Chris’s Top Fifty Videogame Completions of the Year (#50 – #41)

Towards the end of 2016, it occurred to me that I owned more games than I will ever get the chance to play. Even if I took early retirement and spent the rest of my days playing games, I would probably still not get chance to finish them all! My problem is that I get tempted by new and shiny releases, play them for a couple of hours and then move onto something else rather than focusing on what I already own. Something had to be done! As plans started to formulate in my head how I would deal with my addiction to buying videogames, along came the inspiration for how I would tackle the problem.

Robin Tate, aka @bongothesane, from the excellent Overseas Connection podcast had similar thoughts to mine and decided to set up The Year of Living Gamegerously, or YOLG as it affectionately became known. The idea of YOLG is that people could nominate 30 games from their backlog, (the dirty 30) and attempt to complete them within a year. The idea was to focus on the games you own, rather than spending money on new games and not completing them. It’s fair to say that YOLG has been a roaring success with 43 people taking part and over 500 games completed! Most people picked 30 games to complete, but I decided to go a bit crazy with my YOLG challenge and managed to complete 50 games within 12 months!

Before we start with my top 50, special mention has to go to Nintendo for having such an incredible year with the release of the Switch. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe would be in my top 5 had I completed them.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my top 50 game completions of 2016/17.

50: Call of Duty Black Ops 3

Developer: Treyarch

Publisher: Activision

Available on: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 sold in excess of 26 million copies, and to be completely honest I find this utterly baffling! I know I am in the minority, but I only tend to play Call of Duty games for the single player campaign, rather than the extensive multiplayer or zombie modes. The story in Black Ops 3 was an incoherent mess, and I had absolutely no idea what the hell was going on! All I know is that it was set in the future where soldiers have been fitted with augmentations and implants to make them faster and stronger. Generally, Call of Duty campaigns have some memorable set pieces, but there was literally nothing that stood out about Black Ops 3. I’d go so far as to say that I rank it as one of the worst, (if not the worst), Call of Duty campaigns I’ve played, and I’ve played them all.

49: Trials of the Blood Dragon

Developer: RedLynx

Publisher: Ubisoft

Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Changing a winning formula is always a risky proposition, especially mashing together different styles of gameplay. Trials is a hugely popular series of games where you take control of a motocross scrambler tackling increasingly difficult courses. Although Trials can be a very tough game, it also encourages that ‘one more go’ feeling, as you try to beat your own times and the times of your friends. Blood Dragon was a spin off from Far Cry 3, which featured the vocal talents of Michael Biehn and had an over the top take on the 80’s and VHS generation. Mixing the two together couldn’t possibly go wrong could it? On the plus side, Trials of the Blood Dragon has a nice aesthetic with its mash up of striking garish colours and 80’s inspired visuals. The motocross part of the game is ok, but the run and gun sections where you get off your bike didn’t work for me. The controls felt floaty and it generally wasn’t enjoyable to play. Thankfully the game is mercifully short and can be completed in 3 to 4 hours. I shouldn’t complain too much as I picked it up for a couple of quid, but I can’t say that I would recommend you do the same.

48: Battlefield 4

Developer: EA DICE

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Available on: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

I appreciate that there is more to Battlefield 4 than just the single player, and I’m very much in the minority for purely playing this mode. I have briefly tried the multiplayer but, my main issue is the time needed to properly get the most out of it. Like any military shooter, Battlefield 4 is loud, brash, and full of people shouting obscenities. I must confess that I didn’t really follow the story, which had something to do with China, the USA, and most importantly lots and lots of people shooting each other in the face! On the plus side, even 4 years after its release Battlefield 4 is a stunning looking game, (especially on PC) and hasn’t shown any signs of aging. The main issue I have is that I couldn’t care less about any of the characters, and as I mentioned earlier, the story is largely forgettable. If you have time then there is a hell of a lot of fun to be had with the multiplayer aspect of the game, but if like me you only play the single player, you will feel a little short changed.

47: Battlefield Hardline

Developer: Visceral Games

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Available on: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Taking a break from the usual military formula, Battlefield Hardline places you in the shoes of Miami cop Nick Mendoza. The story follows his investigation into criminal organisations, dirty cops and the usual stereotypes you would find in a crime thriller. One of the main things I liked about the game was that it gave you the option to play stealthily or go all guns blazing. As a cop you are encouraged to arrest people, but if the need arises you can open fire with impunity. I appreciated that the story was set up like a TV show and gave you a recap of what had happened in the previous episode/level. Unfortunately, the game was very mediocre and similarly to Battlefield 4, the story was largely forgettable.

46: Quiz & Dragons

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Available on: PSP, PlayStation Vita, PS2, Xbox

I discovered this strange fantasy themed quiz game whilst searching through the Capcom Collection on PlayStation Vita. Set in a fantasy world where you choose a male or female warrior, wizard or ninja, your quest is to defeat the evil which is terrorising the land. The action is played out like a board game where you roll a dice and take on various foes. During the battles you are asked a series of trivia questions. Get a question right and the monster takes damage, get a question wrong and you take a hit. The only problem is that the questions are heavily focused on North America, meaning you may struggle if you live outside of the USA. The other issue I had is because the game was released in 1992, the questions are a bit dated. Quiz and Dragons is a fun game mixing elements of trivia and fantasy, just don’t expect it to be easy.

45: L.A. Noire

Developer: Team Bondi

Publisher: Rockstar Games

Available on: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Set in 1940’s America, you play as rookie police officer Cole Phelps as he rises through the ranks of a corrupt Los Angeles police department. L.A. Noire was rightly praised at the time of its original release for its ground-breaking facial technology. This was not only a way to show off the graphical capabilities of the game but, it was also built into the gameplay to help you determine whether suspects were telling the truth or downright lying to you. Published by Rockstar, featuring real actors, ground-breaking facial technology, and a setting the evokes memories of classic movies Chinatown and L.A. Confidential, nothing could go wrong; could it? Although I initially enjoyed L.A. Noire, it quickly became a chore to play. You make your way through different departments such as Homicide and Arson, investigating murders and other crimes. Each investigation can take anything from 40 minutes to an hour and half, and after about 15 hours it begins to drag. Each investigation follows a similar pattern of finding and examining clues, questioning witnesses and accusing them of lying or telling the truth. The main issue is that the questioning system is deeply flawed and doesn’t work as well as it should. The lead character is completely unlikable and you find it hard to empathise with the man you are supposed to be cheering for. Although L.A. Noire hints at a deep multi-layered complex story similar to the movies it wants emulate, it often feels flat and underwhelming. I’m glad I finished the game, but L.A. Noire will always feel like a very long and drawn out example of style over substance.

44: Streets of Rage 3

Developer: Sega

Publisher: Sega

Available on: Sega Megadrive, Xbox 360, PC

As you will read in this top 50, Streets of Rage 2 is one of the best (if not the best) beat-em ups on the Sega Megadrive, which makes Streets of Rage 3 all the more disappointing! Boasting a whopping 24meg cartridge, Streets of Rage 3 tries to make everything bigger and better, but unfortunately fails in most ways. Although the developers have attempted more with the story, they seem to have forgotten that gameplay is what really matters. Although the main gameplay hasn’t largely changed from Streets of Rage 2, it seems boring with the same enemies being thrown at you over and over again. If anything, it seems lazy, rather than incompetent! Despite this, the greatest crime the game commits is the appalling music! Streets of Rage 2 has some of the best music in videogame history, whereas the sequel is at times an incoherent mess. Do yourself a favour and play Streets of Rage 1 or 2, as you will have far more fun than with this disappointing sequel.

43: Crysis 3

Developer: Crytek

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Available on: PC, PS3. Xbox 360

To be honest, I couldn’t tell you anything about the story of Crysis 3 except it has an enhanced super soldier, aliens and an annoying bald cockney! The one thing that I can tell you is that Crysis 3 looks absolutely gorgeous, especially on PC. It also has a cool bow and arrow with a variety of attachments, including exploding arrow heads, which made me feel like John Rambo! Crysis 3 is the epitome of the saying “fur coat and no knickers“! It looks amazing on the outside, but dig a little deeper and you’ll soon discover that there isn’t much going on below the surface.

42: Pneuma: Breath of Life

Developer: Deco Digital, Bevel Studios

Publisher: Deco Digital, Bevel Studios

Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One

This first-person puzzle game wants to be Portal so much that you play it almost waiting to hear the sardonic tones of GLaDOS mocking you for how crap you are at the game! Rather than a science fiction setting, you are placed in various situations that require lateral thought to escape. Similarly, to Portal 1 & 2, there is a voiceover that questions life, the universe and everything, and whether or not you are actually a god. Whilst the puzzles are decent enough, the main issue I had with Pneuma: Breath of Life was the voiceover. It tried to be witty and funny, but ended up grating on me so much that I wanted to turn the volume down on my TV. The short running time of around a couple of hours was a blessing in the end. Worth checking out if you like puzzle games, but I would always recommend Portal or Portal 2 first.

41: Sonic the Hedgehog

Developer: Sonic Team

Publisher: Sega

Available on: Practically everything, but played on the PlayStation Vita

People who know me know that I am not a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog. I’ve always found the platforming to be hit and miss and I never feel totally in control of the spiky blue critter. I never completed Sonic when I first played it on its original release, so thanks to the Sega Megadrive Collection on the PlayStation Vita, I decided to give him one more chance. Even today, the look and sound of the game is superb! The opening level is etched into my brain and features some incredible graphics and music. My main problem is that the later levels are very frustrating, especially the underwater sections which had me tearing my hair out. After finally finishing Sonic the Hedgehog I came to the realisation that just because I don’t like Sonic, doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate his place in gaming history. My overall thoughts are that the first game has moments of brilliance, which is unfortunately marred by frustration and some repetition.

Reviews by Chris (co-host of 60 Minutes With)