Nath’s Top 5s for 2016

Nath sometimes writes for the site. This is one of those times.

So 2016 was a pretty shit year. We had Trump winning the US election, the UK voting to leave the EU (I voted remain) and we lost a huge amount of celebrities like David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Anton Yelchin, Prince and Muhammad Ali to name a few. I will look back on this year and think to myself “what the hell happened?”. I just hope it isn’t a sign of things to come. That being said, we still managed to see a load of great releases this year, including games, films and TV shows. Here are my top 5’s of this year. You know the rules, has to be something new I’ve discovered this year and no repeats from last year.

 

Apps

I have downloaded and used a fair few apps this year, whether it is on my Xbox One or my phone. I recently transitioned from a Sony Xperia Z3 Compact to a Samsung S7 Edge (was nearly sold the Note 7) so my app experiences on this device have been a lot better than they have been previously. Here is my top 5:

5. Marvel Contest of Champions
A very enjoyable fighting game based on the Marvel universe. As you progress through levels, you get the chance to unlock other Marvel characters and level them up. I think I ended up with Deadpool as my main fighting character which was very pleasing as the film had also been released recently too. All in all a very decent game, but it was short lived.

4. Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes
Again very similar to the above, however you get to choose a party of 5 and progress through levels, very similar to a turn based RPG. You get the chance to level up your characters and make stronger parties depending on the missions you face ahead. Again very enjoyable but short-lived.

3. Bleach Brave Souls
I had a bit of a Bleach resurgence this year mainly due to this app. This was bit more action-packed then the ones above, more like Bleach meets Dynasty Warriors. You play as characters from the Bleach world and play the main Hollow/Arrancar storyline and each character specialises in a certain area. I believe my top character here was Zaraki Kenpachi and he decimated everyone. I was straight up addicted to this game for a few months.

2. ePSXe
This is a Playstation emulator for PC and smartphone. I got this as I wanted to play games offline when I had no signal for data-based games. It also allowed me to replay Final Fantasy 7, Final Fantasy 9 and Crash Bandicoot this year. Soon I will play Final Fantasy 8 and Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver too. The controls are a bit clunky but it is truly a fantastic app.

1. Pokémon Go
Is anyone surprised by this? The most downloaded app of the year makes number 1 on my list of top 5 apps. I admit I was completely hooked by the game when I started because I wanted to be the very best like no one ever was. I had a strong team of hilariously named Pokemon and basically sought to try and be the best at the game. I even managed to get a copy before the UK release. However, it feels like the game was completely destroyed by it’s own popularity which is such a shame. I got as far as I could but then as soon as the hype wore off, I stopped playing it. I imagine I may take it up again if Gen 2 gets released, but that may be a way off yet. I just think they needed to do more with the game.

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Songs

I won’t lie, this was the hardest to break down as I have been using Spotify for a year now and it would be interesting to see how much I have listened to now compared to last year. I would do albums but I mainly just listen to playlists and start listening to albums if the song piques my interest. Commiserations to many songs but mainly Bad Religion – 21st Century Boy and Hardcore Superstar – Touch the Sky. Here is my top 5:

5. Avatar – Let it Burn
Yay, Swedish Death Metal makes an appearance again for the 2nd year in a row. This is a fantastic song, a very interesting opening rift, with quite monotone gothic lyrics followed by a dark screaming chorus and a brilliant solo. I thoroughly enjoy listening to this song as I find it calming and exhilarating all at the same time.

4. Disturbed – The Sound of Silence
Yes I am a fan of my covers however this can’t really be regarded as a cover, this is a re-imagining. It is a truly haunting version of the original, one I have tried to learn how to play myself and attempt at singing but let’s face it, David Draiman has pretty unique voice and I can’t sing at all.

3. Parkway Drive – Wild Eyes
Now Parkway Drive sounds like an Indie Acoustic band that play light-hearted love songs. But they’re not, they are a metalcore band from Australia. This song opened up the world of Parkway Drive to me, I started listening to all the albums and started looking at tours as well. I picked this song because of it’s very unique opening riff and hard lyrics. “We built our dreams from the ashes of your nightmares” is a particular favourite.

2. Open Minded – Wazer Wifle
This is a song entirely about the famous Laser Rifle from the Fallout series. I was actually playing Fallout 4 when I first heard this song and I genuinely wanted it to be number 1 on this list but I just couldn’t. It is a song about a Fallout player obtaining a Wazer Wifle and the power that it wields. It is a fantastic song that I recommend every Fallout fan should listen to.

1. Ghost B.C. – Square Hammer
I know Ghost B.C. were number 1 last year but I heard this song at the end of October and it has been on repeat ever since. It is a bit more fast-paced than their other songs with a unique combination of an organ and a guitar playing in the introduction. Again satanic lyrics ensue, the song is asking if you want to swear before the devil that you’re on the same page. Again yes fairly satanic but don’t read too much into it. The song is a masterpiece from start to finish and the video that accompanies it is a wonderful work of art.

 

TV Shows

We currently live in a golden age of television. There are so many great TV shows available to watch at the moment and I do believe that there have been more great TV shows released this year than films. I am actually struggling to find the time to watch everything at the moment. I still haven’t been able to finish Luke Cage yet and it probably would make the top 5 if I had finished it. I’m also re-watching The Walking Dead with my girlfriend so she can get up to speed and we can watch the latest seasons together. Currently on the fantastic 3rd season, I know what’s going to happen but it is still great to watch. So here is my top 5 of TV shows this year, honourable mention to ” And Then There Were None”, a short drama based on Agatha Christie’s novel.

5. Sword Art Online
The only anime mention this year, this was a recommendation from Kii as I had finished my Bleach phase and needed something else to watch. This is a story of a newly released virtual reality MMORPG (VRMMORPG) where players are fully immersed in an RPG game. However, the creator of the game stopped the users from logging out and if they suffered in-game deaths or their VR gear was removed in real life, they would die. It is a brilliant show, one I would recommend to anyone, a mixture of thrills, action and love.

4. Narcos Season 2
The 2nd season only makes number 4 this year after last year’s triumph, not because it was a bad series though. It picks up where the last season ended with the Colombian police force trying to capture Pablo with the help of the US DEA. This season shows the decline of Pablo and the lengths that the police and his rivals were willing to go capture him. If you enjoyed the first season, then watch the second one, it is excellent and well worth watching.

3. Rick and Morty Seasons 1 and 2
I know this is a year old but thankfully Netflix has both seasons online at the moment. Season 3 will begin next year, hopefully in March, but I do wish I could watch it right this second. It follows the adventures of Rick and Morty, Rick who is a mad alcoholic scientist and Morty, his grandson who is shy and timid individual. The best way to describe this show is a mixture between Back to the Future, Futurama and South Park. I thoroughly enjoy Rick’s views on life as well his hilarious rants that shoot everyone down. Also the hilariousness of the crazy adventures they get themselves into are a massive highlight too. My particular favourite is “Get Schwifty” where an alien head is looking for a catchy song to enter the planet into an intergalactic music competition. If you haven’t seen this show then I’d recommend it heavily, probably one of the funniest animated cartoons I’ve seen in a long time.

2. Game of Thrones Season 6
Pretty much the season where George R. R. Martin got bored of some his characters and decided to kill a load of them off. It was a bit more fast-paced than last season, the wildfire explosion was a particular highlight, and so early on as well. We also got to see the end of Ramsey Bolton as well, probably more hated than Joffrey at this point. It is also fantastic to see Daenerys leave Mereen and head towards Westeros with the vast army and dragons in tow. Seems like we are in for a massive Season 7 with twists and turns along the way. It’s a shame though as season 7 may be the shortest season so far, but hopefully it will be crammed with more action-packed episodes.

1. Stranger Things
Wow, what a series this was. A Netflix original makes number 1 on the list for the 2nd year in a row and we are getting a 2nd season. Set in the 1980’s, the series starts with the mysterious disappearance of Will Byers and the sudden emergence of Eleven. This series had me gripped from the very start. I could’ve binged the whole series in a day, but I wanted to make the good times last. This trumps anything and everything I’ve watched this year. Truly gripping from the very start right up to the very end. I was on the edge of my seat trying to piece everything together as it transpired. I also tried looking for a Christmas Jumper with the letters below the fairy lights but couldn’t get my hands on a decent one. Season 2 is currently in production and I cannot wait to see it.

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Films

A pretty mixed year for films. Some absolutely brilliant titles and some big let downs as well. Let downs in the form of Batman Vs Superman and Suicide Squad. I think the DC Cinematic Universe needs to up their game a bit if they’re to compete with Marvel. There were some great movies released this year and some others that I watched that were released in the last few years. Interstellar and Straight Outta Compton were particular highlights. However here is my top 5 films for this year.

5. The Nice Guys
The comedic duo of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling (who would’ve thought that) team up to find a pornstar who may or may not be dead. Ryan Gosling plays a drunk private eye and Russell Crowe plays an unethical hitman. They are basically the worst team imaginable but somehow end up working together pretty well. The film is smart and funny, a good film to put on a lazy Sunday afternoon if it’s raining outside. Maybe even if it’s sunny. I don’t like going outside.

4. Star Trek – Beyond
The 3rd installment of the invigorated Star Trek franchise. This film shows the destruction of the Enterprise and the lengths the crew were willing to go through in order to escape the planet they were marooned on. I admit it did take me a while to get into this one and it was a shame that there were none of the old enemies from the series in it, but then again you can’t keep recycling the old, you have to come up with something new every now and again and I though it was executed very well. I particularly enjoyed the “Sabotage” scene, even though it was a bit ridiculous. Not the best Star Trek film, but still very enjoyable.

3. Captain America Civil War
An all-out brawl between Marvel characters. Team Iron Man vs Team Cap. Just for the record I’m on the Captain’s side in this, it has caused some problems among my friends. It was also nice to see Black Panther introduced into the cinematic universe as I believe he is a fantastic superhero. Also nice to see Ant-Man, I hadn’t seen the film before I saw this and I watched it immediately afterwards. It was great to see the Avengers torn apart using manipulation instead of another super hero. I know the team has split up but the build up to the Infinity War series of films will be fantastic.

2. Doctor Strange
I have been describing this film as Inception mixed with The Matrix thrown in a large bucket of LSD. It is a brilliant film. Very beautiful to watch with great storyline that follows and a reluctant super hero to take up the responsibility of saving the world. I did like the way he makes the bargain at the end in order to save the world. A truly great addition to the Marvel Cinematic universe and hopefully will be of great use in the Infinity War that is coming up. It seems like Dr. Strange will make an appearance in the latest Thor installment too.

1. Deadpool
Is anyone surprised by this? The highest grossing R rated film of all time, and my number 1 film for the year as it came out in February and I’m still watching it and enjoying every second of it to this day. In fact I am actually watching it now whilst I write the article. Ryan Reynolds reprises the role from the X-Men Origins: Wolverine film, a film that has taken over 10 years to start production and what a character he is. Deadly, sick and hilarious. It had me in stitches throughout with Wade Wilson’s wit, the constant breaking of the 4th wall and the hilarious insults spurned out. The countdown of the bullets at the start were particularly great as well. I am thoroughly looking forward to the sequel. Thank goodness this was put into production, the only downside is that it won’t be part of the cinematic universe.

Image result for Deadpool

 

Video Games

The most important part of my review. The top 5 games of the year. This was a particularly hard list to compile as Games with Gold has been adding games to my collection each month, I played Dead Space again even though I had fully completed it before, I just couldn’t help myself. That being said there were a few games that I didn’t get round to playing still. I missed out on Overwatch, mainly because my TV isn’t any good for playing online. Also Final Fantasy XV has come out too late to place in the list and I’ve been told I may get it for Christmas. I would’ve included the Bioshock collection but I have played them before. Here is my top 5 games of the year.

5. The Wolf Among Us – Telltale Games
I know this game is 2 years old but this was the first time I played it, thanks to Games with Gold. You play Bigby Wolf also known as the Big Bad Wolf, the town sheriff who is trying to keep all the Fables in check when suddenly a murder tips everything on it’s head. This game is all choice based, where certain actions determine your fate during and at the end of the game. There are a lot of characters from Fables too, whether they are from Grimm’s fairy tale, nursery rhymes or other short stories. The story line throughout the game is fantastic, really gripping stuff, where I had to be certain I thought I was making the right choices and luckily for me I was.

Image result for the wolf among us

4. Far Cry Primal – Ubisoft
I said at the end of the review for that game that it would make my top 5 this year and I was right. It is a breathe of fresh air in the FPS genre, set in the primal era of man when we were establishing ourselves as a race. Lots of interesting side quests and a pretty decent main storyline consisting of two tribes that will do everything in their power to take you out and be the more dominant tribe. One tribe specialises in brute strength and the other uses fire to it’s fullest advantage. Also you can capture and kill many types of animal and have them as your companions. The real treat was having a pet Honey Badger, those things are hard to kill, the one I had took down a mammoth on it’s own. My particular favourite side quests were tracking the powerful beasts, especially the Blood Wolf, as he kept running away and I had to keep tracking him. Definitely worth playing through if you haven’t before.

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3. Fallout 4 and DLC – Bethesda

I know this was released at the latter of last year but I only started playing it after Christmas and I still have it a year later. Bethesda seemed to have pulled out all the stops with this installment after Fallout 3 and I didn’t seem to get any bugs in it like everyone else had, maybe I just got lucky with the version I had. You start off being frozen during a nuclear war along with your wife/husband and your baby. Then some asshole named after a brand of corn flakes steals your baby and you wake up later and attempt to try and find him. The main storyline is pretty good along with four different endings to the game, however I felt some of the side quests were a lot better, but it was hard to pick a particular favourite. From the top of my head, The Secret of Cabot House and the Museum of Witchcraft were the most memorable.

Halfway through the year, some DLC became available for the game, Far Harbor and The Machinist. Far Harbor brings you a new massive area to discover along with three new factions: Far Harbor, The Synth Refuge and The Children of Atom, as well as a whole host of new enemies. This place is not for the faint-hearted, I waited a fair while before heading out there, my strongest character really struggled, even armed with the most super of super sledgehammers and lots of strength. Far Harbor is definitely worth downloading for Fallout 4.

The Machinist allows you to make and create robots from scratch or alter existing companions you already have. So altering Codsworth was aim number one with this add on, he is pretty handy as he is, but giving him a cannon on his arm and some tank legs just gives him an extra edge. The storyline for this DLC is pretty good and is set on the main Fallout 4 map, you are attempting to find out why robots have started killing humans on their own terms (I, Robot rip off). The story is not as good as the Far Harbor campaign, but the ability to create your own robots was what sold the DLC for me.

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2. Gears of War 4 – The Coalition
The latest in the Gears of War series, jam packed with action from the get-go. It was nice to play a prequel into all the wars that took place throughout the Gears series, and being to see Dom again (prequel, he’s definitely dead). The gameplay is still the same but the ability to pick people up from behind the covers and vaulting over cover is great addition. I couldn’t care less for the DB enemies, but the new Locust that are in it are an interesting addition. We have lost the Boomers and the Wretches but I think we can live without them, and the addition of Pouncers and Snatchers are brilliant. Old man Marcus is brilliant to have back, still as battle hardened as he was in the original series.

Horde has somehow become more difficult though, as old horde you could place items where they were, however with this one, you need the money to buy them from the Fabricator and then you can place them where you want. I’ve only made it to level 30 on horde, mainly because playing online with some people sucks, not like the good old days with our team. Have to say though, playing online as zombie Dom is a bit unsettling.

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1. Doom – id Software
Is anyone surprised this made number 1? Probably the biggest Doom fanboy ever sitting right here (I downloaded original Doom and Doom 2 during the Black Friday sales) so it comes as no surprise that this makes number 1. I played it through a couple of times, attempting to get all the secrets and unlock all the hidden maps. I even tried Nightmare mode but I didn’t last very long. I think the term was got completely schooled comes to mind. It is a fantastic remake of the original (technically Doom 3 was but this is Doom revamped I think) and I think everyone needs to play it at some stage. The upgrades to certain monsters are brilliant, Pinkys are now super difficult to take down, especially if there are more than 1. Weapon modification has also been added, with each weapon offering 2 different types of mod, but you are only allowed to have one active. For example, the rocket launcher can either fire remotely (don’t see the point in that) or have homing rockets (much more effective). My favourite still to this day is the super shotgun, used throughout the older Doom games and will continue to use it in this one.

The multiplayer isn’t too bad either, team deathmatch being the favourite for me. If you are doing well during the match, you have the ability to morph into a demon. Sadly you can’t morph into the Cyberdemon, but the Baron of Hell isn’t too bad to morph into, apparently you can now choose the Cacodemon too and fly about the levels (only available in DLC). The only downside is that there is no news on whether there will be any continuation from this game and I think it deserves a sequel. Seeings as original Doom was set on Mars and Doom 2 is titled Hell on Earth, it would make sense to have New Doom 2 or Doom 5 (confusing I know) set on earth. Here’s hoping something is announced soon.

Image result for doom 2016

I hope you enjoyed my top 5 of 2016, there is plenty to look forward to next year, new Guardians of the Galaxy, Final Fantasy XV (I will get round to playing it) as well as all the sequels to the fantastic series we’ve had this year (hoping for Rick and Morty season 3).

Nath

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