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About Benny

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  1. Benny

    Xbox Game Pass

    The fatigue mechanic is essentially entirely placed there to teach the player that you're expected to switch between characters occasionally. It's a pretty unsubtle way of forcing you to use characters you don't enjoy but I can see why they did it. Unfortunately, I found for actually progressing in the game the ranged characters were just far far more effective than the melee ones, who didn't have enough ways to mitigate taking damage. Once you start unlocking abilities and it gets harder the game's mechanical limitations start to become a lot more apparent, but it's compulsive and has a nice little story while it lasts, even if the writing was a little under baked or on the nose at times.
  2. Never ever google the game either if you haven't played it. Walkthroughs and reviews for the game seem to like using the most spoilery images for their "content".
  3. Benny

    Outer Wilds

    It reminds me of the guy who went through Resi 4 without realising there was a run button. I always assumed everyone plays games with the intent to explore what you can do and end up playing with all of the controls usually to find out what you can do without needing to be prompted, but I think some players just can't get into a mindset of experimenting for its own sake without needing to have their hand held through things or given explicit instructions. I do think this is something more deeply psychological, as showing general interest and curiosity in the world around you or for things you don't know or understand does not come naturally to many people. We all have it from birth, but it gradually becomes rusted out of us to a greater or lesser extent.
  4. I just realised that Watch Dogs trailer was from 2013. Fuck it.
  5. Best Games of 2012 Close, but got lost down a mine and died because it really came out in 2008: Spelunky Just missed out. And missed. And missed again. And missed at 95% accuracy this is bullshit: XCOM: Enemy Unknown I have always loved the Gollop designed tactical games, from Laser Squad to UFO, and the lovely little Rebelstar: Tactical Command on the Game Boy Advance. I even enjoyed X-Com Apocalypse, which had some grand ideas which didn't always quite gel together but is a much better game than many people gave it credit for at the time or perhaps since. So I approached this X-COM re-imagining with some trepidation - it was all very well having the license, but as it had so far long since been run into the ground since it left Julian Gollop's hands, it had a lot of work to do to rekindle the magic. Happily, it turned out not only fantastic, but in a lot of ways even improving on the original, with a purity of design focus that hasn't always been matched by its sequels. This is the best of the series as a standalone title, with XCOM 2 combined with the War of the Chosen expansion as my current preferred way to play. It's a glorious, glorious time sink and quite possibly the best single "XCOM" game ever made. It's also quite telling how much Gollop loves it and how his latest game borrows so many ideas... I hadn't even looked at what I said in 2017 but it looks like I need to get some new material: "I have always been a huge fan of the original UFO: Enemy Unknown and to a lesser extent its asset reusing, harder cousin, Terror from the Deep. So, when I heard that Fireaxis had the license for XCOM and were working on a remake of the series, I was filled with both excitement and trepidation. I knew Fireaxis had excellent strategy game pedigree from the Civilization series, as well as the venerable Alpha Centauri, but could they recreate the magic of the Gollop Brothers’ original grand strategic and tactical masterpiece? I needn't have worried. Whilst it does not slavishly try to recreate all of the elements that were special about the original UFO, and does not attempt to use the same action point based tactical system, it instead takes on the essential spirit of the XCOM series and goes its own unique path, in both the top level strategic portion and the turn based, tactical combat. There are layers of depth to this that only truly become apparent on multiple play throughs, and with the community mods that have been released it only increases the options and scope for experimentation with its systems. This game and its sequel have raised the bar for modern strategy gaming, and I can’t think of a higher accolade for something that holds the XCOM name. It might not be XCOM as I knew it, but it’s a damn fine game with many of the same qualities. Apparently even Julian Gollop approves." Bronze, it gets everywhere: Journey As a purely emotional experience, very few games can match Journey's, well, journey. There is a question of whether the full impact of its experience is still possible if there are not people playing it currently, but when all the cogs are turning as they should it creates something that would not be possible in any other medium - a shared sense of poignancy that is different for every player. I said as much five (!) years ago: “I’m not going to say very much about Journey, because in all honesty it is just one of those titles that you have to experience to see why it is so beloved, and I'm also not going to use the best picture I can because the sense of discovery is a vital part of its magic. Some people argue that very few games achieve truly emotional experiences, but that can depend on your definition of what constitutes emotional. After all, many games elicit feelings of joy, sadness, frustration, pride, melancholy, triumph, suspicion, fear, despair, wonder, awe, curiosity, mirth, glee, abandon, contentment or camaraderie for a start... Journey can make you feel all of them.” Silver, but it's actually red: Fez I completely bounced off Fez after a while. Whether it was just because I wasn't "getting" the puzzles or something less fundamental, I've always thought I should go back and try again one day. Because by all accounts it is something quite, quite genius. And I was enamoured with it at first back in 2017: Fez is one of the most interesting games ever made. The construction of every level feels like a work of twisted genius that would have made any other designer weep. But somehow this staggering auteur work holds together and gets your brain to think in new and flabbergasting ways. Gold is behind this door, or death: Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward Virtue's Last Reward delights in toying with you. From the moment the game begins until you finally escape the madness, you will never quite know what to expect or what results your decisions are having amongst the game's colourful cast of characters. Every single choice is loaded with enough consequence to make Geralt blush, yet it all stems from such a simple premise that it's quite impressive that it never all collapses under the weight of its own ambitions or trickery. It's a game where the events are shaped just as much by how you feel about them as much as what the game is actually telling you, and in many ways the actual puzzle rooms feel like more of an obstacle to getting to the next part of the engaging story than necessary to the overall experience. I loved it five years ago, and I still love it. It's brilliant: "It was an absolute pain to find a good picture for this game that wasn’t spoileriffic. And it’s easy to understand why: the twists and turns to the story are ridiculous, and the character moments are brilliantly judged. If the anime stylings put you off, ignore that. I hate anime bollocks with a passion, but after this had been thrust into my hands and I started getting lost in the madness, I was unable to put it down. The puzzles are fiendish, the choices are bastardly, and the sense that the game knows what you’re thinking at all times is diabolical. An absolute pleasure."
  6. 2012 The year that the world stubbornly refused to end and put us all out of our misery would be one where the word on everybody's lips (chapped lips) would be how game stories were so serious and important now that they were finally, finally going to have to be treated with the same reverence as films (about zombies). Who can forget Ubisoft showing off such gritty and "iconic" pieces of pure cinematic excellence to rival Rashomon as... Even the Microsoft marketing trailers had epic music and fist pumping shouting to rival any war movie ever filmed. I mean I'm getting tears in my eyes just watching it... Nintendo weren't going to be outdone on the cinematic stakes either, as their new "mature" console was really going to pump out something to make George Romero blush Lara Croft was back even, with enough pain and panting to make The Descent seem like it wasn't even trying. But mostly this year was all about the very mature and grown up whooping and cheering on of horrific violence: I think some actual games may have come out that year as well actually...
  7. It essentially means that yes. I have now updated the awards to show a top 5 and make it more obvious that's what it is. Now the lists can be directly compared to previous years in the way Nick R is now going to very kindly keep updated.
  8. Best Games of 2011 Close, but holy beating Minecraft, Batman award: Batman: Arkham City Just missed out because of your cack-handedness award: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword I've always felt Skyward Sword got a bad rap from some quarters. People had problems with the structure of the game and some limitations of the overworld, yes, but it always seemed to relate mainly to struggles with the controls, and those who had those problems were more likely to look upon the other flaws less charitably. As it is, it seems generally it was the hardware itself that let the game down, quite possibly because of variations in setup of the Wii remotes required for the game seemed to mean some people just got dropouts and woolly input detection and thus didn't get the experience intended. Which is a shame, because when it worked the sense of immersion it provided was superb, and even Breath of the Wild cannot replicate quite the same feeling you get running into a fight with arm raised to do battle. It also has Groose, who's story "arc" is one of my favourite of any character Nintendo have ever done. I said this in 2017: "A highly controversial Zelda title, it probably pissed off as many people as it utterly enchanted. This division in opinion is down almost entirely to how well players got on with its new and entirely unforgiving control system, where your movements with your controller directly mirrored Link’s sword, extending this into puzzles and combat requiring highly precise movements. For those that it worked for however, and barring a few other strange design decisions, this was an absolute joy. The characters are some of the most joyful ever created for a Zelda game, and when the combat works the feeling of being the protagonist is difficult to match. This was also the first Zelda title to feature fully orchestrated music in the style of Mario Galaxy, which gave it a wonderful epic feel." Bronze age games design award: The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim I think I've always kind of hated Skyrim. This might stem from my time with Oblivion, where I spent so much of my time just wandering around and messing about with mods that I wasn't sure if I was really "getting" it, and something about the world just didn't feel as immersive to me as so many people were experiencing. I tried again with Skyrim and it just happened again - got past the fairly boring opening, then just wandered off, got lost and mauled by bandits. Wondered if I'd missed something. Installed some crazy mods that tanked my frame-rate. Went back to The Witcher 2. It's been released now in more versions and on more formats than I think there are people, and has been milked for all it's worth. But I just can't help but feel I missed the train a long time ago and it's never going to be the game I imagined it was going to be if I try to go back. I don't think much has changed since 2017: “I have a confession to make - when I started to play this I repeated the exact same steps I followed with Oblivion: installed game, created character, explored opening dungeon, completed opening dungeon, stepped out into the open world, dicked around a bit with some fauna, found a village/castle, annoyed some villagers, then promptly forgot about the game and never played it again. Oh but not before installing and fiddling with some mods first in Skyrim. This is perhaps just a sign that these games are not for me, or perhaps it's just because I find them so daunting. It's easy to see why: the amount of things to do in Skyrim is absolutely staggering, perhaps more so than any other RPG in existence. And as a barometer of player freedom it beats nearly everything else, including the GTA series. (Except Minecraft, but then thats a law unto itself.) As I have only my own limited experience to go on, I thought I could perhaps play this properly before doing this writeup, but I have to be honest with the sheer size of the game that would mean you could all have been kept waiting months, if I even got that far. I still haven’t gone back to it. Maybe when it’s on the Switch." No, I didn't get it on Switch. Silver and chrome award: Portal 2 The original game is such a singularly perfect and wonderful creation that I always tend to forget that the sequel exists. It absolutely didn't need one, but that doesn't mean it isn't one of the finest puzzle games ever made. And it's odd that we could say "there are AAA puzzle games now", but here it is. I already thought this five years ago it turns out: “How do you improve upon perfection? Well, Valve might be the best served to answer this question, as Portal 2 expands upon the original to create a fully fledged, big budget brain teasing experience. The additions to the mechanics involving fluids complement rather than over complicate the design, and the narrative has been deftly expanded without losing too much of the whimsically dark and subtle humour that made the original so brilliant. Bigger, not necessarily better, but very damn close.” Golden Bros award: Dark Souls Meh. It's alright I guess. Bit easy if you get the item down the well.
  9. 2011 2011 was the debut of Nintendo's new great white hope, where their E3 conference wowed all the supposed hardcore gamers, who had unjustly turned up their noses at the Wii and could finally proclaim that Nintendo had made a "proper" console. Did they buy it in the end? Did they fuck. Of course most of the tech demos shown would not exactly pan out into actual things in the end, but it was good to dream at the time. The new Zelda game was looking good, and who didn't want to make video calls with an oversized controller to someone with a lovely dog... Sony decided they had to have an answer to Nintendo's dominance of the handheld market and thus revealed to building shaking applause (once the clappers had prompted everyone)... A strange looking game was announced before all of its players were actually born. And Microsoft continued to show confidence in its new technologies with stellar titles that really showed off what could be done with it... It seemed to be the year of occasionally daring ideas that would ultimately go on to become mostly commercial failures. But thank God the games released that year were some of the best ever made...
  10. Don't worry if some games are not mentioned at first in each year, I'm just mentioning the winners for each year and other games may crop up later in the 100 game countdown.
  11. Best games of 2010 Close but no cigar, marine award: Halo: Reach Just missed out (and clipped off a cliff) award: Red Dead Redemption For me, still the best of the two cowboy simulators. This is more immediate, maybe more "gamey", but overall more fun. My 2015 review: “For sheer unadulterated atmosphere, Red Dead Redemption is completely peerless, beating even the GTA series for its truly unparalleled world building. Proof that Rockstar have never just been a one-trick pony, Red Dead Redemption might just be the first and last word in Cowboy simulators. Riding around the desert on horseback just admiring the landscape is an absolute pleasure, and few other games (such as they are) can evoke the feeling of being in a classic Western with such panache. If it were just a scenery looking simulator it would be great, but the GTA style mission structure has you taking part in the entire smorgasbord of Western tropes such as cattle rustling, dice playing, shootouts, and erm, zombie hunting (the DLC expansion is excellent). The shooting mechanics are also evolved from the GTA series, enough to make shootouts tense and satisfying affairs. Nothing quite beats lining up a shot with a distant assailant in some bushes (no zooming here), firing, and seeing a body slump into view. Just like a cowboy film! The story is also perhaps the best Rockstar have ever written, and is more gripping and carefully paced until the end than perhaps any open world game has a right to be. The finest game Rockstar has ever made? Maybe.” The finest is actually GTA: Chinatown Wars, but what can I say, young me was stupid. Bronze Coin award: Super Mario Galaxy 2 Sneaking into the awards despite being essentially more of the same from the previous game, I'm not going to hold this against any of the voters, because for my money, this is probably the best of the "3D" Mario games ever made. It's idea after idea after idea thrown at you in a way that suggests after they had finished the previous game that they had so many games worth of "stuff" left over they just decided to throw it all in one big pot and brew you the most delicious platforming stew you had ever tasted in your life. Silver Stratocaster award: Rock Band 3 Continuing the theme of more is more, this represents the culmination of the music peripheral game series started in Guitar Hero and inexplicably capturing hearts in a big way despite the madness of the concept. I still never actually played this version, but our resident Rllmuk game of the year awards contributor Jolly had this to say about it once: “Part of the appeal of video games for me is the wish fulfilment. Who hasn't idly dreamed of beating a plumber at tennis or of shooting a man? But none come near to the trick that Rock Band pulls in convincing you that yourself and three drunk mates, click-clacking and wailing as you systematically destroy the history of popular music, are actually talented, world beating musicians. It's a game capable of producing moments of complete euphoria. One of my absolute favourite gaming moments was the time when myself on the drums and my mates on guitar and bass simultaneously joined in with the backing vocals whilst my wife belted out the chorus. There was no in-game benefit to this. There was no in-game suggestion that we should do it. But in that moment, when everything clicked and it felt *right*, we simply couldn't stop ourselves. Rock Band is genuinely responsible for widening my music tastes. It gives me new found respect for whole genres I would have otherwise written off. It makes me listen to music in a different way. I'll break a track down and concentrate on the parts, gaining a greater appreciation of the whole. Now when I daydream whilst listening to music, I no longer imagine I'm playing the song on stage, I imagine I'm *playing the song on Rock Band on stage*. It's a game I can play whatever my mood and feel better once I'm finished. It's a game that has me shutting the curtains and dancing round my living room. It's a game about the joy of friendship and the beauty of creation. It's a game that simply will never get old. I love it. I fucking love it.” Gold C-beams glittering in the dark award: Mass Effect 2 There are so many great moments in Mass Effect 2 - when people talk about it I'm sometimes reminded of the sci-fi nerd awe it inspires in those who love similar moments in Babylon 5. Then you realise the developers were basically ripping it off. The high point of the trilogy, and just a staggeringly immersive experience. I had this to say in 2017: “I admit, I never played Mass Effect 1 before I played this. I watched it being played through and was kind of jealous though, as it seemed right up my street - a game pretty much built to ape Babylon 5 in the story department and Star Wars: Knights of the old Republic in the general RPG department. A real nerd's nerd game, if you will. Anyway, skipping the first instalment as I did, and jumping straight into the story with the brief story recap and major choices made in the Playstation 3 version, I was completely and utterly blown away. Bugs and slow loading times aside, this comes as close as you can possibly get in gaming to taking an active part in a huge space opera where you feel like you are actually influencing major events. The characters are brilliant, the visual design actually rather well done for a sci-fi universe, and the sense of pace throughout is kept up wonderfully. I played the third in the series of course, as the urge to finish the story was more incredibly strong with this than I have felt with any other game (well, apart from maybe a certain Sega title…), but the ending could never really live up to the enormous promise that was set up in this game, and to be honest, the possibilities it created in my mind for where things could go after I completed ME2 are a far better advert for how much this game captures the imagination than the end result of the 3rd game could ever recreate.”
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