Enjoying Some Holiday Gaming Catchup

Hello everyone. Chella is off this week, vacationing in India actually, so she has asked me, your fearless editor, to take the reins on her column. In fact, most of the GiN folks are away this week, either at end of year conventions like EveCon or MagFest, or simply off visiting family. The halls are positively empty, and I can even make it echo if I yell loud enough.

But I don’t really mind. My phone is not ringing and my e-mail is not dinging. So I finally have time to take a breather and actually play some games that have eluded me this year. I know a lot of fellow gamers are probably doing the same, so I thought it might be fun to compare lists. These are the titles that I have finally gotten around to playing this holiday, and which I plan to keep having fun with, at least until the new year rings in and the world wakes back up to its normal hustle and bustle.

Mafia III

Mafia IIII lost interest in this series back in the days of Mafia II, which wasn’t a bad game, but just failed to achieve the greatness that it could have. I read our reviewer’s take on Mafia III, which according to her, was like a Scorsese movie, but even that was not enough to get me interested enough to invest the large chunk of time that it required.

DrivngThen Sony gave me the game for free as part of my PlayStation Plus account, and I tentatively started playing. I was almost immediately hooked. Everything our reviewer said was true. While the game plays a lot like other “capture the territories” titles where you must perform tasks in order to take over a map – in this case the city of New Orleans with a different name – the true joy of this one comes in the cut scenes. Yes, they are like a blockbuster movie in terms of overall quality.

black video game charactersThe game also deals with ugly topics like racism. Your character is black and people on the street sometimes say things like “Know your place, boy!” when you pass. The bad guys often go straight for the N word. And various shops around town have signs proclaiming that they are for whites only. It was interesting to experience extreme racism like that, and it made me both angry and sad. The holiday has given me plenty of time to finish this one, and I am glad that I did. I wonder where this series will go next? Perhaps a Miami Vice type of setting in the 1980s?

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Red Dead Redemption II

Not that this game is particularly old. In fact, I think it’s the best-selling game of the holiday season. I reviewed it myself, and it’s truly one of the best open world titles ever created. There is just so much to do. Now that I am off deadline, I can actually go back and enjoy the world that Rockstar has created for us. I am doing hundreds of side missions in this play through, and generally enjoying every minute that I am engrossed in this beautiful world.

I also plan to dive into the online world, which is currently in beta. I generally don’t enjoy massively multiplayer worlds where there is active PvP, but I did like (not love, but like) the Grand Theft Auto V online component, so I am cautiously optimistic that I will like the western world this time around – but not before I go through the single player campaign again.

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Detroit Become Human

Of all the games I missed playing in 2018, Detroit Become Human tops that list. Given that Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain remains one of my all-time favorites to this day, I figured that falling into a new and exciting interactive world with this new title should be a natural fit. And so far, I was right.

Like Heavy Rain, Detroit Become Human has a story broken up across several main characters. All of them are independent but also at least tentatively connect. So far, I am only a few hours in, but those hours passed by in the blink of an eye. The developers have crafted one of the most interesting sci-fi worlds that I have encountered in a long time, and I know that some tough moral choices are just over the horizon for me. I look forward to making them, but also kind of dread it as I know it won’t be easy.

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Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition

Being a sucker for open world gaming, Horizon Zero Dawn really called out to me. Also, given that all of my friends kept raving about it, that factored into my decision to include it in my catch-up holiday gaming schedule. It also got a great review from Chella, whose column I am overtaking this week. The final factor was that GameStop was running a black Friday sale where they were offering the complete game including the DLC for around $10, and it was something I could not refuse.

Like with Detroit, I am only a few hours into this one, but man, what an experience so far! The game is so beautiful. There are snowy landscapes (including a completely frozen land in the DLC), breezy grasslands, dusty canyons and even a highly populated city. The world is also extremely imaginative, with dinosaurs and other animals made out of metal and machine parts. Hunting them with my futuristic bow takes a lot of guts, but is a unique and amazing experience.

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God of War

Of all the games on my list, this was the one I was least expecting to pick up for some holiday gaming. I’ve never actually been into the series, but the narrative of a father teaching his son to survive in a harsh world tempted me into this one, as well as the aforementioned GameStop sale that made it too hard to ignore.

I have not gotten a chance to start playing this one yet, but its next on my list. Thankfully I still have some holiday left to buckle down and start slashing away with my oversized axe, you know, for the kid’s benefit.

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Let me know if you’re also planning on doing some holiday gaming catchup in the comments section below. Amid all the mistletoe and eggnog, what titles do you want to invest some holiday cheer into this year?

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