Weekend Gaming Vibes – Playlist

This past week felt like one of those weeks where your energy level just isn’t what it would normally be(not very high to begin with) and you just feel like you could use a recharge. I haven’t been quite as active on things like Twitter or Twitch and had some reading to catch up on here on WordPress this past week, so I thought today would be a perfect day to do something a little more simple like showing a playlist of some of the gaming-related music I’ve been listening to when I’m sitting here at my computer, doing housework or simply not working.

This past week it was announced that Activision is set to release a remastered edition of both Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2. The first things that sprang to mind were the endless hours spent playing THPS games as a kid and the memorable collections of licensed music featured within. I could immediately hear Goldfinger’s “Superman” or the Dead Kennedys’ “Police Truck” playing in my head. As with many other fans of THPS, the series was the introduction to a great many different songs and artists. One of my favorites from the original Pro Skater is Jerry Was a Race Car Driver, the little ditty that introduced me to the goofy, yet talented trio of Les Claypool, Larry Lalonde, and Tim ‘Herb’ Alexander.

Streets of Rage 4 released just a few weeks ago and I’m still having a lot of fun playing through the game. It’s a great example of a sequel retaining the essence of what made the previous games such a beloved franchise among retro gamers. The soundtrack to Streets of Rage 4 is no exception as the generally uptempo tracks nicely compliment the flow of the game. One of my favorites is the track ‘Rising Up’ which coincidentally(or not) is used during the elevator level in the game, a prerequisite for any beat ’em up game.

For any critiques or complaints one may have against Doom Eternal, the heavy-as-hell Mick Gordon soundtrack typically isn’t among them. The aggressive industrial-metal soundscape created is integral for setting the mood of the game – brutality and carnage. The relationship between Mick and Bethesda doesn’t sound entirely amenable, with Gordon himself allegedly stating he does not see himself working with Bethesda in the future after the controversy about the mixing and handling of the game’s soundtrack. Regardless of what happens, the Doom Eternal soundtrack is still an impressive work to go out on.

Another great game with an equally great soundtrack released in the past couple months is Ori and the Will of the Wisps. The track I picked for this playlist is ‘Ku’s First Flight’ which plays early on in the game as we see baby owl, Ku hatch with a damaged wing making flight a seemingly impossible dream. It isn’t until Ori retrieves a large feather and ties it to Ku’s impaired wing the duo are able to take flight as this beautifully emotive track accompanies them.

I picked up the Assassin’s Creed Rebels collection for my Nintendo Switch recently. The set includes an HD remaster of both Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Rogue. It wasn’t until the past few years that I had really started to play more of the AC series and had always wanted to play Black Flag. I really enjoy being able to sail around the map as I loot and plunder the Caribbean islands. Who doesn’t love being a pirate? I also love the arrangement of stringed instruments in the soundtrack, particularly the cello sections.

Probably not much of a surprise here as well, I’ve been continuing to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons as I run around the island hoarding shells, buying turnips, and fishing. The soundtrack, in complete contrast to Doom Eternal, is like a cool island breeze. The relaxing soundscape is the perfect way to chill out and relax amidst everything else going on outside my apartment. I have a fondness for steel drums as well, so the track Island Tour(Day – Rain) has a spot on this playlist.

And not entirely surprising, I’ll conclude my list with a selection from the Far Cry 5 soundtrack, one of my absolute favorite games from this current console generation. I was surprised at just how much I started to like the original songs included in the game as essentially “propaganda” songs played for the Eden’s Gate cult. An interesting part of the game’s soundtrack is, depending on which region of Hope County Montana you are currently in, you will hear different interpretations or arrangements of a given song. One of my other favorites that I’ve been listening to over the past week year and a half is this folksy arrangement of the song ‘Let the Water Wash Away Your Sins’. The alternate version of the song incorporates instruments like acoustic guitars and violins…sorry, I mean fiddles, along with the sing-along chorus give the song almost a Bob Dylan-like feel to the song. The irony of all these songs in the game is just how easily you go from hating “that stupid cult music” to “I love these songs!”.

What have you been listening to this past week? Have you had a special playlist to help keep you sane during quarantine? Let me know. I think I’m gonna jump back into some more Far Cry 5…

Thanks for reading!

Weekend Gaming Review – Bells, Baseball & Brutality

Before proceeding into yet another ramble-post: It’s become equal parts surreal and genuinely scary with everything that has been going on not only here in the US, but all corners of the globe. I’m fortunate enough to have a job where I can work from home and can for the most part, go about my daily life with minimal changes whereas others haven’t had that luxury due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It feels strange going on about how great anything at all has been in light of the past few weeks, here’s hoping everyone out there stays safe and healthy.

It was another pretty good weekend for gaming. I personally had been waiting for this weekend anxiously for months as I had prepared to buy not one, but two new games – Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Doom Eternal. In addition to new gaming releases, I had Friday off from work and even got done a little early Thursday evening to kick off my long weekend indoors. I spent nearly the entire weekend engrossed in gaming goodness, with the exception of an expedition to the local grocery store and my time on Sunday spent working here on WordPress. In compiling a list of my favorite games of the past decade in December I came to the realization of how much more I have enjoyed games of the latter half of the decade than the former. Looking over the games released throughout each year from 2010-19, I firmly believe 2015-19 far exceeds the first five years of the decade. It was in reflecting on this I suddenly realized just how good of a start gaming has already shown in 2020. In March alone, we’ll be treated to games like Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Nioh 2, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Doom Eternal, Half-Life: Alyx and Persona 5 Royal before continuing the avalanche of game releases in April with the Resident Evil 3 and Final Fantasy VII remakes…well, it’s actually FFVII Remake PART ONE. Over the past few days I’ve been rotating between four different March releases…and loving them all.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

I wrote a post about my initial thoughts of the game last weekend after downloading it on my Xbox One X as it was a Day One Game Pass Release. I’ve spent several more hours throughout the week playing Ori and the Will of the Wisps and I’m roughly 10 hours into the game with plenty left to do. The additions and improvements in this sequel are just as impressive after hours of playing as they were in the initial stages of the game and the visuals and soundtrack are exquisite; it may just be one of the best metroidvanias I’ve had the pleasure of playing. Will of the Wisps may also be one of the most heart-wrenching games I’ve experienced, if you’ve played the first Ori game you probably have a familiar idea of what to expect while playing. I spent my Thursday night making my way through some more of the game, before getting emotionally wrecked and deciding to play something a bit lighter as a palette cleanser, like Peggle.

MLB The Show 20

Another year, another batch of sports titles right? Baseball has been my favorite sport since I was a kid playing in the backyard(and N64). MLB The Show 20 was released this past Tuesday, but those who pre-ordered the game were able to play the game the Friday March 13. I’ve probably spent a couple dozens hours testing out the various game modes and grinding away stats and innings for better cards to add to my Diamond Dynasty team. The addition of players like Greg Maddux, Mariano Rivera, and even Mickey Mantle proved to be too hard to pass up. This year’s MLB The Show offering doesn’t include a ton of new features and game modes, but considerable time seemed to have been spent polishing up some of the hitting and fielding mechanics. It may be the best playing iteration of Sony’s long-running series, and also its last year of Playstation exclusivity. We may, in all likelihood see an MLB The Show game next year for the Playstation 5, Xbox One Series X, PC, or even Nintendo Switch. It remains to be seen what the postponement of the baseball season will mean for content added to The Show and other sports titles…

Resident Evil 3 Remake – Demo

I finished work a little early Thursday evening, so I sat down to try out the demo Capcom had just released that morning for the upcoming Resident Evil 3 remake. I love Resident Evil games and definitely plan to buy it after its release on April 3, but figured in the meantime I would try out the demo. I’ll admit that I wasn’t as impressed with the One-Shot Demo Capcom released for the Resident Evil 2 remake prior to its release, it played well enough, but I wasn’t blown away. Resident Evil 2 went on to be one of my favorite games I played in 2019, so I try to make a point not to overreact too strongly to a game demo(like with Contra: Rogue Corps). The RE3-make demo looks gorgeous, but yet again, something feels just a little off with the gameplay. There’s something in the movement that doesn’t feel anywhere as clunky and cumbersome as the old tank controls of the originals, but still felt…off. At the end of the short demo the Nemesis makes an appearance and pursues Jill as she must quickly evade the giant rocket launcher-equipped mutant and reach a broken fire hydrant to put out a blaze to pass through the alleyway. The emergency dodge mechanic didn’t work quite as well as I was hoping and I was quickly pummeled by the Nemesis’ combo of tentacles and missiles before getting away after a couple attempts. I also remember thinking the exact same thing while when I played the demo for Resident Evil 5 on my Xbox 360 back in 2009, so I have a history of not completely digging RE demos; here’s hoping for a similar outcome for how well RE3’s final product performs.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing is back with the beloved series’ first mainline release since New Leaf for the 3DS in 2013. I had originally planned on buying a physical copy of the game, but decided the day before it was easier(and safer) to just purchase digitally. This also meant I could play the game sooner, so it wasn’t all that disappointing. I’ve already invested a handful of hours running around fishing, crafting tools and furniture and strolling along the beach. For me, Animal Crossing is near impossible to play without a smile on your face, everything has such a cute, colorful wholesome-ness to it. Gathering fruit and shells to sell at Nook’s Corner to pay off my home loan to Tom Nook and crafting everything from fishing rods to furniture is fun and isn’t quite as tedious and grindy as in Pocket Camp. I’ve tried to divert my attention elsewhere as to not spend every moment hoarding wood and branches and to take a stroll through the museum(it’s wonderful!) or simply kick back and relax in my hammock on my beachfront campsite. New Horizons has been an utter delight to play and it’s also been great seeing the enthusiasm the game has generated for others on social media as they share their house designs and decorations scattered around the island.

Doom Eternal

Rip and tear, until it is done!

The other game released this past Friday I had been beyond excited to play – Doom Eternal has proved worth the wait thus far. The gameplay is so smooth and plays just as good if not BETTER than its 2016 predecessor. The epitome of a “power fantasy” game that provides such an adrenaline rush as you manuever your way through the depths of Hell and Earth, annihilating hordes of demons as you go. Doom Eternal expands a bit on the lore of the games as well as further fleshing out platforming elements like the ability to swing from protruding bars and climbing walls before double-jump boosting across chasms. Similar to Animal Crossing, I’ve been unable to suppress a constant smile while playing the game…along with the occassional “holy shit, that was awesome!”. I fully intend to do a more in-depth summary of the game once I complete my first playthrough of the main campaign and want to expand on what about the game appeals to me in greater depth than my typical way of saying “video games = fun”. Doom Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons being released on the very same day may sound odd, given how completely opposite both games are in gameplay and general tone. It makes for the perfect yin and yang – after a session of petal-to-the-metal gameplay in Doom Eternal, it’s so relaxing to be able to swing by my island and do some light chores like weeding and planting money trees before going for a night time walk on the beach.

Did anyone else out there pick up Animal Crossing or Doom Eternal over the weekend? How about any other games you’ve recently picked up? Let me know. Thanks for reading!