesting, the dynamics between the characters and voice acting was excellent throughout. There was real tension in some of the scenes as well, either racing against time or trying to keep your character alive. I really cared about these people by the end.

Also, I know for some people having real life actors likenesses takes them out of the game, but I really quite like it in some circumstances, if made it feel more cinematic to me.

All in all, I really think this game was brilliant and I'm so glad I played it.

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Simonsloth
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by Simonsloth » July 29th, 2019, 4:12 pm

Spoiler: show
January:
Tale of Tales Collection
Virginia
Gravity Rush 2
Nier Automata

Feb:
Wolfenstein 2
Prey (2006)
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Super Ghouls and Ghosts
Aladdin SNES
Aladdin Mega Drive
Donkey Kong

March:
Donkey King Country
Pilotwings
Dino crisis
Pony Island
Ape Escape
Donkey Kong country 2
Donkey Kong Country 3
Monkey Island 2

April:
DK 94
Inside (PS4)
Pony island
Shovel Knight plague of shadows
Dk64
Banjo Kazooie

May:
Banjo Tooie
Furi
Observer
Shovel Knight Specter of Torment

June:
Super Meat Boy
Evil Within

July:
Prey 2017
Evil within 2
28th July:

Pilotwings 64

Skimming in just before the show recording. I got the bronze medal in all the categories and look forward to trying to improve my scores. I’m never going to get 100/100 for all modes perhaps in my heyday I would have given it a go.

Anyone with an N64 and a CRT tv should give it a whirl. I picked up my copy for £5 unboxed and it is lovely.

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ratsoalbion
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by ratsoalbion » July 29th, 2019, 4:58 pm

Getting 100/100 on everything is brutal. I believe a friend of mine managed it though.

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clippa
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by clippa » July 29th, 2019, 7:59 pm

Spoiler: show
Psyvariar Delta 1cc
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Not really my cup of tea, I don't think, I played it for 3 hours the day it came out but never felt the urge to go back.
I'll fire it up again one day and hopefully it'll start to click.
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Dokingan 1cc
Fab. Really exciting and aggressive.
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Steel Empire 1cc (Difficult)
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Meh, it's aaaalright. Could do with an extra scoring mechanic or two.
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Rogue Fable III (Ranger -elf)
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I'm a sucker for these simplified roguelikes. Streamlined but with enough strategic depth to keep things interesting.
My favourite since Golden Krone Hotel.
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Risk Of Rain 2 (Commando, Normal) (Commando, Monsoon looped)
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Man, the game is so much fun, I'm glad I stuck with it because I nearly gave up after a couple of goes, I was like "meh,. I think I've seen enough", but when it gets it's claws into you, it's so, so good. The shooting feels really tight, all the classes feel really different and I love how the game starts out nice and slow and relaxing and then ends up really frantic, enemies and lasers and numbers popping up everywhere like an MMO.
The slow drip feeding of perks and trying to balance getting them all in a level and moving quick before the difficulty modifier ticks up too high feels really nice.
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Nightmare Reaper (Early Access, first episode)
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These modern throwback retro shooters usually doesn't scratch the itch for me. Stuff like dusk I find mind-numbingly dull, loads of dead air, you spend most of the time chasing your farts round mazes looking for your meagre portion of enemies to shoot.
This is the one! So, so good. Great mouse control, great weapons (I really like the six shooter pistols. Feels great going for headshots.), nicely sized levels, not too small, not too big, lots of baddies knocking about. it's just great fun and that's what it's all about.
I could list some minor niggles, but I don't think I'll bother. It's early access, there's plenty of time for things to be improved.
There aren't many good fps roguelites, but this is certainly one of them.
Right now, it's very good and worth the price of admission. I played for 9 hours and I'm tempted to go through it all again, changing my play style a bit. I found a legendary sword that I used for a bit and going in your face melee was really good fun.
S'good!
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Neptunia Shooter
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Meh, you'll play through it once. Needs more scoring mechanics and I'd cut the amount of weapons in half, most of them aren't really useable.
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Mushihimesama Futari Black Label (Original 1cc. 321,897,581)

Fandabbydosey! It's like space invaders.
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Rolling Gunner - Casual

Space invaders but sideways.
Curious Expedition (Normal, first place)
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Yeeees! Finally! Soooo, soooo good. I love everything about this so much, the music and the sound effects are quite sparse but really atmospheric. Really love the pixel art style. It's so engrossing. The devs seem like such lovely people in the videos I've seen too.
Sid Meier's pirates is the closest thing I can compare it to. Give the in browser demo a go here - http://curious.j.layershift.co.uk/demo
Best thing I've played so far this year.

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stvnorman
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by stvnorman » July 29th, 2019, 8:48 pm

Spoiler: show
1 Jan: Lego Marvel Super Heroes (PS4)
12 Jan: LittleBigPlanet 3 (PS4)
27 Jan: Raging Justice (Switch)
7 Feb: Mega Man 4 - Mega Man Legacy Collection (Switch)
7 Mar: Trials Fusion (PS4)
15 Mar: Cursed Castilla EX (Switch)
22 Mar: The Witness (PS4)
27 Mar: Call of Duty - Modern Warfare Remastered (PS4)
19 Apr: Resident Evil Remastered (PS4)
20 Apr: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES on Switch)
25 Apr: Moonlighter (Switch)
26 Apr: Sega Ages Out Run (Switch)
6 May: Mega Man 5 - Mega Man Legacy Collection (Switch)
7 May: What Remains of Edith Finch (PS4)
10 May: Mortal Kombat X (PS4)
23 May: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS4)
24 May: Kid Dracula - Castlevania Anniversary Collection (Switch)
8 June: Cuphead (Switch)
10 June: Super Mario Land (Game Boy)
14 June: Pilotwings (SNES on 3DS)
16 June: Final Fantasy 7 (Switch)
17 June: Castlevania - Castlevania Anniversary Collection (Switch)
26 June: Kid Icarus (NES on Switch)
26 June: Mega Man 6 - Mega Man Legacy Collection (Switch)
27 June: Balloon Kid (Game Boy on 3DS)
29 June: Resident Evil 2 Remake (PS4)
My July update:
4 July: Shovel Knight (Switch)
6 July: The Castlevania Adventure - Castlevania Anniversary Collection (Switch)
8 July: Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge - Castlevania Anniversary Collection (Switch)
9 July: Night Trap - 25th Anniversary Edition (Switch)
11 July: Operation C - Contra Anniversary Collection (Switch)
23 July: Mighty Bomb Jack (NES on Switch)

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Flabyo
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by Flabyo » July 30th, 2019, 7:11 pm

Flabyo wrote:
July 23rd, 2019, 6:21 pm
5th Jan - Rise of the Tomb Raider (XBO)
1st Feb - Doom (2016) (XBO)
20th Feb - Crackdown 3: Campaign (XBO)
25th Mar - Bound (PS4)
30th Mar - Shadow of the Tomb Raider (XBO)
29th April - Mortal Kombat 11 Story Mode (PS4)
17th May - Middle Earth: Shadow of War (XBO)
25th May - Wolfenstein 2 (XBO)
28th May - Tacoma (XBO)
12th July - Metro 2033 Redux (XBO)
23rd July - Timespinner (XBO)
30th July - Shadow Warrior 2 (XBO)

I’ll admit I like the dumb crude humour in these recent reboots of the franchise, but that won’t be to everyone’s taste.

This second game is going for more of a borderlands setup in terms of structure compared to the first games more straightforward linear levels shooter, and it doesn’t quite pull it off. I did warm to it more as I went on though, I think the game is initially too tough until you get more of the interesting skills and weapons.

I just about prefer the first one though, it’s simplicity works better.

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Scrustle
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by Scrustle » July 31st, 2019, 8:29 am

Flabyo wrote:
July 30th, 2019, 7:11 pm

30th July - Shadow Warrior 2 (XBO)
I've heard about how this one has co-op and randomised levels, but not anything about a "Borderlands" structure. What does that mean? Is it somehow open world or something?

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Flabyo
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by Flabyo » July 31st, 2019, 11:29 am

It’s based around a series of large areas. They’re not linked together like they are in Borderlands, but it has that feel of each of them being a single playground that they base missions in, rather than being bespoke levels for each mission.

It also has a lot of loot drops to manage. Not quite as many weapons as Borderlands, the loot here is mostly upgrade gems that you can merge and craft. And you get a lot of them. There are a lot more guns than the first game though, more than you’ll ever use.

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Alex79uk
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by Alex79uk » July 31st, 2019, 1:02 pm

Alex79uk wrote:
January 20th, 2019, 4:10 pm
JAN - Super Mario Land (Nintendo Gameboy)
JAN - Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle (Megadrive on PS4)
FEB - Professor Layton & The Curious Village (Android)
FEB - Donkey Kong '94 (Nintendo Gameboy)
FEB - Donkey Kong Country (SNES)
FEB - Chuchel (Android)
FEB - Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4)
MAR - Spider-Man (PS4)
MAR - Florence (Android)
MAR - Where On Google Earth Is Carmen Sandiego (Browser)
MAR - Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered (PS4)
MAR - Final Fantasy X (PS Vita)
MAY - Söldner-X 2 (PS Vita)
MAY - Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (PS4)
MAY - The Punisher (Arcade on PS Vita)
JUN - Super Mario Bros. (NES on Switch)
JUN - Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (PS4)
JUL - Windjammers (Arcade Mode) (PS Vita)
JUL - Detroit: Become Human (PS4)
JUL - Super Mario Odyssey: Credits Roll (Switch)

A new 3D Mario game is a special thing. We've never been let down, and this is one of the funnest times I've ever had in gaming. Just under 30 hours and about 280 moons means I'm far from finished with this game, I imagine I'll be playing it for some time to come. But everything about it just oozes Nintendo charm, god they want you to have a good time. One of the all time classics. I could go on for ages about why I loved it, but if you've played it then you know.

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Combine Hunter
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by Combine Hunter » July 31st, 2019, 9:03 pm

Spoiler: show
15/02 - Resident Evil 2 (PS4)
17/02 - Final Fantasy VIII (PS Vita)
18/02 - FAR: Lone Sails (PC)
14/04 - Final Fantasy IX (PS Vita)
28/04 - Assassin's Creed: Odyssey (PC)
09/05 - Devil May Cry 5 (PC)
11/05 - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (PC)
26/05 - Observation (PC)
04/06 - Katana Zero (Switch)
29/06 - Dino Crisis (PS3)
13/07 - Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (PS4)
31/07 - Outer Wilds (PC)

Pretty incredible. A must play.

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clippa
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by clippa » August 4th, 2019, 12:56 pm

Flying through the curious expedition like a greasy falcon now.
Boom! Five golden frames. Count them - https://i.imgur.com/Moa5nsH.jpg

Made a rookie mistake the other night, setting off a celestial shrine well before I'd found the last portal thingy and having to watch it eat half the effing map - https://i.imgur.com/cVLCcxz.jpg

You live and learn.

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MajorGamer
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by MajorGamer » August 4th, 2019, 6:46 pm

Spoiler: show
Jan 2 - War for the Overworld (PC)
Jan 13 - Pyre (PC)
Jan 16 - Heroes of Hammerwatch (PC)
Jan 17 - Mega Man 11 (Switch)
Jan 20 - ReThink | Evolved (PC)
Jan 20 - Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch)
Jan 22 - Ruzar - The Life Stone (PC)
Jan 27 - After Death (PC)
Feb 6 - Vikings - Wolves of Midgard (PC)
Feb 21 - Loyalty and Blood: Viktor Origins (PC)

Feb 27 - Book of Demons (PC)
Mar 4 - Vaporum (PC)
Mar 5 - Frost (Switch)
Mar 9 - DarkMaus (PC)
Mar 10 - Octopath Traveler (Switch)
Mar 31 - Final Fantasy X (PC)
Apr 5 - Treasure Adventure World (PC)
Apr 15 - Greedy Guns (PC)
Apr 23 - ChromaGun (PC)
Apr 27 - The Quest (PC)

May 1 - Skautfold: Usurper (PC)
May 7 - Alwa's Awakening (PC)
May 9 - OneShot (PC)
May 13 - Darkest Dungeon: Ancestral Edition (Switch)
May 27 - Warhammer: Vermintide 2 (PC)
May 29 - Styx: Shards of Darkness (PC)
Jun 5 - The Fall of the Dungeon Guardians (PC)
Jun 5 - Monster Boy and The Cursed Kingdom (Switch)
Jun 11 - Yoku's Island Express (Switch)
Jun 17 - LISA (PC)

Jun 18 - Heroes of the Monkey Tavern (PC)
Jun 24 - Halcyon 6 (PC)
Jun 29 - Fox n Forests (PC)
Jul 4 - Battle Princess Madelyn (Switch)
Jul 14 - Dustforce (PC)
Jul 26 - Ambition of the Slimes (Switch)
July 29 - Final Fantasy X-2 (PC)

After FFX, I wondered what narrative reason could there be to justify a direct sequel. After beating the game, that question remained unanswered. It probably doesn't help that the game is almost entirely side quests so the main quest only has a couple story beats and that's it.

The combat is back to ATB and it goes nice and fast which is a bonus from the previous few FF games. The Sphere Grid is gone for a regular leveling system and added are jobs (called Dresspheres) that are swappable in combat. It makes for a bit of flexibility even if you never really need to switch jobs in combat (plus the first time it is done comes with an overly long transformation cutscene). As a side effect of this game being almost entirely side quests, going for 100% story makes you ridiculously overleveled for the main stuff. For the final boss, everyone had 5k HP and it was doing under 100 a hit most of the time. I took out every form without healing once; it was pretty pathetic.

To get that aforementioned 100%, a guide is mandatory. I haven't seen a game this bad since 90's point and clicks. There are just so many arbitrary events that count towards it (and thus the good ending) that you are bound to miss many. Not to mention some are locked behind multiple choice answers and if you pick wrong, tough. There is even one where you need to deliberately fail a part of a mini-game three times to trigger something hours away. While not for the story, there is a job that requires you to respond to 14 people when you have a choice of three options. Choose wrong? You can't get it anymore and there is a sizeable gap from when you speak to those people and when you get it. Not helped in all this is that the world is almost identical to that in FFX (at least you start with the airship) and you need to go through it all four times to do everything.

Side Final Fantasy rant: Why do almost all of their super bosses suck? The one in FF3 DS only has a single attack that does a ton of damage and it does it four times per round. Grind enough to live the attack and you've won. FF4 DS ones were actually decent. Never touched the ones in FF7 or FF8. FF9 you can go in perfectly prepared and it still has a chance to one-shot your entire party. FFX has them all do 9999 damage or more so every guide's first line of preparation for them is to max the sphere grid (let's not). Then we have FFX-2 which is why I'm typing this. They were okay until I hit one that has a full party kill where only a single ability in the entire game can null it. This ability doesn't have a 100% uptime so nothing is stopping it from being able to get in that ability between your own casts, killing you anyway. I haven't gotten to it yet but I know FF12's one is literally hours long so that is a hard pass.

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James
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by James » August 5th, 2019, 9:44 am

Spoiler: show
1st Jan - Virginia (Xbox One)
13th Jan - Gravity Rush 2 (PS4)
27th Jan - Mortal Kombat (Vita)
3rd Feb - Mortal Kombat X (Xbox One)
18th Feb - Crackdown 3 (Xbox One)
12th Mar - Dark Souls 3: Ashes Of Ariandel (Xbox One)
17th Mar - Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City (Xbox One)
6th May - Guildmaster Story (iOS)
15th May - Mortal Kombat 11 (PS4)
22nd May - Mortal Kombat 11 (PS4) (Platinum Trophy)
27th May - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (Xbox One)
2nd Jun - Sekiro: SDT (Xbox One) (1000G)
6th Jun - Astro Bot: Rescue Mission (PSVR)
13th Jun - Furi (PS4)
18th Jun - Blood & Truth (PSVR)
21st Jun - Watch Dogs 2 (PS4)
25th Jun - Burly Men At Sea (PS4)
25th Jun - Hatoful Boyfriend (PS4)
26th Jun - Batman: The Telltale Series (PS4)
8th Jul - Sunset (PC)
18th Jul - NieR: Automata (PS4) (Ending A)
21st Jul - Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)
24th Jul - Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order (Switch)
4th Aug - Tetris Effect (PS4/PSVR)

I should've know how much I'd enjoy this. 'Tetris made by Rez devs' is pretty reductive, but also sounds like exactly my sort of thing. And it really was!

I played through the Journey mode on 'Normal' difficulty, and was resolutely reminded that I have little-to-no ability when it comes to Tetris. I had to retry stages on all but the first Area, and completely came unstuck when the speed got up. Sadly, I had no idea the Zone system existed until the final Area, after dezm0nd pointed out that I might've (and had) missed that. My own fault for skipping the tutorial!

Last night, at silly o'clock, the final, single-stage Area was absolutely smoking me. For the most part, I could consistently reach 60 lines of the 90 lines needed to clear, but after dozens of attempts I had only once managed to reach 80 lines, and that felt like complete luck. I made the inexcusable, Mat-Murray-esque decision to drop the difficulty so that I could see the end. And I kinda regret having done so, to be honest.

I'm going to be playing plenty more Tetris Effect; I think with practice I might be able to clear that final stage on Normal, but even if I don't this is hands down on of my favourite games of last year. :D

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Chopper
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by Chopper » August 5th, 2019, 11:47 am

I got stuck on that very last stage on Normal too, very annoying! :lol:

@Scrustle - any plans to tackle Prey again, now that you've been through the Bioshocks once more?

I have finished Eastshade (PC), a rather pleasant adventure game where you play a painter shipwrecked on an island where the people are deer, monkeys, bears etc. The game consists of gentle puzzles which you mostly solve by painting the correct landscape. Decent.

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Flabyo
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by Flabyo » August 5th, 2019, 1:41 pm

Flabyo wrote:
July 30th, 2019, 7:11 pm
5th Jan - Rise of the Tomb Raider (XBO)
1st Feb - Doom (2016) (XBO)
20th Feb - Crackdown 3: Campaign (XBO)
25th Mar - Bound (PS4)
30th Mar - Shadow of the Tomb Raider (XBO)
29th April - Mortal Kombat 11 Story Mode (PS4)
17th May - Middle Earth: Shadow of War (XBO)
25th May - Wolfenstein 2 (XBO)
28th May - Tacoma (XBO)
12th July - Metro 2033 Redux (XBO)
23rd July - Timespinner (XBO)
30th July - Shadow Warrior 2 (XBO)
2nd August - INSIDE (XBO)

That’s quite a thing isn’t it? I’m not sure I found it quite as revelatory or life changing as others have, but it’s definitely a good game.

It’s on gamepass. Go play it.

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Scrustle
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by Scrustle » August 5th, 2019, 7:18 pm

Spoiler: show
25/01 - Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes
31/01 - Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas
01/02 - SOMA (Safe Mode)
09/02 - Shadow Warrior
18/02 - Mulaka
26/02 - NieR: Automata - 3C3C1D119440927 DLC
02/03 - Race Driver: GRID
04/03 - Bladed Fury
10/03 - Devil May Cry 5 (Devil Hunter)
13/03 - AER: Memories of Old
17/03 - Devil May Cry 5 (Son of Sparda)
20/03 - Devil May Cry 5 (Human)
05/04 - God of War III Remastered
12/04 - Devil May Cry 5 (Dante Must Die)
14/04 - Journey
15/04 - ABZU
22/04 - Journey
28/04 - Lost Planet: Extreme Condition - Colonies Edition
30/04 - Dangerous Driving
02/05 - Final Fantasy XV - Episode Gladiolus/Episode Prompto/Episode Ignis
12/05 - The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings - Enhanced Edition
21/05 - RiME
22/05 - Remember Me
20/06 - Bioshock
08/07 - Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2
11/07 - Bioshock 2
25/07 - Inside
05/08 - Bioshock Infinite

So, Bioshock Infinite. Quite the pickle of a game. Always was, still is. I think my opinion of it has gone down through this run, but I still don't dislike it. I'm not sure I can so easily say I like it either. It's far too much of a complicated mess to say anything so conclusive. There are still parts of it that are brilliant and breathtaking. But also other parts that are a confused mess, and the general structure of the game being something much less interesting and ambitious than what came before. Yet even trying to ignore the series' legacy and judging it on its own terms, it's got a load of problems.

Opening hours are still amazing, perhaps even the best in the series. The way they introduce you to the world and the way they pace things and the scenes they create are beautiful, with potent imagery, both brilliant and grotesque. It creates this really immersive depiction of a world that is both, well, heavenly, but also disturbing and repulsive. While it's easy to get pulled in by the gorgeous sights to begin with, it quickly becomes unnerving as you realise how horrible this society really is, while still managing to be quite stunning. As I'm sure was the intent. But unfortunately these early impressions create a setup for something that is completely fails at following through with, but I'll get to that later.

Aesthetically it is still really impressive too. The detail in all the environments is amazing. The architecture and set design is top notch, and the way it all blends together with the lighting, atmospheric effects, and sound design makes for a really tangible feeling world where it feels like around every corner is a scene right out of the concept art, and they knew exactly how to evoke a certain feeling out of an area just from being in it. The best stuff is again near the first third or so of the game, but it still keeps up a really high standard throughout. And the soundtrack is really good too. The covers of modern songs done in the contemporary style is a stroke of genius that adds a really unique flavour to the world.

But then there are so many things that miss the mark by varying degrees that damage the experience a lot in the end. As I talked about before, when it comes to game design and structure, this game feels like it's stuck between two design philosophies, both of which feel half-baked, and both of which clash against each other. The change to a more linear style of game, and all the other mechanics it picked from other games, feels like it was done without knowing why those things were popular in the first place, and just feel like unnecessary limitations here. Then carrying over the things from the old Bioshock games which are damaged by these new elements, and feel vestigial and disappointing. The linear levels and slow run speed make the exploration of levels feel sluggish and tedious, especially in sections where you have to backtrack. That slowness and the very artificial feeling arenas built for combat make fighting feel like a clunky chore too. The relative lack of combat serves to highlight the poor exploration even more. The Vigors feel less creative and expansive than in previous games, with a lot of application redundancies. Using them as traps is completely pointless. Limiting to you only carrying two guns, and then making it so there are two versions of every gun, makes upgrading them feel like a pointless waste of resources. And the limit in the first place feels unnecessary, as you can already swap between two Vigors while also having access to all of them at the same time. Why not weapons? Enemy variety is poor, with the Motorised Patriot and Handymen being poor replacements to the Big Daddies, although I do think the former is pretty cool on a conceptual level. Songbird feels very underutilised, and is disappointing in that respect, but partially because it's actually fantastically designed, feeling really threatening and impressive, and even somewhat sympathetic, in the very short and scripted segments it does appear. Gunplay itself I suppose was competent, but everything else around it was either poor or disappointing in its failure to reach potential.

And the story, oh boy. I mean, I didn't totally hate it. Some stuff I still liked. But there's definitely a lot wrong with it. Yet at the same time, some of the more scathing criticisms I've heard, either I don't agree with at all, or in other cases perhaps I can see where they're coming from, but can't really understand how viciously they were applied. As I said, the opening hours are really good. The introduction to the world, to Elizabeth, and to a lot of the sci-fi and mystery elements are really well done. The setup for where it looks like it's going with the story in terms of its depiction of racism is pretty compelling and powerful. I don't agree that them merely showing a horribly racist society is bad in itself. But that doesn't excuse it at all from not following up on that properly. It drops the ball so hard, but I am inclined to believe that was done mistakenly. A very dumb, ill-considered, clumsy, and uninformed mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. It definitely doesn't feel like it's trying to portray this society as anything other than terrible. But what definitely does deserve a lot of criticism is how they portray Fitzroy and the Vox Populi. They fall back on the terrible and ignorant trope of showing the oppressed being just as bad as the oppressor once they manage to fight back. And it has zero examination of anarchism as an ideology that could be pointed to as at least an attempt to justify that sudden heel-turn. It's merely just going with the empty cliche that anarchism is a synonym for chaos and aimless violence. Both Booker and Elizabeth are even talking about how she's just as bad as Comstock before she's done anything of the sort. It ends up somewhat confirming Comstock's own propaganda towards Fitzroy and the Vox. But even with all that said, I don't find it to be enragingly offensive. It feels like it's done through thoughtlessness, not malice. It's trying to say "violence breed violence", or that it doesn't matter whoever is in charge, giving someone power will lead to them violently oppressing others. The problem is that it doesn't realise what's wrong with saying all violence is equal, and is making really bad assumptions about why people feel the need to resort to violence. Obviously these things are still pretty bad, but it doesn't feel like to me that it invokes the same kind of reaction as a straightforwardly racist piece of media would.

Although with all that said, I am aware I'm coming at this from a certain perspective. I try to be aware of these sorts of issues, and be sympathetic and understanding to them. But my perspective is still one that comes from a place of privilege and relative ignorance on these matters. I suppose I can see why someone with more of a first-hand experience with this stuff might have a justifiably stronger reaction. And it could also be argued that even if the game isn't outwardly trying to send a racist message, it is a case of unconscious systemic racism that is emergent through its uncritical use of certain tropes.

But there's still a lot more to get through! Once you do get to the area where the Vox Populi are introduced, that is when the pacing of the story starts to falter too, and the focus starts feeling like it's meandering and not really sure where it's trying to go. This is also when the gameplay problems start becoming noticeable too, making it even worse. After you deal with that section, the Vox stick around as normal enemies too, feeling like it's dropping another ball as their role in the story is more or less done, yet they still want to murder you on sight for the rest of the game. And up until near the end of the game, it's not really clear why you're going where you're going, and it seems to have totally dropped any attempt at ideological critique. The part where you go to the future where Elizabeth gets broken and turned in to what Comstock wanted her to be actually had some impact to it though, and is genuinely horrifying, but it's over far too quickly to really feel like it could fulfil its potential, and I've never really been that convinced that a fleet of 1910s airships firing primitive mortar volleys would stand a chance against a 1980s New York that would have been defended by the most technologically advanced military in the world at the height of the Cold War arms race. But I do still think the central mystery and the way they did alternate universes was pretty good. While the twist isn't as good as the one in the first game by a long shot, it still had a good lead-up that dropped hints satisfyingly, and made good on them in the end. And the final sequence where they pull back the curtain is still very impressive, and feels more similar to the opening in terms of how great the presentation is. This reveal is another thing that I've heard get torn to shreds, but I can't agree at all. It follows its own rules well enough, and it feels like an impressive expansion of scope that blows the whole setting wide open. It doesn't pretend that killing Booker at the baptism is the only thing that needs to be done. Even as they're doing it, they mention how there are infinite other Comstocks to "snuff out in the crib", and the one we're seeing is just the first. Just the one closing off this one plot thread we've spent the game building towards. And I feel like some of the criticism about this moment aren't really being very charitable. Putting it on the same level as "it was all a dream", which it doesn't feel like at all. And it's also kind of a self-defeating criticism too. Because, sure, while technically having infinite universes means that no single one is important and nothing you do actually "matters", it is also true that the Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant from Adventure Time could have barged its way in to every universe in existence and murdered every single character in the game before they were even born too. Taking it to the logical extreme feels like it's not giving it the benefit of the doubt or coming at it on its own level. It's like the same sort of thing as asking why they didn't just ride the giant eagles to Mt. Doom.

And well, that's that. A messy convoluted dump of thoughts for a messy convoluted game. A disappointing end to the series that didn't stand up well to a more experienced eye, but which still had the ability to deeply stir my emotions in some ways like it always did. I plan to play the Burial at Sea DLC as well next. I was never particularly fond of this the first time round, so I doubt I'll be that excited by it this time either. But it's the last thing left, so I'll do it.

EDIT: Thoughts on Burial at Sea here.
Chopper wrote:
August 5th, 2019, 11:47 am
@Scrustle - any plans to tackle Prey again, now that you've been through the Bioshocks once more?
I don't plan to, unfortunately. I already gave it multiple shots, and tried hard to get in to it, but it just didn't happen. Drove me up the wall, and any magic it did have wore off on me a long time ago. I've always been very disappointed about that, because I always really wanted to like it. Maybe one day. Although I have been somewhat considering giving the original Prey another look, as to catch up with the podcast.

Maybe I'll look in to the Dishonored games though. I did try the first a long time ago and didn't care for it, but I barely played any of it. Might react differently now.

Also I happen to be playing Eastshade myself! Just started it today, and very much enjoying it.

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Chopper
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by Chopper » August 6th, 2019, 8:14 am

Scrustle wrote:
August 5th, 2019, 7:18 pm
Chopper wrote:
August 5th, 2019, 11:47 am
@Scrustle - any plans to tackle Prey again, now that you've been through the Bioshocks once more?
I don't plan to, unfortunately. I already gave it multiple shots, and tried hard to get in to it, but it just didn't happen. Drove me up the wall, and any magic it did have wore off on me a long time ago. I've always been very disappointed about that, because I always really wanted to like it. Maybe one day.
Ah well; que sera, sera.
Maybe I'll look in to the Dishonored games though. I did try the first a long time ago and didn't care for it, but I barely played any of it. Might react differently now.
It might be worth going straight to the second one. I also am not a fan, but the second one is pretty spectacular in terms of environments and design compared to the first. However, the enemies seem to be more aggressive, so I found it hard to hit the precise level of stealthiness that the designers seemed to be aiming for. It's possible to be amazed by #2 even if it still doesn't click, which was my experience.
Also I happen to be playing Eastshade myself! Just started it today, and very much enjoying it.
It's just lovely :) Was thinking about it overnight and regret not finishing all the quests (I left three or four minor sidequests unfinished). I enjoyed your breakdown of Bioshock Infinite above, so looking forward to your thoughts on Eastshade. I was pretty perfunctory myself because I thought, no one here's going to play/be interested in this.

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Sinclair Gregstrum
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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by Sinclair Gregstrum » August 7th, 2019, 1:02 pm

Jan - Streets Of Rage 2 - (Switch)
Jan - Detroit: Become Human (PS4 Pro)
Feb - Quarantine Circular (Switch)
Feb - Yoku’s Island Express (Switch)
Feb - Shenmue (PS4 Pro)
Mar - Rise of the Tomb Raider (XOX)
Apr - Gunstar Heroes (Switch)
May - Street Fighter 5 (PS4 Pro)
Jun - The Division 2 (XOX)
Jul - Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Switch)

Aug – Burning Rangers (Saturn)

Burning Rangers is a very late Saturn game from June 1998, sandwiched just a few weeks after Panzer Dragoon Saga and a few weeks before the very last European Saturn release, Deep Fear. It was developed by Sonic Team, who at the time were one of Sega’s crown jewels and still under the stewardship of Yuji Naka.

The game is a fully 3D third-person action title with an anime/sci-fi aesthetic, with the player taking on the role of a rookie Burning Ranger (basically a futuristic firefighter!) on missions to put out fires and rescue as many survivors as you can in as fast a time as possible. The game has a classic graded ranking system akin to Sonic Team’s previous game NiGHTS Into Dreams to judge your efforts, and in total there are four missions, with the whole game beatable in just a 3-4 hours if you know what you’re doing.

I’ve owned Burning Rangers since release, and as a die-hard Saturn guy until the bitter end, I was pretty excited about the game to say the least. It was slim pickings back then, and the promise of a new fully 3D action game from the creators of Sonic and Nights was more than enough to get a starved Saturn fan going! The game looked stunning in screenshots, with beautiful lighting effects, open 3D environments, and layered transparencies of the like believed almost impossible for the Saturn’s obtuse hardware to produce. There was also an awareness that these were the end-times for the console and getting hold of a copy might tricky, so I was all over it like a rash come release week (decent condition PAL copies go for £100 - £200 these days!).

Despite this excitement, Burning Rangers was something of a disappointment at the time for me. I found the whole thing quite hard to control, even with the Saturn’s analogue 3D pad which the game fully supports. You spend as much time in the air hovering and being propelled by jet boots as you do on the ground running around, and trying to traverse the environments and find survivors while putting out fires and trying not to get blown up, just wasn’t that fun. So I put the game down around mission 3, and never really went back for a long time. I have dipped in and out of the game over the years and found it much more approachable, but I still hadn’t seen it through. So when I decided I wanted to play something from my Saturn collection that I’d not completed before, Burning Rangers was top of the list!

First the good stuff – in some ways Burning Rangers is one of the Saturn’s most graphically impressive games. The fully 3D environments, the lighting, the transparencies, the steady frame rate, and the slick character animations - it’s a pretty game by the 32-bit standard of the day. The anime cutscenes are also really well done, and show off the art direction of the world and characters nicely. Grainy by today’s standards, sure, but well done all the same.

The sound is also particularly notable. There is no map of any sort to guide you around the areas in Burning Rangers, but instead there is a nifty voice navigation system where you can call on the ops lady back at base, and she’ll know where you are in the level and where you should be going next. It’s a very clever and accurate system, and something I’ve not really seen done before or since. The game also hosts one of the quintessential, peak 90s Sega soundtracks. Take rock, jazz, and hip hop beats, and mash them together with shamelessly enthusiastic and cheesy vocals, and you’ve got yourself an absolute winner!

The gameplay is…fine, to a point. The central loop of putting out fires, hunting down survivors, watching out for explosions and falling structures – it’s all ok. When it clicks and you’re not struggling to see what they hell’s going on it’s really quite fun in fact, but sadly the stars don’t align for that to happen too often, certainly in the second half of the game. The camera is, as is so often the case with 3D games of that generation, a stinker at times. It really requires constant manual tweaking to get it pointing in the right direction, and far too often you find yourself looking in entirely the wrong direction while getting blasted by an unseen explosion. Bad times.

Sadly this is just one of the technical issues that lets the game down, with the aforementioned impressive graphics proving a real double-edged sword. Yes they look lovely at times, but they are also incredibly unstable. Wobbly, fractured polygons were common back then, but even by the standards of the day Burning Rangers really struggles to hold together, with big chunks of the environment clipping in and out all over the place and making traversal a real guessing game. Mission 4 in particular, which has some of the largest and most ambitious environments, becomes barely playable at points (the swimming section in particular is horrendous!). Now the Saturn was never the strongest with 3D, but equally it proved itself a perfectly capable machine in the hands of the right developer. Sonic Team certainly weren’t lacking talent, so given the late nature of the game it feels that this might be a case of rushing to get it out and not enough time spent on polish and optimization. A real shame, as it’s huge black mark against what could and should be a top-tier Saturn exclusive.

So Burning Rangers is a mixed bag. It is enjoyable and impressive at times, but the high price tag of a PAL copy (or indeed a US NTSC one) makes it hard to recommend for all but the most committed Saturn gamer. That said, the IP has never been heard from again and the game was never released on any other platform, so if you’re really into your Sega curios this AAA Sonic Team Saturn exclusive should definitely be on your list!

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Re: Games Completed 2019

Post by MajorGamer » August 8th, 2019, 4:15 am

Spoiler: show
Jan 2 - War for the Overworld (PC)
Jan 13 - Pyre (PC)
Jan 16 - Heroes of Hammerwatch (PC)
Jan 17 - Mega Man 11 (Switch)
Jan 20 - ReThink | Evolved (PC)
Jan 20 - Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch)
Jan 22 - Ruzar - The Life Stone (PC)
Jan 27 - After Death (PC)
Feb 6 - Vikings - Wolves of Midgard (PC)
Feb 21 - Loyalty and Blood: Viktor Origins (PC)

Feb 27 - Book of Demons (PC)
Mar 4 - Vaporum (PC)
Mar 5 - Frost (Switch)
Mar 9 - DarkMaus (PC)
Mar 10 - Octopath Traveler (Switch)
Mar 31 - Final Fantasy X (PC)
Apr 5 - Treasure Adventure World (PC)
Apr 15 - Greedy Guns (PC)
Apr 23 - ChromaGun (PC)
Apr 27 - The Quest (PC)

May 1 - Skautfold: Usurper (PC)
May 7 - Alwa's Awakening (PC)
May 9 - OneShot (PC)
May 13 - Darkest Dungeon: Ancestral Edition (Switch)
May 27 - Warhammer: Vermintide 2 (PC)
May 29 - Styx: Shards of Darkness (PC)
Jun 5 - The Fall of the Dungeon Guardians (PC)
Jun 5 - Monster Boy and The Cursed Kingdom (Switch)
Jun 11 - Yoku's Island Express (Switch)
Jun 17 - LISA (PC)

Jun 18 - Heroes of the Monkey Tavern (PC)
Jun 24 - Halcyon 6 (PC)
Jun 29 - Fox n Forests (PC)
Jul 4 - Battle Princess Madelyn (Switch)
Jul 14 - Dustforce (PC)
Jul 26 - Ambition of the Slimes (Switch)
July 29 - Final Fantasy X-2 (PC)
July 31 - Epistory - Typing Chronicles (PC)

A neat little typing game that is no pushover and has more to it than I was expecting. Enemies often take multiple typed words to kill and a single touch will kill you. You get elemental powers to aid you that help out. For example, fire will slowly burn the next word of the enemy and ice will freeze them in place for a bit. You need to juggle your powers (they need to be typed in to swap) and the enemies to successfully clear things out. I type at 90-100 wpm and still died a few times.
You also get to explore and do some minor puzzles along the way between those enemy encounters. They are developing another game like this that I'll be keeping my eye on.

Aug 2 - Moonlighter (Switch)

This revolves around two different systems and I wouldn't call either great. First is the shop part where you sell what you find. That's about it. You set the price of goods and there are low/high demand for items but with no time pressure, there is no reason to try and maximize what you get. Instead you can just go for the average on everything and be fine. Even then, by the time you are in the middle-end of the game you can earn enough in a single day to purchase some of the best gear yourself.

On to the dungeons. They are also fairly basic. The original flash version of Binding of Isaac had better designed rooms, enemies, and attacks. There are a few different weapons you can use but none particularly stand out and it does the standard armor thing with lighter armor with better movement vs heavier armor while being slower. There's some inventory management to be done but it doesn't add much. Some items will do things to items in a certain direction in your inventory, some good, some bad. Good ones can be used to earn more money when selling and bad ones can be placed so their affect does nothing.

Ultimately, the game is fine but I wish there was more to it. Recettear is still my top shop/dungeon game.

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