Here are some reviews for games that I did not have the opportunity to review. I haven’t been doing this very long, so I thought it necessary to give you my official reviews for some games to help you better gauge my competency. This will also help me to better establish a track record to go off of for future reviews. Mind you this is not IGN, I will not be handing out three or four 10/10 reviews a year. If I give out a 10/10 review it will mean something.
These will be brief, because many games may be no longer relevant. If you feel that they lack the depth you’re looking for I apologize I’m not willing to go back 10 years and write up full, detailed reviews for 15 or so games to please your hunger. If you think that I may not have paid the proper respect to some of these games, as always feel free to @ me on Twitter and I’ll be happy to point out where you went wrong. Hope you enjoy the list.
The 2016 revival of the Doom franchise developed by id Software was a a welcomed return. For me, I didn’t know how much a missed the fast paced gorefest that Doom has always brought to the table until I got another taste. Wielding the Super Shotty knowing I will be bathing in the blood of demons shortly is simply a feeling that everyone needs at least once. This game is not for the faint of heart however, as the pace of combat is incredibly fast to the point where I needed to take breaks from time to time just to keep my eyes from spinning back into my head.
The game obviously lacks a compelling narrative, but does enough to keep players interested in advancing the plot. With the blend of top tier combat mixed with intermittent puzzle solving situations, (if you can even go as far as referring to them as puzzles) this game is really a must play for any fan of the franchise or just first person shooters in general.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
In my opinion, this game set the standard for the Call of Duty franchise. A standard that I don’t think they’ve been able to ever reach again. Of course they’ve come close with games like World at War, Modern Warfare 3, and I’ll even throw Black Ops 2 in there even though I’m not particularly fond of the Black Ops titles in general. Modern Warfare 2 is the undeniable peak of the franchise having both a phenomenal campaign as well as the best multiplayer experience aside from the Danger Close perk running noob-tubers.
There have been other Call of Duty titles that have had better campaigns or better multiplayer experiences, but not since Modern Warfare 2 have we seen such quality on both sides. For example, Advanced Warfare and WW2 had the best two campaigns of any Call of Duty game ever released, but in both games their multiplayer experience was lacking to say the least. Modern Warfare 2 will forever be the standard I expect to see from this franchise, sadly I do not expect to see it again.
The Dishonored series has done a great justice to the stealth genre which has been generally poorly handled and just underused widely across the industry. I chose to use Dishonored 2 rather than the first game, because as great as the first game was, Arkane Studios went above and beyond with their second installment of the series. When it came to Dishonored 2, Arkane Studios did a great job of fixing much of what was lacking in the first game. For example, in the first Dishonored game the AI were notoriously bad and would very easily ruin your ghost playthrough. Additionally, these developers impressively improved everything that was already working great for them. They fine tuned the unique abilities, and the overall fluency of combat.
Beyond that, the decision based alterations to the world add to the game’s appeal a great deal in my opinion. Whether you choose a more chaotic approach by piling up the bodies, or a classic, stealth approach killing only when necessary, each will add to your playthrough experience, both very differently. Like I said before, looking past the amazing artistic style, interesting narrative, unique stealth abilities, and fun combat, the Dishonored series has done right by the stealth genre. Dishonored 2 is the clearcut standout of the trilogy, and establishes a standard fans of the genre should now demand from future games.
In true Bethesda fashion the best of Fallout 4 comes through the extra downloadable content. It would be a true shame if they released a full game’s worth of content without having to pay $20-$30 extra dollars a piece for 3 or 4 DLC packages in order to get it. Fallout 4 in total was actually a pretty solid game for the series. The base customization was a great addition to the series that added many hours of gameplay for me personally. The narrative though wasn’t a particular standout by any means, but that is to be expected due to the saltiness Bethesda has shown towards Obsidian since New Vegas became the most popular Fallout game in the franchise.
Obsidian showed Bethesda how to make their games great, but they clearly took it personally due to the fact that the game was complete at release, and not reliant upon stretching the content thin throughout 4 separate DLC expansions. Anyways, I digress. Overall, Fallout 4 showed that the tried and true Fallout 3 template still has a market to the franchise’s fanbase. Mediocrity stains the history of the Fallout franchise, and that is what we received with Fallout 4.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
We all knew it would be the most difficult challenge BioWare has ever faced (besides trying to get people to buy Anthem) to follow up what was in my opinion the greatest gaming trilogy there ever was or will be in the history of video games, Mass Effect 1-3. Andromeda definitely struggles to hold up narratively against Shepard and the Reapers. Ryder is just the absolute worst, bland, weak protagonist I could’ve possibly dreamt up on purpose to be an anti-Shepard as joke. That is not to say that Shepard is this great, deep character that needs to be greatly regarded. He is simply the Master Chief of this franchise, a perfect soldier that survived something tragic. However, Ryder is just some guy, there’s nothing that even remotely gets me behind the character. Ryder might as well be a Shyguy in the Mass Effect universe that is how truly bland the character is, not to be critical.
Andromeda has a glaring problem with all of its characters being very unlikable, bland, and not even remotely memorable. While writing this I can’t even remember most of them off the top of my head and am forced to look them up. The singular character standout from the entire game is Peebee. She is the only character in the game that showed emotion, humor, and charisma, as well as just doing a good job of being interesting. That does not bode well for a game that is famous for its supporting characters and its narrative overall.
Shockingly enough after saying that I still very much enjoyed playing Andromeda. BioWare did a remarkable job polishing the combat in this game. Also, with the return of world traversing via the Mako/Nomad, I find it to be a much more enjoyable experience than it was in Mass Effect 1, so props to BioWare for that. The best addition made to the franchise in Andromeda were the vaults. I would hope to see them be a reoccurring feature in future games. These puzzle solving moments were some of my favorite of the game, definitely the most interesting. Overall, Andromeda put up a very spotty attempt at recapturing the greatness of Mass Effect. It does show some potential as an evolving franchise, but will need to do a better job narratively if BioWare hopes to make it past a second game for this new trilogy.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn is the single game in the modern era that I view as the perfect game. I’ve been alive 26 years, and have been playing games nearly as long. I cannot think of another game within my experience that I could justify giving a perfect score to. Maybe the Nintendo 64’s Ocarina of Time, but I’m not sure. I’ve stretched the relevancy of this list to its maximum without going clear back to the Nintendo 64 era anyways, so I’ll just avoid going any further into it.
In the era when remakes and remasters have become a regularity, genuine uniqueness can go a long way in making a game stand out. I would say Horizon Zero Dawn is absolutely as unique as it could be, and it does so with flare. Just take a second and imagine pitching the idea of robot dinosaurs. You would need some incredible flare for sure in order to get some executive to run with that idea.
Honestly there isn’t anything bad to say about this game. Visually, it’s a vibrant masterpiece. Narratively, it’s brilliant. Aloy emanates pure sarcasm in every line, and brings a fresh, complexity to the lackluster class of modern protagonists. Mechanically, it’s flawless and smooth. The complexity and depth of the machines, characters, world, and events that took place to create this apocalyptic rebirth of society have clearly been carefully constructed. Horizon Zero Dawn is the standard everyone in the industry should be striving for.
As far as flops go Evolve was definitely in the running for one of the most memorable ones in recent memory before Cyberpunk came along and had that award named after them. The sad thing about it is that I was so excited leading up to this game’s release as were many others I’m sure. The game was marketed fairly well and it generally just looked like it would be a good time. Evolve was set up to be reliant on teamwork similarly to the way Dead by Daylight is. Turtle Rock Studios, the creators of Left 4 Dead, essentially mirrored the idea behind the multiplayer aspects of Left 4 Dead, and formed it into its own full game. Knowing the success Turtle Rock Studios had with the Left 4 Dead series many were quite hopeful for Evolve.
The issue with Evolve was mainly its 4 v 1 structure. This gameplay structure is one that tends to be extremely hard to pick up and play with strangers, and is usually best suited to play with a group of friends. This led to a lack of community support, and ultimately the game’s servers were shut down just 3 years after its release. The gameplay itself for Evolve wasn’t even necessarily that bad either, and the 4 v 1 player structure has proven to be quite successful with games like Dead by Daylight. Sometimes being first isn’t always better, and additionally sometimes someone just needs to fail for others to be able to fine tune the idea and succeed.
Monster Hunter: World
The concept behind Monster Hunter: World isn’t much deeper than the name itself. You hunt monsters. The narrative definitely isn’t much deeper either, and is easily the weakest part of the game. You do get to meet some interesting and quite eccentric characters along the way that keep you just interested enough in pushing forward. That said, this game is by no means simple, basic, or uninteresting. It actually is very thoroughly complex, on top of that it’s not very easy either.
Beginning with the monsters themselves they all are very different. Not only in the way they look, but each have their own varying attack structure. You’ll find that even the small monsters can be quite deadly until you figure out how they go about attacking you. The size scale is seemingly endless when it comes to them as well. Some monsters can be quite gargantuan when compared to your hunter. Mastering each monster’s weak spots as well as their unique attack structure is the key to defeating them. The process is strenuous and time consuming, but the game does a good job of giving off cues to when you have the monster on the ropes. Otherwise the process seems endless.
The biggest draw of Monster Hunter for me is the grind to always getting better. You’re always striving for better gear and weapons to prepare for the next fight. The depths to which the Capcom goes to add complexity to the various gear and weapons options is immense. Each weapon feels like you’re playing a different class of character when you lick it up and use it. Throughout the game there is always that ever present itch in the back of your mind looking to gather the materials for the next tier of gear, or that new weapon you’ve been eyeing. The grind is by no means for everyone, but Capcom does a good job of making it more easily attainable for its players than in previous installments of the franchise. Monster Hunter: World is not easy to conquer, but it offers its players the tools to do so. Players who enjoy a challenge and don’t always want their hand held will very much enjoy the depth and complexity offered here.
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 2 will always hold a special place in my mind. For me, it is my favorite game. I’m sucker for space travel and intergalactic civilizations, and I believe Mass Effect has constructed one of the best examples of that ever. The fictional universe that Mass Effect is set in is exceptionally deep and well developed.
Beyond that, BioWare was able to put together the perfect storyline for such a universe. Not a terribly original idea, humans fighting off an alien threat to avoid extinction. However, the way everything seems to fall together throughout Mass Effect 2 keeps the player on the edge of their seat, full of trust issues, dependent on building the perfect team. It helps that the game begins with arguably the greatest opening sequence in history with the absolute annihilation of the Normandy and Commander Shepard along with it. There’s nothing more effective to get the players invested then to seemingly kill off the main protagonist in the opening 10 minutes of the game.
The best part about Mass Effect 2 though is the supporting characters. Each one has faced their fair share of tragedy, and with that comes the depth and character building that we love to see. Not only that, but almost all of them are romance-able, which we all know is obviously the most important part. Never before has a game been so entirely full to the brim with characters of such prominence and quality. From the complexities of the Quarian engineer known as Tali, that could die within days of coming into contact with any outside contaminants, to the simple joking nature behind the human pilot known as Joker who is crippled by a brittle bone disease and confined to his seat in the cockpit. There is no lack of depth and intricacy to this game’s cast of supporting characters and crew members.
Mass Effect 2 is perfected by the consequences behind the players’ decision making throughout the game. From making sure to do the loyalty missions for each crew member and succeeding in the process, to allocating the resources to make every available improvement to the ship possible, and even who you choose to do select tasks in the final mission. They all weigh on who survives the seemingly against all odds final mission in the end. Having that real consequence of losing beloved characters adds the necessary anxiety in order to complete the experience that is Mass Effect 2.
If you’re looking for a unique gaming experience you’ll definitely get that from Nier: Automata. It is a JRPG though, if it wasn’t we’d I think it would leave many disappointed. Nier: Automata takes weird to a whole new level at times throughout the story, but it is the only game I’ve ever seen able to master the ability to not let the wildly disconcerting moments overtake the depth and meaning behind the storytelling taking place. The character development that takes place alone is enough of a reason to pick it up and play.
Outside of that the gameplay itself is quite unique and never seems to have a dull moment, especially when it comes to the boss fights. The combat in this game bounces between a side-scroller, almost vintage arcade two dimensional feel at times to the great scale of the God of War fights where you find yourself fighting enemies as tall as buildings. When you pair that with the internal battle of machines becoming self aware, throw in enough endings to fill the alphabet, and a quite skewed biblical Adam and Eve themed story arc it makes for an experience that you won’t forget any time soon.
Detroit Become Human
Quantic Dream has proven in the past to be the master of the interactive story games. These developers set the standard high with their highly successful serial killer drama Heavy Rain that released back on the PS3. Detroit Become Human definitely lives up to fans’ expectations, and fills that interactive story void that few games have been able to fill since. Additionally, the immense amount of possible playable outcomes for this game is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. The diversity of choices available, each carrying their own weight in how the story plays out, is really something to be acknowledged. Not only that, but Detroit Become Human really shows the hyper realistic graphic potential that can be achieved in video games, and what players may soon see become the new normal as technology improves.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Fallen Order ushers in a welcomed return to the playable Jedi character and delivers on the experience of a Jedi nicely. To help complete the experience you are able to completely customize your lightsaber from the color of the blade to modifying it into a double bladed saber. Mechanically the combat is on point, and with the addition of your force abilities it really does a good job of allowing you to feel the power a Jedi has at their disposal in combat.
As far as the narrative aspects go this game does a good job of knowing its place within this universe. We already know that Kal won’t be defeating the empire or killing Darth Vader, so the writers do a good job staying far away from altering any of the already in place canon Star Wars story we are familiar with. In my opinion the Star Wars universe is better when told through these small stories anyways. While your pathway ends up being fairly linear throughout the game each world offers you plenty of opportunity to stray and explore if you feel the need. Like I said before, it was nice to finally see the return of a playable Jedi character in the form of an RPG with Fallen Order, and I hope we see EA continue to push these types of experiences in future games.
Insomniac’s Spider-Man was one of the more fun games I’ve had the pleasure of playing through in a long time. I didn’t know how much I missed swinging through the streets of New York City until I could finally do it again. Insomniac did an amazing job polishing the details of the city’s landscape. It was hard to not find myself drifting through the city as a tourist snapping pictures, and admiring it’s beauty as I went on to find my next group of thugs to beat down.
The combat system in this game finds itself to be surprisingly deep. There are plenty of ways to take on your enemies whether it be with gadgets or brute force. There is even options for a stealth approach if you’re feeling up for it. The degree of fluid motion available to players while engaged in combat and surrounded by large groups of enemies is an impressive feat as well. One that shouldn’t be overlooked, because making players feel the freedom and power of being a superhero is often the hardest parts for these games to capture, and Insomniac nailed it.
As far as superhero games go this one takes the cake. Fans of the Arkham series may not be okay with me saying that, but this game is just that good. That is not to say that those Batman games suck entirely either, because that is simply not true so don’t @ me. This game does what few superhero games have been able to do before, and that is delivering on the experience of being a superhero, but at the same time not losing the significance of the character that is the man behind the mask.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is an unforgettable experience from start to finish. The game finds a way to allow the player to experience a whirlwind of emotion and depth through the eyes of Senua herself. Players will experience a constant barrage of effects mirroring a severe mental illness, and be forced to fight through this overwhelming mental bombardment throughout the game. Additionally, of course the sword battles are great, as well as the almost movie quality cutscenes that players will see while moving through the story.
The perma-death feature that was placed into the game is a probably the most underrated touch in improving the overall experience of the game in my opinion. The best part about this feature is that it isn’t this daunting challenge that keeps players too scared to play. The perma-death feature in Hellblade mostly adds even more weight to the barrage of mental attacks taking place against Senua, and gives players plenty of wiggle room for failure unless they are completely reckless during their playthrough. Permanent death and having to start the entire game over is mainly there to keep players on edge. It is always lurking in the back of your mind while you are in one of the many sword fights adding an edge to the experience that it wouldn’t have had without it. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is an unforgettable experience from beginning to end.