Showing posts from 2018

The Best & Worst Games of 2018

The Best & Worst of 2017 / 2016 / 2015 / 2014 / 2013 / 2012 / 2011 / 2010

And that's another year done.

Another year closer to PS5, Xbox One Two, and Nintendo 2witch.

Another year closer to new TimeSplitters.

Another year closer to the Final Fantasy VII reboot being another year away.

Another year closer to death.

We learnt a great deal in 2018. We learnt that there will probably be next-gen reveals in the next 12 months, that Lady Gaga digs Bayonetta and that Battle Royale isn't just a Japanese movie about a bunch of juvenile delinquents being forced to murder each other with kitchen utensils but is also the genre of a cultural phenomenon, where juvenile delinquents murder each other online and also dance. Most important of all, we learnt that shoddy canvas bags are unacceptable.

I really enjoyed video games in 2018, as I do most years. I liked the games I thought I was going to like, and was also pleasantly surprised by a handful that I wasn't expecting. I spen…

The Massacre at Guthrie Farm

I just wanted to say hello.

I was out on my horse, exploring Red Dead Redemption 2 for the first time. I was overwhelmed, unsure of the controls and equally unsure of where to go.

I'd just skinned a bison and was combing my horse when I spotted a small farm on the horizon. There will be people there, I thought, and perhaps they'll have some important information for me. At the very least, they'll have something entertaining to say.

I slung the bison pelt on the back of my horse, made sure my guns were holstered and headed straight for the farmstead in search of conversation and companionship. I spotted a farmhand working the field a stone's throw from the house. "Howdy partner", I said in my head, in a silly cowboy voice. The middle-aged man took one look at me, shouted something unpleasant, and drew his weapon. What a dick.

Turns out Arthur (me) is a wanted man. Earlier that day, I'd unintentionally murdered a travelling salesman. I just wanted to steal…

The Sega Saturn Mini

By now, you know that Sony is set to release the PlayStation Mini later this year. Following in the footsteps of Nintendo with the NES and SNES Mini, it'll feature a handful of pre-loaded games on a chibi version of an iconic console. Sony has announced five of the twenty games thus far, with the rest to be revealed in the build-up to Christmas.

By now, you also know which games every prick with a Twitter account wants to see on the PS Mini.

What you don't know, however, is which twenty+ games would belong on a Sega Saturn mini. This is because (a) it doesn't exist yet, and (b) the Saturn was a criminally overlooked system. Yes, Sega fucked it up, from the messy launch to the even messier system architecture, but there are plenty of gems on the Saturn that are worth playing today.

Trust me, I have lots of Saturn games and have played at least six of them.

If I were in charge of filling a Saturn Mini, these are the games I would choose. I've tried to include a mix of g…

Autumn Brings Games

This is my 400th post! That’s pretty good, right?
Summer is finally over! It’s autumn at last.

No more days sweltering in “feels like 48℃” weather. No more avoiding going outside for fear of melting. No more extreme temperature shifts from the boiling hot pavement to the arctic conditions of the convenience store. No more showering 2-3 times a day. No more drinking beer on a roof in the afternoon and then passing out a few hours later because I didn’t drink enough water during the day.

Autumn is here and with it comes the changing of the leaves, the changing of menus, beer cans in red and brown, and a collective sigh of relief as Japan emerges from the stifling humidity of summer.

Autumn also brings games. Lots of lovely games.

In particular, Autumn brings blockbusters. Huge games with bloated budgets, teams in the hundreds if not thousands, vast advertising campaigns, and irresponsible use of dubstep. The yearly sports updates like FIFA, Madden, and NBA all hit around this time o…

TGS 2018 - Devil May Cry 5 Hands-on

This is the last of my TGS posts. You can find everything else here:
The Queueing Experience
Day One Roundup
Day Two Roundup
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - Hands-on
Tetris Effect - Hands-on
Resident Evil 2 Remake - Hands-on
Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain - Hands-on

Capcom had another strong showing at this year's Tokyo Game Show. Last year it was all about the Monster Hunter World demos; this time the focus was on Resident Evil 2 Remake and Devil May Cry 5. The double-scenario RE2 demo was excellent, but it was the stylish Devil May Cry 5 that took centre stage at Capcom’s booth.

DMC 5, the first mainline DMC in a decade, will feature three playable characters, two of whom will be instantly recognisable. Nero and Dante are our returning demon slayers, and the TGS-announced V is our mysterious new addition.

The TGS demo focused on Nero, a brash, mildly annoying demon hunter with nice hair. He’s dropped into the middle of a London look-alike, which is currently having a spot of demon…

TGS 2018 - Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain

Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain was perfect for a lazy, TGS Day Two afternoon. The wait was minimal, the demo was fairly short, and EDF is hardly the most taxing of games. You just point your gun at the big insects and keep pulling the trigger. Considering how tired I was, I couldn't have asked for a more suitable hands-on.

Iron Rain is the latest entry in the long running EDF series, which sees you repelling an extraterrestrial invasion of massive fucking insects. What started out as a budget title has since developed into something larger, though it has retained many of its cheap-and-cheerful production values and a focus on tongue-in-cheek action.

Iron Rain, we are told, is the most polished EDF yet and the improved visuals and refined gameplay mechanics should appeal to a wider audience. It is true that it looks a little prettier at a distance, but it doesn’t really stand up to closer inspection. It’s still difficult to differentiate between glitches and intended jank - dead …

TGS 2018 - Resident Evil 2 Remake Hands-on

I originally posted this at Critical Gamer
It’s been twenty years since I last played Resident Evil 2. Twenty years since I sold my Sega Saturn and games to fund the purchase of a PlayStation and a copy of RE2. A desperate act for a SEGA diehard, but I had to play Capcom's latest. It was well worth it.

Twenty years later, and Capcom are rebuilding RE2 from the ground up. It’s not a remaster; it’s an existing game rebuilt and refined. Like the original, there will be two main scenarios – one starring Leon and the other led by Claire. In the first of the Tokyo Game Show demos, Leon has just arrived in the central hall of the Racoon City Police Department and is desperately trying to gain access to adjoining rooms so that he can rescue a fellow cop. Claire’s demo focussed on her first meeting with a young girl named Sherry and an intense showdown with the monstrous William Birkin.

First off, it looks great. Unlike Remake, which looked a little basic by modern standards, the visuals i…

TGS 2018 - Tetris Effect (VR) Hands-on

I was very keen to get my hands on Tetris Effect, Enhance Games' and Resonair's unique take on the familiar tile-matching puzzler. I've always enjoyed Tetsuya Mizuguchi's unique melding of audio and visual experiences, and everyone likes Tetris!

I knew that Tetris Effect would be playable at TGS, but I didn't realise how difficult it would be to secure a hands-on demo. There was a single VR booth at Sony, open only to attendees with appointments, which of course I didn't have. My only hope was to wait for a cancellation, but there was no guarantee that there would be one and, even if there was, I wouldn't be able to choose the game I played. Basically, I'd have to try whichever of the dozen or so demos became available once I'd reached the top of the wait-list. The random lineup of VR titles was making me nervous - I really didn't want to play a dating sim, and I was shitting it at the prospect of having to dance around in front of everyone if …

TGS 2018 - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Hands-on

I was bloody awful at Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. I lined up for well over two hours just so I could embarrass myself, dying within the first few minutes over and over again. I made such little progress that I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough material to write a preview. However, I'm pretty good at padding things out, so it's fine.

Did I tell you what I had for lunch on the second day of TGS?

To make matters worse, at least one member of the dev team was watching my pathetic attempts to progress through his game. Just a terrible experience all round. The game seemed to be pretty good though.

As you probably already know, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the next game from FromSoftware. It stands apart from recent FS games, but you can clearly see its Dark Souls/Bloodborne lineage. It's hard as nails and offers minimal hand-holding. To me, it felt faster than Dark Souls but slightly more plodding than Bloodborne. It's a heavier Bloodborne, rather than a quicker…

TGS 2018 - Day Two Roundup

And that’s a wrap for Tokyo Game Show.

The press days are over. All that remains for me to do is write up some hands-on impressions, throw out the rubbish I accumulated over the last two days, and try not to think about all the money I spent on trains, food, drink and video game junk.

The Endless Wander

There wasn’t anything that I was dying to play on Day Two. I figured I’d head straight for Sony and see if I could get some time with Days Gone. That didn’t work out, so I settled for the Claire demo for Resident Evil 2. I’ll share my thoughts on RE2 in the coming days, but overall both the Leon and Claire scenarios were excellent.

After that, I spent most of the day aimlessly wandering from booth to booth, checking wait times and trying to decide if I wanted to play anything else. I had a go at Earth Defense Force Iron Rain because the queue was short, and I also joined the line for Ace Combat 7 for the same reason, but ditched it once it became clear that the wait time was far lo…

TGS 2018 - Day One Roundup

Day One of Tokyo Game Show is done and dusted. It was a good day.

I knocked out all four of my most wanted games. My legs survived, I didn’t spend too much money on needless souvenirs and I’m only a tiny bit drunk as I write this, so my Day Two hangover should be manageable. All-in-all a resounding success. 
I’ll be posting in-depth impressions over the coming days, but for now here are some odds and ends from a day spent in the Mecca of video games: Makuhari Messe, in Chiba, on the Musashino Line. 
I spent time with Resident Evil 2, Tetris Effect in VR, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Devil May Cry V. They were all very good. From what I saw, Sekiro was by far the most in-demand game of Day One. They only had four demo units, and they were constantly having to close the line as it grew too large. 
So, it turns out I’m very bad at video games. I stunk the place up so badly that I felt the need to apologise to the demo attendant at the Tetris Effect booth. If you di…

TGS 2018 - The Queuing Experience

I'll be attending Tokyo Game this week and posting lots of hands-on impressions.
The doors open for Tokyo Game Show at 10:00AM sharp. I usually hang around until about 4:00PM, at which point I head into central Tokyo for drinks and merriment. So that's around six hours on the show floor, at least half of which will be spent waiting in line.

Unless you are industry royalty or belong to one of the biggest media outlets, you line up with everyone else. Even on press days the lines can exceed two hours for the most popular games, and significantly more than that on the public days.

You have to come prepared. Wear comfy shoes, bring some form of entertainment, carry as little swag as possible and never ever join a queue that you cannot see the end of.

A typical TGS in-queue experience goes a little something like this.

00:00 – This game looks good and the queue seems manageable. I’ve got an appointment in ninety minutes but I should have more than enough time to play this demo and …

TGS 2018 - A Preview

Just one more day until Tokyo Game Show!

Soon I'll be lining up for games that are almost out, hobnobbing with other sweaty people in queues, drinking inadvisable quantities of beer, desperately trying to figure out why my laptop won't connect to the venue's WiFi, and enjoying watching foreign journalists butcher the Japanese language, which in turn will make me feel better about my woefully inadequate linguistic skills.

All joking aside, I love going to TGS. It's my annual slice of industry action and I'm dreading the day when/if they take my press pass away. I've been going as press on-and-off since 2009, and on the public days since 2006. All in all, this'll be my ninth Tokyo Game Show. You could say that I'm kind of a big deal, not that anyone in the industry would agree with you.

I always find TGS previews a challenge to write. There is rarely a single game that stands out before the show begins - nothing that I'm absolutely dying to play. One…

Relight My Fire

Next week I’ll be covering Tokyo Game Show, so I need to remember how to write words about games. That’s why I’m blogging (almost) every day for the next week, after which my TGS coverage will kick in.

Another month, another remaster.

You played this on PS3? Why not play it again, only this time on PS4! Missed this one on the Wii U? Of course you did, so why not consider trying a slightly enhanced version on your Switch! This generation, only Microsoft has paid any real attention to backwards compatibility. For all the good press it generated, I'd be surprised if it had any lasting effect on their bottom line.

I get why publishers repackage older games. It’s a safe investment and it can open up an existing property to a new and expanded audience. I’m certainly not averse to shelling-out a second time for games I love.

I’ve put tens of hours into repeat experiences so far this year, including two of my favourite games from the last generation: Burnout Paradise and Call of Duty …

In Defence of Final Fantasy VIII

Next week I’ll be covering Tokyo Game Show, so I need to remember how to write words about games. That’s why I’m blogging every day for the next week, after which my TGS coverage will kick in.
You think that your jokes about Final Fantasy VIII are funny, but they are not. They are unfair, they are ignorant, and they are hurtful. Also, you are ugly. 
As announced during this week’s Nintendo Direct, Square Enix is content-dumping a sizeable part of the Final Fantasy library onto the Switch. FFVII, FFIX, FFX, X-2, and XII will all make their way to Nintendo's home console next year. They’ll be the first numbered entries to appear on a Nintendo console since whenever it was that the last numbered Final Fantasy appeared on a Nintendo console.

Over the last few years, polished versions of lesser Final Fantasies have appeared on various platforms. FFVIII has been notable in its absence. You can download VIII on Steam and from the PS Store, but you’re getting the original, vanilla versio…

Spider-Man: From Disinterest to Full Embrace

Next week I’ll be covering Tokyo Game Show, so I need to remember how to write words about games. That’s why I’m blogging every day for the next week, after which my TGS coverage will kick in.
Like 98% of all PS4 owners, I'm currently playing Spider-Man. I've only played a couple of hours, but it's pretty good. Bet you weren't expecting that!

Initially, I was thoroughly disinterested in Insomniac’s latest. However, the excellent reviews and sparkling word of mouth gradually wore me down. Before I knew it, I was web-slinging my way across New York, collecting backpacks and failing to kill criminals.

So, how did I get here?

Stage One: Disinterest

Comics are for babies and Spider-Man lives in comics. Therefore, Spider-Man games are for babies.

With a few video game exceptions, I don’t really care for anything superhero-related. I especially don’t care for Toby Maguire. I honestly can’t name a single Toby Maguire movie that I like, including that one about biscuits tha…

Ends and Beginnings That Are Also Ends

Next week I’ll be covering Tokyo Game Show, so I need to remember how to write words about games. That’s why I’m blogging every day for the next week, after which my TGS coverage will begin.

**Far Cry 5 Spoilers Within**

It turns out that Joseph was telling the truth. We were teetering on the edge of destruction, at the mercy of a wrathful God, and Joseph was in on it. Divine forces were whispering in his ear, giving him a godly heads-up about our impending doom. Far Cry 5’s Hope County is gone, consumed by a nuclear fire, presumably along with a significant portion of the US.
All my slaughtering was for nothing. The countless times I interrupted roadside executions, freed locals, cleared bases, located collectibles and culled cultists – it was all for naught. My friends are vaporized, and my dog is gone. My yellow helicopter is scrap metal, and my guns are fucked.
My Far Cry 5 ending was desperately grim, but I kinda liked it. It didn’t make the things I did during the game any less …

E3 2018: A Hastily Written and Poorly Researched Preview

It's nearly E3weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.


EA's presser starts at 3 AM Japan time. There are scant few things less likely to happen than me getting up at 3 AM on a Sunday to watch Snoop Dog talk about historical accuracy in Battlefield.

Mass Effect is fucked, so instead we'll be subjected to Anthem. Professional speakers will simulate human speech, saying stuff like "enemies incoming", "Susan, you pick up that ammo pack", and "Trevor, you cunt". It'll be the worst thing I've ever seen. However, I won't care, as I'll be giddy with excitement over the Burnout reveal. EA have forced the old Criterion crew back together and they are making Paradise 2. I shall be ecstatic.

Battlefield, Madden, NBA, FIFA, other car games; am I forgetting anything? An indie man will appear on stage and give a heartfelt speech about his adorable game. We will all be rooting for him. Unfortunately, his game will end up…