ESH | The Fall Part 2: Unbound Review

Crash­ing down on us in 2014, The Fall was a fas­ci­nat­ing adven­ture game with some admit­tedly clunky com­bat. The story mainly con­sisted of a com­bat suit with arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, named A.R.I.D. search­ing for med­ical atten­tion for the passed out human inside of it. In a major twist, stop read­ing here and go play The Fall if you haven’t already, the suit turned out to be empty the whole time and her whole pur­pose has been made null. As you might expect, I was eager to see where the story went from there and The Fall Part 2: Unbound does cer­tainly go in some inter­est­ing directions.

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ESH | Oh… Sir! The Hollywood Roast Review

Video games always seem to involve char­ac­ters resolv­ing their prob­lems with their fists or guns. Some­times, is it a smarter choice to use your words? This is the hypoth­e­sis that Oh… Sir!! The Insult Sim­u­la­tor and Oh… Sir! The Hol­ly­wood Roast seek to answer. Tak­ing a brand new spin on fight­ing games, these games pit two char­ac­ters against one another in a bat­tle of words that can only end with one victor.

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Wednesday Night Stream | Star Wars: Battlefront II (Single Player)

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Join me for some Star Wars Cam­paign action at 7:10pm EST! Feel free to com­ment on this post directly or head off to my Twitch Page to chat with me as I play!

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GOTY 2017 | Number 2 — Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

It was easy to lose heart after the garbage fire that was Res­i­dent Evil 6. Thank­fully, Cap­com stepped up and deliv­ered a brand new Res­i­dent Evil expe­ri­ence that is both brand new feel­ing and upholds the roots of what makes the series fun. Bring­ing the series into the first-person per­spec­tive was bold move, but it paid off with Res­i­dent Evil 7. Even though the point of view changed, every­thing about the game­play like man­ag­ing ammo, find­ing keys, care­fully nav­i­gat­ing cor­ri­dors and even open­ing doors still felt uniquely like it belonged in the series. Play­ing the game in vir­tual real­ity is one of the most intense expe­ri­ences I’ve done in gam­ing. Many parts of the game are very scary and being put into that world through a VR head­set only makes it that much more ter­ri­fy­ing. The story is self-contained enough that folks who are new to the series can eas­ily join in now, with some sly easter eggs for series vet­er­ans. The char­ac­ters, espe­cially the Baker fam­ily, are inter­est­ing to learn about and the story goes to some cool places by the end. Many peo­ple have crit­i­cized the lat­ter por­tion of the game for becom­ing more action heavy, but if you look at pre­vi­ous games in the series, it actu­ally fol­lows a sim­i­lar pat­tern in that regard. I played through this game four times in 2017 alone and will likely go back for another round in 2018. In any other year, this would have been an easy top spot, but I reluc­tantly call Res­i­dent Evil 7: Bio­haz­ard the 2nd best game of 2017.

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GOTY 2017 | Number 4 — Horizon Zero Dawn

Post-apocalyptic robot dinosaurs. These are prob­a­bly the only four words that needed to be spo­ken in the pitch meet­ing that green-lit Hori­zon Zero Dawn. Piv­ot­ing away from their first-person shooter com­fort zone, Guer­rilla Games shocked every­one when they announced Hori­zon Zero Dawn. This open-world action game is, in my opin­ion, the finest work the stu­dio has put out to date. The com­bat sys­tem is fun and diverse, with a mul­ti­tude of options to approach any encounter. There’s plenty to do as you explore the world, with side-quests that feel more per­sonal than the “go there and get that” fare of other games. The story is top-notch, with a vibrant world full of inter­est­ing char­ac­ters and fea­tures an out­stand­ing per­for­mance by Ashly Burch as Aloy. It’s also one of the best-looking games to come out this year from top to bot­tom. Hori­zon Zero Dawn more than earns its spot as the 4th best game of 2017.

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GOTY 2017 | Number 6 — Nier: Automata

Not often enough does a story in a video game leave you as speech­less as Nier: Automata left me when I played it this past year. Start­ing off as a fairly com­mon “how human are robots” type of tale, it esca­lates with each end­ing. Even­tu­ally, the places it goes will leave you a quiv­er­ing pile of per­son­i­fied exis­ten­tial dread that few nar­ra­tive media forms have been able to match up to this point. Nier: Automata also sports some of the best char­ac­ters of the year and man­ages to make good on their arcs more often than not. In a play of classi­ness, not often seen in huge games like this one, it will even let you buy any of the game’s tro­phies after you com­plete the game so you can enjoy it with­out wor­ry­ing about com­plet­ing every last thing. Many of the mechan­ics in the game can be used in sur­pris­ingly cre­ative ways and there are a few side-quests that are just as good as the main story. Nier: Automata def­i­nitely deserves the spot as the 6th best game of 2017.

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GOTY 2017 | Number 7 — Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Naughty Dog always starts off devel­op­ing DLC with the best of inten­tions. Build­ing upon the themes and lore of their most recent game by explor­ing rela­tion­ships either hinted at or nonex­is­tent in the main game, the DLC grows in size and scope. Inevitably, every story-based DLC that Naughty Dog pro­duces breaks off and becomes a bite-sized bit of bril­liance. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy con­tin­ues this tra­di­tion in great form by tak­ing some of the best things from Uncharted 4 and expand­ing on them in some smart ways. The rela­tion­ship built between Chloe and Nadine dur­ing the short adven­ture is a lot of fun to watch and the ban­ter is bril­liantly per­formed. The open design imple­mented in the mid­dle sec­tion of the game improves on what was in the main game by giv­ing you rea­sons to explore the beau­ti­ful envi­ron­ments. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy gives plenty of rea­sons to be an excel­lent 7th best game of 2017.

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GOTY 2017 | Number 8 — The Evil Within 2

Tak­ing the for­mula set forth by the orig­i­nal entry and improv­ing on it in nearly every way, The Evil Within 2 is a stel­lar sec­ond entry in this horror-action series. Open­ing up the envi­ron­ments allows the player to dis­cover the scares it has in store at their own pace. The Evil Within 2 also makes some smart improve­ments to the com­bat, mak­ing encoun­ters feel more tense and requir­ing some smart plan­ning to get through. The story is a lot more cohe­sive this time around and has a clear arc that runs through the game and doesn’t over­stay its wel­come. The Evil Within 2 evokes the bet­ter parts of Res­i­dent Evil 4 in many ways and deserves the spot as the 8th best game of 2017.

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GOTY 2017 | Number 9 — Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

One of the best-looking games to come out in 2017, Hell­blade: Senua’s Sac­ri­fice is an intense jour­ney that tackle some tricky sub­jects. I am always a fan of what Ninja The­ory puts out, but the amount of care they put into Hell­blade is stag­ger­ing. Ninja The­ory brought in men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als to ensure they were accu­rately and tact­fully rep­re­sent­ing men­tal ill­ness in their game and their work shines through in the final prod­uct. The audio design around the voices in Senua’s head is superb, you need to wear head­phones play­ing this game, and the sub­tle visual touches they make to rep­re­sent both mild and major hal­lu­ci­na­tions are done extremely well. As usual, they have incor­po­rated live action footage in some very cre­ative ways to fur­ther improve the over­all visual design and the per­for­mance from the Ninja The­ory designer who played Senua is top notch. Hell­blade: Senua’s Sac­ri­fice would have been much higher on my list in a dif­fer­ent year, but it still deserves this spot as the 9th best game of 2017.

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