The video games I spent most of my time with in 2014

Here’s some thoughts on a couple of games I spent a lot of time in 2014. I didnt play a lot of different games during the year, but spent a huge amount of time on certain ones.

Wolfenstein: The New Order

In this day and age when Ubisoft puts out half-baked games full of collectibles without meaning and loses the focus of important gameplay elements in the sea of side missions, it was refreshing to have something like Wolfenstein: The New Order – a supremely put together, clinically executed and entertaining first person shooter.

I dont even dare to load up Far Cry 4 at this point because playing it seems so ardurous. There is too much to do, the scope is too big, it’s all too distracting. I cannot simply concentrate on just playing the main story missions because there are distractions everywhere. That was cool in Assassins Creed 2 and Brotherhood where the side missions and collectables all mattered. As they do in GTA5 which gets the amount right. Mostly it’s all out of control especially in Ubi’s games and Dragon Age Inquisition is at fault too. Collectibles for the sake of collectibles that really are not making the game any more fun. I leave games on the shelf now, because playing them seems like too much work. Its why Call of Duty still works in single player – it’s short, bombastic and simple. All the while being entertaining.

Wolfenstein has four difficulty levels and no multiplayer, no other bullshit that would have taken away from the core development resources of the game. The developers focused on the essentials. The New Order is still the full package. It offers superb first person shooter gameplay, a great story and characters.  Both of which I really did not expect. It sheds all needless extras and half-baked additional gameplay modes like an useless multiplayer mode. It is a game made by a talented and smart, yet small team who deliver an true AAA game with laser-like precision. A truly great game if you like fps games.

I really dug the pace, the feel of the controls, the fact that you had to pick up ammo and health plus the gunplay felt so satisfying. The graphics were superb considering this was a old/current-gen game and the pacing was great. You had those story/hub moments, you had characters whose names you remember and who you cared for. Like J. Cant say that of any of the last few Call of Duty games. There is no fat in this game, just pure gameplay with superb execution. I really loved the introspective monologue that BJ spouted on occasion. BJ’s voice acting was great and the dialogue gave a lot more depth to the character as did the love interest.

I was really disappointed in the reviews that said the monologue felt out of place. I really didnt get that. It was a bold, different stylistical choice, which I really applaud.

This is also a game that makes financial sense in this day and age of “super hit or bust” AAA games. Wolfenstein was made with less than 100 people in four years at a reasonable budget. It screams quality and high-production values, but not at an absolutely insane price where the breakeven is 6+ million units. It’s sensible publishing and game-making.

If only we had more of that.

Destiny

It is nice that a game that my employer works on, turns out to be the most addictive game I’ve played since Modern Warfare. I cannot put Destiny down. I’m almost 13 days deep in terms of game time and that is pretty much with my only Hunter character. Then today I finally succumbed to levelling up my other character, a level 11 Titan to 27.

When I was on my christmas vacation, I had my alarm wake me every day at 10:20am so I could do the bounties twice as they reset at 11am Finnish time, but if you are online when that happens, you can get the bounties, do them, take them back then logoff and come back and get them again from the Bounty dude/Eris and do them again. Pro tip.

Destiny has brought camraderie to our work place. Every day at work starts with discussion about Destiny, the Exotic weapons and every Friday a colleague loads up the game so we can see what Xur is selling.

Sure, I wish there was more content, but no amount of content would be enough really. I’d rather have quality than quantity and I feel I have that in the game. Yeah, the story is weak but I had very low expectations on that anyway. I’m not sure why people expected Uncharted or something out of a game that is mostly a multiplayer, level up, gain XP, kind of experience.

The enviroment design is amazing. Even after 12 days of grinding around Cosmodrome or Venus Patrols, the skyboxes and enviroments have not lost their appeal. They are breath-taking. I dont think the “enviromental story-telling” quite works, you want to learn  more of the world in the game and not via the way too cryptic Grimoire. I like the fact that you have to go to a site or app to read that stuff, but…yeah, what could be different / better in Destiny, that’s a long document I’m writing since I care so much about the game.

Some of the exotic weapons are crap in terms of their killing efficiency, but thats why they are called exotics. The fact that the stats are not great, is not everything. That does not make the weapon crap. Someone will still want to use an weak exotic weapon because… it is an exotic. Like that person who soloed Crotans End with No Land Beyond. That’s crazy. That is also the game writing it’s own stories or rather players. You dont need cutscenes for that.

The game’s uptime in terms of how well the network side of things runs is amazing. The updates are relatively small and fast to download. The idiotic “discussion” in some parts of the Internet about Bungie having cut content and save it for DLC makes me mad. If only you knew how much content gets cut out of games that never see the light of day. That’s the norm. Destiny is an MMO – so you are going to have new experiences in old areas, which is what The Dark Below is. Having most of the enviroments already on your hard drive saves a lot of download time too.

Would I like more new enviroments in Destiny? Yeah, of course, but I know the reality of production schedules and creating high-definition 3d content, so ..my expectations are kept in check. Could Bungie communicate better? Yeah, they absolutely could. Some honest responses would be pretty refreshing, but I’m pretty sure there’s corporate mandates to follow there.

The friendliness of most players is something I’ve rarely experienced. Like when you are farming at that basement in Cosmodrome with the three Hive Majors (either to get 200 sensor mites or just 10 Hive Major kills, or Black Wax Idols), most of the time if there’s another player there, we dont have to talk…we know. We do it together, going just beyond the invisible barrier that triggers the spawn and do our thing. That’s my experience most of the time. Destiny players being nice and without chat, you can still emote. That is really a superb achievement that Destiny and Bungie do not get enough credit for. It truly is often amazing.

The Raids are also amazing. My first time in the Vault of Glass with my crew was one of the best video game experiences I have ever had.

The Extinction mode in Call of Duty: Ghosts

The best part of the game and the last hurrah for Neversoft. The four-player Extinction was so much fun. I really do not like endless wave -type of game modes. I much prefer Extinctions episodic nature and clear goals. You know you can get through it instead of I wonder how many hours this will take. We had a really good time with my friends playing this and grinding to get more money to upgrade our weapons and skills. I really liked the different classes and how well the designers piled different gameplay onto the Call of Duty formula. Plus there even was a story! Extinction was awesome.

Yes, I’m aware Ghosts came out in 2013.

Happy new year everybody.

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