This is why it’s nice to treat games as a hobby vs. a job: It’s time for Game of the Year considerations and deliberations, which means that lots of folks in the video game press are frantically playing catch-up on all of the big titles that they may have missed this year. 

Games aren’t meant to be played under a deadline. Many games are long and have a lot of value to offer to a player looking to fully experience the world that the developer so lovingly crafted. Rushing through games often means experiencing the bare minimum, but specifically for the games press, it means experiencing a game differently than your typical consumer. That’s why we made Gamentary the way it is: There’s no pressure to play or talk about the current hotness. We all have different tastes and different amounts of time to dedicate to our hobby, so you’ll get a wide variety of viewpoints. Our own “game of the year” talks will often miss big games from the year simply because no one played them! We think it’s better this way, and we hope you do, too.

Instead, you can look forward to discussions about Spec Ops: The Line. All. Winter. Long.

Friday, 3:56 pm – Ricky

Nice lineup! I really have to start being careful with my forum browsing now that Season 2 of TWD is in the wild. It was pretty tough with the first season, but I feel like I have a fighting chance of avoiding spoilers if I get to the first episode within the next few weeks. Can’t wait to hear more about Zelda!

There have been zero issues with Battlefield 4 multiplayer on PS4, but admittedly, I haven’t gone and tried single player since our session on the PS3. I really should, FOR SCIENCE! Maybe this weekend.

But it’s probably way more likely I’m just going to watch football. Lots and lots of football. Go my fantasy team!

Friday, 1:14 pm – Gavin

This weekend, I’m going to launch myself into the first chapter of The Walking Dead, Season 2.  I haven’t read anything about the game but have seen some review headlines and the reviews are positive, if mixed.  I have no preconceived opinions going into this though.  I’m also hoping to get a bit further into Zelda ALBW, as my in-laws are coming in as of Saturday, and distractions are always welcome!

Glad to hear you had fun with BF4 online.  Do you recall experiencing any issues with texture painting?  You may recall that we dealt with that the first time we played at your place.

Friday, 10:15 am – Ricky

Yeah, I like to live vicariously through my friends – it’s almost like playing it myself! Plus, friends are the best reviewers.

We had a great time playing some Battlefield 4 last night. Neither matt, our friend or myself are great at shooters. But Battlefield 4 has such great reward systems for playing supporting roles that I never feel like I’m not having fun, even though I’m getting my head blown off at a 2:1 ratio. There’s so much to do! So much to see! And the levels… in my limited (~4 hours) experience, they all seem well crafted, with some favour vehicles, some infantry-only, and some that have a mix of both. Truly though, the standout in this game is the sound design. In my opinion, no other military shooter can compete with Battlefield for sound.

So, on to the last weekend before the holidays!  What’s everyone planning to play?

Thursday, 12:18pm – matt

something bothered me last night when thinking about my recent game purchases and “rick-a-sitis”, 4 of the 5 new purchases I made were a direct influence from Ricky without any prior knowledge of them being on sale… the lone gun being FIFA which I used a devious bit of retailer one-up-manship and got the next gen game for $10 off.

damn you ricky

Wednesday, 12:36 pm – Gavin

My backlog is growing again, sadly.  I knocked Gone Home out, and I’ve finished the core game of Super Mario 3D World (but I am in no way finished with that game, as there are a trillion bonus levels).  Looking forward to 2014, these are on tap:

  • Splinter Cell: Blacklist
  • Assassin’s Creed IV
  • Walking Dead Season 2 (of which I shall knock out episode 1 this weekend)
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
  • Driver: San Francisco
  • Mark of the Ninja (now installed!)
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Director’s Cut: Colon.  I know I’ve already beaten the main game, but I’d like to give it another spin through the revised version
  • Splinter Cell 3DS (I’m such a Splinter Cell whore).

I’m writing off a whole chunk of my Steam list as I just have too much (that I didn’t buy.  STOP BUYING ME GAMES, PEOPLE), and I think I’m done with Call of Duty: Ghosts.  I’ll probably offload that this year – it didn’t grab me at all.  Six new titles right off the bat for 2014, plus Deus Ex, plus continuing Mario 3D World, plus I have all my old games I want to play again because I love doing that.  I was almost above water, but this is just pulling me back down!

Couple that with what’s dropping for the Wii U in 2014: Donkey Kong Country and Mario Kart 8 are definite buys for me.  I’ll definitely pick up some 3DS games for that commute as well (How could I not own Super Mario 3D Land as well?).  There’s also Watch Dogs, and what happens if Zelda U drops?  Yargh  So, I have at least ten titles to play through (assuming I pick up DKC and MK8).  Fortunately, I’m pretty sure that of those, Assassin’s Creed, Driver, Mark of the Ninja, and Walking Dead will be terminal experiences – that is, I’ll probably play them once and be done with it.  Splinter Cell: Blacklist and 3DS might be terminal as well, but I do acknowledge that I love SC games, and I’ve gone back to Chaos Theory so many times that it’s reasonable I’ll play them again.  Also, I repurchased Chaos Theory during the last Steam sale.  I’m the worst.

Fortunately, there are very few upcoming games wherein I need to be a part of the conversation.  I’m not even certain I’m going to enjoy Driver: San Francisco, but I did buy it so I need to try it out, at least.  To be honest, I’m not even that invested in Assassin’s Creed – it was one of the free games I got during that Future Shop promotion.  I always feel guilty looking at the list of games in my account.  I wish there was a way that I could just transfer my licenses to someone else.  I wonder if Valve would ever do something like a charity drive – donate your licenses to a good cause or something like that.  Hell, if it’s a charitable drive, I’d probably even pay them if it means I could donate these.  I mean, “the inability to play a lot of video games” is the first-worldiest of first-world problems, but I’d certainly feel a lot less guilty about the games I own that I’ll never touch.

Speaking of Steam sales, next one starts tomorrow.  I’m only passively interested in what they have.  I have almost nothing on my wish list – King’s Quest collection, Brothers, and The Stanley Parable.  I’m guessing both Brothers and Stanley Parable will be on sale this time, and I may just remove Brothers from my list.  I know it to be a great experience, but I can skip it, I think.

Wednesday, 8:01 am – Ricky

That’s just how it starts, matt. That’s just how it starts…

I certainly haven’t had a case of the “Rick-a-sitis” this year – the 2013 Backlog Challenge is nearing an end! With just 2 weeks to go, I’ve already started to switch gears, moving from consumption back into acquisition. Here’s what I want to pick-up shortly after the clock strikes midnight on January 1, 2014:

  • FIFA 14 on PS4 – for some multiplayer with matt
  • Walking Dead: 400 Days and Season 2 – for obvious reasons
  • Starbound – for some multiplayer with Albert

That’s pretty much it. No, seriously, that’s all. I mean, sure, we’ll be in the middle of a Steam sale when the new year hits, and sure, I have 43 games on my Steam wishlist and a burning desire for Nintendo’s console, but I genuinely think I can limit myself to the above. Why? Because I have so many games I ACTUALLY WANT TO PLAY. Seriously, I  have a ton of games to play:

  • The Last of Us – Yes, I’m still playing this. I’ve got it on deck this week
  • speaking of on deck… Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag – It’s goddamn amazing, and I can’t wait to play more of it
  • Splinter Cell: Blacklist – Yep, still haven’t played it
  • Super Mario Galaxy – I still have Gavin’s Wii, and every intention of playing this last-gen gem
  • Halo 4 – What? WHAT RICKY?? Yeah, Halo 4
  • Some strategy games – I’ve been craving Company of Heroes 2, Civilization 5, Tropico 4, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Sins of a Solar Empire etc. recently, and I think I’ll need my strategy game fix soon

That’s a big list. That could take me through most of 2014. So throw those previously mentioned titles in there, and I’ve got one hell of a lineup to go through.

Tuesday, 4:28pm – matt

Help me friends, I seem to have been stricken with a disease that removes all doubts when considering a new game purchase and am buying stuff with reckless abandon, I call it “Rick-a-sitis” and it has caused me to spend quite a bit of money on new games. I think I acquired the virus eating too much cake on birthday, which tends to happen every year as I do a great job of holding off purchases and then go ape-shit at the end of the year. Within a week and a bit I have bought:

Marvel Lego

Tearaway

FIFA ’14

Renewed PS+ membership

… I guess it doens’t seem THAT bad…

Monday, 12:11pm – Gavin

Did someone say Spec Ops: The Line?  Pretty sure I heard that.  Just in time, too, because as unbelievable as it might sound, I have so much more to say about it.

I’m glad I’m not a games journalist, either as a full-time job or even as a part-time hobby.  This is as close to journalism as I get, and I like it that way.  I like playing games on my own time and when I play them, I like to explore at my own pace.  Some games, I want to discover everything that can be discovered, like Zelda or Deus Ex.  Others, I’m just in it for my own experience, like Skyrim or GTA IV.  I don’t want to feel any obligation to explore more than I want to, but I also want the freedom to explore without a schedule.  I can’t imagine being in a position where I need to offer an opinion on every single AAA title out there.  I have a job, a spouse, a social life, and hobbies that don’t involve games.  I enjoy playing games because I have no requirement to do so, and as such, they form an ideal, optional form of escapism for me.

Speaking of games of the year, I finish the core story to Super Mario 3D World over the weekend.  When I first started, I complained that the game didn’t have the grandiose feeling of Galaxy 2.  I stand by that assertion – the levels in Galaxy 2 felt organic and part of a larger, explorable universe, while the levels in 3D World seem to just exist, and all feel quite staged.  But the levels themselves?  The design is unbelievable.  UNBELIEVABLE.  It’s so good.  It’s so fresh in all the right areas.  Some of the levels are short, yeah, but there are a lot of levels, much more than I expected based on the flow of the early game, and they get DAMN CHALLENGING.  The game has a certain vibrancy that Galaxy didn’t have.  Not to suggest that Galaxy was muted, because it was very bombastic, but everything seems to have just a bit more life to it.

Boss fights in 3D World lack a real sense of challenge.  They aren’t difficult at all, but they exist to show off the game play.  Each boss is basically “three hits and you’re done”, typical of Mario style, but each boss battle is approached so differently.  One requires throwing objects, one requires climbing and precision jumping, one requires agility in avoiding attacks, etc.  The variety in approach is immense, even if the battles aren’t all that hard.

The game came alive a second time after you beat “the final world”.  I spent most of Sunday on the couch with my mouth hanging half-open at how many tricks this game had up its sleeve.  From level after level of impeccable and varied design to endless funky, well-crafted music, to the right amount (and sometimes too much) challenge, this game is worthy of every positive review it’s gotten to this point.  Easily the best game I played in 2013, despite my earlier reservations.  I beat the core game in about 12 hours, but there is a lot more content.  I’ve barely touched the multiplayer, but that just adds an entirely different dimension to the game where the design will be tested significantly.

Also, because I have no willpower, I picked up The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, which was fundamentally the reason I bought a 3DS XL to begin with.  I have too many fond memories of Link to the Past that I couldn’t be without its direct sequel.  I only have about 45 minutes in the game now, but I can tell you that the nostalgia factor has kicked in big time.  I’m exploring all of these worlds that are in a completely new art style but are still so familiar.  The controls are tight and the swords lands with a very dramatic *thunk* every time you hit something.  I don’t have enough information beyond this at this point, but as a test of the 3D capabilities of this system, it’s spectacular (once you find that sweet spot in front of your face).  Hoping to get more time into it before the end of the year to see if it gets any GOTY consideration from me.

I also picked up VVVVVV, because I am a sucker for things I’ve already played.  Plays identically, just looks better with the 3D cranked up all the way, as it’s fairly subtle.

Monday, 11:43 am – Ricky

Whoa, late guy is late. Sorry about that.

I don’t have much else to offer you other than that apology. I played some more Star Wars Pinball this weekend, but I don’t think anyone wants to hear about that. More gaming set for this week though!

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