GregHorrorShow: Game Awards 2017

Game Awards 2017

2017 was a stand out year for games, with some amazing titles hitting shelves. Whether hunting robot dinosaurs in Horizon: Zero Dawn or teeing off on the 18th hole in Everybody’s Golf, there were plenty of great games for all types of players.

As usual there were some games I didn’t get to, Assassin’s Creed Origins and Wolfenstein II to name a couple. Also I hadn’t played enough of Persona 5 to judge it on much beyond graphics and music.

So here are my favourites from 2017 but first another awesome title from 2016…

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MISSED GEM OF 2016

Dishonored2

I got this for Christmas 2016 so it wasn’t until early last year that I really got going with it. A follow up to Arkane Studio’s 2012 title, it picks up some time after the end of the first game. Once the opening scene plays out you are given a choice of whether to continue as the original games hero Corvo or as Emily Kaldwin. Both have different powers and I’m really looking forward to going back and replaying this with different abilities. A mixture of stealth and action, the game has a wonderful sense of style and the soundtrack gives it a distinctive flavour as well. Plus one of the levels, The Clockwork Mansion, is a true feat of design, seeing the entire level shift around you depending on which levers you pull. Great stuff.

WINNER: Dishonored 2

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MOST IMPROVED GAME

OverwatchGA2017

As games become more of an ongoing service than ever, I thought it might be worth keeping an eye on which titles have evolved over the last 12 months. On the single player front No Man’s Sky is almost unrecognizable from the game it was at the time of release, with base building and a more detailed story now featured. It also features lots of ways to play the game, whether you want a punishing survival adventure or a more relaxed, exploration based experience. It’s worth checking out if you haven’t been back to it for a while. One surprise was The Division‘s recent update which added a ton of more content including a horde mode and more player v player options. This is in addition to the extra end game content and systems already added during the year. There were also a few paid for DLC packs that added more scenarios and areas. Battlefield 1 added a handful of more free maps and an awesome mode called Operations, which is a sprawling battle across numerous areas – definitely something for players looking to get into longer, more intense matches. Most of the Operations are available to all but some are locked behind the Battlefield Premium pass, along with a good number of maps. Overwatch continues to change as time goes on, alongside balance changes players have also received 5 new characters and 4 new maps. In addition the game has added tons of new modes in the arcade rotation, including Deathmatch, Elimination and Duels. There were also the event related modes like Junkenstein’s Revenge, Capture The Flag, Lucioball and Yeti Hunter, which all added to the variety of content. Uncharted 4 delivered more arenas and a huge of amount of characters and customisation. The addition of a horde mode and a much requested ‘Classic’ mode were most welcome and the game still feels great to play. All of these games have shown a strong development over the last year but I feel like Overwatch by adding, for free, such a big amount of heroes and new areas alongside balancing and entirely reworking existing characters gets the nod here. The fact you can buy the game now and have access to everything in the game content wise is fantastic and it has continued to suck up a lot of my time in 2017.

WINNER: Overwatch

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THE JOE DANGER AWARD

EverybodysGolf

I really enjoyed Everybody’s Golf on the Vita so I was looking forward to the PS4 version, thinking it’d be fun to play with friends and just online in general. I didn’t imagine the single player, with it’s golf carts, fishing and quizzes would draw me in but it did and I spent a lot of time working my way up the rankings and challenging the ‘boss battle’ style golfers to unlock more progress. It’s also a really relaxing game and can be great to play to just unwind a little.

WINNER: Everybody’s Golf

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MOST ANTICIPATED GAME OF 2018

RedDead2

Could it be anything else? Without doubt one of my favourite games of the PS3 era, Red Dead Redemption was a stone cold classic that delivered an epic story and a really solid multiplayer offering. As much as I can’t wait to see the story Rockstar have planned for us it’s the multiplayer I’m most excited about. I loved it before but seeing what Rockstar have done with the online for GTA V makes me hope that this could really be something special.

WINNER: Red Dead Redemption 2

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BEST TRAILER

DeathStranding

I’m still not entirely sure what Death Stranding is even about but with each trailer Hideo Kojima reveals a little more of the characters and setting. His next project post Metal Gear Solid is shaping up to be like nothing else we’ve ever played. The trailer shows a world in disarray and people trying to protect a baby from supernatural forces. Graphically it looks great and he has both Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelson on board, so I’m really hopefully he will continue his run of amazing, and amazingly crazy, games. Watch the trailer HERE.

WINNER: Death Stranding

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BEST VITA GAME

SteinsGate

Steins;Gate is an older title but was far and away the best Vita game I played in 2017. Unfortunately with support outside of the indies drying up for the Vita there wasn’t a huge amount of new stuff I played on the system. However I’d definitely recommend trying this title out, the tale of a time travelling ‘mad scientist’ who has to battle a series of other outside influences in an attempt to use his time travel for good and save his friends. This visual novel goes dark in places but man, what a ride!

WINNER: Steins;Gate

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BEST GRAPHICS

Hellblade

This was a crowded category in 2017 with plenty of amazing looking games arriving, whether it was the anime styling of Persona 5 or the photo realistic universe of Battlefront II. Naughty Dog delivered a wonderful looking game in Uncharted: Lost Legacy, with impressive vistas and Horizon: Zero Dawn‘s lush, beautiful expanses were a bit to play in. But I’m giving this to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, a mid price game that gave us a well paced 10 hour experience that looked stunning considering it was made on a much smaller budget than the other games mentioned here. It was a darker world than the other games here but still absolutely stunning.

WINNER: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

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BEST STORYLINE

HorizonZD1

I really enjoyed playing through Senua’s troubled story in Hellblade, it was a difficult experience at times but the pay off was worth it and I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot if you haven’t played it already. Unfortunately I only had time for one playthrough of Nier Automata this year, so while I know I still have story beats to come, I felt the game deserved a nod even just for the first run through. Naughty Dog did an amazing job of giving us another Uncharted title but with different protagonists, Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross, giving us a unique vibe. It worked a treat and I enjoyed the story here, the pacing was excellent. However, this year’s winner is Horizon: Zero Dawn which gave us a story told on several levels and with a few great twists along the way. Guerrilla Games did really well with this, especially after the story of Killzone: Shadow Fall, which didn’t really deliver.

WINNER: Horizon: Zero Dawn

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BEST MUSIC (SCORE)

Persona5

There has been some wonderful music made for games this year, Henry Jackman’s score for Uncharted: Lost Legacy was sublime and really added to the atmosphere of the game. Likewise Horizon: Zero Dawn had a great score which felt like a real part of Aloy’s world, especially the contrasts between battle themes and more peaceful moments. I’d actually thought Nier Automata would take this category as Okabe Keiichi’s score is hauntingly beautiful but although I haven’t finished the game I’ve spent enough time with Persona 5 to know a killer soundtrack when I hear one – that end of battle sting brings a smile to my face every time! Wonderful stuff as usual from Shoji Meguro.

WINNER: Persona 5

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BEST MUSIC (LICENSED)

Ruiner

Full disclosure, as anyone who follows me on any socials will know, I helped to select the soundtrack for Dirt4 but I genuinely believe it’s a great soundtrack with a strong mix of old and new artists. Uncharted: Lost Legacy nabs a spot on the nominations list solely for a glorious and truly fitting use of M.I.A and FIFA 18 delivers another great selection of new music across genres. But the winner here is the absolutely brutal soundtrack put together for Devolver Digital’s cyberpunk title Ruiner. Featuring artists like Susumu Hirasawa and Zamilska I’d recommend giving it a listen if you’re not familiar. A perfect match to the dark, unrelenting action on screen.

WINNER: Ruiner

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BEST VOICE ACTING

LostLegacy

Melina Juergens has rightfully earned a lot of plaudits for her voice acting as Senua in Hellblade, she made the character believable and vulnerable, while still maintaining a rough edge along the way. I also thought Ashly Burch was great as Aloy in Horizon: Zero Dawn, unfortunately she was the best of the bunch, although there were a few other good performances scattered among the rest of the cast. There was more story in Destiny 2, which of course brought more voice acting, though not from your mute character – I really do wish they’d go the Mass Effect route and have the character voiced but I digress… What you do have is great work from Lance Reddick, Gina Torres and Nathan Fillion. Is Cayde-6 a little overplayed? Yes, but having some extra personality is better for me than none at all. There was plenty of personality in Uncharted: Lost Legacy, which takes home the award. It was fantastic to see the development of the relationship between Chloe and Nadine as the game went on and you really did feel a bond established between them. Just the right mix of quips and seriousness meant I didn’t miss Nathan for a second.

WINNER: Uncharted: Lost Legacy

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BEST SINGLE PLAYER GAME

HorizonZD2

First off a shout out to Call Of Duty: World War II which was, admittedly, dire and relentlessly depressing for the most part but delivered one of my favourite levels of the year with a great set piece that sees you infiltrate a Nazi base as a Resistance member. Fun and different. Again, I’ve only played through Nier Automata once but I really enjoyed what I did and thought the story was interesting – I know there is more in store for me on further playthroughs so I’m looking forward to seeing what’s on offer. Uncharted: Lost Legacy gave me exactly what I was hoping for, a story in the Uncharted universe that didn’t revolve around Nathan Drake (as much as I love him, Uncharted 4 rounded out the arc perfectly). It was really well paced and looked absolutely gorgeous. But I have to give it to Horizon: Zero Dawn. What an amazing game. Robot dinosaurs was the premise, hunting them and having to take them down. The developers really delivered on that promise and then some. There is so much more to the game. So much in fact that a hint on the loading screen after I’d finished the game told me about a type of weapon I hadn’t even known existed! Horizon really is a game you can lose yourself in, if you haven’t already grab yourself a copy now.

WINNER: Horizon: Zero Dawn

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BEST MULTIPLAYER GAME

Destiny2GA17

2017 was a weird year for multiplayer. As I mentioned in an earlier category, a lot of big games from the last few years stepped up and gave us more, sometimes different, content. I played more Overwatch, Rocket League and Battlefield 1 this year than I did any of the games on this list. Everybody’s Golf turned out to be a title that I stuck more time into offline than online. But I had great fun playing with friends and doing the online challenges. FIFA came back with a bang and I reignited my Ultimate Team career after barely touching it the previous year. The only issue is that it’s very easy to pay-to-win using real money so sometimes it’s just not that fun if you haven’t spent cash yourself, I’ve been on the end of a fair few 7 or 8 goal thrashings that I imagine might infuriate more volatile players. Speaking of pay-to-win, I was tempted to give the award this year to Battlefront II. I don’t think it’s a popular opinion but putting aside the loot box shenanigans (at the current time you can’t actually pay real money to win) I’ve genuinely enjoyed the time I’ve spent with the game. It handles well and, for the most part, has felt fair to play. Having said that, Destiny 2 handles like a dream. Being able to play through the story with friends and then get online for some crucible action has been more than enough of a value proposition for me. I loved the PvP in the original Destiny and I love it here. The mix of weapons and abilities gives a flexibility you don’t always see in online shooters. And the shooting feels so good you won’t want to stop.

WINNER: Destiny 2

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BEST OVERALL GAME

HorizonZD3

When Guerrilla Games announced they would be making something completely new after our Killzone titles, I was caught in two minds. I love Killzone (and hope it comes back at some stage) but something fresh could be great. Then they announced Horizon: Zero Dawn and I was blown away. Blown away and a little worried. I had faith in Guerrilla but moving from a gritty, first person environment to a third person, open world RPG? Added to that was the fact that, while the multiplayer delivered, the last Killzone’s game story was a big let down. Could they give us a story over tens of hours that would stand up? I need not have worried at all because they smashed it out of the park. Horizon: Zero Dawn is up there with the very best open world games I’ve played – GTA V, Metal Gear Solid V, Red Dead Redemption, Aloy’s wondrous journey is on a par with these gaming masterpieces. The robots themselves are so brilliantly designed that I loved working out ways of taking them down. The story is fantastic, the world building is great and I always felt like I was doing something and not just grinding for XP. Aloy’s character is subtle and, as a rare female lead, treated in exactly the same way a male version of her character would have been. It shouldn’t be impressive but it can hopefully pave the way for more games with female leads. I can’t wait to see what Guerrilla Games do next but I’m there day one.

WINNER: Horizon: Zero Dawn

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So there you go, another fantastic year done and 2018 looks to be another good one with Red Dead Redemption II, Far Cry 5, Anthem, Detroit: Become Human, the God Of War reboot and a title I’ve been looking forward to for months – VA-11 Hall-A, a cyberpunk game in which you play a bartender. I can’t wait!

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GregHorrorShow: The TV Of 2017

Timeless2017

It’s been another huge year for TV as people’s appetite for binge watching new shows remains at an all time high. Services like Netflix and Amazon have completely changed how we consume our television and are delivering extremely high quality shows right into our living rooms and onto our phones.

12 Monkeys returned for it’s third season with a bang, several bangs in fact followed by a nice rendition of Nena’s “99 Luftballoons”. While the show has moved away from the plague threat of the initial two seasons it remains a much watch, especially if you have any interest in time travel. I thoroughly enjoyed the second season of Agents Of Shield, the way they handled the transition through the season of switching enemies was great and there were a few good twists in there as well. Keeping things Marvel, I thought Iron Fist was pretty good but still the weakest of the four ‘Defender’ arcs of the Netflix shows. Was great to see some good Kung Fu but it didn’t deliver the same character investment for me as the other shows. One Marvel show that did deliver was Legion, despite me not really knowing what the hell was going on for the first 4 or 5 episodes. It’s a complex, sometimes disturbing, show but it’s a visual spectacular and as a music fan it was great to listening out for the various end credit tracks, all linked lyrically to each episode.

12Monkeys2017

Although its run is still continuing The Gifted is a fun watch. The story of X-Men mutants from their perspective as an oppressed minority is interesting if a little heavy handed at times. Killjoys was another cheesy show that I’m on the fence about, will probably stick with it and see where it goes. DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow remains fun and an easy watch, the chemistry between the crew is keeping me on board and the show is doing interesting things with the idea of time travel catching up with you. Arrow (Season 3) is plodding along, it’s nice to see the team expanding which changes up the dynamic a bit. It’s been a poor season but any opportunity to watch Paul Blackthorne chew the scenery as Quentin Lance is one I’m happy to take. (His ‘Laurel, honey/sweetheart…’ has saved many an episode!)

I found the second season of Quantico difficult to get in to, the sense of deja vu is a bit much for me. It feels too similar to the first season with just a bunch of new recruits thrown into the mix. Orphan Black returned for a final season and what a ride that turned out to be. Another tour de force from Tatiana Maslany, this was definitely a show you should check out if you didn’t get a chance previously. Travellers, a tale of people sent from the future taking over the bodies of people who would’ve died at that moment otherwise, was a nice idea but it really ran out of steam.

The Good Place kinda came out of nowhere and stole my heart. The show has so much going on, commentary on our, sometimes, self centred desire to help others or ideas about death, it’s a truly great watch with some wonderful twists and turns along the way. Ted Danson is particularly good but the whole cast is great. On the other end of the emotional scale was The OA, which is the story of a girl who returns home after going missing and the, sort of, cult that grows around her. It was a harrowing watch but definitely enjoyable.

iZombie2017

Blindspot returned and while the main plot gets more ridiculous as time goes on (how many layers can Jane’s tattoos have?!) the team dynamic and individual stories are what keeps me coming back. Plus I love that Patterson created a wildly popular mobile game while the team took some time off! Another returning show was iZombie, last year’s best show winner. It was another stellar season as the story becomes more about the upcoming human/zombie war as opposed to the previous seasons which focused on trying to keep the zombie secret.

Going back to time travel, what a year it’s been for shows that shift through the timeline – maybe with everything going on in the real world people like the idea of rewinding the clock. Another time travel show was Timeless which follows the well trodden Assassin’s Creed style of time travel, where you end up taking part in massive historical events (tipping tea off the boats at the Boston Tea Party in Assassin’s Creed III anyone?). It was fun watching the characters, often accidentally, help shape huge cultural events. It had some nice twists and one particularly savage gut punch in the mix – roll on season 2! Frequency took a different tact and focused on a different type of time distortion. The main character Raimy discovers she can communicate with her deceased father in the past via a ham radio. Can she help him avoid his death? Should she reveal who she is? It was a novel set up and while it was definitely cheesy at times I think it did enough to keep me hooked.

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BEST NEW SHOW

Legion2017

There have been so many great shows this year I literally had three nailed on options for these two slots, it’s a testament to the quality of TV that this is so tough. I thought Legion looked interesting but I had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for. What an amazing trip, a confusing, colourful (organised) mess that delivered something new with every episode. The cast were great, Dan Stevens really bringing it as David and Aubrey Plaza was perfectly insane as Lenny Busker. My one recommendation would be not to binge watch this one, having a few days between each episode really lets you digest what is going on. I’m also giving a huge shout out to Timeless, which was the other show in the running here. It was better than it had any right to be.

 

BEST SHOW

TheGoodPlace2017

The Good Place is one of the best shows I’ve seen in ages. The wonderful premise, the great acting and really strong writing make for a really cool show. Eleanor’s (Kristen Bell) horror as she realises they’ve let the wrong Eleanor Shellstrop into heaven is quite something to behold. As she unravels with the fear of being exposed… well it’s just great. I don’t want to spoil anything but I will say that the show pivots in really interesting ways to stay fresh. I can’t wait to watch more of this.

 

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GregHorrorShow: The Films Of 2017

Paddington 2

2017 has been a strange year for film. With the threat of streaming services continuing to grow, the industry seems stuck in a catatonic state at a time that it needs to rise up, embrace streaming and meet the challenges it faces. In addition to that, the industry itself was rocked by the ongoing sexual assault/abuse revelations that will hopefully, in time, mean that the film industry (and other areas of media) are a safer, more fair place to work.

With the latter in mind I would like to make an honourable mention for Baby Driver as one of the most enjoyable films I watched this year. It has now become tainted by association through the uncovering of years of Kevin Spacey’s predatory behaviour and co-star Jon Bernthal has recently said that Spacey was a bully on the set of Baby Driver. However, a lot more people than Kevin Spacey put a huge amount of time and effort into a film that I thought was excellent so while I’m uncomfortable praising something featuring Spacey, this shout out goes to Edgar Wright, the rest of the cast and the crew who made a really great movie.

BabyDriver

I also enjoyed T2: Trainspotting, which was an interesting trip down memory lane as someone who was a teenager when the first film dropped. Nostalgia was a big factor in the film and I can completely see why some people might not have liked the movie, especially if they didn’t have that attachment to the characters. Certainly, it has some moments that I thought were really weak and the main players became almost caricatures of their initial roles but I came out of the film more positive than negative. I loved The Big Sick, which came out of nowhere for me. Telling the real life story of Kumail Nanjiani and the early part of his relationship with Emily Gardner, it was a touching, interesting look at how cultural differences can impact a relationship.

2017 was a year that I didn’t actually make it to the cinema much sadly, most of the trips I did take were with the family and there were a couple of stand out kids films for me. Despicable Me 3 was, as expected, a fun film that continued the adventures of Gru and his adopted daughters. The introduction of his lost long brother was a nice touch and meant the film focused a lot on that relationship but it also led to a feeling that the third instalment didn’t quite hit the high points of the previous two. Paddington 2 was phenomenal, one of the greatest kids films I’ve ever seen and Hugh Grant was the best I’ve seen him as villain Phoenix Buchanan. Much recommended.

As part of the BFI’s Stephen King retrospective, I saw Maximum Overdrive for the first time. This was King’s one and only directorial role and it wasn’t hard to see why! It was certainly an enjoyable b-movie but it’s not one for the history books. Although big props to AC/DC for a great soundtrack.

MaximumOverdrive

And a final call out for little known Christmas film Hitched For The Holidays. I’m not one for Hallmark-esque TV movies but my wife loves them at this time of year. However, I was pleasingly surprised by this one which stars 12 Monkeys’ Jennifer Goines (Emily Hampshire) alongside early 90’s heartthrob Joey Lawrence. It’s cheesy as hell but this tale of two people who agree to be each other’s fake partner over the holiday season has just the right amount of warmth and heart for the festive season.

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FILM OF THE YEAR

BigSick

It was close, I nearly gave this to Paddington 2 but in the end The Big Sick takes it. It’s a wonderful, funny, heart-wrenching film with some outstanding performances. Of course Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan as the two main characters are brilliant but Ray Ramano and the always amazing Holly Hunter really deliver as Emily’s parents. A truly life affirming firm.

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GregHorrorShow: The Music Of 2017

Lorde

2017 was the year that the general public fully embraced streaming and it was fascinating to see changes in attitudes towards the charts and what constitutes a ‘hit’.

There was plenty of amazing music released through the year, here is a Spotify playlist with some favourites in there:

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I listened to a huge amount of pop throughout the year, I enjoyed new stuff by Carly Rae Jepsen, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. I loved the Lorde album and Green Light was a brilliant single. Charli XCX dropped Pop2 a week ago and I’m still digging into that, it’s great. Also shout out to Shawn Mendes for the earworm that is ‘Nothing Holdin’ Me Back‘. Add to that standout singles from Sigrid and Selena Gomez and it’s been a hell of year for great pop songs.

JessieWare

The Haim sisters returned with a set of killer singles and a fantastic album, along with the ever awesome Jessie Ware whose album is great. Sam Smith delivered his second album and he didn’t disappoint. Pray being a particular highlight for me.

On the OST front I loved the music in Baby Driver and on the game front Ruiner was amazing and Garoad had me hooked on a soundtrack for a game I haven’t even played yet!

Logic

On the hip hop front Logic‘s album is one of the best I’ve heard in ages, complimented nicely by DAMN by Kendrick Lamar, which is also brilliant.

Benjamin Clementine‘s album was a challenging listen but it’s growing on me and Mr Jukes‘ album was a very pleasant surprise. Greta Van Fleet kept the rock flowing, Sampha won the Mercury Music Prize and it was nice to see Liz Lawrence return with new material.

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GregHorrorShow: The Books Of 2017

Filmish

I started 2017 strong on the reading front but during the last few months I’ve struggled to get going and make it through many books. I also feel like 2017 was the first year in a long time that I didn’t enjoy a lot of the books I read, which is a real shame and might explain why I’ve been struggling of late.

I finally got around to reading Murder On The Orient Express (Agatha Christie) and what a wonderful novel it is. Fantastic pacing and Poirot is a pleasure as always. I received Filmish (Edward Ross) as a gift and it was a lovely ‘Sunday-afternoon’ book that I would dip into and read a chapter at a time. It’s a comic book telling the history/theory of film and is definitely worth checking out.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned, there were some books that just didn’t grab me. I had super high hopes for The Axeman’s Jazz (Ray Celestin), a retelling of the story of the Axeman of New Orleans but from the perspective of fictional Detective lieutenant Michael Talbot and Ida Davis, along with her friend, real life musician Louis Armstrong. Sadly I was left wanting as the story plodded along, it wasn’t a terrible novel but left me disappointed. ‘Childhoods End‘ (Arthur C. Clarke) was a Sci-Fi novel that I found to be really tough to get into. A few flashes of interesting story ideas washed away in tale that struggled to raise any emotion in me.

AncillaryJustice

Bad Monkeys‘ (Matt Ruff) was similar in that it had a few nice touches but simply wasn’t for me. Another disappointment was The Violent Century (Lavie Tidhar), which from the blurb sounded great – a tale of Oblivion and Fogg, two old friends who have spent years watching the world crumble. In reality, I didn’t like the characters and felt that the book overall was a little boring.

Back to more positive tomes and the ever reliable Ray Bradbury was on fine form for The Martian Chronicles, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Ancillary Justice (Ann Leckie) skirted a fine line between positive and negative but did enough in the end to tie everything together and I suspect I will read the rest of the series at some stage. Likewise, The Power (Naomi Alderman) had a fantastic premise but felt like it was wasting it until a few twists delivered a really solid and enjoyable ending.

In non-fiction well being beacon Krista Tippet’s ‘Becoming Wise‘ was a lovely read that I’d recommend to everyone. Especially helpful if you’re looking for some guidance or a way to be more grounded, it features interviews with lots of fantastic thinkers/speakers.

Annihilation

But my favourite book of the year, which I read in one weekend is the stunning ‘Annihilation‘ (Jeff VanderMeer). Telling the story of an unnamed group made up of an anthropologist, surveyor, biologist, and psychologist that are tasked with exploring Area X. This one had me hooked from the very start. It’s not a long book but it packs a hefty punch as it develops and there are some nice twists and turns throughout. I now can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

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MOST WANTED 2017/18

Detroit

As we head into the final stretch of 2017 I thought it might be worth taking a look at some of the titles that will be coming to the PlayStation 4 in the next year. Have a look below to watch some footage of the games I’d recommend keeping an eye on in the next 12 months (and beyond!).

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Star Wars: Battlefront II

I liked the first Battlefront game, it certainly looked the part but eventually the lack of content killed off my interest. This time out DICE are not messing around, with triple the maps, heroes and vehicles that the first game had. There are also more game modes and a nice bump in the graphics (see above video). The game now encompasses the locations of all the Star Wars films, not just the most recent and the addition of heroes like Chewbacca and Rey mean everyone’s favourites should be in here. As well as all that there is also a full story mode (missing from the first game) which gives you even more value for your money.

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Detroit: Become Human

There is something wonderful about finishing a David Cage game like Heavy Rain and then discussing with friends to see whether they had a similar experience and if you both had the same characters alive at the end. Detroit: Become Human looks set to continue this tradition, with you playing as three androids in a futuristic vision of Detroit. Androids are starting to go rogue and demanding independence, you’ll be able to see the story from three viewpoints: Connor hunts down ‘deviant’ androids, Kara is a ‘deviant’ who has escaped from the factory she was built in and Markus, who wants to free all androids. Hopefully the game can build on the interesting questions raised around androids and AI in last years TV series Westworld.

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Forgotten Anne

Forgotten Anne had slipped under my radar but I was lucky enough to get to play it briefly recently and found myself enraptured. If you have an interest in animation or anime I’d recommend checking this out, it’s a beautiful game and is like playing a cartoon. Here’s the blurb from their website, which describes it better than I could: “Imagine a place where everything that is lost and forgotten goes; old toys, letters, single socks. The Forgotten Lands is a magical world inhabited by Forgotlings; creatures composed of mislaid objects longing to be remembered again.” Sounds like a perfect title to delve into and forget your troubles.

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Red Dead Redemption 2

Recently pushed back to early 2018, Red Dead Redemption 2 will be Rockstar’s first release since juggernaut GTA V. After playing that I can’t wait to see what they deliver in a western setting. The first Red Dead was fantastic and no doubt the power of the PS4 will be at full stretch for this one. In this game we’ll be playing as Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang as they travel the old West getting up to no good. In addition to the single player mode I’m really excited to see what they do with the multiplayer. In the previous game multiplayer was a really fun experience but after GTA Online I’m expecting them to really step it up and give us something special to get our teeth into.

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The Last Of Us: Part II

LOU2

Probably one of my favourite ever games, The Last Of Us was phenomenal. The story was excellent, with one of the best cast performances in gaming history. So no pressure on the sequel, right? The question was asked almost as soon as the last game arrived. Would you play a sequel? Do we need a sequel? The answer to the first was yes and the second could only be answered by the creators of the game – luckily for us they have obliged and hopefully they can repeat the magic of the first title. I’m not going to talk plot or characters just in case anyone reading this hasn’t played the first one… and if you haven’t go play it now!

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Cyberpunk 2077

No list of upcoming games would be complete without Cyberpunk 2077. Originally announced in 2012 we’re on course for a late 2018/early 2019 release and having played their other recent title, The Witcher 3, I can say that Cyberpunk 2077 is definitely one to look forward to. It looks set to be a deep RPG with plenty of customisable options for your character. There is always a danger when a game is in development for so long that it might disappoint but all the signs point to this one living up to the hype and it’s cyberpunk, so what’s not to like 🙂

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God Of War

I wasn’t sure whether I needed another God Of War game, I enjoyed the first couple but with the handheld games, and a few extra spin offs, my appetite waned for Kratos’ brand of hack ‘n’ slash. Then they showed the trailer of an older Kratos with his son and I was sold. Maybe they could tell a decent story in amongst the violent carnage and switching from Greek mythology to Norse will also help freshen things up. Add to that the game is Kratos first real trip out on the PS4 and I’m hopeful we could have a great game on our hands.


So there you go, there are plenty of other great games coming as well but these are the ones that really resonate with me. It’s been another amazing year for gaming, with Horizon: Zero Dawn, Destiny 2 and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, among others, giving us a real treat in terms of gameplay and story.

I can’t wait to see what else is announced as we move into 2018!

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Playing Games Like You Watch TV Or: Why It Took Me Over Two Years To Finish Dragon Age: Inquisition

DAI

I’ve spoken about my gaming habits plenty in the past but I’ve noticed another shift in the last year or so. If I have an hour spare now in the evening I’m much more likely to play an online game, not something single player based.

While it sounds contrary to the above, I feel like I want to invest more time in single player game sessions than ever and really lose myself in that world, which conflicts with my gaming schedule – essentially the odd hour here and there in the evening. I’m finding that I don’t want to play something story based for 45 minutes or an hour. Or at least that’s how I feel about open world games, I’m certainly still happy to play an hour long session to complete a chapter of Uncharted or a main mission in Tomb Raider. More linear games still lend themselves to that style of play. I’ve always played those kind of games like TV shows anyway, a chapter or two at a time over the course of weeks rather than days. I’ve never been a gamer who will rush through a 15-20 hour game in a weekend.

Horizon

Horizon: Zero Dawn is a good example of this new play style, a game I likely would’ve rushed through before is now a title I’m planning to play over the course of months rather than weeks. Crucially, I also feel like I’m getting more enjoyment out of the game by taking the time to explore and discover smaller content along the way.

I think there is an accompanying parallel change in multiplayer games, which are doing a much better job of getting you to come back and play more often. There has been a positive change in a huge amount of games whereby new content (new levels/maps or characters) is being added free of charge for all players. This is important because, firstly, it means the player base isn’t split (some that paid have the new content but others don’t and they can’t all play together) and secondly it gives people a strong reason to come back to games they might not have ever returned to before this trend. In addition a lot of games are rewarding players for logging in and playing, which keeps people interested for longer.  I also feel like there are a ton of pick up and play online experiences that last 5-10 minutes per game, which align perfectly with the time I have available.

If I only have 30-45 mins spare why waste my time on an open world title and have to turn it off just as I’m getting into the rhythm of the game? I’d rather play a few rounds Overwatch and a game of Rocket League. It’s also occasionally quite nice to play something that has a set beginning, middle and end. I guess it’s similar to watching a really good eight episode TV show knowing it only has one season and tells a complete story within that.

OverwatchTV

Big, sprawling open world titles are definitely still attractive to me, Horizon is one of the best games I’ve played in the last 4 or 5 years, but I just need more time to play and invest in them. Dragon Age: Inquisition took me over two years to finish. Why? I suspect the TV season-like structure helped, along with the change in my own gaming habits. What I loved about the structure of Dragon Age in particular was that your main hub in the game was your ‘War Table’, where you and your colleagues/advisors would plan your next tactical move and which mission to take on. On this table you had a selection of smaller missions, including favours for your colleagues that would reveal more about them and strengthen your relationship with them, but also one bigger mission that moved the main story on considerably. So for me, the game became like a TV show in so far as I would spend a few weeks playing side missions, levelling up and getting some character development for my team before doing the big, climatic ‘end of season’ mission and then putting the game down for a month or two.

Another huge title in terms of scale is Fallout 4, which I’m still playing 18 months after I started. Why? Well for similar reasons to Dragon Age but with the added decision from the outset not to follow the direct path for ‘character reasons’. I decided to make my character more selfish than my usual created characters, for example my elf Inquisitor from Dragon Age or Commander Shepherd from Mass Effect. In Fallout, Bella would be a character that was, for the most part, more interested in her own current affairs than any grander goal – which has been great fun and I’d recommend everyone to try playing a character like it at some stage!

FALLOUT4TV

Another issue with mainlining games is burnout, doing the same thing over and over again is certainly not fun and can severely lessen your enjoyment of a game. However, I think there is a huge difference between repetitive gameplay over a longer period of time in hour sized chunks and repetitive gameplay experienced in bigger 3 or 4 hour time slots.  I genuinely believe that the reason I still enjoy long running game series like Assassin’s Creed, where you are essentially doing the same thing in every iteration of the game in a different setting, is because I’ve never really sat down and played them for 4 or 5 hours at a time.

Episodic gaming kind of solves this play style problem, although it doesn’t always necessarily do the best job. Titles like The Walking Dead and Life Is Strange are great games, although each episode usually runs the length of a film which runs into the same problem for me time-wise. Hitman, which is perfectly suited to the episodic format, is another title with lengthy levels (a positive when I have the time to invest) although the inclusion of smaller one off assassinations does mean that is a game you can also dip into here and there.

Life Is Strange 1

Some people are quick to mainline these huge games and I just don’t get it. Why would you want to rush through these big titles? Where Uncharted is like a film, games like Skyrim, Mass Effect or Dragon Age are like having 10 seasons of a TV show in front of you. Finishing these open world games as quickly as possible by doing just main quests would be like having a cut down version of the TV show that just focuses on the main character and no-one else. Sure you’d get to experience the story at the centre of the show but without any focus on other characters. Imagine a Buffy The Vampire Slayer without any development of Willow or Xander? Or an Orphan Black with no focus on Donny or anyone except Sarah? Indeed, imagine a Mass Effect that didn’t bother to flesh out your crew but just double downed on the main story.

I’m as guilty as the next person of binge-watching TV shows but I do feel that for games it is a little different – as I mentioned above my confusion isn’t really based on people playing games quickly, it’s what you might be missing along the way. Even if I binge something like Jessica Jones I am still seeing all the story the creators put in there and want us to see. If you mainline a game you could be missing a wealth of interesting content and potentially things that might be integral to the wider plot of the game.

hITMANtv

Even in this age of on demand binge watching it can be nice to watch a TV show week by week – one of the biggest luxuries of the ‘old’ approach to watching TV or playing games is that you have time to think about and appreciate the content you’re consuming. I’ve found that in games but also in TV. Recently, Legion was a delight to watch week by week and I actually think I needed that time between episodes to process what I’d seen. Sure, there is a rush from getting through something you’re enjoying – it can exhilarating knowing that you are just a click away from another episode or main mission but I’d recommend giving slower paced gaming a shot. It’s definitely a different experience and one, for me personally, that means I’ve gotten more enjoyment out of open world games.

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