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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Back from vacation..so much to blog about!

I landed back in Boise late Saturday night after spending a wonderful three weeks back in York Pennsylvania with my family. The weather didn’t quite cooperate most of the time, but overall it was a great trip! I enjoyed hanging out with my dad, playing Minecraft with my brother and seeing the rest of my friends and family. I certainly miss them a lot the rest of the year!

I also enjoyed the two weeks Vanessa spent with me during her second trip to the East Coast. We had a blast in New York City, touring the Yuengling factory in Pottsville, visiting the National Aquarium in Baltimore and enjoying all of the fun at Chocolate World in Hershey! The time went by so quickly and I’m quite sad I won’t get to visit again until next year.

On the upside, I’m glad to be back in a city again. My dad lives in the middle of rural (nowhere) Pennsylvania, and while the scenery is nice (you can see so many stars at night!) I’m glad to have broadband internet and all of the convenience of city life again. I still have some unpacking and housework to do, and I went back to work last night (working the night shift again), but I’d like to get back to blogging more regularly as soon as possible.

I have so much I’d like to write about. I’d like to share some photos and experiences from vacation (Drunk Shakespeare off broadway in NYC was an absolute blast!) and there’s plenty of topics I want to talk to you about. I’d like to try out Sling TV on the Xbox One (though I already subscribe to DISH and don’t see myself “cutting the cable” anytime soon. I enjoy having a traditional TV service). I’m also looking forward to picking up the Borderlands Handsome Jack Collection tomorrow as well as playing through episode two of Tales from the Borderlands.

I’m hoping to tell you about how much I’m enjoying the new Modest Mouse album (my vinyl copy will arrive Wednesday) and also the latest comedy album from Trevor Moore (whom you may know from Whitest Kids U Know). There’s so much I’ve wanted to write about, but ultimately I’m glad I spent most of my time enjoying the company of friends and family instead of worrying about my blog. I hope you haven’t minded the silence! I promise, you’ll hear more from me soon!

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!

 

Telltale Games Collection $55 on Xbox One

Whether you’re a new Xbox One owner looking to add to your game collection, or simply new to Telltale games, there’s a great deal going on right now! You can get FIVE Telltale games for the price of two!!

Telltale games are usually about $25 a season if you buy the season pass (they’re games released episodically), however for the price of two season passes you can get five of their games.

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$55 gets you:

The Walking Dead Season One (plus the epilogue)
The Walking Dead Season Two
The Wolf Among Us
Game of Thrones Episode One (plus the season pass which gets you the future episodes as they’re released)
Tales from the Borderlands Episode One (plus the season pass)

What a monster deal! I just finished episode one of Tales from the Borderlands tonight and it’s absolutely amazing, I can’t wait to see the rest of the season. Game of Thrones was a little slower paced but ended on a bombshell that has me anticipating what comes next. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Walking Dead games and didn’t finish either, but now I’m tempted to give them another try. Lastly, The Wolf Among Us was absolutely amazing and I’d love to give it another playthrough.

I highly recommend picking this up while it’s on sale right now, especially if you’re already thinking of getting the season passes for Game of Thrones and Borderlands. Why not pony up five more bucks and get three more games thrown into the mix?