2022 Quick Game Reviews Done Quickly

I typically don’t write video game reviews like I once did, and that’s a shame. I wish I had the time. Instead, now I typically just blurt out my thoughts in real-time during my semi-monthly updates, when and where I can. But I do still like to do a year-end review, of sorts.

One reason I do this is to remind myself exactly what I played. At any given time, I usually have a few games on the go, and I don’t replay games as a rule, one and done, on to the next. So, I burn through a couple dozen games each year. And it’s nice to look back every now and then.

So, the following list is the big games I played in 2022. Doesn’t necessarily mean they were released in 2022, as some games can sit on my shelf or on the HDD for years before I find the time/motivation to start them. In most of the cases I have beaten the game or abandoned it, sufficiently happy with my time/money invested.

Where did January go? I swear it was just here when I was working on this list. February is half over? Seriously? I don’t even have any excuses…

Let’s jump into it:


The Gunk (2021)

The Gunk felt like a call back to simpler times in games. No micro transactions or loot crates or season passes. Just a stand-alone game with no multiplayer component. Like N64 RARE games. Only now with modern visuals. You’re dropped onto a planet and then you fight / puzzle your way to the end of the game. You unlock upgrades / abilities naturally, as dictated by the level design requirements. There’s not even a lot of fighting / combat in this game, mostly puzzles and platforming and an overall enjoyable experience. I played the game at the start of 2022 to offset my time in Halo Infinite and wrote a bit about it [HERE] and [HERE]. Here’s some in-game photos:

Watch Dogs Legion (2020)

One of the few games I’ve written a full review on, [HERE]. To summarize my impression of the game:

Overall the game was just OK. The main story villains played their role, but like our generic operatives, didn’t leave any lasting impressions. The final “who did it all” bad guy was a let down. The gameplay remains a fun mixture of stealth and gunplay. The anybody-is-a-recruit idea makes for a fun playground. However I did experience some issues with the collectibles and completion type of activities, like drinking at every bar location or completing all the paint-up wall paintings, as the achievements never unlocked for me.

The Pedestrian (2022)

Pedestrian started out being an enjoyable puzzle game. Imagine a street sign: flat, very simple design. That is the level design. Now add a 2D man, and then add platforms and elevators and doors, on the sign surface. Pretty smart design and initially fun but got very complicated and I never finished it. The game starts involving multiple rooms and background to foreground doors and intricate switch mechanics that involved multiple steps and screens and puzzles. And it stopped being fun. A shame really.

Maybe the difficulty peaks at that point and then dials it back but I’ll never know.

Borderlands 3 (2020)

Sadly, this game fell off our radar. I really should go back to finish it. Maybe I can convince the wife to play it with me in co-op. Borderlands has always been a great property with multiple main titles and spin-offs and just a lot of fun to play. But it’s one of those games I enjoyed playing in co-op, and if you can’t get the friends to sit down and play, then it falls off the radar into the background and eventually uninstalled. But I want to play through it, and then get Tiny Tina’s Wonderland expansion.

Far Cry New Dawn (2019)

Another Far Cry game, this time a sequel set 17 years after the events of Far Cry 5 (one of the endings, anyways, where the nuke goes off – spoiler alert) and it’s a very colourful and vibrant game, in a post-apocalyptic setting, with mutated animals and Mad Max style gangs. For the most part it was fun, as is all Far Cry games, but the gameplay is very boring now as there hasn’t been any changes to that formula. They try and mix it up with how your levelling and progression works but the core gameplay loop of running around with a gun, shooting enemies, and capturing outposts/bases, with animal hunting on the side, is still all the same as previous games in the series – just a new map. Or in this case, not even a new map – a recycled recoloured map. Another complaint I have with this series is the co-op progress does not retain. You can join another player’s co-op game and play the missions and complete the outposts/bases, but all you will get in return in the resources and money and XP progression, but no “story” progression.  If you load up your own save you will not be any further in the story or made any progress unlocking the map. You also don’t unlock “story” related achievements. A real bummer. See Far Cry 6 further down for more of the same complaints.  

Golf Club Wasteland (2021)

A fun, quiet, somber 2D indie game. The story is that Earth is now a wasteland and humanity has left. Only those rich enough travel back to Earth, and what do rich people do? They play golf. So, the setting is a run-down wasteland where you play golf through sewers and abandoned factories and malls. 2D level design. A fun game though.

Grounded (2020 early access)

Grounded has been a game that’s been interesting to watch progress through Early Access. Started out as essentially just a playground with a short introductory story, and as the years have passed, the team has added more content, story, achievements, and now they’ve finally gone 1.0.

The game is Honey I Shrunk the Kids for all intents and purposes. You play as shrunken kids with no memory about why you are suddenly small and in your back yard. You walk among ants and other small bugs, and fight off menacing spiders, and explore, and try to find out what happened and how to return to normal. Game is playable in 4 player co-op.

The game involves quite a bit of crafting and base-building that allows you to build up your character to take on bigger and badder bugs, like stink-beetles and ladybugs, and mosquitoes.

I’ve jumped into this game during a few of the early stages, and then spent quite a few hours once the achievements started popping. But I have not yet jumped in since the game went 1.0. Not sure if I will.

Shredders (2022)

Shredders is a fun indie snowboarding game with absolutely, terrible writing and voice acting. But I think that’s part of its charm. You play as a snowboarder who has a friend filming him doing fun jumps and stunts and sort of stumble your way into a X-Games-ish tournament only because the original participant broke his leg and saw your social media videos. Pretty solid mechanics, easy to learn but deep enough to try harder tricks made this game fun enough to jump into on occasion – but mostly because it’s been a few years since I’ve gone snowboarding myself due to covid and struggling to find the time after having kids. There was a bit of yearning that made me keep coming back to this game.

Mortal Kombat 11 (2020)

The Mortal Kombat / Injustice games haven’t really evolved much. Better visuals, and more characters. But the story is usually decent and lengthy. I played through the main campaign but haven’t made it through the Aftermath DLC expansion yet.

Sea of Solitude (2019)

An emotional indie adventure game. Has themes dealing with loneliness and depression. You sail a little boat around a sunken submerged city and work through navigation puzzles and some minor platforming. I liked the visual style, reminding of Rime. A short game, completed in a few couple-hour sittings.

FAR Changing Tides (2022)

FAR Changing Tides is a sequel to the previous FAR game. You’re tasked with piloting a land-boat-ship thing with a big multi-faceted sail. Requires a lot of micromanagement of the different parts of the ship, whether it be the sails, or the furnace that powers the engine. Sometimes parts break down or catch on fire. You also need to exit the ship occasionally to do some minor exploring to gather resources like fuel, or minor puzzles to open the gates or doors or barricades that block your path. The game is like a 2.5D side-scroller left-to-right deal. The sequel also added an under-water component, so now the ship is part submarine. Fun little game.

Dead Cells (2018)

Typically, I’m not a fan of rogue-like, rogue-lite? games, where every time you die, you re-spawn at the start of the game. There are minor progression elements where you can unlock newer weapons or perks or abilities, which would make each subsequent run theoretically easier or allow you to explore further into the game. There was a recent update to this game that made it much easier to play. With that difficulty adjustment I did enjoy playing this game.

Sniper Elite 5 (2022)

Played Sniper Elite 5 in co-op with Illestrader. We played 3 and 4 like that, and the Zombie spin-off games. New story, new map, but the series hasn’t evolved much. Still WWII setting.

Grand Theft Auto III Remastered (2021)

I sadly have not played this game as much as I had originally hoped. Haven’t gotten to Vice City or San Andreas either. Nostalgia alone hasn’t kept me interested.

Hitman 2 (2018)

I really wish I could just play this game in a linear fashion without feeling compelled to replay each mission to complete the different kill scenarios. I sometimes feel that my drive for achievements ruins games for me. After repeating the same level over and over, my interest will wane and then I stop because I’ve grown bored, and then I don’t advance the story. I should finish this so that I can move on to Hitman 3 in another 4 years, probably.

A Plague Tale – Innocence (2019)

I sat on this game for far too long, and only started playing it when the sequel was nearly coming out, and this one was leaving Game Pass. The game originally came out in 2019, but I played the Xbox Series X visual upgraded version from 2021, A very decent stealth adventure game. The setting is in medieval times and there’s a plague of rats, but they are supernatural, and your quest is to get your sickly brother to the doctor to heal him, but what ails him is related to this supernatural thing. Long live the rat king.

GRID Legends (2022)

A very standard racer, like previous GRID games. This time around they’ve added a story campaign about a rivalry between different car teams, using live action videos for the story elements. I’ve always liked the GRID games, but much prefer the DIRT series. But the open map in the Forza Horizons Series will always be top.

Riders Republic (2021)

Another Ubisoft attempt at a big online multiplayer filled world, like Steep but now with bikes and lots of other terrain sports, not strictly tied to the snow. I haven’t gotten as heavily engrossed in it like I did Steep, but it is fun in co-op on occasion. My chief complaint is the odd numbered achievements. I mean, WHY!? Why 16G and 32G Why?

Death Stranding (2019)

Wow, OK Death Stranding. My game of the year. Here’s the in-game photo album. Originally, I bought this game on the PS4 in 2019 when it came out, but never got around to playing it (see: I don’t really play PS4 as much, still haven’t played Days Gone or Last of Us II). But then it somehow made it’s way to PC Game Pass WITH XBOX ACHIEVEMENTS, and suddenly I made time. Sometimes all I need is the right motivation. This game is amazing from a technical gameplay perspective and bizarre from a story perspective. Both sides very much Hideo Kojima. You play as Sam Porter Bridges as a delivery person. You must carry boxes and gear and equipment as you try and reconnect the small cities remaining after the world ending event. The navigation and traversal of the land is the core gameplay loop. Mountains and gullies need to be crossed, while you are carrying huge amounts of cargo on your back and shoulders and legs. Balance and stamina need to be monitored so that you don’t fall over and lose everything you’re carrying. Sounds boring and tedious right? I can’t even begin to explain the story – but I’ll try. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic future where an event called the Death Stranding wiped out most life on earth and sort of caused life and the afterlife to merge in a way. Our job is to basically reconnect the remaining cities to the same network, and we are a bit special because we can survive in this world and the afterlife “beach” and travel in between in a fashion. The game is very good, also very weird. And I cannot do it justice with my words.

Forza Horizons 5 (2022)

More car racing. Like its predecessors, pushing the visual boundaries. Game takes place in Mexico now.

Fall Guys (2020)

I got back into this game when it switched to a free-to-play cross platform model. I played through the 1st season pass unlocking everything, and still jump in occasionally now. My son also enjoys playing.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2022)

Another game I got mostly to just play with my son. Cartoony beat-em-up game like arcade games of old.

Far Cry 6 (2022)

Another Far Cry played in co-op. These games are “fun”, but they don’t add anything after each iteration. Tired gameplay. Tired story. I feel like the last good one was Far Cry 4. But I continue to play these because co-op makes it worth it.

Halo Infinite (2021)

I’ve talked a lot about Halo Infinite this year and it wins the award for “most played game” of the year. For the first chunk I strictly played the multiplayer, completing the first season pass. Haven’t pick up multiplayer much since. After the first season I jumped into the Campaign and played that solo Legendary. Currently now playing the campaign co-op. The game is the best campaign of the series in my opinion.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2021)

GotG was a treat. A single player story with great writing. Gameplay was fun, a 3rd person action game with a mix of shooting and exploration/platforming/puzzles. You don’t really see stand-alone single player games like this with no multiplayer or seasonal content or micro transactions or DLC to speak of. I think they’re hard to sell, even harder to justify buying I think at full price. But it made its way to Game Pass and that’s when I got the chance to play it. Here’s some in-game photos of my time:


Well, that was my 2022. Looking forward to 2023. I’ve kicked off this year with Immortals : Fenyx Rising, and have committed myself to playing The Witcher III, Cyberpunk 2077, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.


iReview – Watch Dogs: Legion

The third entry into the Watch Dogs series asks the player to forget playing as the main character. Play as anyone you want. And it works…mostly. But I feel you lose some of the ownership of the story when you don’t have a central protagonist. Now you’re a team, and there is no “I” in team, but there is a “ME”, and I felt like a backseat driver or armchair coach for these operatives risking their life to take down the authoritative surveillance state that has become London.

The story starts with a terrorist attack, and as a result, the city goes into complete lock-down with a very heavy handed privatized military group, called Albion, overseeing law and order. Street cameras, roaming patrols, and drones are always on the look out for any rebellious activity. And the terrorist attacks are blamed on the Dedsec group (even though we totally didn’t do it, guys) and the main plot of the game is playing as Dedsec operatives trying to clear their names and get to the bottom of the attacks.

The story setting is a futuristic dystopia. But not like TOO futuristic. Take the highly technical ideas of the Watch Dogs series we’re familiar with, with hacking capabilities right at our fingertips, and one central OS that runs the city. Then add crytocurrency, drones, driver-less cars, and Artificial Intelligence, and that’s the future we’re in.

The story touches on sensitive subject matter like human trafficking and organ trafficking, slave trade, and neural mind mapping which is essentially trapping people in a cyber-coma.


Ok, so that’s the setting, now lets tackle the gameplay. Everything from previous games is back. Hacking ctOS hubs, huge network grids that you need to unlock one node at a time, hacking cameras to spy on people. NPC profiles. Spider bots, guns and stealth play. Collectibles (barf).

New to the series are non-lethal weapons, like paintball guns, and shock rifles. Bigger, badder drones, and turrets, but also helpful drones, like cargo drones that you can call and climb onto, to access rooftops, and of course, the aforementioned recruits.

The progress tech tree is back, but with a slight twist. The progress tree allows you to apply points to unlock hacking capabilities that everyone within your recruit list can benefit from. These range from weapon upgrades, hacking enemy electronics (guns, radios), to hacking and hijacking different enemy drone and turrets. Also unlocking different combat techniques, like electrified brass knuckles for a one punch knockout, or electric traps, or different spider bots.

The grid hacking is the same as previous games, with minimal advancement in that area. Some grids are small, using multiple camera angles where you’ll need to cycle around the room, some are big, branching out across the entire outer face of a building, where you’ll need a drone to fly around and unlock. Gone is the urgency from some of the grids, as with Watch Dogs 2 there were timed nodes that would call security if you didn’t unlock the grid in time, but with WD: L, they just reset, and they were few and far between. Also, speaking of scale, it gets even smaller, as you have to build and control a nano-drone that can fly inside a server computer and laser computer chips, and avoid heat sinks and cooling fans.


Make way for the recruits. In Watch Dogs 1 and 2, the game proudly proclaimed that you could profile any NPC to find out about who they are, and then hack them and rob them. This game takes it one step further, and turns every NPC into a potential playable character. Every person on the street is a potential recruit. They all have jobs and depending on what they do, can provide gameplay perks. Like a construction worker can call upon a cargo drone at any point, or the former spy comes with a car and unique weapons or watch gadget. The hitman comes with an AR cloak, and the football fan comes with a gang of rowdy friends to help beat people up (leaning on some stereotypes here). Every recruit is unique in their own way, and by the end of the game I think I had accumulated more than 30 different members. Some will be stronger, and better at fighting, some will be better at hacking. There is also a permadeath mode to the game, where if your recruit dies, they’re gone for good, but on the normal mode they just get arrested or injured. And if you have a cop or a doctor-type recruit on your team, the cool down for the arrested or injured recruit is drastically reduced, and they’ll be willing to help again in no time.

Overall the idea is cool, and there are some missions where you have to recruit a specific person to fill the job, like a DJ to infiltrate a party, or a getaway driver to help escape, but besides those rare exceptions, its really nothing more than a novelty. You can dress the recruits how you want, and equip them with the needed hardware and gadgets, and they each have their own semi-unique personality and accent, but at the end of the day you’ll want the best stealth or best firearm for the job, and I found myself cycling out of 1 or 2 key recruits that I would use for every mission, and a 3rd if I happened to get my others arrested or killed mid-mission.

Really the best part about the recruits is that they roam around the city and scope out the next mission or side mission, so they’re basically mobile fast-travel spots.


So who is the main character of the story? Bagley, the AI. He’s with you every step of the way, and is always in your ear, filled with attitude. Even though you don’t play as him, he is the main character in my opinion. There’s even a post-campaign mission where you find out who Bagley was, prior to him becoming an AI, retreading on the story’s neural mapping ideas.


Overall the game was just OK. The main story villains played their role, but like our generic operatives, didn’t leave any lasting impressions. The final “who did it all” bad guy was a let down. The gameplay remains a fun mixture of stealth and gunplay. The anybody-is-a-recruit idea makes for a fun playground. However I did experience some issues with the collectibles and completion type of activities, like drinking at every bar location or completing all the paint-up wall paintings, as the achievements never unlocked for me. Apparently this is a glitch due to the changing operatives function, and probably the Xbox’s Quick Resume. The sure way of unlocking it is to visit all the locations in one sitting as one operative, and I really can’t be bothered to go back and do that.

I bought the DLC expansion, and haven’t tried that yet, but unlocking Aidan Pierce (WD 1) to be a playable character in the main campaign was fun for a minute, except hes now a grizzled shell of his former self, so playing as him was just depressing. He’s just so angry now. Playing as Wrench (WD 2) was fun though.


Notable Achievements:
Meta-Gaming: Recruit a Video Game Designer
Paint Me Like One of Your…: Stun Clan Kelly members 5 times with paintball gun headshots

For those that like cell phones, paintball, and driverless cars.


2021 Quick Game Reviews Done Quickly

I typically don’t write video game reviews like I once did, and that’s a shame. I wish I had the time. Instead now I typically just blurt out my thoughts in real-time during my weekly updates, when and where I can. But I do still like to do a year-end review, of sorts.

One reason I do this is to remind myself exactly what I played. At any given time I usually have a few games on the go, and I don’t replay games as a rule, one and done, on to the next. So I burn through a couple dozen games each year. And its nice to look back every now and then.

So the following list is the big games I played in 2021. Doesn’t necessarily mean they were released in 2021, as some games can sit on my shelf for years before I find the time/motivation to start them. In most of the case I have beaten the game or abandoned it, sufficiently happy with my time/money invested.

A large part of 2020 I was invested in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, and that’s the game I wrapped up 2020 with and started 2021 with, so that’s a good enough game to start the list.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (2018) – G 1395/1850
When AC: Origins (which is set in 49BC Egypt) came out, it introduced a lot of new gameplay elements into the AC series. Cosmetic gear, and gear stats. New weapon types, and experience levels. This was one of the biggest shake-ups in the AC series in a long time. Odyssey (Which is set in 430 BC Greece) expanded on that more, and is basically AC at its very best and deepest ( I say this without having played Valhalla). They, as in the game designers, also gave you the option at the start of the game to play either as a Male or Female, as the game is based around two siblings. In AC Syndicate you had the option to switch back and forth between the male and female protagonist, but this time around you have to pick. It is also a huge game, and there have been some complaints thrown its way that maybe its too big. Unnecessarily big and bloated. That Ubisoft, in an attempt to keep you in its game longer than warranted, adds too much and is not respecting their player’s time. AC Valhalla has also had this said about it, but I haven’t played Valhalla yet to verify. All I can say to this is, if you think its a waste of time, stop playing. You don’t owe the game anything. I didn’t have the patience to playthrough the 2 DLC expansions.

Little Nightmares (2017) – G 1050/2200
I honestly don’t know how this game slipped through the cracks, and I didn’t even know it existed until it’s sequel was announced, and this one was added to GamePass. Because I really like these 2.5D side stroller puzzle games. Like Limbo, or Inside, or others I’m forgetting to mention. I ended up buying it outright, with the DLCs and just adore it. Its dark and twisted. Haven’t gotten around to all of the DLCs yet, or the sequel yet.

Donut County (2018) – G 1000/1000
Honestly I played this game for the achievements, but it was a lot of fun nonetheless. You play as a hole in the ground. Yep.

And kind of like Feeding Frenzy, or inverse Katamari Damacy, you grow bigger as you consume more stuff. Start small and grow bigger. Each level has its own set of puzzles to overcome. The story is pretty funny too. Its about a Trash King raccoon trying to acquire trash by sending holes to swallow everything above-ground, disguising it as a pizza delivery app.

The Touryst (2020) – G 1000/1000
The Touryst is an adventure/puzzle game with a blocky art style. Almost like 3D pixel art. This Minecraft but gorgeous. Fully rendered and with lovely lighting. Its set in a vacation setting with a few different islands to travel to, and you are trying to unravel a strange mystery. There is platforming and some puzzle / action elements.

Fortified (2016) – G 480/1000
Illestrader initially bought this for my birthday and he intended to buy himself a copy, but never did. So I waited and waited, and never played it. Until I bought it for him for his birthday a few years later. Then we finally did. Its an Indie Tower Defence game where you play as one of four character types with their own unique powers, against waves are alien invaders. Its kind of a crap game, but fun enough with friends to play with in co-op.

Generation Zero (2019) – G 135/1390
We spent a few nights playing this game in co-op. Its a large map FPS where you are fighting against machines. Its more of a survival strategy game as you have limited resources, and there’s crafting, etc. Not my style of game and we didn’t stick around. 5 hours or so and that allowed us through the “Intro Missions”. That was enough for me to say I wasn’t interested in the tedious grind. We actually tried it recently again but the multiplayer was broken after a recent update and whenever we tried to create a multiplayer game it would completely freeze. So, yeah… Its a shame too, because it was made by Avalanche Studio, we were hoping for more.

Just Cause 4 (2018) – G 690/2500
The fourth game in the Just Cause series and its about what you’d expect. Lots of guns and explosions. Planes and cars, and parachutes, and wing suits. This time around they added some more weather elements, like a lightning storm, sand storms, and the big seller was the tornado. These weather elements are actually story related and not just a cool thing in the game. You can also do more with the grapple hooks, but more doesn’t always mean better, and arguably, I enjoyed Just Cause 3 more due to its grappling simplicity. I own all the DLC but was burnt out after completing the game and haven’t tried them out yet.

Zombie Army 4: Dead War (2020) – G 395/1210
Another fourth game in the series, but Zombie Army is more of an expansion or mod of the Sniper Elite series as they are the same design/gameplay/developer/engine. Just with a Zombie overlay. The Zombie Army games are a lot of fun though, especially in co-op. This game we are still playing through, but a lot of co-op games keep coming out and we have a short attention span on our weekly co-op game night.

Rain on Your Parade (2021) – G 1250/1500
This game is a silly little rain and weather puzzle game. You play as a rain cloud. And as you progress through the levels, you unlock lightning, snow, and wind. Levels have their objectives to be met, but they’re all pretty easy to accomplish. I got this an an easy achievement game, but ended up 100% it and looking forward to the DLC. My son enjoys the game too as it turns out to be pretty fun to play a cloud raining on people.

Marvel’s Avengers (2020) – G 500/1000
One of the bigger releases of 2020 was Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix’s Marvels Avengers. From a strict gameplay/story perspective, this game I enjoyed quite a bit, but from a fully realized game, this one was a bit of a dumpster fire. Poor, buggy launch and not fully realized end-game. Its good looking, and its a fun action/combat game where you play as all the Marvel’s Avengers, with the story perspective focusing on Kamala Khan’s Ms Marvel with her stretchy body parts. The Wakanda expansion is supposed to be really good too. The game is very messy and convoluted from a menu design perspective though and it can be hard to actually start the game, or figure out what you’re supposed to be doing. They basically throw too much information at you and its hard to filter out what you want. I’m excited to try the Guardians of the Galaxy game though, as that it supposedly just linear story focus and a blast.

NieR: Automata (2018) – G 255/1000
This game is very unlike anything I would typically play. Its part hack and slash, with some RPG elements, and Gundam-like spaceship battles. This game also requires multiple playthrough’s to get the complete story, but I was content enough with just once-through perspective. I also played this game on easy mode, with the auto-combat enabled so I didn’t rally have to do much heavy lifting during the fights. Overall I enjoyed it for what it was. Interesting story about a proxy-war between alien-created machines, and human-crafted androids. Main story focus’ on the character 2B, which is a very popular cosplay character ;).

Super Lucky’s Tale (2017) – G 615/2000
I originally tried this game when it came out as a free Xbox Games with Gold title, but after 1 level I had had enough. “Too childish. Too easy. I have better things to play.” It wasn’t until my 3 year old son got more interested in games that I picked this up again as it was a game suitable for him to watch and play on his own. Its a simple yet challenging-at-times 3D platformer, and you play as a brave fox. I was steadily playing through all the chapters unlocking achievements when my son started a new game, erasing all saved data. I have since uninstalled that version and installed New Super Lucky’s Tale, which is a re-release of the same game, just updated and modernized a bit. He’s been playing through that on his own this time.

Outriders (2021) – G 730/1045
Whoa, a AAA game that came out in 2021 made the list. Impressive. This is because it was a surprise Day 1 launch on Game Pass. Sold. It also wasn’t that bad. Just bland. Post apocalyptic 3rd-person shooter made by People Can Fly, who previously made other 3rd-person shooters like a Gears of War title, and Bulletstorm. The change this time is you have special powers as well. Overall a decent title, just a little unpolished and with pretty bad writing. And the in-game map was awful.

Boomerang-Fu (2020) – G 900/1000
Oh Boomerang-Fu, my son’s favourite game. I got this game back in August and 90%’d all the achievements within the first day. It is still on my console and played daily. Its a fun party game where you play as food with boomerangs killing other food with boomerangs.

Twelve Minutes (2021) – G 1000/1000
Twelve Minutes is a time-loop game where you play a boyfriend returning home to his condo and girlfriend. And then a cop shows up and starts interrogating you, and he either kills you, or the girlfriend or both, and you need to play through the story and dialogue on a 12 minute loop to find out the true story behind this abrupt interruption to your evening. The whole game takes place from a top down perspective in a 3 room condo in 12 minute loops, or quicker if you try and leave through the door. The ending kind of ruins the whole game, but it was an interesting game nonetheless.

Surgeon Simulator 2 (2020) – G 440/1000
I don’t think I played a game that simultaneously caused me to laugh at the ridiculousness and also scream at the technical glitches that ruined the fun. Surgeon Simulator is a physics operation room game. You play as a surgeon and you have control of one arm trying to perform increasingly complicated surgeries. From arm transplants, to lungs and heart, to brain. You can pull the appendages out by hand but this causes excessive bleeding, so you have to use hammers or saws to do the work, but as I mentioned, only one hand, and all the buttons on the controller control individual parts of the arm and hand. Like Octo-Dad. Its fun, but when you play in co-op, the network technical glitches caused more problems as suddenly the character and tool physics will go haywire and suddenly you’re left with a decapitated body bleeding everywhere, then you’ve failed the level.

Aliens: Fireteam Elite (2021) – G 185/1000
Aliens: Fireteam Elite had a lot of good things going for it, but I think underwhelming or anti-climactic would describe the overall experience. The levels and mission structure was fun, but short. And the slow grinding upgrade system encouraged, no, required repeated playthroughs, but honestly who has the time? My co-op nights are once a week for a few hours. I’m moving on as soon as I see the credits. Hoping for an expansion down the road.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War (2017) – G 715/1500
I found myself in between large open-world type games after Assassins Creed and Outriders, and didn’t want to jump into another Ubisoft game like AC Valhalla or Watch Dogs. So I went back to the game that’d been sitting on my HDD for what felt like a lifetime. It filled the void I was looking for, but it wasn’t satisfying at the end. Wasn’t as memorable as its predecessor so I haven’t even looked back or thought about the DLC.

Morkredd (2020) – G 175/1000
Played this in co-op as a Marital Madness Twitch night with the Wife. A decent puzzle game that I wanted to go through before it expired off Game Pass. Enjoyable, but a weird ending. A shame its off GamePass as I’d like to go through it again to clean up some outstanding achievements.

Dirt 5 (2020) – G 1800/1800
Gotta have at least one annual racing title. Its either Need For Speed, Dirt, or Forza on rotation. Dirt 5 had the honour in 2021 and while it was gorgeous as a launch title for the Xbox Series X it lacked a little something. Its courses were interesting enough, but it lacked diversity. Codemasters tried to sell that the courses had variety because of weather or night time/ day time variations but it just didn’t have enough variety, and it started to feel very repetitive as you progress through the career path. I have 100%’d the game and its 4 DLC expansions so it obviously did some right. But really I wanted it cleared off my HDD so I can move onto Forza Horizons 5.

My honourable mentions below are games I currently have on the go, either solo or in co-op but don’t have enough to say for a quick review. These I will save for 2022’s Quick Reviews Done Quickly:

Watch Dog’s: Legion
Forza Horizons 5
It Takes Two
Borderlands III

Thank you 2021, another year with games having been played.

2019 Video Game Reviews Done Quickly

Last year around this time (on this day to be precise), I did a full year review of the all the video games I played. I composed tiny reviews for 23 games. This year it looks like the magic number 23 again. Sounds like a trend.

So, these are the games I completed in 2019. Some of which may not have been released in 2019. And when I say complete, I mean either I 100%’d it, finished the main campaign story if it is open-ended or has end-game content, or I consider it done enough that I won’t be revisiting it. Also the order below is roughly Jan through Dec, for when I completed the game, and not necessarily when I started the game. You’ll get the idea as you read the list.


Red Dead Redemption II (2018): I technically beat this game January 1st 2019, but mostly played it in December, and did a little blurb in last year’s review, so we’ll just start with this:

“[…] this game is a technical marvel, from game-play to visuals. Rockstar Games has always paid incredible attention to the most mundane of details. It means their games take 5-6 years to make, but the time pays off.”

Astroneer (2017-2019): Astroneer started out as an early access game that Wayne and I played in 2017. The 1.0 version came out early 2019, with achievements and an actual end game. The game is a fun mining/crafting game. You start on a planet and have to mine and gather materials to build a spaceship to travel to other planets. There’s a very deep crafting system that allows you to refine the raw materials into alloys and then build buggies, and trailers, and solar panels, and air-purifiers. Each thing to help make the primary task easier. I never fully completed this game, but do jump in every once in a while. It has terrible lag when playing in co-op and I’m not sure if that’s been resolved yet/ever.

Horizon: Zero Dawn (2017): Horizon Zero Dawn would be the sole Playstation game for 2019, and I actually started this game in 2017, but just never got around to completing it. After completing Spiderman and God of War last year, I figured it was finally time to wrap up Horizon Zero Dawn. Game takes place in a post apocalyptic lust world, where machine-like dinosaurs rule. You play as Aloy, trying to find out what hapened to the world. Again, this was another game that just didn’t grab me initially. I would play here and there for a bit but couldn’t stay interested. Primarily due to the difficulty curve, as it just felt like a grind to play. I dropped the difficulty down to Story mode and had an absolute blast for the rest of the game. I haven’t tried the DLC, but I really should. 2020 will be a big year for me in the Playstation realm, with Death Stranding out now, and The Last of Us II release mid-2020. I also want to play Uncharted 4 and Uncharted Lost Legacy which are in the queue (aka: shelf).

Planet Alpha (2018): Planet Alpha is a fun side-scroller platformer game, similar to Inside or Limbo. You wake up on an alien planet and must try to escape. There are more puzzle elements at play as you can adjust the day and night cycles which will use to navigate each level. You’ll notice that side scrolling walking puzzle games are my go-to this year. I just appreciate their pace.

Assassin’s Creed Origins (2017): Origins was the first major leap for the AC series into the next gen, with 4k visuals on the Xbox One X. And it is a pretty game. I even posted a large photo album of in-game screen shots. I’ve always liked the AC games and this was no different. They modernized the RPG elements with leveling, and gear pickups which is a nice adjustment. 2020 I’ll be getting in Odyssey, and then I should be fully caught up, until Vikings comes out I guess.

DOOM (2016): 2.5 years after I started playing this game I finally pushed myself to finish it. There was nothing wrong with the game that caused me to take so long, it’s just very intense. Very in-your-face, loud metal music playing, gore and nonstop frantic combat. After each level I was just left very white-knuckled, a little jumpy and short of breath. So I would have to put the controller down for a few months at a time before getting back into it. This year I decided to just play it consistently and push through to the end. Very solid game, lots of fun, and gorgeous on the Xbox One X.

Crackdown 3 (2019): This game is exactly like Crackdown 1 and 2. Disappointed that it took so freaking long to make, and the waiting for the cloud-based destruction wasn’t even in the campaign, but attached as a multiplayer component. Verdict: not worth the wait.

The Gardens Between (2018): This was a fun little puzzle game. Game starts as two young friends are about to be separated as one is moving away, and the game is told from the perspective of their memories together. Each one, its own little island, from the perspective of the child’s imagination. You control the two players simultaneously, and you do so by moving time forward and backwards, as the characters walk their path. Very simple mechanic, and a fun little heartfelt game as a result.

39 Days to Mars (2019): Another little fun 2-D puzzle game that I played in co-op with Nichole. The concept is you and your friend are going to fly the most unreliable spaceship to Mars. Everything at some point will break down during the trip, and you’ll come across space squids that will ink your ship and you’ll need to catch with a fishing net and eventually a space kraken. The in-between times when your ship is not falling apart, you’ll need to make tea and sandwiches. The game is made with co-op in mind and the co-op puzzles are all paper-craft types which can be both funny and frustrating to pull off. This game did not end up in divorce.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (2017): I have very much enjoyed the Wolfenstein reboot games. They are very polished and have solid dual wielding gunplay mechanics. Difficult at times, but I felt this had a shorter, but tighter story than the previous two. Only issue I had was when I was about halfway through, I accidentally wiped my game save. And had to start from the beginning. But that was my fault.

Anthem (2019): Alright, first of 4 big 2019 AAA titles I played this year. EA/BioWare’s big new IP. A lot of complaints got thrown at this game on launch as it made a lot of weird decisions in its design, and didn’t have any satisfactory end-game content. For me, I don’t care about end-game content. That’s a weird term. The campaign is over, the game is over. Move on. Why do you need more? They have made a lot of changes to the design and added more content over the past year, but gameplay remains relatively the same. Big positive ease-of-use improvement is you can changes your weapons mid-mission now. Which, why that was a limitation on launch, I’ll never know. This game wanted to be the next Destiny, so why didn’t they make it more like Destiny, instead of handcuffing the player at every opportunity? Because EA? I enjoyed the story and gameplay a lot. I actually wrote an “in progress” review for this game back in March.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018): Third and maybe final (?) in the Tomb Raider reboot series. A very solid conclusion to the series if it does end. A tighter story than the last one, but with more tombs which is nice. Gorgeous as always. Gameplay hasn’t really changed since the 2015 reboot, they just keep adding more and more outfits.

FAR: Lone Sails (2019): Another side-scrolling puzzle type game, similar to Limbo, Inside, and Planet Alpha. This time you play a little dude controlling what can be best described as a desert sailboat? A large machine with wheels, and a sail. You start off with very little, but as you progress, your ship gets upgraded with better wheels and a sail. You need to pick up fuel as your progress, and you need to repair your ship as the story moves along. The sail helps conserve fuel, but if you are not paying attention, you can crash into walls or checkpoints if you don’t stop in time. A quiet, somber game with an enjoyable soundtrack.

Celeste (2018): This game won Best Independent Game, and Games for Impact in last year’s Game Awards which inspired the purchase. The game is a 2-D platformer with speedrunning in mind. All about speed and finesse. Retro look and feel. The game gets very difficult near. Each level also has a few collectibles and a b-side to encourage replayability. The story is about a girl who is suffering from depression and anxiety, and her goal is to climb this mountain and reach the peak. The subject matter touches on struggling with anger and doubt, and defeat, and overcoming those emotions.

Submerged (2015): 3rd person combat-free game in which you explore a flooded city in a boat, and must scale the buildings to find the medical parcels to help your brother. Easy achievements, can be completed in a day. Nothing exciting worth writing about.

Gears 5 (2019): 2nd big AAA title for 2019. Follow up to Gears 4, following the events of the Gears team, with the focus on Kait Diaz as she discovers the origins of the Locust and her family. Good looking, a little buggy with the robot, Jack, as a playable character. Story was pretty routine, but the large open level segments where you surf around on the skiff really took me out of the game, as these segments were just large and void of anything. Close quarters, narrow alleys and crumbling buildings is where Gears thrived. Back when it was dark and scary. Now it’s bright and open and I don’t like it. Also you end up fighting robots a lot now. Two thumbs neither up nor down. Just sideways. Meh. They put a lot of emphasis on all the different multiplayer modes, and escape modes which I was not interested in.

What Remains of Edith Finch (2017): In the 2nd half of 2019 I started playing a lot more, smaller, indie games. Games that I could run through in a short time. I had a very specific goal for Extra Life 2019 to reach 250K Xbox Gamerscore. When I started this in July I needed 14k to reach my goal. Indie games are usually pretty quick, and easy to 100% for 1000G. WRoEF was one of these game with an interesting story about a large family, where all the family members die. The daughter/narrator returns home to this weird house as the last remaining member of this sad family, and reads/plays through the family journal to tell the story of each family member, and their unfortunate death. One story was of a boy who was on a swing-set and believed he could do a full 360 loop around the tree branch. He succeeded, and subsequently flew off the swing and cliff and died. This story told in first person view actually caused me motion sickness and had to stop playing for a day. Another story was of a baby drowning in a bathtub. That one kinda messed me up for a bit, as a new dad.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (2016): At any given time, Activision has 3 different teams working on Call of Duty titles. This iteration primary took place in space, in the future, and had you flying a space ship for a chunk of levels. This game won the award for having the most down-voted announcement trailer. Good game though. Pushed the bar for visuals for a COD title and was fun to play with the futuristic weapons. With COD titles you pretty much know what you’re getting into, which is why I don’t buy them new.

Guns, Gore, and Cannoli 2: Sequel to Guns, Gore and Cannoli 1 – go figure. 2-D side scrolling shooter game, like the old Metal Slug games. Played in co-op on Extra Life night (supports up to 4 players), completed in 1 sitting. Fun, humourous and a cartoony art-style.

Diablo 3: Nichole and I started this game in 2017, and it took us 2 years to finish it. Top down dungeon crawler game with lots of loot and fun gameplay combat. Equally fun in co-op except when you’re waiting for the other person to manage their loot and gear, and attacks, and spells, and, and, and…

Far Cry 5 (2018): Fry Cry games really became fun to play around Far Cry 3. 3 had a good story. 4 was fun. Primal had a good story and no guns (which was different). 5 was tedious. When 4 was introduced, they introduced Co-op in the most broken way. You could join a friend’s game, gain xp, and help unlock outposts, but you’ll make no progress in the single player campaign. So you don’t unlock achievements or any story progress. So why bother playing in co-op at all? Wayne and I beat the game begrudgingly. We beat “HIS” game that is.

STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen Order (2019): 3rd big AAA title of the year. And probably my top game of the year (without counting the next game). a fun Star Wars story about a unknown Jedi, taking place after Revenge of the Sith and Palpatine’s Order 66 which turned the clone army on the Jedi Council. Force powered individuals are in hiding and this story is about finding a codex of force enabled children before the Republic does. Fun platforming and light-saber wielding gameplay with force push and pull powers. Made by the Titanfall developer. In a time where EA has the exclusive rights to make Star Wars games, and so far they’ve only turned out Battlefront multiplayer crap, having a Single Player focused game, that doesn’t get cancelled, and its actually GOOD, is a relief.

Honourable mention:

CONTROL (2019): I’m currently in the middle of this game, so it can’t be officially included in this list. But its a neat one. kinda like Psi-Ops / Second Sight. You play a female agent who arrives at a large building that deals with strange anomalies. All the staff have been taken over by this strange force, and you use a gun that is alive(?) to fight your way out of problems. You also have telekinetic powers, and can throw objects around and create a shield made of concrete. Made by the develops of Alan Wake and Quantum Break. Also the main character has internal dialogue with herself/you the play. Its bizarre, and cool. And will likely win Game of the Year at this year’s Game of the Year Awards (which take place tomorrow, Dec 12).

Top 5:
SW Jedi Fallen Order
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Wolfenstein II
Horizon: Zero Dawn
The Gardens Between

Bonus: I also plan to do a “My Top Games of the Decade” list before the end of the month. Pray for me as I enter that rabbit hole.


Anthem Impressions – In Progress

I’ve been playing through Anthem slowly for about a month now. I picked it up upon release, but with my limited free evenings, have only been able to dedicate a few hours at a time.

My Xbox App tells me I’ve been playing in this new world for about 25 hours so far. So, I guess roughly averaging an hour a night. I’m coming close to the finishing the story, so this is just a work-in-progress update, as I may have some more to add once the campaign concludes and the end-game opens up. On that note, I’ve only played with the Ranger Javelin (armored exosuit), so I want to try the other suits too, before my final impressions.

EA/Bioware has done something fairly unique with Anthem, where it almost feels like 2 games. It’s an Action shooter with RPG elements and story, where we play a Freelancer who wears a Javelin exosuit. Inside the city hub of Fort Tarsis is the safe zone, and then outside the city walls is where the bad guys reside. Our job as a Freelancer is to take out contracts, to help kill the monsters, bugs, and bad guys outside.

Inside the city hub is where all the RPG stuff happens. You can change up your Javelin type, look and load-out in the Forge. You can wander around the city talking to people and vendors, building the story and world, and get mission contracts. Then, when our ears are sore, we walk over to the exosuit and launch into the Mission environment where the fun happens. I say “launch” but that’s is putting it nicely, as you have to wait for the loading screens to provide the menu options of either entering the free play open world, loading up a contract, campaign mission, or stronghold (dungeon). All of these are separate instances and you can’t slip from one to the other without first traveling back to the City environment.

When the mission or free-play adventure is done, and we get our credits and perks, and weapon unlocks, and XP, we are then provided a choice of re-entering the city again, or going to the Forge to update the suit (you then have to exit the Forge before you can launch the next expedition, see: more loading screens). The game does not just let you enter free-play again, or to jump into the next mission. You always have to go back to the single-player hub before you can decide what to do next. This divide in the game’s world is cumbersome. I really wish we could just fly back to the city, land and seamlessly transition into the city hub. Or just queue up the next mission or contract we have waiting.

From a gameplay perspective, the game is fun. The Javelin I’m playing now is the Ranger, which is the “all-around” most normal of the bunch. The suit allows you to fly around, hover and attack the enemies as an armored version of the human inside. Think the Iron Man suit – if he was also toting a few types of machine guns strapped to his back instead of embedded in his suit. The Ranger is light, allows standard movement and flying/hovering. The other types of Javelins are the Interceptor, Storm, and Colossus. The Colossus’ name basically says it all. It’s the Hulk Buster version of the exosuit. Slow, and heavy. Storm is the like the Ranger, but with a cape. It allows more flying and maneuverability, and elemental attacks. And Interceptor is the quick ninja type suit. (As I said at the top, I haven’t tried the other suits yet.) The 4 suits will unlock as we naturally reach the max level 30, and then we can modify each class build the way we want.

The missions do feel a little repetitive. They always start on the big wall that resides outside city limits, and protects Fort Tarsis. We then fly to the noted location on the map, and then attack enemies, or defend a position, or gather a few scatters objects to return to a key location, and then maybe do that a few more times before the end of the mission. Some of the important key campaign missions do feel a bit more important and mix up the formula a bit.

But repetitive structure is not always bad. Each mission is in its own way unique. 22 story missions and about the same again in side-mission / contracts. And by default, the game will want you to play in multiplayer, with 3 other squad mates, so it is a different experience every time. You can play how you want. Be the attacker, or the defender, or the person that wants to do all the objectives, or you can sit back and watch. Sometimes it kind of feels like playing on auto pilot (at least on normal difficulty) as your real-world companions will do the majority of the leg work if you’re not quick enough. Everyone is just eager to burn through the mission to move onto the next.

The flying in the game is smooth, and the transition from ground, to jumping, to flying to hovering is fairly seamless. You can even go underwater in some of the deeper ponds. I did note that besides traveling from point A to point B, flying is not really used. I was kind of hoping for more gameplay mechanics that involved flying, like objects that were on the move, but I found out to my dismay that you can’t really shoot and fly at the same time. Hovering is used for some collectibles and puzzles, but those are sparse. Also your suit will overheat if you fly over hover too long, and you need to fly, skimming across the water, or through a waterfall to cool it down. Or just drop to the ground for a few seconds before flying again. I understand that this mechanic is supposed to convey some authenticity to these suits, that you can’t just fly forever, but its more of an annoyance than anything.

Another restriction to the suits is your build. With the Ranger Javelin, you carry two weapons, a grenade type, and a launcher. You’re also equipped with a special weapon, a support mechanic like armor or shield buff, and you can melee attack. This build is locked when you start your mission. Grenade type or swapping your shotgun for an assault rifle is restricted until you return to Fort Tarsis. The game’s back-end has a lot of gear and weapon challenges to track, and it feels like we’re handcuffed to the specific load-out when we start the mission. Another reason we’re forced to return home after each mission to update our Javelin with the loot that was dropped during the mission.

Jumping into the game, knowing it was Story focused became a little overwhelming at first. BioWare does storytelling well when they’re given the time. But the game starts in the middle of an exciting mission, but already on the losing end of the battle, so all the character dialogue is frantic, and confused, and quick to throw a lot of terminology our way. We start off in bad shape and we have to repair our suit which is a good way to introduce the different gameplay mechanics involving the exosuit. The gameplay is simple enough, but from a story perspective, they throw a lot at you right away. Descriptions about the Anthem? and the Cataclysm? and Heart of Rage? and Javelins and Ciphers?

I let the many introductory character’s conversations and mission objectives just wash over me while I tried to just sort out the gun play. It wasn’t until a few hours into the game that things started to settle down and became less confusing. I started to make sense of the different characters and the original events that transpired. At that point I was invested in the story and was able to piece everything together. World building is tough to swallow when it’s all thrown at you in the first mission of a game you’re just learning to play. I’m focusing on the gameplay but the story flew right over my head.

Because this game is also inherently multiplayer-focused, I feel that the way the mission matchmaking works, some of the character’s interactions can be lost. If you want to hear every line of dialogue, you’ll want to launch each mission single player for the first time. It will be more of a grind because you won’t have any help, but with matchmaking, loading up a mission, you may be dropped into one where your companions are already flying to the first objective, or even loaded into a cave or dungeon. This only happened to me on a few occasions. I personally don’t feel I’ve missed anything crucial to the story by having to rush off to catch up to the group, as the dialogue still plays regarless.

But there have been a few instances where I’ve loaded a mission and the action is already taking place. Where I’ve had to fly towards the destination marker, to find the rest of my crew has already cleared the area and are advancing. I feel a little unwanted, knowing that the game started this mission without me. Like I was almost an afterthought to this group of strangers. What did I miss? I don’t know. Just personally, I feel since I’m initiating my own story mission from the campaign (not free play where I’m just loading a random mission with a group), that the mission should start, for me, at the beginning. Everyone else can join me along the way, I don’t care. But I’m selfish.

This may very well be just a server/balancing act with EA/BioWare. I mean the matchmaking works extremely well, all things considered. 90% of the missions I’ve launched, all the crew load at the same point and off we go. Only one mission I’ve played had only 1 partner instead of the full crew. And matchmaking loading is quick compared to Destiny. But in this one respect, Destiny handles the matching making better. We all queue up in space and fly to the mission. In Anthem everyone is just dropped on the wall and off we go. But some are slower to load and get left behind.

These be me thoughts so far. When I wrap the story and try out the other Javelins, I’ll have more to say. Right now I’ve only tried one Stronghold (I’m assuming there are more) and my gear is still low tier. I’m excited to see what the rest of the story has for me. And what happens when the end-game open up.