[Note from the author: most of this was originally written back in February of 2015, but due to various health issues, I was unable to publish this article in time. But since it’s February again, and I’m back in good health, I’m finally publishing it. Few edits here and there... should be good anyway, right?]
Okay, first TAY article in god knows how long. Two weeks after the Four for February challenge has ended. Why bother writing this at all? Well, this was a draft back in February, and I’ve also been quite sick for the past two months, so... yeah, I’m gonna publish this regardless. But on that note, I actually did finish four games in February; hell, I even completed five games total in that month. Not 100% mind you, just the standard complete the story, get the end credits M.O. BUT I STILL DID IT. Heck, one of the games actually was in my pile of shame for over two years, and all of these games actually are quite different from one another. Just one FPS, a walk and click adventure game that ISN’T from Telltale, a console exclusive. All the games I completed took a decent amount of effort, and considering how shitty February was for me (being so sick that I’ve had to drop a few classes, on top of being unable to celebrate my 21st birthday? Yeah, that month damn near broke me. Good thing I’m currently on meds that could turn Eeyore into an optimist), just finishing a single facebook challenge created by a defunct internet publication actually did feel somewhat fulfilling. And with that, here are my
Four Five For February, 2015 edition!
Date started: November 21, 2014
Date finished: February 17, 2015
Maybe I should have saved this one for last since it’s actually the one game here I’m still playing now, but since I finished this one first, well... poor timing, I guess. Anyhow, yes, this game is too “IN YOUR FACE” for its own good. Yes, the soundtrack walks a line between annoying and bland. And yes, while the humor in it does deservedly poke fun at gaming tropes, it doesn’t really make me laugh as hard as I want it to. And yet, I’ve found it to be one of the most enjoyable games that came out of 2014, because it DOESN’T bank itself on just having gameplay alone (even though the gameplay in it is fantastic). The guns, how you move around the city, the mission and environment design, the funky aesthetic. Unlike Titanfall, Destiny, Evolve, etc., this thing doesn’t rely solely on its multiplayer, because all it has are co-op, and a single player campaign. It has something besides decent gameplay to sell people on it: a world that you want to come back to, explore, and blow the living bejeezus out of in a mushroom cloud of teddy bears, hairspray, and whatever else Insomniac thought of for weapons. In a year where so many games felt like they were only good for five minutes, I’ve found this one to be so damn enjoyable, that I’ve actually gone for the season pass. It was on sale, but that’s beside the point. If you have an Xbox One, I highly recommend this title, and I hope for the sequel Insomniac goes all out, not just in weapons, but also in the writing; if this thing just has the... “brains” the Saints Row series had, this could truly be the X1’s killer app.
Far Cry 4
Date started: January 1, 2015
Date finished: February 19, 2015
This is the most... crap, I can’t find the right words for this game. Okay let me try to explain this: it looks beautiful on next-gen hardware, it plays wonderfully, and it is a vast improvement over Far Cry 3 in just about every area. So why am I glad that I got through it, and why do I wish Ubisoft goes in a completely different direction for Far Cry 5? Well... it just doesn’t feel like a full sequel, more like a Far Cry 3.5 than a full on 4.
Present day: it’s like Fallout 4, actually. Not bad at all, but like everyone else I was just expecting more from this. But it somehow manages to have the same problems I had with the last game: lackluster story, an almost nonexistent protagonist, and a woefully underused villain. I’d actually use this as an argument why story really effing matters in games, at least if you want them to be memorable. Sure, I had as much fun as the next gamer
hunting surviving honey badgers, but there are so many other games that make up for a lack in story (Halo MCC and/or 5), or even have no story but better shooting (Titanfall, goddamn Destiny even). I know that a first person shooter open world game can be goddamn wonderful, but thanks to Far Cry 3, it can’t just be great mechanics in a huge playground. The same stuff again and again just doesn’t cut it: games need to evolve in order to be truly great.
Life is Strange: Episode 1
Date started: February 18, 2015
Date finished: February 19, 2015
I’m not a fan of the Telltale games. They feel like good looking, beautifully written, albeit quite buggy, point and click adventure games (or walk and click, as I like to call them). But to me, a game shouldn’t just be well written: if that’s just what they are, why shouldn’t they just be good television, a series of movies, or even a comic book? Oh wait, MOST OF THEM ALREADY ARE. A game should be more involving than just asking you “A, B, C, or D?”, it should demand a bit more involvement from the player, and a playthrough shouldn’t feel like something that could be replicated by anyone.
Present day: proof that I’ve changed since last year? Embarrassingly, yeah. Tales from the Borderlands and the rest of this gem finally made me come around on their playstyle. If other games aren’t gonna have decent stories, I’ll gladly take the games that, as linear as they are, have been lauded for their storytelling. Even though episode 1 of Life is Strange was kind of slow, it did give me enough to keep me interested in where it went, and it turned out to be one of the most progressive games of 2015. Not perfect mind you (the ending pulls a Mass Effect 3. So close, you were so close game!), but good enough for me to recommend it. Can wait for season 2 either (please, please god, let there be a season 2).
Assassin’s Creed: Rogue
Date started: January 15, 2015
Date finished: February 21, 2015
You know what? I’m amazed that there isn’t an AC Unity vs. AC Rogue article on Kotaku nor TAY. Cause this game almost feels like it was made to be the yin to Unity’s yang. Every issue that Unity has feels like it’s addressed in Rogue, while the few problems Rogue has feel like they’ve been taken care of in Unity. A rather interesting story, good characters all around, nowhere near as glitchy, massively more enjoyable gameplay (Ubisoft, look at this game’s combat system. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it).
Present day: sadly, this is definitely the most underrated of all the AC games. Even though it weirdly has a feeling like it’s smaller than it actually is, this game’s almost as big as AC Black Flag; there’s just so much to do! Even the parts where you step out of the animus into the real world aren’t half bad, and have a story to them that warrants interest. It also leaves a door open to an idea that’s so good that Ubisoft needs to do a game on it: the protagonists from AC 3, Unity, and Rogue meeting each other, given their unknown links to one another. I know that Conner, Arno, and Shay weren’t the most interesting playable characters in AC, but come on, imagine if there was a story that linked them all to one another. Conner meeting the man who worked with his father and destroyed an entire Brotherhood, Arno confronting the man who killed his father... You interested as I am now?
Red Dead Redemption
Date started: August 19, 2012
Date finished: February 28, 2015
The one game on this list that is from my pile of shame, and I actually am ashamed that it was there for so long in the first place. Not because I view it as a great game, but because as it turns out all I needed to do to finish it was play it for a little less than two hours. All I had left were the few missions where John Marston makes it back to his farm all the way to the master stroke that is the game’s ending, and god DAMMIT they took no time at all.
Present day: if it weren’t for the lackluster gameplay in here, I’d call this one of the best games ever made, because it hits everything else out of the park. Setting, story, characters, themes, score and soundtrack, detailed game world, its sheer beauty... now if it was only just as fun to play as GTA V. I do hope that Rockstar makes a sequel to this that improves the gunplay and player movement, cause those are the only real areas that I think this game actually needs help in. Everything else is a masterclass, although I’ll admit that I especially don’t like one of the game’s achievements (fuck no, I’m not going to drive buffalo to extinction). And now I know, that the only compass that I’ll need...
And so was my Four for February challenge in the year that was 2015. This year, I have an even more ambitious goal: finish all of my disc based PS3 games. I don’t have that many, and they’re the only things that are keeping me from trading in the cursed thing for a PS4. I’ll do a write up at the end of this month, and I’ll let you know if I do get through them. But before then, midterms. Goddamn midterms... [whimpers].