A look back at 2015 : Video Games.

With the year coming to an end it is time to look back at the games that made the year special, it was a pretty good year for games with experiences like Bloodborne and MGS V and Fallout 4, the following are some of my favorite games of the year

Games that came out in 2015

  • Metal Gear Solid V : The Phantom Pain
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    While the game is certainly incomplete and the reason behind it is Konami’s assholishness toward the creator Kojima Production but the game is certainly fun to play and after a 160 hours I am really glad this was Kojima’s last MGS game and I look forward to whatever he makes next (Review).
  • Bloodborne
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    Bloodborne was my entry game to From Software’s signature style games, whatever you want to call it Souls like or FromRPG it is a very different style of games hard to play but very rewarding and enjoyable in the long run, also their way of telling the story is very interesting and I can’t wait to play more from them (Review).
  • Fallout 4
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    due to reasons beyond my control I haven’t finished the game yet, but I am almost 200 hours in and I love it, I am a hardcore Bethesda fan I always counted Skyrim as my all time favorite game while Fallout 4 is not as good as Skyrim but it is certainly an amazing game and I can’t wait to go back in for more.
  • Destiny : The Taken King
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    The expansion to one of my favorite games of last year was really good and it did redefined the game in a good way despite the fact that Bungie’s decision to make all of Year 1 progress redundant kinda put me off the game for now it is still certainly very fun to play and I really do look forward to the next Destiny adventure in 2016.
  • Batman : Arkham Knight
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    the sequel to 2011’s open world superhero masterpiece is a worthy follow up, the game relies heavily on the Batmobile and Car combat but that doesn’t make it a bad thing, on the contrary it is very well made extremely well written and one of the most engaging story driven games I played this year.
  • Heroes of The Storm
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    I don’t like to play games like Dota 2 and LoL for the very serious competitive scene it is not my cup of tea but I really do enjoy Heroes of The Storm and I do play a match or two at least every week, sometimes I play an entire afternoon if I am in the mood for it, I think Blizzard made a really good MOBA that allows players who are not really into the competitive play get into it and enjoy it, it helps if I had friends to play with that is why I don’t play that often.
  • Pillars of Eternity
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    Obsidian Entertainment’s kickstarter success story and the return to classic PC RPGs is a great one, I admit I am still playing it because quite frankly it is a hard game and I need to wrap my head around it but it is really good and deep game and I am glad it exists.

Games that came out earlier but I kept playing them throughout 2015

  • Hearthstone : Heroes of Warcraft
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    I have been playing Hearthstone since early 2014 and it is still one of my favorite games ever, it is so much fun and deep and Blizzard continues with updates and tweaks to make it even better.
  • Path of Exile 
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    without a doubt Grinding Gear Games’ ARPG continues to shine year after year, I can’t believe I started this in February 2013 and I am still into it, thanks to new expansions and extremely deep gameplay Path of Exile will continue with me to 2016 without a doubt.
  • Freedom Wars
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    I needed an entry to the Hunter Gender and I didn’t want to spend money so Sony gave us this for free this month, I have to admit the game has a lot going against it from the awful story that gets in my way to uninteresting monsters, but the game mechanics is fun and I have been playing it for a while, not really sure if I will invest more time in it and maybe move on to something worthy like Monster Hunter 4 but for now the game is keeping me busy which is nice.
  • Grand Theft Auto V
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    without a single doubt GTA V is one of the best games ever made and I am having a good time playing it, also GTA Online is fun that is all I gotta say.
  • Dark Souls : Prepare to Die edition/Dark Souls 2 : Scholar of the first sin edition
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    Both games are great, I am so in love with the From Software style games that I could keep on playing them and I played both games to prepare me for Dark Souls III, 2015 was the year of From Software for me.

Games that could have made this list, but it didn’t because I didn’t play them because of reasons and I will play them in future

  • The Witcher 3 : The Wild Hunt
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    in few weeks I will play Witcher 3, I have been pumping myself up for it and I know I will love this game, I won’t say more but I do regret not playing this game last summer to be honest.
  • Halo 5 Guardians
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    it might have been poorly received by the fans for relaying it on Halo’s Expanded universe lore which I do enjoy a lot and I think it is fascinating therefor I am sure I would have enjoyed Halo 5 if I have played it but I haven’t yet and I will soon, hopefully.
  • Just Cause 3
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    Open world shenanigans what not to love? Just Cause 2 was really fun and crazy and Just Cause 3 is even bigger and crazier from what it looks like so I will jump in as soon as I can.
  • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
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    I wanted to get into the Hunter Genre this year but I keep putting it off until december and I started with Freedom Wars, but I am going to play Monster Hunter 4 next year and I am sure I will love it.

Games that I am so glad I didn’t play them because it would have never made it to this list and I hate to play bad games

  • The Order 1886
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    Sony whored this game around for more than a year in every possible way but the final product is a mish mash of cutscenes and QTE for 6 hours and it will cost you $60, no fank you.
  • Mad Max
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    Ok let me explain one thing, I love the Mad Max movies and the idea of getting an open world Mad Max game made by a good studio made me want to jump in asap but from what I gather the game is pretty mediocre and has so many issues therefore I am sure I won’t like it and I really don’t want to have a single reason to hate Mad Max so I will skip on this for now, hopefully the next game will be good.

Best Demo or Alpha/Beta experience

  • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (Demo)
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    I played this demo for over 15 hours, it is honestly a really good standalone game if you forget about the fact that it is just one area and three monsters, from what I see it this demo is better than a game like Order 1886 because it is packed with weapons and online multiplayer option.
  • Battleborn (Alpha)
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    Gearbox’s Hero Shooter might not appeal to everyone and it certainly has a stive and harsh competition (Overwatch, Paladin, Paragon) but I certainly enjoyed the Alpha but I am not sure I will buy the full game since I have no friends to play with.
  • Duelyst (Beta)
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    I want to play this game more I really do, it is beautiful and deep and combines two of my favorite genres, but it is a browser game it is kinda putting me off it, I am hopping it will come to iPads next year because this game will do well there and I will keep on playing it.
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The Revenant (Review)

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The Revenant is directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy and Domhnall Gleeson and it is a movie about a man left for dead and his journey back home to take revenge for what is done to him, from the first scenes of this film you will understand one thing this is a hard film to watch it is uncompromising and the setting of the film is very harsh and cruel.

One of the most noteworthy things about this film is the director’s decision to only use natural light to shoot the film so everything that is done here is 100% natural and on location no green screens no CGI nothing like that which lead to what some of the cast called it a nightmare of a shoot. the film is shot in America, Canada and Argentina and the cinematography is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, it is so beautiful you feel like it is a Terrence Malick movie and it relies on that beauty to keep it movie since the film doesn’t always have a dialog to keep it going. it also relies very much on the powerful and dedicated performance by DiCaprio since he is basically the heart of the movie and he truly did give a perfect performance, he has very little dialog and most of his performance is physical and he really is dedicated to that role, Tom Hardy is another powerhouse in this film although I feel like if Tom Hardy tries any other accent you can’t understand him as well I mean he was easy to understand in Inception because he was speaking through his native accent but in The Dark Knight Rises and Mad Max Fury Road and now The Revenant he is hard to understand but that doesn’t take away from how good his performance was.

My only gripe with the movie is its length, it runs for 2 hours and 45 minutes and I feel like it should have cut it a bit short and let it be just 2 hours, also some critics have stated that the dream sequences that DiCaprio has throughout the movie is a bit pretentious but I didn’t feel that way to me it gave the character a lot more depth and made me sympathize with the character a lot more.

Verdict : The Revenant is a breathtaking movie that is beautifully directed and it is backed with a powerful performance from its leading man and the result is nothing but a chilling experience that made me shiver while watching it and I really wish I never find myself in that environment.

The Hateful Eight (Review)

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The Hateful Eight is the 8th film by the acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino and it stars Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and many more. the film is a western takes place after the civil war and it is about a group of strangers taking shelter in a tavern one of them is a criminal and the bounty hunter that caught her believes that someone is not who he says he is and he is trying to free her, which leads to alliances and interesting conversations between the characters about society, justice, the war and racism. one of the strongest aspect of the movie is its pacing as per usual Tarantino lets his characters speak their minds and deliver extremely interesting lines without holding back and the results are very cruel dialogs to a point it made me feel hatred toward some of the characters. one of the most interesting aspects of the film is it is shot in 70mm which is very rare for this day and age usually films are shot in digital now days and the results are very beautiful wide shots that gives you the feel of movies such as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Ben Hur and Laurence of Arabia and that is something really rare now days, in addition the movie takes place in a blizzard so Tarantino refrigerated the set to give an authentic feel of cold to the characters and you really do feel that these characters are cold and shivering, none of the CGI Social Network cold breath for this one.

Let’s talk about the cast a little bit, every one of them is an acclaimed actor and they do an amazing job delivering those witty lines, perhaps this is Samuel L. Jackson’s best performance since Pulp Fiction he is not just being Sam Jackson he is really hitting all the right notes with this character and I really wish he would take some awards and recognition for it, and also Jennifer Jason Leigh is doing a really good job with her character as well and she is really funny throughout the movie I really enjoyed her performance and laughed out loud at some of her weird dialogs. one more thing to note here is Tarantino himself he makes an appearance in most of his movies and he did make one in this one as well and in a very nice fashion, I won’t spoil it for you but it is my favorite appearence of him in his films to date.

Another big name in this movie is Ennio Morricone who scored the film, it is his first western in 40 years and in the past Ennio stated that he will never work with Tarantino again after Django Unchained but later changed his mind and what is interesting is Tarantino was also against letting anyone compose for his films and he is well known for picking his music and editing his shots to certain songs but this time he changed his direction and I gotta say it is really beautiful, in addition three tracks from Ennio’s sound track for John Carpenter’s The Thing was also used for this film.

Verdict : Someone once said “Superhero films will die out just like how the western died” but I guess they didn’t have Tarantino in mind, The Hateful Eight is not just a good film it is a monumental work that makes you not look away from the screen during its 2 hours and 45 minutes, it is beautiful bloody and cruel and the final sequence will keep you on your toes and that makes it one of the best films of the year.

Star Wars : The Force Awakens (No Spoilers Review)

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Star Wars : The Force Awakens is the 7th* Star Wars movie and the first one without the George Lucas’s involvement, the movie is directed by J. J. Abrams (Star Trek, Super 8, Cloverfield) and stars Daisy RidleyJohn BoyegaOscar Isaac and Adam Driver as the new cast with the old cast returning to reprise their roles as the classic characters, the film is also co-written by J.J. and Lawrence Edward Kasdan who Co-wrote The Empire strikes back which is considered the best Star Wars movie, before I get to the review let me tell you the weight of this movie if you are not a Star Wars fan and you haven’t watched the movies you should understand that Star Wars fans are like Manchester United Hooligan fans, they take these movies very seriously and rightfully so, I rewatch the series every year because I love them that much, it was my gateway to everything from video games to books to Anime because Star Wars made me fall in love with Sci-fi and Fantasy and after the original trilogy George Lucas made the prequels and to many fans he basically shitted all over Star Wars with his awful script and terrible casting choices, they did tell a good story but did more damage than good, so with the new trilogy fans (me included) were very concerned about how are they going to bring back the faith that was broken so imagine the relief that I felt when I found out the reaction to the movie is very positive, but I did go in the movie theater with a lot of skepticism and grounded expectation and I was blown away by what I watched, without a doubt this is a Star Wars movie that does so many things right it made me shiver and covered in goosebumps and scream and gasp which is rarely happens to me now days when I watch a movie, so without further delays here are what I liked and disliked about the movie (without spoiling anything) :

Likes:

+ The Good Guys : Old and New cast, the good guys did a great job and Daisy Ridley’s Rey stole the show for me her character is really amazing, she is a badass and also a humble person with enough mystery to keep you guessing, Harrison Ford also did an amazing job and delivered some very powerful moments, very excited to see where the new characters will go in the next movie.
+ The Bad Guys : Kylo Ren is scary, he is evil and terrifying but not just that he is relatable and you can see why, he doesn’t just appear out of nowhere you get to know his past and how he became what he became, also his powers are terrifying and Adam Driver is doing a great job as the character.
+ The Script : what makes the script so appealing is the fact that it doesn’t take itself so seriously all the time like the prequels did, in fact I was laughing a lot while watching it because it is genuinely funny, and also when the right time comes the movie becomes very emotional and gives you a punch of feels.
+ The Director : J. J. Abrams did an amazing job with practical effects and the action sequences and I didn’t noticed any lense flares so thank god for that
+ Music and Sound Effects : Star Wars was always known for great music, John Williams’ score is blood pumping and I was covered with goosebumps at times because of how good the music was introduced to emotional scene, but what really surprised me was the sound effects the Blasters didn’t just “pew pew” like they used to they had a weight and feel to them and the Lightsabers didn’t make that weird sound as much as they used to, over all this movie had an amazing sound design and I really hope they keep doing the same good job for the next movie.

Dislikes :

Some of the choices : while I understand why they made them but they did feel like just necessary moments to move the plot and establish the new trilogy, I won’t spoil anything here but they did feel a bit rushed.

Verdict : if Nostalgia wasn’t a factor The Force Awakens will be my favorite Star Wars movie, it is well directed well acted blood pumping and emotional and does it all with grace, with a throw back to the original trilogy and also establishes Star Wars as not just a story about Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker but a universe with many stories to tell, and I know it is impossible to please everyone I have read enough negative reviews to tell you that it didn’t please everyone but keep this in mind if you are a Star Wars fan this is the best movie to come out in over 30 years, one I am so glad that it exists.

*I really don’t count The Clone Wars as a main Star Wars movie neither should you.

Ex Machina (Review)

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Ex Machina stars Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac. the movie is about a tech giant (Isaac) who owns world’s biggest search engine and he created this competition to select one of his employees to participate in a highly classified project, the movie opens with Caleb (Domhnall) winning that contest and travelled to an undisclosed location where he is introduced to this AI person Ava (Vikander) and he is tasked with testing the AI and to see if the AI can make him think it is a human, and from there the events unfold as you get to see these characters interact with each other, here is what I liked and disliked about the movie :

Likes

+ Alex Garland : this movie is written and directed by Alex Garland and he has done a brilliant job in both ends, it is visually amazing while at the same time very intriguing to watch these characters unfold their motives and secrets.
+ Performances : Especially from Oscar Isaac and  Alicia Vikander who did a marvellous job for this movie, Alicia’s performance is so well done I totally believed that she was a robot.
+ Focus : for a movie like this about few characters and one setting the focus of the narrative is one of very important if it drifts from the main story it might end up ruining it and if it doesn’t drift a little bit it might end up with one dimensional characters, so I am really glad that Garland found a way to glance over the depth of his characters while leaving a lot for the viewer’s imagination without giving anything away from the main story.
+ The Ending : Not going to spoil anything but holy crap.

Verdict : Ex Machina is one of the best movies of the year and it is certainly one of the most memorable ones, with breathtaking visuals and powerful performances backed with a well written script and a nothing short of a perfect direction it took its small cast and concept and made something truly remarkable.

The Leftovers Season 2 (Review)

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The Leftovers was created by Damon lindelof and Tom Perrotta and it is an adaptation of Perrotta’s novel, the first season premiered on HBO to near universal acclaim for its strong performances and beautifully directed show about depression and lost of hope after an event occurs that no one can explain, the 2nd season went through a makeover by changing its setting and location from New York to Texas and by changing most of its cast except the main protagonists, at first if nothing I was a bit worried about these changes but I also believed that this show has great potential to create yet another great season from its strong base material and extremely talented cast, and boy was I not just right I am blown away by how good this season turned out to be, here we go :

Likes
+ Performances : Especially from Justin Theroux that man really bring it this season, he has to win an emmy because his commitment to the role was nothing short of perfection, the rest of the cast did remarkable work as well but Justin really stood out and he was for the majority of the season the main focus of the storyline
+ The Script : no matter how good an actor is he is still bound to a script, the writers managed to write a piece of work that was so moving and powerful that I could say it is one of the best work this year.
+ The Scor and Soundtrack : Max Richter continues to amaze with his powerful pieces of music and choice of songs especially “Where is my mind” which was played on numerous times throughout the season.

Dislikes
– Nothing : I can’t think of a single thing.

Verdict : with Season 3 maybe not coming due to the show’s lower ratings this season I think I could say without a doubt that all those who left the show missed out on one of the best seasons I have ever seen making it one of the best achievements currently on HBO.

The Man in the High Castle (Review)

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The Man in the High Castle is an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s 1962 alternative history novel about a world where the Nazis and the Germans won the World War 2 and took over the United States, it was adapted by Amazon into a 10 episode and released on their streaming system this November, as a fan of Philip K. Dick I was very excited to see this adaptation which was met with critical acclaim so I was very excited about it, after watching it though I am somewhat torn between a mixed feeling toward what I just saw, so here is my thoughts on The Man in the High Castle :

Likes :
 + Setting : I am a somewhat fanatic of world war 2’s history, I read a lot about it and I am always interested in reading more naturally I will be drawn to a fictional world where the war has taking a different direction and won by the other side, it is not a world I want to live in mind you but it is nevertheless interesting to watch and this show has done an amazing job creating a Nazi and Japanese occupied United States, most notably the costumes are really amazing.
+ Performances : while nothing special from the three main leads (Alexa DavalosRupert EvansLuke Kleintank) but some of the performances like Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa was exceptionally good in my opinion he was really pleasant to watch also Rufus Sewell was also pretty good.
+ Cinematography : they really did a great job showcasing american landscapes with some beautiful lighting work.
+ Couple of really emotional moments : especially regarding Frank it is really heartbreaking to watch and it also gives you a window into what happened after the war and the crimes the Nazis and the Japanese committed.

Mixed feelings
+/- The Music : some of the score was very good it was pairing up well with the thrilling moments few they were, but the rest of the score wasn’t anything particularly interesting and it wasn’t pairing up well with the rest of the show, maybe this won’t be a big issue for most of the viewers but for me it really didn’t work well.

Dislikes
– Story : now here is the thing, the plot is great the settings is one of the highlight of the show but the story about a group of rebels gathering couple of films that was never explained was a real downer, and the ending didn’t help this at all it made it even more confusing, I am some what a fan of confusing plots (The Leftovers, Lost, Interstellar are my favorite stuff) but this one is just doesn’t seem like a good kind of confusing it is more of a mess and the writers doesn’t know how to get out of, I imagine that is why Philip K. Dick didn’t write a sequel to the novel maybe he was stuck.
– Sense of Danger : despite the fact that this show has some pretty emotional and brutal scenes but the danger involving the main characters seems to be non-existence, they come and go as they please out of embassies and police stations of these government buildings that are supposed to be under very well guarded by a military strong enough to take over the United states, it just doesn’t make any sense.
– A Lost war : this is my major gripe with the show, it fails to show any sense of balance in power between the resistance and the occupying forces, the fact is two huge armies who by the end of the show both are capable of using Nuclear bombs and not afraid to use it at all since they have used it and the rebels are one blonde woman a restaurant owner and the three main characters who collect these films for “The Man in the High Castle” who ever he is, unless if these films are magic there is no way they could win a war against the Japanese or the Nazis making me as a viewer feel like I am watching a pissing contest.
– The Love triangle : anyone who knows me knows that I loathe love triangles, in real life and in fiction and TMIHC has one, it is a triangle with the most basic elements a weird girl torn between two very good looking men one is an artist and the other is a truck driver, yay for me.

Verdict : Sadly The Man In The High Castle failed to make it’s very interesting setting anything remarkable leaving me with a cliffhanger that I want closure with while at the same time not caring if I get it, it is not great show and in this day and age with so many amazing shows it is hard to justify recommending one that is just merely Ok.