It’s that time of year again folks! When every game shooting for your holiday dollars finally hits the proverbial “shelves” and we begin the discussion of how the year in gaming stacks up. While there have always been good games to play every year, this year alone is shaping up to be one of the ALL TIME great years for games. It all seemed to culminate with a trifecta on Friday October 27th, where we saw a sequel trifecta of Mario, Wolfenstein and Assassin’s Creed that all appear to be stellar entries.
I made my initial choice that day (more on this in part 2) but while waiting I decided to play some other things during October to make the long wait worthwhile. Join me as I relive MY playoffs as it were.
SteamWorld Dig 2
I didn’t play the first game (which is supposedly decent enough), but decided to pick both games up after seeing such positive impressions from the latest. My dilemma came to whether I’d get it on Switch of PC. In the end, PC won the battle due to the cloud save ability letting me play on multiple PCs when needed.
The game is a really “chill” experience, with a soundtrack that keeps you mellow and gameplay that, while sometimes a bit tricky/challenging, didn’t ever frustrate me. It’s a pretty straightforward platformer with a cool world, sprinkled with some classic “Super Metroid” style roadblock/new ability/new area gameplay. But the whole thing is just so charming I couldn’t help but feel great about my time with it.
Middle Earth: Shadow of War
Just going to come out and say it: I’m a Tolkien nerd. I’ll even go as far as to say I enjoyed The Hobbit Trilogy (that really only needed to be one, two movies tops). So when the original “Mordor” came out in 2014 I was ALL ABOUT IT. It was the first open world game I can remember actually completing 100% of the content in. It was awesome to be “in” the world of Middle Earth, and I thought they had a pretty interesting take on the mythos.
It seems like the intervening years would have begun to bear fruit with Monolith’s revolutionary Nemesis system. But alas, that was not to be. This new entry takes all that was good about the first game and makes SO much more of it. Instead of a couple of Orc Hierarchies, you get to deal with a half dozen. And this time the orcs have their own agendas, missions, motivations that all progress even while your character isn’t in their region. As long as you keep progressing, things are constantly happening in the background. You can insert yourself into as much of that world building as you like, but in the end it’s not super impactful.
I took over every region, dominated almost every orc (which I definitely thought about more in context of recent world events), and kind of hammered my way through the story and content pretty quickly. The motivations for the characters aren’t nearly as interesting this time around unfortunately, with ghostly elf/wizard/ring forger basically turning into a different shade of tyrant. I was actually enjoying what I thought was the “climax” of the story but the nagging knowledge that the “true” ending of the game lay beyond hours of grind dulled my enjoyment a bit. The end result had me looking up the video on YouTube and not looking back.
I only heard about this game briefly before release and the general sentiment was “don’t sleep on it”. I can honestly say the hype was worth it. It was best classified by someone better than I as an “RPG where the combat/leveling system is tied to Golf as opposed to combat.”
You’ve got your clubs (weapons), abilities (different types of golf shots) and even a leveling system with XP, stats and monetary rewards. The golf itself is pretty solid, with the minor exception of the slopes of terrain being what I can only describe as “hot garbage”. This was mostly prevalent in the putting/short game where the way the greens breaking is the vital difference between a birdie and par.
I haven’t even gotten to the story of the game, which has your character trying to make a name for himself in the “pros” after being away from the game since he was a kid. It’s got some really good humor and the writing is very good aside from a few odd phrases that results from this being developed by Australians. Also the fact that it’s a Switch exclusive is pretty rad to hear.
So with that out of the way, I’ll be back in the next few days with the second half of this series where I talk about some more AAA titles released this year (and even a game released 3 years ago I finally got around to playing).