Here we go again! It's now the second month of the year, which can mean only one thing: it's time for another round of..."4 IN FEBRUARY!!!" Last year marked my second consecutive year participating in #4iF and it was also my second year of failure. Will this year be different? Who knows? Who cares? For me, it's not so much about the finishing as it is the pure unadulterated fun of participating. So, what's on tap for AJ this year? Let's take a look!
I am bad at video games. Plain and simple. So bad in fact, i can't get further than 15 minutes into Undertale without dying no matter what I do. I really want to like that game. But I've tried four times now to get into it, only to be so bad I couldn't get anywhere. So in a repeat of last year's results, I beat three games, then couldn't get through Undertale.
But just like the Academy Awards this year, there is a twist! I took a look through my game library to find the shortest game on there, and saw Q.U.B.E. a first person puzzle platformer. And what do you know, it was easy enough for me to beat! Making this an official Four in February success story! So'm going to give a quick run down of the four games I beat and my thoughts on them, enjoy. :)
Our housekeeper here at Twinstiq, Dr. S, actually gifted me this first title. And I owe you a big thanks good sir ;) because I love this game. There are so many possible outcomes and heartbreaking stories to discover here. The sheer number of ways you can change the world your characters reside in is impressive to say the least, and I can't recommend this enough.
What a gorgeous game. And if you're not hardcore about your stealth games like me, I'm sure you'll find a lot to enjoy here. I never found much challenge throughout this game due to it being designed around a teleport mechanic. But the story alone is worth playing, as long as you don't mind reading.
If i had to pick one game from my 4iF to suggest people go play, it's Abzu. Austin Wintory once again proves that he is John Williams of video game scores. Even if you could care less about that aspect, you are nearly guaranteed to find something in here to love. This is a game that everyone needs to play.
My White Knight of February 2017. Emerging from the depths of my growing back catalog of games was a fun and thought provoking little indy title that did not get as much attention as it deserves. This puzzle platformer really did find every use for a simple concept that it could without overstaying its welcome. I'm sure many have compared this to Portal unfavorably but I actually found its narrative to be a bit more compelling then Valve's similar game. Definitely a game worthy of much more lengthy discussion, perhaps on a future GameClub down the line.
Anyway, that's what I got done this past month! Thanks for reading guys!
Good night, and good game.
What the fuck is wrong with the video game industry? I can somewhat deal with a packed Christmas release window by spacing things out, but now they start the year in January? Isn’t that against the spirit of 4iF? Yakuza 0 and Nioh are both amazing. Then there is For Honor, Halo Wars 2, Horizon Zero Dawn, Resident Evil 7, Sniper Elite 4, NieR and Ghost Recon Wildlands? WHY, WHO, HOW? (Oh, and the new Zelda for people who care about that shit) Read more
Well last year my Four in February turned into a #3iF, so this year I'm taking some measures to ensure I can finish all four of my picks...
Has it been a year already? Right. So February is here again and with it comes another opportunity to spectacularly fail at finishing 4 games. But I won't feel too bad about it because, for me, it isn't so much the finishing as it is the participating that makes 4IF so fun! So which 4 will I be half-heartedly trying to get through this year?
Welcome, one and all to a new year and a new February. Last year, I didn't do very well at all, so this year, I'm going to try my utmost to actually vanquish four games off of my tottering pile of games that I've collected over the last forty+ years. Read more
Well boys and girls it's almost the 2nd Month of the Year, which means its time to play four games in your backlog that you haven't finished yet! In Other words, its Time for 4 In February!!!
This year my goal was to finish Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Halo 5, Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak and finally Grim Fandango. I am sad to report, I failed, and miserably. I had a 50% completion rate in no small part due to the release of several games including the time sink of Xcom 2 (reviewed on our site here by Scroo). What this exercise really hammered home is the dilemma of the modern gamer, prioritization.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate:
First to touch on the games I played, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate was a solid experience, the game finally delivered on the promise of the franchise that has been missing in the last three entries. While I love Black Flag’s sailing mechanic the story missed out on a lot of elements and made me feel uncomfortable with the protagonist but not nearly as much as I outright disliked the leads of both Rogue and Unity. Simplification was the key, the use of the Frye twins (which was very hard to not make Futurama jokes about) kept the narrative fresh by switching between the two depending on the type of mission and preserving stylistic integrity of the character preventing ludonarrative dissonance from being a problem. This is one of the few times I’ve actually gone for completionism, the side quests were all solid fun and while they were plentiful they were never overwhelming like in Unity (which I basically just walked away from saying “screw this” when I couldn’t see my objectives for all the clutter of side quests). This title is well worth playing.
Halo 5: Guardians
Having bought this at the same time as Syndicate and not touched it I was actually able to finish the game rather quickly. Splitting the narrative between Blue Team with its succulently voiced Master Chief and Osiris led by Spartan Locke (or the Master Chief Grouch) the game was solid enough. There were some changes, Locke originally portrayed by Mike Colter (who is busy now being Luke Cage) didn’t return and was replaced by sound alike actor Ikè Amadi. Honestly, unless I was told, I wouldn’t have heard a difference. Amadi does his best with a bad script. I went into the game relishing the opportunity to spend time with Buck (aka my Mancrush Nathan “Captain Mal Reynolds” Fillion) to find very little actual interplay between the team members. There’s some random background chatter and the lush and beautifully rendered cut scenes which would actually make for a great movie/tv series on their own but beyond that there was no real difference who you were playing with.
Regardless if you were the Chief or Locke your companions were pretty brain dead AIs. Playing on Heroic the game never felt too tough, I was able to make it through the game with some strategy but the AIs of your companions are downright stupid often ignoring pleas for help or just running blindly into fire. Your enemies on the other hand would often coordinate attacks and make use of flanking and cover very effictively. If only my squad were so smart! The squad level commands were Spartan (forgive the pun) at best. You essentially had resurrect me, go here, use this vehicle and attack that. You don’t want to be worrying about issuing a ton of commands in a combat heavy game, understood, but some more strategy and differing play styles by your AI companions would be nice. Even the ability to set behaviour like in Mass Effect would have been cool (like get Buck to use heavy weapons or Fred to focus on sniping).
The story itself is the framing device to the next arc of the Halo universe. It feels like we may finally be done with the Flood/Covenant/Precursor story and introducing something entirely new. Allies become enemies and new alliances are forged but in the end the story felt annoying because of some of the reversals that just felt silly and the fact that much of this could have been resolved with a simple call back to base or a 5 minute conversation. That being said, the same could be said about 90% of action movies out there so there’s that.
Multiplayer is tight with none of the Halo Master Chief Collector’s Edition issues and due to its design even joining in months later thanks to a lack of a class system I didn’t feel overpowered by my opponents. The arena material was classic halo and the addition of mobility powers and clambering change the dynamic enough to make it feel fresh. The best part though is the addition of Warzone. This adds large scale team vs. team vs. environment play and is a sort of capture and hold based game play with points being accrued for destroying Precursor and Covenant who drop into the field of play. This is the most fun and revolutionary addition that could be a game on its own. One little possible concern is the addition of card packs but having played the multiplayer it’s easy enough to earn these requisition packs which unlock gear in Warzone matches as well as cosmetic material. That said, all of this can be earned simply by playing the game and I’ve not once had to buy any in game or even been compelled to consider it.
In short, if you like Halo and the universe Bungie created you’ll enjoy where 343 Industries are taking it. If you don’t you may not really enjoy the gameplay which can be at times frustrating due to working with team AIs that feel like they have brain damage. However, given the ability to play co-op, this could change the feel of the game especially with friends you can to something more enjoyable. Really with a 16 mission campaign that depending on play style can be run in 5 to 6 hours unless you are a fan of the universe or the multiplayer I’d suggest waiting for a sale.
That brings us to my shameful failures, Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak and Grim Fandango, to be honest I barely touched them. I did get a bit more time in with Homeworld but I found the lack of ability to issue commands in formation or line up where my units sat on the 3D environment frustrating and over the month of February, I had several betas pop up that were limited time, a couple of “Seasonal events” roll around in a few games I regularly play and the release of several new titles.
When I started gaming in the late 70s there were literally a handful of games a year. Many of them rehashes of existing games with just different plastic sheets you'd tape to your TV.
During the 80s and 90s it picked up but it still wasn’t the same kind of frantic pace you have today. You could get away with buying “all the games you want” because even at its peak during the "Holiday Season" it was still only a few dozen games at most which means you wont be overwhelmed.
But now we have new games showing up on a weekly basis. This doesn't count Betas, DLC, season events and so on. All of this makes it a challenge to just focus. I have access to Steam, PlayStation and Xbox and these libraries are littered with titles I’ve not finished. Many of these games are great - as long as I'm playing them - but I never really seem to make any headway through my backlog because of the sheer constant barrage of New Hotness that might be floating around in the gaming world. Thankfully, those games in those libraries aren’t going anywhere and I can always return to them, but as time marches forward it feels harder and hard to return to these abandoned games.
It makes me wonder if it wouldn’t be better if game companies cut development in half and focused on titles making really amazing experiences versus the constant iterations on old titles, re-releases, HD Upgrades, and the crazy release schedule we deal with now. In the end, no one forces me to buy these games and I’m lucky enough to have disposable income enough that I can live easily with my poor impulse control, but if I was a kid who didn’t have a lot of cash it would have been frustrating. I guess I’m lucky enough to have grown up in a time where 5 of my friends could split the cost of a game and share it using floppy disks to copy the game. Man, how the times have changed.
I had such high hopes for February, I really did.
I sat on Banjo Tooie, because I wanted to experience it, but I didn't want to experience it quite so close to Banjo Kazooie. I was genuinely looking forward to what Plague Knight had in store for me at the end of Shovel Knight. I wanted to delve into Simon the Sorcerer and find out if time - and my memory of that game - had treated it well. I also wanted to see if - a year on - Jazzpunk was still that spellbinding, silly experience I found it to be while watching Lucahjin play it.
You can read my gung-ho and ready post about all that here.
This tragic tale is a tale of how that all fell flat and how I ended up playing three games that weren't even on my list. Well. Kind of.[Please Note: Some of the links in this article will take you away from Twinstiq. They have been formatted such that they will open new browser tabs.]
Another February has ended and this year I may not have been an A student, but I still got a passing grade for one of my favorite Joystiq pastimes. I played three great games this year and was rather surprised by one. Join me after the break to hear my thoughts on said titles.