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Old 12-22-2015   #1
Don Chipotle
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Game of the Year Awards 2015

"Droog," you say in the same tone you say when I get going on one of my pointless rants, "It's not even Christmas! The year isn't over!"

You're right. There's still like a week left in 2015 but for all intents and purposes, video games are done coming out until 2016 and since sites like Gamespot have posted THEIR list and GiantBomb has recorded like 80 hours of deliberation podcasts that I will listen to when they come out I think I'm justified in making this topic now.


2015 was a markedly better year for games than 2014 was if you ignore all the stuff that makes me hate gaming as a hobby. Namely the gamers. Gamers are terrible people and if they want gaming to be taken seriously in the eyes of the popular media then congrats for ruining any and all progress.

As per usual I'm not going to have a list of my favorite games because that's easy as shit and if you've paid ANY attention you already know what my GOTY is. I'll still mention my GOTY of course and if you want to know that just scroll down to the bottom like an asshole.

Let's get to it.


BEST GAME THAT ISN'T AT ALL WHAT IT SAYS IT IS



The honeymoon is over, Fallout 4. You're a better game than Fallout 3 but you're still not as good as Fallout 1, 2, or New Vegas. In fact, I'm comfortable in saying that you're both a bad game and an okay game depending on what you're looking for. Fallout 4 is a terrible RPG. Just...fucking awful. From the pre-defined player characters that effectively neuter roleplaying to the shitty dialog system that never gives you options you want or need, the fact that the perk system is ass and the lack of skills means a true lack of character building, the downright DOGSHIT plot that makes NO SENSE when held up to even an OUNCE OF THOUGHT because it's a railroaded hunk of shit narrative that STILL suffers from the "Bethesda sucks at writing and understanding that 200 years is a LONG FUCKING TIME WHY IS THE WORLD STILL A PIECE OF SHIT HOW HAS NO ONE CLEANED UP ANYWHERE BEFORE I GET THERE WHAT THE FUCK WERE PEOPLE DOING GET OUT OF FENWAY PARK YOU ASSHOLES".

All that aside, Fallout 4 is a pretty damn good walking simulator. Not in the Gone Home vein where the term is used to mock and deride but in a sort of endearing way. For a game that has no meaningful choice or story or quests or much of anything (seriously why even have a charisma stat if NONE of your persuade options do anything and have no effect on anything other than getting like bonus caps) it DOES have a world that rewards wandering around and exploring. It's not perfect, but that areas often have magazines or bobbleheads or some enhanced piece of gear waiting for you is a decent enough carrot-on-a-stick. The Glowing Sea is probably my favorite area in the game because it's one of the only areas in the game that feels imposing and dangerous as well as being cool to look at.

Fallout 4 is a really shit RPG and I hate practically every quest, character, and moment (the standout being a certain quest relating to a certain character and involves no combat of any kind, that was a great quest and decent-ass characterization) because the game offers nothing in the way of player freedom. (Seriously, the plot is on rails and no deviation is allowed and every single major player (yourself included) is a FUCKING IDIOT.) But that's not what the game is about. It's about walking around Boston and gentrifying it with bullets and explosives. I walked around with my French lady friend Curie and managed to squeeze some enjoyment out of it so long as I never bothered dealing with anyone unless they shot at me.

BEST FREE TO PLAY STAR WARS GAME



Did you know there's been a new Star Wars game every year since 1991? With the return of Star Wars in the world thanks to The Force Awakens it's been a pretty good year for Star Wars. Star Wars: Uprising is a mobile game that's an action RPG wherein you make a character and blah blah missions blah blah. Look, it's a mobile game and it's not groundbreaking or particularly great for anything other than a momentary diversion while waiting for the bus or something but considering most Star Wars mobile games are tower defense or card collections this ranks high.

BEST STAR WARS GAME RELEASED BY ELECTRONIC ARTS



HAH! You thought I was gonna say Battlefront, didn't you. I have a love/hate relationship with The Old Republic. When I bought it it was because I loved BioWare unconditionally and I loved Star Wars. That was in 2011. I like BioWare considerably less now but I still love Star Wars. At launch The Old Republic was the center of many jokes and jabs (TORtanic top among them) because the game was fucking lazy. It was meant to compete with WoW and thought the best way to do this was to learn nothing of what made WoW good. TOR shipped with tons of missing quality of life features and a huge emphasis on story to the point where end game was essentially "Congrats...go roll another character you assclown."

It saw two expansions, the first: Rise of the Hutt Cartel, was ass. Just...ass. The second, Shadow of Revan, was BioWare killing off Revan both literally and symbolically as they officially made canon Revan into a dumb bearded white guy with a split personality who went crazy from torture and thought the best way to save the galaxy was by gathering a cult of Revan fanboys and killing everyone that wasn't a Revan fanboy. Revan's ultimate fate was being an easily killable boss that gives gear for companions every week.

What made the expansions middling (or in Shadow of Revan's case disappointing) was that the one thing the game was supposed to be GOOD about, the story, was ass. The best thing Shadow of Revan did was introduce a Sith character that wasn't just "HAHAHAHAH KILL THE PUPPIES!" (because the FIRST one they introduced in the game became a dungeon boss because he had the radical idea of letting non-humans have equal rights in the Empire).

Knights of the Fallen Empire and Game Update 4.0 changed so many things about the game that it's not even funny. And most of them are changes for the better. Essentially, BioWare decided that they really want players to just ignore everything until level 60 when Knights of the Fallen Empire can be played. They've made the leveling process as easy as "only do the purple quest icons" and "group content is now doable solo because FUCK PEOPLE", companions no longer have gear or roles (EVERY companion can be tank, heals, or DPS so you can just use your favorite rather than your one healer), and they did away with mainstats because that shit was too complicated or something.

Knights of the Fallen Empire has turned an MMO into a single player game with optional group content. But the standout is the expansion content itself. KOTFE is a pretty goddamn good story both by Star Wars standards and for a BioWare game. Your character is frozen in carbonite for five years and the galaxy has been taken over by a faction called the Eternal Empire of Zakuul and this faction has gotten rid of the Empire and Republic and rules with an iron fist. You, together with a plucky gang of resistance fighters with interesting connections to each other and the story, team up and rally the universe in an alliance against the Eternal Empire. It's fucking Star Wars as shit.

The cinematics and conversations are more dynamic, choices matter finally, and by the time you reach the alliance building part there's so much shit to do (not all of it great, mind) that you feel like you earn every ally and party member that joins you. My main character became a member of the Dark Council and in the expansion people act like I'm as important as I should be. Characters talk to me with reverence, they come to me for missions and advice, and I feel like I'm in charge of these people. Knights of the Fallen Empire does to SWTOR what Lich King did for WoW.

Or, like, what Burning Crusade did to it. I don't know what expansion everyone likes in that game.

BEST GAME SONY SWEPT UNDER THE RUG



Raise your hand if you both remembered this game came out and that it came out this year. Sony sure as shit didn't. This game was supposed to be the big 'next gen' game. The graphics! Did you see the moustaches? THE GRAPHICS! Admittedly this is a VERY beautiful game (and I don't mean in the 'for a console durrrrrrrhurrrr sense) but all the graphics and technical aspects can't change the fact that this game is fucking boring as shit.

It's a game that gives you sections of the most basic ass third person shooter gameplay and then decides to turn it into quick time events or lengthy cinematics with a story that's only very mildly interesting and doesn't quite hold your interest. To say nothing of all the times you're reduced to molasses-speed walking sections. The game that was supposed to signal the arrival of next gen instead served as a friendly reminder that a pretty looking turd is still going to smell like shit.

Sorry, Sony. You've still got Uncharted 4 next year I guess.

BEST GAME TO PROVE THAT PEOPLE ARE MONSTERS AND ASSHOLES



Hey, remember Kaizo Mario World? Remember ROM hacks? Remember that cool automatic Mario level with the anime medley? Well congrats, here's a game where you can relive those memories.

In theory, Mario Maker is amazing. A game with an infinite string of Mario levels in four different flavors of Mario? Fucking awesome! But it's when you realize that 80 percent of the people don't know how to make good levels and instead want to make stupid bullshit hard levels because it's easier to just throw a bunch of enemies on a screen rather than think up clever platforming challenges that the game becomes an exercise in tedium and frustration. Everyone wants to be Kaizo Mario World but no one knows how to make something that is both challenging and fun. Then there's the people who make automatic levels because people still like those I guess. Here's sixty dollars to not play your game.

Every so often you get a well crafted or mechanically interesting level that makes wading through all the bullshit worth it. And there's a LOT of bullshit. Here's a PRO TIP, people: if at any point in your level you are REQUIRED to lose a power up to advance, your level is garbage and you should be ashamed.


BEST PLATINUM GAME NOT MADE BY PLATINUM GAMES



Stop. Take a moment to let this play: ICHIBAN WA MEEEEEEEEEEE

WHAT THE FUCK WHY IS THIS GAME AS GOOD AS IT IS.

Onechanbara has never been great. Like it's always been pretty shit. It came out overseas as Bikini Zombie Slayers because that's pretty much what it was: you play as a girl in a bikini (or her school girl outfit wearing sister) and kill zombies in a very broken, bad game. I don't know when it happened but somewhere along the way Onechanbara became a legitimate character action game.

Onechanbara Z2 Chaos still has the skeezy bikini girls (two of them!) and their schoolgirl uniform sisters (two of them!) and a costume system where you can make their outfits more or less revealing as you want but the part where it's actually a game plays a lot like a game by a team that wants to do what Platinum does. It's not as polished as a Bayonetta or Metal Gear Rising but holy shit if it isn't competent. You've got four characters that play differently and the 'gimmick' of the game is that combos can continue with swaps so one character can continue a combo or end one when swapping in. There's also a system where combos do more damage and additional effects when timed correctly which makes mashing ineffective.

Levels are broken up into combat sections with individual rankings contributing to an overall ranking (like a Platinum game) and you spend money to buy new abilities and skills and costumes. I bought this game in a PSN flash sale and it's the SECOND best random purchase I made this year on one of those. I was expecting crap. I got something better than it has any right being.

BEST RANDOM PURCHASE I MADE FROM A PSN SALE a.k.a. A BETTER POST APOCALYPTIC GAME THAN FALLOUT 4



If you've never heard of this game, just watch the intro. All will be explained.

This game is an anime.

No, like, literally. There are literal ending credits after chapters and the opening plays at the start of every chapter and a new episode starts. Omega Quintet combines my only true loves in life: JRPGs and JPOP idols. It's a game where you control five Verse Maidens (idols) who are the only ones able to combat this deadly miasma called Blare that creates monsters and has ravaged the world and ruined it. Verse Maidens use the power of Mics (weapons) and Harmonics to fight and with enough support from the citizens they can unleash their super special attack where they break out into a fucking pop concert and their abilities are enhanced.

It's fucking cool as shit.

There's more depth to the combat then you might think. Skills can be and should be used strategically to get bonuses, you're encouraged to keep combos going until you overkill enemies, and there's even a gauge like Final Fantasy 10 so you can influence the attack turns. It's not the world's greatest JRPG but it's shockingly deep and fun to play. When you're not running around the admittedly bland environments there's this almost visual novel presentation with story and characters. You build affection with whatever Verse Maiden you want and then that translates into increased battle benefits kind of like Persona but more blatant.

You can create underwear for everyone to wear, even the male you control in the visual novel parts.

I regret nothing about this.

BEST OPEN WORLD GAME THAT I DON'T WANT TO PLAY



Of all the open world games released this year I can confidently say that none are as worthwhile to explore as Mira in Xenoblade Chronicles X. This is the first time I've truly felt like the world I'm running around in is a living, breathing, hostile world. Whereas something like The Witcher 3 does a great job at selling its setting and conflict visually, XCX does a better job at creating a world that is truly alive. Monsters roam around in a believable ecosystem not bound by such silly things as level restrictions. Level 40 enemies will run around with level 5 enemies because fuck you.

It's a game where exploring is largely the point and it is much more engaging running around Mira than it is running around Fallout 4 or The Witcher 3 because Mira is a much more realized world.

And yet...I don't want to play this game. It's good. Heck, I might even call it great...but I just...I'm tired of open world games. It's unfortunate that this game came out in December after like three or four AAA open world games because god damn...open world bloat hit me HARD this year. Maybe...maybe next year I'll be ready to truly get back into you, XCX.

But I can't be assed to do so now.


WORST SWAN SONG AKA THE FUCK YOU, HIDEO KOJIMA AWARD



Fuck you, Hideo Kojima.

I'm going to spoil this game so just scroll to the next picture if you don't want to be spoiled.

Having played through Metal Gear Solid V I understand why Konami fired you. Sure, he's one of gaming's only true auteurs but that's not always going to be a good thing. Case in point, this fucking game. This is a bad game. Shut up about what the critics say. This is a bad Metal Gear Solid game. But it's a playable stealth game.

Pretty much every aspect of this game is a disappointment in some way or another. The story doesn't exist and what IS there is so fundamentally bad that the eventual payoff is unearned. The characters are either nothing like themselves (Ocelot) or are nothing (Big Boss, Miller, fucking everyone) because this isn't a game that's about story. It's a game about fucking nothing.

Ostensibly it's a game about rebuilding Mother Base and striking back against Cipher/XOF for what happened in Ground Zeroes (they blew up Mother Base) but it's actually not very good about that either. Mother Base is pointless and nothing more than a mobile game time sink (you can literally use microtransactions to boost things). As an open world game it's garbage. There are two environments, desert and forest, and both are so devoid of anything to do that seeing a car drive by on one of its pre-determined route is the height of fucking excitement.

It offers 'freedom' to do what you want but then the best way to get the best ranking on missions is to just run in guns blazing, shoot everyone real fast, and complete the mission. Once I got a sniper rifle that was suppressed and shot tranq rounds there was never any reason to do anything other than hang back and snipe everyone with Quiet. Once you realize that any approach you use in a given location works it will continue to work every single time. MGS V gives you a bunch of toys but very little reason to use them. It's kind of like MGS 4 in that way, but MGS 4 is a far better game than MGS V is.

I hate this game. This is the grand swan song of the Metal Gear Solid franchise and it's a wet fart. It's not even a complete game. The 'boss fights' are just bullet sponge soldiers, the second half of the game has you doing the exact same missions as the first half, and there's no build to a climax. The game just has you replay the tutorial at an arbitrary point where you get 'the true story'.

In what I'm sure Kojima thought was going to be another MGS 2 moment, the 'truth' is all-but spelled out in the opening moments but it's that you're not actually playing as Big Boss in the game, but some random fucko medic from Ground Zeroes. The entire game doesn't even build up to this, it just reveals it and ends with the real Big Boss (who was off building up Zanzibar Land while you ran around doing fuckall) telling you, that is the player, that YOU were Big Boss all along! That you're part of the legend! Now go get killed by Solid Snake in Outer Heaven because you're not ACTUALLY Big Boss!

Yes. This entire game exists solely to explain why Big Boss is the final boss in Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2. That's literally the only reason. There's no grand pay off, there's no encounter with Cipher, nothing about The Patriots, no final showdown with Skull Face. The game ends with Young Liquid Snake fucking off with a Gundam Metal Gear and Fake Big Boss going off to die in his fight with Solid Snake in the very first game. What happened to Liquid Snake's Metal Gear Gundam? Fuck you. That's what happened.

Fuck you, Hideo Kojima.




REASON TO OWN A PLAYSTATION 4




Bloodborne is the best Miyazaki (not the anime one, the other one) game since Demon's Souls. I say that realizing Dark Souls is a good game that is put on a pedestal by its fans. Here's a game that does what the Souls games lacked: fun combat. While still a game that loves its animations, Bloodborne is a much more fast paced game that encourages you to take a few more risks. You don't have a shield so cowards that used those in Souls games will have to adapt.

The world design is top notch, perfectly capturing the feel of a Gothic city with smokey alleys and dark corners. The lore here is far more interesting than the Souls games and you should play it without looking up anything at all about the lore of the game.

Bloodborne is fantastic and the best thing Dark Souls 3 can do (apart from being the last fucking one because FUCK) is to take some inspiration from Bloodborne. Fuck Shields.


BEST COMPLETELY AVERAGE GAME THAT I HATE BECAUSE OF ITS FANS AKA 'COME AT ME, TESSA, YOU'RE FUCKING WRONG ABOUT THIS GAME




This game is average. And that's me being fucking generous. I only heard about Undertale when it started taking over GameFAQs stupid Best Game Ever poll. People started sucking its dick like it was the second coming and I decided to give it a try even though I heard echoes of it being related somehow to Homestuck.

As I played the game I had to wonder what people saw in it. Was it the characters? Surely not. Was it the story? How could it be, when it was bland? The music? Sure, the music was fine but...is that it? I've never played a game that was so pandering in my life. Pandering to its target demographic that I'm clearly not. Sans and Papyrus are terrible characters, Toriel is engineered to be liked in the same way as any mother character in anything ever is, Alphys is more annoying than endearing with her constant interruptions and "ANIMEEEEEEEEEEEEEE" persona, Undyne was better before she became "I'M WACKY AND DUMB AND ANIMEEEEEEE"

I get it, Toby Fox. You really fucking like anime.


Too bad you don't like good games.

"Play it however you want" people said, "The game has multiple endings." Except that the game all but tells you the 'right' way to play it from word go and actively punishes you for deviating.

The narrative is poor except for one element that is spoilers and isn't even technically about the story anyway. It's a game that deals in quirky stupid humor that reeks of desperation and referential. That enemy is named Tsundereplane, don't you think that's funny, you guys? Tsundere like the anime thing. If I write my characters like wacky random stereotypes maybe you'll like my story and forgive my boring gameplay and shit monster designs.

Undertale is a completely average game and it's only that because I like the music and I respect that it's largely done by one person. None of the characters are likable, it's not particularly fun to play, and the fucking temmie dogs can burn in a fucking fire.

Someone tried to tell me that it's a deconstruction of video games and no, it isn't. If you want a deconstruction of video games, go play Nier. If you want keys in the shape of anime characters dangled in your face so you can feel special, play Undertale.



SECOND BEST THING TO COME FROM POLAND, THE FIRST BEING POLISH SAUSAGE



All WRPGs need to copy The Witcher 3's approach to quests. WRPGs can just not come out unless they can hang in the court of The Witcher 3. Mass Effect Andromeda is scheduled for release next year (I'm doubtful) and unless it's going to take notes from Witcher 3 in terms of quests and world building then it can fuck right off.

My main complaint about this game is that it fucking goes. I reached a point where I thought the game was wrapping up only to learn that that was like just the end of the first act and I was like "Come the fuck on, really?" Also the Dandelion quest nearly made me stop playing the game altogether because oh my god fuck that needlessly lengthy and bad series of quests.

Still, there's a lot to love about this game and if I was the kind of person that rated games in a list I'd probably put this at number three or four on my list of ten.

BEST RHYTHM GAME IN A YEAR THAT SAW A WOULD-BE REVIVAL OF THE GENRE



This game kicks so much ass that it should be illegal how much ass it fucking kicks. It's a roguelike (look it up if you don't know what that is) and a rhythm game and that makes for a great combination. You move on the beat of the song and so do the enemies. Each floor has different beats and if you mistime your movements or action you lose your bonus.

The soundtrack is great (as it should be) and you can even import your own songs to use which is an appreciated addition. I fuckin love this game so much.

USE OF FMV



This game is amazing because the actors are chewing so much scenery you'd think they were at a buffet. It's a game that is entirely video where you play as Inspector Jenks looking into the death of a girl in a small town. Somehow this leads to some fucking places, like a conspiracy theorist salvia farmer, a guy that looks like Benedict Cumberbatch fucked Matt Smith, Ayn Rand references, satanism and occult stuff, and more!

It's...it's amazing.


HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU'RE SATISFIED?




Her Story is a game that is all about fucking with the notions of how we interact with narratives in games. It's a game where the story is delivered in bits and pieces with no real 'win state' or traditional game mechanics. You type keywords into a search, you watch clips, and you get a story presented to you out of order and often out of context. It's up to you to determine what you take away from it and given the nature of its presentation you can run into the more revealing clips early on thus taking away much of what makes this such an effective commentary on game narratives.


It's not for everyone but fuck if I didn't enjoy it.


GAME OF THE YEAR



This game. This fucking game. Back in January I said that this game could be something special if it kept a level of quality. I didn't know then that this game would stick with me for the entire year.

An adventure game in the same style as modern Telltale games, Life Is Strange is the best experience I've had with a video game in 2015. It's a game where player choice is presented and then fudged with as you can simply rewind and see the immediate reactions to the option(s) you DIDN'T choose. But it's smart enough to where it never shows you the full ramifications and there isn't a right or a wrong choice.

That said though the game is about time travel and altering events it still manages to have legitimate drama and increased tension because the time travel ability isn't this infinite thing. Here's a game that means it when it says your choices influence the world and characters because they do, just in not obvious ways. But this isn't actually a sci fi time travel game.

It's a game about growing up. It's a game about friendship. It's a game about love.

Max is as much her own character as she is a vessel for the player. It's through her eyes and your choices that she interacts with the world and the game's cast of diverse, interesting characters. But it is the relationship between Max and Chloe that makes the foundation for this game.

Few games have a character so fucking real as Chloe Price, a girl who is so deep and layered and believable as a character that I absolutely understand it when people say they don't like her. I loved her because I know her. I know many of her. And I bought into her character and her rekindled friendship with Max in a way I never have before.

I grew to genuinely enjoy these characters over the course of five episodes because these characters are something games don't do often enough: layered. At first the character of Victoria seems like the cliche rich girl but she's not that, she's a much more complex character. Ashly Burch gives what is sure to be the finest performance of her career in this game.

With these five episodes I went on a trip I'll not soon forget any time soon. Life Is Strange is the one game I played this year that left me drained emotionally time and time again to the point where by the time the credits rolled I couldn't say anything or do anything other than let everything sink in.

I can still recall moments from this game that stand out. I had to step away from the game at certain moments because it was too real, because I was invested, because tears were rolling down my cheeks.

I cared about this game and its characters in a way I haven't in years.


And for that, it's my game of the year.
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How dreamlike to see my x-sisters, outside the context of a Papa Song dome. They sang Papa Song’s Psalm, over and over; background hydraulics underbassed that sickening melody. But how jubilant they sounded! Their Investment was paid off. The voyage to Hawaii was under way, and their new life on Xultation would shortly begin... Watching them from the hangway, I envied their certainty about the future.

Last edited by Don Chipotle; 12-22-2015 at 12:39 AM.
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Old 12-22-2015   #2
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Gonna look into Onechanbara.

5 - Heroes of the Storm
It was a solid game. I stopped playing pretty quick though, cuz my friends didn't like the shared EXP system, and because it was significantly easier than the League we're used to.

4 - CIVBERT
Civ Beyond Earth is pretty underrated. Rising Tide made it even more underrated. While its launch had some balance issues (might still have them?) they really let their imaginations run wild with this xpac.

3 - Fallout 4
Yeah, it was alright. I feel like Bethesda is getting old. They're losing their touch. The game felt devoid of the personality and life that FO3 had, like they're having machines write the quests and design the world now... but it was still a Bethesda game, and so I still played the shit out of it. I tried the home building system. Called my place "Ft. Gudnuf" because that was the best I could fucking do with the awkward system.

2 - Bloodborne
I initially had this as GOTY, until I started talking about my initial #2. From's learned a lot, and they've innovated in ways I really didn't expect them to. Boss fights are, so far, absolutely fucking absurd. The Souls formula no longer works, and is instead more focused on active dodging. The trash is challenging just long enough for you to get your fill of entertainment, then move it to farm status. It's a really fucking polished and solid game, and would be my GOTY if it didn't have such fierce competition.

Game of the Year - Disgaea 5
HOLY SHIT YOU CAN MOVE THE DUDES WHILE THEY'RE AIMING AN AOE SPELL GOTY
No really, they took one of the deepest, most content filled franchises still going today, and, like, DOUBLED the content, while refining the crap out of all the staple errors of the series. THEN. AND THEN. THEY HIRED WRITERS THAT WEREN'T LITERAL FECES. It's still Japanese, but "HURR DURR SARDINES," "DERP HURP FINAL BOSS" is not character design, and this new writer gets that. There's actual moral conflict going on in this game, to a degree I haven't seen since 2, when the devs were still treating its audience like people. Not finished yet, but then, I probably never will be, to my satisfaction.

Best game I played this year that didn't come out this year - Crusader Kings II
http://i.imgur.com/IPSkQCu.png

Most Postponed Game that I Might Get Around to, Eventually, if I Have Some Spare Money Around or Something, I Dunno - Metal Gear Solid 5
I dunno, Droog, it got GOTY on Metacritic, that makes it objectively a good game. That's the end of the discussion, you're not allowed to have an opinion that conflicts with Metacritic's. I've liked at least parts of every MGS game so far, so I'm still giving it a shot eventually.

ANTIGOTY - The Witcher 3
Why the fuck is this game getting so much praise? Did I miss something here? You push one button for one type of enemy, another for the other kind. The story had potential, but was poorly paced, and lost me. Like, I get the devs are good guys, but this wasn't half the game people are making it out to be.

Last edited by Yvlla; 12-23-2015 at 04:29 PM.
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Old 12-22-2015   #3
Don Chipotle
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Most Postponed Game that I Might Get Around to, Eventually, if I Have Some Spare Money Around or Something, I Dunno - Metal Gear Solid 5
I dunno, Droog, it got GOTY on Metacritic, that makes it objectively a good game. That's the end of the discussion, you're not allowed to have an opinion that conflicts with Metacritic's. I've liked at least parts of every MGS game so far, so I'm still giving it a shot eventually.
To be fair, there are things to like in MGS V. It plays better than any MGS game ever has and is probably the best playing stealth game on the market. Quiet is not the best character Kojima's written but she's good no matter what people will tell you. The IDEA of building Mother Base and finding a guy with awesome stats out in the field makes for fun diversions on the way to completing missions because now you've got this additional optional thing to do.

It's just that all of this doesn't come together to create a cohesive experience. It frontloads all of its mechanics and systems and then expects that to be enough to carry the entire game. It's the opposite of Metal Gear where the narrative was what carried people for better or worse; here the focus is on gameplay and for the people that complained about MGS having an imbalanced game-to-cutscene ration well here you go, here's a game that's 95% game.

It boils down to what you want out of your Metal Gear Solid game. MGS V made me appreciate MGS 4 - MGS 4's little ongoing war system in the first two acts is way more intricate than anything going on in MGS V even though MGS V takes place in literal warzones with opposing factions and yet you're only ever against one specific group.

The structure of the game is one I don't like because rather than a narrative that guides the experience there's a bunch of nonsense missions that makes no sense why you would send the world's greatest soldier to do them when he has an entire base full of mercenaries at his immediate disposal.

That's probably why I just played the game as a random A+ rank soldier lady I had and just pretended Big Boss was spending his time on Mother Base hanging out with Ocelot.

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ANTIGOTY - The Witcher 3
Why the fuck is this game getting so much praise? Did I miss something here? You push one button for one type of enemy, another for the other kind. The story had potential, but was poorly paced, and lost me. Like, I get the devs are good guys, but this wasn't half the game people are making it out to be.

This is a very me post and I'm shedding a tear for how beautiful it is.
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Old 12-23-2015   #4
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Got around to reading your post in more detail, I skimmed last time cuz I was with friends.

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Also the Dandelion quest nearly made me stop playing the game altogether because oh my god fuck that needlessly lengthy and bad series of quests.
It DID make me stop playing. I figured out the formula to winning, like, 95% of battles during the side quests, then this hulking monstrosity of a quest chain comes in and makes the game even more boring. I tried forcing myself to get through it, but I couldn't.

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For a game that has no meaningful choice or story or quests or much of anything
You're mostly right. But there are some pretty major decisions to be made in that game. The quests that give you the Broadside and Lorenzo's Gamma Gun were exceptions that you might have missed, I can't remember what either one is called though.

My problem with FO4 was that there was a certain playful, loving construction to their worlds before. A dead goblin surrounded with dozens of beers in Oblivion, that failed motorcycle stunt that leaves a skeleton caught up in the lighting in FO3, easter eggs like that. Or powerful secrets, like the mask quest in Skyrim. Aside from the magazines, I didn't find much of anything like that in FO4. It's like they grew up and moved into a cubicle as opposed to the passion they had in their younger years. It's kinda sad to see, and I hope they sort themselves out before TES6.
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Old 12-23-2015   #5
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You're mostly right. But there are some pretty major decisions to be made in that game. The quests that give you the Broadside and Lorenzo's Gamma Gun were exceptions that you might have missed, I can't remember what either one is called though.



I did both of those quests. The U.S.S. Constitution quest feels like a quest that came from a different game because as far as I know it's the only quest where you can use stats to bypass steps in it.The one with the Cabot family sort of tricks you into thinking there's a major decision to be made but then there actually isn't because the result winds up being the same either way.
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The one with the Cabot family sort of tricks you into thinking there's a major decision to be made but then there actually isn't because the result winds up being the same either way.
Wow. Fuck that.
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I don't think I've played a single game released this year.
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Old 12-23-2015   #8
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Alrighty, here we go. Typical disclaimer type dealie here, this is a personal subjective list and because my tastes are rather specific, I don't really expect anyone to agree with just about any of my picks or their placements. The criteria for making it on this list for me was as follows - it had to be something I played for the first time this year (or late enough last year that it effectively counts, and yes, I have more than one game that technically released last year on this list), and was something that I either poured a significant amount of time and enjoyment into, something that resonated with me on a personal level, or just be something I genuinely thought was fantastic on its own regardless of the other two factors.

10 - Final Fantasy Record Keeper





I've found myself playing more and more mobile games over the past few years. I think in part that's because the market for that particular platform has continued to become more sophisticated and the good games on it are standing out as genuinely solid gaming experiences, as well as the fact that a much larger percentage of my gaming time is dedicated to the bite-sized chunks of gaming that the mobile platform basically lives off of.

As such, it makes sense for me to include the mobile game that I've gotten the most invested into on this list. FFRK isn't exactly ground breaking by any means, in fact it's basically pure nostalgia bait and not much else, but it's well made nostalgia bait that I've enjoyed gobbling up quite a bit. There's not much more to say about it than that. It's a make-your-own-all-star-team game that's just random battles and nothing else, but for whatever reason I find that compelling enough to keep playing it. That, and I find the FF6-styled incarnations of later FF games' enemies, bosses, and characters really cool.


9 - Dragon Ball Xenoverse





This is, quite possibly, the most fanfiction-y game ever made... and to be completely honest, that has an awful lot to do with why I love it. From a strictly gameplay standpoint, it's not particularly great (by fighting game standards it's downright awful), there's a lot about its design that is far from perfect and could definitely use some polish, and the story mode is basically self-insert Mary Sue fanfiction... and yet I don't care. I had an absolute blast playing this game, which my Steam account pretty clearly reflects, with this game clocking in very close to my most played (second only to Civ V, which isn't quite fair to compare anything to as far as hours played goes).

I loved the character creation, getting to watch my character take part in the story mode, dreaming up details about who she was and what her personality was like, fleshing out scenes further in my head, eventually creating other characters as a supporting cast to her story... this is an DBZ RPer fangirl's dream made manifest. Ultimately my biggest complaint about the game (aside from the aforementioned lackluster fight mechanics) is I just wanted more of everything. Xenoverse feels like a relatively solid rough draft, and if there's ever a sequel, I want to see everything expanded upon. If they can follow through, I'm immediately sold.


8 - The Talos Principal





This game melted my brain. I really loved everything about this thing. The story existed largely in the background and to the extent that I got through things was really kind of optional, but digging into it was starting to seriously give me the creeps while simultaniously leaving me hungry to keep finding out more of what the hell was going on. The scenery was gorgeous and fun to poke around in when I wanted a break from the puzzles, and... oh yeah, the puzzles were genuinely challenging, at times devastatingly so.

One of the reasons this game isn't higher on the list is that I have to admit that I never actually finished it. I've been stuck on a puzzle that has me particularly stumped (and as of yet I'm too stubborn to look up the answer for the sake of just moving on). I still open the game every so often and poke through the puzzle to see if I can work it out, and eventually I may finally give up and look up the answer just so I can skip it and keep going. I do think I've seen enough of the game to have an informed opinion on it, which is why it's on here, but I feel weird about putting a game like this any higher on the list when I haven't actually completed it.


7 - Super Mario Maker





I'm such a total sucker for game maker engines (as evidenced by the massive amounts of time over the years I've poured into stuff like the various incarnations of RPG Maker)... and SMM is a very good one. While it's not the kind of game that I'd ever dump a ton of time into in any continuous stretch, it's one I'll likely keep coming back to in bursts for a long time. Add to that the pre-made courses that I find genuinely enjoyable, along with the fact that there will always be more to play in the player-made courses, and there's just a ton of value for me in this thing.

Can the player-made courses be insane and downright evil at times? Sure, but really, if you want to avoid that, the normal course pool pretty much keeps you away from those, and there are some really cool stages people have made that are perfectly reasonable to play through. And if you do find the crazy crap entertaining, it can be really fun to poke your head into the hard mode courses to see what fresh hells people have constructed.

One of the best things about the game, though, has been swapping stages with people I know, and seeing if we can beat each others and getting feedback from them about what they liked and what they didn't. The social aspect of the game is what really puts it above being just a Kaizo Mario downloader for me.


6 - Mario Kart 8





Okay, yes, this is a cheat, this game didn't release this year. And I technically didn't even buy it this year, I picked it up in December of last year... but it was late enough at the end of the year that it counts, and it's comprised so much of my gaming this year that it would feel weird to leave it off of this list. This has been my go-to game for local multiplayer, and whenever friends come over, it's rare that this game hasn't come out at some point for us to play. It scratched my goofy Kart Racer itch this year, and unlike some of the games in the series, has been a lot more than just an "oh, yeah, I guess that's something we can play together" kind of thing. Every play session of the game has been super fun. The tracks are all fun and super pretty to look at, the soundtrack is amazing, the characters are fun to play, and the DLC courses and characters were well worth the cost, adding that much more playability to the game throughout the year. If they put out any more at this point, I'll gladly shell out to keep things going.


5 - Guilty Gear Xrd






This was a last-minute addition to the list, as it only just hit Steam early into this month, and... jeez, this game is so goddamn pretty. This hit just as my fighter crave was starting to kick back in again, and man, it's doing a good job of sucking me back into the genre. The Guilty Gear gameplay is intact and was relatively easy to pick back up again (even though it'd been years since I played the any of the series), the story delivery is the typical ArcSys quality (I've barely scratched the surface of it, but I'm looking forward to digging further in), but most of all... IT'S SO PRETTY OMG.

I'm a dedicated sprite-based 2D fighter fangirl, and I've openly lamented as every major fighting game series has made the inevitable move to 3D models, and when I'd heard Guilty Gear would be doing the same I cried a little on the inside. But seeing it in action... I'm sold, so very, very hard. I wish other series would take notes from this game on how to keep the look, feel, and art direction so perfectly intact in the transition from sprites to models. The animation is ridiculously smooth and crisp, coming out looking completely faithful to the series' style while being able to take advantage of things that wouldn't have been possible without models (dynamic camera angles during into/victory animations and supers, swapped color pallettes in cutscenes, and more). Part of me feels kind of dirty kicking the other fighting game that originally would have made this list (Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax, which is a sprite-based game and which I spent extra money on to import and have invested more time into), but this game is just too good on too many fronts not to give it its due.


4 - Tess





Okay, so this might be the most esoteric thing I've ever put on a list like this, and it's almost entirely for very personal reasons. The gameplay isn't particularly original (it's almost identical to Cave Story), it's incredibly short, and the story probably won't speak to others in the same way and could come off as pretentious, but... this one's kind of important to me.

This has been a roller coaster of a year for me. Some of the best moments of my life have happened this year, but I've been at some of my darkest moments in the past decade at times this year also. I found this game when I was at the absolute bottom, possibly one of the lowest moments I've had in almost ten years. The fact that this game's story deals with heavy depression, suicide, and death in the way that it does... I dunno if I'd say it "spoke to me" so much as it just resonated with where I was at at the time. The atmosphere of the game, the soundtrack, the visuals... it didn't pull me out of depression, nor put me deeper into it. It just kind of rode with me beat for beat with where I was at the time. It was a right place, right time kind of thing to a very large extent, and was something that I very much needed when I found it. Because of that, this game holds a really special place for me this year.

Also the game and the main character has my name and that's kind of cool.


3 - Hatsune Miku Project Diva F 2nd






Rhythm games are one of my favorite genres. Vocaloid is one of my favorite things. This one's kind of a no-brainer. While Xenoverse was quantifiably my most-played game this year as far as I can track, I'm pretty sure this game gives it a run for its money on that front if it doesn't beat it outright (I'll never know, though, just because I don't have a way to see how much time I've dumped into it like I can with Steam games). If DBX dominated the first quarter of my gameplay year, Project Diva dominated the second and much of the third.

I dunno too much about what to say about this one that isn't obvious. The gameplay quenched my rhythm game thirst, the song selection was awesome, the choreography in the videos was fun to watch, and being able to swap costumes (and actors!) at will is very much my kind of thing.

Also I may have put together a multi-hour "story" by setting up a specific song list with actors and costumes to turn the game into a Yuri rock opera because I have issues.


2 - The Beginner's Guide





I can really see this not being other people's thing, even more so than my #1.

The end of the year wound up surprising me with two games centered around meta-commentary of the medium and specifically of the way that players interact with it that I found utterly captivating. The Beginner's Guide was the lesser of the two, but only just.

When I found out that the creator of The Stanley Parable had put out a new game, it was immediately an insta-buy for me, without question. I was totally on board for whatever ride he was looking to put me through.

I don't think I was at all prepared for what he had in store for me.

This game very decidedly isn't TSP2. While Davey's voice very clearly comes through in this game (literally, as he's narrating your journey through the works) and you can definitely feel similar notes between this and his previous work, TBG isn't anywhere close to the dark comedy that TSP was. There was a bit of culture shock as that became apparent, but the story I got instead completely gripped me. After finishing it I spent days on the Steam forums with other people as we tried to work out just what the hell it was we even just played. I insisted one of my friends play through the game just for the sake of experiencing it, just because I knew it would be something he would appreciate and resonate with in very much the same way that I did (something that I'd repeat with him again with the next game on the list, to much the same effect).

I don't really know what to say about this game to describe it properly, and similar to The Stanley Parable, it's one of those things that works better the less you know going in. It's in that "walking simulator" genre of games (much like TSP was), and the argument that it isn't properly a game I guess has some legs here (no pun intended). It's more akin to a vaguely interactive movie, or a museum exhibit, but it's one I thoroughly enjoyed and one that stuck with me hard for quite a lot longer than the brief amount of playtime it takes to get through it. I've since also hunted down the soundtrack, which is utterly beautiful and haunting, and the sound design in general adds a hell of a lot to the experience.


GOTY - Undertale





Oh man. It's so not even fair to the other games I played this year that Undertale is a thing. There was just no contest at all for this spot for me.

I can't think of a single thing about this game that I didn't utterly adore. The soundtrack is fantastic. The gameplay is an actively interesting and relatively unique take on the JRPG-style genre, regardless of how you're playing it. The cast of characters are all incredibly memorable and there isn't one of them that I didn't completely fall in love with. The wit and charm of the game resonated with me perfectly, giving me what was easily my most enjoyable experience with any game at all I played this year. The comparisons this game gets to the Mother series are apt (although I'd say it has more in common with Mother 3 than it does with Earthbound, which it gets compared to the most), and it's clear where its taken its inspiration from for a lot of the style of both the humor and the gameplay, but this is really something that stands on its own for me.

I realize people are sick of the fans hyperbolizing about this game, and that it's actively turning people off from trying it or giving it a fair shake, and that I'm probably contributing to that with this. I also realize that it isn't something that's going to resonate with everyone, and if you don't gel with the humor or the style the game likely comes off as more annoying than charming. But I can't put an honest list of my gaming experience this year together without putting this game where it is on this list or saying the things about it that I am. This thing sucked me in hard, and I've loved every second of it, from the multiple playthroughs of the game itself, to the creative fan pieces the fandom for it has churned out in the months since the game has come out. I wouldn't go so far as to call it the "greatest game ever", or even the best RPG I've ever played, but it definitely cemented itself among my all-time favorites, and was the most fun I've had with a game in a very long time.
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Old 12-24-2015   #9
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I feel inspired. Also I'm bored. So fuck it, though you already know my number one I'm gonna go ahead and legit list my top ten like a real person would. And then maybe the worst ones I played I dunno maybe.



10. Mortal Kombat X

"I make violence look good."



I genuinely like fighting games even if I'm not going to be breaking into the pro scene...ever. I like some more than others and generally I prefer 2D unless it's Dead or Alive or Virtua Fighter for obvious reasons. Mortal Kombat 9 did something wonderful. It made Mortal Kombat relevant even if it was for a brief moment because the pros love their Japanese games. Mortal Kombat X, while a solid game, doesn't really do much to make it anything more than an iterative title. The new characters are generally interesting to play as with Cassie Cage and D'Vorah being easy standouts for me. It held my interest for a time but ultimately...it didn't hook me for nearly as long as MK9 did.

9. Her Story



You're shown an old computer monitor with the word 'MURDER' typed into the searchbar. You're given five clips of a woman giving interviews related to a murder. From there it's up to you to search for more keywords and discover more of the story. More of Her Story. The clips are presented out of order and out of context. Her Story is not a game for everyone and I wonder how many people will consider it 'not a game'. The only thing you do is type in a word or words and watch clips. There's no win state. There's no game over. The game is finished when you've found satisfaction in the clips and story you've pieced together. And that's utterly brilliant. Her Story is a game that is all about subverting the expectations of game narratives and the way we interact with them, creating in the process a game that, despite its simplicity, is captivating and tense. Viva Seifert's performance is wonderful. Her Story is an experience like few others in video gaming.

8. The Witcher 3

"You have a quality every good Roach should have: you don't talk much."



This game is low on this list because despite its quality it vastly overstays its welcome. Until Xenoblade Chronicles X came out I was convinced that this game had the best open world to explore in a video game. The world of The Witcher 3 isn't exactly great to explore, in that despite the visuals of the fields and hills and swamps there's really not much emphasis on exploring outside of finding shrines to get a buff or whathaveyou. What sets this game's world apart from many games in the open world genre is that here the world is as much a character as the characters are. Great care is given to tell as much story visually as they do through more traditional means. An early location is a town that has just been the site of a bloody conflict and there are signs showing the toll it has taken on this town.

The unfortunate part is that once you get past the honeymoon of the world and how well it's realized...the game sort of becomes a chore. Combat is bland against the regular crowd and only manages to drum up excitement when against bounty monsters that are higher in level than you - and even then only because it requires a bit more of an effort on your part finally.

The Witcher 3 makes a very strong first impression that carries quite a ways. But it loses steam and it loses steam quickly as the main quest starts to drag its heels effectively ruining any and all intrigue the plot has because of the poor pacing. It's no exaggeration when I say that the Dandelion quest soured me on the game. I believe at the time I said something like "I've never met the character and I already fucking hate him."

The Witcher 3 is a good game and it does a lot of things that other WRPGs could take notes on. But so much of the game is a chore that I can't consider it an all time great.

7. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number



"Once you get attached to someone, you know you're fucked."

The first Hotline Miami was something of a revelation. Here was a game that was a commentary on violence in video games while also being a celebration of it and a thrilling, fun, fast paced fever dream of an experience. In many ways, Hotline Miami 2 fills the same hole as the Star Wars prequels in that it answers questions that didn't really need to be answered or were asked in the first place. Rather than being about one man's journey of strange phone calls and the slaughter of Russian mobsters, here's thirteen or so different playable characters and a story that is presented out of chronological order.

Levels are bigger. The music is louder and more frantic. The story is more in depth (such as it is), the new characters all play differently and while some are more fun than others it gives a nice variety to keep things interesting.

Where this game falls flat is in its enemy placement. Because the levels are bigger this time around too often you'll get shot from an enemy that is off screen making the harder levels more of an exercise in memorization and cheese rather than fast paced ultraviolent glee.

Still, Hotline Miami 2 is just as frantic, frenetic, and fun as the first, and with a better soundtrack to boot. This song and its associated level stands out as one of the best experiences I've had in a game this year.

6. Star Wars: The Old Republic - Knights of the Fallen Empire









You can read my thoughts in my first post.

5. Until Dawn



"HEY! Yeah, PRICKS! That means you, I know you're out there! The FUCK are you trying to do? You want to ruin our fun that bad? Well guess what? You can't! You can't ruin our good time because Michael and I are gonna FUCK! That's right, we are going to have SEX! And it's gonna be HOT! So enjoy it, because I know we're GOING TO!"

What a sleeper hit of a game this was. Knowing the dev cycle of this game, in that it was originally going to be a PS3 game for the Move and then was redeveloped for the PS4, makes the fact that it's a sweeping success all the more shocking. Until Dawn is a celebration of schlock and cheese in the form of horror movies. This game is the game David Cage has been trying to make ever since he got into interactive drama, as he so refers to it.

A group of eight friends take a trip to an isolated cabin in the mountains a year after an unfortunate accident resulted in the death of two of their friends. After quickly establishing everyone's role in the pantheon of horror film character cliches, shit starts happening and it's the decisions of the player that ultimately results in who manages to stay alive...until dawn.

This won't win any awards for gameplay as it's a very straightforward sort of thing. You walk around areas that are brilliantly lit for maximum mood and tension and you pick choices presented to you that influence character relationships and future outcomes. Quick time events serve as the other driving mechanic for when you're not walking through the snowy mountainside.

I loved this game as much as I did because I have a reverence for horror movies, cheesy ones in particular, and this is a game so cheesy that I'd caution anyone that's lactose intolerant to stay the hell away.

4. Splatoon



Staaaay fresh!

I am a squid now. I am a kid now. There's a word for a game like this and that word is 'fun'. If you really think about it, this is just a third person shooter in a world filled with third person shooters, but what makes Splatoon stand out is its deceptive simplicity and fast paced nature. Unlike pretty much every shooter on the market the goal isn't to kill your opponents (though it doesn't hurt) but to cover more of the stage in bright colored ink than your opponents.

The mobility as you swim through ink adds to the pace of the short matches and allows for quick, frantic back and forth struggles as you and your team continually push against the other side. Though it released with a bit of a lack of content, Nintendo has been supporting it with constant free updates that have added modes, weapons, maps, and gear to continue the lifespan of the game.

Splatoon is a game for everyone. The hardcore shooters will enjoy how in depth it can be with various skills and loadouts and builds while younger people can enjoy the vibrant, colorful graphics and still contribute to the team by just shooting ink all over the place. Splatoon is a wonderful time and, for a bit of a bonus, shows that not every post-apocalyptic game needs to be drab, dreary, and hopeless.

3. Crypt of the Necrodancer

DANCE, GOD DAMMIT



The tragedy of this year is that in a year of pretty solid games, a hidden gem like this sits alone and forgotten. I'll be the first to admit that when you really get down to it, there's not a whole lot to the game. It's a roguelike, you have one life and have to go through a series of randomly generated rooms gathering weapons and items to help you along the way. The twist is that all of your actions are dictated by music, you can only move on the beats to the song.

This provides an interesting challenge and an engaging mechanic as enemy encounters start to become these tense, fast, puzzley encounters as you work out the best way to do damage while avoiding their retaliatory strikes.

Roguelike and rhythm game make for a winning combination. Your enjoyment of the game will come from how much you like either genre. It's niche, to be sure, but it's fun. God is it ever fun.

2. Bloodborne



Beasts all over the shop...

What a fucking game. What a fucking excellent game. After the sour taste that was Dark Souls 2 here comes a game that reminds me what made the Souls formula so great in the first place. Almost as soon as the game starts you're immersed in this world, the creepy atmosphere wastes no time in drawing you in. As soon as you climb the first ladder into the city and hear that blood curdling wail you know exactly what kind of game you're in for.

Combat in the Souls games has always been this sluggish affair for many people, preferring to turtle up with a shield and take shots when you could. And for the most part that was a viable way to play the game and given the animation priority that those games have it's not surprising that slow and steady won the race. In Bloodborne those tactics from Souls games no longer apply which is a great way to break the turtle Souls players of their habit. Combat is more about a blending of fast offense and strategic defense. With no real block in the game you're faced with dodging, tanking a hit and regaining health through attacking, or parrying and going for a visceral attack which is always satisfying.

It's not just the combat that's been refined but the world presented in Bloodborne is top notch. With only a minor exception, Yharnam is a wonderfully crafted world with paths and alleys connecting in ways that make logical sense and help sell the idea that you're exploring a city that is absolutely fucked beyond repair.

The boss fights are intense, the boss designs frightening and utterly memorable, and the music is sublime. My biggest complaint is the limited selection of weapons - as I was a Skill build for my first playthrough I found myself using the threaded cane for the majority of the game - at least until I found some gems that changed weapon scaling to skill. And the armor sets which, while cool looking, really only exist to deal with whatever status effect is giving you trouble at the moment rather than absolute defense. Which, I suppose, is preferable to their being a top of the line best armor set in the game.

My first playthrough of Bloodborne where I knew absolutely nothing going in was an experience, to say the least. Every new area had me equally frightened and excited and each new piece of lore got me further and further invested into the Gothic horrors that awaited me around every dark turn.

Is it spoilers to say that Bloodborne has far and away my favorite boss encounter of the year? Because holy shit. HOLY SHIT. Here's hoping Dark Souls 3 can measure up and not regress.

GOTY - Life Is Strange



"Crazy shit is the new normal for me."

Max Caulfield is your typical teenager. She has an interest in photography, attends a private academy in Oregon, is something of an outsider amongst her peers, and on a seemingly ordinary day she learns that she has the power to rewind time. As if that wasn't weird enough, her childhood friend, Chloe Price, re-enters her life and the two of them rekindle their friendship amidst a whirlwind of strange occurrences around their normally sleepy town of Arcadia Bay.

Life Is Strange is a game that I can't stop thinking about even though it ended in October. The first episode came out in January and by the time the credits rolled I was already itching for more. Here is a game where the driving force isn't the mystery that you embark on, it isn't the time travel mechanic, it's the characters, specifically Max and Chloe. While the supporting cast is full of characters that, in other games, would be flat caricatures whereas here they have layers and depth to them beyond the surface, the two leads are so well realized (Chloe in particular) and so fucking believable that it's hard not to grow attached to them as one would any other beloved character.

"Just relax. Stop torturing yourself. You have 'a gift'."

Max is both the playable character and her own person whose personality is further altered by player input. When the game starts she's an outcast and by the time episode one ends she can already be well on her way to changing that perception in her peers and as the episodes continue you get to see her growth expand from the influences of Chloe and your choices. It's in the little things like that that make the choices you make stand out.

Given that time rewinding is a core mechanic whenever you're faced with a major choice you're allowed to rewind time and select other options until you're ready to lock in your choice. This allows you to see immediate reactions in people but the long term effects are unknowable until they transpire. Life Is Strange handles choice excellently in that regard, to the point where every choice you make has impact and payoff. Information you gain from exploring can come back to matter in big ways.

"This shit-pit has taken everyone I've ever loved... I'd like to drop a bomb on Arcadia Bay and turn it to fucking glass..."

Few characters in games hit as hard as the character of Chloe Price. She's immediately off putting for many until you realize what a brilliantly developed and frightfully realistic character she is. She is not a happy person and her relationship with Max (and essentially you) influences her (and Max) in large ways. Max and Chloe's friendship is the emotional center that the story and game leans on to great effect. It's when you realize that the two of them are changing each other's lives in subtle ways that it becomes clear just how truly well written these two characters are.

It's not just Chloe, either. There's an entire cast of interesting characters to interact with. From the rich girl and her posse to the awkward nerdy guy with a crush to the religious girl facing persecution and humiliation for something beyond her control, down to the cheerleader and the school newspaper editor who have secrets of their own. It's a cast of people worth getting to know.

What seems to be misunderstood is that while there's an underlying narrative that carries across the five episodes, Life Is Strange is more about the character interaction rather than the deeper mysteries. And that's what makes it such an effective game...provided you get invested with the colorful cast of people you meet in Arcadia Bay.

When every episode ended I couldn't wait for the next one to come out. I would frantically rush to discuss theories and feelings with other people on the internet like we were discussing something like Lost in its prime. I cried on more than one occasion because of how emotionally invested I was in what I was seeing on screen. I was happy to sit down in game and let the music play while taking in the surrounding area.

"I'm so glad you're my partner in crime."
"As long as you're my partner in time."


Life Is Strange isn't the best playing game of the year. It's not the best looking. It's not exactly innovative with the gameplay. And yet it's the game that I have had the best experience with in 2015. When all was said and done and the credits were rolling on the final episode I set my controller down and I cried. I cried because I knew it was the last time I would get to interact with the characters I'd come to think so fondly of.

Life Is Strange is my game of the year.

__________________


How dreamlike to see my x-sisters, outside the context of a Papa Song dome. They sang Papa Song’s Psalm, over and over; background hydraulics underbassed that sickening melody. But how jubilant they sounded! Their Investment was paid off. The voyage to Hawaii was under way, and their new life on Xultation would shortly begin... Watching them from the hangway, I envied their certainty about the future.
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Alright strap in. Now that we're in 2016 all proper like it's time to dish on the bad shit I played in 2015. I could probably think up 10 but I don't need to. Here's the five worst games I played in 2015 which, of course, means these are the worst games of last year by the only metric that matters: mine.


THE ORDER: 1886

"Just another London morning..."



Here's a game that should've been something special and not just because of its graphical prowess. The premise alone is something that would lend itself so well to a video game (even if it sounds sort of Assassin's Creedish). The Knights of the Round Table are still around and exist in an alternate history version of jolly old England where zeppelins exist and ferry people across the Atlantic. The Knights of the Round Table, with help from Nikola Tesla's crazy science guns, protect London from the threat of werewolves and other upstarts. Niokla Tesla's crazy science guns? A Victorian setting? Arthurian legends using guns and shit? It all sounds like a recipe for something great.

The problem is that the game isn't that. What the game is is a boring, generic-ass third person cover based shooter with a cinematic resolution that makes the cover based shooting parts worse because you can't fucking see dudes coming around to flank you until you've taken a shotgun blast in the dick. The crazy science guns? You get to use them maybe twice, and NEVER against the fucking werewolves. Ninety five percent of the time you're using boring regular ass rifles and pistols and the werewolves only come up a handful of times and it's always the same encounter: shoot them until they stun and then press a button for the same animation to kill them.

It's a lazy, boring game that squanders its potential at every turn. The final boss is a carbon copy of an encounter earlier in the game - and I mean it is the exact same encounter with only the setting and participant changed. Same button presses, same QTE triggers, same fucking animations, it's all the same. Every turn in the game has you wishing it was better. The story starts off intriguing enough and does a decent job in doling out information on how The Order operates (it's a lot of bickering and people being authoritative to each other), and your main cast of four are decent enough. But then the plot just stops being interesting, becomes a typical, predictable slog (guess what? The greedy corporation your order supports because of money and shit? THEY'S ACTUALLY EVIL AND YOUR 'RESISTANCE' ENEMIES BECOME ALLIES!) that doesn't even have the decency to wrap up its own loose ends because they honestly thought they'd have a fucking sequel.

A boring game. But at least the music and acting and graphics are good, I guess.


4. Batman: Arkham Knight

"This is how it happened. This is how the Batman died."



Pour one out for the PC gamers that had to deal with the broken shit at launch and the tears of knowing that a lowly peasant's device like a console had a functional copy of this massively hyped game. As someone who played this on a console lemme tell you: you PC people lucked the fuck out.

Here's a game that should've been amazing. And get used to hearing me say that. But think about it. Arkham Asylum changed some things in some AAA games made by Ubisoft. Its combat mechanics were fantastic and it's no surprise why people copied it for their melee based games. Asylum was a great game precisely because of its narrower focus. Because it was set in one location it allowed Rocksteady to focus on the essentials: the combat and the stealth, two elements that combined made you feel like you were Batman. It echoed the likes of Metroid and Castlevania where upgrades would inspire you to explore earlier areas for secrets and clues, and every gadget upgrade felt earned and added new approaches to combat and stealth. Even the story felt like this wonderful fanservice to the Batman Animated Series. Paul Dini wrote the fucking thing! Mark Hamill, Arleene Sorkin, and Kevin Conroy were back!

Arkham City put the Batman in an open world and expanded the focus to create what was a terribly unfocused game. Instead of tight encounters and design you had enemies just thrown about and an open world that was a chore to explore. Cue Arkham Knight, the big finale to Rocksteady's Arkham trilogy and this time the big addition is...the Batmobile. Yay?

Never have I played a game that struggled to make its own core mechanic feel useful and fail. The Batmobile is introduced early on in a tutorial where you're shooting machine guns and missiles but it's okay because the enemies are just drones or something and your wheels have electricity so who cares that you drive over them at fucking 90 MPH they're alive and well, and who cares that you're shooting heavy bags at a high velocity at them, I'm sure bleeding internally isn't fatal.

But after the tutorial you start to learn that it's faster to get around by zipping and gliding in the air than driving. So of course Arkham Knight puts in a tedious number of side objectives that you need to do to get the proper ending and a large number of them involve doing boring wave survival with the Batmobile. There's far too many segments in the main game where you're forced to use the Batmobile instead of your other, better, gadgets, and a number of extended sequences where you have to use this bulky, poorly handled tank-like vehicle to do precise platforming. At every turn it's like the game begging you to like the Batmobile when it's the worst thing the game has to offer.

The worst thing this series did was go the open world route. It does no favors and makes for a much more dull experience and nowhere is that more apparent than in this game. To get the actual ending you have to get 100 percent completion, which means every side mission, every Riddler trophy, everything. And by the time you've done the exact same encounter with Manbat or Firefly you realize how thin the content here is and how bad it all flows together. Oh joy, here's another QTE where I'm wrestling with Manbat. Here's Two Face and Penguin robbing a bank with an eerily similar layout to the last two, boy I'm glad that this isn't at all tedious.

It adds one new feature to the stale combat and that's 'Fear Takedown' which is a mechanic where Batman can instantly take out five and only five people at once in a stealth section. This is an arbitrary limit that exists only because it's a video game because why would Batman stop at five if there are always more than five dudes in a given area? The sixth person will just stand there shooting him but Batman can't do a fuckin thing.

You'd think that after City killed off The Joker that they'd finally do something new with Batman and his rogues but nah. Not content to bring The Joker back (although the big finale with THAT subplot is the one moment of decent narrative in the whole game) to fully tap the well, they also decide to forego any original idea and rehash away. An interesting premise with Scarecrow gassing the city and having a plan to kill Batman for good is ruined by having Scarecrow do nothing but sometimes pop in and go "GUYS MY PLAN IS SUPER GOOD, JUST WAIT!" while the TOTALLY NEW CHARACTER 'The Arkham Knight' shows up to be the actual antagonist.

WHO IS THE ARKHAM KNIGHT? Batman asks. WHO IS THIS TOTALLY NEW CHARACTER THAT ISN'T AT ALL A RE-TELLING OF JASON TODD OH WAIT IT'S JASON TODD AFTER ALL!

Motherfucker even has a red fucking helmet.

I'm glad the Arkham series is done. It's milked so much that the least they could do was give it a mercy killing.


3. Tales of Zestiria



Let's play a game. Watch this. This, apart from being the best thing about Zestiria (Well...second best after this) is the intro to the game. Ready for the game? Watch it, the intro, and tell me who the heroine of the game is. No cheating. You can use the posted photo for a visual aid if you need it.

"The red haired girl? The one that transforms like the main character?" You might say. You're wrong! "Wait...the blonde one that looks like she's gonna cry? Blonde, girl, pissy eyes, probably some royal figure or equally as important to the world at large...sounds EXACTLY like a Tales heroine to me." Brilliant reasoning and you could be tricked into thinking that, because the game certainly tricks you into thinking that way. "The girl in red? The other blonde girl?" Please, you're just guessing now.

"Is it the blue haired boy?"

Yes.


Yes it is.


That's not a bad thing. I'm pointing it out because it's the second best thing Zestiria has going for it in terms of characters with the lolita looking blonde being the best character (she's like Rita but even better!). I'd give Bamco props for having a JRPG wherein the main relationship is homosexual in nature but I'm not that generous and Zestiria isn't that smart.

People once described the Tales series as 'JRPG comfort food' and those people are idiots that don't know what comfort food is. The Tales games are pretty universally mediocre with the one people get hyped over (that being Symphonia) only being so hyped up because it came out for a console that had like no JRPGs and the other one people like (Vesperia) being liked solely because the main character is 'so awesome' because he, like, is so laid back and, gasp, kills someone in a cutscene.

Never have I been so utterly angry playing one of these things as I have with Zesty. I thought Xillia was garbage but I managed to finish that. I couldn't finish Zesty. Everything about it was designed to be needlessly obtuse and badly designed. The way skills work is like someone taking the FF9 skill/weapon system and going "You know what? Let's just...let's just make every weapon have a fuckload of different skills and not explain how any of it works and make weapon upgrading a fucking crapshoot. Players love having fifteen of the same weapon that do fifty different potential things!"

The big addition to the game is being able to fuse with some of your party members. Since elemental damages play a significant role battles become less about combos and shit and more about swapping in the right color party member and having them do it. Boss fights are the same except it becomes a game of 'just fuckin spam your transformations' because this game has the depth of a puddle. Combat is dreadful because the new battle screen plays out in the same area you're exploring rather than its own screen. They zoom the camera in so you're running around and the camera is getting hung up in dungeon geometry and you're getting stuck behind a wall and it's the worst.

Except for Edna all the characters are worse than usual, with each one filling that oh-so-essential Tales cliche. The overly idealistic hero, the straight man to the heroes naive ways, the girl, the girl that's introduced as skilled but then isn't when she joins, the snarky one, the old one, the perv one, the gang's all here.

I can't tell you if the plot is any good because I stopped playing when the game decided to just fucking grind to a halt and make me run all around the world and took away the fast travel because fuck me for playing. But it wasn't anything worth getting invested in because the characters were bland and the conflict nonexistent.

The Tales games are bad and it's time people stop calling them comfort food. Unless your comfort food is literal shit.

2. Broken Age



Tim Schafer is a hack and a thief. Anyone who gave him money for Broken Age can maybe be forgiven but anyone who gave him money for Psychonauts 2 is an idiot because the man is a fucking hack and a thief. I've realized that Tim Schafer doesn't make good games and really hasn't ever. I don't consider the old Lucasarts games to be solely his work and his Double Fine shit has been just that.

Broken Age is the game that went overbudget from the three million it made and when it came out it wasn't even finished. Then the second half came out and it was still unfinished and total shit.

Here's a game that fails at what it set out to do, that being a throwback to the games that Shafer still holds up as his seminal works. He's been chasing his own success and clinging to his old works forever because he knows he's a HACK FRAUD. Broken Age is a shit adventure game that has an admittedly interesting premise in the first bit before that goes poorly and stupidly wrong in every possible way in the second half.

With puzzles that require the characters to have knowledge that they would literally have no way of knowing and no way of contacting the person who WOULD know the solution (but it's a GAME, fuck logic, right? Not when everything up to that point had been handled within the confines of its own internal consistency), and a plot that makes no sense and has no resolution at all, here's a game that people wasted their money on on some vague notion of old school adventure game.

Except those were cleverly written and fun and Broken Age is a fucking mess of a game with characters that are less interesting and funny as they are flat and annoying that they make the cast of Undertale seem like amazingly written beings rather than the cardboard cutout shit anime tropes that they actually are (SICK UNDERTALE DISS, YA'LL). Broken Age is a shit game from a shit game maker and Tim Schafer is a hack.

Wake up, sheeple.


And SPEAKING OF HACKS


1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

"He mentioned something interesting: Cipher is pursuing new research. He claims that what they're doing in Africa is the missing piece... A weapon to surpass Metal Gear." (THIS LINE MAKES EVEN LESS SENSE CONSIDERING WHAT METAL GEAR WINDS UP ACTUALLY BEING IN MGS 1 AND WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE IN THIS GAME, WHAT THE FUCK, REX AND RAY ARE LIKE WEAKSHIT)




LIKE A DAMN FIDDLE

Hideo Kojima is a fucking hack but he's a hack that hacked his way into making an iconic series of video games. He's a hack that tricked people into thinking Metal Gear Solid 3 is the best game because of the last half hour; I dare someone, anyone, to say what makes MGS 3 the best one because have you PLAYED it? It's fine but it's not the best. Stop thinking the whole game is like the finale because it isn't.

I'm not exactly sure how Metal Gear Solid got to be so popular. The first game, that is the first Solid, was a hell of a thing. At some point someone must've said "Yeah the story in that game was amazing" and meant it.

It really wasn't.

The first Solid game feels so detached from what that series became known for. Outside of, like, Psycho Mantis and Johnny Sasaki and Otacon's pissy pants, Solid 1 is a much more...normal sort of experience. You've got what is in essence a spy movie in video game form, with the hero being pulled out of retirement for one last job and having to infiltrate a secret base. Sure it cranks the anime up to about a seven, what with giant robots and a hard misunderstanding of genetics, but it's...grounded.

Metal Gear Solid 2 is an amazing experience that could only have been done in the medium of video games. It's a game that exists purely to fuck with the players and it's brilliant. MGS 3 is for whiny babies and MGS 4 is when Kojima lost his goddamn mind and became self indulgent.

When I think about the series as a whole I often wonder what it is I like about it. I always reach the conclusion of "I like the characters, mostly, even if Solid Snake is a shit character." and that becomes "Well I guess the story is a bit bonkers but in a way I can get behind, like a real bad anime that you have to keep up with." It's never "Well the gameplay is fantastic".

MGS V is not a game for me. It's not a game for a fan of Metal Gear Solid. This is a game for people who shoot their way through stealth games and wonder why it takes longer to do so. This is a game for the anti-Metal Gear crowd, the crowd of people who don't understand MGS 2 even though it literally spoon feeds it to you.

This is a game for casual players.

Dan Ryckert, new editor over on GiantBomb, is a self professed Metal Gear Solid fanboy. MGS is his favorite video game series of all time. He's never played Metal Gear or Metal Gear 2, he thinks Solid Snake is a cool guy who enjoys shooting and cool guy things, he refuses to consider MGS an anime series because anime is for nerds and not cool guy action heroes like Snake, he can't tell you what happened in any of the games despite them being his favorite games ever made, he admits to never sneaking through the games and just shooting things with the biggest gun he could find. He's the person Kojima aimed MGS 2's big plot swerve towards.

He's the person MGS V was made for.

On the surface MGS V is a great game. It's absolutely the best playing the series has ever been, with movement and shooting being great. It's never been easier to do CQC, to shoot things, to stealth and move around, to PLAY the game. Enemies can be marked on the map and recruited in the field. It's a great playing game if that's what you want.

The problem is that the gameplay is the only thing propping up a game that is so utterly devoid of anything else. There's supposedly a story here about Big Boss rebuilding Mother Base and striking back against Cipher (The Patriots) with help from Ocelot and Master Miller but that...that never quite comes to fruition. Once you get out of the opening tutorial which is admittedly a great moment, if a bit on the lengthy side, you're thrust into the world, told to do something, and then that's it.

You never really get any story presented to you. After you unlock Mother Base you're sent on your way and rather than having a narrative dictate your next goal you're just given a list of missions and a thirty second optional briefing that explains why you're doing this (and it's never "YO THIS'LL GET BACK AT THOSE XOF/CIPHER ASSHOLES") and then sometimes you'll get a thirty second debrief where a voice will be like "YEAH WOW GOOD WORK, HERE'S HOW THIS TIES INTO NOTHING AT ALL!" and then you're doing this over and over again.

In the context of 'Big Boss is making Mother Base, a haven for mercs' sure, you're a merc company and people need work done. But there's no reason why Big Boss would do this shit when there's a team of people drinking Boss' kool aid. And most of the time your missions aren't even in the form of actual merc contracts, and most of your missions boil down to the same three or four archetypes: extract a prisoner, extract a soldier, extract a thing, or clear mines. Imagine a game that has you doing the same exact tasks over and over again with no story to speak of guiding you along the path. Just a series of unconnected missions that sometimes have a cutscene where Big Boss stares at a thing while Miller screams about bullshit and Ocelot does fuckall. Imagine that for most of the game you don't even get new LINES from Miller or Ocelot, just the same "Boss, blah blah here's a mission."

There's like two boss fights in the game. Sometimes you'll be up against a unit called the Skulls and they aren't boss fights so much as they are "fucking annoying bullet sponges that are terrible". A typical mission in MGS V has you drop in a fucking mile away, you infiltrate the area in the exact same way that you did ten times before since the A.I. follows the same routines and you visit the same locations over and over and over and over and over again, you get the person or thing you're looking for, you leave and then you get a grade.

Here's a game where the open world is pointless. Instead of there being well designed areas for stealthing around you're given two boring environments with fucking nothing to do. The open world serves no purpose other than to make it tedious to get around. Outposts aren't worth taking on because they'll get guard replacements as soon as you load back in anyway. You never feel like you're doing anything since as soon as a mission ends the world hits a big ol "RESET ENEMIES" button and now you've got another fucking outpost with the same fucking enemy placement as the last thirty outposts standing between you and the place you want to go god fucking damn this is boring.

The characters are terrible and boring because they're nothing. Big Boss isn't a character, gone is the man from Snake Eater and Peace Walker, replaced with this guy who spends more time looking forward with a blank expression. Big Boss was never a chuckling suave dude, but the guy at least had things to say. Ocelot has been reduced to a blank shell which is...how do you make Revolver fucking Ocelot into a nothing persona? Miller contributes little other than "REVENGE, KILL KILL" and is no longer the personable number two he was in Peace Walker. Otacon's dad is a piece of shit. The new characters are largely whatever, with Code Talker being a wholly uninteresting being that is in the game just to take three minutes to say something that could be said in one. Quiet, though hardly being 'ashamed of our words and deeds' worthy, at least goes through something resembling development even if it's done rather...distastefully. And Skull Face is such a shit villain that you don't even ever fight him. Like ever. You fucking fought Fortune for fuck's sake.

And the story that is here is as straightforward as it gets. There's a Metal Gear. There're long strings of story missions that have no story and eventually you get the resolution to the story and then the game keeps going with the promise of MORE STORY (as in an actual one) but then that doesn't pan out because the game is unfinished and never will be now. After continuing past the ending to the main story you get 'Chapter 2' and that's a fat load of nothing until the game just arbitrarily decides to give you the 'ending' that fundamentally ruins what little story exists in the first place.


Metal Gear Solid V is a boring game. It plays well, it looks great, it sounds great. But the gameplay becomes less enjoyable the more you play because you're doing the same repetitive tasks over and over and over again.

Metal Gear Solid V is a horseshit Metal Gear Solid game and just an all around bland experience. It's such a horseshit game that you could play the entire game as some fuckstain merc you recruited (as I did, I played the whole game as 'Flaming Buffalo', a female soldier I got as a reward from a mission) and the game just assumes you to be Big Boss anyway, probably because they only have one take of Miller saying "Boss, blah blah blah, mission." You can play the whole game as someone that isn't Snake and the game will just put Snake in the rare cutscenes in a jarring experience and then dump you back to playing as your non character merc.

In fact, Flaming Buffalo had more of a personality than Big Boss because Flaming Buffalo was asthmatic and couldn't sprint for long without having to wheeze and risk giving away her position. It added SOMETHING to the experience that was otherwise as boring and one note as Solid Snake is as a character.


The most fun I had with Metal Gear Solid V was blasting the song Gloria from my chopper and in my in-game radio and doing missions to it on loop as I infiltrated the fucking airport for the tenth time. It became a bit of a competition, could I complete the mission before X number of loops. Two things happened as a result of this. The first was that I wound up fucking hating the song Gloria (which is a song I genuinely like).

The second was that I came to terms with Metal Gear Solid V being the worst video game I played in 2015.


Hideo Kojima is a fucking hack.
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How dreamlike to see my x-sisters, outside the context of a Papa Song dome. They sang Papa Song’s Psalm, over and over; background hydraulics underbassed that sickening melody. But how jubilant they sounded! Their Investment was paid off. The voyage to Hawaii was under way, and their new life on Xultation would shortly begin... Watching them from the hangway, I envied their certainty about the future.
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