SPOILER WARNING FOR ALL GAMES LISTED!
I am a pretty casual gamer but when I start picking up the controller again I go nuts deep so when I ordered a PS4 on 11/25/19 and received it shortly after, I quickly picked up dozens of titles and have been working through them ever since.
Here are some thoughts on the ones I've played in the last year. I typically prefer more violent action oriented games and am a sucker for a good gore/damage system, but in the last year i found myself exploring more genres. I also am not a completionist by any stretch and just enjoy leisurely getting through the main story on most titles. Also I like strictly single player campaigns, and usually I play on easy or normal just to enjoy the story and/or gameplay.
I generally don't really care for JRPGs, RPGs, puzzle games, etc I dig what I dig and generally pick up games I've relatively certain I'll enjoy which is why the majority of these write-ups are positive. Also some, like TLOU2, are full on reviews. No real structure, just my stream of consciousness thoughts on each game.
I have excluded from the list PS4 games I own but can't really "finish" like Crash Team Racing, Friday the 13th, World War Z, Dead by Daylight etc. I also play a lot of retro games and bullet hell type stuff on PSnow but don't own those obviously.
So here are some basic mini write ups about those games I've checked off the playlist. The ones I've played more recently or ones I wrote about as soon as I finished are a little longer because I was fresher on the details. Feel free to discuss any title more in depth. Again, assume SPOILERS for every title listed.
This list is about 90 games long, alphabetized except for series which are listed in sequence, so this will be several posts.
Edit: Realized after posting the full list that the comments would show up in order that I made them, so that kinda fucked up the alphabetization.
I gave this game a shot when I first got my 360 a couple years ago and dropped it about an hour in. I love the first 2 films, love the aesthetic of the game and the concept but for some reason just wasnt feeling it back then. Fast forward October 2020 and I was in the mood for shitting my pants so I bought the PS4 version and knocked it out over a few days.
I loved it. The tension, the visuals, the music, the story, all of it. I found myself rooting for Ripley and getting excited when she would succeed after hitting a detour or having to think on her feet. The atmosphere is unreal with the abandoned station seeming like a barely living thing, with the survivors therein being its death throes. The scattered corpses with their faces gone or their chests burst or their guts sliced open, the android husks, the fires, etc were all great and added to the overall feel.
The sounds of the alien moving through the vents kept me on edge and early on when you're completely defenseless created some insanely tense situations. The androids could also be creepy AF with their slow, Michael Myers style stalking and their eyes glowing in dark areas. Every new room, even save points and terminals made had me holding my breath as the vents rattled and the tracker beeped, bracing for the alien tale to impale me before I could get to a save.
So many situations like that made the game a great experience. Visually also the space station details are incredible. Everything felt authentic to the movies and the sequences where you walk outside the station are breathtaking. The massive, industrial look of the station looming over you, the infinite stars, the immensity of the gas giant and a blazing sun as the backdrop. It was stunning. It was also very cool getting to explore the derelict and seeing the space jockey up close.
I also appreciated how meticulous some of the processes were. Like toward the end when you're releasing the clamps from the Torrens, I feel like any other game would have just had you hit a button or 2 to disengage. But Amanda must first pull a lever to release a key, then insert that key, then must activate a few cylinders and manipulate each one. It made the world feel authentic and as if all these processes existed for technicians and astronauts.
Criticisms are short really. The game runs a little long, the mechanics can be a bit clunky until you get used to them, and Amanda never really has a "table turning" moment against the alien in which she steps up and defeats it. After being harassed for hours by the creature, the first one is stopped by the Marshal using Amanda as bait, and the last one has Amanda cornered and she jettisons them both.
There wasnt that catharsis of her finally getting the upper hand and dealing some payback for the hours of terror. No real “Get away from her, you bitch” moment. I was stoked that the game transitioned from an Outlast-style "flee or hide" to being able to defend yourself, but actually destroying the Alien would have been a great plus. Also your character not casting a shadow in a game with otherwise great lighting really bugged me.
Really enjoyed my playthrough and found it to be beautiful, immersive, and tense as hell.
Batman: Arkham Knight
This title gets a looooooooot of flak from fans of the series and I really can't wrap my head around it. I focused primarily on the main story (really not inclined to get all Riddler trophies or defuse all the street bombs to get the "real" endings) and enjoyed it quite a bit. The game looks beautiful, the story is dark and interesting and flowed better than Arkham City's, which is usually considered the peak of the series.
I knew the Knight reveal ahead of time, but still enjoyed watching it play out and I definitely loved the inclusion of Joker as an omnipresent aspect of Batman's fracturing psyche. He had some great lines and I loved the dynamic his presence presented. Combat was as fun as ever, traversal was fast and felt great and looked even better as you glided over the city.
And regarding the biggest complaint about the game….. I actually really liked the tank battles. I really didn't mind their frequency in the main story, although I can see how having to battle every time you defuse a street bomb would get old quick. But just with the main story, they were a refreshing departure from the beat-em-up combat and were pretty fun throughout the game. Taking out a whole fleet of them without taking a hit felt great and the cat and mouse tank sections were also a lot of fun.
Also Joker's song when Robin is defusing bombs was great.
Battlefield 1 and V
Really enjoyed both of these and especially dug the short, individual story format. Loved the biplane story in 1 and the tank commander story in V. The opening of BF1 was particularly harrowing and poignant. Both visually great, fun gameplay, and some genuinely great mini-campaigns. I do feel like war games should have more brutal combat, so the rated T level of bullet damage wasn't super impressive, but at least V introduced some blood splatter.
This is another game that, while not a VR game, I played with the headset and I'm glad I did. The game is visually solid, atmospheric, and creepy as all hell and something about the premise of searching for a missing child in the woods grounded what becomes a pretty off the rails story. The creep factor, the environmental, the labyrinthine nature of the forest, the excellent use of binaural sound, the lighting, the cool camcorder mechanic of influencing the real world through the video playback, etc all came together to create a genuinely unnerving and anxiety-spiking experience. Some very cool areas too like the final house and a particular section of the forest dense with blinding fog. Another had you shifting between the forest and a war zone with embers scattering in the air and monsters surrounding you from the fringes.
The game felt like a mix of Alan Wake, Hellblade, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, and Layers of Fear, the latter especially toward the end when the final chapter has you stuck in an ever-changing hell house.
This game definitely instills the sense of dread that you're being watched and that you're always a single step away from getting perpetually lost in the endless woods.
Playing with the VR headset had me holding my breath at time, especially toward the end as shit was getting crazier.
The story dealt with PTSD, loss, grief, regret, and redemption to give its creepy supernatural story some deep human elements that I felt really landed well and just the general premise of being detached from the rest of your search party in the vast woods looking for a kid who you fear the worst for got me engaged from the start.
Your dog buddy Bullet was also a great addition and just like how your PTSD stricken character holds him when he needs to calm himself down, I found myself staying near him and petting him between tense encounters to calm myself down.
Overall the anxiety of the game was unreal. Reality constantly bending around you and fucking with your head. Playing felt like being trapped in a nightmare and I loved it.
Only real complaints are once again the player character not casting a shadow and some objectives and paths can be extremely obscure, such that I resorted to a guide many times during my playthrough. But neither of those things were experience breaking and I very much enjoyed my tense, anxiety-inducing, and thrilling time with Blair Witch.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
What a beautiful game. Very simple in story and presentation but with the added twist of simultaneously controlling two different characters, each with their own joy stick and action button. While this control scheme never felt fluid, it did become more natural and I think was a great feature considering you are two brothers having to work together toward a common goal. The puzzles used this mechanic to a very fun effect.
I think the Chapter 3 was the best in the game and from there to the end the game really shined visually and got much darker in subject matter.
I loved the simplicity of telling the story. The characters speak a fictional language that we are never privy to so we have context and visual storytelling. Some of the brothers gestures to each other are a little contrived and more for our benefit of the player than something two characters would actually do when they both speak the same language, but overall I really liked this aspect.
The ending was a pretty solid gut punch as well. the death of Big after the spider fight and after Little makes the climb for the potion, then having to play as Little as he sobs and buries his bro was sad as hell. As was Little hugging the ghost of big. Then the father breaking down sobbing and Little standing stoically next to him at the graves of the mother and Big.
Just a really well done, short experience that was a refreshing play.
Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition
This game was stupid as shit and I absolutely loved it. Beat the campaign over the course of a single day and was thoroughly entertained. The gunplay is a lot of fun and using the kick, slide, and leash to launch dudes into a slow motion bullet Slaughter made me smile pretty much every time.
The game has some cool environments but ultimately is a remaster from the PS3 era so nothing really comes off as amazing, although a mission in a miniature city was a standout.
The story is dumb and loud and juvenile just like the gameplay and the dialogue, but it fit perfectly. While this is nowhere near the same league as Doom 2016 and Eternal, I consider Bulletstorm, Doom/Eternal, and Shadow Warrior 2 to be games i can turn on and jump into any point and have a quick blast with relentlessly paced, hyper violent action.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
I've played every console COD campaign that's come out in the last two gens and this was definitely my least favorite. I got about 4 missions in when I first played it and dropped it out of boredom and finally picked it back up to finish it. I didnt hate it necessarily but I cant see myself ever replaying it.
The game isnt as polished as a lot of the other CODs. Like there was only a single instance in which my character was in the custom outfit I set up and it was only for like a second before being back to the default outfit. Then there is a glitch in the first mission that requires you to just replay the whole god damn mission and hope it resolves itself. The wall running also served no purpose, offered no tactical advantage throughout the game, and outside of the mission where you learn it I dont remember it working a single time for the rest of the campaign.
Then you have the voice acting for the male player. It is absolutely atrocious. No emotion, no change of tone, just unacceptable garbage. I switched to the female player just so I wouldn't have to hear the dullest voice of all time try to emote. It was like a genie animated a fence post only to force it to read lines at gunpoint.
The combat is fun still, just like the other CODs, and it got very intense at several points, with the robots being a cool enemy to take down. There were also some fun environments in the game like the stormy Singapore level and the more surreal ones later in the game. The underwater combat was also kinda fun but the physics could have been better.
The characters were all forgettable, and the story went off the rails, but I liked the flip flopping of the villains. Ultimately I thought Advanced and Infinite Warfare both did the futuristic sci fi much, much better than BLOPS3.
Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War
After MW2019 I was pretty pumped for this given how gritty the combat was in MW and knowing that Treyarch usually makes the goriest CODs. I also really dug the more CQC missions and the relative realism of MW so was hoping for more of the same but all of the above was a whole lot better in MW.
The story was cool and full of espionage and intrigue, which fit the setting, but there weren't any real standout missions other than some brief stints in Vietnam and a mission in a mock US city used by the Soviets for tactical drills.
Graphically the game looks decent at times but overall MW looked better. The gunplay is the same as always but I was disappointed to see no bullet damage at all, very inconsistent blood pooling under killed enemies (blood puddles even reabsorb into the bodies if you wait a minute) and zero dismemberment, which sucks because even WaW and Blops 1,2, and 3 had it. It just sanitized the violence way too much especially when we know how brutal Vietnam was. Grenades and explosives do zero damage. Just real disappointing after MW.
The only good addition to the combat were the absolutely brutal melee kills, but even those were made less effective by not having any body damage or blood splatter on the environment.
The campaign is very quick. Finished it all in what seemed like 5 hours or so. I did enjoy it somewhat and if some patches improve the gore and blood effects, which I'm not counting on, I'll have more fun replaying certain levels. The game also has branching dialogue (although your character doesn't speak during gameplay) and it has some cool mechanics like searching for clues, uncovering secrets, etc which I didnt really bother much with but completionist will dig the extra content and multiple endings.
It was good seeing Mason and Woods again even though they didnt have much to do. Your player character is a blank slate, which I guess is the point, but Adler really steals the show.
Certain scenes have weird visual anomalies. Toward the end when you're talking with your team the shadows and shading kept distorting and then there is the game breaking controller bug where in the first Vietnam mission the game freezes your controller if you're using bluetooth and the only way to fix it is restart your system. Trying to replay some missions a couple days after completing the campaign, and lo and behold the game doesn’t even get past the “Press X to Start” screen. How the fuck did this get released so broken?
The game had a troubled development and it really shows. A little disappointed but will likely play through the campaign one more time now that I've adjusted my expectations.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
I had read a lot of negative things about this COD entry, but I really fucking dug it. The setting was cool, I liked the story, I loved the side missions, and the one mission on the asteroid fighting the robots through rapid day and night cycles was a standout. Also obliterating dudes was fun
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Loved this one as well and found the gunplay to be so satisfying. It's a beautiful game to look at, some of the campaign beats were amazing (Farrah's story in particular) and the violence felt very real. The "Clean House" mission was way too short and I wish more similar missions had been included although there were a few similar sequences, but that mission in particular is just so engaging. They tease you with some dismemberment with your 50 cal, but having the shotgun deal some more brutal damage would have been great. I have played through the campaign twice now and still play through Clean House and Wolfs Den occasionally. Playing on Veteran makes those two missions in particular TENSE
Call of Duty: WW2
Honestly, I played this once and soon after didn't really remember much about it. It's a perfectly good time waster and casual play if you wanna just play 30 mins of something before you leave the house (well go to a different room of your house I guess). I dig a good WW2 game though so I replayed once I cleared my backlog and liked it a lot more the second time. The characters are War movie archetypes but they worked well and I liked their chemistry, Pierson was a great "antagonist", and so many scenes were intense as hell. Game is pretty on rails but I dug the Death Factory mission, escaping through the forest as it was getting bombed, the stealth right after, then clearing buildings.Wish the stealth and melee mechanics were better and not in forced sections though. Also wish there were blood pools for the bodies when you shoot them. There is splatter, but no pooling blood unless you blow off their head which is infrequent. It would make the aftermath of a battle hit a lot harder. The Tank cat and mouse was great and reminiscent of BF5 but i hated the plane section and much preferred BF for that. Standout was the visuals in cutscenes. Amazing at times.
Very fun game with some badass mechanics but could get pretty frustrating having to recover 5 minutes worth of ground sometimes if you're killed. Not a super forgiving checkpoint system. Also, I thought the story was cool but I played Alan Wake not too long ago and was waaaaay more invested in the story and diving deeper into the lore. Control just didn't quite get there for me on the narrative front. Standout though was the Ashtray mission. One of the coolest fucking levels ever.
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