Man, I’m a gaming dinosaur. Most of the time I spend with games now is framed with a never-ending, slow shake of the head as I try to comprehend what it even is these days. From open worlds with endless icons pulling me in every direction to entire catalogues of microtransactions that have been carved away to sell for eternal engagement, it’s all a far cry from the titles that got me hooked so many years ago. For me, the shift from PS3/Xbox 360 to PS4/Xbox One was the most noticeable, as suddenly developers could depend on a consumer internet connection, and so games became a service. I feel like the self-contained, more focused AA game is becoming as much of a relic as those that still want them.
Which is why Aliens Fireteam Elite is such a treat. Sure, it has a few modern marketing points ticked – three-player co-op missions (although it’s perfectly playable in single-player with bots) and the dreaded “Seasons” of downloadable content (to go with the laundry list of things you can unlock through normal play) – but, at its heart, it is a game that has a singular focus and it really wants to show you a damn good time.
It’s hard to properly capture how amazing it is to slip into Oculus Quest 2’s alternative dimension. I’ve owned and play a plethora of VR headsets over the years – from the second iteration of the Oculus Rift years ago at an expo, where the blurry Godzilla-style city smashing game made me sick to my stomach in seconds, through to my own Gear VR, Oculus Go, and PSVR. Each has dangled the promise of VR immersion, but with enough caveats (overheating, low resolution, screen door effect, clunky setups) to stop them from realising the medium’s potential.
So it’s with a mixture of triumph and trepidation that I can tell you, after two days with the newly-released Oculus Quest 2, the dream is finally here. Triumph, because it not only removes those lingering issues but its cable-free, high framerate/resolution experience exceeds even your highest expectations. The store is packed with great games and experiences. Digital delivery is quick and easy.
But trepidation because this is very much a Facebook machine, in ways you maybe hadn’t anticipated, which could very well outweigh its incredible potential.
That horrible feeling that sometimes follows a decent mid-afternoon nap – who am I, where am I, where is everyone – is the starting point for Carrion. Except here you need to add what am I, as your first action is to slop across the floor in a clot of slopping tendrils, with a tiny razor-lined mouth in a perpetual silent scream. And that feeling never fades, instead driving you forward with a singular motivation: get out.
As 2019 gradually fades into obscurity, it’s time for my yearly tradition of somehow ranking subjective experiences. This year is easier for me, though, as my free time has virtually disappeared (as you can probably tell from my complete lack of writing). As a result, I’m no longer diving deep into complicated experiences until they yield their goods. My metric is simple – is this fun? Does it inspire me? Does it make me feel? And if the answer is no – from a really early point – then it gets pushed aside.
Movies are easier to get through thanks to a much shorter time commitment than a game, so instead, they just get thrown in the outbox. My list of games, though, is more an example of the need for good design throughout – and how a jump in style can put me off forever. So let’s take a look!
There aren’t that many games that I would consider to be among my favourite games of all time. I have played games on various platforms since I was a kid, but not a lot of them have really stuck with me. The ones that have though have generally stuck because they resonated with me on some deeper level. Firewatch is a great recent example of this, a game that made me cry in its text-based introductory chapter and punched me directly in the emotions at the climax. Bioshock is another, a game that scared me relentlessly for hours before unveiling one of the best video game story twists of all time.
I’ve been thinking about these games for the past few days because I am pretty sure that Marvel’s Spider-Man on the PlayStation 4 is going to end up on my list of all time favourite games.
2016 has been conspicuous by our absence. It almost seems strange that, in a year where everything went wrong, with so many adored artists and creators being whisked off to the afterlife, the events of the last twelve months have barely been registered on Awesome Friday.
Happy New Year! As you may have noticed, we had a quiet second half of the year here at Awesome Friday, but that’s not to say we weren’t busy. It’s the opposite, actually; between work, and kids, and writing an entire bloody book in November, I’ve barely had time to indulge in my twin pleasures of games and movies, let alone write about them. Looking back over the year, there are a number of titles that I wish I’d had the chance to watch and play, but I also discovered I engaged with enough entertainment to put together a list.
Childbirth is a miracle. I’ve seen a tiny human being come out of another human being twice – the first emerging like a stone skimming over water, the second grumpily being pulled out after refusing to budge, both heralded by the battlecry of a woman adding a +1 to the world with thunderous determination – and it’s really something. And by really something I mean completely changing your view of yourself and the Universe, but it’s a more relatable summary.
Having kids reframes your world in the best, most exhausting ways possible, but one of the biggest hits comes to gaming time. The nightly hours playing TimeSplitters are a memory so ancient they might as well be from another dimension. Even finishing a game becomes a novelty, and up until recently there was no solution to the frequent sudden instances where the game has to go off now. Thankfully, Sony has solved this with a firmware addition that should be renamed Every Dad’s Best Friend – the glory and brilliance of PS4’s Sleep and Suspend mode.