Lucien’s Best Game of 2019

As the year is wrapping up, it’s time to think about what came out this year.  It was a very ho-hum year for gaming.  Whether it be games coming out later than expected, or ones delayed until next year, it seems that 2019 is the year that is gearing up for the swan song of yet-another console generation.  Next year has so many games with confirmed release dates that are going to blow the effing minds out of people, and it’s clear that major companies all want to finish as strong as they possibly can.  With that being said, what is the game that has most stood out to me this year?

I will say that 2019 is the year of sleeper hits.  Games that came out of nowhere and really impressed me.  AA projects that were more reserved, and as such made the most of their limited resources.  The game that has stuck with me the most out of those is the one on this post, my favorite game of 2019.  So, without further ado, my favorite game of 2019 is…

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown

Just recently, I caught up on all the extra mission DLC that was in the Season Pass I got for this game, and man that was fun!  For those who were unaware, I think that fighter jets are the raddest thing ever.  It’s the reason that Top Gun is such a guilty pleasure to me.  As corny as it is, the film had jets being awesome fighter jets.  So when I saw the trailers for this game, bringing flight sim combat back to a new generation of gaming, my thought was – oh hell yes!  Give me the most beautiful fighter jet in the world – the F-22 Raptor!  Then it got released, and all my expectations were blown out of the water.

I will say that there was nothing about this game that was subtle.  The characters aren’t subtle, the action isn’t subtle, and the plot is as bombastic as it gets.  But man, getting into the cockpit of a fighter jet is oh so satisfying in this game.  Whether you choose to play this like a classic arcade fighter sim, or go very realistic with it, this game has a ton of neat mechanics for you to work with, all of which are super fun.  For my part, because I grew up on fighter games like Star Fox 64, I tend to play it in an arcade way.  But it doesn’t take my appreciation for the kind of game it is away.

Everything in this game is smooth.  Flying is smooth.  The framerate is high on my PS4 Pro, which is essential for a game where you are flying through the air and taking on enemies in fast-paced dogfights.  Every jet has its own personality, and getting to know them all is part of the fun.  While the Raptor is my girl, there are plenty of other jets I love.  Most notably, the F/A-18 Super Hornet (Navy love, Hooyah!), the F-35 Lightning II, the F-14 Tomcat (RIP, you beautiful jet), and the F-15 Eagle.  Each of them is fun to fly.  Dog-fighting is great, keeping on the tail of your enemy until you get missile lock, then waiting until they aren’t in a position where they can maneuver around your shot and taking it.  There’s an art to being great at this game on high difficulty.  It’s magical.

Sure, the story of this game is dumb.  I found that while I was playing the DLC, I got so much more into the story.  Not just because it was during a part in the main story where I loved the characters, but also because the narrative in the cutscenes corresponded with the narrative during gameplay.  It made it connect so much more, whereas in the main game, it seems so disconnected from whatever you’re doing.  Perhaps they can learn from this in whatever the next iteration of the franchise is.

If you love fighter sim combat games the way that I do, you owe it to yourself to play this game.  It flew under a lot of radar, and it is a throw-back to a style of game that is pretty much dead.  It’s so strange to me that a lot of my favorite games in recent years are unsung heroes.  Back in 2017, it was Persona 5, a AAA JRPG.  The fact that such a thing exists and was as spectacular as it was astounds me.  In 2015 it was Life is Strange, an episodic game with a style and attitude like an Indie film.  Were it not for how the last episode ended, it would be so much more loved by me.  There are games that are doing some neat things, and I like to see that Sony is helping to foster this.

Hopefully this isn’t the last time I will see this franchise take flight.  I can’t imagine what the next game will be, but I will be there to get behind the wing of my jet again.  See if Raptor and I can’t do some crazy stuff again.

Until next time, a quote,

“What happens when two singularities go up against one-another?” – Analyst North, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Best Game of 2017

This has been an interesting year for gaming.  A pretty quiet year, to be honest.  At least up to the end.  Things have gotten pretty loud and insane over all the to-do with EA, and I have no sympathy for the.  Last night we got to see everyone gush about Kojima’s latest game, but here’s my question – when are we gonna get to see gameplay?  That’s my deal.  Naturally, Nintendo had everyone fawning and gushing, but for me, It’s Sony who stole the show.  My two favorite games this year were exclusive to them, and both were amazing.  The margin for favorite game comes down to such a narrow margin that I had a hard time picking.  But here it is.  My totally important pick for best game of 2017.

Persona 5

Never in all my years did I think I would end up hearing the words AAA JRPG.  This game had delay after delay, and man did it pay off.  Never has my belief that I don’t care how long a game gets delayed, if they can make it perfect been vindicated.  This game is a marvel of its genre.  We live in an interesting time.  We have AAA stealth games, AAA arena FPS games, AAA fighting games, and AAA survival horror games.  The AAA market is learning that players have gotten bored with the same old thing every year.  We want something new.  And wouldn’t you know it, Atlus decided to make it happen.

This game is a masterpiece of the genre.  An almost-perfect masterpiece.  The center of it is the story and characters.  I love every one of these characters, except Haru.  She’s kind of dull.  You have such a vast cast of characters that you can forge relationships with and then inevitably become either life-long friends or in some cases lovers with.  The levels are fun and all, but I always was way more interested in finishing those up fast so I could spend time with my favorite characters.  When I got to go through New Game Plus and develop all of my companion relationships and the rest of the cast, it made it so much more enjoyable.  My biggest gripe with the game is that because the time system is so skewed, we don’t get to spend enough time developing our character and growing the confidant relationships.  No such issue in New Game Plus.

Voice acting in this game is at the top of its game.  Every character has such personality that bursts onto screen in the best ways.  The Confidants should have just been boring subplots, but they’re not!  With so much of Tokyo to explore, you can take people around and get to know them in different ways.  So many permutations of interactions and places to see in different ways, it felt like I could never run out of things to do.

But the rest of the game is fantastic too.  The battle system is clearly mapped to the controller and combat flows as smooth as silk.  As you develop relationships with the confidants and companions, it affects your play style in a vast number of ways.  But the pinnacle of each dungeon are the bosses.  I love how unique and interesting every boss in this game is.  No two is alike, and while some of the later ones drag on (the final boss is ridiculously long to fight, almost to the point that if you don’t have a fuck-ton of potions, it’s going to really suck), they are still a real test of your skill.

One thing I like is that making confidants and growing tight with them isn’t just a fun narrative to explore.  There are real consequences to it in the rest of the game.  Leveling up with companions allows you to trade characters with them, have them back you up during hold-ups, or even take a hit for you when you’re at your lowest point.  Confidants can teach you things like how to trade out any character on the fly, customize your weapons, get better healing items, and become better at negotiations by getting leadership skills from a confidant who is a politician.

What’s more, the game has even more depth.  See, some characters can’t be leveled up until you level up yourself.  By paying attention in class, studying, and doing various activities, you can level yourself up.  The sheer amount of stuff to do is amazing.  It really wraps you up in the world of the game.  I can take on a crazy burger challenge one night, hang out with a friend at the movies, and then see my girlfriend the next.  So many options, except when the game takes away control from you.  Again, ties in to my biggest gripe.

Finally, there’s the music.  The jazzy tunes are the best!  I have so much of that soundtrack on my iPod.  So much of that gets stuck in my head.  The woman they got to do most of the numbers is just amazing.

Overall, this game is a milestone for its genre.  JRPG games are treated as just this niche thing that will never have a place in the rest of the market, but to have a game this good come from this genre, and for it to be a AAA title is just magnificent.  Atlus did an amazing job, and I am eager to see what they come up with next.

Until next time, a quote,

When I took you in, I thought I was the one helping you,but it turns out it was the other way around.  Take care.” – Sojiro Sakura, Persona 5

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Best Game of 2015

Let me preface this by saying that I am not talking about what I believe was the best-made game.  If that was the criteria, then it would be Bloodborne.  That game is amazing in every way, and with the new expansion is has gotten even better.  On a technical level, that game goes above and beyond everything I’ve played this year.  But when I talk about my best game of this year, I am talking about the game that I got the most invested in, enjoyed playing the most, and felt that I got the most for my money.  It’s pretty damn close, this year.  There were some very fun games that I played.  Some were games that had flaws but were still fun, like Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.  That was a game that was boatloads of fun to play, but the story was a ridiculous mess.  Then there are games like Until Dawn, where it is a game that I will put on whenever I am looking for a scary story.  Or something to scare my friends with.

So, all of this in mind, what is the best game that I played this year?  What is the game that stands above the rest in terms of enjoyment and me feeling that I got the most bang for my buck?  Some of you will see this coming from a mile away.  Groj knows, I’ve talked about it enough.  But with this year coming to a close, we’ll have new stuff to talk about next year.  New things for me to bore you all to death with.  So my pick for the best game of 2015 is…

Life is StrangeLife is Strange

I have never played a game like this.  I have never played a game that got me so wrapped up in its characters.  Some of you know that I prefer character-driven narratives to plot-driven ones.  It’s the reason that I am such a HUGE fan of Game of Thrones.  The plot in that show is definitely a back-seat to the characters and their journey throughout the series.  The characters in this game was all so good!  Even the ones who we weren’t supposed to like.  Like Chloe’s step-dad, David.  Sure, he was a dick, but his heart was in the right place.  I like how in Episode 5, you actually got to have a heart-to-heart with him, after he stops Jefferson from killing you.  There was a great moment when I got to truly see what demons were inside him.  Especially if you tell him the truth about what happened to Chloe.  You find out that he truly did care about the students, because he was tortured by what happened to him in the war, and he didn’t want to see anyone else get hurt.  That is pretty profound.  Just one of the many things that could have been improved if the ending to the series wasn’t so stupid.

This game was one that I wanted to see more.  That’s the best thing that you can say with any game.  And I don’t mean that I want a sequel.  I don’t.  After how badly this series ended, I want it to be over and done.  But I wanted more from each episode.  I wanted to explore more of the town and get to know more people.  Get a bigger perspective on the mystery.  I also would have liked to get to know Rachel Amber, learn more of her story.  Another thing that the ending to this series messed up, since I was damn certain that the power was connected to Rachel Amber.  Still, there was so much more to look into.

Was this a perfect game?  No.  I wrote a Critical Examination post where I talked about one of the game’s biggest flaws – facial expression.  This game often had very lackluster facial animation, which would have made certain scenes SO much better.  Like the scene where Max confronts Chloe about the alternate timelines.  When Max’s voice is choking, telling Chloe about what happened, I could see her crying.  So much pain that she’s been bottling up, exploding out, with Chloe looking awkward but wanting to hold her friend.  It would have been better.

Which brings me to another thing I like – the voice acting.  If the facial animation was an issue, it was made up for by the voice acting.  The dialogue wasn’t always natural.  Episode 1 had the worst of it.  I am glad that the dialogue improved dramatically as the series went on.  But the performances in here were all at the top of their class.  It tells how small a production this was, due to how they had to reuse some voices for minor characters.  But the major ones were great.  One of the character who got overlooked was William.  I loved the guy who did that voice.  The scene where you’re talking to him in the alternate timeline was just great.  He rode the line of trying to pretend that he was holding together, while showing signs of just how stressed he was.

But the two I loved most were Chloe and Max.  Those two’s relationship, however you chose to go about it, was the force that held the whole plot together.  I chose to pursue a romance between the two of them, and while I am disappointed by how it turned out (seriously, you only get them to express it if you let Chloe die?  That’s bullshit), it still captivated me.

Not all games have endings that satisfy you.  This one bugs me.  But I was, in my own way, able to correct things, and now I still love this game for all the time I spent with it, and when I revisit it in the future, I am going to love it even more.  Even if it face-planted at the finish line.  What are some of your favorite games this year?  Let me know down in the Comments.  I love a good discussion.

Until next time, a quote,

“Chloe, I can’t keep fixing everything if all I’m going to do is just break it over and over again.”  -Max Caulfield, Life is Strange

Peace out,

Maverick