Friday, January 06, 2017

2016, Exit Stage Left

Like I did in 2016, I want to get some thoughts down about last year before this one is in double digits. Looking back, I see that I created, but didn't publish, nearly as many posts as I did put out onto the "blogosphere". It was a tough year in a number of ways, and honestly, there are things that I wrote about (and didn't) that I don't want to bring up again.

But fortunately for you, dear reader, there are somethings that bear repeating:

I started off the year "whining" about buying too many games and not playing, let alone finishing, them. So, I made the "bold" (read, "idiotic") conviction that I would not buy anymore games in 2016!

And that lasted about two weeks. If that.

Well, maybe I at least got out of buying them right when they were released at almost full price. Most of the time. There were exceptions.

One thing I did do that was sort of along these lines was, as the end of the year approached, I collected a list of new and recently released games, and watched the Black Friday sales to pick them up at the best prices. (Many thanks to Cheap Ass Gamer and Wario64 twitter channels for me being able to do this.) In the end I bought an embarrassingly large pile of games, a picture of which I will share with you at the end of this blog.

Other items of note:

  • I'm not sure how it happened, but my biggest accomplishment gaming-wise this year never got a published blog post - I actually finished an open-world game, Fallout 4! They've always been so easy for me to get lost in. I looked back and it seems I almost completed it (I had put in the screenshots I wanted to add), but I guess I never got all the words in there I wanted. Maybe this was partly due to a desire to write a more fictionalized account and less of a very amateurish review. When I played Fallout 3, I created blog posts for the main character because she had gotten into my thoughts so deeply. Sadly, that immersion level never clicked with F4, but it was a great game anyway. I still have at least one DLC pack that I want to play before I delete it from my PC.

  • My Twitch streaming "career" kind of fell apart in 2016. After getting all my consoles stream-ready and even attending TwitchCon, I had an overwhelming feeling that I was just wasting my time; time that could be better spent just playing. So, I abandoned (but not deleted) my Twitch channel, disconnected the Elgato, and just played games, occasionally saving gameplay videos when I remembered to. I'm not sure if this will change any in 2017, but I do feel the desire to stream every so often. If the next TwitchCon is also in San Diego, I'm going to feel very compelled to try it again.

  • Last year I started using Limbo as a quick "go to" video game fix. I can play it on Xbox, PlayStation, Vita, and iPad so it's always within easy reach. I like to think of it as my Mario Bros game - I can play it anytime and enjoy myself.

  • Of all the consoles I've owned, I regret getting the PSP the most, followed by the WiiU. While the PSP is stored away in a drawer somewhere, the WiiU is still out and plugged in. It's the only system I don't have a backup for - if it dies, everything else ends up on eBay. Considering how much I love Nintendo games, that's really a shame. I only got it because there were some games I thought I'd only be able to play there. And while that's true for the Nintendo branded titles, more of the few third party games are showing up on other systems. This last year I got Zombi (the non-WiiU version of ZombiU) for free on my PlayStation Plus subscription. That had been the main game I wanted the WiiU for. Just before 2016 ended, I heard that Lego City Undercover is coming to PS4 later in 2017. Well, there's still the new Zelda game coming, right? It'd better be.

  • Oh, and I'm already so sick of hearing about anything VR.

The Games of 2016:

Tom Clancy's The Division (PS4) - Every time I watch Contagion, I think of this game. Fun shooter with too spongey enemies.

Alan Wake's American Nightmare (Xbox One BC) - I was surprised how much I enjoyed playing this. I had to let time pass between it and the original Alan Wake. Completed.

Farcry Primal (PS4) - A Day One buy, but I got out of playing it too soon. Getting back to it will take awhile since there are a lot of mechanics that are specific to the game.

Quantum Break (Xbox One) - I played all the way through...the first chapter. Embarrassed to admit that I haven't even watched the first "episode" yet.

Doom (Xbox One) - Yeah, Day One buy (duh!), but I don't have any regrets. I didn't get as far as I probably should have, but the single player campaign felt very repetitious.

Inside (Xbox One) - Day One buy...and finished! Okay, it's a short game, but I stayed with it. Played this on Twitch and it was one of the only highlights of 2016 streaming because I got help from viewers. I understood this game less than Limbo...and it was easier.

Firewatch (PS4) - Another of those walking simulators I seem to get myself into. I played the whole thing, but since you can't die and there aren't any real puzzles, it's pretty much a cinch if you just keep playing.

Abzu (PS4) - Underwater Journey...without the sand, scarves, other players...or emotion. Pretty fish though and I completed it.

Submerged (PS4)  - A very overlooked little gem of a game that I bought because I liked the idea of exploring a half-sunken city. An emotional journey in a vast cityscape. One of my favorite games this year. Happily completed.

Bound (PS4) - A lesson not to pre-order indie games and that "pretty" doesn't make for a "good" game.

Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One) - I've heard so much about how good this game is...and nothing about the game breaking bugs. Within the first couple of hours, I ran into two missions where the completion requirements (clear enemies; catch up with an NPC) didn't trigger.

No Man's Sky (PS4) - I think more people made a game out of hating this game than playing it. I'll admit it can get repetitive, but the same thing can be said for solitaire, chess, or backgammon. No regrets having purchased the Day One Collector's Edition.

Layers of Fear (PS4) - I had expected more scare and threat of death than this game delivered. It also felt a little padded out - when the ending came (which was good!), it seemed like it had taken too long to get to. Completed.

SOMA (PS4) - I think this is the best horror game I've played since the original Alone in the Dark. You can die in this game (and I did a lot!) which gave the game the necessary gravitas that some of the other ones I played this year lacked. Frighteningly completed.

Halo (Xbox One) - I didn't really expect to finish this one this year...or maybe at all! But since nearly every other gamer I've heard from has, I thought it was time I buckled down and got it done. I have to admit to a) not realizing the nature of the Halo rings and b) the ending was a little...uh, weak?

Actual Sunlight (Vita) - I think this took 2 or 3 hours to finish and it wasn't much harder than a walking simulator. It was a depressing game because of the subject matter, but I'm glad I got a chance to play another game on my Vita. It deserves more love.

Dishonored plus DLC (PS4) - Since I had to order the collector's edition of Dishonored 2 (Corvo mask FTW!), I thought I should play the original game before it got here. While I didn't finish it in time and only played the tutorial of D2, I got all the way through Dishonored and the excellent (I'd even say superior) DLC missions. I did it with all the subtlety of John Wick at a gangster infested night club, but I made it through.

Titanfall 2 (Xbox One) - I made a bad call buying Titanfall when it came out since I really suck at multiplayer games. I think I played it for about an hour. On the good side, it got me into Origin and I've gotten some free games there that I probably wouldn't have gotten otherwise. Since T2 came with a much praised single-player campaign, I decided to add it to my Black Friday haul. It's one of only two of those BF games I've played and completed. They weren't kidding - the campaign was excellent!

Battlefield 1 (Xbox One) - The other Black Friday game I've played. The WWI setting had me as soon as I'd heard about it, and I got through nearly all the single-player "stories". While I didn't finish the last one, the Gallipoli story was the best of the bunch. I don't know if they quite captured the real horror of The Great War (ala Hardcore History's podcasts), but I admire the developers for taking the chance on a somewhat forgotten conflict.

Lifeless Planet (PC) - I almost bought this on a PlayStation Flash sale, but remembered I had it on Steam. I decided to give it a go and ended up finishing the game. I didn't realize it was a Kickstarter until the end and have since added the developer to my contact lists so I'll find out about more adventures from them in the future. A simply constructed adventure with huge open environments, lots of good platforming, and a cool sci-fi story.

Virginia (PS4) - I don't know if I can call this a game. I never had to do/solve/manipulate anything in the game world - just interact (ie, button press) when I got to certain points in the narrative. It was like watching a movie (a good one!) that pauses at times to let you look around and then prompts you to continue. An interesting method of telling a story.

Let it Die (PS4) - I started this in 2016, but it's bleeding over into 2017 as a quick fix of over the top violence and action, doled out with daily rewards for logging in. A "pay to win" model, I know I'll never finish it (in fact, it doesn't really have an ending now), but it's like an entertaining toy that you take off the shelf (or out of the box), mess around with, then put back...only to find yourself doing the say thing the next day...and the next...

Okay, and as promised, my Massive Black Friday Game Haul (which actually started on the Monday before that Friday):

For anyone who can't make out the titles (from left to right, top to bottom):

Kirby Planet Robobot (3DS)
Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright (3DS) (the easier version)
Xbox One Gears controller (always wanted this one)
Lego Star Wars The Force Awakens Deluxe Edition (PS4) (and I haven't seen the movie, btw)
Batman Return to Arkham (Xbox One)
Tom Clancy's R6 Siege (Xbox One) ( was very cheap)
ReCore (Xbox One)
GTA V (Xbox One) (Cheap and why not? Ultimate sandbox!)
Titanfall 2 (Xbox One) (Played)
Battlefield 1 (Xbox One) (Mostly played)
Dead Rising (Xbox One) (Very cheap and I always associate DR with Xbox)
Mirror's Edge Catalyst (Xbox One) (it was cheap?)
Skyrim Special Edition (Xbox One) (Maybe I'll play it on this console, finally!)
Gears of War 4 (Xbox One) (A silly purchase, but it came with the mug and coaster)
Song of the Deep (PS4) (it came with the submarine Pop! figure)
Flashback Classics vol 1 (PS4)
Flashback Classics vol 2 (PS4)
Mafia 3 (PS4) (What I heard about the story has me very interested)
Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters (PS4) (well,...whatever)
Plants vs Zombies GW2 (PS4) (buying frenzy?)
Batman Return to Arkham (PS4) (uh, yeah, have it on Xbox One too...)
Dragonquest Builders (PS4) (no comment)
Lego Harry Potter Collection (PS4) (Why? Because!)
Bioshock Collection (PS4) (Have to play. Have to play.)
Mortal Kombat XL (PS4) (it was cheaper to buy this than the DLC for my copy of MKX)
Call of Duty Infinite Warfare (PS4) (Finish on a high note...I hope)

And that's it for 2016. Let's see how many of these I play by next year!

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