Tag Archives: xbox

July Gaming

Games completed during July

Another light month with a couple of late completions keeping me on a roll.

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House of the Dead 4 – PS3

Dusted off the PS Move controllers and gun holders to play this properly with my partner. We cleared it with one credit to spare, I’m still not sure how I feel about the Uzi as a main gun, but it is definitely easier on your trigger finger!


c7d69af8-3256-42fb-9585-10b30aa1cbb6 Forza Horizon 2: Fast & Furious – XB1

This standalone DLC for FH2 was originally available for free before going up to its regular price of £7.99. Unfortunately I missed the free window before I got my Xbox One, and my general dislike for the Fast & Furious licence put me off handing over the cash. However, in a recent sale it was available for < £2, so I took the plunge. Ultimately it’s just more Forza Horizon 2, enjoyable enough with the added bonus of having Ludacris in the role of the announcer. Also this is the first Forza content I’ve managed to 100% for achievements & Forza Rewards, so that’s something at least.


Also played / picked up in July

header (1) Half Life 2: Episode One – PC

I’ve had this in my Steam library pretty much forever, and never got round to playing it. To be fair I was about 10 years late to playing Half Life 2, so whatever. I think I’m about 2 hours into this, give or take, so probably about 50% completion. I hadn’t really paid any attention to this when it came out, so I’ve been presently surprised that it was less of a shooter than the main game, and more of a physics puzzler. Hopefully I’ll wrap it up soon so I can tick it off my list in August.


Thumper – PS4Thumper-11-HD

A game that I had filed away as something to look at if I ever get PSVR, I had heard increasingly good things about it on several podcasts. It was on sale on the PS Store so I decided to give it a go. It’s kind of like the old Vib Ribbon game on the original PlayStation, albeit from a 3D viewpoint. Enjoyed it so far, but it is tough. Looks and sounds incredible though, hoping to get a chance to try it in VR.


Retired in July

headerAssault Android Cactus – PC

In keeping with a previous promise to myself that I would stop playing games when they were no longer fun, I’ve decided to shelve this. Assault Android Cactus is a great twin-stick shooter, but I’ve been stuck on the last boss for ages getting increasingly frustrated. Now I’m playing Nex Machina, I’ve got no desire to persist with this.

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Gaming in May

Games completed during May

Bit late posting this month, but some games were played and I didn’t want to miss the round-up.


zumaZuma’s Revenge – XB1 / 360 BC

Hadn’t played Zuma for years, and missed this version first time round. Was pleased to stumble across it in EA Access, and found myself addicted to the story mode for a few days. Still one of the best takes on a ‘Match 3’.


Halo_ alt_3Halo: Combat Evolved (MCC) – XB1

Never completed the first two Halo games on the original Xbox, so had been looking forward to playing the remasters on the Master Chief Collection. Playing through them in Co-op with a buddy, really enjoyed the first one. Did drag on a bit though towards the end, those levels are huge.


Forza-Horizon-3-Hot-Wheels-Expansion-Pack-ReleasedForza Horizon 3: Hot Wheels – XB1

The second expansion for Forza Horizon 3 is even better than the first. Had an absolute blast with this, can’t recommend it enough. If you ever enjoyed Hot Wheels cars and playsets as a kid, you owe it to yourself to check it out.


C9z2xE0WsAA6ZkGWonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap – PS4

Easily the best remaster of a classic game I’ve ever played, this is a work of art. The original Master System game is one of the best games on that console, and this really does a great job of bringing it up to date.


Also played in May

oriOri & the Blind Forest: Def Edition – XB1

After completing Wonder Boy I was in the mood for a new ‘Metroidvania’ and have had this kicking around for a while. It’s charming, and quite satisfying, although I’m already finding some of the platforming painfully fiddly. We’ll see how I do.


MordorMiddle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor – XB1

Still not completely sold on this. I’m not much of a LotR fan, but picked it up based on recommendations and promises that it’s not too Tolkien. I am quite enjoying it, feels very much like a Batman Arkham game with elements of the Tomb Raider reboots. So far though I’m not finding it as good as any of those games.

 

All-time Top 5 JRPGs (wot I’ve played…)

Yeah a bit of a cheat this one, as I’ve only properly played 5 Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPGs) so that’ll be why your favourite isn’t in the list… I have tried to play plenty, but never got more than 2 hours into anything other than these 5.

I have really enjoyed the ones I have played (well the top 3 anyway) so I wouldn’t rule out playing more in the future. Anyway, on with the countdown!

Number 5 – Final Fantasy VII (PSX)

headerMy first JRPG, and apparently, the first one many of my friends played too. This game was a major event back in a high school, and for a while it seemed everyone was playing FFVII. I was quite enjoying it, albeit a departure from my usual choice of game. I do remember that trying to navigate the world map while also dealing with random encounters tested my patience, but the whole thing collapsed when my memory card corrupted around 20 hours in. I appreciate in the grand scheme of things, 20 hours isn’t very long, but that was pretty huge for me at the time, and certainly more than I’d be happy to play over.

I pretty much swore off the genre after this, and it would be quite a few years before I was to try them again.

Number 4 – Bravely Default (3DS)

BravelyDefault-810x449I gave this a go when struggling to find something other than Animal Crossing or Mario Kart to play on my 3DS. Discussions about it described a game with a similar feel to Final Fantasy VII which made me think perhaps I’d enjoy it. I was aware of the “outrage” at the changes made for the Western release from the anti video game censorship crowd, but they all seemed like changes for the better to me, so figured I’d give it a go.

I mostly enjoyed the game for maybe 18 hours. The story was nonsense and even with the localisation there was a a sufficient creepy ‘ick’ factor that never quite went away. (I think it was hard to distance from the fact that these characters were originally written to be 15 years old). However, the gameplay mechanics were fun, and I liked the ‘job’ system in building my party. It all got a bit grindy and dull though, and I just lost the will to come back to it.

Number 3 – Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360)

landscape-1481743951-lost-odysseyA game I played mostly by chance, got a bargain on release without knowing anything about it and fired it up just to see what it was. I was blown away by the graphics, it was easily the best looking game I’d seen so far on a console, and at first was just playing to admire the aesthetics. I got sucked in though, and it became the first JRPG I ever saw through to completion. The story was ridiculous, which I suspect may be an essential criteria for a JRPG, and the costume designs left me questioning the usefulness of such armor in a swordfight.

I really liked the combat though, and the timing based boost you could give to your attacks was surprisingly satisfying. I sometimes think I might replay this, but then I laugh at the thought of me replaying anything, never mind a 40+ hour epic, and the impulse goes away.

Number 2 – Panzer Dragoon Saga (Sega Saturn)

Panzer-Dragoon-SagaOnly played through this for the first time last month, and I am amazed how well it has held up. I was a big fan of Panzer Dragoon and Panzer Dragoon Zwei first time round on the Saturn, and this is doubtless the main reason I took to Saga the way I did. The art style was consistent with the previous games, and immediately felt like a comfortable return to that world.

The shift to turn-based combat was a concern before I started, I didn’t know how the previous rail-shooter style would translate. I need not have worried, the combat is superb, with the two basic attacks being lifted straight out of the other games to feel instantly familiar. The need to constantly keep re-positioning around the enemies and the bonus to attack speed granted for attacking as you move ensures that the combat remains engaging.

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I found the controls in general to be very well done, particularly in the parts where you’re navigating the world on your dragon. When revisiting early 3D games you often have to make allowances for the controls and/or camera, but I can honestly say I had no issues with either.

While the story here is no exception to my understanding of the JRPG norm, I did find myself happily reading all the subtitles and enjoying the many cut-scenes. This extra flavour for the world is a big part of why I’ve gone back to playing the original games, and why I’m optimistic that I might even beat them this time round.

Number 1 – Eternal Sonata (Xbox 360)

Eternal-Sonata-810x456Or, the one time I liked cel-shaded graphics.

I know about as much about JRPGs on the whole as I do Classical Music. The only composer I really like is Chopin, so the premise of this game immediately had me intrigued. The game is set inside a dream Frédéric Chopin has while he dies of Tuberculosis. Yeah. We’re well set up for another nonsense story, but this one did really hook me.

Until Eternal Sonata, I always found cel-shading to be a bit of a novelty. It’s such a perfect fit for making the whole game feel like an elaborate cartoon. It’s joyful, twee and yet manages to be interestingly educational at the same time, as along with the story cut-scenes it also has video history lessons relating to Chopin’s life. (From reading some commentary these weren’t to everyone’s taste, but I loved it)

The music in the game is obviously Chopin influenced, and accordingly spectacular. There are very few game soundtracks I listen to outside of playing the games, but the 4 disc album produced for this is still a staple on my iPod.

I remain annoyed the PS3 release afterwards had extra content, as I didn’t want to start over from the beginning after I completed it on the 360. I think I’d happily replay it now though if it was given a refresh for the modern consoles.

I’ve heard plenty of critique about Eternal Sonata, more than one person declare it “the worst JRPG I ever played”. I take some amusement from this, as it seems likely that as a generalisation, I can still say I don’t like JRPGs, and perhaps I like the ones I do because they are outliers within the genre.

What next?

I remain open to suggestions from anyone who can suggest games I might like based on what I’ve written above. I’ll be honest though and say there is next to no chance of me playing anything 16-bit or earlier.

I am thinking of playing Skies of Arcadia Legends, it always sort of appealed to me on Dreamcast, and now I’ve got the GameCube version which I’ve heard is generally an improvement.

February Gaming

Games completed this month

Managed to clear a couple more games this month, thought it might be worth an update.


header-1Spec Ops: The Line (PC)

As suggested in my January post, I finished this at the start of February. Another one to tick off the 2017 list, I was pleasantly surprised by this. It is perhaps a bit less polished than some comparable military shooters, but the story was ambitious and had something to say. In places it was clunky, and some of the bigger twists were sort of spoiled for me by being late playing it, but if you’re a fan of this style of shooter and haven’t played this yet (or just bored of Call of Duty) it’s definitely worth a play.


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Game of Thrones – Telltale Adventure (PS4)

I managed to stick with this much better following Batman. It’s the worst of the Telltale games I’ve played, but still engaging enough. Part of the problem with it is just how well it does “Game of Thrones”, it’s just so bleak! Easier to recommend if you’re a fan of the show more than a fan of Telltale games, it comes with the same warning you’d give to someone just starting to read the books or watch the TV series. Don’t get too attached to anyone!


Also played in January

70009b60d454b028ef60886bd20b2ae2Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One)

A decent promotion in Game, combined with my remaining store credit saw me picking both this and Shadow of Mordor on Xbox One.  I had intended to play Tomb Raider on either PC or PS4, but couldn’t argue with the price.  I’ve put 20ish hours in so far, and am about 70% through apparently.  Really enjoying it, have noticed a few bits of slowdown but nothing has really damaged the experience.  Looks likely that I’ll finish it in March and be able to move on to something else. Feeling good about continued progress towards that 2017 target!


headerAssault Android Cactus (PC)

Really good twin-stick shmup that deserves more attention than it received. I have been dropping in and out of this for a while, but over the last few weeks I have focused a bit more on the story mode.  I’d hoped to clear it during Feb but finding the last boss to be tricky! I have limited patience to just keep retrying though so I’ll be lucky if I even manage to clear it during March. We’ll see.


maxresdefaultOvercooked (Xbox One)

Finally got a couple of friends together for a decent session on this, made some good progress and we’re starting to gel a bit as a team. Well we were, until the alcohol being consumed hit Peak levels, and our skills went into decline.  Hopefully we can get another go at this in soon.


Mega Drive & Saturn stuff

I’ve now got a new (to me), modded Japanese SEGA Saturn, so have been dabbling quite a bit with that. Planning on picking a Saturn game to settle into when I’m done with Tomb Raider. I’ve got a few ideas so optimistic that’ll turn out well for a future update.

I’ve also been spending a bit of time with the Mega Drive again, mostly just playing a few shmups. I’d quite like to get a 1cc on Super Fantasy Zone on my actual hardware, as I’ve only previously managed to do it under emulation. If I’m successful I might see if I’m capable of any others…

2017 in Games

Looking at the year ahead, I thought I’d make plans for another attempt to tackle some of the gaming backlog.  I failed entirely last year at making a dent in those titles I’d planned to play, although I did attempt a few that I gave up on.

The games I did manage to complete in 2016 were:

  • Forza Horizon 2 (Xbox One)
  • Walking Dead S1 & S2 (S1 on XBox One and S2 on PS4)
  • Life is Strange (PS4)
  • Wolf Among Us (Xbox One)
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4)
  • Alan Wake (Xbox One – X360 Backwards Compatibility)
  • Doom (PS4)

I’m pleased I managed to even finish this many, considering my penchant for games tourism, and that I spent most of 2016 playing Overwatch, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Diablo 3 and a couple of months of WoW: Legion. (Blizzard can you hear me?)

For 2017 I’m planning a slightly different approach.  I’ve chosen 9 games I intend to play through the year from my collection (or recent releases I’ll be pick up when I’m ready to play), and a further 3 that may get released during 2017 which I expect to demand my attention. As ever the goal for the list is to help me decide what to play next, instead of doing the usual “stare blankly at my steam library for an hour then give up and go to bed”.

Here’s the front 9:

  1. Forza Horizon 3 (Xbox One)

I’m about 18% through this already, like with the second game I’ll just keep playing till I decide I’m finished. (Who has time for 100% on an open world game?)

  1. Rise of the Tomb Raider (PS4 or PC)

One I haven’t bought yet, but will pick it up on sale when I’m ready to play. I loved the last game, but heard the Xbox One version of Rise has some issues, so will pick up the more recent PS4 or PC port.

  1. Riven (with a possible play-through of realMYST first) (PC)

Has been on the backlog for 100 years or so, I really want to get back into this world.

  1. Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm (PC)

I originally had Starcraft 2 on this list with the intention of finally finishing the campaign I started in 2013. However I went back to it this week and discovered I was 4/5 of the way through. I knuckled down and finished it, and while my enthusiasm is up I’m gonna try to play this first expansion. (Have already bought the other expansion so might as well crack on!)

  1. Telltale Batman (PS4)

I’ve made a small start on this, enjoying it so far. I’ve kind of gone a little cold on the Telltale model lately so I’m hoping this drags me back in.

  1. Murdered Soul Suspect (Xbox One)

This one originally passed me by, but I’ve since heard good things that have made me want to play, so I’m gonna give it a go. It helps that it was free on Xbox Games with Gold.

  1. Gears of War 4 (Xbox One)

Another one I haven’t bought yet, I’m planning on playing it co-op with my buddy (Hi Ross!) when we’ve played through 1 or 2 of the Halo games on the Master Chief Collection first.

  1. Banjo Tooie (Xbox One/N64 – Rare Replay)

One from the backlog. I will go back and see this through, dammit.

  1. Spec Ops: The Line (PC)

Another I’m intrigued about through listening to other people. Seems really interesting for a shooter and it’s about time I played some of these bargains I’ve acquired on Steam.

Games I’ll buy and play if they actually come out this year…

  1. Life is Strange 2

I adored the first one, hoping the sequel is as good if not better. Also hoping for another great soundtrack.

  1. Yooka-Laylee

This looks to be a great spiritual successor to Banjo & Kazooie, but I do think there’s a good chance we won’t see it till 2018…

  1. Sonic Mania (maybe Project Sonic 2017 as well if it isn’t dire)

I’m all in for Sonic Mania, the trailers look great, I can’t wait.  I’m sceptical about Project Sonic, but it sounds like it’s following the Generations model, and that was a decent enough game so fingers crossed!

As well as the games above I expect to still be playing the usual suspects throughout the year:

  • Overwatch
  • Hearthstone
  • Diablo 3
  • Healthy dose of shmups
  • Whatever multiplayer my friends drag me into

It will be interesting to look back in 12 months and see how my year in gaming turned out, but I’m optimistic I’ll get through at least a few of these. Maybe.

Upgrading modern console storage on a budget

If like me you’ve got entry level versions of both the Xbox One and PS4, then you’re probably running out of space on those 500gb drives.  There are many guides online on how easy it is to replace the internal hard drive on a PS4 and similarly how easy it is to add external storage to your Xbox One.

There are also numerous links to External USB Hard drives that are easy to open up and remove the drive ready to use in a PS4.  The natural extension of this applies if you have both consoles and wish to upgrade the storage in each machine as cheaply as possible while still getting a decent drive.

First of all I purchased this drive, various other sites recommend that the 2014 and 2015 editions are suitable for opening up. I took a punt on the 2016 version and am happy to report that this works fine too.  Opening the case was just a matter of patience, took about 10 minutes working around the seam with a blade and then easing it open with a small screwdriver.  There are little clips all the way round.

Once you’ve got the hard drive out, you can follow the guide here for the process to upgrade your PS4.  A little note, when you get to Step 5 and need to reinstall the software, the most obvious download on the linked page will only give you the ‘update’ version of the firmware (it’s around 250mb), this won’t work.  What you need to do is scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on “Perform a new installation of the system software”, Step 2 of these instructions has a new Download link which will give you the full upgrade file, (around 950mb so you know you’ve got the right one).  Once you’ve got that you can follow the rest of the steps to install it on your new drive.

When you’ve got the old 500mb drive from your PS4, you can put that into the enclosure your new one came in, and hook that up via the included USB lead to your Xbox One.  There are helpfully USB ports on the back of the machine so you can keep this tidy.  Once connected your Xbox will ask if you wish to format it to use for games storage, hit yes and once the format is complete it’ll be ready for use.

PS4 with new drive Xbox One with new external storage

 

 

 

2TB PS4 and a 1TB Xbox One for < £70.  Bargain.

Note you don’t get the full advertised amounts of storage space, this is partly because some of it is reserved for system use and partly because of how data storage volumes are recorded, but you already knew that, right?

 

Ten reasons I own: An Xbox One

Following my PlayStation 4 post, it’s time to balance the scales.  Keeping to the same format as previous, this is ten aspects of the Xbox One that make it worth owning to me, not just a list of exclusive games.  I have no interest in Kinect, and the initial mandatory bundling of that hardware was a big part of me writing off the Xbox One to begin with.  I always maintained I’d reconsider once they cut it from the console though, and I am glad I did.

As per my conclusion on the PlayStation 4 post, I do find it hard to recommend the Xbox One over a PS4 unless you’re REALLY big on the exclusives, but now was definitely the right time for me to add one and own both.

  1. Rare Replay
    Easily the best value and greatest presented Retro Compilation ever, this is an absolute gem and the tipping point for me to suck it up and buy the console. So many great games on here, and available brand new for less than the price of just one of the included N64 games on ebay… It is cool that the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Arcade titles retained my progress from the first time round, but I would have liked an excuse to replay Nuts & Bolts.
  2. Halo: Master Chief Collection
    A close runner up to Rare Replay in terms of value, this initially passed me by due to reports of broken multiplayer. It contains Halo games 1 – 4, and a free update added Halo ODST.  The games have received graphical work since their original releases, most notable in Halo 2.  I’m very much enjoying replaying the campaigns, and the multiplayer issues seem to be resolved.  I’ve played quite a bit online, and I really like how the multiplayer mode spans all the games, with a vote each round of which to play next.
  3. Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
    I got this bundled with my console, and although I am a fan of the series, I had played Gears of War 1, 2 and 3 through several times in co-op and didn’t think I’d bother again. It looks amazing though, and I found myself co-opping the campaign with a new buddy (shoutout to @SuperGoataku) and thanks to Microsoft providing free Backwards Compatible downloads of the original Gears of War 1, 2, 3 and Judgement, we are now half way through a Judgement campaign and setting up to play a bit of GoW 3 Horde to pass the time while we await number 4.
  4. Forza Horizon 2
    My purchase of this was largely fuelled by the difficulty issues I had been experiencing with Driveclub, documented in my PS4 post. Horizon is a much more forgiving series, but thanks to the physics and handling models perfected in Forza, it is still very satisfying to play.  The theme of a racing festival does grate a bit, but the driving makes up for it and I find it perfect for half hour sessions before work.
  5. EA Access
    As a proper casual sports gamer, the EA Access vault is something I’ve been wanting for years. I like the idea of sports games a lot more than the reality, and long ago learned that it wasn’t worth me paying £40 every year for a set of new names in FIFA.  This way I get to play the previous releases as much as I like.  It’s just a shame it isn’t available on PS4 where my Madden playing friends are.  It doesn’t hurt that I managed to snag 12 months of EA Access for £10 either.
  6. Backwards Compatibility
    After trading my Xbox 360 for a graphics card sometime back, I had come to terms with losing my digital library of games. Admittedly it is still early days to see how many of my games I’ll regain the use of, but it has already started well.  Ikaruga and R-Type Dimensions were very pleasant surprises!  I now look forward to the monthly updates as more support is added.  Extending it to all future Xbox 360 games included in the ‘Games with Gold’ is also a stroke of genius.  (Still doesn’t quite match the value I personally get from PS+ though, while owning PS3, PS4 and a Vita…)
  7. Halo & Forza Series
    Although I’ve touched upon these higher in the list, both have new entries that were factors in my buying the console. Halo V and Forza 6 are both appealing to me, and it’s a testament to the fun I’m having with the machine that I haven’t got around to buying either yet!  As it happens I think the Halo itch is being scratched by both Destiny and the Master Chief Collection.  I’ll likely grab Forza 6 when I finish Horizon 2 or Driveclub.  Halo and Forza were the big exclusives to me when I had the 360, and although I didn’t feel like I was missing much by the Forza 5 release, I am pleased they seem to have found their feet on the new generation.
  8. Killer Instinct
    I’m not much of a fan of f2p payment models, and ignored this from launch when I saw how it was being distributed. However, I came across the Season 1 pack on a disc for £5 and decided to give it a go.  It is a really good fighting game, and worth hooking up the cronusmax plus and arcade stick for.  I’m still not sold on the DLC model, but did grab season 2 over Christmas when it dropped into the sale, £8 felt like a good price and now I’m happy to have all fighters released so far.  I expect I’ll hold out for a sale on Season 3 as well once it’s out.
  9. Destiny: The Taken King
    As I touched upon in my Driveclub section on the PS4 post, Destiny’s Taken King expansion was a pretty major turning point for the game. Widely considered to have addressed many of the game’s original issues, the more I heard about it the more I really wanted to get involved.  After hearing several people mark Destiny as their GOTY for 2015 (Specifically The Taken King) I decided I’d make the leap.  Fortunately the Taken King Legendary Edition contains the original game and all DLC to date, and can be had cheaply.  The biggest problem I had was choosing which platform to get it for.  In the end I sided with the Xbox One as I seem to have a few more active Destiny players amongst my Xbox friends.  I haven’t ruled out buying another copy for the PS4 though…
  10. Windows 10
    I have mentioned before, but I maintain a decent gaming PC, and am a happy early adopter of Windows 10. The Xbox One app was really straightforward to configure for in-home streaming, and I have found it incredibly useful for when my flatmate wants the TV in the lounge and I’ve agreed to play Gears of War online…  I really like how well it works with my PC setup, a wired Xbox 360 controller and PC headset and I’m good to go.  Obviously I could just plug my Xbox One controller in, but it is nice to not have to carry that back and forth.

One negative point I thought I’d share, relates to the original design of the Xbox One controller bundled with my console.  Original versions of the pad didn’t have a mini-jack for connecting standard headsets.  My PS4 controller has one, and I spent 99p on a short cable that took the twin mini-jacks from my PC headset and let me use it on there.  There are three options if you want to do this on the original Xbox One pad:

  • A clip on adapter for £17.99 UK
  • The Chatpad mini clip on keyboard, as this also adds the port for £29.99 UK
  • A replacement / second controller as new revisions of it have the port added circa £35 UK

So far so Microsoft… I went with the Chatpad, arguably I’ll want a second controller at some point anyway, but the Chatpad is pretty nice to use and it also has buttons for saving screenshots and videoclips, much less intrusive than the standard ‘double press the home button’ technique or indeed the delights of hearing cries of “Xbox record that!” from my Nephew over live…