Video Games I've been playing over the last year...

2018 has been a busy year for me and I’ve not had much time to play, let alone write about games.. Generally, it has been a mixture of interesting old games that I’d been meaning to revisit and newer games that I’d picked up for a bit of light entertainment to kill some time.

Although this is not quite a “2018 year in Review”, it should give a flavour of some of the games that have been on my radar…

Final Fantasy XII - The Zodiac Age

I picked this up as I’d played and loved the original FF12 but never actually managed to complete it, getting stuck at a particularly bothersome boss fight when it was first released and then, I think, moving to London without my PS2. This version of the game is excellent however and , while I’ve not completed it yet, have thoroughly enjoyed playing through it. The story is as strong as ever and the adjustments made (such as to the jobs board) are welcome additions. In fact, I’d say this is the most enjoyable polishing of a game that I can recall playing as it retains all of the originals charm and structure but enhances key points for a modern audience. Basically, if you like FF games and want to invest 30hrs (for the main quest) or more hours in a huge, deep game, then you’ll not go wrong with this. It is very much a JRPG, but that is no bad thing.

Titanfall 2

I picked this up on the cheap on the basis that it was meant to be a super fun shooter with a great core concept. Sadly, after playing it for 40 mins or so, I got bad motion sickness and had to stop playing. All I really got to experience was the (very slow) introduction and some light combat. It did’nt feel a game that was well suited to me, but I was willing to progress with it, until the motion sickness kicked in. I’ve probably given up on this for now.

Far Cry 3

As with TitanFall 2, I picked this up for cheap when I was at a loose end one weekend. Within an hour I knew this was not my sort of game - its all a bit too silly and the combat too cartoonish, feeling like you’re shooting dummies. Again, I am aware that I barely played the game but this feels very much like a mistaken purchase as I prefer my combat games tight, tense and tactical, in the mould of MGS or Resident Evil. This felt too bombastic and, well silly, for me to really invest time in. It’s been put to one side for now…

Elite Dangerous

Elite is, undeniably, a great game. It sets out to simulate solo space travel across our galaxy and asks questions about how you would handle inventory management, space pirates, building a reputation and exploration. The game has an amazing choice of ships, a huge variety of stations and planets to visit and jobs for you to complete for credits and reputation. It feels like an endless game. I invested what I thought was quite a lot of time into this game (easily 25 - 30 hrs), and realised that I was getting basically nowhere fast. A bit of research led me to conclude that this was the intention - the game was all about the grind and slow burn building of a reputation and connecting with other pilots. I kept playing and eventually gave up as I found myself asking the question “am i having fun?”. The answer was “yes, but not enough”. I genuinely loved the game concept but could not quite get the same level of love for it’s execution.

Maybe I’ve missed something, but as wonderful a game as it is, I was left feeling like i was POURING time into it with very little to show for it. Still, it did feel amazing to see the improvement in my ability to dock a ship! What started out as an impossibility became second nature eventually…

Pillars of Eternity

Often referred to as Loading times of eternity, this crowd funded baldurs gate esque game was a lot of fun, purely for nostalgic purposes. It also has an intentionally high difficulty level. Great story, great characters, great tactical battles and beautiful locations. Well worth playing, if you can stick the loading times which are LONG.

Shadow Tactics

Now, this is an excellent game, of which I’ve completed all but the last mission. If you remember the Commando’s game for the PC, then think of that, but in Japan. This game has a great story, beautiful graphics and reasonably deep gameplay. You command up to 5 characters in large maps, giving them commands to manipulate enemies and your environment towards certain objectives. Generally, you’re given a range of options as to how you may want to solve the problem and, it is up to you to decide how to execute (quite literally). The mission settings are varied and quite innovative. Each of the characters you control with unique skills and weaknesses. If yo want actual Tactical Espionage Action, this is a great game.

My only criticism is that he game is not really as deep as it first seems. By Mission 10, I had a fully matured approach to the levels and, generally speaking, i could follow this approach and be successful in completing the levels, which by the end began to feel samey. Also, the game generally rewards ultra conservative game play over risk taking and something could have been done to limit saving or create bigger consequences for your actions. Still, a great game that is worth picking up.