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Towards the end of one of the missions I was playing, I found out that my assassination target got hold of one of his enemy’s family. The wife and the daughter. My mission is to find and save them before something bad happens to them, so I immediately dropped everything and immediately ran towards the destination point. As soon as I arrived, I knew I was too late. I hear a woman crying. At the dock, I find the mother, looking by the sea. She asked me to find her daughter, so I swam towards the sea and dived til I find the kid. And then I found one of the most horrible sights I’ve seen in video games ever. Bodies, their feet tied to a rock that kept them underwater. The child was one of them. Even if she’s lifeless, she was still clutching a doll her father gave her. The doll meant to be a protector of her and their village. That’s when I knew, I’m in love with Assassin’s Creed Origins.

After a year away, Ubisoft has come back and presented us with an Assassin’s Creed game that is totally different from the games that came before. Origin has learned from its mistakes and from other open world games that made similar games.  While mature themes have been always been present in this series, Assassin’s Creed Origins has this air of maturity only seen in games like The Witcher 3.

Bayek is the main protagonist of Origins, he is a father fueled with revenge and caught in the middle of feuding rulers Cleopatra and Ptolemy. Aya, his wife is another very likable protagonist that you get to play as in the game. They have a very mature relationship rarely seen in video games. It’s so refreshing.

The game is gorgeous. Egypt is beautiful. Standing atop one of the Great Pyramids, I just imagined I was there for real. I’m playing the game on a PS4 Pro on a 1080p tv, and damn was it amazing. I could just imagine it running on a 4k screen, it must look more beautiful! Ubisoft is no slouch in terms of graphics, but past games for me did not really feel current gen. This game though, I felt like I’m looking at a next gen title. The landscape. The underwater areas. They all look fully detailed and every bush, house, fort and even inside the tombs, it’s like they’re all carefully placed and possibly looks like their real life counterparts back in their glory days.

Assassin’s Creed Origins overhauled the series in a good way. Yes, there are still the tropes of an AC game, but most of the features that stayed are now more meaningful. One of the biggest change to the game is the combat. R1 and R2 (for PS4) are now the buttons to mash to attack enemies. There’s no longer a button to run, which I felt made running a bit slow. I don’t remember if there’s a block button or parry button in previous titles from this series, but they’re here now, which makes fighting more tactical.

It is also now a looting game. In the past, killing enemies earn you money, trinkets, ammunition and generally useless things, now defeating them earn you weapons, shields and crafting materials. Everything you get has a purpose, has meaning. Every kill you make, either provides you with your most needed materials or a more powerful melee weapon or bow. If not, you can either sell the items or dismantle the weapon for crafting parts.

And Egypt is massive. The open world is so big, that 40 plus hours in, and I haven’t cleared all the fog in the entire map. Yes, it is littered with question marks and sidequests and synchronization points, all staples of the AC series, but fortunately, I didn’t feel like it’s all repetitive. Yes side quests may sometimes be fetch quests or escort quests, but they mostly have interesting fully fleshed out back stories to it. If there are grindy quests, it’s mostly the capture forts quests which require you to loot the gold and kill the Captain of the multiple forts/hideouts littered in the game.

The tweaks in the combat has its own pros and cons. I love that you can basically use any and all weapons in the game. They have their own animations, and you can really feel the crunch when metal hits bone. That is so satisfying. However, I never used the parry button in my entire gameplay. I would rather use the roll and hit style when fighting my enemies. It is pretty much effective rather than timing when to hit the parry. Either way, I don’t really get into much brawling as I played the game stealthily.

If there’s one thing I adored playing Assassin’s Creed Origins, is its attention to detail. While I was walking around the desert trying to figure out one of the papyrus puzzle, I saw a fish flopping around the sand. Shit, I thought this game was buggy as hell. Then I started hearing voices. Apparently, being in the heat for that long period, I actually started hallucinating. Brilliant!  When you crouch when cats come to you, you will be able to pet them. And I loved that if by accident you complete a sidequest before you trigger the story, by the time you get to the NPC, Bayek will tell them that he finished the quest already. It’s those little things that I remember and appreciate in my time in Egypt.

Oh, and I also loved the photo mode of this game. It’s not as robust as let’s say Horizon Zero Dawn, but it gets the job done. The photo on this post is a screenshot I made from the photo mode. Games as gorgeous as this, deserve to have this mode on. Also, sometimes, your screenshots get to be shared in other people’s world map, meaning people from across the globe can potentially see your creation. They are able to like it too.

Of course, as it is a Ubisoft game, it’s not necessarily perfect. I had to restart my game twice because I fell off the world or I got stuck trying to enter a narrow hole. Like other AC games, the enemies lack variety. I feel apart from the named villains, there are only about ten kinds of enemies. I also did not like, that the moment I get into a fight, the number of enemies that will surround me doubles or sometimes triple in number. I mean, where did they come from?! There was this one time, it took me twenty minutes to just intercept a supply convoy because there were maybe more than 10 soldiers fighting me at the same time. And then there’s the case of the microtransactions. Helix coins can be bought with real world money, which in turn lets you buy costumes, weapons and steed. Good thing is, you can get them all in the game without ever spending real money. Heck, I’ve been playing a lot of Ubisoft games, I have several coins/points I can use to buy other weapons and accessories.

The game is grindy though. Main quests are locked until you reached it’s minimum required level. That means, you can’t just blow through the main campaign. You have to do the menial tasks as a Medjay, fetch this, protect that, kill it, collect that. And that’s fine. Ubisoft wants you to experience the game, the setting, just as they intended. I wouldn’t have experienced that dessert hallucination had I not tried to decipher those papyrus puzzles. But I can understand if some will feel overwhelmed with everything the player can do in such a huge open world game. That’s how I felt with the previous titles (*cough*ACUnity*cough*)

Overall, the positives outweigh my criticism of the game. This is a great title, worthy  of putting the Assassin’s Creed franchise back in its place at the top with the other Cream of the Crops games. 2017 is a great year for video games, what with Zelda, Mario, Horizon, Persona all turning out some masterfully crafted games, Assassin’s Creed Origins feels like a game that can stand among these great titles this year.

9/10

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greg

Mikko was one of my best friends from Grade School. It was a fairly easy mission, I thought. So I chose to add him on my roster to rescue civilians during a simple retaliation mission from the Advent.

Mikko was a Specialist. He was a soldier with tech abilities, capable of healing his allies as well as provide protection in case of the alien’s attack.

I was ill-prepared for this mission. I brought him, a couple of rookie soldiers and only one experienced Sharpshooter for this fight. Because of a miscalculation of Mikko’s placement in the battlefield, he became the victim of a well placed plasma grenade.

Just like that I lost my childhood best friend.

I had to stop playing Xcom 2 for a bit because this loss, hit me hard. While yes, Mikko is only an avatar for the game I played, somehow I still have attachment to his character because he’s based on a real life person that I know in my life.

It is this simple reason why Firaxis’ strategic RPG right now is my favorite game of the generation.

Xcom 2 sticks with you long after you finish the game. It is a great turn based strategic RPG where you play the role of the Commander. You direct a squad of up to 6 soldiers per mission to complete several objectives to defeat and repel an alien invasion.

Being that this game does not have a truly structured story and characters, you are free to customize all of your soldiers. Change their names. Appearance. Personality. Their abilities. Even their backstories. You have free reign to tell a story arc independent of the main campaign. And that’s what kept me coming back to play this game.

As of writing I have gone through 4 playthroughs of Xcom 2, but only finished one campaign. The first 2 times, really got me distraught whenever I or my significant other died on one of the missions.  I made up  an intricate story for myself and my squad that’s fully independent of the campaign. I got so invested in each and everyone of my soldiers that merely getting them injured  depressed me.

That’s the magic of this game, I guess. They let you own your characters to hone, to improve, to create their own backstory, then they will emotionally devastate you by killing the character you loved!

I hated that so much. This game is very difficult. You will never be able to move forward until you accept the fact that someone will always die when you play the game. Just like in Game of Thrones, do not get attached to any of the characters because they’ll all eventually die.

Visually, this game is gorgeous. Every stage, although procedurally generated is fully detailed. Forests are lush, the cities look believable, and all of the cut scenes are truly pretty to look at.

However, the gorgeous graphics maybe a deterrent to a smooth gameplay experience. I have played this game over 50 hours in all 4 playthroughs, and I always experienced a drop in framerate and some lag. There were even times the game froze for me. And I was playing on the PS4 Pro. It was much worse when I was playing on  my original launch PS4.

And the load times are very long, even on the Pro. The time it loads from when you choose to start mission until the beginning takes at most over one minute.

Fortunately, those are my only gripes about the game. Everything else has been spectacular.  My preference in video games tend to sway towards this genre, and I have a lot of these kinds of games in my library. But Xcom 2 is the only one that got me really invested until the end. Yes, even in Easy Mode the spike in difficulty increases exponentially, but not too punishing that it will make you want to rage quit.

While the mission structure can become a bit repetitive, there’s enough variety of enemies that will always keep you on the edge of your seat. This is not a game you can just play with your brain turned off. You always have to be on your feet. You have to strategize. Will this enemy be able to shoot at me even if I’m under cover? One of those citizens you’re tasked to save is definitely a Faceless, which one of them will it be? Should I run the risk of losing a loot by blowing up with a grenade that effing robot that critically wounded half my squad?

There’s not one decision that is fully black or white. This is what  makes me think of this game even if I’m no longer playing it.

Yes, it gets depressing if you lose one of your soldiers, but eventually you will be OP’d enough that towards the endgame, you’re never going to worry about memorializing another Mikko again.

This is the reason why, even if 2017 flooded us gamers with truly amazing games, I still keep coming back to Xcom. Now I can’t wait to have enough budget to play it’s expansion: War of the Chosen!

9.5 / 10

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Late to the party will be my ongoing series of reviews of old games or tv shows or anything pop culture related that I really loved (or hated). Hopefully, I’ll have the time to post more of these series moving forward.

(image grabbed from google)

2016 was a great year for video games. There were tons of really high quality titles that went out for gamers to spend their precious time on. Below are some of my favorites that came out in 2016.

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Final Fantasy XV

I had a huge backlog of games for this year. A list of games that I have not finished since the start of this console generation. However, when I got hold of Final Fantasy XV, I made sure this game is not going on that list of titles that I put on hold, unfinished or unplayed. I powered through the story and completed Final Fantasy XV. And I was happy. I have been a fan of this JRPG ever since I got hold of the PS1 Classic FFVII. Although this game looks far different and plays different, it never dawned on me that this was not a Final Fantasy game. FFXV is littered with all the tropes of a Final Fantasy title: Cid, Shiva, Ifrit, Ramuh,Chocobos, Moogles, huge bosses and even down to a confusing storyline. I have not played any other game religiously after I finished the main campaign and as of writing, I’m only 7 goals short of a platinum trophy.

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Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Nathan Drake’s last (?) outing proves us why Naughty Dog is the BEST video game developer in the world. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a master class in storytelling, voice acting, gameplay and graphics. A rare feat only achieved by a handful of developers can achieve. This game, as long as it was, was never boring for me. I loved Nate’s interactions with his supporting cast. They’re funny, heartfelt and genuine. This is the reason why Nolan North, Laura Bailey and Troy Baker never ran out of voice acting work. They are outstanding in their jobs. Storywise, I am glad this game is grounded. No supernatural forces to fight, only human beings, it kept the whole game believable. I was fully immersed in this world and it was especially hard to put down the controller finally when the game ended.

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Rise of the Tomb Raider

Yes I know technically this game came out in 2015 on the XBox One but I am considering Rise of the Tomb Raider a 2016 game because it was only this year that us Playstation owners got to play Lara Croft’s 2nd adventure after the 2013 reboot. This game I liked. It’s not as great as Uncharted, but Tomb Raider has it’s moments. I preferred the exploration on this game. I loved that you can upgrade Lara and her weapons and the action on this title is just awesome. I honestly didn’t care too much about the story, but tomb raiding in this game is my favorite activity. Everytime I complete a tomb, I feel a tad smarter.

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The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine

I know this is just an expansion, but dammit Blood and Wine is way more addicting than any of  the big game releases of this year! This expansion’s main campaign is way longer than all of the shooters that came out this year combined. If it isn’t obvious yet, I really fell in love with this expansion. The Witcher 3 in itself was a masterpiece and Blood and Wine is the cherry on top of a beautifully crafted cake. The map is huge. The story is engaging and it’s a  very challenging game. I had a hard time finishing this chapter more than the main campaign and Hearts of Stone.

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Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

This is a game that’s meant to be replayed. I only played through the story of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided once, but I know there are tons of side quests and collectibles that I have missed. The freedom to go through any mission the way you want to is incredible. I had fun attempting to go stealthy on my playthrough only to go on an all out killing spree whenever I get detected by my enemies. It is not the fault of the game, it is mine. In any case, the story of Deus Ex, is a little bit lacking, but I have to put it here because I really loved the gameplay. I enjoyed leveling up Adam Jensen into a character that suits my play style. The world I played in was small, but there is a lot to discover. Like I said, one playthrough is not enough when playing Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

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XCOM 2

I don’t really know why I keep buying strategy games. I’m not that good at them. They’re just games that add up to my backlog. But there’s something about XCOM 2 that I can’t stop thinking about this game. I get attached to the soldiers on my roster. 2 people already died from my team and I’m really devastated. They were two people I have invested experience to and they’re gone. And it hurts. I do not know why I was so affected like this by a video game. Maybe because I can alter their looks the way I want them to look. And name them. And give them their equipments. This is such a great game and I can’t wait to play more!

QUICKIES:

DARK SOULS 3 – This game is pretty… pretty hard… I just played the first hour though.

MAFIA 3 – Great story. Too repetitive to complete.

DISHONORED 2 – Haven’t started the game so no impressions yet.

(all images courtesy of Google)

 

 

 

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Batman: The Arkham Knight

Gotham City is in peril once again thanks to Scarecrow and his newest partner, the titular Arkham Knight. The third title from Rocksteady Games and their conclusion to the Arkham trilogy, was hyped up by the fans ever since the title was announced last year. Undeniably, it’s current-gen iteration is the most beautiful I’ve seen in their three games. The action was superb and as always you get a pitch perfect performance from Mark Hammill and Kevin Conroy.

However, as much as I would like to love this game, it really isn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the technical aspects of the game, and I feel it has improved a lot since Arkham City. But it just did not hook me. I don’t know. I didn’t like the whole Batmobile sequences (and there is a LOT!). Driving in video games has been my weakness ever since, and this game has a lot of it. So much so, that you can’t progress further into the story if you don’t utilize the vehicle. And I hated it.

Good thing Youtube has videos of all the cutscenes for this game. I have no patience to solve all of Riddler’s trophies and puzzles. I know there are over 200 of those around Gotham City. It’s too bad really because if you take those out, Arkham Knight is a brilliant Batman game. It has a solid combat system. Every villain has their own play style and fuck, all of Man-Bat’s appearances begin with a jump scare!!! The story has its flaws, but it’s engaging. It’s gripping, and they almost always require you to think on your feet. You really do become the Batman when you’re playing Arkham Knight.

But my idea of being Batman is one where I don’t drive the Batmobile a lot.

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Until Dawn

Sony’s sleeper hit last August is one of the few games I actually finished this year. In the advent of huge open world video games, it’s refreshing to play a short story driven game. I loved video games that you can finish in one weekend, and this is one of the bests that came out in 2015.

Until Dawn follows 8 teenagers headed by Hayden Panettiere,  who return to a cabin one year after a tragedy befell two of their friends. What originally was set to be a reunion of some sorts turned out to be a nightmare inspired by all of our favorite scary B-movies.

In my gameplay, I only saved 3 of the teens, but this game has a lot of choices and consequences that it is possible to kill or save them all. I watch of gameplays online for Until Dawn, and rarely do I see similar scenes per gameplay. No, it is not an open world game, unlike the other titles on my review, but there are still a ton of things to keep your attention to. There are collectibles, clues, totem poles, sometimes I delay the story so I can walk around and find loot.

I truly enjoyed my 8 hours of playing Until Dawn, if it weren’t for my huge backlog, I would give another try with this title. Hopefully, with all kids surviving next time.  This is not Game of the Year material, far from it. But in terms of pure enjoyment, Until Dawn delivered in droves. It is tense, suspenseful and can be funny when it needs to be. I finished this game in one weekend because while playing, I found myself not wanting to let go of the controller. I wanted to find out what will happen to Mike, Chris and the other kids I got attached to in the 8-10 hours I played this game.

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Oh Kojima you brilliant son-of-a-bitch. I have played and finished most of the Metal Gear Solid games since I first discovered it in 1999. I remember enjoying all the unique and absurd things that you can find littered all over the world of Solid Snake or Raiden or Big Boss.

However, The Phantom Pain felt different. It felt unfamiliar. It looks like something new. But not the bad kind of different, don’t get me wrong. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was excellent!

For one, this game is now an open world. You are free to wreak havoc on Afghanistan or Africa in any way you want. You can be stealthy, you can go guns blazing. You can choose to have a dog as a sidekick or a robot, or a sexy sniper. There are several ways you can go about completing missions, and you are only limited by your imagination.

There is no game like this one before. My initial impression, specially after playing Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is that I’m not going to like this game. Trailers, kind of made it look difficult. Complicated. It certainly is overwhelming, if you have not played this game before. It will not hold your hand. This game will treat you like a smart person, because it expects you to be one.

Honestly, I don’t remember the story of this game that much, because majority of my playthrough of this game was spent running around the map, fultoning people and animals to bring home to my mother base. In TPP, everything has a purpose. Soldiers you kidnap will become your followers which you can use to expand your base or to complete tasks or gather more resources. Animals you fulton will go to your own private zoo. There are over 250 missions/side missions to complete in this game. Considering how much games are these days, It’s more than worth what you paid for.

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Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

Assassin’s Creed is slowly becoming a tired concept. I have played several games in its franchise with varying levels of enjoyment. Black Flag and AC2 being the best ones in my opinion. Unity, even after all of its patches remained a broken mess when I tried to play it again a couple of months ago.

Fortunately, Syndicate is one of the good ones from this series. London is a great place to run around in. Maybe because it’s finally easier to traverse the huge map, that’s why I like this game. But the thing is, it’s still the same Assassin’s Creed.

You are shown a map with its little icons for treasures, missions and sidequests that you need to check off. 10 hours in and it’s become a bit of a chore. A chore that I don’t want to do anymore.

Jacob and Evie Frye are definitely interesting characters, that may initially play different, but eventually are the same. They are interesting characters, definitely. It’s such a shame though that their world isn’t.

I guess I’m just tired of playing around the world of Assassin’s Creed. It is no longer that awe-inspiring world. I don’t feel the vertigo anymore whenever I jump off eagle’s perches. It is a stealth game that does not really feel too stealthy. Maybe I just got spoiled by how great MGS:TPP was at stealth action. Or maybe it’s really just time for this franchise to go away for a little bit and find its purpose again.

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Fallout 4

This has been the only game I played since it came out a few weeks ago. It has totally swallowed up what little free time I have. Fallout 4 probably will be the only game I’ll be playing until the next big game comes out in the next couple of months.

So far in the 60 hours that I have played Fallout 4 I have walked all over the upper half of Boston. I found 5 Power Armors. I freed and befriended a Super Mutant, a Synth detective, a dog, a pretty investigative journalist, a Minute Man and a heavily outfitted soldier. I finally learned how to put up a decent house, and built a three-story fortress. I have started about a hundred quests and sidequests, finished only a few and still have not moved forward in my main mission which is to find my kidnapped son.

Just like all the other Bethesda games, this will devour all of your free time. Fallout 4 will keep you playing until your head hurts and your eyes begin to deteriorate. I have spent a couple of sleepless weekends already trying to find new locations on my map. But it’s because I have been a huge fan of the developer ever since I played The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

I get though that this is not for everyone. Walking around the wasteland can be a bit boring. It’s not as fast as your typical first person shooter and not as engaging as your typical linear games. Fallout 4 requires you to be patient. It wants you to enjoy discovering. It asks you to not be afraid of its world.  This game has bugs and glitches, which are I guess a staple of the developer already. Some might say, that’s the game’s charm, but we’re now on the latest generation of consoles where everything is powerful now, so we expect games to not have floating corpses or flying Brahmins. That turns me off a little bit. Fortunately, I have not experienced and game breaking bugs on my playthrough.

But I guess, the question now is: is this a Game of The Year type of game?

It could be.

(Images courtesy of Google)

 

We are now halfway through 2015, so it’s about time I do a quick review of the huge games that came out during the first six months of the year. So it’s sort of my Game of the Year Watch.

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The Order 1886

This is certainly the most beautiful game to come out of the next gen console. The graphics is unbelievably breathtaking, very detailed and definitely pushes the latest console hardware. Too bad gameplay and story was sacrificed to make this game pretty. It’s technically not a bad game, but it was incredibly short. This was a game that ended just when the story started to become interesting.  I guess the developers of this game (Ready At Dawn) wanted this to have been more of a cinematic experience more than a gaming experience. Everything about the gameplay was standard, the shooting, the stealth but it was really linear. It’s more go here, movie, fight, movie, go there. It is about a Victorian London set tale with Order Knights derived from King Arthur lore protecting London from werewolves and insurgents. Plot-wise, it was very predictable. It is a game that has a lot going for it, but unfortunately wasn’t executed very well. Hopefully, the sequel will improve on everything that 1886 is lacking.

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Bloodborne

From Software’s first game for this generation’s console is probably their best outing. It is practically a Souls game, only it’s faster and it strips you of a shield. It’s definitely a challenging game. It’s going to kill you hundreds of times. It’s obviously frustrating and during your first play, you’ll probably want to quit and break your copy of the game. But… if you’re patient. If you study how to beat your enemies… and you farm the shit out of those villagers… Eventually you’ll become smart and strong enough to sweep the floor with your enemies. And I’m telling you, it’s the most satisfying thing you’ll do in your life. This is a game that’s not for everybody. Unless you’re patient enough to read the game’s lore, you will definitely get lost in the story. Just to reiterate, this game will kill you again and again and again and again and again… and again. If this was another game, I would have already quit on the first area with the horde of cursed villagers. And that’s the same level where probably 75 percent of those who bought this game where they said this game is not for them. But once you get through that… Once you understand why that part was created that way… you will realize that Bloodborne is not that hard at all.

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

If you ask me, this is right now my Game Of The Year. The closing chapter of Witcher Geralt of Rivia is the best RPG of this console generation. Wild Hunt is HUGE!!! As in 200 hours long huge (that is if you want to play all the missions and side quests of course). Geralt of Rivia is looking for his lover and surrogate daughter and during the course of his search encounters monsters, kings, witches, wife beaters and all manners of characters that will make you not want to go out and have a real life anymore. Your choices in this game have real consequences. One day, you think you’re saving children, the next day you find out you slaughtered and entire village and caused a woman to become an orphan. You take contracts. You play gwent (which for me is probably more addicting than the game itself). And then one moment, while you’re sailing through a river, you realize the sunset on this game looks more beautiful than the actual sunset you see outside your window. Developer CD Projekt Red created a true masterpiece with this game.

So these are just some of the big games I have that’s come out this year.

Maybe on my next post, I’ll review Mortal Kombat X, Elder Scrolls Online, Arkham Knight and Metal Gear V: Phantom Pain.

(Images: From Crave Online)

I’m not going to wait for the year to end to post this. I have work on the 31st so I don’t think I will be able to have the time to write a post then. So I’ll write this while working on Rizal Day.

All images captured from Google.

BEST MOVIE (International)

LAST YEAR: Gravity

The best film is the type of film wherein days after you’ve seen it you still think about what you saw and it still gives you the chills. Whether it’s how awesome the characters are or how disturbing the story was, it still leaves something. Gone Girl is my best movie of 2014. What a disturbing movie!!! I watched it twice and in both showing, I notice how everyone in the cinema were really talking seriously about what they just saw. It was disturbing. It was emotional. It was shocking. It was a very very effective film. On facebook, whenever I post about a film I just saw, I normally just get likes, but when I posted about this, people really wanted to discuss the movie. You don’t really get that a lot. And for that reason alone is why Gone Girl is my best film of the year.

RUNNER UP: Captain America: Winter Soldier

BEST MOVIE (Local)

LAST YEAR: OTJ

I know in terms of quality, the indies take the cake for brilliance in the local film scene. But in all honesty, I have not been exposed to it as much as I want to. But to be honest, 2014 hasn’t really been a good year for us in terms of quality films. Even the indies had fewer noteworthy titles to choose from. So bear with me as my pick this year is reflective of the mainstream Pinoy films that we all love to hate. But then again, truth is we still pay to see these films. We swoon when we see kilig moments. And we still smile watching all the same cliche’s film after film after film. Honestly, all Pinoy films tell the same story but with only different actors. Okay, enough ranting. The best of all jologs Pinoy cheesy films of 2014 is Starting Over Again. And I choose this solely because I love Toni Gonzaga.

RUNNER UP: Bride For Rent

GAME OF THE YEAR (Console)

LAST YEAR: Grand Theft Auto V

2014 is the start of the current generation of consoles, so it’s quite understandable that the games are not of the same standards as the brilliant games that came out last year. Honestly, this year only 2 games are vying for the title of the best game of 2014. A choice between gameplay innovation and sheer size. Admittedly, Shadow Of Mordor’s Nemesis system is the best thing to come out of video games this year. It gives players the ability to tell it’s own story uniquely his. But Dragon Age: Inquisition consumed most of my idle time ever since I bought the game a few weeks ago.  I have poured in 60 hours into this game and I don’t think I’m halfway done. There are literally tons of things to do in this game world and it’s clearly worth what I paid for. Oh and just like with previous Bioware Games that I choose to win GOTY, it really helps that they let players have gay sex.

RUNNER UP: Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor

GAME OF THE YEAR (Handheld)

LAST YEAR: Tearaway

I bought my PS4 this year, and have played no other console as much as I did with my PS4. So my choice for Game Of The Year for Handhelds for 2014 is the only game that I played the most. Nintendo is great at creating games that allow you to kill time. With titles like Mario Kart, Smash Bros, Pokemon or even Animal Crossing, you could literally lose thousands of hours playing those games. But my 2014 Handheld game of the year is nothing like the innovative games I mentioned above. It’s a return to form for classic JRPGs. Bravely Default is the best turn based RPG I have played since the time of the PS2 era JRPGs. It’s tactical, challenging, and really addictive. I love getting new costumes as that meant that I will have new abilities. The characters are charming and funny and it has a very Japanese story which is quirky, imaginative and confusing as shit. Just how I like my Japanese Role Playing Games.

RUNNER UP: The Walking Dead: Season 2

BEST OF TV DRAMA 

LAST YEAR: The Good Wife

So the past few years I have been skipping on this show as the best US Drama series because there have been a lot of outstanding shows. That’s why I think I’ve given this award to almost all of the best shows out there. That’s why this year, I’m giving the award to one of my favorite shows of all time. Shameless. It’s a family dramedy about a VERY dysfunctional family. The show is so taboo I don’t think this will ever be allowed to be shown in our country. Regardless, the show is damn funny, brilliantly acted, and just like drugs, is so addictive. It is tasteless sometimes. It is filled with morally questionable characters and your heroes are pretty much all criminals in the making, but they are the most relatable and likeable characters on tv. I fucking love Shameless!!!

RUNNER UP: Game Of Thrones

BEST OF TV COMEDY

LAST YEAR: The Mindy Project

I am no longer the target market of MTV. I actually want to puke whenever I see something teenybopper on television these days. So imagine my surprise when I found myself glued to the television watching this year’s winner. Faking It. It’s a show about a couple of high school girls faking being lesbians so they will become famous in school. Just like the usual coming of age stories, one of them turns out to really be gay and falls in love with the best friend. But as cliche as this story gets, it’s actually funny and it doesn’t take itself too seriously (hello Glee). The show, now on it’s second season, has now moved on from it’s original premise and I think is getting better for it. This show may never win an Emmy, but I think it’s the closest we’ll get to seeing how American teenagers really are this generation. It’s a cool show.

RUNNER UP: The McCarthy’s

BEST OF TV (Local)

LAST YEAR: Got To Believe

What is a Gillboard Best Of post without an appearance of something directed by Cathy Garcia Molina. It would be nothing. And this year, I’m giving out the recognition of Best Pinoy TV Series to Forevermore. I love how this show makes me feel younger. It is a very Pinoy Soap Opera. It checks on a lot of boxes in the How To Make a Teleserye Handbook. The poor girl / rich guy love story. The evil future mother in law. The scene stealing supporting characters. The funny barkada of the guy. The third party. I’m pretty sure someone will get kidnapped by the end of this show. But then again, even if you do it, if you do it right. Get the script right. Get the chemistry right. Filipinos will buy the shit you throw at them. Unfortunately, I’m one who buys those shit. And come on, there really isn’t anything really good on Philippine TV apart from our news and current affairs stuff. Is there? Anyway, back to Forevermore. What I like about it, is that it’s smart enough that even if it ticks all those soap opera cliches, it gives us a bit of a twist that keeps us guessing if what we predicted will come true or not.

RUNNER UP: The Voice Of The Philippines

BEST IN MUSIC

LAST YEAR: Just Give Me A Reason

Let me be predictable for once. I like me some melancholy songs. And my song of the year goes to a singer who really writes great sad songs. The male or gay version of Adele as they say. Sam Smith’s Stay With Me resonates for a number of  reasons. One, the song is really really relatable. Who among us have that one night stand that we wished was not just? Oh god, if I heard that song like 8 years ago, I would have sung that to that unforgettable one night stand. Two, Sam Smith. Wow, that voice!!! You could really feel his emotions in all of his songs. He’s my favorite artist this year, bar none. Three. It was not overplayed unlike John Legend’s theme song of the year. Four. It’s just one song from an album that’s full of great music. Actually, let me take back the award from Stay With Me. The Best In Music this year for me is anything from Sam Smith.

RUNNER UP: Ed Sheeran Thinking Out Loud

BLOG OF THE YEAR

LAST YEAR: Wickedmouth

I know I haven’t been the most active blogger this year. I think I visit only a handful of blogs. And let’s be honest, there haven’t really been a lot of active bloggers anymore. The greats have now moved on  to better things in life. But there’s been no one really who’s been as consistent in writing posts as this year’s winner. Regardless the posts are read or not, he still writes. I heard it’s something he needs to do. For me, he is the epitome of the adage, “we write to express, not to impress”. He’s one blogger that I have known from like when I started blogging a few years ago, yet, he’s someone I’ve never actually met in person. I admire this blogger because it is difficult to find things to write, but he never seems to fail to find one. From trysts, to heartbreaks, his job, to family matters. They may sometimes be deep, but they are very well written. I have given this award to people who are no longer in the blog world, but I’m quite positive, we’ll be seeing his posts for quite some time more. Cheers Kuya Joms of L’Heure Bleue

RUNNER UP: Geosef’s Alphabet

Quick Reviews of this year’s biggest video games…

Dark Souls 2 (PS3)

This game is notorious for being a very difficult game. It is frustrating and it’s definitely catering to hardcore gamers only. But that is the reason why this game is also a satisfying game to play. Every small kill is a victory, and when you level up, you really feel your strength and abilities are increasing. But it’s still one hard game to play.

Infamous: Second Son (PS4)

Technically, nothing beats this game aesthetically. Their version of video game Seattle is really gorgeous! The colors are so alive, that if you’re epileptic, you’ll probably have an episode everytime you play Second Son. But for a huge sandbox game, there isn’t really that much to do. Delsin’s story is not that interesting. He does have a cool power set though.

Watch Dogs (PS4)

This game suffered from being overhyped. My initial excitement for this game was through the roof just because the demo/trailer for this game made us feel that Watch Dogs will be revolutionary. Unfortunately, the end product felt like a poor man’s Grand Theft Auto. The game was so simple. The hero, bland and the story was not that interesting. It’s a huge sandbox game though, so there were tons of things to do in Chicago. But it brings nothing new to action games.

Destiny (PS4)

This was my first experience in playing a Massive Multiplayer Online Game. Of all first person shooter games that I’ve played, this has the tightest controls. The world is big. But this is an empty game. There is no story. It asks you to do only one thing, no matter what planet you’re in. And it’s really boring. The only reason I play Call of Duty type games is the story, and this one fails miserably on that point. Too bad, I liked the world I was in, the short time I played this game.

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4)

This year’s most innovative game for sure. The nemesis system is the one thing all games should have moving forward. While, this only asks of you to kill orcs and uruks for the duration of it’s whole game, it does so with some really original tweaks. If you fail to kill one orc, when you die, he gets promoted. He becomes more powerful and he will remember what he did to you. Same thing happens if you let one escape or live, the next time you meet, he will bear the scars from your last encounter. Yeah, it plays a little bit like Assassin’s Creed, but the game is so immersive, you wouldn’t mind doing the same chore over and over again.

Alien Isolation (PS4)

Alien Isolation is fucking scary!!! Do not believe the reviews about this game that gave it a ridiculously low score. It is a game that you have to really experience to enjoy. I spent most of the game crouched and walking slowly, because I get paranoid. The alien AI is really smart, and unpredictable, that you really feel the stress of the character you’re playing. But it still lets you enjoy the beauty of space, before it scares the living shit out of you again.

Assassin’s Creed Unity (PS4)

Due to the influx of games the last few weeks, I haven’t really played a lot of this game. I think maybe I’m about 10 hours into the story. But man, Paris is big and beautiful. Yes, this game is full of bugs (one time the game crashed when I jumped down a small box). And yes, last year’s Black Flag was miles better than this one. But it’s still Assassin’s Creed. Parkouring around Paris is still awesome. And the sheer number of non playable characters in this game is massive. But, I’ll get back to this one after I finish all the other games I purchased.

Dragon Age: Inquisition (PS4)

It’s been one whole year since the PS4’s launch, and it’s only now that we get our first real western RPG. Let me tell you, the game is worth the wait. Among my latest purchases, this was the one I spent the most number of hours in. Inquisition is one massive RPG. I spent approximately 15 hours just wandering around The Hinterlands without progressing through the story. Doing quests have weight in your plight as an Inquisition Leader. And the lore… I think, the content in all of Ferelden could fill a book as thick as the bible. Game of the year contender for me.

Far Cry 4 (PS4)

They say that this is the same game as Far Cry 3 only in a different setting. They say it as if it’s a criticism. But why tamper with a formula when there’s nothing wrong with it. Far Cry 4 is crazy!!! I’ve only put in a few hours on this game, but let me tell you, crazy thing s have already happened in the few hours I played it. One of my first missions is to liberate a camp that was invaded by a rival group. Since I only started, I didn’t have a lot on my player yet. I spent a few minutes hunting animals so I can ungrade my weapon holster, wallet and loot bag so when I get to that camp, I’m prepared. But lo and behold, when I get to that camp, it was already being liberated… by a couple of elephants. Elephants!!! Crazy, right?! Now why would you change something as unique as a Far Cry experience?

Alright, this year, I think I spent roughly about 50k on games alone.

And I’m wondering why I have not had any savings yet in my name.