Gaming In 2020

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Resident Evil, Skyrim, Tony Hawk Series with tags on December 9, 2020 by slateman

Another year down and another year in which I missed out on more of the biggest titles than I played. Before hitting upon what I have experienced, I figured I’d look at what I didn’t get a chance to dive into.

  • Final Fantasy VII Remake
  • Ghost Of Tsushima
  • Hades
  • Immortals: Fenyx Rising
  • Last Of Us – Part II, The
  • Ori And The Will Of The Wisps
  • Sackboy: A Big Adventure

I’ve skipped out on Cyberpunk 2077 and some others. Of those games, my interest is genuinely piqued by Tsushima and Hades. The former will eventually be in my collection, the latter will have to wait for a Sony port. I’ve no interest in playing that on the Switch.

OK, now to the older games I’ve experienced. Titles with an asterisk are ones I’d played before. Underlined are ones I beat.

  • Death Stranding
  • Dark Souls: Remastered
  • Days Gone
  • Detroit: Become Human
  • Doom
  • Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, The (*)
  • Far Cry 5
  • Fighting EX Layer
  • Ketsui
  • Minecraft Dungeons
  • Modern Warfare 2: Remastered (*)
  • Shadow Of The Colossus
  • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Remastered (*)
  • Ys VIII

Not forgetting Skyrim is a remaster, that’s a lot of updated old games there. I spent most of quarantine lockdown replaying Skyrim and actually progressing farther than I had during my initial playthrough back in 2012. I beat Shadow Of The Colossus for the first time, after bailing on both the PS2 and PS3 versions in years past. Another Uncharted 2 run was a reminder of how that game is still top-10 ever. (I’ll eventually get around to posting my list). Others were things I dipped my toes into but came far from completing.

Far Cry 5 was the expected, entertaining romp and I do endeavor to get back to Days Gone and Detroit. Most of these games were good; few were great. Next up: 2020 games, finally!

  • Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
  • Astro’s Playroom
  • Borderlands 3
  • Bugsnax
  • Demon’s Souls
  • Resident Evil 3
  • Spelunky 2
  • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2

So, obviously, I beat THPS, writing an entire chapter on it in the revised edition of Tony Hawk’s Gaming Domination. Just as quickly, I dropped off of that one.

Spelunky 2 was a frustratingly-difficult but enjoyable journey. Each run was different and my kids and I laughed our asses off far too frequently. It’s about the same as the first, but pretty fantastic and there’s zero chance I’ll ever actually complete it. Speaking of kids, they played the crap out of Bugsnax, just finishing it today. I haven’t completed Demon’s Souls and suspect that’s a long journey ahead.

Resident Evil 3 was a short affair, but one I never traipsed through on the PS1 original. I enjoyed it, beating it a few times. That’s the good, but I don’t envision diving back in, despite my enjoyment.

And then we get to the year’s best. Astro’s Playroom won’t win any awards, but damn, that was fun. It was a spectacular history lesson, peeking at Sony’s legacy as well as being a showcase of the new console and its features.

So, as of the second week of December, I am so enamored with Valhalla and its beauty, that I must declare it my tentative 2020 Game Of The Year. It’s the most vibrant and diverse world I’ve ever played in. The gameplay loop is enjoyable enough and the sound design is top notch. It’s possibly the best-looking game I’ever witnessed and the 60fps/often-4k visual upgrade has just left me speechless on numerous occasions. The dynamic lighting is superb, dialogues and story are wonderful and the scope is simply remarkable.

I suspect this opinion could change…but as of today, this is it. This could be the first Assassin’s Creed game I actually complete, much like GTA V in 2018.

Two Days With The Playstation 5 – Thoughts

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games on December 1, 2020 by slateman

The day has finally come! It took about three weeks to arrive: going to Chicago, then Wisconsin, then across the Atlantic to Naples Capodichino, then to the American consulate, then finally home. After a lengthy setup process, I went into the process of downloading Demon’s Souls and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. While doing so, I dove into the utterly phenomenal Astro’s Playroom. It was then the console’s new features were put on display.

However, as the first day ended, it was easy to get the sense that this may be the smallest leap between generations. From the DVD drive in the PS2 to the Blu-Ray player in the PS3, to the visual leap to the PS4, this has fewer clear bells-and-whistles. But at the end of day #2, I felt clear – I love my PS5.

Load Times
Booting into AC: Valhalla took about 80 seconds and loading into the game itself, another 100. Quick traveling was a solid two minutes…each and every time. With the Activity Cards feature on the Playstation 5, I can skip that initial 80 seconds altogether. A direct comparison:

Doing? PS4 Time PS5 Time
Into Menu 80 0
Into Playable 180 50
Fast Travel 120 10

It’s that last one that’s startling – and altogether awesome. It’s between 9 and 10 seconds typically. The difference is simply amazing. Bouncing between two or three fast-travel locations saves serious time and it’s hardly enough to look at my phone before Eivor is back, ready and perched atop some chapel or archaeological site.

3D Audio
I’ve marveled at sound design in recent years, simply awed at how good gritty footsteps, rubbing clothing and rustling of leaves sound. However, running through medieval England and hearing birds and pigs, the wind and people’s voices all around me. Each came from a different quadrant, with rain realistically sounding like it was falling in so many different places at once. Just astounding.

The DualSense
I read all the reviews and heard all the praise. It was only when Astro’s Playroom resisted my shoulder triggers before releasing in a satisfying click that it felt real. When the sensation of sand and wind and ice and rocks all came through the controller, I felt that joy of next-gen. The game is fun in its own right, but the controller is the real hero here. It’s spectacular.

60 FPS
I have to admit, the 4K upgrade wasn’t as pronounced as I had hoped, but when I got Valhalla running at 60 FPS, I smiled with joy. Having the choice between the two is something I missed in the PS4 Pro era. I first appreciated the importance of the higher frame rate with Metal Gear Solid 5 but having a direct comparison has truly opened my eyes. It’s buttery smooth and the way life ought to be.

App Integration
Signing in was a breeze, installing apps is simple, notifications about app preparedness is welcome and on it goes. I’m hoping they keep up with the features and ease of use. Ideally, having snapshots available on mobile (like Microsoft) would be sensational.

The Dislikes
It looks, feels and sounds great. That’s what you want in your $500 purchase. While the system needs some work, I don’t see anything that can’t be fixed with some firmware tweaks. The UI is good, but it’s clunkier than the PS4. Fixes like separating games and media is great, but there are fewer titles in the list. The PS button menu is fast and the overlay is nice, but it feels cluttered and things like turning the console off are harder and more obtuse than before.

P.T. – The Most Frightening Gaming Experience Ever?

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games on November 1, 2020 by slateman

It was 2014 and the Playstation 4 was still quite new. Out of the blue, this strange demo drops which doesn’t really have much gameplay. It was mysterious and curious and I’ll never forget the first time I saw her. Nowadays, a quick search will reveal all its secrets, but then, no one knew anything: why this happened, why that didn’t happen, etc. But it was such a thrill going through its nonsensical hallways, marveling at its pristine sound design and lighting effects.

My nine-year-old son has been itching to play/watch something scary. He’s too na├»ve to realize he’s absolutely not ready. So, I decided tonight to boot up the good ol’ P.T. and walk down some hallways.

It wasn’t 30 seconds later when he asked me to turn it off. Nothing happened: just one right-hand turn and a dirty bathroom. But it reinforced my original idea that this Playable Teaser was just about as frightening as I remember it being the first time through.

Now to see if my 12-year-old daughter is up for the challenge!!!

Playstation 5 – Anticipation

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games on October 28, 2020 by slateman


January 1997: Playstation alonsgide Street Fighter Alpha 2
October 2000: Playstation 2 alongside SSX
November 2007: Playstation 3 alongside Resistance
November 2013: Playstation 4 alongside Killzone: Shadow Fall

I didn’t get the original Playstation at launch. I may have gotten the PS3 late as well. But I’ve been with the Sony brand for over 20 years and I am so tremendously excited about this new entry. My planned launch games are Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and probably Demon’s Souls.

At such an exciting time, I can’t wait to get my hands on the new console: to tinker with the controller, view the UI, witness 4K for the first time. Playing Ghost Of Tsushima is another one I’m excited for. Just can’t wait.

Spelunky 2: Made It To World 5!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, High Scores/Accomplishments with tags on October 17, 2020 by slateman

Around 500 deaths into this game, I finally unlocked the second shortcut, allowing me to skip straight to the Tide Pool, world 4. The alternate fourth world is the Temple of Anubis which wrecks me almost instantaneously. However, after just a little while of working through the Tide Pool, I managed to beat it, making it to the Ice Caves for the first time! It’s been a while since I played the original Spelunky and though I enjoyed the flashback, I haven’t made it far into this new locale. Additionally, building a shortcut to it, without having to traipse through the Tide Pool, will be a rigorous and almost-impossible task.

My first impressions of the game were not quite at the level of other review outlets, who have dished out 10s. But the more I play, the more I realize how brilliant the game is – particularly when playing with my 9-year-old son. This game is great and one of the year’s best!

The Best TV Shows Ever

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Lists, TV on October 13, 2020 by slateman

This is more of a mental list than a real one, as I can’t necessarily claim this to be 100% valid. This will require some expanded exposition as time goes on. I’ll come back to this and expand upon it, so don’t let this be official.

  1. Seinfeld
  2. Breaking Bad
  3. True Detective (Season 1)
  4. Fawlty Towers
  5. Haunting Of Hill House (Season 1)
  6. Band Of Brothers
  7. Vikings (Seasons 1-4)
  8. Game Of Thrones
  9. The Sopranos
  10. House Of Cards (Season 1-?)
  11. Stranger Things (Season 1)
  12. Fargo (Season 1, 2, 3)
  13. Monty Python’s Flying Circus
  14. Narcos (Season 1)
  15. Sherlock
  16. South Park?

Notable Entries: Black Mirror, Boardwalk Empire, 24, Mindhunter, Sons Of Anarchy, The Leftovers.

Still To Watch: Mad Men, Rectify, Justified, more?

More to come!

Spelunky 2 – Progress?

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games on October 12, 2020 by slateman

I’m not too proud to admit it. I was stuck on Olmec for weeks, never progressing past world 2 at all. Death upon death came to me and while I knew I could get a shortcut to the next world, I also knew I’d have to beat Olmec at least three times – and I couldn’t defeat him even once!

Fast forward a bit and…I’ve done it several times! Now, that elusive shortcut is locked behind taming some sort of animal AND beating Olmec all in one go. Hmm…I’m less confident now. However, as I approach 500 deaths and witness people speedrunning the game in three minutes, I’ll have to be happy with this slight progress. Only then will I be able to tackle the rigors of level 4. Wish me luck.

Games I Missed This Generation

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Lists on October 3, 2020 by slateman

Back in 2013, I wrote about the 9 best games of the prior generation and we’re about time to wrap up yet another gen. While I should get to doing a similar post, I wanted to recap some of the titles that may deserve a place on that list but which I never had the pleasure of playing. In addition, this serves as a sort of checklist for things to get to in the coming years. The good news is that most, if not all of these titles will work next gen, so that’ll be great when prices drop a little bit. Without any additional ado…


Game Thoughts
The Last Of Us: Part 2 The first was great – but exhausting!
Ghost Of Tsushima I will play this game!
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox Getting localized soon
Gears 5 No Xbox One!
Monster Hunter: World Is this up my alley?
Final Fantasy XV Do I have the patience for FF nowadays?
Control Unsure about this one
COD: Modern Warfare Probably a gorgeous, fun romp
Hades Waiting for a PS4 port

OK, Sony. It’s Time To Talk.

Posted in Blog, Games on October 1, 2020 by slateman

Here’s my very personal history and the memorable launch titles:

I bought my Playstation in January of 1997. (Street Fighter Alpha 2)
I bought my Playstation 2 in October of 2000.(SSX)
I bought my Playstation 3 in or around November 2006. (Resistance)
I bought my Playstation 4 in November 2013. (Killzone)

In fact, the ONLY console I don’t own from the past 25 years is the Xbox One – and only because of finances.

So, I’m on board with the next gen. I’ve pre-ordered. I am thrilled about the upgrade and I’m happy to choose Sony again (though I genuinely hope to pick up a Series X at one point down the line!)

But as the system is set to launch in a mere 41 days, there’s more that we don’t know than we do. How will backwards compatibility work? Will it have a suspend mode like the upcoming Xbox? Will PS5 controllers work with PS4 games? How will the UI look? How will haptic feedback feel? I could go on and on.

Sony’s hubris after the best-selling console of all time, the Playstation 2, contributed to its successor having a rocky start. All the goodwill they’ve earned in this successful generation is dribbling away. It’s not whether the PS5 is better than the Series X or not. But Microsoft’s message has been far more consistent, positive and informative. Sony should be using this time to hype up new features, show things off and get people psyched!

Get on it, Sony! Ride this excitement and give us something!!!

Biohazard / Resident Evil – 25th Anniversary

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Resident Evil, Street Fighter with tags on September 25, 2020 by slateman

All of these anniversaries are catching up to us all. 25 for Resident Evil – we just passed Street Fighter’s 30th and Mario is celebrating 35. The worst part of it all? I remember them all launching. Getting old sucks.

But, the celebrations are cool and this new poster, revealed today, was quite cool. I fully expect Capcom to embrace this franchise as we head into a new generation. However, as is, I own and can play Resident Evil 0, 1, 2 (remake), 3 (remake), 4, 5, 6 and 7 all on my PS4 – and thus on my PS5 – alongside 8/Village next year. Not sure what they’ll need to do to rope me into buying more, but I have faith in Capcom. Not necessarily in their anniversary might, but in their ability to get me to re-buy this shit year after year! Bring it on!