The open-world genre has always been a perplexing beast as most titles struggle to find a harmonic balance between the interminable desire for seamless quality and quantity. Most popularized examples simply litter their sandboxes with menial tasks for the sole purpose of longevity, while others have a profound sense of world-building that never appropriately warrants the use of open-world fundamentals. The Legend of Zelda series has always embraced the essential nuts and bolts of the open-world genre, but its explorative world has always felt dissociated from the core innards of the experience. The latest entry in the three-decade long running franchise is said to rethink the conventions of the Zelda series, offering new implementation of player freedom. Breath of the Wild is not only a reinvigorating surge of pulsating energy into the Zelda series, but a masterful reinvention of the open-world genre as a whole, incorporating elements of fundamental realism and meaningful progression that were simply not present in the examples of yesteryear. With a core thematic imprint of discovery, Breath of the Wild’s sense of unadulterated curiosity and exploration is second to none; every minute detail serves a resound purpose and each structured piece of this exceptional puzzle seamlessly blends with the overarching world. Breath of the Wild is simply the most cohesive title in the series and an impeccable example of the aforementioned harmonic balance in the open-world genre. An embodiment of the imperative first steps of a console generation, while simultaneously striking a notable chord as a renowned swan song, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a masterpiece in every meaning of the word.
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The best game of 2014 that I never played
Boy oh boy was I a fool to have neglected what is easily an underrated gem of the current generation. Thanks to the consistent reminders and high recommendation from Wizard Dojo, I eventually decided to give Tropical Freeze a slice of my time. While I extensively enjoyed the Donkey Kong Country series on the Super Nintendo, Diddy’s Kong Quest in particular is quite spectacular, I’ve always felt fairly alienated by its following as for some ineffable reason, I didn’t enjoy them nearly as much as the status quo. They are certainly excellent games, do not get me wrong, but they never beguiled me to the extent of others, and while they most definitely left an imprint, I felt an unsatisfied need for something more. Both a controversial and downright ludicrous opinion am I right? Whatever personal gripe that overstayed its welcome or minute element that felt omitted, Tropical Freeze bombastically rectifies all of my personal uncertainties with the series and rightfully fills the void of understanding Donkey Kong Country’s true brilliance. Not only is it a pristine example of level variety and game design, Tropical Freeze is also the most thrilling and exhilarating platformer I have ever played. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze harmoniously merges the frantic, moment-to-moment nature of reactionary platformers and the strategic and methodical tendencies of Super Mario into a seamless masterclass of gameplay, resulting in what is easily the Wii U’s crowning jewel. Tropical Freeze is the best game of 2014 that I never played and is not only my favourite game on Nintendo’s Wii U, but is also a new personal favourite of mine.
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Now that E3 2016 is over, we can all take a deep breath and take the time to analyze the enthralling goodness that enraptured our captivation for the past week. While I felt the overall showcase was rather underwhelming in comparison to last year’s E3, there were specific highlights that acted as this year’s saving grace and Sony in particular definitely brought the momentum back as they undoubtedly knocked it out of the park with their press conference. Aside from the excellent re-imagining of the Resident Evil series with Resident Evil VII, the invigorating multiplayer showcase of Battlefield 1, the intriguing permutations of Detroit: Become Human, the melancholic tranquility of The Last Guardian, and the visceral, albeit familiar, gameplay of Gears of War 4, these next five games were my personal favourite showcases at this year’s E3.
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Out with the old, in with the new…
2015 is coming to an end, and while a moment of reflection on the year’s highlights and disappointments are in order, I shall first gaze upon the horizon of the not so distant future. 2015 was an excellent year for gaming which not only satisfyingly delivered a plethora of phenomenal sequels, but also introduced a wide variety of new, innovative IP’s that arguably hogged the spotlight. Maintaining an optimistically framed mindset, hopefully 2016 is able to replicate this exquisitely balanced equilibrium. With many impressive 2015 titles being pushed into the new year, an unfortunate sign that history will always repeat itself, 2016 admittedly shows intriguing promise and hopefully will be able to deliver a wide array of quality experiences while ultimately living up to the hype. Here are 10 games that have peaked my excitement for the New Year, with each and every one of them emitting an alluring nature that has unquestionably captivated my attention. Aside from these intriguing works of art, I also look forward to The Division, No Man’s Sky, Final Fantasy XV, Final Fantasy VII Remake, For Honor, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, Unravel, Star Fox Zero, Street Fighter V, Mafia III, Yooka Laylee, Cuphead, Mighty No 9, Overwatch, Ratchet & Clank, Recore, Daganronpa 3, and Gravity Rush 2. I am also well aware that some of the ten selected games have not been given a definitive release date, let alone a 2016 release window, however their inclusion indicates that there is some margin of a possibility for a 2016 release date. These ten captivating titles, which are ordered alphabetically, have undoubtedly peaked my interest and have rendered me extremely impatient for the imminent New Year which is just around the corner. Which of these games will land on my Top Games of 2016 list? Only time will tell, but for now, let us celebrate the imaginative possibilities of these ten promising titles.
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Building perfection, one question block at a time…
Legacy is a word that is seldom used nowadays; the word has never constructed itself into an oversaturated, pretentious connotation and the vast, vigorous world of gaming haven’t the shortage of premium, quality titles that embody the potential and sheer definition of a legacy. Legacy is a matter of quality and time. Very few series have the pristine ability to kickstart a brave new medium of entertainment, one that is not only presently relevant but also healthier than it has ever been, breathing new, imaginative life into this expansive world. The Super Mario series not only crafted the world of gaming that we know and love today, but it pioneered a beloved genre to perfection and also introduced iconic characters that’ve become synonymous with the entire gaming medium as a whole, with Mario himself becoming the public face of the Big N, which at one point was a renowned playing card and toy company. Thirty years later and Mario has undoubtedly seen his fair share of sequels, successors, spin-offs, and inspirations, arguably taking massive responsibility for the popularity and success of the 2D and 3D realm of gaming. With countless masterpieces under his belt such as Super Mario Galaxy 2, Super Mario Bros 1 & 3, Super Mario 64, and Super Mario World to name a few, Mario has unquestionably become an icon and staple in the gaming community due his unparalleled relevance and punctual ability to deliver a quality gaming experience. For Mario’s thirtieth anniversary, Nintendo have cooked up something special that marks an innovative step towards the series’ evolution; Super Mario Maker gives fans the necessary tools to create a minute, yet idiosyncratic piece of Mario’s very own legacy. Super Mario Maker is essentially two games in one beautiful package: an exquisitely precise 2D platformer that accentuates that iconic responsiveness that is synonymous with the Super Mario series, and a brilliantly intuitive design tool that incomparably outshines all of its respective ilk in nearly every way imaginable. Super Mario Maker somehow managed to find a superlative equilibrium so that fans and newcomers alike can enjoy the experience to its fullest. Fans will undoubtedly bask in all of its nostalgic glory while newcomers, like myself, can perceive the structural template of Super Mario Maker as a small slice of Mario’s history.
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Making a mess has never been this much fun…
Splatoon has always been an interesting project ever since its inception in 2013, not in the sense that its obtuse or abstract, but more by the defining manner of how Nintendo rarely ever set their foot in the shooter space of the gaming ecosystem. I’ve never once thought that they were incapable of crafting a competent shooter, it’s just that the idea had honestly never crossed my mine. For better or for worse, Nintendo has constructed a family-friendly persona, ripe with imagination and innovation like no other; shooters are an oversaturated genre that implore the excessive use of violence and are stubborn for their inability to change. These two statements adherently contradict one another, so I never thought the two would ever merge. Splatoon is Nintendo’s take on the traditional genre, adhering to the common standards of the online shooter while simultaneously adding their own flare to spice up the formula, resulting in one of the most original gems to have ever graced the online gaming community. Splatoon’s pleasantly surprising emphasis on team-oriented, objective based gameplay is a shining feat that is not commonly attempted nor explored in the over-arching realm of the online shooter. The game is just oozing with unparalleled charm, a fantastic colour pallet like no other, and its moment to moment gameplay is fast, frantic, and houses an addictive nature that very few shooters have the potential to reach. Just like any new IP or first entry in a series, there are clearly a few kinks that need to be ironed out, and even though Nintendo constantly updates the game with free weapons, maps, and new modes, the game unfortunately feels a bit sparse which is evidently apparent after playing a few online matches. There’s obvious room for improvement with Splatoon, but there’s no denying the fact that it’s one of the most original shooters in recent memory, an addictive joy to just splatter your enemies, and to be accommodated for, what honestly seems to be, vandalism. Splatoon is a reminder that Nintendo are the rightful kings at what they do, creating the most fun and entertaining games that the medium has to offer; Splatoon wholeheartedly continues this legacy of theirs and in doing so, brought life to an aging genre. Simply put, Splatoon is a breath of fresh air and the best online shooter I’ve played in a long, long while.
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I’ve been gaming since I was about 7 or 8. The very first video game console I ever owned was the GameBoy Color, rocking Pokemon Silver 24/7. Pokemon Silver is was got me hooked to this phenomenal medium and is still one of my favourite games of all time. I also loved playing Spyro the Dragon on the original PlayStation, my first home console. However I didn’t start my current, habitual gaming hobby until I was about 15, and that’s when I got my PlayStation 3 as a Chirstmas present. And for a long while, I primarily played my PS3, I didn’t own an Xbox 360 at the time and I never did end up grabbing a Wii. And that leaves me with a confession: my very first Nintendo home console was the Wii U. People find that statement to be quite a shocker, especially because of how much I love video games. I never owned an NES, SNES, N64, GameCube, or a Wii; I guess you can say I jumped on the Nintendo bandwagon fairly late. In addition to my Wii U, I also have a 3DS which I do love and wish I had more time to play. So I thought I’d share my sad list of completed Nintendo titles with you all and express my interest on the other titles, whether they be recent or classic, I wish to experience, and hopefully you more experienced gamers can suggest some of your favourite Nintendo titles that I forgetfully omitted!
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As we come to the end of the first quarter of 2015, a moment of reflection is in order. I’ll primarily be focusing on Sony and their current lineup and affairs. After the recent announcement of Uncharted 4’s delay to Spring 2016, the first thought that came to mind was: “is Sony in trouble?”
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2014 was a strange year for games. 2014 was supposed to be the year that would highlight the true power of the next generation, however most of 2014’s anticipated titles were delayed to the following year. Not only this, but the year was also filled with games that weren’t playable day one and riddled with post-launch patch support. And personally, there were a few anticipated games that just didn’t live up to my expectations. But fear not, all is not lost, for there were still some fantastic releases this year that certainly made up for 2014’s mishaps. If you don’t see one of your 2014 favourites on this list, it can mean one of two things: I either didn’t get the opportunity to play the game or I just didn’t enjoy it as much as you did. So here are my top 10 games of 2014.
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2014, which was a decent year for gaming, is long gone. I’ll be uploading my top 10 games of 2014 shortly but I still have to complete a couple of games and contemplate their placement on my list. So, in the meantime, I decided to compose a list of my most anticipated games of 2015, a year that shows more promise than its predecessor. The list of 2015 releases is insurmountable, since many 2014 titles were delayed to the following year, and a lot of them have potential to be something amazing. I could have made a list of 20 or more games, but I decided to keep it short and simple; this means that there will be honorable mentions. Along with my 10 most anticipated games of 2015, I look forward to The Division, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Until Dawn, Evolve, No Man’s Sky, Halo 5 Guardians, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, and Yoshi’s Wooly World. But these next 10 games, ordered alphabetically, have got me extremely pumped for 2015, and I look forward to seeing how they are received both critically and commercially, and come next year, how many of them will land on my Top Games of 2015 list.
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