So Batman, we had a rough year together last year, didn’t we. Arkham Knight was a massive pile of poo, or at least the pc version was, the kind of poo that you can comfortably wander through if you have exactly the right boots, but after an hour or so you come to the realisation that you’re just wading in poo and it’s not as fun as said provider of poo said it would be. And you have to pay upfront for the exclusive dirt in your eyes. To say I was disappointed in Arkham Knight would be a bit of an understatement, so what I really need is some restored faith in the Batman, video game combination.
Boom! Enter the developer behind The Walking Dead and Tales from the Borderlands and holy franchise snatch, you’ve got 2016’s Batman: A Telltale Series. I’ve explained before my love of The Walking Dead which was quite surprising seen as I didn’t previously like point and click adventure games and I haven’t watched or read any other Walking Dead material. I know, shoot me! But Telltale’s story of an apocalyptic survival grabbed my attention and tugged at my heartstrings in a way I never expected a video game could. I was emotionally violated, but in a good way!? I’ve recently started Tales from the Borderlands and being a Borderlands fan, I love the game so far, plenty of in jokes, moments that have genuinely had me in stitches (and one particular moment in episode two which made me squeal like a little girl!). Taking the role of two protagonists provides for an exciting spin as we see the story unfold from multiple accounts.
So let’s just say I’m damn excited for Batman. Telltale have a proven track record of spinning gold into every series (ok, maybe not Minecraft Story Mode, but one out of six ain’t bad). There’s a lot of story to tell with Batman and there’s so much room for the adaptive storytelling to push the Dark Knight’s actions and explore the reactions and consequences of the player’s decisions. I hope they go grittier too, and really capture the grim gothic appeal of the character, let’s see some deaths and mental scarring that’s enough to put the player themselves into Arkham Asylum.
It’s amazing how many genres I really don’t enjoy, only to later to find one game from that genre that I have a bloody good time with and then start to think how it and I could create babies together.... Or, well, at least start with a coffee. Just like point and clicks, I’ve never really been into turn based strategy games. I played a bit of Advance Wars sure, but I’ve only ever played one game of Civ, one game of Total War and never even touched Might and Magic. The first time I ever played XCOM: Enemy Unknown was before its release at a gaming convention in Manchester (Play Expo for those who are familiar with it). I remember liking the idea of the game, but thought the serious tones conflicted with what I considered to be a rather comical design of alien enemies, particularly that of the Thin Man. I finally gave the game a proper crack after picking it up in a humble bundle and I was quickly hooked. With a bit more context, I grew to appreciate the game’s art direction and revelled in commanding my unit with accuracy and determination. No man was left behind, my troops were my family, I watched them grow, I watched them fight, I couldn’t bear to see them die.
I’m hoping to relive that fantasy with XCOM 2, which is very close to release, February 5th to be exact. The interface and gameplay mechanics look to further expand on an already solid base. The setting puts a nice spin on the story, having you attacking an Earth already ruled by a prior invasion and the graphics look slick and detailed. Finally, being a PC exclusive means we’re guaranteed to not receive a shoddy port of a far superior console version (not specifically attacking the first XCOM here, just the triple AAA pc market in general), so where the first one had a few bugs and optimization problems, we should see a much more stable and user friendly platform, designed specifically for the PC. Let’s get killing whatever the hell these cool as hell snake looking things are! Look at them, they’re so cool! I wanna shoot them!
I’m gonna hate myself for saying this bit and you’re gonna hate me too. I don’t blame you. *Sigh* My most anticipated game of 2016 is brought to us by those folks at EA Games. Oh that felt awful. It’s made by DICE too, that feels kinda bad, knowing how many Battlefield’s they’ve churned out and what they did with Star Wars Battlefront, though I blame EA more for that one. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst comes to us in May and I am really excited to finally get a new Mirror’s Edge game.
I used to do parkour, did you know that? At Uni I was the health and safety officer for the Lancaster University Parkour and Tricking Society. Now I’m unfit and I’m trying to remedy it with a new year’s gym membership. This is all your fault League of Legends. Sorry, where was I? I’ve been interested in Parkour and Freerunning since I was a teenager. I joined a group, I’ve trained in France, I even wrote an essay and an exam paper on it for my Theatre degree’s Dance and Physical Theatre unit. Yes I did dance in Theatre, shoot me! And I never get tired of watching the start of Casino Royale, wich is incidentally, my favourite Bond film.
So despite the sometimes clunky, repetitive nature of the first Mirror’s Edge, I really liked it, in fact I would say it’s easily in my top 20 games of all time. We’d never seen a game quite like the first Mirror’s Edge and for everything that didn’t quite work in the game, every stumble and trip and clumsy death, there was a whole lot more that did work. Catalyst has promised a more fluid free running experience and the decision to create an open world complements parkour’s freedom of movement with an unrestricted environment. The combat looks much tighter, addressing one of the major gripes of the original and the gameplay looks like more of the same, but much better and much slicker, which is all I really want. If the first game was an experiment, a prototype, this one should be final model, with all the bells and whistles attached and in good working order. I just wish it hadn’t taken nearly 8 years to get back out of the lab.
First special mention is my least anticipated game of 2016 and that game is Minecraft, on whatever platform it’s going to be released on next. Since its first release in 2011, there has been a release of Minecraft every single year. That’s twelve different versions of Minecraft over five years. We get it, Minecraft sells. Everywhere! I don’t care about it being released this year on the 3DS, the new Nintendo NX console, for Chrome-OS or hell, even the Nokia N-Gage. Seriously at this point I wouldn’t put it past them. Also, I was joking when I first thought about this, but we’ve already been informed that this year will see the release of Minecraft: Education Edition, which is a great idea, don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of using a video game as a teaching tool. I’m just sick of seeing another copy of Minecraft being advertised online, advertised in the game shops, then it’s sold and reviewed and talked about in the news and discussed on social media and on and on and on... Just for disclosure’s sake, I do actually like Minecraft, I do. Honest. I’m just sick of seeing it.
Second special mention is to a game that hasn’t been announced yet, well sort of, and no I’m not talking about bloody Half-Life 3, although I would like to see more of that Left for Dead 3 speculation we heard about a while back. No this is for Gears of War 4. I’m hoping for and looking forward to, a PC version announcement. I don’t own an Xbox One, I have no desire to purchase an Xbox One and I would like to play Gears of War again. I’m really looking forward to playing the Ultimate Edition when that hits PC and I’m hoping it does well enough to see Epic make the next instalment for us PC players too. Please Epic, gimme Gears 4!
2016 looks to be pretty good. There’s loads of other games coming out too, The Walking Dead: Michonne, Far Cry Primal, The Last Guardian, Pokemon GO, We Happy Few, Cuphead (that also looks damn good!) to name but a choice selection, plus many more games that have yet to be announced. Let’s hope it’s a good year, with less of that poor triple AAA publisher practice and more quality video games and some good ol’ steam sales. I make bugger all from making videos cash wise, I live off steam sales and humble bundles so don’t you judge!
Upvote if you like what you’ve seen and please leave some comments, I like to have a good read now and again. My final video in this series will be looking back at 2015 one more time, but in a change of normality, I’ll be putting forward my top 3 movies and I’ll be giving away a DVD of a 2015 film! If you haven’t checked out the previous blogs in this series, you can do so at the links below and I will see you next time!