Top 5 Games Coming in 2019: Monthly Roundup December 2018

Please see here for previous Round Ups from 2018:
September: Top 5 Games I keep coming back to online
October: Top 5 Musical Moments in Games
November: Top 5 Arcade Racers on Xbox Game Pass

So 2018 is coming to an end, Christmas is done for another year and it’s time to look forward to 2019. I did a similar forward-looking Top 5 at the end of last year but amusingly, or annoyingly, two of the games I put on the list then still haven’t come out! Last year I had Crackdown 3, the new Yoshi, the new Kirby, Detroit Become Human and Spiderman. Detroit was wonderful but otherwise Kirby was a big let down and I have only just started playing Spiderman. The other two are, apparently, coming in 2019, so I will pop them on this list too!tr

1. Trials Rising
This is what 2019 is all about for The Boy and I! We have spent hours upon hours trash talking each other in Trials Fusion and we cannot wait for this new one to be released. By the look of the Beta I played earlier in the autumn this is going to take the crazy jumps and explosions to a new level. And we can get it on the Switch now too!

2. Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled
I cannot wait for this remake! CTR was the only kart racer that has ever got close to Mario Kart’s level of brilliance and fun. Frankly, I would probably rather a remake than a new one as we can be sure it’s going to be fantastic. The Boy has never played the original either, but I reckon he will love this.

3. Crackdown 3
The first Crackdown was a lot of fun and I hope this one is too. My Xbox Game Pass subscription lasts past Crackdown 3’s release date, so bring it on!

4. Yoshi
Mainly on the list for The Boy really, although I am certainly looking forward to playing it. Let’s hope it actually does come out in 2019.

5. Gears 5, Control, Sea of Solitude – will any of these actually release in 2019?
Same thoughts on these games – can we be sure any game without an actual release date will be out in 2019? I am really looking forward to all three of these titles but until they have confirmed release dates I’m not holding my breath!g5

For the record I also have 5 games from 2018 that I have only just started or still haven’t got to: Beat Saber (which may just be the greatest thing mankind has ever created!), Spiderman, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Hellblade and Astro Bot.

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Reflections on 2018, Part 2: Awards

After last week’s ‘review of reviews‘ post, I thought a more quality-over-quantity approach would also be good to balance it out. As such, here are some awards for gaming in 2018!

Best Game: Forza Horizon 4
I was really reluctant to call this game the best racing game ever – I assumed that a circuit racer would be always hold that crown. But by the end Forza Horizon 4 gave me no choice! The cars, the racing, the events, the graphics, the music, the handling, the locations, the seasons…. etc etc. Everything about it is stunning.03-10-2018_07-15-19
Runner Up: Celeste
For a long time I heard good things about this game but put off playing it. I don’t usually go for retro-styled 2D platformers but Celeste is so much more than that. The story, the characters and the overall themes of the game are perfectly complemented by the gameplay. I played it on Switch, which I think was perfect, but you’ve got to play this however you can.2018021917581300-75A32021BE3512D7AA96B2D72F764411

Best Platform: Xbox One
With 6 games from 2018 that I’ve given 5* to, this was always going to be a close run thing but the Xbox One had 2 amazing exclusive games this year, where Switch and PS4 both only had one. The other 2 multi-platform titles are also available for Xbox One so the vast majority of the games I enjoyed above all others this year can be played on Microsoft‘s console. Fair play.ONRUSH™_20180721083050
Runner Up: PS4
The Playstation takes 2nd over the Switch as the Donkey Kong Adventure DLC for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, although certainly enough content to count as it’s own game, is still only an expansion. Detroit Become Human meanwhile is a brand new, arguably ground-breaking, experience.Detroit_ Become Human™_20180904082707

Best Multiplayer Game: Rocket League
The Boy and I both still play this game online most days. Looking forward I can see Trials Rising stealing it’s crown for 2019 but Rocket League will always be there, always fun and always full of new content.2018012313234100-6F4D679ED7D2A016B654B265B956C5F0
Runner Up: Overcooked 2
As a single player game, Overcooked 2 was actually a slight disappointment over its predecessor. By adding in both competitive and co-operative online multiplayer, however, Overcooked 2 keeps the fun times rolling by taking the best part of the game – chaotic kitchens in multiplayer – and giving you more reasons and more opportunities to play it. And the DLC was great too.2018082221504700-7D6F548625BC0EB94C235FFE679A3299

Best VR Game: SUPERHOT VR
I never knew I needed a video game that made me feel like I was in The Matrix until I had one! The immersion and control given to you by this game are wonderful – a must-experience game, even if you have to borrow a VR headset to play it.SUPERHOT VR_20180404205024
Runner Up: Moss
Part of the future of virtual reality gaming is glimpsed in Moss, I reckon. The ability to control a character in the game world, whilst also being a part of that world yourself is a wonderful balance of the things that are great about VR.Moss_20180917211157

Most Unexpectedly Great Game: Dropmix
I played a few music-VR games this year that were a disappointment but Dropmix was the total opposite. I expected it be a novelty value thing that ended up gathering dust pretty quickly. However, I am still playing it myself a little and it is always a hit whenever people come round. Here’s another mix I made recently.

Runner Up: State of Decay 2
I was looking forward to this game but just before release all anyone could say about it was how glitchy and messed up it was. Well, I played it anyway and not only did I suffer with virtual zero problems, the game was absolutely amazing too!22-05-2018_23-33-53

Wooden Spoon – Worst Disappointment: God of War
I only bothered to play this game because the whole world thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. There is a period in the middle of God of War when I agreed with everyone else about how good it is – a long period in fact. But I’m at a loss to know how everybody missed how long it takes to get going or how long it out-stays its welcome. Shame.God of War_20180701124354_1
Runner Up: The American Dream
The first hour or two of this game is really entertaining. It’s funny and although the VR-shooting doesn’t always track perfectly it was close enough. But soon you start to think that it has only one trick as it gets boring. But then at the end it jumps completely off the deep end, as if trying too hard to be interesting! Odd, and just not that fun.The American Dream_20180427165758

 

Reflections on 2018, Part 1: a Review of Reviews

So, it’s December, it’s the end of the year and it’s time to start wrapping things up. In a few weeks I’ll write a post looking to 2019 and the games the future will bring, but for now let’s look back over the last 12 months.24-10-2018_17-55-02.png

I’ve mentioned before that this year was all about breadth of gaming for me, I wanted to just play as many games as possible, even if it meant moving on swiftly from each one. I tried hard to reach 52 games reviewed, one for each week, but in the end I came up just short on 51! In fairness, if you consider all the games I started only to decide they weren’t worth the time required to play them enough for a full review (Cuphead, The Crew 2, Madden NFL 19 to name but a handful) then I don’t think I’ve done too badly!

I gave 14 games the top score of 5* this year, although only 6 of them were released in 2018, the rest were games I hadn’t got around to from 2017. Next week I will write a post about my favourites and reviewing the year overall but for now, without further ado, here are the links to every one of those 51 reviews.

2018 Reviews (by score and then chronologically):
5*
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Super Beat Sports
Rocket League
Forza Motorsport 7
Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels DLC
Celeste
Dropmix
SUPERHOT VR
Super Mario Odyssey
State of Decay 2
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle Donkey Kong Adventure
Onrush
Detroit Become Human
Forza Horizon 4

4*
Meteorfall: Journeys
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Lucky’s Tale
Bridge Constructor Portal
God of War
Dere Evil Exe
Fe
Moss
Into The Breach
Alto’s Odyssey
Overcooked 2 Surf & Turf DLC
Super Mario Party
Shadow of the Tomb Raider

3*
Rime
Frederic: Resurrection of Music
Gravel
That’s You!
Overcooked
Trials Fusion
Florence
Super Mega Baseball 2
Steamworld Dig 2
Captain Toad Treasure Tracker
Super Volley Blast
Thumper
Overcooked 2
Death Squared
Uno Playlink
FIFA 19

2*
Gear Club: Unlimited
Pac Man Championship Edition 2 PLUS
Knowledge is Power
The American Dream
Urban Trials Playground
Track Lab

1*
Frederic 2: Evil Fights Back

REVIEW: FIFA 19 (Switch)

  • Released: 2018
  • Played on: Switch
  • Also available on: PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4
  • Time to get into: 20 Minutes
  • Time to complete: 80 Hours
  • Multiplayer: Yes, local and online

Game Summary
FIFA 19 on the Nintendo Switch is a disappointment. It’s essentially FIFA 18 on the Switch with some new kits and the Champions League theme tune. But that only tells half the story: FIFA 18 on the Switch was basically the same as FIFA 16 or 17 on other consoles. That was acceptable when it was the series’ first foray onto Nintendo‘s hybrid console. It’s not anymore. That said, it’s still a fully featured console football game that you can play on the move: don’t underestimate the genius of that.

What’s good about it?

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  • This is a football game that you can play on the go but without any of the compromises we’ve had to make over the years with PSP or iPad versions. For people like me, who have sunk huge numbers of hours into a one football game or another every year for longer that we’d care to remember, that is still an amazing thing.

What’s bad about it?

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  • There are no significant changes to the game from FIFA 18. And this is particularly galling this year as FIFA 19 on the other consoles has changed quite significantly. If you want to know more details about it, then click here to read my review of FIFA 18 from last December!2018103017332800-C74711975E694A5FE937559ED5BB452B

Conclusion
What’s the point in this game, really? I guess if you haven’t picked up a version of FIFA on the Switch yet, then yes, you might as well get 19. But certainly, if you had 18 last year there is even less need to upgrade than most years. Still a lot of fun – but it’s the same fun you’ve had before.
Review3

Click here to purchase the game on cartridge from Amazon.co.uk:

 

RETROspective: Gran Turismo 4

Why am I playing it?
The holiday home I recently stayed in with the family had a PS2 and some old games in it. Most of them weren’t anything to write home about but I did spot Gran Turismo 4 in amongst them, one of the games on my All Time Top Games List. The chance to go back and see how it played all these years after release was too good to pass up so popped it in the tray and grabbed one of the old DualShock 2 controllers!

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How well does it hold up technically?
It does show its age in some ways. For a start it looks fairly horrible now. I seem to remember it looking great at the time but perhaps the difference in two generations of hardware is more noticeable in racing games where there is both speed and a real attempt at realism. Also, the controller isn’t easy to use. Admittedly this isn’t GT4’s fault but pressing a face button for acceleration and braking instead of an analog trigger makes a huge difference. How did we ever play serious racing games like this?! I guess we knew no different. And the less said about that ‘menu system’, the better.

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Has it stood the test of time?
Very much so! Surprisingly so, if anything. The handling is still an absolute dream and the sense of speed, of the proximity of other cars and the responsiveness (or otherwise if you’ve left your braking too late) of the cars is still just as good as it ever was. The tracks they designed were also excellent. For sure you have real race track, including wonderful ones like Suzuka, but the Gran Turismo series always had a few absolute gems of their own, Trial Mountain being a personal favourite. Playing GT4 now beings back great memories of the hours I sunk into it.

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Should people go back and check it out?
Despite the good things I say above, not really. Yes, it was a great game in it’s day and you can still see glimpses of that now but the Forza Motorsport series, which was only just getting started when GT4 came out, has caught and then surpassed it in the years since. Even the Gran Turismo series itself, with the latest GT Sport entry, is put into the shadows by Forza.

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REVIEW: Shadow of the Tomb Raider

  • Released: 2018
  • Played on: Xbox One
  • Also available on: PC, PS4
  • Time to get into: 11 Hours
  • Time to complete: 19 Hours
  • Multiplayer: No

Game Summary
The final part of the trilogy of Tomb Raider games since their 2013 reboot, Shadow of the Tomb Raider spent 11 hours convincing me that the series had diminishing returns. After the stunning Tomb Raider was followed by the decent but pointless Rise of the Tomb Raider, I feared that Shadow of the Tomb Raider was again just more of the same: a well built but boring game. However, credit where it’s due: when Shadow finally gets going, it really does reach great heights in terms of gameplay, story and the all important factor for such games: adventure!

What’s good about it?

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  • Lara Croft is a wonderful character. She is determined, tenacious and talented whilst still being doubtful, introspective and emotional. Watching her battles with herself unfold is the best part of this game.
  • Much like the other two games in the series, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is technically very well built. Everything works smoothly and as it should, animations are rock solid and varied etc. It’s an impressive achievement once again.
  • In the second half of the game the levels of intensity, danger and speed of the story unfolding all go up a notch. Here Shadow finally hits its stride because the actual bones of the game and the characterisation of Lara and her foes mesh really well once things are moving at pace.
  • The boss battle is great. So often boss battles have disappointed in adventure games like this, not least in Rise, but here in Shadow the final battle is fantastic: intense, exciting and ultimately very satisfying.

What’s bad about it?

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  • It takes a very long time to get to where the above good stuff happens! For a sequel there is a huge amount of exposition early on. There’s lots of walking around, talking to people and an almost total lack intensity, either from the story or gameplay.
  • Whilst Lara is a great character, most of the rest of those in Shadow are fairly one dimensional. With adventure and action games now living in a post-Naughty Dog world, this isn’t really good enough, despite Lara being as well realised as anyone from Uncharted or Last of Us.
  • It looks really good, but doesn’t look amazing. Yes, I’m being slightly over critical here but I want more!

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Conclusion
In the end, Shadow of the Tomb Raider still disappointed me a little – I was hoping that it would manage to reach the heights of 2013’s reboot. Although Shadow does fall short of that, if you can stick at it through the first few hours the final few chapters are just as good and a great reward for seeing this Lara‘s emotional story through to the end.
Review4

Click here to purchase the game on disc from Amazon.co.uk:
Click here to purchase a download key for the game from CDKeys.com:

Forza Horizon 4 Drone Mode Photos

Forza Horizon 4 is the best looking game I have played since another ‘Horizon’ entitled game in 2017: Horizon: Zero Dawn on PS4. I have the basic, vanilla versions of the Xbox One and the Playstation 4, so this isn’t really about stunning graphics per se – it’s about making a beautiful game in general, and quality is just a part of that. As I noted when I did a post about HZD‘s Photo Mode, even the even-less-powerful Switch has plenty of beautiful games like Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. Forza Horizon 4 has a fast travel system of sorts but most of the time I was really happy to just drive from place to place and look at the scenery. Great Britain looks stunning in this game! There’s a ‘Drone Mode’ that I think you are supposed to use for looking for events and reward boards but I mostly used it to get great screenshots! Without further ado, feast your eyes on these:24-10-2018_17-56-0024-10-2018_17-56-2724-10-2018_17-57-0824-10-2018_17-58-2624-10-2018_17-58-3824-10-2018_17-59-0124-10-2018_17-59-5124-10-2018_17-59-5924-10-2018_18-00-5924-10-2018_18-01-24

Click here to purchase the game on disc from Amazon.co.uk:
Click here to purchase a 6-month subscription to Xbox Game Pass from CDKeys.com: