Crushing Video Games
Last Christmas I “got my son” a PlayStation 5. He’s older and never had a console, so my wife and I felt it was time where it would be ok to have something he can play on. But that also meant that I got a PlayStation 5…yup. Since then, I’ve been able to grab some of the best games of the past few years and begin to play through them. Between this, and a couple others, I should be able to give my opinion of various games.
Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (Insomniac)
These games are the best! Insomniac Games nailed the feel of swinging through New York (not that I know by experience) by making a smooth and fluid experience. Of all the games I played, these were the games that I really enjoyed going and hunting for all the special finds throughout the city. Just messing around is supremely fun. Between the two, I like the original Spider-Man more due to the combat mechanism and breadth. The game allowed you to customize Spider-Man’s combat capabilities without forcing the player. There’s no: “You have to equip this and fight like this in order to beat this boss.” Then the game’s length and breath of the story was just a wonder to experience. It had enough mini-challenges and differences to make things fun all the way through.
Miles Morales shared that same swinging and (to some extent) combat system, but had a much smaller and tighter story. The combat is similar to the original, but lacks the options. Here to keep from Miles being too overwhelmingly powerful, they eliminate some of the suit buffs and gadgets. This makes sense for this game, but found myself missing some of those keys that I loved. The story for Miles Morales is honestly much better than the original, but smaller and tighter in scope. I teared up in this story as I was much more invested in the main characters, where the original had so many that it was hard to really attach to anyone other than Peter.
Both of these are must plays in my opinion. Even if you aren’t big on superheroes, the gameplay is fantastic. Slight edge to the original! Giving this bad boy, a 9 out of 10.
Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla)
This is probably favorite game I’ve played yet. The story is amazing, the gameplay is crazy fun, it allows you to play from a distance and up-close when necessary. It is open and allows self navigation of the ENORMOUS map, the side missions are fun, and the shear quantity of play makes this game one of the most satisfying plays to date. Oh, and it’s beautiful to look at.
This story is of Aloy, an outcast in a post-apocalyptic tribal group, and her search for her story that reveals the story of how the world came to be. I’m a stealth player. I love to sneak around and see how many people I can take out before they know they are being attacked. This made me love this game, because there was room for both. As this game came out in 2017, there’s so much content out there to see…go see it. As you go farther into the story, there are loops and keys that grab you as well as things that make you wonder about how it’s all came to be.
Map density was fantastic (if not a tad heavy, they addressed this in Frozen Wild), side characters were fun, and building up Aloy’s arsenal is fantastic. The only knock I can give it is that inventory management because really crazy. There was a point where you sit there wondering “Do I need this Sawtooth heart, or can I dump it?”…and never getting a hint as to if it’s ok or if you’ll need it later. There’s also no “Storage” system where you could offload some but easily grab. This was a minor annoyance that lead to a few times of converting components for shards, but still fun.
Go grab this game and play it now! Absolutely, superb…10 out of 10.
Ghost of Tsushima: Directors Cut (Sucker Punch)
Enter into feudal Japan with a fantastic story of Jin Sakai and his fight to rid his island of Tsushima of a Mongol Hoard. As far as character development, this is probably the best I’ve played. Jin’s progress from untested samurai to “The Ghost” is gripping. One of the other key elements of this fantastic game is a set of side characters with back stories and real relationships that appear to influence Jin and aren’t just extra junk. Even though I’m more of a distance player (stealth with bow and arrow), Sucker Punch structured the melee combat so well that I became very comfortable in it and felt no problem playing in that mode. I actually enjoyed the 1-on-1 fights so much.
Again, the story is great and as it progresses, it’s great to see Jin progress as well. Even the extra content on the DC (Iki Island) have it’s own set of elements moving Jin forward in his identity. Much like Spider-Man, there’s charms that you can equip that fit your fighting style. I did find that swapping out charms based on various task were necessary, but not problematic. One of the biggest fights I did have with this game was the limited reveal of the large map. It’s not as big as Horizon’s, but still large and the amount it revealed around you as you moved was miniscule. Map density was pretty low, which wasn’t a problem but when you couple that with the minimal reveal, it was painful to know if you went everywhere. Left me with a few times where I just rode through an unrevealed area just to find there was nothing there…which sucks.
With these flaws, it’s still 100% worth playing. Rating an 8 out of 10.
Concrete Genie (Pixelopus)
This game was a treat to play. The game style is pretty simple, you play Ash, a bullied kid, in the small port town of Denska. Ash discovers that with a magic paintbrush, his lost sketchbook, and a few helpful “genies”; he can bring life back to Denska.
This game was simple, but truly fun. The puzzling of how to unlock new areas and clear the blight that is covering the city, is great. The art style and uniqueness of creating your own genies endears you to the game even more.
The biggest issue is that later in the game a combat system comes up. And it honestly feels tacked on. It’s clunky and often frustrating, but overall an enjoyable play. 7 out of 10 rating.
STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen Order (Respawn)
Respawn has single handedly saved EA’s single player games. EA had been floundering in the single player game world and Respawn comes out and creates a fantastic game with a real story and fantastic gameplay. They say the game plays like a FromSoftware game, but I would admit that I had to play on Easy as it was crazy difficult to play. As far as the story goes, I was hooked from the get-go. I honestly think this games has some of the absolute best level designs I’ve ever played.
Due to the difficulty and the really weak story payoff at the end (although immediately before it was amazing!), I can’t give it too high a review. Rating this one a 7 out of 10.
Death Stranding (Kojima Productions)
This game requires a longer post. I cannot do this game justice in a few words. I’ll do my best and probably have to put this on the list of a wider review.
Death Stranding often gets pegged as a “walking simulator”, but that way oversimplifies the game. Yes, much of the game is a walking task that you have to strategically deal with. Yes, you primarily deliver things from spot to spot. But the crazy story, the wild gameplay and crazy BTs, and beautiful combination of graphics, audio, and music make this game something to behold.
I spent HOURS walking and delivering things place to place, setting up zip-line networks, and prepping vehicles. This was one of the most zen-gaming experiences I’ve had. It’s really hard to explain how much fun you have with this, but I’d often find myself lost in the play for hours. I have a whole issue with the combat that I need to address, but I’ll save that for the full review. Giving this one a 8 out of 10.
Guardians of the Galaxy (Eidos Montreal)
I honestly wasn’t going to play this game until my son asked to get it and play. So I picked it up at a discount to give it a try, and I’m really glad I did. This game has some solid gameplay and a wonderful story. The tactics for the fighting is fun although can get button-mashy. The voice acting and characters are superb. Some of the levels were a bit more frustrating than entertaining and the crazy colors causes confusion with regard to knowing the proper path. But was still a fun ride. 8 out of 10 for this one.