2017 is the Year of the Console Game here on TLYW, in which I play 14 games in 14 months on the PS4 and Xbox 360, after 25 years of PC gaming. We are following a course through history as the year progresses. The series is expected to conclude in February 2018.
January – Far Cry: Primal
Ubisoft (2016), PS4. A single-player, open-world action-adventure game set in pre-history.
Plot and setting: Early humans run around mountains and valleys, spearing rhinos and firing arrows at members of rival tribes.
General remarks: A gentle introduction to console gaming. I was able to take my time learning the handset and controls while still making in-game progress. I brought the game almost to completion within a month, eventually tiring of the final boss fight.
Thumbs up: Lots of time outdoors in attractive scenery. I was guided through various well-structured quests and the story was quite involving.
Thumbs down: I spent too much time viewing the attractive scenery using hunter vision, which makes everything grey and yellow. At times the story felt a bit constraining and I wanted more freedom to decide what to do next.
Return to? Probably not as I more or less finished it, but I would play other games in the Far Cry series.
February – Ark: Survival Evolved
Studio Wildcard (2017), PS4. I played on single-player mode, but there’s a multi-player option. An open-world, action-adventure, survival game set in pre-history.
Plot and setting: Humans co-exist with dinosaurs, are attacked by T Rexes and fly around on pteranodons while building elaborate houses and inventing firearms.
General remarks: A pleasure. Very restful. I say this despite the horrendous and constant dinosaur attacks in the central and north parts of the country. The southern beaches are lovely and you can sail around in your boat relatively undisturbed.
Thumbs up: Lots of time outdoors in attractive scenery. Complete freedom to do what I want, at my own pace. Genuinely open-world, lots of exploring with an amount of combat to suit the individual player. Sophisticated options for tweaking the gameplay settings on single-player mode.
Thumbs down: This is a new release that will benefit from a few patches. My two biggest gripes were the near-impossibility of placing or sometimes even seeing fence foundations and the magical ability of dinosaurs of all sizes to intersect walls, rather defeating the point of the wall. Minor bugs resulted in things like my character getting stuck on top of ladders.
Return to? Definitely. In a year from now, hopefully some patches and bug fixes will have resolved some issues.
March – God of War III Remastered
Sony Santa Monica Studio (2010, remastered 2015), PS4. A single-player, third-person, action-adventure game set in Ancient Greece.
Plot and setting: Kratos is an angry warrior who is the son of the Greek god Zeus. His mission is to take revenge on Zeus for some reason, which involves scaling a giant mountain, slaying skeletons and minotaurs and solving puzzles.
General remarks: You will manipulate the handset epileptically while mashing random combinations of buttons until you die and have to repeat the fight.
Thumbs up: The outdoor scenery and some of the buildings are quite nice. The action was quite exciting.
Thumbs down: It was just too linear and platformy for me and there was too much extreme button-mashing. I prefer a slightly more thoughtful, slower-paced sandbox game with a wider choice of in-game activities. Also, Kratos’s world is very dark and gloomy when it’s not on fire.
Return to? Probably not. The rewards weren’t sufficient to keep luring me back in for consistent play throughout the month.
God of War® III Remastered_20170311230955
April – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
CD Projekt (2015), PS4. A single-player, open-world action-adventure game set in the 13th century.
Plot and setting: Monster-hunter Geralt rides on horseback around the countryside and various mediaeval villages, slaying ghouls and mythical beasts while searching for his missing wife and daughter.
General remarks: Fairly engaging. A large open world with lots of space to explore and move around. A generous amount of quests and a good balance between the main quest chain and various side quests.
Thumbs up: Runs smoothly. Combat and crafting are both pretty easy to learn – systems have some variety without being needlessly complex. Well-engineered, unobtrusive mechanisms for things like horse riding and hunter vision.
Thumbs down: Because I don’t like Geralt and his family very much, and because Geralt isn’t a character I would have built for myself, it’s hard to know what my long term goals are within this game.
Return to? Yes, possibly. It’s a strangely amoral and emotionally detached experience but combat is quite enjoyable and there are abundant quests.
May – Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag
Ubisoft (2013), PS4. A single-player, third-person, action-adventure game set in the 18th-century Caribbean.
Plot and setting: Pirate Edward Kenway sails a ship around the islands of the Caribbean, firing cannons, plundering other ships and carrying out assassination quests around Nassau and Havana.
General remarks: A happy and cheerful game. There are no depressed mediaeval villages that are being terrorised by ghouls. Rather, there are bright and lively cities where the sun shines all the time, people sing and dance and drink rum and pirates cheerfully plan their next outing.
Thumbs up: Easy to learn and play. Glorious scenery. Naval combat really offers something new and it’s super fun being at sea in a decent-sized ship that can go fast, take on big waves, and defend itself. Better than average NPC scripts and acting.
Thumbs down: The seafaring action took a while to get started but once you are past the first few quests and out at sea in your own boat at last, it’s no longer a problem.
Return to? Yes, definitely. The mood, like the weather, is sunny and the chance to be at sea in a ship is different and appealing.
June – Red Dead Redemption
Rockstar (2010), Xbox 360. A third-person, open-world, action-adventure game set in the western United States and Mexico in 1911 .