As much as I love video games, I am more prone to movies because video games are much more expensive, way more time consuming, and do not offer as many opportunities for conversations with other people.
I am what I affectionately term as a “discount gamer”. It’ll probably be five years or so before I ever own Fallout 4 or the new Star Wars Battlefront (though from what I’ve heard, from multiple sources, Star Wars Battlefront is not all that great of a buy). Instead, my wife and I go to Gamestop every 4-5 months and buy a few used 2-3 year old games and see if they’re really all that great. It’s a good way to enjoy games and only paying $8 – $20 doing so. Here’s a list of games I played. Use it as a guide if you’re like me and need to game on a budget.
All of these games I played on PS3, except from the two that are obviously Nintendo 2DS.
BIOSHOCK INFINITE — 9/10
I was not expecting very much from this game, but the world that is created and the characters that are developed are some of my absolute favorites. The amount of detail they put into the scenery and the story make this an absolutely gorgeous game. Booker Dewitt is a fun, stereotypically quiet, solemn male protagonist that has a lot of good chemistry with Elizabeth, the character that follows you around and gives you whatever you need when you run out of it (and can also rip holes into the fabric of time… just play the game and see for yourself).
The climax of gameplay really hits midway through; I thought it was just an alright game until the crap really hits the fan story-wise.
When I finished playing this game, it was 3am, and I could barely sleep afterwards. The deep levels of time and theory they go into boggled the very depths of my mind.
This game can strike some people as anti-religious and anti-nationalistic. As somebody who considers himself both religious and nationalistic, I was a little bothered by the initial narrative of the game. It drove my wife absolutely crazy watching me play it.
However, I try to train my mind as much as I can to hear opposing viewpoints and listen to the story being told. I’m glad I decided to do so with Bioshock Infinite.
This game seems to be pointing to a world where religion and nationalism spin so out of control that it goes extreme, not necessarily painting both as terrible by their nature. Any liberal or conservative, Christian or atheist, with a functioning brain has to admit that their ideology can be used for evil if not weighed down with checks and balances. If you can see that the way I can (because Bioshock Infinite also seems to be critical of other ideologies later in the game), then buy this game as soon as possible, because it is an absolute joy.
Pokemon X & Y — 6/10
The newest installment of the Pokemon universe is a really refreshing addition. With a host of new Pokemon and a healthy number of return Pokemon, this may be one of my favorite Pokemon games yet.
The graphics are also a great improvement and add new life to battles.
However, as much as I love Pokemon, I cannot ignore the fact that the game is weak on story. This is less a criticism of the game and more on the entire franchise. However, that doesn’t make the criticism any more ignorable.
The game does little to make their world interesting. As usual, the premise is always fun, but fun doesn’t make fascinating characters, in depth city dynamics, and most of all, compelling or competent villains. At this point, all of the different gym leaders, towns, and evil organizations are all repackagings of the first games.
It may be an unfair criticism as Pokemon has always had a simple premise, but I wish Pokemon got deeper than “It’s all about loving and catching ’em all!”
I digress. If you’re a fan of Pokemon, then buy this game. There are no extra worlds you can go to like Gold and Silver, but they’re still good editions to the universe.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor — 7/10
I’ve played a lot of Lord of the Rings themed games, and they’ve ranged from great to terrible. This is probably one of the best I’ve played, if not the best. Like another LOTR spinoff that’s also on this list, this game sort of takes place during the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but does little to affect the outcome of Frodo’s ultimate success.
The gameplay is extremely similar to Assassin’s Creed, and some have even compared it to the Batman Arkham games, and if that’s the case, I’ll have to consider giving those games a shot after they’ve aged to the point of a $15 purchase.
You play as Talion, a fallen ranger who is brought back to life aside an old elven wraith. If that doesn’t sound like classic Lord of the Rings, that’s because it really isn’t. I felt like this game took quite a few liberties in order to create its story, but unlike the liberties Peter Jackson took with his disappointing Hobbit trilogy, they are forgivable in the sense that the gameplay and story are still intriguing and interesting. And honestly, I had a grand old time tracking down orc leaders and bashing them up along with their entire crew.
There are some Tolkien buffs I’ve talked to (my youngest brother being one of them) who were mad at how much the game doesn’t play by the universe’s rules, and while I can understand their resentment, this simply did not affect my overall feelings about the game. However, if you are a Tolkien buff, you may leave this game fighting mad.
The PS3 version of the game is a bit laggy when it comes to the cut scenes, and the open-world music sometimes overlapped with the music of the cutscenes, and some of the aspects of the game can seem repetitive, but all in all, I can feel comfortable recommending this game to anybody who enjoys a good sword fighting game.
Telltale’s Walking Dead Season 2 — 5/10
This game is acceptable provided you only play through the story once. If you try to play the game again, you’ll realize that you’ve been had.
The commercials for this game made you think that your decisions matter, that what you do and say carry weight throughout the game. They even reinforce this gimmick in the game; oftentimes when you decide on what you’re going to say to another character, they’ll let you know on the top of the screen “so-and-so will remember what you told them.”
The thing is though, no matter what you do, your decisions ultimately draw out to the same conclusion. At the very most, there are some slight changes in the narrative based on certain decisions, but like a flowing brook, the story ultimately fixes itself to the original course.
When I finally figured this out, I felt cheated because if the game doesn’t change with different decisions, you’re left with a point-and-click game with little substance or playability.
The story is compelling at times and not nearly as predictable as the abominable Walking Dead TV show, and it’s worth at least one play through if you enjoy decent story driven games, but the game tries to sell you a bag of goods that does not deliver.
Lord of the Rings Conquest — No Rating
Despite my warnings, my wife decided to buy this 2-player game. It’s a garbage video game with almost no substance and no charm that Middle Earth is supposed to contain. It’s a lifeless one-army-against-another-army game that gets boring really quickly.
When I first heard about this game, I was told that it was Star Wars: Battlefront, but with Lord of the Rings characters. Nope, it’s just garbage.
I was willing to see this game through so that I could get a good judgment on it, but my wife was tired of playing it after two maps of boring nonsense. And as much as I love ramming my head against the wall, I decided I wasn’t going to play this game by myself.
However, I can’t really give this game a rating because I haven’t played it all the way through. That being said, I thought it was important to warn you guys of this game so you don’t buy it either.
Lord of the Rings: War in the North — 7/10
This game actually surprised me. It was some random game that my wife’s ex gave to her, and she never played it. When I decided to give it a try, I discovered it was a 2-player game, and the wife and I spent the next four or five weeks killing wave after wave of orcs, spiders, and trolls.
It’s a simple premise: a ranger, dwarf and elf go to the north to fight and distract Sauron’s northern legions from discovering the Fellowship’s journey to Mordor. Along the way, you equip yourself with the best armor, weapons, and skills you can muster.
As you can tell by the above description, there is nothing new this game really has to offer. Not only that, but the personalities of the ranger, dwarf and elf are interchangeable and unspecial. However, the simple premise makes the game extremely easy to pick up and jump into the action.
Not only that, but once you beat the game, you can go through it again with all of your levels, money, and armor and tackle the more difficult enemies with them. For the serious gamers, I don’t think you’ll find too much enjoyment, but for those who are looking for a good game to play with your significant other (especially if that significant other isn’t as crazy about video games as you are), check it out.
Fire Emblem: Awakening — 9/10
This is the best Fire Emblem game I’ve ever played. And I’ve played the Original, Sacred Stones, Path of Radiance, the remake of Shadow Dragon, and Radiant Dawn.
This game essentially takes all the good things from all its predecessors and combines them all to make a fantastic, memorable experience. The gameplay is fast paced and satisfying as you choose the best of the best to fight alongside Chrom and your own personal character that you can customize before the game. This is also the first time there’s ever been a Fire Emblem with competent cutscenes (as much as I enjoyed Path of Radiance, their cutscenes and voice acting were close to unbearable).
The effort put into this game is undeniable; there is so much to enjoy about this game, and that’s a huge sigh of relief, considering Nintendo was going to discontinue the Fire Emblem series if Awakening did not sell well.
If you’re a Fire Emblem fan, or a strategy game fan, and you haven’t played this game, what is wrong with you? Pick up a copy as soon as you can.
The Last of Us — 10/10
This is by far the best game that I have ever borrowed, perhaps the best thing I have ever borrowed in general.
When one of my closest friends came home from college, he did so with a bunch of used PS3 games, one of them being this gem, The Last of Us. Despite the fact that he didn’t finish the game, he was so convinced that I would love it that he decided I just had to borrow it, and borrow it I did.
There is close to nothing I can find wrong with this post-apocalyptic game. This is the kind of game that does the best at combining fantastic gameplay, savagely good storytelling, and breathtaking graphics.
Joel is one of the best characters I have ever played as. He is so freaking interesting, solemn, and dangerous. He’s just so cool and badass and has layers of character that shed throughout the game. Troy Baker voices him, and the fact that he also voices Booker Dewitt in Bioshock Infinite was one of the deciding factors that led me to buying Infinite later in life.
The girl that follows him around, Ellie, is a classic spitfire character and the two have such an amazing chemistry that it rivals that of movies that I would call 8, 9, and even 10 out of 10. Ellie is the pickaxe to Joel’s cold heart, and the game would not be complete without the two of them together.
Who honestly knew a game could be such a powerhouse of storytelling?
So those are all of the games I played in 2015, ironically none of them came out in 2015. Maybe when I write my Discount Gamer Summary of 2016, I may have some 2015 titles in there. We’ll just have to wait and see.