GregHorrorShow’s Year In Gaming – 2021

2021 was a great year for gaming, with some top quality releases. Here’s my (slightly delayed) look at the previous 12 months! As always this isn’t a piece about the games that came out in 2021 but the titles I played throughout the year.

First up a game I wasn’t expecting a huge deal from, River City Girls. I played this initially as a sense check to see if it was suitable for my kids to play in co-op but ended up having an absolute blast with it! An updated version of Double Dragon/Streets Of Rage style gameplay with an old school sprite look and killer soundtrack. I’d strongly recommend checking this one out. Destruction All Stars landed on PS5 and while I really enjoyed the gameplay and style of the game it felt like after a few months no-one was really playing anymore, which was disappointing.

Genshin Impact is a free to play, open world adventure game that I have loved playing. It is pretty laid back for the most part and is a great game to just relax and explore the world. The combat is fun and the characters are interesting, with different movesets and abilities. The soundtrack is also brilliant. I really liked Spiderman Miles Morales, which I thought showcased the power of the PS5 in terms of graphics and load times. A phenomenal looking game and a title which builds on the previous game nicely.

There were a few games from previous years that I got around to playing – Gris was a beautiful art-driven platformer and Vampyr was a gloomy story about Vampires in which your choices had a big impact. One thing I really liked about Vampyr was the knock on effect of choices and how each area of London was affected differently. I loved the final season of The Walking Dead, sad though it was to say goodbye and I even returned to Horizon: Zero Dawn to play the (quite sizable) Frozen Wilds expansion. That was great and well worth a play ahead of the sequel hitting in early 2022.

I also started Days Gone on my PS5 which, so far, has been pretty enjoyable and seems like a great game. It’s your usual zombie apocalypse set up but the game gives you lots of options to approach situations and the sheer number of enemies at times is impressive. It does feel like the kind of game I’ll be playing for years potentially, as the progress seems very slow compared to a more linear title. I just hope I don’t run into the issue I had with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, where I checked out after 35 hours – burned out but nowhere near the end of the story.

The Dark Pictures: Little Hope wasn’t quite as good as Man Of Medan (the previous entry in the series) but I did enjoy this gothic tale of witchcraft and the fact that one early choice/event shapes what the enemies look like for the rest of the game is pretty awesome. Splitgate was one of those titles I tried, not expecting much. Certainly the graphics were nothing to write home about but as soon as I got into a match it sucked me in. An online competitive FPS with the ability for players to create portals to travel and shoot through, this game is an absolute delight – and free to play! Aliens: Fireteam has been fun with a friend and while it does a good job of recreating the feel of the film I can’t help but feel some of the design decisions (especially no checkpointing during missions of around 30-40 mins) hold it back from being a great game.

Of course in amongst all the new stuff there has been the ongoing online trinity of Overwatch, Rainbow 6 Siege and Rocket League, which continue to be a blast either solo or with friends. All of them with added content/events to keep things fresh here and there. These three definitely had a big amount of playtime in 2021, years after their releases. PES moved to a free to play model for this year’s game and the launch was nothing short of disastrous. Buggy to play and with hardly any features, you couldn’t have dreamt up a much worse start. But despite all that there is definitely a good football game in here. I’ve been playing it a fair amount and think by the time we get to the updated edition in the summer this might be worth giving a try, especially as it’s free.

I’ve really enjoyed my time with Hades so far, a title about escaping from the underworld via a series of dungeons that you fight your way through. Brilliant art style and music, I’m looking forward to playing more of this one. I also like what I’ve played of 13 Sentinels – this is a visual novel style adventure with some added robot mech turn based combat. The game looks gorgeous and the story so far is as outlandish as you’d expect from a sci-fi time travel title.

My two favourite games of 2021 were Ghost Of Tsushima, in terms of a single player story title, and Battlefield 2042, for online.

Ghost Of Tsushima, a tale about a samurai left for dead who recovers and casts aside the samurai code to rescue his Uncle and save his Island, plays amazingly and has great depth to the combat and stealth involved. It looks phenomenal (I was playing the original PS4 version on PS5) with environments and weather appearing in stunning detail. I thought the story here was excellent and the side missions were fantastic. There’s a lot of content here, I finished the main storyline and quite a bit of side content, clocking in at around 35 hours. If you haven’t picked this up yet I’d definitely recommend.

In terms of online multiplayer Battlefield 2042 delivered almost exactly what I wanted from a new Battlefield game. As a big fan of the series and someone that was still dipping into Battlefield 4 and Battlefield 5 last year, the release of 2042 really grabbed me. It hasn’t been without a few issues – some bugs and design choices (now fixed or in the process of being fixed) caused uproar on social media but for me personally it was more of a small annoyance than a major issue. The game itself is brilliant, feeling epic with 128 players in two teams battling over objectives on the map while environmental events (sometimes) occur. On one map a sandstorm may drift in, reducing visibility. On another a space rocket may launch from the map, or literally blow up at takeoff while you play. There are also tornados that tear across the map, an impressive spectacle. All of these happen randomly so you might go 2 or 3 rounds without an event, which makes them more impactful when they do happen. My one gripe is I’d love a few more maps in the main game but those will come in time. Another aspect is the Portal mode where you can play some maps from previous games, this is brilliant and a trip down memory lane for long time players! Overall I’ve loved my time with the game so far.

So there you have it, a look back at what I was playing last year. There’s plenty to look forward to in 2022, so let’s hope we get lots more amazing titles released through the next 12 months!

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GregHorrorShow’s Year In Gaming 2020

As we ease ourselves into 2021, it’s a great time to reflect on the last year of gaming. As always this isn’t a piece about the games that came out in 2020 but the titles I played throughout the year.

Starting with some older titles, I finally picked up and made a start on the excellent Celeste, a challenging puzzle/platformer with a wonderful art style/music. I really enjoyed Absolver, a title that lets you customise your fighting style/stance as you progress through the game. Exploring the game world was peaceful and it was another game with a decent sense of challenge. I’d had my eye on Dex for a while, an old school looking Cyberpunk RPG title – while I’m far from finishing it, I’d recommend giving it a whirl if you like that genre.

Erica is a title that is all film footage, you make your choice of what to do and the next scene plays until you get to the end of the story. I quite enjoyed it, although there seemed to be a fair few plot holes unfortunately. Close To The Sun tells the story of Rose Archer, a journalist searching for her sister on a vast ship. It’s 1897 and set in an alternate universe where Telsa and Edison are vying for dominance of the science world. It’s essentially a first person horror title with some neat jump scares and tricks up its sleeve. Again the story ended up with some gaping plot holes but it was a fun 8-10 hours. A game I adored was Sayonara Wild Hearts, a rhythm action game with a killer synth pop soundtrack. Highly recommended.

Last year I also ended up doing something I rarely do, replaying old games – or at least the remastered versions. I played through Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (which was a great walk down memory lane) and Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (which had some fun moments but didn’t really do it for me). A title that came packed in with the PS5 was Astro’s Playroom, a love letter to the PlayStation brand and stellar showcase of the new PS5 controller. This is one of my highlights of the year, such fun and a lovely look back at the previous four PlayStation generations.

PES 2021 was a minor update to the series but the gameplay remains strong and I got into NBA 2K20 as well via PlayStation Plus. Dirt 5 was, without doubt, the best feeling racer I’ve played in the last few years and the free PS5 upgrade was a great touch.

On the multiplayer front I tried HyperScape, Ubisoft’s battle royale offering, but it didn’t really stick for me. I was happy to switch between Call Of Duty: Warzone and Fortnite for my fix of large numbers of players jumping out of planes. I stuck a fair bit of time into Red Dead Online, the recently added character specialisations (I went for nature photographer) bring some new life to the game beyond just wild west shoot outs.

In terms of ongoing games Overwatch, Rainbow Six Siege, Rocket League, Battlefield V and Destiny 2 all kept things ticking along nicely by either running regular events or giving the entire game a fresh lick of paint. All remain immensely playable and highly recommendable, especially as they still have high player counts and it’s easy/quick to get into a match.

But my favourite multiplayer game of 2020 has to be Fall Guys. Out of nowhere came this insane bundle of joy. Mixing a battle royale format with ‘It’s a knockout’ style games was a winning recipe. I am still yet to claim a show victory, despite my best efforts, but Fall Guys is a title I’ll no doubt return to again and again.

In terms of bigger, longer games I really liked A Plague Tale: Innocence – the story of a brother and sister trying to escape the clutches of the Inquisition that also has a supernatural twist. Dishonored: Death Of The Outsider is definitely substantial enough to be considered stand alone, in my opinion. A great story well told and another excuse to visit one of the most stylish game worlds of recent times. I’ve only recently started The Outer Worlds but after 8 or so hours I’m really enjoying it so far!

Unfortunately, while I was loving Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey finding out I was only halfway through when 35 hours into it meant my playthrough ended there. I had been ready for things to wrap up but couldn’t face another huge chunk of time, sadly. I recently started Ghost Of Tsushima (on PS5) and it is a glorious looking game. I like the way it plays and am finding roaming the game world to be quite laid back. I’m also playing it with the Japanese language option, which is cool. So far, it’s a great game.

One huge title I did finish was Death Stranding. While I think it was 3 or 4 hours too long, the story was nonsensical and some of the dialogue was not great, I did actually really enjoy it. Traversing the world and exploring was fun and fairly peaceful. Walking everywhere didn’t seem too much of an issue when played in short bursts of a couple of hours. I’m interested to see what Kojima comes up with next.

Which brings us to the title I’ve given my game of the year award to – The Last Of Us Part II. Expectations were high for this one, the first game is a masterpiece in my eyes and so there were questions as to whether Naughty Dog could deliver. Deliver they did, in terms of story, gameplay and technical achievement. I haven’t played many games like this where you are forced into making bad choices or doing bad things by the characters. You’re complicit with each button press. This isn’t a fun, easy play. The violence is brutal and at one late stage in the game I had to take a break from what was going on. Despite all that it was well worth seeing it through. Without a doubt one of the best games I’ve ever played.

And so there you have it. 2020 in a nutshell – mentions must go to Spiderman: Miles Morales, Bugsnax and Sackboy: A Big Adventure, unfortunately I simply didn’t get time to put enough hours in with them for consideration here. I’m sure they will be here next year 🙂

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