Posts Tagged ‘xbox’

Best of 2017: Top 15 Games

Here we are. Time to count down my favourite videogames from a truly phenomenonal year for the medium (The best in ten years?). There are some games on this list that I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone even remotely interested, but the real measure of 2017 is the games that don’t make the list because I just didn’t have time to get into them. And no, I don’t just mean games other people liked but didn’t really grab me. I’m talking Horizon Zero Dawn, Cuphead, Yakuza Zero, Steamworld Dig 2, Night in the Woods, Tales of Berseria, Golf Story, Gang Beasts. Games that in any other year I would have been all over. Games I’ve already seen on many other top ten lists across the internet.

Part of this can probably be attributed to my conscious decision not to ignore good games on the 3DS as long as they were coming out. I clocked nearly 200 hours of combined 2017 playtime on my 3DS according to its activity log – mostly on trains and buses – and if it weren’t for the Nintendo Switch overshadowing it on every big site and YouTube channel I would have been shocked that I wasn’t seeing some of these 3DS games on more people’s lists. Of course, the Switch was still a thing, so there are more Switch games on this page than on any other console. The rest of the numbers are made up by some delightfully surprising indie and triple-A games gripping enough to help me temporarily forget about all the other games I could be playing. What an insane year.

A game qualifies for the list if I play it for over five hours or finish it. You’ll see the platform on which I played each game in parentheses next to its title.

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VR BEST OF 2017 DISCLAIMER

This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s strange. Intriguing, but strange. Respectful disagreement is most welcome.

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15. ARMS (NS)

Major new IPs from Nintendo are rarer than a PC without Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds installed, so it’s a big deal when one comes along. Following in the spiritual footsteps of 2015’s Splatoon, ARMS is an attempt by Nintendo to refresh what players can expect from a fighting game, in much the same way that Splatoon injected new life into the shooter genre. Taking stylistic cues from Blizzard’s Overwatch in the character design department and infusing these designs with Nintendo wackiness, ARMS is a charming game with deceptive mechanical depth and phenomenonal 1v1 duel multiplayer. Though the rest of its modes are inherently less deep and the game’s single player mode is basic at best, ARMS is my pick for most improved game of the year post-launch, with extra incentives, modes and characters now part of the package. And let’s not forget that theme song, which slots right in alongside Nintendo’s catchiest first-party tunes. ARMS should not be overlooked by anyone buying a Switch.

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Best of 2017: Top 5 Game Consoles

At this time of year, as people look back on the 12 months that were and attempt to make sense of them, it’s not uncommon to hear phrases like “It was a year of two halves”. Well, this is a list of two halves. Or it would be if you could divide five in half cleanly. You know what I mean.

By the standards I use to make this short list every year (quality of exclusive gaming releases, features and/or general usability improvements), two major gaming consoles had a pretty dour 2017, two had an absolutely incredible 2017, and one in the middle surprised a lot of people with its tenacious refusal to die. Even outside the spheres of online fanboy arguments, there were some clear winners and losers when it came to videogame consoles in 2017. It was a truly fascinating year to be an observer of the console gaming space, let alone a participant in it.

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VR BEST OF 2017 DISCLAIMER

This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s strange. Intriguing, but strange. Respectful disagreement is most welcome.

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5. PlayStation Vita

(LAST YEAR: 4th)

Some might question why I even see fit to include the PS Vita on this list anymore. After all, by this point Sony’s most recent portable has been declared either dead or dying for most of its actual life. Such a narrative continues to echo (faintly, it must be said) throughout a general gaming community that has long since written it off. In a year that saw the debut of the Nintendo Switch, a handheld so rich in quality indie and Japanese games that some have taken to calling it the “Vita 2”, plenty of Vita die-hards finally pulled the plug on Sony’s little beast. All things considered, the Vita’s 2017 records shows a much lower output of the fresh indie games, JRPGs and visual novels that were once its bread and butter. There were some exceptions of course – Stellar portable versions of Undertale, Danganronpa V3 and Ys VIII gave the Vita some semblance of relevance over the Switch at times throughout the year, if only for a small community of gamers – but with such a dripfeed of indie support and the (tragically) dwindling mainstream relevance of PSN trophy-hunting, the truly wondrous Playstation Vita may finally be on its last legs. Like, actually. For real this time.

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7 Things We Learned At E3 2017

Somehow another whirlwind year at the Electronic Entertainment Expo is over, and with our collective wallets looking nervously over their shoulders once more, it’s always fun to work out the trends that define the year’s most bombastic videogame event. Doing so is one of the clearest ways we have of determining where the larger industry is at during a given year, so here are my takes for 2017:

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We’ve Been Spoilt in Recent Years

Judging by the prevailing consensus on the suite of 2017 E3 press conferences, you’d swear almost nothing good was announced – Never mind the complete and utter deluge of news. Looking at all the new games, new footage and new details we have been inundated with over the last week is an exercise in pure exhaustion – with future-minded budgeting an exercise in futility – and yet the lack of so-called “hype moments” has left many feeling slightly empty. Of course this was inevitable, especially regarding Sony, as after two consecutive years of bombshell-laden shows lacking release details and/or real footage, the company’s proverbial chickens have come home to roost. Hype moments did arrive (see below) but when they don’t come from the current industry leader, the impact ain’t quite the same. Nonetheless, I genuinely believe that all things considered, 2017 was a pretty great E3 to watch, mostly because…

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(Almost) Every Publisher is Improving Their Stage Game

There’s no guarantee that this trend won’t reverse immediately next year, but when compared to 2016, the majority of the E3 conferences have largely improved in leaps and bounds when it comes to window dressing and pacing. EA didn’t seem to get the memo, but Microsoft and Ubisoft seemed to take direct notes from Sony’s remarkably snappy game-after-game 2016 structure, while Bethesda seemed to look more to a Nintendo Direct-style format by wrapping their titles in a charmingly consistent theme park aesthetic. Sony, meanwhile, took what they did last year and cranked it up by matching each major game showcase to a specific mix of lighting tricks, props and even live actors, as Nintendo squeezed a few megaton announcements into the company’s shortest show ever. It’s easy to forget that 2017 brought us fewer awkward stage interactions and irrelevant media distractions than we’ve had in recent memory, which is surely worth acknowledging.

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Best of 2016: Top 15 Games

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Now for the home stretch.

2016 was ultimately a much better year for videogames than it might currently feel like it was. No really, I mean it. Some of the latter-year triple-A releases may have failed to hit the mark with large enough audiences, and the pacing of the videogame release schedule in general was super weird (What on earth happened to the trend set over the last couple of years that June/July/August can be a smart period to release games? Why was Ubisoft the only company releasing anything big in the first three months of the year?). Yet when you look at a list of all the titles that hit over this bizarre 12-month period, there’s a hell of a lot of quality there. The indie and JRPG scenes in particular had phenomenonal 2016s, multiple games with years upon years of hype delivered on at least some of it, and there were plenty of surprising hits that came seemingly out of nowhere. Welcome to this countdown of my favourite 15 videogames of 2016.

The letters in parentheses after each title indicates where I played that game.

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VR BEST OF 2016 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s strange. Fun, but strange. Respectful disagreement is very welcome.
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15. ReCore (XBO)

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At the start of the year I might have expected I’d soon play a 2016 game with 3D platformer collect-a-thon roots, but never would I have thought I’d find it inside that Xbox-exclusive Keiji Inafune/Armature game announced at last year’s E3. It turns out that ReCore is more of a platformer at heart than any retail 3D action game released this decade, and its airborne control mechanics feel wonderful. It also packs a massive world that encourages exploration and plenty of colour-coded shooting boss battles that aren’t afraid to get difficult, with customisable robots thrown in for good measure. Some confusingly restrictive systems and a lack of environmental variety may weigh it down as it plods through its latter stages, but ReCore is still one of the year’s most pleasant surprises for me.

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Get KE3N

It’s almost time for yet another annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, which still seems to bring the goods again and again even in today’s leak-heavy internet age. This year, instead of the customary five press conferences, we have eight to take our sleeping hours away. EIGHT. Like, eight of them. If you plan to watch them all, best of luck to you. What a treat, though!

Once again for those Sydneysiders and Melbournians (etc) who are keen to watch any of the conferences but can’t be bothered looking up and cross-referencing time zones to work out when they have to get up, I’ve written them up right here, so look no further.

All times are in AEST.
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12noon JUNE 15TH
BETHESDA

THEY WILL TALK ABOUT: The recently released console versions of The Elder Scrolls Online, the long-awaited Doom reboot, plenty of information on the juggernaut that is Fallout 4.
I HOPE THEY TALK ABOUT: Dishonored 2 would be very nice indeed.
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2:30am JUNE 16TH
MICROSOFT

THEY WILL TALK ABOUT: Single player gameplay debuts for what could potentially be the best line-up of console exclusives this holiday season – Forza 6, Rise of the Tomb Raider, the Remastered Gears of War and Halo 5: Guardians. Not to mention the reveal of Rare’s next big game.
I HOPE THEY TALK ABOUT: Specifics on Quantum Break‘s release plans, a significant slice of attention towards awesome indie titles like Cuphead and Inside.
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6am JUNE 16TH
EA

THEY WILL TALK ABOUT: Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, the first official gameplay showings from Mirrors Edge: CatalystStar Wars Battlefront and the new Criterion extreme sports game, the shape of the new Mass Effect, sports games aplenty.
I HOPE THEY TALK ABOUT: The other Star Wars game. The one Amy Hennig is working on.

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8am JUNE 16TH
UBISOFT

THEY WILL TALK ABOUT: The normal serving of Assassin’s Creed and Just Dance footage, more info on The Division and Rainbow Six Siege, some as-yet unknown surprise that will inevitably get everyone talking about how cool it could be.
I HOPE THEY TALK ABOUT: Same as last year – a new Rayman game, or the reappearance of Beyond Good & Evil 2.

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11am JUNE 16TH
SONY

THEY WILL TALK ABOUT: Project Morpheus, the insane success of the PS4, Uncharted 4, Drawn to Death, Tearaway Unfolded, new Destiny stuff, lots and lots of juicy third party/indie partnerships.
I HOPE THEY TALK ABOUT: Persona 5 please. Lots more indies on Vita, too. And seriously, where is Gravity Rush 2?

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2am JUNE 17TH
NINTENDO
(via “Digital Event”)

THEY WILL TALK ABOUT: Always the toughest to predict, but surely at least the new Star Fox game for Wii U, plenty of new amiibos, that leaked Hyrule Warriors 3DS port, the next main Pokemon game, Splatoon DLC plans, Mario Maker.
I HOPE THEY TALK ABOUT: It’s about time for a new Metroid game. Also, please please please let that Paper Mario rumour be true…

NOTE: Nintendo is doing their normal thing again and spreading their content out over the length of E3. These additional times might be useful for Nintendo fans:

12:40am June 15th: Dedicated Super Smash Bros for Wii U / 3DS “New Content Approaching” Live Stream

8am June 15th: Nintendo World Championships 25th anniversary edition

June 17th-19th (schedule TBC): “Treehouse Live @ E3” Presentations

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3am JUNE 17TH
SQUARE ENIX

THEY WILL TALK ABOUT: A solid chunk devoted to Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the unveiling of the long-teased new Hitman game, my potential game of the year Just Cause 3, some Heavensward: Final Fantasy XIV mentions, that new online robot shooter Figure Heads.
I HOPE THEY TALK ABOUT: With the confirmed lack of Final Fantasy XV at E3 this year, surely there’s some big Kingdom Hearts 3 stuff to show?

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10am JUNE 17TH
PC GAMING SHOW (Presented by AMD and PCGamer)

THEY WILL TALK ABOUT: Plenty of tech talk, Epic’s highly anticipated Fortnight, who knows what else? It’s the longest and most diverse conference on the schedule, so let’s hope it’s also one of the most exciting.
I HOPE THEY TALK ABOUT: Overwatch, Overwatch and more Overwatch. Come on, Blizzard, let’s get the whole world hyped.

Game Review: Metal Gear Solid V Ground Zeroes

Oh why not? Let’s do another one.

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Platform:
PS3, PS4, 360, XBO
Developer:
Konami
Rating: MA15+
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Big Boss has been through a lot.

Big Boss has been through a LOT by now.

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Entree is served.

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Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is the kind of entertainment product that confuses on so many levels, and yet is so rewarding to experience, that it just had to have come out of Japan. A hideously overpriced mini-prequel to the ambitious upcoming game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Ground Zeroes confounds and delights in near-equal measure, leaving me both eager to experience the full-blown upcoming game and happy to leave this one behind.

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My Titanfall Beta Impressions

Shortly after it went live (in closed form) on February 14th, I dived into the very exciting beta version of Respawn Entertainment’s upcoming Xbox One pseudo-exclusive Titanfall and played quite a bit of it. Since then it has moved into open status and then finished up entirely. If you didn’t have a chance to play it or simply feel like reading about a different perspective on the whirlwind week, read on.
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MOTION FLOW

The first thing I noticed when I got started in the Titanfall beta was the immense focus on constant movement. Titanfall thrives on ensuring that every action flows easily into another action and it is this, rather than the presence of Titans per se, that defines the game. At least half of every match (much more if you’re me) is spent outside of a Titan, but that part of the experience doesn’t feel like a standard FPS might, due mostly to the ability to “wall-run” and double jump with the aid of a jetpack-style implement. Sure, you can stay low and take people on at street level as a Titan-less pilot, but that puts you at a tremendous disadvantage should you meet one. Verticality is the name of the game and going up is easy. Once you get the hang of the airborne movement mechanics, which are all about just one button and a sense of timing, the feeling is awesome. Comparing it to the action of anime series Attack on Titan yields more than just name-based similarities.
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