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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

iRogan

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.
iRogan


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.

-iRogan

Looking through my 2018 history, I did zero video game reviews…

Let’s change that.

These are games I completed in 2018, some of which may not have released in 2018. I’ll put the initial release date in parentheses.

Mafia III (2016): Mafia 3 has a really solid story. Upon release it was hindered with game breaking bugs. This hurt sales and reviews. I got the complete edition on discount which included all the DLC and it was worth the price of admissions.

Quantum Break (2016): I bought this game in 2016 and then sat on it. This was a mistake. One of the better games I played this year. Mechanics were really cool and story was interesting, with live action episodes spaced between the game chapters.

STEEP (2016): I waited on this game until it was cheaper. This was a good decision. It is a very cool snow sport game, but not worth full price. Olympic’s DLC was too expensive but it did add a rocket powered wing suit.

Mass Effect Andromeda (2017): I rarely, if ever abandon games mid-playthrough. Mass Effect Andromeda falls into this category.

Need For Speed Payback (2017): A solid racing game through and through. One of the first games that got to utilize my Xbox One X and 4K TV. This game made news because of how poisonous the video game community can be towards developers sometimes, when they don’t get what they want. Like the delayed release date for the Skyline dlc car. (See: Dissapointed in the community – needforspeed – reddit)

Far Cry Primal (2016): I sat of the fence with this game, because although I’ve always enjoyed the Far Cry games (from 3 on…), the concept of this one made me apprehensive as it was a close quarters combat (no guns) game taking place in 10,000 BC. Story ended up being really good. I did miss the long range options, but spears turn out to be pretty brutal weapons.

The Witness (2016): A very intriguing and smart puzzle game. Too smart for me.

Sea of Thieves (2018): What’s bad about being a pirate in the open sea? When there’s nothing to do and you don’t have many friends. On launch this game struggled with repetitious grind and lack of content. They’ve added more but the content requires more crew members. Like, more than 2 which is a shame.

Injustice God Among Us: I don’t typically pick up and play fighting games. But this one really impressed me. So much so, that I got Mortal Kombat X and Injustice 2.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (2018): This game is a shorter, intense story game (6 hours) focused on mental health and multiple personality traits. Gorgeous visuals and puzzle and combat gameplay. Recommended to play with surround sound headphones 🎧 to fully experience voices in your head.

Mortal Kombat X (2015): after playing and being impressed with Injustice, I figured I’d get NetherRealms’ other fighting games. I was not disappointed.

A Way Out (2018): A very story focused mandatory-co-op game with some unique elements. Both players are shown on the screen at all times in a split screen format. The game also comes with a guest pass so if you are playing online, the other party doesn’t need to buy a copy.

Injustice 2 (2017): See Injustice 1 and Mortal Kombat X

Tekken 7 (2015): Thinking I might like other fighting games, I tried Tekken 7 while it was free for a 72 hour weekend. I beat the story in one night. It’s awful. Don’t play it.

Mirrors Edge Catalyst (2016): Nice looking but wasn’t able to recreate the uniqueness and identity of the first game.

Destiny 2 (2017): Again like Mirrors Edge, this game is gorgeous compared to its predecessor. But wasn’t able to recreate what made it Destiny 1 special. Still, I played this solo, and really enjoyed the new story and gameplay changes. Played both the expansion packs but haven’t gotten to Forsaken yet.

Ori and the Blind Forest (2015): A stunning side view platform game. Difficult at times (where at one point during the final level escape my game crashed when I was able to finally succeed.)

No Man’s Sky (2018): Originally released on PS4 and PC, I waited for it to be released on Xbox after a big, big update to the game. The game has good ideas but many issues. They added coop which I appreciate, but still can’t grab my interest.

The Crew 2 (2018): Better looking and with more variety than Crew 1 (See: Boats and Planes and Hovercrafts and Bikes and Monster Trucks). But they did away with the story and they added fast travel from the start which makes the map feel immediately smaller.

God of War (2018) PS4: Game of the year from a technical and game direction stand point (See: Video Game Award 2018). How they pulled off the whole game with a seamless, no-cuts camera still amazes me. More grounded than previous God of Wars and a more humanized story. Outstanding in all categories.

Forza Horizons 4 (2018): Best in the series, which is saying a lot because the series has been stellar since its inception.

Spider-Man (2018) PS4: My personal game of the year. Tell me I’m wrong. (Then See: You’re wrong).

Red Dead Redemption II (2018): I haven’t quite finished this yet but like God of War, this game is a technical marvel from game play to visuals. Rockstar 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.

Top 5:

Spider-Man

RDR 2

Quantum Break

Ori and Blind Forest

Mafia III

-iRogan

Homefront: The Revolution – Final Thoughts

I won’t be doing a full review for Homefront, as I’ve been recording my thoughts as I progress through the game. You can find the previous entries here:

Homefront The Revolution First Impressions
Homefront – The Revolution: Further Impressions

This will be my final piece though. Final Thoughts, as it were.

This title has been such a divisive experience for me. On one side, as a sequel to Homefront, which had set the bar high, I was excited for the prospect of more story to dive into. However, with The Revolution, the game is so different, it would be hard to argue that they are related.

The story still tells of a resistance group fighting against the Korean invasion. It’s still a first-person shooter, but the rest has changed. It’s not a linear game, but a segregated open-world area. The city has been split into 6 different zones, and the only way to transfer to each zone is through the resistance’s underground tunnels. They’ve added bases and outposts that need to be captured to advance, a-la the Far Cry series.

Capturing the bases and radio towers differs quite a bit as you progress through the game, and there’s not a lot of instruction in how to advance in certain parts. The game focuses a lot on exploration, and traversal of the buildings, clambering up vehicles or platforms, out windows and along exterior vents. In some instances, doors or platforms require power, which comes from a generator. The generator requires a motorcycle to rev the engine. However, to get the motorcycle to that area, you’ll have to jump it off a ramp, or drive it up a series of stairs in the adjacent building, then weave it along the catwalk or makeshift platforms that connect the two buildings. All the while, this farce is taking place in the middle of a enemy populated area. Try avoiding the scouting groups or drone fly-by.

That’s just one example. Later on, some doors require the hack tool to open, or worse yet, a stronghold will have a little ramp hidden outside of plain view, that will allow your Remote RC-Bomb to drive in, and blow open the door. That’s hoping you’ve even unlocked the RC Explosive perk. Which happens to be the final Explosive upgrade. And this Stronghold was only in the 3rd area of the game. Try explaining that to my past-self, who scoured the building for an hour trying to look for a way in.

Even after the very large patch that came out a few months back, the game is still buggy. From time to time, you’ll see objects or weapon caches just floating in the air. The initial game loading, like, when you start the game, and press “Continue from last checkpoint”. Yeah, this load screen actually wears through its own loading music before the game starts. Luckily the auto-save stalls at checkpoints are all but gone. The frame rate tanks to about 3 fps for a couple seconds, but that’s forgivable compared to what it used to play like.

I’m finally nearing the end of the campaign, and I can’t say it’s been fun. I can’t recommend it to anyone. It has its good moments, and it does tell a dire tale, one of despair and loss, of resistance against unbeatable odds – which is its only saving grace. But I shouldn’t come up against so much resistance to enjoy the game itself.

-iRogan