For more than two years, I’ve been watching CallMeKevin and RTGame playing a whole host of games – both popular and obscure. One series that both would occasionally play is Hitman. The sandbox nature of the series attracted me to it, but I never jumped immediately. If this is a story that sounds familiar, that’s because it is. It’s the same situation I found myself in with Farming Simulator and seeing the Yogscast play it during the Jingle Jam.
Between my birthday and Christmas of last year, though, I picked up the Gold edition of the second game of the World of Assassination trilogy. I had looked through the winter sale to see a drastic reduction in price on it, and thought that if I ended up not liking it, I hadn’t taken such a big risk with it. I should have learnt from Farming Simulator. It became an instant hit with me.
I’d already seen some of the locations of the games through those videos I’d watched, and had a few favourites which were elevated further once I played them for myself. Hawke’s Bay seemed an easy enough starting location, giving just one target and a lot of places to hide between that target and the exit. For a first attempt, it went well. It was then off to the ICA Training Facility to learn more about everything possible.
Back when I was young, Playstation was king of the household with Nintendo being mostly for handhelds (still had a Gamecube that introduced me to some… Sonic the Hedgehog games). Along with that, there was also the PC. Back before Steam was ever a thing, the likes of Hydro Thunder and Worms 2 were all the rage. We also owned two Sonic the Hedgehog games. Then there were the simulation games.
Theme Hospital was always a fun game, and Mall Tycoon offered some short-lived fun, but the series to grab my attention was RollerCoaster Tycoon in 2002. For someone who loved creating, the second RCT game felt a dream come true for a game, allowing me to map out an entire park and the rides that it held. Along with designing the tracks of the coasters, the rivers and pools along the park, I enjoyed the freedom that the sandbox mode offered to create it all.
That’s not to say I didn’t also jump into the challenges the game offered, but I was certainly happier not having to worry about money and keeping everyone happy. The isometric view allowed easy customisation of the world, but also meant there were some restrictions if ever you decided to get too technical or overload the park with a massive amount of things.
At the end of last month, I’d been looking into games that I’d be happy to stream, having recently started doing so over on Twitch. GTA V would be an obvious one, showing off the races I create along with those of others. And of course, I wanted LEGO City Undercover to be my first full playthrough of a game.
As usual, I found myself looking at the latest eShop updates over on Nintendo Life, where the title of Mask of Mists jumped out at me. An action-puzzler within a world of magic, I jumped over to the eShop to give it a look. I liked what I was seeing, as the game had a nice art style that complimented the world.
It looked a relaxing game to spend a few hours with, and while I did jump to the extreme of calling it a small-scale Skyrim, the description is still fitting. Across my play of it on that first stream, I did feel that description was certainly jumping to the extreme, but it wouldn’t be until the second stream I featured it that I found a better comparison.
I’d been interested in this one from when I’d first heard of it back when it was known as Next Car Game. It was something that interested me, being touted as a spiritual successor to the FlatOut series. But… me and PC games, I knew there was little chance of me actively playing it.
Around January-2019, I’d found a video titled Survive the Hunt #8. A video from the channel of FailRace. That video launched me into being a fan of the FailRace channel, and soon I’d caught up with the previous Survive the Hunts, as well as watching the latest videos as they arrived. Some of which were about Wreckfest, allowing me to experience in some way this game I was waiting for.
The racing wasn’t that serious, since the aim was to get ahead through any means necessary. Whether on tarmac or dirt, though usually a combination of the two (along with a few other surfaces), the racing always felt fierce. But once the game was announced to be releasing on the Xbox One, I never jumped at the opportunity to own it and get stuck in.
For most of my life, I’ve loved racing games. I might not have been the best at the more simulation-based ones for most of that, but I loved driving, no matter what it was. Mario Kart would be the obvious favourite, with the likes of Forza Horizon and the DiRT series being other well-known series.
Then there’s the lesser known stuff, such as Wheelspin and Mini Desktop Racing, that replicate a certain style of racing on a budget (and usually fail at it in some form or other). But all of these are console-based racers, and while they’re great to get stuck into, for a gamer on handhelds – as I mostly was in my younger years – there needs to be some great experiences there, as well.
Such was indeed the case. Mario Kart DS is an easy one to pick out, but I’m not looking at Nintendo’s handhelds with this. Along with the DS, I owned a PSP, and two of the games I’d played on it have already featured as part of last year’s Racing Month – by way of their console counterparts. But what of the other racers I’d played on Sony’s handheld?
You’ve seen me talk about my experiences with the two Jedi Knight games that Aspyr have ported to the Switch. I enjoyed what I played, but they felt like they were showing their age. Still fine games, but plenty of little quirks that can sour the experience. I’d never played those two before, except a brief outing on Academy, and I’d never played this next one either.
There were plenty of Star Wars games of the old times that I’d never got around to playing, to be fair. The same friend who’d introduced me to the series through Battlefront 2 had showed off the Revenge of the Sith game, but for a number of years, I was content to just collect the new releases and not look back.
Then, when my love for the franchise had solidified, I started to look back on gaining some experience of those older games. I enjoyed my time with some of them, and others not so much, but there was one I was particularly curious about – especially having played an arcade version of it while at Disney Quest in America. Podracing.
Saints Row: The Third was a game I had my eye on from when it was first announced to be coming to the Switch. An open world game similar to GTA? Count me in! Not as if the latter series is ever coming to Switch. However, it took me a year before I bought into it. I was still playing a lot of GTA V back then, with the Switch filling in for experiences different to both it and Forza Horizon.
With it being a year since it released on Switch, I took notice of the series again. By this time, I was playing less of both of those games on the Xbox One, what with Framing Simulator and the LEGO marathon taking up my time, so now the tables had turned. It was time for the Switch to get another true open world game.
The Third was the most obvious choice, as it was the one I had previously been looking at, and from opinions I had seen around it was the better choice to start with. From the ten hours I’ve been with it so far, I’m certainly enjoying my first taste of hanging with the Third Street Saints.
When people are asked what the best Star Wars games are, they usually reply Battlefront or Knights of the Old Republic. When they aren’t fawning over those two series, the next to get in the spotlight is Jedi Knight. Heralded as having the best lightsaber combat of any Star Wars game, Outcast and Academy are standout games for the franchise.
Except… I don’t really see that. If you remember to the last Star Wars Month, I put up a video showing off an early level of Academy. Playing on PC, I was stuck with keyboard and mouse controls, and really didn’t want to mention anything else. Fact was, though, I couldn’t see what people were raving about. Old game though it might be, with terrible movement and gunplay, I couldn’t see anything worthwhile in the lightsaber combat.
Now, with both Outcast and Academy being released on the Nintendo Switch, I felt I could really get stuck into them, away from my awkward use of keyboard and mouse controls. Before I get stuck in, I will say that it still hasn’t been a positive experience.
Back during the build-up for the original release of LEGO Harry Potter, I was massively excited for it. I’d already played and enjoyed Star Wars: The Complete Saga, and the trailers for Harry Potter were doing their job in getting me excited for it. When I played it, there was a certain magic to it – and I’m not just saying that because of the setting of the series.
There was a lot to love with it, and once Years 5-7 released a year later, both The Clone Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean had released, both of which I’d also enjoyed. But that did lessen the enjoyment of the second Harry Potter game – despite there being several new elements to it.
It wasn’t the fact I was getting burnt out from LEGO games, but that playing the other two between the two of Harry Potter raised a highlight of the games I hadn’t much recognised while playing the first. And this is the thing I call the Harry Potter syndrome.
With the recent news that Criterion are back onto Need For Speed, I’m hyped. The team might have seen some change since Burnout Paradise, but they are a great studio. That concept they had for the extreme sports game never got off the ground, but there was promise within it.
And you’ll note that I said back to Need For Speed. Once finished with Burnout Paradise, the Criterion team were put onto EA’s other long-standing racing series to make Hot Pursuit. After the success of that game, they followed up with my personal favourite of the series in Most Wanted .
While they did help with Rivals, their time on the series looked as though it was done, with Ghost Games [now EA Gothenburg] being the main developer of Rivals and taking on the series since that time.