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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The End Of An Era… But The Beginning Of Another.

As with so many things, gaming has changed a hell of a lot since the start of the decade.

It’s been a progressive ten years, seeing the arrival of the Playstation 2, Playstation 3 and PSP – as well as rival consoles from Nintendo and Microsoft that helped push Sony to improve.

Games are a much bigger part of life now – more mainstream than ever before. Most houses will have one of the consoles, if not more, as parents and children play (sometimes together πŸ™‚ ).

METAL GEAR SOLID: One of the original Playstation’s finest moments

There can be no doubt that Sony was the manufacturer of the decade – the continuing success of the PS2 secures them that accolade.

But in the current generation of consoles they sit in last place. XBox 360 started so well and then Nintendo arrived with the Wii to rape and pillage the ‘casual market.’

However as time has gone on the PS3 has made great strides to catch up with the XBox (I just can’t take the Wii seriously as a platform) and seems to finally be getting the games to back up it’s hardware.

GOD OF WAR: The series that showcased just how much was left in the PS2

As this decade comes to a close we’ve seen various companies go bust. From well established ones, like Acclaim or Midway, through to lesser known but good studios such as Pandemic no-one seemed safe from the threat of extinction.

I’ve had some big changes in gaming since 2000 – swinging from FIFA to PES back in 2001 and then back to FIFA again in 2009. Going from casual gamer to setting up my own blog and reviewing games.

The main difference for me now is in online gaming. With XBox Live on the 360 and then the PSN for PS3 gaming became even more social than before – with friends lists and even the inclusion of Twitter updates of your in game progress (Uncharted 2).

KILLZONE 2: The game that has defined online gaming for me this decade

I never thought I would ever play with a headset – but as online games have developed it’s often essential to be able to communicate to the people you’re playing with, not least to be able to dish out some friendly ribbing now and then πŸ˜†

Games are so well developed now that people who were just casual gamers are finding themselves completing games and playing online.

It’s a great time to be a gamer and with a slew of great titles confirmed for 2010/2011 it looks like it’ll just keep getting better and better.

UNCHARTED 2: The complete gaming package

For the record here are my Top 10 favourites games of the decade:

1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3)

2. Killzone 2 (PS3)

3. GTA: Vice City (PS2)

4. Pro Evolution Soccer 5 (PS2)

5. Metal Gear Solid (PSX)

6. God Of War II (PS2)

7. Dead Space (PS3)

8. Fallout 3 (PS3)

9. Resident Evil 4 (PS2)

10. GTA IV (PS3)

And because of “it’s great balance of Final Fantasy and Disney” my wife has submitted her game of the decade: Kingdom Hearts.

So that rounds out the decade!

See you all in 2010! 😎

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The Sudden Decline Of Pro Evolution Soccer

PES GRAPH

My experience with PES started on the PS2, with Pro Evolution Soccer, hence why my chart of the series begins here.

I’ve given these games ratings out of 100 from my experience so you can get a clearer image of my opinion.

As you can see the initial high standard was maintained throughout the PS2 years, with some games obviously more favorable than others. (Down to personal opinion).

PES2

It seems to have been the move to next gen that has caused the most problems.

PES 2008 was, quite frankly, a disgrace. As next gen bows go it was a shocker.

The graphics obviously looked a bit better than the PS2 ones but they weren’t really stretching the PS3.

The game stuttered and shook, particularly on replays.

And the gameplay was ok but didn’t seem to have improved that much.

The online was the worst I’ve EVER experienced in a game. Some of it was unplayable. Meanwhile FIFA’s games were running, for the majority, smoothly.

We were promised changes for PES 2009 and we sort of got them – the problem being PES 2009 was the game PES 2008 should’ve been.

It left PES a year behind and allowed FIFA to close the gap.

PES 2009’s online was better than 2008 and the gameplay was much improved but I have no inclination to play a Master League (Career Mode) – I’ve played one on every other version (even PES 2008).

PES2009

Yes there is Be A Legend Mode which is pretty cool (and hopefully will be updated and improved for the next installment) but the major faux pas for me is giving the player 20 blank teams to create but not letting them use them in solo game modes! What. The. Hell? 😑

I played FIFA 2009 and I found it to be a little slow and lacking in control of players, however it was easily the best FIFA game I’ve played since the turn of the Millenium.

I have faith in Konami. I think they lost their way and the one glimmer of hope is that there was a (small) incline at the end of the graph.

They really do need to nail PES 2010 though otherwise it might be time for me to end almost a decade of PES and switch to FIFA.

PES Through The Years…

Wow, that was certainly a trip down memory lane.

Just on my way home from the Konami 40th Birthday Celebration at Centre Point in London.

The evening focused on Pro Evolution Soccer and how the game has developed and improved since the early days of PES (back on the SNES).

They had various iterations of the game on different consoles.

First up we sampled the SNES version. This was a tough one to control and the shooting wasn’t great.

Tackling wasn’t too bad and the passing was fairly accurate but the shooting was where we were struggling and a lot of the goals came from the keeper spilling a save and the forward sliding the ball home.

The graphics were true 16Bit – really took me back and while the controls were different enough to keep us on our toes I managed an 8-0 victory πŸ˜€

Next up we tried the new Nintendo Wii version of PES 2009.

You use the stick on the controler to move your player, the nunchuck to direct where you want to pass and a shake of the controller to shoot. It’s all a little bit complex and there is a hell of a lot going on on screen.

I’m sure with more perseverance it would get easier and it was quite nice to have total control over the play. This one finished 1-1.

Then we headed over to the first PS2 version ‘Pro Evolution Soccer.’

This was more like it but first impressions were “whoa! How fast is this?!” I played a fair bit of this game and certainly don’t remember it being so quick.

The passing was very unresponsive, often not kicking the ball until a good second or two after you’d pressed the button.

We went for a Euro XI vs World XI which was a close game as both teams were so good – managed to squeeze a 1-0 victory and got the same result again in the next game; Germany vs Uruguay. Felt a bit bad as was the betterΒ @shandation team in the 2nd game by a mile but succombed to the German counter attack. πŸ˜†

Our final stop took us all the way back to the N64.

This was easily the worst of the versions we played – didn’t help that the graphics looked even worse than they should as it was on a big HD TV.

It was hard to tackle, hard to shoot and we had no idea how to change player.

Dribbling was easy and fun (a little too easy at times, although they may have been us jumping into challenges πŸ˜€ )

It turned into a bit of a goalfest and I ran out as the winner with a final score of 10-3 to round off the evening in style 😎

It was great fun to revisit the older versions of the game, especially as I no longer own any of them.

Β 

Playing the previous games in the series really made you appreciate just how good the latest PES title is, even with the faults it does have.

Hopefully football titles can continue to evolve and improve with each version. FIFA has made great strides to make up ground on PES.

I used to play FIFA from the first game in ’94 right through to 2001 when I discovered PES. It’s been PES all the way since then but I am looking forward to seeing what both titles bring to the table this year.

Could FIFA 2010 really tempt me away from PES? We’ll have to wait and see.

For now I’m basking in the warm glow of nostaglia and enjoying reminiscing about great times had hunched over a control pad playing Pro Evolution Soccer.