I never played any Grand Theft Auto. Imagine my surprise then when GTA 3 released. I searched and found the first two games were top down racers. Then it made sense why I never played them. But, I played the heck out of 3 and then Vice City. I stopped playing during the San Andreas days. I actually forgot about Rockstar Games until the first Red Dead Redemption. Then, over Christmas break, I remembered that I owned Red Dead Redemption II.
I know the game doesn’t technically fit into the New Year, New Games theme of the month. Liam watched me play briefly and said, “This game looks really good. Makes me even madder that Pokemon is so buggy.” I replied, “Yeah, and it’s a four year old game.” But, I only recently discovered and started playing it. Plus, I needed another digital playground article for the month. And, so, Red Dead Redemption II gets included. Besides, it’s my page. I can do what I want.
I thought I might not even get a chance to write this article. As I played through the tutorial and introduction, I got increasingly irritated and more bored. Then, during the chase quest, after I failed, I restarted the entire quest. Christine remarked when I said how much I liked the game, “Oh yeah, it sounded like it as you swore at it this morning.” But, once I figured out how to start the specific quest and not the whole chain, it got better.
I only finished a few more quests. I got to the part where the snow finally starts to melt before Aiden took the XBox back upstairs. As a result, I probably won’t play much more Red Dead Redemption II until Febrary break. Quinn and Aiden both have commitments (soccer for Aiden and swim and scouts for Quinn), so we won’t travel during that break. We planned on going to Niagara Falls for April, but nothing in February. I can come back then to update on my progress.
Initially, I joked that Red Dead Redemption was just GTA with horses. After playing it, I enjoyed it so much more than I ever liked GTA. Other than GTA 3, I never beat any of those games. I played the original RDR until I beat it and then I played after to finish up some other Easter eggs in the game. I probably bought RDR II shortly after that. But, with the XBox in Aiden’s room most of the time, I never played it until this past Christmas. I plan to bring the XBox back downstairs during February break and you better believe that I’m going to play cowboy during that week off.
And, so, we arrive at our last award, the 2021 Console Game of the Year. If you thought our other two choices (really just one choice) were farcical, this one will really blow your mind. Before we reveal the choice and get on with the Year in Review and Look Ahead articles, some background first. We promise to make it worth your time.
If you thought we might take the easy way out and pick some Atari 2600 or other retro themed game, you’re not right. But, you’re not wrong, either. If I remembered to set up my emulator earlier in the vacation, I might have been persuaded to cheekily choose “Frostbite” or “Pitfall” or even “E.T.” or whichever of the games I became addicted to over the last week. Alas, I only just hooked up the games yesterday and spent a half an hour or so this morning playing “Circus Convoy.”
We pick a game that I only recently played a couple of times with my family. Aiden discovered the games through his friends. I found it through a Twitch stream one night and it was a lot of fun to play Humble Bundle ran a deal for several of the games. Then, my laptop, as they tend to do, died on me. Also, our desktop memory fried. So, I downloaded the most recent version on the XBox in order to play. Our 2021 Console Game of the Year is The JackBox Party Pack 8.
2021 Console Game of the Year: The Jackbox Party Pack 8
In any other year, I played ridiculous amounts of Minecraft. Somehow, the XBox ended up in Aiden’s room again, so I never thought to load the game this year. I played some on my laptop, but solo Minecraft is boring. I suppose, then, that Minecraft is still a contender. But, having not played the new update, I wouldn’t do it justice.
Likewise, I haven’t played any Minecraft Dungeons in spite of the fact that Quinn and I planned to a few times. Mortal Kombat 11 died last year after I played through Kombat Pack 2. I received Hades for Christmas, so too late to give it any attention. Though, I asked for Hades for Christmas because Chris played and enjoyed it so much. Perhaps next year, we can have more variety in our game playing.
We played this twice as a family. The first time, we played “Job Job” by Liam’s request. Then we played “Wheel of Enormous Proportions”. Both got the family laughing and having fun. Then, I think I mentioned that we tried to play at Christmas, but a mishap with controllers prevented that. Finally, we played the other day. We played “Drawful” and “Weapons Drawn”. We actually played “Drawful” twice. We haven’t played “Roll Mine” yet. Christine didn’t like the “Weapons Drawn” game, but the others have all been a hit. If you want a party game that’s quick and a lot of fun, this fits that bill.
How weird is it that our console game of the year 2020 actually came out in March 2019? I mean, if you’re at all familiar with our page, it isn’t that weird at all. We are nothing if not unabashedly retro in our sensibilities. Something about this year dragged me kicking and screaming into a more modern gamer. Chris, however, remains steadfast in his commitment to retro gaming and I love him for it.
True to gaming in 2020, MK11 reached its “final form” over a year and a half after being released. In April, Aftermath came out to continue the story, gave us friendships and new stage fatalities, and added three new characters. More recently, Kombat Pack 2 gave us 3 more new characters. So, you could absolutely argue Mortal Kombat was better to us this year than last.
It feels like I just wrote the article in that last paragraph. Well, I have a couple of days to rework this article and get it published.
Console Game of the Year 2020: Humble Beginnings
If you told me last year that I’d pick Mortal Kombat 11 for this article, I’d not have believed you. I received the game as a gift from a friend. In a true dink move, I didn’t touch it for the first few months I owned it. Actually, it wasn’t a dink move. Not consciously at least. The XBox was upstairs in the game room that became Aiden’s room. I was busy with school, too.
Finally, after those few months of gentle reminders by said friend, I logged into the game. Not entirely understanding how the game might be different from the previous few iterations, I played a few games. Yep, this is Mortal Kombat all right. For good and for bad. Little did I know how much this game would come to dominate my life over the next two years.
Console Game of the Year 2020: Familiarity Breeds Contempt?
Not at all in this case. My friend gave me the version that came with Kombat Pack 1 already included. All the fighters were there for me. Sure, in some cases, I had to download them. Also, Shao Khan and Frost both cost and extra 5 dollars. Now that I think about it, the Frost thing had to be a classic Ed Boon MK troll because you unlocked her simply by playing through the story mode. Everyone was there, though. All the classics like Johnny, Sub Zero, Scorp, and my favorite Liu Kang. Throw in some Newbies like Kitana and Jax. Finish with a sprinkling of the next generation, Cassie and Jacqui. It’s all wheat and no chaff.
Getting back to that story mode. Eventually, it hooked me on the game. I don’t remember how or why, but I moved the XBox into our bedroom and started playing the story mode. I wrote a review for the story. That’s how impressive I thought it was. Once the game got me hooked, my friend mentioned that you could “AI” the towers. Once I discovered that, I played the game daily to get those sweet, sweet cosmetics.
Console Game of the Year 2020: Aftermath
As happens with any game, I grew tired of beating the same towers over and over again simply to rise in the ranks and get a single new skin for being in the top 5%. I rediscovered Diablo 3. Quinn and I started an epic world in Minecraft. MTGA grabbed more and more of my attention. Because of Covid, I spent more time obsessing over online learning.
I simply had no time for Mortal Kombat 11. Then, Aftermath released. I did two videos (two of three or four this year, so more than recent years!) reacting to the trailer and friendships. The new characters got me playing towers again to get new skins. A weekly Kronika quest kept me logging in on a regular basis.
Console Game of the Year 2020: Summer Lull and Kombat Pack 2
Eventually, I tired even of the regular loot from Kronika and the towers started to repeat again at a nauseating rate. I played more Pokemon Go and went for 2 hours walks to kill the time. Don’t forget Diablo 3 and MTGA. There’s only so much Mortal Kombat one person can take. My limit is apparently a couple of months before I start to stray again.
Clearly, Ed Boon realized that and released Kombat Pack 2. I reviewed this last month. Ever since the release, I’ve played daily again to get the last month of skins on the Towers of Time. Except for yesterday, I’ve been grabbing the Kronika vaults again. It just completely slipped my mind. Damn, I’m sad now. Oh well, maybe there will be another way to get the items. Or, maybe I just won’t sweat it too much. Okay, what was I saying?
Oh yeah, it seems like every time I get bored with the game, something new comes along. It’s similar to the CCG treadmill. They can’t keep this going forever on MK11. And, it seems like this last Kombat Pack might be the last unless there is a surprise announcement early next year. However, it just feels like they’ve milked this cash cow dry.
Mortal Kombat 11 has some new strategies to it. I’m not capable of executing many of them. Hell, I’m still stuck on the Raiden combo in the tutorial. But, watching more and more streams lately, I can see that they’ve included a deep and rich fighting engine. It’s no Tekken or Virtua Fighter. But, it’s better than bully your opponent into the corner and juggle cheese.
The inclusion of new guest stars have kept the game fresh. Plus, I still have to play through the Aftermath story. There’s enough to keep me going in Mortal Kombat 11 until at least the spring when the weather starts to get nice or I buy a PlayStation 5. Even though I played much more Hearthstone, Mortal Kombat 11 is, by far, the most fun I’ve had with a game in the last year.
Wait, I have to buy Mortal Kombat 11 Kombat Pack 2? I’m pretty sure the game was a gift a couple of years ago. The friend was kind enough to purchase a version that included some skin packs and the first Kombat Pack. Therefore, this is the first time I’ve had to put money into the game. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I did happily pay for the expansion that included Robocop, Fujin, and Sheeva. But it’s the first time I’ve paid for cosmetics. No, wait, that isn’t true either.
I purchased both skin packs and at least one announcer voice. It’s weird that both felt the need to lie and then felt the need to explain myself. Sorry that I’m treating this article like online therapy. I will get back to the subject at hand. Is Mortal Kombat 11 Kombat Pack 2 worth the money?
I mean, ultimately, that’s for you to determine. However, maybe you’re like me. A father of 3 boys who recently took a job that pays more money and it doesn’t matter to you that this game ultimately cost you over 100 dollars. Maybe I’ll have some insight for you. Wait, what? Oy vey. There’s that brutal honesty once again. Well, if you’re still reading, let’s get on with the review.
Decent – Rambo
Move Set – In keeping with the theme of the 80s action movie icons, Rambo’s move set is a bit clunky. He doesn’t combo easily, at least not for a slow old guy like me. With that being said, he is more fluid than Robocop or Terminator and more fun to play. If you’ve ever seen a First Blood movie, you will recognize his bowie knife and bow and arrow. Of the three, he was always my least favorite character. Ironic now that I will probably end up playing him more than the others in this game.
Finishers – Both of his fatalities are consistent with the character. The first one has the iconic wire trap and bamboo and the second involves a string of bullets (Is that what it’s called? I’m a libtard hippie who doesn’t use guns often). I prefer the first. His friendship is fun because of the nostalgia of playing laser tag with the boys. I did get a chuckle when he did the crawl from one behind one inflatable to the other.
Ending – John Rambo has no use for being a god. He wants what he always wants. To simply retire to a cabin in the woods in peace. It would seem as if he finally gets that wish from Kronika’s hourglass.
Good – Rain
Move Set – As I was working through the tutorial, I was sure that Rain would be my favorite character from this pack. Part of his style combines Noob Saibot and Fujin, two of my favorite characters. He is a fun character to play, but you can deduce from process of elimination who my actual favorite from this set is. Damn you angry, internet mob. You win this one.
Finishers – Both of his fatalities are fun. One has an homage to the classic Queen album, II, before eviscerating his opponent. The other has similarities to one of Kung Lao’s in the game with a twist at the end that had me chuckling. His friendship is not one of the more inspired ones. Hey, they can’t all be winners.
Ending – Rain goes a bit Kill Bill on the revenge trip against his father and his other sons. These types of endings always crack me up. They’re given ultimate power over time and they use it to exact personal revenge? I get that motivations are different, but come on now.
Great – Mileena
Move Set – Before this Kombat Pack, Ed Boon’s Twitter feed was a non stop barrage of requests for adding Mileena into the game. I get that Twitter isn’t real life and most of it was for the meme, but it had to have been tiring for him to deal with on a daily basis. Well, she’s here, nerds. You win. I didn’t want to like her character simply for this fact, but I can’t deny. She is the most fun to play beyond a shadow of a doubt. Sure, part of that is nostalgia. But, she is just a well rounded character and worth the wait.
Finishers – That’s not to say that it is all roses and unicorn farts. Neither of her fatalities are particularly interesting. I will say one thing about her second. Instead of exploding her opponent’s head, she implodes it. That was a nice touch. After trolling Mileena fans with Kitana’s friendship, the Edenian princess shows up in teddy bear form for dear sister’s.
Ending – Another revenge story? It would seem that the writers are gonna beat this horse until it’s dead. I mean, this one is consistent with the character’s singular obsession with her sister and parents, so there’s that.
Is Mortal Kombat 11 Kombat Pack 2 worth the money? Of course I’m going to say yes to justify the fact that I spent the money on it. In all honesty, though, 15 bucks isn’t too much to spend for 3 characters that are absolutely fun to play. In order to write this article, I sped through the tutorial and 5 opponent tower in order to get the endings. It only took about an hour at most. So, it is worth about what minimum wage should be. If you were smart and waited, definitely pick up the Ultimate edition as there is so much more in the game like the Krypt, which could have been a game unto itself.
Thanks for watching my Mortal Kombat 11 Aftermath Reaction Video. A few days ago, I noticed an announcement on Ed Boon’s Twitter account. It was about something coming for Mortal Kombat 11. People speculated that new story content was coming. They were partially right. Mortal Kombat 11 Aftermath will arrive on May 26th with new story content, 3 characters, some skin packs, new stages, stage fatalities, and friendships!
I’ve never done a reaction video before. However, this one seemed perfect for my first one. I watched the video over a dozen times. It still makes me smile every time. There is so much in this update. Recently, I was told that some people are upset that it costs money.
Hey, you’re all entitled to your opinion. When I first discovered that it was going to cost 40 dollars, I was initially shocked. However, I talked to a buddy about it and he didn’t hesitate in his pre-purchase. That’s all I needed to hear. I’m going to put money down next Thursday when I get paid. The content alone is enough.
As you know if you read my article, I loved the story of Mortal Kombat 11. They hired an actual writer to do the story this time and it shows. Getting more of that story alone is a good thing and I’m willing to pay for that. Besides, we all knew deep down that this was going to cost us something. This is the same company that charged money for a Frost character that you could unlock simply by playing through the story mode. So, pay for it or don’t. I’ll be logged in on the 26th ready to play.
I hope you enjoyed my Mortal Kombat 11 Aftermath Reaction video!
XBox One Minecraft Tour? I’ve been planning to do Minecraft in May for the last three years. Generally speaking, May is when things ramp up in school. This year is no different, but the ramping up looks quite different. As a result, I will at least get to do Minecraft in the first week of May for now. The rest of the month, I’m going to focus on family games.
Similar to Mortal Kombat, I’m not sure how I’d do a review of Minecraft at this point. I don’t think there have been any updates recently other than a hot fix of some bugs. Additionally, if you’ve ever even seen a screenshot of Minecraft, you pretty much know the game. Finally, for the purposes of this introduction, there aren’t the same kind of mods on XBox One as on the PC, so I can’t really review them.
As a result, I’m going to do the same thing I did with Mortal Kombat. I will record a couple of videos giving a tour of two worlds that Quinn and I have been working on recently. Check them out and hopefully these are the videos that get me uploading to YouTube more often!
Massive Mine World
Quinn started this world and I joined after he had built the small house and started to dig out the underground base. I added a Nether portal that he moved into the base, which was a better location. I, as I often do, started to mine for diamonds. My latest idea is to try to clear out the bordered level 12 that is inside our mines. We’ll see how that goes. See the video below for the tour.
Video coming soon.
Quinn also started this world. He’s been playing a ton of Minecraft lately. As I was watching, I saw the multicolored sand mountains in the background. That gave me the idea to start the house that you will see in the tour. Check out the video for what I mean.
Video coming soon.
Thank you for joining me for my XBox One Minecraft Tour. I hope you enjoyed the videos of our works in progress. I will continue to update, especially if I get that area cleared out in the Mine World. Otherwise, hope you enjoy your time in Minecraft. If you haven’t played it before, you are missing out. It’s a simple, but fun time!
Now it’s an MK 11 Krypt tour? Still no gameplay? Well, let’s list the reasons again. (1) Technically the Krypt is part of playing the game, (B), as I said, there is plenty of gameplay contend out there and (∑) it’s Mortal Kombat. What do you expect for gameplay? Well, that’s what you’re getting.
With all of that being said, I’m not entirely sure how to write an article about the Krypt. I thought maybe a review, but that will most likely make for a boring article. I could do a virtual tour, but that’s dumb, too. Looks like I might have to get over my stage fright and just record a video.
Noob’s MK 11 Krypt Tour Video
I hope you enjoyed my first video in about 5 years. As I may have mentioned in the video, the Krypt is one of my favorite game modes. I’ve said numerous times to friends that it could be a game to itself if they wanted to develop it a little bit more. I’m sure that it will eventually get boring after I’ve opened everything, but I honestly don’t know how long that will be.
For instance, just the other day, I found a statue that led me on a bit of a scaly goose chase (yes, I’m still trying to be good about spoilers) that still hasn’t ended. And another character randomly appeared to try to sell me more stuff. In between farming towers with the Noob Saibot AI build given to me by a friend, I will spend all of my time in the Krypt. Hope to see you there!
Mortal Kombat 11 Story review? I know what you’re thinking. Not gameplay? Well, (a) you should know to expect the unexpected from us, (2) there are plenty of gameplay articles and videos out there, and (Ω) let me respond further with a story. Hey, this is what you get from a frustrated writer forced to stay home for two weeks. You get stories. So, snuggle up and listen.
I have played Mortal Kombat since the beginning. That’s not an exaggeration. My friends and I traveled to the arcade (see, the beginning) weekly to feed quarters into the machine. Those of you (us, yes I do it, too) who complain about the price of games never spent hundreds of dollars in quarters at the arcade.
So, where is this story going? Relax, we’re getting there.
One of those friends bought me Mortal Kombat 11 for Christmas or my birthday.
As I tend to do, I ignored it for a few months. Enter coronavirus. Suddenly,
many of us had more free time to catch up on video games, for instance. I chose
Mortal Kombat 11.
I also inadvertently recommended the game to Chris. Wait, what does that mean? It simply means that I kept talking about the game and how much I liked it. Chris bought it as a result of me talking about it so much. He texted me when he first played it something along the lines of, “The game play is typical of Mortal Kombat. You weren’t kidding about the Krypt.” More on the Krypt later in the week. For now, there is my last reason why I’m not discussing the gameplay.
Johnny Cage – It was tough picking which would come first because I always like to end these sections with my strongest pick. Both of the characters here have been my favorites since the first game. Both have endured their share of trials and tribulations. Unfortunately for Cage, his were all self-inflicted. Nevertheless, his “redemption” story is wonderful and I can safely call him a favorite again.
Fire God Liu Kang! – This one is a spoiler alert for anyone still playing the story. Mainly, the warning is for Chris because he’s still the only one that regularly reads this right now. I will go on record that killing Liu Kang is probably the most unforgivable thing that they’ve done in this game series. I understand trying to reboot a tired franchise, but killing Liu Kang is a travesty. It is doubly so to have him double crossed by Raiden of all people. Thankfully, this game reversed all of that. I won’t give it all away except to repeat Fire God Liu Kang!
Fighting – Look, I understand that this is a fighting game. However, I would be lying if I didn’t say that the constant pauses in the story so that I could noob it up while trying to pull off the combos that I was barely able to finish in the tutorial weren’t annoying me. I very much enjoyed the story and kind of wished that they would just let the thing play through without the fighting interludes.
The Story – On that note, I’m not lying when I say that I would rather watch this story than any of the movies currently available. Maybe I should include the caveat that I meant the live action movies. I haven’t seen any of the animated films and the advertisement that I saw for the Scorpion animated film actually looks pretty good. Sure, the story has the usual clichés and some parts are just ridiculous. With all of that being said, it is well worth it to play through the story mode.
Final Fight – Look, I get that it’s supposed to be a boss fight and that boss fights are notoriously unfair in Mortal Kombat games. And, yes, it technically only took me 3 fights to finish the boss. Nevertheless, during those 3 fights, I was becoming increasingly frustrated with how poorly my strategies were working. Then again, it might have just been because I was stonewalled by the boss in my Johnny Cage tower, too, and needed the AI to bail me out.
Tease – I kept texting my friend during the story saying, “x (where x = some character not in the game) is already rendered. Why are they not in the game?” He always replied, “Well, there’s always Kombat Pack 2. So, yeah, I’m also grumpy that some of the best characters are in the game but not in the game, yet. Cyrax, Sektor, and Sheeva, I’m looking at you.
Fallen Hero Syndrome – It started with Raiden. Then I realized that Cage, Liu Kang, Kitana, and even Jax had elements of the fallen hero in their story. Look, I get that the fallen hero as a concept is compelling. However, it started to get old. By the time I got to Jax’s story, I was just done with the fallen hero story. Enough already.
Overall, the Mortal Kombat 11 story is strong. It’s much better than previous versions. It is especially better than the disaster that was MKX. Hell, I don’t even remember the story from that game. They corrected everything that I feel like they screwed up in previous games. They were able to keep the story open for future installments. Sure, it’s not perfect, but I might be one of the only people that plays these types of games for the story. If you haven’t already, play through the Mortal Kombat 11 story. It’s worth the time.
One of the reasons that I finally ordered an XBox One after so long of living in the past (well, really, I always live in the past when it comes to video games) is that a deal came along that I simply could not ignore. Chris texted me about it because he knew that I was looking. I also suspect that he secretly might be working for Microsoft and that’s how he can afford such a luxurious lifestyle. Granted, he did buy a PS4, but that’s exactly the kind of thing that a secret Microsoft employee would do to make it seem like he’s not working for The Man.
The bundle that Chris told me about was an XBox One with Forza, the Forza Hot Wheels DLC, GTA V (Five), and another game that I can’t remember right now. Well, the main reason that I wanted an XBox One was for cross platform Minecraft. I could buy the game (again), and would have. However, I noticed that Wal*Mart had the exact same bundle available with Minecraft instead of Forza. I like Forza, but I have not played it even a fraction of the time I’ve spent with Minecraft. That sealed the deal.
It still took me a week or two to order the system. I wanted to have ample time to play it and my break (this week) was still a couple of weeks away. By the time I got around to ordering it, the other game (that I can’t for the life of me remember), was sold out. They were offering Destiny 2 instead. No big deal. The game that I really wanted was Minecraft. As I discussed in my last article, GTA is always just big, dumb fun.
In my discussions with Chris and Kevin about Destiny 2, I mentioned that I had heard mixed reviews of the game. I’m learning more and more that might not actually be the truth. Because of the proliferation of voices due to the internet and social media, we tend to hear and read things that may actually be popular opinion but become part of the zeitgeist due to repetition. What’s the saying?
In spite of the negative comments that I heard about Destiny 2, I bought the bundle. I suspect that they might have just been because people like bashing Activision whenever they can. It started (at least I started to notice it) when they invested in Blizzard a few years ago. I find it funny that one of the little guys who were just trying to make good games when I was a kid have become the 900 lb. gorilla in the room and a big bad simply because they want to give developers money to develop good games. I will never understand the psyche of nerds today.
In my GTA V (Five) article, I talked about the story in this section. Those of you who are regulars at the page know that I often talk about the story with games. I understand that not everyone is into good stories, but I feel like enough of us are that they keep trying to appease us with decent to good stories. Again, take this with a grain of salt because I don’t remember the source, but I heard the argument that some of the best narratives today are in video games. Actually, I just remembered where I heard it. Christine and I have been binge watching the MTV Scream show and a character made the point.
Ignoring the source, I do think that they have a point. Since the graphics of games have gotten so good and realistic, they can’t really be used to sell a game anymore. As a result, there are more or less two ways to sell a game. First is with gameplay and the second is by writing a compelling story. While Nintendo has decidedly gone in the direction of gameplay, many other developers have chosen to hire better writers. Heck, one developer makes its money solely on “Story Mode” games.
I appreciate both methods and am still a huge fan of Nintendo. However, as I get older and my time is at more of a premium, I find myself playing and replaying those games that offer the story. If there’s any question about that, I have played through Portal 2 twice, once by myself and once while the boys watched to show them the story. I discovered it again the other day when I was trying to hook up a controller to the computer for Minecraft and started playing through it again. It wasn’t at my favorite part of the story yet, so I didn’t finish it again, but it’s only a matter of time.
Again, similar to GTA V (Five), I’ve only gotten to play a bit of the game the other night before passing out on the couch. Whereas I only got a little bit of the way through the tutorial missions there, I am about 2 hours into Destiny 2. In that time, I can confidently say that the story is going to be good. It’s not a terribly original story and might actually be the only story that these types of games are producing at this point, but it is a good start and I can tell that it should keep me interested in the game for a bit.
I’ve never been a fan of first person shooters. Well, that’s not technically true. One of the first games I ever became obsessed with was DOOM and then Hexen after that. I got Quake for the Nintendo 64, but I didn’t play that much. By that time, I had moved on to 3D platformers because of Mario 64 and Spyro the Dragon. I also really liked sports games, especially MLB The Show for the PSP. It wasn’t that I didn’t like FPS games, it’s just that there were so many other games out at the time and what felt like a glut of first person shooters. I think this was around the time that all of the military games were being released. Because I wasn’t a social gamer at the time, I had absolutely no use for them.
Sure the game has some interesting mechanics. I like the “ghost” for each character. It’s sort of like your own personal GLADoS, only not as funny nor sarcastic. Also, at least with the type of character that I chose, there is a mystical element to the game similar to that from Hexen. However, at the heart of the game, it is just a typical first person shooter and not a revolutionary one like (broken record time) the Portal series.
When I was talking to Chris about the game, he mentioned that it was one of those “always online” games. I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but now I do. During the game, it seemed like other players were able to join me during different parts of the game. I first noticed it when I was playing through and I saw that someone needed me to revive them. Shocked that someone else was in my game, I missed the chance and apologize if that was you.
This in and of itself was not ugly. I actually didn’t mind having the help and needed it because I died twice during that part of the game even with the assists. But, I was also talking to Kevin about the game and he mentioned that the “always online” part of the game extends to personal lobbies that you might make to play with friends. Those lobbies are always open and other players will come in to grief you and your friends while you’re trying to play the game. I generally avoided PvP realms in World of Warcraft because of the griefing that people would do. I just don’t understand the appeal. So, if that’s something that actually is a problem in the game, I want no part of it.
Similar to my Grand Theft Auto article, this one is based on limited experience with the game. As a result, my opinion may change and I can revisit this in a month or two if I find that things are radically different then. As of right now, I very much enjoyed my time in the game. The story is engaging, the gameplay is just different enough to keep me interested and I don’t exactly have many other games that are occupying my time right now.
Always on the cusp of several years ago when it comes to just about anything, I finally purchased an XBox One. “Why,” you might ask, “after all of this time, did you finally buy an XBox One?” If you are asking about the choice of console, there’s really only one answer and it is the answer that regular readers of the page will recognize. The XBox one version of Minecraft is the first one to be cross platform with the Windows 10 and mobile version. As Minecraft is still a huge deal in our house, that sealed the deal on the XBox as the next console in the house.
If you are more wondering why I finally dropped the cash to get one, my wife was wondering the same thing. It came in the mail on a day that they were all home due to snow, so I took it into the living room to show Aiden because I knew that he was excited about it and waiting for it to arrive. “What’s that?” She asked. Aiden replied, “An XBox One.” “Why did you buy an XBox One?” She inquired. This time I replied. “Because I’ve been working my balls off for 2 months and I finally have the money.” Aiden, our child who is most enamored with “bad words” giggled at my response and then asked me to set up the console so that he could play some Minecraft.
Over the next two days, I got texts from both Chris and Kevin asking me how I was enjoying the new console. To be fair, I had texted them both that I finally ordered the thing and when it arrived. However, I hadn’t even been able to play it yet when they both asked me, so I had to sheepishly reply that the boys were enjoying it, but I hadn’t had a chance. I did try to play Grand Theft Auto V (Five), but as soon as I put the disk in, it started to install something that looked like it was going to take at least an hour and I thought I had to be up at 6 the next morning. Plus, I just didn’t have the patience for that. Back in my day, you put the game in and you played it!
Well, I’m here to report that I finally got to play GTAV (Five) for about an hour last night. That’s the only game that I’ve gotten to play so far, so this article will just be about my first impressions of the game. I hope to do something on cross platform Minecraft next week and maybe in a few weeks, I can do a deeper dive on GTA and maybe even Destiny 2 (the other free game that I got with the console) after that.
Bear in mind that I have only made it through (maybe) half of the tutorial of the game. I had a beer last night, the second mission is a driving one, and I am proof that you should not drink and drive, not even in a video game. I couldn’t, for the life of me, finish that mission. So, I was only able to see the opening shootout, the cut scenes with the psychologist and introduction of the two repo men, and some of the driving mission before I failed it. Not once, but twice.
Nevertheless, what I saw of the story was good. It isn’t that much different from what I remember in previous games. For reference, I played GTA3 to the end and then used the tank code to beat it so that I could see the ending, played a ridiculous amount of “try to jump the canal on your motorcycle” in Vice City, and just couldn’t get into San Andreas because it felt a little to real for me. I had a similar reaction to movies like Boyz N The Hood.
Even with the familiar feel, I was still invested in the characters that I met. Rockstar does a good job with their storytelling in their games and that is something that I appreciate. In fact, the story for Red Dead Redemption was not terribly original, but it was very well executed. The same can be said for this story. I can’t wait to finish that second mission to see what kinds of crazy trouble I can get into and what weirdos I meet.
The story might be good, but I already wrote that it is, to put it mildly, familiar. I also mentioned Red Dead Redemption earlier. By the time that game came out, I had played enough GTA that I knew the formula. As a result, it took a while for me to actually play that game. I often derisively referred to the game as Grand Theft Auto: Horse. Consequently, when I finally got around to playing Red Dead Redemption, I got a good lesson in not judging a game by its cover because it remains one of my favorite games I’ve ever played.
I mean, can you blame me? Grand Theft Auto 3 was pretty revolutionary at the time. They took a top scrolling racing game and developed it into a fully realized 3 dimensional sandbox game that was almost on par with Super Mario 64. I already told you that I played that one so much that I got to the end. Granted, it was with a cheat at the very end, but hopefully over the last 3 years of this web page I’ve successfully painted the picture that I am a casual and lazy gamer that has only gotten more lazy due to the time commitment of adulthood.
So, what do you do when you have a successful formula in movies, games, or anything else really? You abuse that formula to within an inch of its life. Humans are more creatures of habit than anything, so you can exploit that fact and just release the same thing over and over and people will still buy it. As a result, Vice City was just GTA with motorcycles! San Andreas was GTA with bikes. I never played 4 because I soon tired of the formula, but I assume that’s when they introduced airplanes and helicopters. If not, then this is that game.
I am invested in the game, so I will continue to play it. I don’t expect to be blown away by any new technological advances. Unlike another game that I started to play that is very much like the original, The Sims, I suspect that I might get bored of this one earlier. Who knows, maybe the story and nostalgia will be enough to keep me engaged right to the end.
I may be an old man. And I probably can remove the may from that previous sentence. And I definitely can remove the probably from that previous sentence. I am an old man. I’m not ancient, but I am (statistically speaking) on the other side of the proverbial hill. So, what I’m about to say won’t come as much of a shock.
Granted, I haven’t made it too far into the game, but so far the violence level is high, but it’s not off the charts. So far, it is just spatters of blood. Certainly nothing like the disemboweling that happens in the Mortal Kombat series. I expect that to change, so something might come along to shock me into reconsidering my time with this game.
The other mature themes have yet to show up, too, so I can’t speak on them. But, the language. I’ve only played through maybe 5 minutes of actual game and they’ve used the “F” word more than a full length movie. I mean, I haven’t been counting, but when the phrase “F” this “F”ing “F” is used, that seems a bit excessive. Bear in mind that I’ve used that phrase more than once in my life.
So, I’m no stranger to swearing and I don’t even consider swearing that bad. It’s just that when anything is excessive, over the top, or it feels like it’s being used to cover up weak storytelling or dialogue, I get a little nervous. Also, I’ve listened to a podcast series recently that has changed my mind a little bit about the extraneous effects of certain pop culture phenomenon. I’m not going to jump into the GTA is contributing to the downfall of American life (except I kind of am skirting the issue), but we can’t possibly know all of the repercussions of any single event. Now that I’m older and the kids will eventually have to take over for me and the other old farts, I worry what legacy we’ve created for them.
This has become my calling card. Like the Tick with “Spoon!”, I have “It’s *fill in the blank*.” There’s a reason for that and I wrote about it earlier. When you find something that works, you repeat that formula until it doesn’t work anymore because, well, why would you? Why take the resources to develop something new that will take time when you can just slap a new wrapping on the old thing and nobody will question you?
Well, that’s where we are with GTA. Good or bad, it’s GTA at this point. They might give it updated graphics. They might be able to convince some Hollywood hotshots to lend their voices to the series. They might let you drive helicopters or boats. They’ll put in an online mode. But, in the end, it’s just GTA. For now, I can forgive that because the story and my memories of the old games have me engaged, but I can’t promise that will last. After all, I bought GTA 4 on the recommendation of a friend and never opened the game.
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