What I’ve been playing this week

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Last night I jumped back into the Master Chief Collection for the first time in awhile. The matchmaking process was more smooth than the last time I played, however there have also been some less pleasant changes. Halo CE is my favorite game to play Slayer in, yet the dedicated CE playlist is now only 2 vs. 2. I don’t see how a two player team is appealing to anyone these days. It’s not fun to have so much of the map completely void of action as you hunt down the two person team that will always be at the same spot everytime. Furthermore, 2v2 matches are excessively long. It took an eternity for the matches to finish, and most of the time both teams would get bored toward the end and would just start team killing each other.

The Team Slayer and Big Team Battle playlists include Halo CE and allow for larger teams, but the problem is CE maps hardly ever get voted for. If I try to play those playlists I get stuck playing a lot of Halo 3 which I don’t enjoy nearly as much as I do CE. Therefore I end up having to choose between playing matches that bore me, or quitting, leaving my team a man down (and also facing a matchmaking penalty).

On another note, I’m also upset that there’s no longer a Team SWAT playlist. SWAT is one of my favorite Halo game modes, and it’s unfortunate that there’s no longer a dedicated playlist.

Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 2

I’ve also been working my way through episode 2 of Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands. I’ve been enjoying episode 2 just as much, if not more so than the first episode. Tales from the Borderlands is an absolute masterpiece so far, and I can’t wait to play more of it (I just wrapped up chapter 3).

Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious

The standalone Fast & Furious themed game set in the world of Forza Horizon 2 is available for free for Xbox One gamers up until April 10th (when it’ll be priced at $9.99). As long as you download it before April 10th you’ll be able to continue playing the game for free. The game features an achievement list separate from Horizon’s worth 1000 gamerscore which is pretty cool. Fast & Furious features a pretty sweet intro and some great new music alongside some classic Fast & Furious cars. I’ve played around with it for awhile and if you’ve enjoyed Forza Horizon 2 you’ll enjoy this game just as much.

NBA 2k14

I’ve dabbled in the NBA 2K series before, however could never get good enough at the games to enjoy them. I picked up 2k14 for under $10 and jumped into the My Player mode last night. The way they set everything up (story wise) is pretty cool, but you basically have to sit through what feels like 30 minutes of cut scenes before you even get out onto the court for the first time (and then you’ll be riding the bench for awhile longer). I’ve found 2k14 has been easier to play than previous titles so far which means I’m able to enjoy it so far. I’m still completely incompetent on defense and I have hardly any idea how to play offense legitimately. Basically all I do is try to shoot threes, but on rookie difficulty I’ve been able to get by so far (though I have yet to rate beyond a C+).

The rest

I’ve fooled around with Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 and have enjoyed it so far. It’s simple yet aesthetically pleasing and fun to play. I’ve been working through Borderlands 2 still but have hit a few frustrating points (while playing solo) so I think I need to spend some time jumping into other people’s games to level up a bit.

This week I hope to finish Tales from the Borderlands and make some progress in NBA 2k14. Other than that I’ll continue my Madden 15 franchise and play some Advanced Warfare.

What are you playing right now?

 

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Best of 2014, honorable mentions

If you haven’t yet seen my top 5 games of 2014, be sure to check that out. Now I’d like to throw out some honorable mentions that just didn’t quite make the cut.

A significant game that didn’t land in my top 5 is Dragon Age Inquisition. I absolutely loved the first two Dragon Age games, and I’ve enjoyed my time with Inquisition so far, but it just hasn’t grabbed my attention enough to merit making a top 5 list.

 

I’ve put maybe 18-20 hours into it so far, which overall isn’t a lot, and I’ve never really felt all that involved. It feels like the game is trying to accomplish too much, or at least more than I care to pay attention to and I never have any idea what’s going on. Also I’ve been annoyed by the insane amount of loot that appears in the game. If I want to pick up everything possible I find myself hitting ‘A’ every 20-30 seconds and picking up a bunch of items and then I have to go to the inventory screen and see if I picked up anything worth using. It’s just downright annoying, and at this point I’ve just stopped looting the enemies I kill.

Maybe I’ll start to enjoy the game more as I get further into it, but so far I feel like it’s been pretty mediocre at best.

Another game worth mentioning is Madden 15. I really wanted Madden to make my list, but I couldn’t squeeze it in alongside the other great games that made it. Madden 25 didn’t feel like much of an upgrade on the new consoles, but Madden 15 was a wonderful step forward. The game looks and feels amazing to play and is one of the best football experiences to date. I didn’t end up getting FIFA 15 this year, but I’m sure that’s just as good of an experience (I love FIFA 14 still!).

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is a refreshing take on the Call of Duty formula with the exo skeleton freshening up the online play and Kevin Spacey bringing an amazing performance to the campaign. I’d probably still be playing Advanced Warfare if I weren’t so swept up in the Master Chief Collection.

Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition not only provides a great value by including the Reaper of Souls expansion but it also offers a revamped Diablo III experience tailored for current gen consoles. The game is a blast to play either via couch co-op or online with friends and strangers alike, and there’s more epic loot than you’ll ever be able to carry. It’s a great experience and one of the best co-op games of the year!

Forza Horizon 2 is an absolutely beautiful racing game that makes exploring the world just as fun as competing in races. The road trips that take you between each racing hub or a wonderful way to explore the world and see all the amazing scenery. The online multiplayer modes are a blast, whether you’re free roaming or playing the zombie attack mode. There are plenty of beautiful cars and a ton of road (and off road) to cover.

It’s strange to think Titanfall came out this year. It came out early in the Xbox One’s life (at least early enough so there wasn’t much else to play) and I was quite excited for it. Initially I was amazed by Titanfall and found it refreshing to play and a lot more enjoyable than the other shooter available at the time, Call of Duty Ghosts. Although I enjoyed Titanfall at the time, it quickly became lost in a sea of other releases and I haven’t given it a second thought since.

Last, but certainly not least, is GTA V. Rockstar put a lot of love into making GTA V a superb experience on current gen consoles. The world looks even more stunning than ever before, but they also added an entirely new experience with first person view. I haven’t used the view much, but it certainly changes the way things play throughout the game. I’m just in awe at how amazing the world looks and how fun it is to run around in it still.

My first hour with Forza Horizon 2 (Xbox One)

Forza Horizon 2 Day One edition

It’s been quite awhile since two must buy games released on the same day, but the stars have aligned today in a sense with both Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Forza Horizon 2 seeing release. I had been quite excited for both these games and from my early impressions, neither has disappointed.

I absolutely love the Forza series, nothing comes close in the racing game genre. I never really enjoyed other ‘street’ or off the closed track racing games until the first Forza Horizon came around. Forza Horizon took everything great about the Forza series (authentic looking, sounding and handling cars, and all around great racing) and brought it off the track and it was a blast. I loved all of the different challenges in the world and the online multiplayer was amazing.

Forza Horizon 2 takes influence from Forza 5 and Forza Horizon and brings it to a new open world that’s absolutely stunning from what little I’ve seen of it so far.

First of all it’s worth noting that Drivatars return in Forza Horizon 2. I saw a lot of my friend’s drivatars in the first few races I did (they also show up in the open world) and since I only knew one other person to be playing Forza Horizon 2 so far it seems that they’re pulling Drivatars from Forza 5 and bringing them over to Forza Horizon 2 which is nice as it populates the world and gives you something more than just AI to race against.

Some other new additions to Forza Horizon include more realistic rain and cross country (off road) racing. The rain effects in Horizon 2 are pretty neat, especially while driving with the inside the car view (which honestly is the only view you should be using in Forza games!). You’ll even see your windshield wipers at work which is a neat little addition. Cross country races have you cutting through deep patches of grass and other plant life, navigating between trees (some of which are destructible) and other obstacles in between sections of asphalt or dirt road. It’s crazy looking out from within your car because you’ll find it hard to see anything and it’s an absolute thrill attempting to navigate between obstacles and other cars while trying to make your way to the front of the pack.

I have yet to try out any of the online features, but I’m excited to give them a try tomorrow. If they’re anything like the original Horizon I’m sure they’ll pack hours of fun.

Lastly, one of my favorite features from Forza Horizon is still around in Horizon 2. Everytime you level up you’ll get a chance to ‘spin the wheel’ where you can be rewarded with varying amounts of credits (including some large amounts) or even a brand new car! It’s a fun and addicting feature that’ll keep you racing toward that next driver level.