2017 – Raw Hindsight

The year 2017 might be the shittiest year of my life. I try to stay positive. I really felt bad for people who said 2016 was the worst year of their life. It seemed like everyone on social media was complaining about it. 2016 was a great year for me. I wish the good fortune would have continued. Life just kept handing me lemons, and I could not keep up. Every month, a new “fuck you!” surfaced. Every month, my positivity dwindled.

After work one day in January 2017 my dad tells me my mom is in the emergency room. She had just finished talking to him on the phone, and he is about to leave. I tell him I will drive him to the hospital. We wait about an hour in the waiting room. Finally, the nurse tells us we can go see her. At this point, we have no idea what’s going on. My mom is in good spirits, but the doctor tells her not to talk. He explains she has a rare case of Epiglottitis, which is the inflation of the flap at the base of your tongue; it stops food from going down your trachea. The epiglottis is slowly expanding, and will most likely cut off her airway. The doctor admits her to the ICU, and the doctor needs to place a breathing tube. While the nurses prep her, the doctor explains all of this again. He also says the words that will forever haunt me: “Your mom could die.” Hearing that phrase for the first time really puts things into perspective. This is my mom, who I thought would live forever; however, that is not the case.

February rolls around, and my grandma and aunt are visiting. A few of my friends are over as well, and we are all playing a game from the Jackbox Party Pack. We are having a great time. Suddenly, a popping noise comes from the basement. The TV turns off, and the lights flicker. My uncle runs downstairs, and yells, “Fire!” My brother grabs the fire extinguisher from the under the sink. He runs me over as I attempt to do the same. We stay in a hotel for over a week as the damage is repaired.

I get a text message from my mom in March. She tells me my cousin is dead. Coincidentally, he had died in a house fire. It feels like a cruel joke played by the universe. He left behind our family, including both his parents. He also left behind a wife, and two children; one of them not even a year old. I am very sad at the loss of my cousin, but I am even more devastated for his wife and two sons. His sons won’t get to know their father.

April is not about to let up. I visit my other grandma for the last time. Before April, her mind was sharp and she was in good health for a 97 year old. However, she caught the bug that was making its rounds at my cousin’s funeral. It is too much for her. She stops eating, and is bedridden. April should have been a joyous time. My friend got married, but at his wedding reception I had to put on a happy mask. I want to celebrate with my friends, but I cannot stop thinking about my grandma. The mask cracks at a bar outside of the reception hall. I break down and lay it all out to another friend.

I expect May. My grandma passes away after spending several weeks in bed, and not eating. I attend her funeral.

At this point, I expect something to happen in June. Spending time in the hospital, being in and out of hotels, and traveling for funerals really puts a strain on me. All I want is a return to normalcy. Thankfully, June is uneventful.

July is a bit rough. Linkin Park was going to perform in a city near me in August, and I purchased tickets as soon as they were on sale. This would have been my fourth time seeing them live. I was so excited. In July, I read a Reddit post saying the lead singer, Chester Bennington, is found dead. I do not idolize celebrities, but this one hurt. I grew up listening to Chester’s voice. His voice was there for many major events in my life, including my cousin’s and grandma’s deaths. The song, One More Light, did not tell me that it was going to okay; it told me there are other people who know how I feel, and it fucking sucks! There are people who care if one more light goes out! And now Chester’s light has gone out.

August did not give me a break. Our dishwasher floods into the bathroom, and destroys quite a bit. It forces me to use a different bathroom to shower for a few weeks. All I want is everything to be normal, and showering daily in a different bathroom is not normal. It is a little thing, but really wears on my psychological health.

September, October, November, and December are spent finding my normal; to rejuvenate my mental and emotional health. I do not travel, except to see my other grandma. I take a week off from work just to take a staycation. Although I have scars, I eventually feel replenished. I can finally look back and see the good.

My mom did not die! The doctors were able to insert the breathing tube. They did not need to do a tracheotomy. She stayed in the hospital a few nights for observation, and then she went home. God bless her, her spirit was never broken. I wish I could be as calm as her.

The fire did not harm any one or any of the pets. No possessions were destroyed. My family and friends sprang into action, got the fire out, 911 called, and all of the pets escorted to safety. I owe a whole lot of gratitude to them. The only thing ruined was the circuit breaker and box. We had to stay in a hotel for a week in the middle of February, but it was mild weather during this time. Humans and pets moved back once the mess was cleaned up.

My friend got married to the love of his life! How cool is that? I wish I could have celebrated with them during their big day.

Yeah, we also saw a flood, but we got a new shower out of it. It’s better than the old one!

With my grandma, I am thankful I got to say goodbye to her. I got to love her, and know her for 28 years of my life. Knowing she is not suffering anymore is a blessing, but I wish she had not had to suffer the last few weeks of her life. Even though I got to say goodbye I wish I could talk to her more.

I have not found the silver lining to my cousin’s death. The reality is, there never will be one. No parent should have to bury their son or daughter. Every son should have a chance to know their father. Maybe, one day, I’ll get to share a story about their father to his sons.

Through all the bad things, 2017 offered other good things as well. 2017 will always remind me not to get hung up on the bad things. When bad stuff happens there are two things you can do: change the situation, or accept it. Sometimes, you can help other people change their bad situations, and you should strive to help. Sometimes, you have to accept it and move on. Part of moving on is focusing on the positive and see that they outweigh the negatives. That does not mean the negatives don’t hurt; they absolutely do.

-Royfuss

I will make it through this, Digging deep; sinking in
I’m done with everything holding, holding me down
I will make it through this, There’s a time to die and a way to live
I’m not going out like this
– Nothing More, Tunnels

2018 – The Starting Point

A healthy part of experiencing tragedy is to create and achieve goals for yourself. Making sure your life moves forward despite what happened. Last year, I told myself I need to get back into reading. I have finished three books since November, and just started a fourth. I plan on continuing to find the time to read, even though I probably will not reach the frequency I did in middle school and high school. Also last year, I made a goal to work on the backlog of shows I want to watch. Now, the only Marvel Netflix show I have left is The Punisher, and I’m a few episodes in; I should finish it within a month. At the beginning of January, I created new category in my Steam library called “Games to Play in 2018” to put a dent in my gaming back catalog. I have completed one of them, and I am almost finished with two others. Sometimes a short term goal grows out of a short term goal. I plan on buying a house before I am thirty, and if things go well, I should be purchasing one this year.

To accomplish goals, you need a starting point. A goal I have been setting for myself for years now is to write and publish more. Sure, I write some things that never see the light of day, but I never publish them; even those writings are very infrequent. Consider this post a starting point.

At first, I did not think I needed this post. I have three articles written about the year 2017, and how I experienced it. I have been writing the articles since December, but they have been in my head since January 2017. Two of the articles are very personal. They were written out of negativity. At first, I thought I needed an introductory article to give you a warning. However, this article you are reading now is only an assurance that I am moving forward. I am making progress on goals no matter how small. As long as I push on, I can hold my head up high and say tragedy may have changed me, but it did not keep me down.

If you are feeling knocked down, or stuck in a rut because of tragedy, I suggest creating goals for yourself. Making progress on those goals can feel rewarding. Maybe you will not feel it right away, but when you look back you can take pride in the progress you made. All it takes is a starting point, and then you can feel good looking forward, instead of dwelling on the past.

The next few articles might have been written in negativity, but they were also written as therapy. 2017 hangs heavy over me, but I have a good feeling about 2018. Please check in on the blog in the next few days. Thank you for taking the time to read.

-Royfuss

Put my filters on tell myself “I think I can” increasingly harder, When you’re aware of your surroundings
So, cast your vision or get cast as a victim, If I’m getting knocked out I’m going down swinging
Optimistic child nothing was impossible, All eyes on tomorrow with something to aspire to
Gratitude keeps us strong self-pity makes you fragile, But sometimes we can’t see our dreams just the obstacles
Some people say no regrets as a form of denial, Some people say no regrets when they’re out of control
Some people say it with their backs against the wall, It’s always best to say it after you’ve given it your all
– John Reuben, Oh Baby Don’t Waste Your Time

Games of 2016

Another year, another list. I played quite a few games in 2016, and I had a ton of fun. Looking at the list of games I played this year, twelve of them are worth mentioning for Games of 2016. This time I ordered the list in the order of when I played them. As with years past, each game gets its own category.

Stupidest Use Of Zombies (Zombies Scare Me)

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune – Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (PS4)

Number of hours played: 13.25
Number of achievements earned: 34/54
Number of screenshots taken: 76
Games of 2016 - Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune – Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

Uncharted. Now with selfie mode.

I played through all three of the Uncharted games when they were released, and I told myself I’d play through them again. I never did go back and play them on the Playstation 3, but Uncharted: the Nathan Drake Collection on the Playstation 4 gave me a good reason to go back and play through one of my all-time favorite series. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune’s graphics are starting to show its age, even in this remaster, but it is still a fun adventure. I should have played Drake’s Fortune on Hard difficulty, but I was worried that the aiming issues that plagued the original release were in the remaster. Thankfully, it seems it was fixed in the remaster. Drake’s Fortune was really an ambitious undertaking for Naughty Dog. The pacing is almost perfect, juggling between combat, puzzle solving and platforming. Compared to Uncharted 2 and 3, Drake’s Fortune’s story isn’t great, but the characters are loveable, and the gameplay is fun. I’ve made another promise to myself that I will come back to this series and play it again.

Coolest Coop Story Book

Rayman Legends (WiiU)

Number of hours played: NA
Number of achievements earned: NA
Number of screenshots taken: 16
Games of 2016 Rayman Legends

It appears I’m tickling his pickle.

A friend of mine recommended Rayman Legends to me. I ended up buying it when I purchased New Super Mario Bros. WiiU, and Super Mario 3D World, because I needed games for the WiiU. Rayman ended up sitting on my gaming shelf for a few months. A different friend came over to my house and suggested we play a couch coop game. I was Mario’d out, so I decided to give Rayman a try. I’m so glad I did. The story book art style is charming, the soundtrack is whimsical and one of my all-time favorites, and the platforming is rock solid. To round it all out, it is one of the best couch coop games I have ever played. My buddy used the gamepad to control Murfy, who you control with the touch screen, and I usually played the platforming parts, because I like to run around, and jump to collect stuff. When people ask me what couch coop they should get to play with their friend’s, I say, “Forget Mario; go for Rayman Legends.” Rayman Legends made me take notice of a franchise that I never cared about. I look forward to what Ubisoft will do with franchise in the future.

Most Lazers Shot

Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition (PS4)

Number of hours played: 41
Number of achievements earned: 32/44
Number of screenshots taken: 34
Games of 2016 Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition

I found some more dudes.

I’ve played a lot of Diablo III on the PC. It made my Games of 2014 list. When it was announced for the consoles, I really didn’t care. Then, Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition was released on Playstation 4. Reviews were saying how much fun it was on console, and how the couch coop was so enjoyable. I ended up tossing it on my Amazon wish list. I kinda forgot about it. Then I received it for a Christmas present last year. I decided to play through as a Wizard. I had a lot of fun, but I disliked playing through the story yet again. Thankfully, I have that out of the way, and now I can just do bounties and rifts, and never touch the story again. After Reaper of Souls came out, Diablo III became a really fun game, and it’s a really fun game on the Playstation 4 as well. It’s one of those games that I come home after a hard day at work, turn off my mind, maybe throw Malcolm in the Middle on a second TV, and play Diablo III while sitting in my recliner; its very relaxing. It just makes sense as a console game, and it’s my preferred way to play.

Most Unrelaxing Train Ride

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (PS4)

Number of hours played: 19
Number of achievements earned: 40/53
Number of screenshots taken: 76
Games of 2016 Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

I could use a sauna

I didn’t want to jump right into Uncharted 2 after Drake’s Fortune, because I thought I might get burnt out. However, the itch had been scratched after the first game, and I didn’t take too long of a break between the two games. For the sequel, I did start playing on Hard difficulty. Drake’s Fortune created the core mechanics of the series, and Among Thieves took that and blew everything off its hinges. The combat, platforming, and puzzle solving are all solid, and the pacing is spot on. Naughty Dog takes everything they learned from the first game, and polishes it up to eleven. Naughty Dog created a roller coaster ride with quiet puzzles leading up to action packed platforming, combat, and memorable set pieces. The Uncharted series is one of my all-time favorite video game series, and Among Thieves falls within my top five video games of all time. I believe every gamer should play this game.

The Sandiest Sand

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (PS4)

Number of hours played: 16
Number of achievements earned: 42/59
Number of screenshots taken: 64
Games of 2016 Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

This was not what I was thinking when I wanted a sauna.

After completing Uncharted 2, I jumped right into Drake’s Deception. Drake’s Fortune sets up the core mechanics, Among Thieves perfects the formula and pacing, and Drake’s Deception tells an emotional story. The core mechanics are all polished here, however the pacing is slightly off, but certainly not bad. Drake’s Deception is less about the roller coaster ride, and more about the story, which is great, but I do feel it is not as good as Among Thieves. Drake’s Deception is a lot more emotional, telling the story of Drake and Sully.  Completing Drake’s Deception got me pumped to play Uncharted 4, but I haven’t gotten it yet.

Best Use Of Demonic Invasions

Doom (PC)

Number of hours played: 19
Number of achievements earned: 22/51
Number of screenshots taken: 82
Games of 2016 Doom

At first, I only had about 60 screenshots, but none of them usable because of motion blur. Once I disabled motion blur, I got this pretty screenshot. Fuck you, demon!

I almost skipped Doom. I didn’t really pay attention to it before it was released. After it was released, I noticed that it was getting really good reviews. I read through Arstechnica’s review and Polygon’s review, and my interest grew; I told myself that I would wait until a price drop. Then Markiplier started playing it, and I watched two of his videos from his series on it. I saw the run and gun shooting, no reload, and noticed that the levels were all battle arenas, and I was all in. I bought it right away. Doom feels so good to play. Every kill is so satisfying, and the movement is so smooth. And the music; it adds so much to the gameplay, and its right in your face. I can’t get enough of this game. Check out NoClip’s documentary on the Doom. Danny O’Dwyer does very good work, and he did an outstanding job on this documentary.

Best Use Of Adrenaline Built Up From Playing Doom

Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box (PC)

Number of hours played: 41.75
Number of achievements earned: NA
Number of screenshots taken: 23
Games of 2016 Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box

Fuck the police… oh, wait. I am the police. Well then, fuck you in particular.

I play through Burnout Paradise every now and again, and it was about time that I do it again. As much as I loved Doom, it turned up my adrenaline, and I needed to take a break every few hours, and let out some of that adrenaline. I thought Burnout Paradise would work well, and I was right. Burnout Paradise is kind of relaxing for me; the type of relaxing where I yell obscenities whenever I fail at something. But it feels good. I’ve completed that game a few times, and I needed to do it on PC, so I did. It still holds up really well. I wish they would make another one. I also want to note that this is the first game that I played on my Steam Link, and it worked really well.

The Game That Gives No Fucks

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair (PS4)

Number of hours played: 58.25
Number of achievements earned: 7/52
Number of screenshots taken: 20
Games of 2016 Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair

Giant insects? Check. Friends in the guns? Check. Giant robot in a pimpin’ stance? Double check.

If you’ve never played an Earth Defense Force game before, there’s a few things you should know before playing The Shadow of New Despair. Almost everything about this game is awful. The graphics suck, the controls are terrible, and the story only exists in a B grade movie fashion. You play as a member of the Earth Defense Force (EDF). There are four character classes, and each one is completely different from the last, which is kinda cool. Your job is to save humanity from aliens. These aliens are giant ants, giant spiders, giant wasps, giant dragons, giant robots, and giant spaceships. You do this by blowing up every single building on each level, and then killing the bugs, because buildings get in the way of killing bugs. Along the way you unlock weapons and more health. There’s probably thousands of weapons you can unlock, and most of them are interesting, but useless. You can play with four other people, which I highly recommend doing. Almost everything about this game is bad, but the few things that are good make the game fun. It’s so satisfying to complete a level and unlock a new weapon, even if the weapon is complete shit. It’s also one of my favorite games to play with friends. If you played Earth Defense Force 2017 on Xbox 360 and liked it, you’ll like this one. I’m still playing this game with three other friends, so that play time is going to go up.

Best Pretty Chainsaw Kills

Gears of War 4 (PC)

Number of hours played: 10.5
Number of achievements earned: 26/75
Number of screenshots taken: 47
Games of 2016 Gears of War 4

I think he’s trying to tell me something, but I can’t hear him over the sound of chainsaw cutting out his insides.

Gears of War 4 was a slow build up for me. Before it was released I wasn’t too excited about it. But the more trailers I saw I got a little more exited for it. Hearing about the features, like cross platform buy between Windows 10 and Xbox One, and cross platform play between the two got me excited. The final straw was reading the reviews after it was released. Hearing about the technical mojo The Coalition packed into Gears of War 4 excited me, and I bought it. I loves me some 60 FPS, graphical benchmarks, and all that jazz. I have to say, I had a lot of fun. One thing I wished they left out of the trailers was the inclusion of Marcus Fenix. That would have been a lot more emotional of twist if they would have kept that a secret. Overall, I had a lot of fun with Gears 4. I skipped Judgement, so I had a little bit of an itch that only a Gears game can scratch. Gears of War 4 doesn’t stray from the Gears formula, but the franchise is in good hands with The Coalition. I’ve just played through the story, and look forward to playing some Horde with my friends once they get it.

Best Use Of The Line “… will remember that.”

The Wolf Among Us (PC)

Number of hours played: 8.25
Number of achievements earned: 30/35
Number of screenshots taken: 19
Games of 2016 The Wolf Among Us

We see two Fables making the Big Bad Wolf mad, as another fable does a badass pose in the background… I’m not sure why I described this screenshot to you.

The Wolf Among Us was an experience that I prepared myself for. I have Philips Hue light bulbs, and I set the colors to match the atmosphere of the game. I set the light on my keyboard to also match. I knew I had to play The Wolf Among Us in October, around Halloween. And so I prepared myself, and got ready to be immersed. I have to say, it worked. The Wolf Among Us was the first Telltale game I’ve ever played, and it was fantastic. The world of The Wolf Among Us is very interesting. You play as the Big Bad Wolf, who has to solve a grisly murder of a fellow Fable. Along the way, you interact with several down-on-their-luck Fables who are trying to make a living in the human world. It’s a dark game that keeps you hooked with each episode. It feels like your choices actually matter. I really hope they make a sequel.

Best Use Of Blood And Bacon

Blood and Bacon (PC)

Number of hours played: 2
Number of achievements earned: 11/36
Number of screenshots taken: 11
Games of 2016 Blood and Bacon

See, you want to shoot them right in the ass, that way they explode right into the meat grinder.

I watched Markiplier play Blood and Bacon and it looked like a ton of fun. It’s a coop, mindless, wave based shooter, and all you do is shoot pigs. Shooting pigs in the butt makes them explode. You then take exploded pig parts and put them in a meat grinder to get more ammo and items. Then, you rinse and repeat. It’s fun for the price, and it’s a hoot to play with friends.

Most Felonies Described In The Title

Grand Theft Auto V (PC)

Number of hours played: 60.75
Number of achievements earned: 20/69
Number of screenshots taken: 60
Games of 2016 Grand Theft Auto V

It appears I have committed several felonies.

I didn’t like Grand Theft Auto IV. It became a chore after a while, and it just wasn’t fun. Luckily, Grand Theft Auto V never got boring. I had such a blast, literally, in Los Santos. There is always something fun and interesting to do. I thought the switching between characters thing was going to be gimmicky, but it actually added to the fun of the game. I thought the story was the perfect GTA story with just the right amount of pop culture satire. They really did fix everything I didn’t like about GTA 4. The amount of detail put into Los Santos is outstanding. I completely understand how a game that came out in 2013 is still beloved and played to this day; I wouldn’t be surprised if lots of people are still playing it when GTA 6 gets released, whenever that will be.

2016 Gaming Statistics

Total number of games played: 23
Total number of hours played: 356.25+
Total number of gaming sessions: 171+
Game with most achievements earned: Uncharted 3: Drake’s 
     Deception – Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (42)
Most played game: Grand Theft Auto V (60.75)
Personal game of the year: Doom

I played a lot of remasters and sequels this year. Some people think that’s a cancer for this hobby, but I disagree. Remasters give me an excuse to go back and play great games, and sequels are usually better than the originals. Of course, I did play a few original titles. In the end, gamers need to buy fun games. It doesn’t matter who published a game, who developed it, if it’s a sequel, if it’s remaster; if it is fun and you think it’s a great game, then it’s time and money well spent. We live in an age that you should be able to know if you can enjoy a game before you buy it. Gamers have access to review sites, let’s play videos, demos, user feedback, and so many sources of information all at the tips of your fingers. I encourage every gamer to find a game critic who has similar tastes as they do, and read their reviews before buying a game. I encourage gamers to think critically about how much they would pay for a game based on the resources I just mentioned. There’s no reason to pay full price for a game if you think you will only get $30 of enjoyment from it. Sales, and Playstation Plus and Games For Gold free games are something gamers as consumers need to leverage.

Before I get off my soapbox, I think the game industry is healthy. Gamers, the consumers of video games, have most of the power. Today, many developers just want to make fun games; from the small indie developers to the big game studios, they just want to make games that are enjoyed by people. Sometimes bureaucracy and money gets in the way, but that’s the way of a consumer driven industry. If you are passionate about this industry, I implore you to look at the positives, not just the negatives. 2016 was a great year for games, and 2017 is shaping up to be even better.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I took all of the screenshots shown in this post. I also manually track my gaming statistics, and I like to share them with readers. After getting screenshots and statistics, I then write up this post, and edit it about a million times. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Have a happy 2017.

Games of 2015

The year 2015 has ended, which inspires a time of reflection. 2015 was another great year for video games. The PS4 and XBox One are in full swing, and developers brought some of their best work to the consoles in 2015. Of course, PC gaming continued on where the old generation left off, and it actually seems developers are paying more attention to PC. Looking back, I’m able to pick out eleven games (once again) that I played over the course of last year. There were a few stragglers I ended up playing, but didn’t make the list for one reason or another. This list isn’t in any particular order, and, like years previous, the categories are all unique.

Made This Cold Heart Feel

Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons (PC)

Number of hours played:        2.75
Number of achievements earned: 4/12
Number of screenshots taken:   69
Games2015Brothers

I got you, bro.

Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons was the first game I kicked off the new year with. I marathoned it over two days, and finished it. I loved every moment of the two brothers’ adventure. It was also a very emotional game for me. I tip my hat off to the developers for making such an emotionally compelling game. It also didn’t hurt that the gameplay of controlling two characters with one controller was fun and interesting.

Beep! Beep! Varoom!

Need for Speed Rivals (PS4)

Number of hours played:        59.25
Number of achievements earned: 26/26
Number of screenshots taken:   18
Games2015NeedForSpeedRivals.

The guy on the left was like, “Wee! I’m going so fast-ah fuck!”

Need For Speed Rivals is one of my favorite racing games. I absolutely loved Burnout Paradise (which is my favorite racing game), and have played through that game a few different times. So when most of the developers from the Burnout series make a Need For Speed game, I perk up a little bit. Yes, I loved Need For Speed Hot Pursuit (2010), but I think I like Need for Speed Rivals a little more. Rivals isn’t as good as Burnout Paradise, but it does scratch the itch a little bit. Rivals is a very beautiful game, and racing around at high speed is a blast; crashing your opponents is an even bigger blast (hehe, puns). I even put up with grinding for all of the trophies, and I enjoyed it! I will say, playing as the racer is a lot more fun than playing as the cops. If they do another one that’s similar, I hope they balance the cops to be more enjoyable to play as.

Nazis. Nazis everywhere.

Wolfenstein: The New Order (PC)

Number of hours played:        19.75
Number of achievements earned: 32/50
Number of screenshots taken:   67
Games2015WolfensteinNewOrder

Hello, there fellow Nazi… I’m a Nazi, too… not a freedom fighter… fuck it! I’m going to blow your brains out.

I didn’t pay much attention to Wolfenstein: The New Order before it came out. Even when it was released, I didn’t care. However, the video game community kept talking about this game, so I bought it on sale. I’m so glad I did! First, it’s a beautiful game. Second, the running and gunning feels so good, and makes me a little nostalgic for old school shooters. Third, the story is actually very well done. The story is self aware in a way that’s interesting. Yes, it’s Nazi’s taking over everything and you are the only one who can stop it, but it makes sense when you play the game.

How High Can You Get?

Far Cry 4 (PC)

Number of hours played:        56.5
Number of achievements earned: 39ish/57ish
Number of screenshots taken:   163
Games2015FarCry4

Look at this mother fucking elephant! It’s taking a god damn bath! How cool is that shit!?

Far Cry 4 just does open world right. Far Cry 3 was one of my favorite games from 2013 (that’s when I played it, but it came out in 2012). When I heard Far Cry 4 had everything I loved about 3, and it was better, I had to play it. My favorite part of Far Cry 4 is still liberating outposts, and the various ways you can accomplish that. The Himalayas provide a great environment to run around with much more vertical exploration than 3. The addition of the gyrocopter makes moving around fun, and the grenade launcher makes raining explosions down on your enemies a piece of cake. The villain is also fun, but I don’t think he’s as good as Vas from 3; however, he is more fleshed out. The best ending to the game can be done in 15 minutes.

Remaster of a Remaster 1

Halo: The Master Chief Collection – Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (XBox One)

Number of hours played:        14.5
Number of achievements earned: 29/???
Number of screenshots taken:   52
Games2015Halo1

I’m going to poke this guy’s ass with my needle… damn, I’m immature.

I finally got around the playing through Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary from Halo: The Master Chief Collection. When I first got an XBox One, it came with Halo: The Master Chief Collection and I told myself that I was going to play through the Halo games again. I only got around to playing through Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary in 2015, but I still plan on playing through the rest of the games in the Collection. First off, the remaster is looking pretty good, and the visual tweaks help with the exploration. They don’t make games like this anymore, and the open areas can be hard to navigate from the original game. The upgraded visuals help out with this. The upgraded visuals also make the repetitive corridor sections a little bit easier to swallow, but those are still tedious. The A.I. in Halo: Combat Evolved amazes, but not in the best way. I can die at a section because I get overwhelmed by enemies (and because I’m not that great; some might say I suck) several times over, but I can get frustrated and say, “Fuck it!” and then proceed to run past the enemies to the next checkpoint, and be fine. I don’t hate the game; I actually had a lot fun revisiting this classic, but the mechanics are showing its age. It’s still a fun shooter.

Still Really Fun Again

Dishonored (PC)

Number of hours played:        54.75
Number of achievements earned: 69/80
Number of screenshots taken:   142
Games2015Dishonored

If I could, I’d murder this statue.

Let’s pretend that I didn’t talk about Dishonored in 2014. I still think it’s really fun. So much fun I bought it again on PC with all of the DLC. I actually hadn’t played the last story DLC, The Brigmore Witches, and I felt it was time. However, I didn’t just want to do a quick playthrough of the DLC. No, I replayed the main game three times to get all of the achievements, Knife of Dunwall twice to get all of the achievements, and then played through The Brigmore Witches twice to get all but one achievement; I enjoyed every single second. I should get all of the trophies for The Brigmore Witches on PS3. I should do the same on XBox 360 for the entire game.

Another Replay

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PC)

Number of hours played:        4
Number of achievements earned: 20/50
Number of screenshots taken:   28
Games2015CoDMW2

Hey look… a heli-ma-copter. I wonder what it’s doing?

I figured I might as continue what I started in 2014 and play through Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 again. This year I’ll finish the trilogy, probably. I don’t have much to say about it. It’s a fun, mindless shooter, that scratches the itch that only Call of Duty can. I am surprised I remembered a lot more about this game than I would have thought. Things like the snowmobile chase scene, the suburb, and D.C. all stuck out again. The set pieces of this series are amazing.

Exercises My Creativity

Super Mario Maker (WiiU)

Number of hours played:        6.25ish
Number of achievements earned: NA
Number of screenshots taken:   16
Games2015SuperMarioMaker

This is a good example of using almost everything you can in a level. Looks fun, ‘miright?

As you might know, I loves me some Mario. I also loves me some Super Mario Maker. I don’t create a lot of levels, but I like to think the levels I do upload are of a higher stock… but then I play some of other people’s levels and my mind gets blown. Most of the time I get disappointed by the “Stand here and do nothing” and “Look! I made a shitty level!” levels, but there are lots of hidden gems out there. Nintendo just did everything right with this title, and they keep putting out updates that adds free content. Giving gamers the ability to create their own levels using the physics from Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. is a great idea.

Old School Classic

Super Mario World (WiiU)

Number of hours played:        3.5
Number of achievements earned: NA
Number of screenshots taken:   13
Games2015SuperMarioWorld

Yoshi has the look of a dinosaur who’s lived a full life and wants to end it… in that pit.

To get some inspiration for Super Mario Maker, I played through Super Mario World. It had been awhile, and I like to go back to this game. It’s still one of my favorite 2D Mario titles. It’s neck and neck with Super Mario Bros. 3, and I can’t decide which one is better. There’s something about the physics of Super Mario World that makes it a joy to play. Definitely a timeless classic in my book.

Best Ninth Major Installment in a Series, Probably

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4)

Number of hours played:        72
Number of achievements earned: 50/50
Number of screenshots taken:   99
Games2015ACSyndicate

Look! I found a screenshot I didn’t use in the previous post.

I already talked about Assassin’s Creed Syndicate in a previous post. It was one of my favorite games from this year. Right before I played Syndicate, I started to play Assassin’s Creed Unity for the first time, and that game almost made this list. However, I got a few hours into Unity, and I just didn’t care. There was so much I didn’t like about it, and just gave up, and that doesn’t happen very often, especially since Assassin’s Creed is one of my favorite series. Luckily, Syndicate came around and I played it in spite of Unity. If the next game is anything like Syndicate (let’s hope not too much alike; I do want some innovation in the series), then the future of Assassin’s Creed will be good.

I Can Get Higher!

Just Cause 3 (PC)

Number of hours played:        60.25
Number of achievements earned: 42/47
Number of screenshots taken:   92
Games2015JustCause3

The only thing this screenshot is missing is the wing suit.

Just Cause 3 slipped in just in time to make the list. I loved Just Cause 2, and Just Cause 3 is natural progression of the series. Just Cause 3 actually trims the fat from Just Cause 2. I put 200 hours into Just Cause 2, and a little over 60 hours in Just Cause 3, and I feel I accomplished a lot more in 3. At first, I thought the wing suit wasn’t much of an addition to the game. But the more I played, the more I realized how much useful the wing suit was, and how much it added to the game. There’s a part of me that wants to get all of the achievements, but I’ve tried to get five gears on all of the challenges, and some of those are frustrating to get even three, so that’s probably not going to happen. The only thing I didn’t like about this game are the glitches (the game yelling at me that I need to reconnect to their servers, and the game just crashing every few hours) and the driving physics are still atrocious.

2015 Gaming Statistics

Total number of games played:       20
Total number of hours played:       588.75
Total number of gaming sessions:    295
Game with most achievements earned: Dishonored (69)
Most played game:                   Minecraft (163 hours)
Personal game of the year:          Far Cry 4

Looking back, 2015 was an interesting year. Many of the games are open world games, but that’s not really a genre anymore; it’s more of a feature of the game. It seems the same trend is continuing in 2016. For some reason, I played a lot less indie titles last year. I guess I played Minecraft and Binding of Isaac in 2015 and didn’t feel the need to mention it. However, I have a backlog of indie games I hope to play this year. I also hope to play more couch coop games with friends this year. I’m playing one now, and having a blast. As far as playing games, I’m off to a good start this year. I’ve already completed the story of a game, and I’m in the process of playing two other games. I also hope to continue on with Modern Warfare 3 and Halo 2 this year. I wonder if I’ll have more than eleven games on next year’s list? I guess we’ll see.

I want to thank you for reading. I put a lot of hard work into this post. I might be a little late, but I hope you have a happy 2016.

– Royfuss

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate – Why We Should Stay Friends

A month ago, Gamespot’s The Point posted a video titled “Breaking Up With Assassin’s Creed.” I usually agree with Danny, but I have to disagree with him after playing Syndicate, for the most part; I think Assassin’s Creed and I can be friends after breaking up with it.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate - Best Friends

Evie is going to become best friends with this enemy… best friends in a “stabby stabby” sort of way.

Assassin’s Creed 2 and Brotherhood are my favorite games in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, for many of the reasons Danny points out in his video. I love how the missions create a story arc around Ezio in Assassin’s Creed 2, and I love the combat, free running, and world of Brotherhood. Revelations is still a great game, but it stumbled in the game play department, mainly the free running. Assassin’s Creed 3 dropped the ball completely, which is why it’s considered one of the worst games in the series. I felt the same way Danny does about Assassin’s Creed after Assassin’s Creed 3; I wanted to break up with the series. So, we took a break. I skipped Black Flag, and Rogue. I got Unity for free with a computer component, and played it for about seven hours before before putting down the controller; it truly is an awful Assassin’s Creed game.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate - Kitty

Like Jacob and this cat, I was tired of Unity’s shit

Then, Syndicate was revealed. I wasn’t too sure about it, but the Evie Frye Trailer sparked my interest in the series again. Cane sword: check. Kickass combat: check. Badass female lead: check. Sure, the trailer looks prerendered, but it could end up like that, right? The reviews came in. Polygon noted, “It pushes back against the collected cruft of eight years of releases and spinoffs, an imposing accumulation of mechanics and lore and expectations.” ArsTechnica summarized it’s review by saying, “And Syndicate is just plain fun. After a couple dozen hours in Jacob’s or Evie’s shoes, it’s easy to forget about the past missteps, the annoying chase sequences, or that time one of the twins got stuck in a corner and the mission had to be restarted.” There was hope for a series I used to love. I reacquainted myself with the series, and bought Syndicate.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate - Viewpoints

Hello, Viewpoints. It’s been awhile.

Hearing Syndicate dropped multiplayer, and stripped other unnecessary elements sounded great, and after playing it, I think it’s a great choice. I feel the developers weren’t focusing on tacked on elements, and they were able to focus on the details of London. London just feels alive. The non-playable characters (NPCs) on the street wonder around, and will stop to admire a musician, or talk to another NPC. Nothing feels scripted, because you rarely see the same action more than once; each NPC feels like an individual. My only complaint about the NPCs is I wish the enemies felt that way as neutral NPCs. Unfortunately, you fight the same looking enemy over and over again, and, out of combat, the enemies stand out from the crowd because they aren’t doing anything.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate - NPCs

Here we have a father showing his son the proper way to hide a drug drop.

London is beautiful. The details on the buildings are amazing. In Syndicate the landmarks usually don’t stand out, and that’s a compliment, because the buildings around the landmarks feel unique (even if they are not). There were many times I’d be walking by or on top of building and think that it must be a landmark, but when I look at my map, I’m wrong. Part of the charm of London is it’s weather. The dynamic weather and day cycle makes London feel like a living and breathing place, instead of a setting like the cities of past Assassin’s Creeds. The gas lamps lighting up at night, and puddles of water after rain creates an atmosphere that makes you believe you are an actual part of the city, instead of just playing in it.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate - Rainy London

I wish I could balance on a sphere the size of my heel while it’s raining.

The music in Syndicate is the one of the best soundtracks in any video game. The playing of a lone violin while sitting on a viewpoint is amazing. Making a leap of faith almost feels whimsical with the sound of string instruments in the background. On the Thames, you can hear sea shanties (some of them from Black Flag). On the street, you’ll hear an organ grinder playing for a group of NPCs. The NPCs, the weather, the day/night cycle, and the music comes together to create an atmosphere that is like no other Assassin’s Creed game. I loved every second in London.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate - Music

I’ll beat you with my cane sword if you play off key, I swear on me mum.

After the game opens up London, it still becomes a big “to-do” list, but I didn’t mind, because the developers nailed the atmosphere. Actually, I welcomed the excuses to go out of my way to collect a chest, or participate in a carriage race. London is a huge city in Syndicate (and, obviously, in real life).

Assassin's Creed Syndicate - London

When it’s not raining or foggy, London is smokey.

To me, Assassin’s Creed has been getting worse with it’s free running; the last game to get it right was Brotherhood. They’ve been focusing on creating realistic cities, with realistic roofs that are difficult to run across. Syndicate doesn’t fix this issue, but they do offer a different solution: the grappling hook. I will say, the controls for running up and down buildings are better in Syndicate, but the grappling hook is going to be your main method of moving up and down, as well as across buildings. As Danny says in The Point video, the grappling hook reduces climbing to a single button press. I do miss the days of early Assassin’s Creed where climbing was a challenge, and was a selling point of the game. However, there’s a lot of buildings in London, and I think Ubisoft made the right choice. The grappling hook is fun, and it feels good to use.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate - Grappling Hook

Weeeeeeee!

The combat of Syndicate is refined from other Assassin’s Creed games. The combat is simple, but it is fun. However, there is very little challenge, because it is simpler. You can purchase and upgrade weapons, but gone are the choices on how you use them. You can’t pick up weapons of fallen foes. Basically, you counter, avoid being shot, hit, break blocks, and throw/shoot secondary weapons. The only reason I loved the combat is Syndicate, because of the variety of animations. In my entire play through, I rarely saw the same combat animation more than a handful of times.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate - Combat

I’m not trying to brag with this screenshot; it’s just the only one that turned out, and it happens to be the one that was automatically taken when I got a trophy. So, I’m kinda bragging. Look at me, I got a bronze trophy!

The story in Syndicate kept me interested. Having twins, Evie and Jacob Frye, with different motivations and personalities helps create an interesting story. The banter between the twins is very well written and acted. They come close to my favorite assassins, right behind Ezio. Syndicate also proves Ubisoft can create interesting assassins without having the player go through their childhood to understand their motivations for joining the brotherhood. There’s a part of me that wants more Evie and Jacob Assassin’s Creed games, but I also feel their story was told.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate - The Frye Twins

Yes, Jacob. Let’s go murder gang members of London… and some Templars.

I think Assassin’s Creed and I will stay friends. I feel Danny got burnt out on the series because he kept playing every game each year; I felt the same way after Assassin’s Creed 3. I’ll keep an eye on what Assassin’s Creed does in the future, but I may not buy next year’s installment, especially if it gets horrible reviews. There’s a part of me that wishes Ubisoft would skip a year, and give me time to miss the series; we know that won’t happen anytime soon. So until then, I don’t feel the need to play each new Assassin’s Creed game each year.

– Royfuss

Bonus screenshots:

Assassin's Creed Syndicate - FountainAssassin's Creed Syndicate - TrainAssassin's Creed Syndicate - London Sunset