A Video Game Life’s top 5 and Game of the Year!

Number Five: Civilization Revolution 2 (iOS)

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Back in 2008 Civilization Revolution on the Xbox 360 served as my introduction to the wonderful strategy series that’s been around since 1991. The gameplay was incredibly addicting and winning battles was wonderfully satisfying again and again. One night browsing the app store in my hotel room in Hawaii I stumbled across a pleasant surprise when I saw Civilization Revolution 2 for sale. I bought it immediately and spent countless hours trying to dominate the world rather than sleeping. Revolution 2 plays great on the iPad and offers hundreds of hours of enjoyment for longtime Civ fans or newcomers alike. I’ll be enjoying Civilization Revolution 2 well into 2015 and beyond, and it certainly deserves recognition as one of the best games released in 2014.

Number Four: The Wolf Among Us

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Telltale Games’ The Wolf Among Us took me by surprise this summer. I was never blown away by the Walking Dead games but decided to give The Wolf Among Us a try. I downloaded the entire season on the iPad this summer and dove right in. I was immediately blown away by the unique, dark world and the amazing characters within. The music and scenery during the introduction following the preface absolutely blew my mind and ranks as one of the most awe inspiring sequences in a video game I’ve ever experienced.

The mystery Bigbee gets wrapped up in kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire experience and every twist and turn made it so hard to put my iPad down. I burned through the episodes as quickly as I could and loved every minute of it.

Number Three: Hearthstone

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Hearthstone is an incredibly well made, free card battle game. Blizzard took a chance and hit a grand slam with Hearthstone. The game features great artwork, animation and sounds along with easy to pick up, hard to put down gameplay that provides countless hours of entertainment. I feel like Hearthstone is quite easy to understand and get the hang of compared to other card battle games like Magic the Gathering, but there’s still plenty there for more seasoned players. Hearthstone is so hard to put down because no matter how badly you’re being beaten you’re never quite out of it. I’ve been on the edge of defeat and have gotten the right cards at the final moments and have battled back from that edge and onto an incredibly satisfying victory. There’s hardly anything more rewarding than experiences like that!

Number Two: Tales from the Borderlands (episode one)

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Telltale games have had a big year this year. The Wolf Among Us came to a wonderful conclusion this summer and then this winter saw the start of two new adventures with Game of Thrones and Tales from The Borderlands. The latter has not only been my favorite Telltale game to date, but also one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had with a video game ever! The first episode is upbeat, colorful, energetic and absolutely hilarious from start to finish. I’ve never laughed so much while playing a game. I had a smile on my face from start to finish as I made my way through the exciting chapters of the first episode. There was never a dull moment and the conclusion to the episode had me dying for more. I can’t wait to experience the rest of the story! Tales from the Borderlands confidently lands at number two on my list because it was a refreshing experience with some incredible writing in a great world. I highly recommend it!

Game of the Year: Halo: The Master Chief Collection

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This is sure to be a controversial pick for a variety of reasons. First of all, this is technically a re-release of games spanning from 2001 to 2013. Secondly, the game had an incredibly rocky launch, and was not ready to be released upon the salivating masses in November. It’s true, for the first three weeks I owned the game I was only able to play around 15 matches which is entirely unacceptable. That said, now that the game has been more or less working as intended for the last week or so it’s easily been my most enjoyable gaming experience of 2014.

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Being able to jump into matches across four different Halo games with my friends from around the world with whom I’ve played the games with in the past. It’s amazing to see how much Halo has grown all in one package. We used to throw our cumbersome CRT TV’s in our cars and drive miles to a central meeting place, lug our TV’s downstairs, order pizza and play Halo for hours on end. To be able to jump into a game of Halo Combat Evolved or Halo 2 with the push of a button is awesome. To be able to play a match of Halo 3, 2, and CE in quick succession is equally awesome. The Halo 2 Anniversary remake is a stunningly beautiful way to relive both a great campaign and a great multiplayer experience.

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I will easily spend hundreds of hours over the next year and beyond enjoying the Master Chief Collection. The last week of fun alone has already made up for the three weeks I was barely able to play the game I invested $60 in. From the start the Master Chief Collection was a bargain for $60. They could have easily charged $60 alone for the Halo 2 Anniversary edition, but instead they threw in three more games and gave us an unimaginable value. For that, Halo: The Master Chief Collection is crowned A Video Game Life’s Game of the Year! Congratulations 343!

 

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Spartan Ops has arrived in Master Chief Collection

Halo 4’s Spartan Ops mode has arrived in the Master Chief Collection along with this week’s 3gb patch which also further improves gameplay and matchmaking. I never played a lot of Spartan Ops, so I figured I’d give the first mission a try yesterday.

It was pretty fun, but it’s certainly geared toward co-op play as overall it felt like there was just too much to kill and the mission dragged on longer than it probably should have. Still it’s nice to have a couple more hours of new content added into the Master Chief Collection. So grab a few friends and head into Spartan Ops and see what damage you can do. Enjoy!

My ‘Halo and Brews’ Twitch Broadcast from last night

Last night I celebrated the return of the SWAT playlist to the Master Chief Collection with a ‘Halo and Brews’ Twitch Broadcast where I enjoyed a couple Square Mile Ciders and saw my performance get worse and worse through the night. Enjoy!

(Apparently Twitch muted the second video due to copyright, so there’s that. I guess I’ll throw some YouTube music into it or something in a bit)

 

Halo Master Chief Collection matchmaking is STILL slow (5 December)

So after yet another patch this week, Master Chief Collection’s matchmaking issues have still not been eradicated. It’s been slightly better than it was launch week (nearly a month ago), but not by much. I’ve managed to get into 3 matches today, but the latest patch now forces you to back out and search for a match again after every match. You cannot stay in the same lobby after a match. Not only does this slow down the matchmaking process further, it also harms the multiplayer experience.

If you have a close match or a good team you’re out of luck after the end of the match. You’re forced to press B backing you out to the matchmaking menu where you’ll have to start the search for a match all over again. This is severely disappointing. It can be quite difficult to group up with a good group of players and to be forced to disband the lobby after every match is just ridiculous.

Also waiting two or more minutes for a match only to have it spontaneously end after the loading screen is not cool. You can see my latest attempt to get into a match below.

I guess I should just play more Advanced Warfare…

In case you were hoping to play Halo: It’s still broken

I have many fond memories of spending Thanksgiving nights playing Halo with family members, and if you were hoping to relive your own Halo festivities this Thanksgiving with Master Chief Collection you’ll probably be disappointed.

Despite yet another patch getting released yesterday, I am STILL unable to get into any Master Chief Collection matches. I’ve been trying for the last ten minutes (entirely too long) and have gotten nowhere.

I did however get stuck with the Connection Failed message that is now appearing behind all of the menus and won’t go away, so there’s that.

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Halo Master Chief Collection is finally working….somewhat

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I’m so sick of seeing that every time I boot up the Master Chief Collection and try to get into a multiplayer match. I’ve tried on and off for the last two weeks and still have not been able to reliably find matches. This weekend there has been some improvement, but the matchmaking process is still not flawless. 343 put out a patch last week that seemed to improve the matchmaking process for most people, yet I’ve found the matchmaking process still to be slower than it should be. Also, they have yet to add all of the other playlists they removed (such as Team SWAT) which is disappointing.

I’ve been able to find a few matches this evening with wait times as low as a minute (a massive improvement over launch week where I’d have to continuously back out of matchmaking and retry for 15 minutes or longer just to get into a single match).

I should be excited that I can finally play some Halo multiplayer, however with Dragon Age, GTA V and Farcry 4 now out, Halo is probably going to take a backseat for awhile. The Master Chief Collection was one of my most anticipated games of the year, but its rocky launch has soured my attitude toward the collection right now and I’m having too great a time with Dragon Age and GTA to even think very much about Halo right now.

I’ve read that Microsoft has been honoring requests for refunds for those who own digital copies of the Master Chief Collection, however I think in the long run once everything is working smoothly I’ll still be happy to own the collection. One thing I can say is I probably won’t be buying Halo 5 during launch week now.

Has the Master Chief Collection’s launch affected your excitement for Halo 5 or future Microsoft games? Are you going to be sticking with Master Chief Collection or are you have you already given up hope?

Halo Master Chief Collection matchmaking still not working

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Halo Master Chief Collection’s matchmaking issues have rolled into day two unfortunately. After I got off work and got done at the gym it was nearly 8PM (MT) and I fully expected Halo’s issues to be ironed out by now, but alas matchmaking is still not running smoothly. I was met with the error message above (“The matchmaking process was not successful. Please try matching again.”) after about 30 seconds of searching for a Team Slayer match.

The most recent update by 343 was posted nearly two hours ago (another update should be coming rather soon):

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Hopefully things will work out soon. Until then we wait. I guess I’ll check out Sunset Overdrive for now and maybe get back into Destiny if things aren’t up and running by this weekend.