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The End of Another Generation - Intro

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It's once again time to look back on a generation past. As I did with the seventh gen back in 2013 , I'm going to write a series of posts about the departing generation. This series will include a top twenty countdown of my favourite 8G games, which I'm already losing sleep over. Why did people like Doom? Can I include Rez Infinite, even though it's an expanded port of a Dreamcast game? What the fuck was the Wii U? Does Assassin's Creed Valhalla belong to the 8th or 9th Gen? Did I lock the front door? My eighth generation is over. My Vita and 3DS are long since retired, my Wii U was abandoned years ago, and my Xbox One and PS4 have new owners. My Switch is still in heavy use, but we'll call that a 8G/9G hybrid. I've had an Xbox Series X and PS5 since November and December, respectively. Thanks to full, backwards compatibility, I was encouraged to sell my Xbox One and PS4. It feels weird making a clean break from that hardware, though I am still catching up o

The Best & Worst Games of 2020

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The Best & Worst of 2019 /   2018  /  2017  /  2016  /  2015  /  2014  /  2013  /  2012  /  2011  /  2010 The fucking state of 2020. This year, I was more grateful than ever for the comforting presence of video games. A place to escape; a place to be entertained. A place to be a Viking, do some eco-terrorism, swing a katana and partake in a cartoonish Sasuke. To match blocks, match colors and seek all-consuming revenge, in Seattle. A place to die and be reborn over and over again, get haptic-feedbacked to fuck, and help Jill get the hell out of Racoon City. A place to play, escape and relax. Thank Odin for video games. And we got new consoles too. After much frustration, I was able to get hold of both an Xbox Series X and a PS5. I've already gotten a lot of use out of the former, though I have hardly touched the latter. However, that's more down to the game(s) I've been playing the last two months rather than a reflection on the consoles themselves. It's been a hal

A New Generation is Upon us

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I wanted a PlayStation 5. I don't care for console tribalism. It is an obscenely stupid concept for obscenely stupid people. I won't send you death threats if you choose one expensive piece of hardware over another, though I may say something unflattering about your mother. I like video games, regardless of which platform they're on. That being said, PlayStation has been my platform of choice since the late-90s. That's when I finally gave up on Sega and shifted to the PS1. I bought a PS2 in 2001, a PSP in 2005, a PS3 in 2008, and a Vita and PS4 at launch. Sony has the exclusives I like, and I've become accustomed to PlayStation's way of doing things, from the controllers to the trophies. I play everything, but I mostly play PlayStation. I wanted a PlayStation 5, but I could not find one. Preorders in Japan were a shitshow. Minimal supply and high demand lead to crashed stores and lotteries that were oversubscribed one hundred times over. It has gotten worse sinc

Next-Gen Paradise

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I was fortunate enough to snag an Xbox Series X preorder a couple of weeks ago. It was destined for an early-December delivery, but that suddenly got moved up at launch and it arrived a day later. A launch-day miracle. I'll share some thoughts on the Series X another day, as well as update you on my continued failure to buy a PS5. I was run ragged last week, so it wasn't until the weekend that I was able to spend some real time with my new console. Armed with a Game Pass subscription, I was thoroughly spoilt for choice. So many options to make use of my 4K-ing, ray tracing, teraflopping wonder box. Assassin's Creed Valhalla was the top candidate - I bought a copy - closely followed by a prettier-than-ever Forza Horizon 4. So what did you play, I hear you ask? Well, I spent most of Saturday evening playing a remaster of a twelve year old game, one that I have played through several times before. I chose to play Burnout Paradise, and I have no regrets. Is there a more joyful

Final Fantasy XII Again for the First Time

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I first played Final Fantasy XII in the spring of 2007. My fat PS2 was hanging on for dear life, drawing out load screens for all they were worth and chugging through cinematics. I played it, I enjoyed it, and then I forgot all about it. I first arrived in Japan a few months before FFXII's much anticipated launch. I was working in a shitty language school in a town I didn't particularly want to be in, as it wasn't Shibuya. FFXII was a topic of shared interest between some of my students and I. I challenged them to discuss the game under the pretense that it would help expand their vocabulary, when really I just wanted to hear about Final Fantasy and avoid teaching grammar. I was excited to experience the Japanese launch. There were commercials on TV, huge billboards at the train station, and vile energy drink potions that came in elixir-like glass bottles, available at the convenience store. I didn't consider purchasing the game, as my grasp of Japanese was very basic a

The Joy of Six

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I finished the Resident Evil 3 remake in six hours. A full and fully entertaining game cleared in just five evenings. Six hours for a beginning, middle and an end. Beautiful. I love short, narrative-driven games, especially if they feature guns, knives, guns with knives on them, or treasure hunting. When done properly, they are just as satisfying as any sprawling epic, and can do an even better job of making me invest in characters and story. I never feel short-changed by a great, short game. Resident Evil 3 blew by. It pushed forward at pace and finished up long before it had overstayed it's welcome. I love the simplicity of the premise: escape the city and avoid death by Nemesis. It's builds up great momentum, never stays in one place too long, and keeps backtracking to an acceptable minimum. Everything is balanced nicely to support a brisk play-time. I've really enjoyed Capcom's RE-treatment of the series, and I'll be interested to see what they'll do with 4.

Saying Goodbye from 6000 Miles Away

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I said goodbye to my dad over the phone. I told him that I loved him.  He passed away a few minutes later. I listened in, helpless in my grief. I'd always told my family that I could be back in the UK within a day, in the case of an emergency. I often repeated that in conversation, to reassure myself just as much as it was to put my family at ease. Until very recently, it was accurate. The greatest fear when living abroad is not being able to be there for your loved ones back home, when they need you the most. You know that there will come a time when your world will be turned upside down, and you'll be pulled in two directions at once. My dad had been battling cancer on and off for the last decade. It seemed like he'd beaten it, until he fell ill again last Christmas. Surgery followed in the New Year, and I was able to be there for him, alongside my mum and brother. I didn't realise it then of course, but that would be the last time I'd see him. The last time I cou

The Impossibility of a Next-Gen Preorder

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It has been a week of abject disappointment. No one will take my money. I've refreshed Amazon into oblivion. I've signed up for special club-card memberships to access limited preorder opportunities. I've registered for notifications, emails, faxes. I've entered countless lotteries but I'm no closer to securing a next-gen preorder than I was a week ago. It has been a right mess here in Japan. If Twitter is to be believed, it hasn't been much better in other major markets either. Last Thursday, Sony announced that retailers would be accepting orders on Friday. Apparently, many retailers weren't ready. The PS5 went live on Amazon Japan at 10:00 and most of us couldn't even find the page, let alone get an order in. The vast majority of major electronic retailers opted to stick to their own timetable, and start things the following week. Things = lotteries, where you enter to win the chance to spend ¥55,000 - a horrid system that makes you feel like a loser

Pre-Binning Backlog Burning Blog

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We're a little over a month away from THE NEXT GEN, which means it's almost time to swear off the current-gen bullshit. There'll be no time to play or even think about anything released before November 2020. PS4, Xbox One, Switch all in the bin. Actually, let me get that Switch back. As we prepare to stagger over the generational finish line, I've had the overwhelming desire to clear out my current gen backlog. To play the games that have been weighing on my conscience since I bought them several months, or even years, ago. Those that have been sat on my shelf for ages or loitering on my hard drive longer than they ought. Finishing them provides more than just a false sense of achievement, as some of them are properly good. Not new-game good, obviously, being that they are slightly older and therefore badder. Decent, though.You know, for something that is old. I kicked off the year with Yakuza Kiwami 2, the first of three Yakuza Studio games I'll play in 2020. I don

$7.5 Billion is a Lot of Money

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  $7.5 billion is a lot of money. Yesterday, it was announced that Microsoft is buying ZeniMax Media, parent company of Bethesda Softworks, in a move that is set to shake up the games industry. Shake it up proper good. This deal brings a number of studios and franchises under the Xbox umbrella, including The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, and it came just 24 hours before Series X/S preorders are set to go live. Truly, exquisite timing. The news hit twitter last night, just as I was settling down to play some Judgment on my PlayStation 4 entertainment system. I'm enjoying Judgment, but it has fallen victim to several distractions that have prevented me from becoming fully invested. These have ranged from trying to close a deal on a house - it fell through - to an uncharacteristic NBA 2K bender that I might write about later this week. Microsoft throwing its money around was the latest setback for Judgment, ensuring that I went to bed having barely played it. The Mole is getting away wit