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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Video Game Review – Gears of War 4

Nath sometimes reviews games for us. This is one of those times. He’s been playing Gears of War 4 on Xbox One.

We currently live in a world where all films in the cinema are currently superhero movies (not complaining about that), sequels that people thought were overdue but really should’ve stayed locked away and remakes of films that probably didn’t need remaking. It seems like the video game industry is going that way too. We’ve had Doom (or Doom 4), Uncharted 4 and soon the Final Fantasy 7 remake. The next game to come into this endless sequel cycle is Gears of War 4.

Before I get into the review, I would like to say that I am a massive Gears of War fan. I truly believe it is one of the greatest game series ever created, maybe even the greatest. The gameplay is fantastic, the voice acting is top notch and the storyline is engaging. I have also played Horde a lot as well, even managing to complete the 50 waves with a great team of four (Editors note from Adam – I was one of those four!). When Gears 4 was announced I was excited but I didn’t feel like the game needed a sequel as it could potentially ruin one of my favourite series. However, with it being an Xbox One exclusive and a Gears game, I went into it with an open mind.

Please be aware this review has spoilers.

The game begins with First Minister Jinn commemorating the 25th anniversary of the victory against the Locust. During that time, an elderly Hoffman recounts the battles he faced during that time, including the end of the Pendulum Wars, E-Day and a battle at Anvil Gate at the end of Gears 3. You play a squad member in each memory as a tutorial which is a great start to the game. There are new weapons to play with and new gameplay to enjoy too, which I will explain later.

Once this is done, you meet J.D., Del, Kait and Oscar. J.D. and Del were once part of the COG but had deserted, a crime punishable by imprisonment. They now lead a raid party to help Kait’s mother, a leader of an outsider village. Their aim is to steal a Fabricator, basically a box of tricks to give power to the village. During the raid, they come across a new enemy called DB, also known as killer robots and these come in all shapes and sizes.

After stealing your box of tricks, you head back to the village which gets attacked again by the robots and you use the fabricator to build defenses in order to hold the base. After a successful defense, people start disappearing from the village, including Oscar and Kait’s mother.

You decide to meet up with your father (Spoiler Alert) Marcus Fenix. Marcus, now an old man, is bitter that his son joined the COG and even more annoyed that he has deserted it and put himself in grave danger. Nonetheless, he agrees to help the group as he fears the “Swarm” may be another version of the Locust. He takes them to a mine where the locust bodies were dumped to see if they can get a clue, but all they have done is opened a big can of worms. A mighty big can of worms.

It is truly a fantastic campaign. The gameplay isn’t too different from the Gears of old, however there are some added extras. You can now vault over obstacles and if there is an enemy behind it, you have the opportunity to stun the enemy in order to execute them. My favourite feature is the pull-over. If you are one side of the wall and there is an enemy on the other side, you can pull him over the wall and stab them. This however, can only be done on Drones.

The new enemies mainly consist of DB’s and the Swarm. DB’s are basically killer robots. They range from small ball-like exploding robots to unmanned armed helicopters. They are supposed to be Peacekeepers, but it seems someone has upgraded them to kill instead.

The Swarm are the new locust-type enemies. Drones are similar to grubs, however there are some interesting new enemies. Particular favourites are Pouncers, basically large dog like creature that has the ability to throw quills from its tail. It has the ability to pounce on you and maul you to death unless you can shake it off or someone shoots it off.

There is also another enemy called the Snatcher, clue is in the name here. It is a large enemy with a tail with the ability to take you down with one shot, a sort of sniper tail. Doesn’t sound too bad, however if your team doesn’t revive you, he will snatch you and the team have to shoot you out of it’s stomach or he will literally run off with you.

The weapons are mostly the same, but there are some interesting new ones too. Overkill is basically a shotgun that fires 2 shots for 1 bullet, making it very powerful. My favourite is the Buzzkill, basically a large cannon that fires circular saws at the enemy. If you miss, they bounce off walls and take out what you may have missed.

There is only one thing that lets the game down, which is the friendly AI. I play the game a bit gung-ho, I will likely charge and shoot at the enemy. There isn’t an issue when fighting normal enemies, however when fighting the Snatcher, I did get hit by that tail. Normally the team will try and revive you but when the Snatcher sees a downed enemy it runs towards it like me towards a bucket of chicken and eats you whole. Now if there are no enemies about, the team will shoot you out, but if there are other enemies, your team ignores you and lets you to be carried off to your impending doom. It is very annoying, it happened so many times during one particular moment.

Horde 3.0 is the newest version of Horde available in this game. Again, it is not too dissimilar to old Horde, but instead of set areas where you can place things like in Gears 3, you have a Fabricator that allows you to place barriers and turrets wherever you want. It means you can choose where you want to setup camp, although I am yet to find the best place to hide in each level. To spend money, you have to collect it from the kills you make and place that into the Fabricator in order to spend it.

There also classes for Horde in order to diversify the team. They are split between Soldier, Heavy, Sniper, Scout and Engineer. They come with different load-outs and bonuses for your game ahead. So far I have only made it to wave 20, so Horde does seem a lot more difficult now, mind you I am playing with people online instead of my friends who are good players (Editors note – except Alex and Tian).

In conclusion, the new Gears franchise has a decent start and to make things better, it comes with all the previous Gears games so I can replay the first series again. I think it is much better than the Halo franchise that has resurfaced too. The Coalition have done a fantastic job taking this on and they should be commended for it. Overall it receives 9 Buzzkills to the face out of 10. Some slight improvements are still needed but it is a fantastic start.

Nath

You can pick up Gears of War 4 through our handy-dandy Amazon link here, and we get a little taste from your purchase!

I Want to Be the Very Best – Pokémon Go Launch

 

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

Unless you have been living under a Geodude for the last few weeks, you may have heard that Pokémon Go has been released across the majority of the world. The app has taken the world by storm, it is now one of the most downloaded apps in history and is currently on 10.8% of android devices. However, does the app live up to the hype? Hopefully this review will give you some clarity.

The Premise

The start of the game is similar to the Pokémon games of old. This time  it is Professor Willow who offers you a choice of 3 Pokémon: Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle. The 3 Pokémon appear on your mobile phone screen and you tap the one you want to start off with. There is a hidden Easter Egg where if you walk away from these 3, you can catch a Pikachu instead. I went for a Charmander in this scenario as I have always started with one. To catch him, your phone camera turns on and you can view the Pokémon via your screen.

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Once you have caught your first Pokémon, you will then have to visit Pokéstops in order to obtain items and experience. This means the app is forcing you to go outside in order to explore certain points of interests around your home town. I managed to visit one and swipe to obtain a few extra Pokéballs, then a Rattata turned up nearby. So like an eager Pokémon trainer, I went to catch my first Pokémon. To do this you simply point your camera at the Pokémon and swipe the screen to throw the Pokéball at the Pokémon. Doing so, earns you EXP, stardust (used to level up Pokémon) and candy (this allows you to level up or evolve your Pokémon)

Levelling up Pokémon is done by either giving it a mixture of stardust and that Pokémon’s candy in order to increase it’s combat power, or giving it a load more candy to evolve it. Increasing combat power doesn’t give you experience, but evolving them does, so the key would be to evolve the weaker Pokémon and level up the stronger ones to make them stronger.

Once you have a strong enough team, you can then head out and start taking down gyms. Before you do this, you have to choose a team to be on: Team Instinct, Team Mystic or Team Valor. There isn’t a benefit to choosing a certain team over another, so I chose Team Valor. Once you are at a gym, you can then battle your Pokémon. This is done by tapping the phone to use your Pokémon’s normal move to build up power for it’s special move. You can also swipe to dodge the rival Pokémon’s attack. If you win and take the gym down, you place your own Pokémon there to defend it.

Additional Features

There also many features of the game which I thoroughly enjoy, mainly the egg hatching, as the only way to hatch eggs is by walking the distance that is needed to hatch them. There are 3 egg distances, 2km, 5km and 10km. The 2km ones are for fairly common Pokémon whereas the 10km are for the more rare kind. I have managed to hatch 2 5km eggs and 1 2km egg. The 5km eggs produced a Staryu and a Paras and the 2km egg produced a Magikarp. I don’t have a 10km at present, but it will be egg number 1 when I do get one. It also seems that location doesn’t restrict you to what type of Pokémon you can catch. I once caught a Goldeen in the middle of a field, with no rivers, lakes, sea or puddles around me.

I suppose the best feature is how well the online community have responded in regards to the app. There are numerous pictures online of funny encounters with Pokémon, my personal favourite being one with a Magikarp in a frying pan. Twitter has gone mad with PokémonGo fans as well, lots of people sharing what they’ve caught, the hilarious names they’ve been given and the problems people have faced.

Media view

It has also been noticed by the media too, there have been many horror stories related to PokémonGo. You may have seen the news story about the girl who stumbled across a dead body whilst searching for Pokémon. I really hope that doesn’t matter to me. My favourite story is the Pokémon Challenge issued by Twitter users. This is a series of challenges that trainers must to do to cross it off a checklist. There is no prize, only pride but the first challenge was to place a Pokélure (a lure for Pokémon to come to) at a hospital. I did wonder why until I realised what they were trying to accomplish. Unfortunately there are children who are ill and cannot leave hospital for days, maybe even weeks or months at a time. So the whole point of the lure was to bring Pokémon to the hospitals so they can continue playing. I was genuinely touched by this story and it was fantastic to see how well the online community has taken to this game.

I did see a story recently where one user walked into an open road and got hit by a car. The girl blamed the app for this, however it clearly states that when the app is loading to be aware of your surroundings.

Problems

There are of course some issues with game. The servers have gone down a fair bit since release which has angered the community. The excuse mainly being that the developers didn’t think it would be so popular. I’m sorry but this is a terrible excuse, people like me in their late 20’s have wanted to catch Pokémon in the real world since the games first came out on the original Gameboy. The servers are back up and running which is great, but you do wonder what is going to happen when other countries get hold of the app.

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Another issue is the battery life. Most smartphones use up a lot of battery anyway but this app is the ultimate battery drainer. You can turn on battery saver mode in the game and put your phone in stamina mode (Android users only) but it still drains. You will need to invest in a power bar if you plan on going on an adventure for a large amount of time.

There are also some questionable Pokéstops and Gym locations. One stop nearby to me is the Royal Mail Sorting Office. I mean seriously, it is not a point of interest but if it does get me a few potions then I can let it slide. There are some Pokéstops in rough areas of the USA and teenagers are already getting their smartphones stolen by wandering into those area. There is also a Gym right outside someones house and he is getting very aggravated that people seem to be loitering outside.

The biggest problem is crime caused by the game. There have been a lot of reports of trespassing on other peoples properties in order to catch rare Pokémon, as well as a lot of people using the app whilst driving to essentially drive-by stops, gyms and catch Pokémon. It is only a matter of time before we see a news article saying that someone has crashed their car trying to catch a Dratini or something and this needs to be taken into serious consideration.

Conclusion

That being said, I have now been playing the game for almost a week and I have to say it is fantastic to be a Pokémon addict again. I have assembled a strong team and have started to dominate gyms around where I live, much to the annoyance of certain kids who have shouted at me to leave the gyms alone. I have also caught one of the rarest Pokémon in the game (Aerodactyl) and have evolved many other Pokémon in order to complete my Pokédex. The app, even though as a bit clunky to begin with, will forever go down as one of the most popular apps ever created, bringing together a fantastic online community. I have to say a massive congratulations to Niantic for creating such a fantastic app and for attempting to resolve server issues as quickly as possible. I will give the app 9 towns full of Rattatas out of 10. There are a few things that need sorting out still and features that need fixing. Server crashes happen quite a lot at the moment and this does need resolving as it’s not just me that is getting irate about it. That being said, this is something that can be resolved hopefully in the long run. Also this is the first 151 Pokémon available, there are still many more to be added into the game. I am loving this game and I’m sure that I will be continue to play for this many years to come.

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Video Game Review – Far Cry Primal

Nath sometimes reviews games for us. This is one of those times. He’s been playing Far Cry Primal on the Xbox One.

So the franchise that really doesn’t know what it is releases a new game that isn’t connected to any of the previous games whatsoever. The first game had an ex special forces agent trying to rescue a journalist, the second is tracking down a mercenary in Africa who has turned two fighting factions against each other, the third is where a tourist is abducted by pirates but escapes and tries to rescue his friends and the fourth is where you try and overthrow a self appointed king in the Himalayas. These are just the main games, there are many spin-offs as well, with Far Cry Primal being the latest of these from Ubisoft Montreal. Is it still just another mediocre game in a mediocre series, or is it something completely unique in it’s own world? Please note this review may contain spoilers.

 

 

You play a hunter called Takkar, who is part of a tribe of humans called Wenja, a tribe that is dying out in the world due to the oppression of the cannibalistic Udam tribe and the pyromaniacs of the Izila tribe. Your main goal is to rescue your tribe, set up a camp/village and allow your tribe to prosper. Very simple premise to begin with and a fairly valiant quest seeing as you are tribe looking to survive instead of eating each other or setting fire to everything.

You arrive in the valley of Oros, a new land where many animals lives and exotic plants grow, after being chased down by a sabre-tooth tiger. You meet a gatherer who attempts to help you set up a safe place for the Wenja tribe, but along the way you meet a lot of interesting and colourful characters, including one guy who pisses on you and thereafter refers to you as “Piss face”. Each character can allow you to learn new skills, craft new weapons or look for certain resources, plants or animals.

The world is a mixture of rivers, grassy plains, forests, caves and snowy areas. It is a sandbox-style game, where you can explore the world Oros and it’s many beasts, as well as performing small side-quests along your journey. It isn’t as big as Fallout 4, but you still have a lot to explore.

The gameplay is brilliant. The variety of weapons is fairly small, mainly limited to clubs, bows and spears, but also including throwing shards, bait bags and sting bags (basically mini bee hives). My particular favourite is the spear, mainly because you can just poke things constantly or if you have a keen eye, can throw from a long distance and cause some serious damage. One of my favourite skills is the beast master ability, where you can tame some of the wild animals of Oros. Of course, you don’t really want to tame a deer, they aren’t going to do much, but having a sabre-tooth tiger as your wingman has some excellent advantages. Apparently the badger is supposedly a handy sidekick too, I’ll let you know if I find one. (Editor’s note – Nath did find one. Apparently it took out a Mammoth)

The storyline is pretty decent, nothing too complicated, just making sure your tribe survives. There are a lot of side-quests and it is easy to get distracted from the main plot. However, like Fallout 4, the side-quests can ultimately make you overpowered for the main quest, but who cares if you have a bear as your backup instead of a jaguar?

There some drawbacks however. The game does rely on you creating weapons and ammo using the crafting method which means you do have to do a fair amount of foraging. It’s not too bad I guess, but if you want that particular bow, you sometimes have to skip to the other side of the map to obtain the resources instead of the area you wanted to be in. However, you can skip this by sleeping which allows your daily resources to become available from all the hunters and gatherers in your village.

The weapon wheel can be a bit complicated too. There’s quite a few things you have to do to select the weapons you want. For example if I want my short bow, it’s LB, followed by the left stick to highlight the bow, then left/right to select the bow I want. What makes it worse is that the gameplay doesn’t pause. You can see the pack of wolves surrounding you whilst you’re trying to get your best club out.

In the end the game is breath of fresh air in a video game landscape populated by guns and ammo. It is nice to see something different for a change that isn’t a Call of Duty: Something, or Assassin’s Creed: Something, or FIFA 20 or whatever number it is on now. I’d give Far Cry Primal 8 spears to the face out of 10. It will almost certainly will be in my top 5 games of the year I think, but probably won’t make number one (unless Doom turns out to be a complete disappointment)

Nath

Retro Review – Spawn: Origins Book 1

Nath reads the first Spawn: Origins collection and makes his case for Spawn being an underrated superhero

Remember Soul Calibur 2? Probably a game played by many of us for many years, highly competitive, especially with friends. If you had the Gamecube version, you got to play as Link and if you had the Playstation 2 version, you got to play as Heihachi Mishima. Can anyone remember what character was Xbox version specific? Spawn. This was the first time I had ever heard of this comic book character, but I was intrigued to find out more.

Please note that this article contains spoilers.

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The first Spawn: Origins book collects the original story of Spawn and how he came to be. Al Simmons, a black ops soldier, is killed by the CIA and sent to hell as he killed many innocent individuals whilst he was working for them.

He makes a deal with Malebolgia, lord of the eighth level of hell to see his wife Wanda again. However, Malebolgia sends Al Simmons back to earth as Spawn, a demonic creature with little memory of his former life. He was also sent back to earth 5 years later, Wanda has remarried Al’s best friend Terry and they have a child together, Cyan, something that Al was unable to give Wanda.

What a back story. A man killed by his old team and makes a deal with the devil thinking everything would be fine. Whilst he is trying to remember his past, he becomes an anti-hero of the city, protecting the bums and tramps he lives with, as well as hurting and killing street thugs and murderers, with an arsenal of powers at his disposal, albeit when he uses his powers, he gets closer and closer to death.

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It’s safe to say that Spawn is an absolutely brilliant comic book creation. Created by Todd MacFarlane (no relation to Seth MacFarlane) in the early 90’s, and released by Image Comics (co-founded by MacFarlane) it became one of their flagship comics during that time, the first issue selling 1.7 millions copies. It was so popular that a feature film was created in 1997 starring Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite and The Dark Knight as Gambol) and even though is didn’t get that great reviews, I still enjoyed it.

There have even been some crossovers with other titles such as Batman and Deadpool, however there is a question that has been on my mind for a while. Is Spawn a truly underrated superhero? A hero with a very troubled back story and powers that are far greater than many modern day heroes. Surely Spawn deserves some time in the sun once again.

We’ve had Guardians of the Galaxy, we’ve got Doctor Strange and Black Panther coming out soon, surely we can have another Spawn movie. Remember those awful Joel Schumacher Batman movies? (apart from Jim Carrey as the Riddler and to some degree Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face). The Batman franchise was completely revamped by Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight being the best one of the lot.

In my opinion, Spawn is a very underrated superhero. I have re-read Origins Volume 1 as I finally got my hands on Origins Volume 2 (after many years of searching) and I will continue buying these volumes until the end. I truly believe this anti-hero of bums of tramps deserves another shot. Seeing as this is the age of comic book to screen transitions, I’m hoping we see something very soon.

Spawn4As for Spawn: Origins Volume 1, which includes the back story above, as well as the introduction of certain villains, my personal favourite is the Violator. The volume includes issues 1-12 and they are all fantastic reads, from the origin, Billy Kincaid and Overt-Kill. The artwork is incredible too, some small pieces scattered across the pages, but some incredible double feature pages that requires you to actually look over it like a masterpiece instead of casually glancing over the page.

I am genuinely excited to start reading Volume 2. Hopefully I will find out more to Spawn’s back story as he tried to uncover the remnants of his troubled past. I’d give Volume 1 10 Heart Ripping Demons out of 10. A truly fantastic read and a great set up for this incredible superhero.

5 Games to Look Forward to in 2016

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

2015 was a brilliant year for gaming. Fallout 4, Arkham Knight, MGSV:The Phantom Pain to name a few. But what have we got in store for us in 2016? This article will show the games I am personally looking forward to this year. Some may be from my list last year as release dates may have been pushed back or we will have been lied to.

I won’t lie this is a tough article to write as there are a lot of games coming next year that have piqued my interest. However I believe these top 5 are the ones I believe will hopefully make 2016 another fantastic year for gaming.

5. Quantum Break

From developers Remedy Entertainment (Max Payne), this game starts off my top 5 for 2016. Xbox One exclusive, where the main character is able to stop and manipulate time in order to try and correct a failed time travel experiment. It features Dominic Monaghan (Merry from LOTR) as the main character Jack Joyce which is a promising start, but the unique feature about this game is that it comes with a TV show as well. The live-action show plays at the end of each segment and it will be personalised depending on the choices you have made throughout that segment.

This game has a high risk, high reward factor within it. It could be seen as the next step in gaming or seen as gimmick that never takes off, but regardless of that, the gameplay trailers for it look absolutely spectacular.

The release date is 05/04/16 in the UK. It will be safe to say that I will be reviewing this game at some point in the new year, just hope it doesn’t disappoint.

 

4. For Honor

Firstly it’s spelt Honour but I will skip over it for the time being. Developed by Ubisoft (Assassin’s Creed) it is a 3rd person melee game that pits Vikings, Knights and Samurais against each other. It looks like a Dynasty Warrior type game but with MMO thrown in.

Ubisoft have said that each faction will have it’s own unique special abilities. They have also said it will use the analogue sticks to control movements and actions in battle. Could be complicated to handle, but we all enjoy a challenge. I do have one question though: do I choose Viking or Samurai? No one wants to be a Knight, they suck.

There is no official release date yet, but apparently it is sometime in 2016. It will be available on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC.

 

3. Battleborn

The only way I can describe this game is complete and utter madness. Developed by Gearbox Software (Borderlands) it is an online 1st person shooter where you choose between 25 characters and then go all out crazy to destroy each other. Each character has their own abilities, for example, 1 character has a mini-gun but is slow to move, another character has a sword, but is quick and nimble.

The gameplay trailers look amazing, definitely a game I will be purchasing next year, just got to hope that everything isn’t one-sided with certain characters.

It is expected to come out on 03/05/16, however it has already been pushed back once. It is available on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC, however PS4 users will hopefully have a Beta to play early next year.

 

2. Final Fantasy 15

This was on my list last year, however it wasn’t released. To be honest I will be surprised if it is released in 2016. However nonetheless, it is still a game to look forward to.

The game will be set in an open world which means you can freely travel about in a car or on a Chocobo (yay). There are also day and night cycles in the game and 1 day equals to 1 hour of gameplay time, you can sleep in hotels and campsites however to change the time. Also the monsters you encounter depend on the time of day too.

The game will be available on Playstation 4 and Xbox One and the director has said the release date will be before 2017 but I’m not pinning my hopes on it.

 

1. Doom

Yes I know it’s another one from last year, but still it should be out this year according to Bethesda.

If you’ve seen the gameplay trailer for this game then you’ll understand why it’s number 1. I remember playing the first Doom when I was younger (great parenting by the way) and I loved it. When Doom 3 came out, I was so excited about it and loved every minute of it as they didn’t try and change anything. All it needed was a fresh coat of paint or in this case, more up-to-date graphics.

There will be a single player and mulitplayer mode, but it’s the single player I’m looking forward to the most. The trailer shows the main character, shooting, chainsawing, punching and kicking demons until they die. Apparently there many different ways to melee the demons in this game. I really hope it’s much like the Doom of old and that they haven’t changed much because it could be a huge disappoint if they do.

Release date is apparently Spring 2016 and it is available on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC.

Nath

Nathan’s Top 5s of the Year

Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to be sharing our top 5s of 2015, from everyone who writes here at The Lost Lighthouse. Here is Nathan’s Top 5 of everything he consumed this year.

So here it is my 5 top 5’s of the year. I have gone for Games, Apps, Songs, Films and TV Shows. I would’ve included comics but I haven’t read that many and I would’ve liked to have included albums too, but the app category will clarify why I haven’t. There will be a few honourable mentions too. I will note that some of the choices may not have been from this year, however they are films, songs or TV shows I have been introduced to this year. I have also split the games between apps and consoles as well.

 

App’s

5. Candy Crush – Soda Saga
I know a lot of you find this annoying because everyone plays it, but it is brilliantly addictive and keeps the mind going. Also has the added advantage of being offline which makes things useful when you’re in the middle of nowhere and want to play some games.

4. 9gag
If you haven’t been introduced to 9gag yet, I suggest you get on the website and you’ll never leave. The app version is a quick and handy way to see all the hilarious posts of the day. You will be forever entertained with 9gag.

3. Spotify
I have always shunned away from Spotify as I wasn’t a fan of paying monthly for music, however I got it for free with my phone contract and I have to say it is possibly the most used app on my phone. Mainly because I am driving everywhere but the new Discover feature is brilliant. Every week I get 30 tracks I may or may not have heard before. It actually turns out that all my top 5 songs are from Spotify Discover. I haven’t tried the Running feature yet though, because that involves running.

2. Monument Valley
The only paid app in this list, but my god is it worth it. This game (also available offline) is a puzzle based adventure game, where you have to traverse levels and move the environment around you in order to open up new paths and doors. It is absolutely brilliant and worth the price.

1.Fallout Shelter

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I think everyone played this game. I couldn’t put this game down for ages. My girlfriend had to pretty much give me her iPad so I could play it. What a way to keep you interested in Fallout 4 by giving you this little gem. Many of my friends have shown me their shelters and some of them are extremely impressive. Definitely my app of the year.

 

Songs
Honourable mention to August Turns Red – Wrecking Ball, love a hilarious metal cover of a pop song.

5. The Hunter – Slaves
Not my normal genre of music but there’s something very likeable about this song. It is Royal Blood meets Sex Pistols, with a bit of 90’s britpop thrown in. Truly brilliant if you’re angry and want something to sing a long to to get the anger out.

4. Rasputin – Turisas
I will say that I am a massive fan of a metal cover of a pop song. This is one of the many songs that appeared on my Spotify list this year. Turisas are a Finnish folk metal band (I never knew such a thing existed) and the cover of Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’ is brilliant. They’ve even thrown in an extra verse to be safe. Fantastic cover that everyone should listen to.

3. Drink – Alestorm
If you like Pirates and if you like drinking, this is the track for you. The song reminds me of a famous night out I had and every time it comes on I am reminded of that night. Guaranteed you will singing this loud and clearly when you have a few beers and rums down you and surrounded by good friends.

2. Sail – Devildriver
Another metal cover yes, but I feel that this song is the song that the original should’ve been. Sail originally by Awolnation is brilliant in itself, mixes a chilled out dance vibe with screaming lyrics. Devildriver took it and added guitars and heavier lyrics. You can’t hate the track, it is fantastic.

1.Cirice – Ghost


Now if you have heard of Ghost, you may be thinking good lord how can you listen to this. Ghost are a controversial band, with many songs about the devil and including satanic lyrics, however it seems like this is all an act (hopefully). Cirice is the song that first introduced me to Ghost and I have to say Meliora (the album) has managed to make its way into my desert island discs. I absolutely love this song and the album. Everyone should give it a listen, if you’re into that sort of thing.

 

TV Shows
Honourable mention to Kill La Kill, very good series and I’m sure it would’ve made the top 5 if I’d finished it.

5. Peep Show
I know the show just finished but I love Peep Show, nothing makes laugh out loud so hard than Peep Show. Odd-couple meets Britain. Mark and Jeremy would not be friends in real life yet they have struck this hilarious friendship together and their thoughts throughout the series are absolutely brilliant. The series ended quite weakly but it still didn’t stop it making my top 5.

4. Attack on Titan
The only anime in this list, but what a fantastic anime. Storyline is epic and it tugs your heart strings throughout and what an ending, literally cannot wait until the next series comes out. I did feel that the story jumped around a little too much but still, what a watch.

3. Sherlock
What? This is show is old. Yes I know it is but I’ve just started watching it this year and I really wish I hadn’t waited. What a brilliant series. Still trying to figure out my favourite episode from the whole saga. The Hounds of the Baskervilles? Maybe the one with Moriarty and the bombs? It’s a tough choice.

2. Game of Thrones
I’ll admit that this season of Game of Thrones has been a bit slow to start off with but still it doesn’t matter as it finished so strong with an incredible ending. Cannot wait for next year’s season to start *************************** (edit – Nathan said a bunch of spoilers) *********** Plus we’ll get to see what Bran has been up to, lazy bastard made no effort last season.

1.Narcos

Narcos
A Netflix original, but wow what a series. It follows the dealings of Pablo Escobar, the infamous Colombian drug dealer and the DEA agents trying to capture him. It is all based on true events which makes it brilliant and terrifying all at the same time. I enjoyed this show so much that I didn’t want to binge watch it, I wanted to make it last. Honestly stop any TV show you are watching and put this on instead.

 

Films

5. Blackfish
A documentary? Really? Yes, this does make the top 5. I  went to SeaWorld when I was younger, as well as Discovery Cove and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. However since watching this film, I actually now feel ashamed that I went there. It is a very in-depth insight to the cruel world that the Killer Whales endure whilst performing and what can happen when things go wrong and let’s face it, they’re called Killer Whales for a reason. Also a film with such a huge message to cause a $15 million loss to such a large enterprise.

4. Big Hero 6
I adore this film. Pixar kind of meets anime in a way, but obviously the film isn’t as successful as Inside Out, but I believe it is better. It is a film about a boy and a robot that tries to help and heal people. It should be noted that the robot is shaped like a large marshmallow. A classic Pixar film, definitely worth a watch.

3. Avengers: Age of Ultron
Of course this was in my top 5 and the only Marvel film to make the list. I’m sure Ant-Man would be in here but I haven’t seen it yet. It was nice to see the Avengers really struggle to being with and then completely overcome everything against all odds. Also I thought the introduction of Vision was a nice touch. Can’t wait for phase 3 to be in full swing, looking forward to the next Captain America film especially.

2. The Lego Movie
Yes I know this film was released last year, but I only saw it in January and I have been watching it all year. Everything about this film is awesome. Love the voice acting, Will Arnett as Batman is brilliant, as well as Morgan Freeman, but I have to say that Liam Neeson’s character was absolutely hilarious. A chair as a weapon of choice is brilliant.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

Fury Road
This is it, the number 1 film of the year and I bet I’m not alone with this choice. Star Wars probably would’ve been number 1, but again haven’t seen it yet and I do plan to, but this film is absolutely brilliant. Not too dialogue heavy but filled with a huge amount of action, hilariously modded cars and a brilliant man who only plays the guitar on top of a huge lorry cab. I did think this film would be rubbish as it was a remake of sorts, however I was wrong, so very wrong.

 

Games
Honourable mention to The Witcher 3, game of the year, I imagine it is fantastic, just not my cup of tea

5. Sunset Overdrive
Probably not the best release this year, but I really enjoyed this game. It was colourful and fun throughout the entire thing. Also grinding on rails to travel is brilliant, and the weapons you had were hilarious. What a great game, but maybe not worth the full price when it first came out.

4. Evolve
One of my games on my top 5 to look forward to at the start of the year and I was 100% right. Running around trying to capture a truly terrifying beast or even better, be the beast and destroy all who try to stop you. It is tons of fun and really worth playing.

3. Dragon Age: Inquisition
I really enjoyed this game. Didn’t enjoy it at first as I was just stuck doing sidequests but then the storyline really opened up. The sidequests were fantastic too, I really did try my best to take down every dragon I could get my dirty hands on, just a shame my tactic is going in head first and hoping that I would deal enough damage to take it out quickly. I was right once, the rest I was dragonmeat.

2. Batmam: Arkham Knight
This was my number 1 game I was looking forward to this year, but only made number 2 on the list? Yes that’s right but don’t get me wrong, this is probably the best Batman game created, probably easily one of the best games ever created. The storyline is brilliant, keeps you going throughout the entire game but the sidequests were just as good. Chasing Firefly around the city, to uncovering a serial killer’s lair and taking him down. Also you have the Batmobile, or Bat Tank, enough said really.

1. Metal Gear Solid V:The Phantom Pain

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This was a shock to me, bought this on a whim because I enjoy Metal Gear Solid games. I’m still playing this game now, wanting to conquer all the sidequests, collect all the weapons and invade everyone’s base. Also there’s something gratifying taking down tanks with bazookas whilst listening to “The Final Countdown”. However it may be the last proper Metal Gear Solid ever made. Hideo Kojima is no longer working with Konami. He has said he will continue to create games elsewhere, but that may be a while yet. However, congratulations to Metal Gear Solid V:The Phantom Pain, you are my game of the year.

 

Nath