The Last of Us Remastered

I had the original game on PS3 and never managed to play more than about 4 hours or so. I kept telling myself that I’d go back and play more, but as much as I loved the Uncharted series, this game just didn’t really speak to me — I wasn’t really into the drab post-apocalyptic city setting, or playing a zombie game. And so that was that, and I sorta forgot about it. But it’s a game that kept getting mentioned all the time as a classic, which happened even more once they officially announced the sequel. I kept telling myself I should try revisiting it, and eventually picked up the Remastered edition on PS4 during a sale. But again, I had a hard time pushing myself to play it. I don’t know what got over me last week, but I finally decided to give it a go, and wow, I’m sure glad I did. I ended up playing through it in about 3 sittings, a couple of them being 5+ hour sessions. I did need to get through more than half of the game before I really got sucked in — pretty much around the time you skip from summer to fall — but from then on I was absolutely hooked (I especially loved the winter period). What I especially liked in the second half is that it started feeling less like a zombie game, and more like a story about these two people encountering various challenges — and the fact that the outdoor setting started becoming so varied was very welcomed as well. I do feel a bit uncomfortable about how things ended — I don’t support at all Joel’s decision, or the way he handles it (by killing everyone around him) — but it doesn’t take away from the rest of the enjoyment I had for the game. I do plan on playing the sequel, and just hope it’s not just the killfest we’ve seen so far.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

Just played through this in one sitting, and thought it was fantastic. I liked Life Is Strange as well, even though I’m only on episode 3 of that (and I really do need to get back to it to play the rest), but I think I preferred this. Just a great little self-contained experience, with a wonderful “feel,” and really beautiful environments (like that opening scene with the Sufjan Stevens song playing). The only thing I thought was lame was the phone unlock puzzle — it’s the only one I couldn’t solve, and when I looked it up online, realized that there’s no way I would have solved that, and it makes no sense narratively. But it doesn’t change that I loved playing this, and I can’t recommend it enough — and hey, it’s free.

God of War

Although I’d had a lot of fun playing the series in the past, I wouldn’t consider myself a huge fan. I didn’t play the last game that came out, and wasn’t particularly excited for this new entry. But then all the crazy good buzz started filling my timeline just ahead of its release, and that got me excited to play it. I finally got the chance (I managed to snag a copy from our studio’s lending library), and after having played the first 4 hours last night, I definitely see what all the fuss is about — and I’m sure I haven’t even touched the best parts yet. But even from what I’ve played, you can tell that this is a special game, and although it still paints itself as a God of War game, it’s a beautiful evolution, with a more mature story, that comes with more interesting storytelling, and more of an “adventure” feel — meaning more exploration (here in the form of puzzle sequences), and not just a series of battles (which is what the old games felt like, even if some of those battles were truly spectacular and fun to take in). I’m also digging the RPG elements, like skill upgrades and weapon improvements, which is good incentive to try and pick up any and all resources available. Definitely looking forward to playing more.

Florence

I finally played Florence this morning, and yeah, as everyone has been saying, this is such a wonderful little game. It feels more like an interactive story/comic than a game, but whatever you call it, it’s a joy to take in, with superb visuals, storytelling, and music. Certainly one of the best mobile game experiences out there.

Rainbow Six Siege

I joked recently that I was Clancy’s bitch, and it really does feel like that. So yes, on top of recently revisiting Ghost Recon Wildlands, and then currently playing The Division, I’ve also started getting into Rainbow Six Siege. My history with the Rainbow games is that I was a huge fan of the two Vegas games — in fact, I considered them to be my favorite FPS games, as I loved the mixing in of tactics in a shooter (instead of straight run and gun). At the time, I was really into Clancy games (the Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter games, and Splinter Cell too), but Vegas, especially the first one, was tops for me. I also loved the “Terrorist Hunt” mode, playing it with friends (in split-screen). So Siege comes out over two years ago, and I didn’t really bite because I didn’t think I’d be into a multiplayer-first Rainbow game. But as we all know, the popularity of the game has grown, and I figured it was about time I dipped my toes back in. What I’ve discovered is a game that still has the fun co-op terrorist hunts, and over the past week I’ve been having a blast playing  the new Oubreak mode, which reminds me so much of Left 4 Dead (another game I loved). I’ve even joined a team at work to play in the studio’s gaming league, and so yeah, I’m having a blast playing this. Interestingly, I think the other aspect I’m attracted to is that all of the operators (the character/class you pick when you play) are basically the equivalent of G.I. Joe characters, and G.I. Joe was my favorite toy as a kid (and the Larry Hama-written comic too, which I still read to this day).

Ghost Recon Wildlands

As I mentioned in my post about The Division, I’ve been going back and finishing games recently, and another title I revisited was Ghost Recon Wildlands. This was a game I really was enjoying when I first played it a year ago upon release, and the only reason I veered off it was because of too many games to play at the time (i.e. the release of the Switch). I kept meaning to go back to finish it, and that’s something I finally did recently. Getting back into it, I was again having a blast — the gameplay reminds me so much of Mercenaries 2, a game I really loved. I only did the easy ending (not killing all of the subordinates), and I think I still want to play more and get the full ending (but my current The Division obsession is preventing me from doing that).

The Division

This is the second time I write about playing The Division. The first time was two years ago, when I picked up the game upon release. At the time, I liked it, but was finding it hard to play solo, and although I did play at least 10 hours or so (maybe more), I ended up stopping after a while, only reaching level 16. Recently, I’ve been in a mood to revisit old games that I haven’t finished, and I decided I’d revisit this and see if it would grab me a bit more. Well, that was about a week or two ago, and I’ve now played well over 60 hours, and I can’t stop. I don’t know what happened this time — maybe it was all of the updates they’ve done over the past two years — but I’m having such a great time playing it now, and even after finishing up all the story missions, I’m still having fun progressing in the end game (currently at “World Tier 2”). I do wish I had some friends still playing this to do more multiplayer with, but I’m managing to do fine by soloing, while using matchmaking occasionally for big missions. I haven’t gone this deep into a game since the first Destiny, and I’m curious to see if I’ll end up beating the time I put into that game. The only thing making me feel slightly bad is that there are still other games I want to go and play (and finish), and this is getting in the way.

Star Wars Battlefront II

Multiplayer and loot boxes aside, what excited me about Battlefront II was that they were including a proper story campaign, and that’s what I wanted to take in. I played through that campaign back in January, and although at first I was a bit disappointed by the relatively quick turn of the main character to the rebel side (I thought that playing as someone on the Empire side felt novel and interesting), I’d say I had a pretty good time playing through it. The combat is what it is — I don’t hate it, but I’m not particularly drawn to it — but I thought they managed to tell an enjoyable story that takes place during that time period, and I also liked the story DLC that was released after that pushed things forward much more in the timeline.

Thumper

Not only have I been wanting to play Thumper for a while (yes, a recurring theme in the posts I’m writing today), but I wanted to play it even more after I watched a GDC talk by one of the creators (a post-mortem on the game’s creation). I figured it was something I’d pick up for Switch, but I ended up getting it on PS4 during a sale instead — as much as I like playing games on the Switch, the fact that I like to experience as many games as possible means I need to be a bit thrifty on my purchases, to maximize what I can justify buying (and I’m already pretty lucky that I can rent most AAA releases from our studio’s gaming library). But yeah, Thumper, fantastic visuals, really cool soundtrack — which is of course important for a rhythm game — and I’m glad I’m playing it. It’s surprising how difficult it can get considering the limited number of interactions you tend to do while playing, but that’s part of the genius of the design. I’m in no hurry to finish it, and enjoy going in every once in a while for a few runs.

Pyre

I love both of Supergiant’s previous games, Bastion and Transistor, and so that alone should have made me want to jump in right away on a new game from them. And although I knew I’d eventually give Pyre a go, the fact that most of the gameplay revolves around a fantasy sport did turn me off a bit — sports video games are definitely not a genre I tend to spend time on. But having played an hour or so, the strong narrative does make it feel like a Supergiant game, and the sports part is enjoyable enough that I want to keep playing. I’m not completely sold on it yet, but enough to want to see how complex things get.