A choose-your-own-adventure game from the folks at Inkle (who are handling the brilliant mobile version of Steve Jackson’s Sorcery!, which you should also play,) 80 Days is a retelling of Jules Verne’s classic novel where you play as Passepartout (rather than Fogg himself, who quickly turns out to be a largely clueless man-baby who needs his moustache combing every five minutes) attempting to circumnavigate the globe.
In truth, Fogg’s wager will only be of the slightest interest to you once your journey is in full-swing, as each of the scenarios you are thrown into are fascinating in and of themselves. The game even rewards you for taking stupid routes, as things only get more interesting as your plan is forced to deviate from ‘go east’.
Writer Meg Jayanth also deserves credit for the phenomenal amount of research that must have taken place to make each of the game’s locations feel so authentic. 80 Days is a game that makes you realise how we often misuse the word ‘adventure’ as a genre label in video games. We say Uncharted is an adventure because Nathan Drake has the gall to sometimes jump around between ledges as well as shooting folk. Meanwhile, 80 Days actually gives you an incredibly varied set of experiences and stories that you’ll take away and want to talk to people about. A truly incredible thing. SB
I’ve not played a massive amount of this game but I feel it would be foolish to leave it out of a list of essential games released in 2014. I think the slow first hour is a mistake - some call it tension building, I call it boring, overlong bullshit - but I powered through and eventually I was ‘rewarded’ with my first encounter with the infamous xenomorph. It was after a cutscene, where it offs this annoying character you’ve been shackled to for about half an hour. You flee into a room and have to wait for a slow moving carriage to arrive so you can escape. Those few minutes where I was crouched in the shadows, hoping the monster wouldn’t appear and start looking for me were filled with genuine dread.
Since then, I’ve made a bit more headway into the game. The encounters with other humans and the ‘Working Joe’ robots don’t quite cut it, but having the alien cutting about the ship, feeling like a real, living horror inside your machine, hunting you, sets an almost peerless atmosphere. I foolishly picked it up on the PC, which I don’t get to use as much as I’d like to these days for games, so I think I’m going to pick it up on console early next year. As someone who doesn’t really have any attachment to the movie (Aliens is better, suck it.) I’m not as forgiving of its pacing flaws as others, but to capture what it must’ve felt like to actually *be* Ellen Ripley during that first movie is an undeniably brilliant thing. AH
Some sequels get heat for being bigger, better, faster, stronger versions of the original game rather than an actual evolution but when the game you are giving another go around is Bayonetta, one of the absolute best action games of all time, you’re going to end up with a stone cold classic. Reinventing Bayonetta is pointless - it is already perfect. Reinvention is for other games to do, they’re the one’s playing catch up. I just want more Bayonetta, and thanks to Nintendo, I got some.
Platinum Games have trimmed away a bit of the fat from the original game, which had a few bits that weren't up to the incredibly high standard scattered throughout, as well as being a bit longer overall. Bayonetta 2 is absolutely solid gold from start to finish. Every enemy encounter an opportunity for you to test your skills and play with the still flawless combat. It is still all built around the ‘Witch Time’ mechanic, dodging an enemy attack at the very last second slows down time and gives you the opportunity to punish them with a combo. The combos are wildly customisable, and you can experiment with all the different weapon arrangements to find the one you’re most effective with.
When Bayonetta 2 is at its best, during the final hour or so, when the game assumes you’ve got the hang of things fully and can just throw increasingly more intense, challenging and ridiculous situations at you, there’s nothing that touches it. AH
Alright, alright, shut up. So it’s not finished. So the first half wasn’t released on time. So it’s not the glorious Kickstarter poster-child for that we’d initially hoped it might be.
But if you’ll actually play the first part of Broken Age and allow yourself to focus less on what it isn’t and more on what it currently is, you might see that it’s easily one of the best games released this year.
Even in the opening moments it’s abundantly clear where all that Kickstarter money went. Everything about the game’s presentation is stunning, and each of the locations is an absolute joy to walk around in. Part one of Broken Age succeeds not just as a funny, interesting, streamlined point-and-click adventure, but an all-round wonderful place to be.
And if you’re one of those folk sulking and crossing your arms, demanding to know why the game has encountered so many problems after its outstanding success on Kickstarter: did you know there’s a full documentary about that? It’s really good! SB
Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare
"CALL OF DORITOS MOAR LIEK KEVIN SPACEY PRESS X TO MAKE JOKE LOL" says the average internet gamerlad, but if 2014 has taught us anything it is that these people aren't to be trusted. The first truly next-gen Call of Duty has turned out to be a bit of a belter! The multiplayer has always been a good laugh but in last year’s Ghosts they had over-egged the proverbial pudding a little bit and moved away from the simple, quick and compulsive formula they had been hawking for years and made it a bit more complicated in regards to unlocking new weapons and that. No one wants that. The beauty of Call of Duty is that of a McDonald’s Big Mac meal - you know what you’re getting, it’s always the same and you always think there is better out there until you get one down you and you’re like, “Oh yeah, that was fucking ace”.
The big thing added this year is the Exo-Suit, which gives you way more mobility than you’ve ever had in a Call of Duty game and it has truly freshened up the multiplayer. Obviously, the freedom to double jump and boost around has opened up a whole new box of strategies that players are still getting their heads around, but it has also added a new verticality to the maps. All those sniper spots that would’ve been safe in Modern Warfare are just begging for someone to jump across a few rooftops and get the drop on anyone daft enough to stay up there. It is significantly faster paced than previous years, and it turns out that is exactly what it needed. There’s no way they can go back from this now. Next year will be very interesting.
Also there is a single player campaign. Kevin Spacey is in it! AH
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Aye, alright, so technically this isn’t released here until the 2nd of January, but everyone’s bloody got their copy already so sod it.
Captain Toad is a work of sheer fucking joy, and I love it. The idea of a platformer where you can’t jump sounds like madness, of course. An occasional curio in Super Mario 3D World, sure, but a whole game?
And yet, Nintendo have bloody managed it, because they always do. Captain Toad might be slow and unable to jump, but all this does is lead to some of the most intricate, disciplined level design you’ve ever seen.
People love Monument Valley (and they should) because while you push switches and move things around, there’s no consistent physicality to the environment - it’s an Escher painting that you can explore and manipulate, and the game thrives on that. Captain Toad, on the other hand, works because everything within each of its levels is perfectly possible. Nothing magically folds away into nothingness, or appears from it.
You could build these levels in real life, and they’d work. That, to me, is a much greater feat. SB
Dark Souls II
Dark Souls II’s only real crime is ‘Being a game that doesn’t quite belong in museums’, which most people seem to think means it’s shite. It isn’t.
It gives players much more freedom to experiment with different play-styles within a single character than its predecessor did, and the summoning of other players actually works this time. While Dark Souls II may lack some of the original’s vision and character, it polishes a few things up quite nicely and still stands head and shoulders above other pretenders to the throne. You’ll notice Lords of the Fallen isn’t in this list, for example. SB
When it comes to mobile games, I like to have an endless stream of tiny challenges wash over me without any distractions, and Desert Golfing captures this beautifully. To put it simply, it's a 2D golf game in which the player uses Angry Birds style catapult controls to smash a golf ball over an endless, randomly generated desert; each screen represents one hole, and whenever the player completes a hole the screen just scrolls to the right a bit to reveal the next one. There are no ads, pop-ups, or viral bullshit.
This game is water, waiting to be poured into the empty vessel of your free time. You can launch the app, land a hole-in-one and quit again in under five seconds if you're good, but it's just as amenable to half-hour marathon sessions. As you get a feel for the physics of the game and find yourself knocking through levels with a single stroke, it becomes a sort of Zen meditation experience - you may not be consciously aware of how you've been calculating all those recent perfect shots, but clearly there's something going on here. At the same time, the speed with which completed holes are whisked away to the left and forgotten about means that the game always keeps pace with new challenges.
Apparently the level-generating algorithm starts to run out of steam after about 3,000 holes, but if you still want more I suppose you could delete your game data and start again. OG
It’s really easy to talk about the things that are wrong with Destiny, as we did for about three hours when we recorded a special podcast about it, because it is so frustratingly close to being the best game ever made but falls short thanks to a whole raft of bewildering design decisions.
Bungie’s sort-of MMO shooter asked much from its players (despite an apparent volte-face on the game’s vision in favour of accessibility in the last year or so of development,) both in terms of the time involved in grokking the game’s intricacies and in simply getting their heads around what the game really is. But the truth is, if you can just play Destiny as long as you’re enjoying it - which you will - and learn not to worry so much about the fetishisation of higher-level gear, Destiny stands tall alongside this year’s finest shooters. SB
Dragon Age: Inquisition
The first Dragon Age was really good, and the second was utter pump, so Inquisition felt like a real coin-toss to many. It is now abundantly clear that BioWare were aware of this.
It’s a vast and generous game, but without feeling too thinly-spread. The environments are as beautifully designed as they are varied, and despite their size rarely feel like they demand too much traipsing around of the player. The game certainly has its share of fetch-quests, but the combat is enjoyable enough to bear it. It’s not quite up there with the likes of Dragon’s Dogma, but once you develop a decent command of your character’s abilities, even the smallest skirmish can be an absolute joy.
The dialogue and animation is sometimes a bit wonky, and BioWare still haven’t understood that you can’t get people to shag you just by being endlessly nice to them. But the ambiguity of the moral decisions from the first game is back, and the Dragon Age universe’s races and lore continue to be fleshed out brilliantly.
In being simultaneously so vast and yet so dense, Inquisition is a truly remarkable achievement. SB
EA Sports UFC
Out of the box, this game might be up there for one of 2014’s biggest disappointments. It looked the part, but your average MMA fan could pick apart all of the things it either did wrong or simply didn’t have. However, over the past few months since release, the team have consistently put out patches that not only have rebalanced a few things to make the fights fairer and resembling an actual fight more accurately, but also added loads of new moves and actual full new fighters - FOR FREE.
You can now catch kicks, certain submissions have been made harder to do (and in the case of some fighters that have a lesser ground game, are now impossible to pull off) and stamina loss has been tweaked, meaning that players can’t just pick Jose Aldo and spam some wild spinning roundhouse kick over and over again, as well as many, many other tweaks and changes. They’ve listened to the community feedback and turned EA Sports UFC into a significantly better game than the one that comes out of the box! Now, all this should be expected for free - the game felt unfinished without some of these things - but in this day and age, charging for at least *some* of the TWENTY additional fighters added to game is expected, no?
In terms of post-release support, EA Sports UFC really has set a high bar. It is now a very good video game. AH
A game where you’re a line that flies around. Initially, you’ll think the only aim is to explore and soak up the game’s incredible soundtrack and visuals, as your interaction with the worlds you travel through seems limited.
Eventually though, you’ll half-solve a puzzle quite by accident, and realise there’s a little more to it. There are things to do besides simple exploration, and figuring out what each environment’s puzzle is - let alone solving it - becomes the core of the game.
Never before has a game so relentlessly bombarded me with so many fascinating and beautiful worlds to play around in. For that reason, Hohokum has taken up permanent residence in my stupid brain, and I love it. SB
As a Dynasty Warriors fan, Hyrule Warriors succeeded in what I personally wanted it to do. It’s perhaps not the best Warriors game, but it is a perfect way into Koei’s oeuvre for the many people who previously dismissed it.
The two series have been combined in smart ways beyond simply reskinning a Warriors game with Zelda characters, inviting the player to seek out treasures in dungeons that grant new abilities and unlock new areas, as well as battering literally hundreds of enemies the entire time.
It also has a brilliantly dumb excuse to include characters and locations from loads of different Zelda games. It feels like a real celebration of why people love both Warriors and Zelda, appealing to fans in both camps without alienating anyone. It’s ace. SB
Killer Instinct Season 2
Season One laid the foundations of a really solid fighting game, but one that was lacking on characters, content and polish. Enter Iron Galaxy, taking over the project as Double Helix swan off to make games for Amazon, who have done a great job in turning Killer Instinct into something resembling a finished product. And a great one, at that.
Killer Instinct’s defining feature was its ludicrous combos, sometimes heading into the hundreds of hits, and they were right to focus on that for this reboot of the series. Moves are split into ‘Openers’, ‘Linkers’ and ‘Enders’. An Opener begins a combo, Linkers extend it when you’re about to run out of options and Enders, obviously, end the combo, which allows you to do the maximum possible damage to your opponent. As you hit your enemy, a bar fills up. Should it reach the top without performing a combo Ender, your combo will fizzle out and the potential damage will be far less. So, the whole game is built around using your normal attacks to goad your enemy into a mistake, then punishing them with a spectacular combo attack. Simple explanation, but that is its core, and it really works.
Season Two has had four of the eight characters released for it so far, and every single one of them has been unique, complementing the existing cast and, most importantly, are well balanced. Killer Instinct is finally reaching its potential. AH
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
Essentially a prologue to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Ground Zeroes provides tasting samples of the Metal Gear Solid experience under the new Fox Engine. The whole game takes place in and around a Guantanamo Bay style prison camp, with a main feature mission having you break out some captive friends, and about half a dozen bonus missions focusing on assassinations, demolition work, meeting undercover agents, and so on.
Speaking as a fan of Metal Gear Solid games, I love the changes they've made here - the controls feel fluid, the stealth systems are more forgiving, and the kind of tactical planning you now have to do during missions (eg. requesting a helicopter to come and pick up some prisoners - How much time do you have? Can you clear the landing zone of enemies before the chopper arrives, or should you find a quieter spot away from the base? Can you find a safe spot to stash your prisoners, or evacuate them piecemeal?) makes the game feel much more open for you to develop your own style of play.
Having said that, I'd be remiss not to express my unease with the game's narrative content. Ground Zeroes is a game about torture, and while it's always portrayed as A Bad Thing - something the villains do, serving in part to justify the player's actions against them - there are moments where the game seems to revel in the spectacle of abuse. I think any good critique of torture ought to leave people feeling uncomfortable - particularly when we know our own, real-life governments have been torturing people - but things like providing an audio recording of a character being raped, as a sort of Easter Egg reward for completing a bonus objective, seem unnecessarily brutal. OG
Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor
This should have been shite, right?
Shadow of Mordor starts as a passable Assassin’s Creed clone and turns into one of the most interesting major releases of 2014. The whole game is built around the much-talked-about ‘Nemesis’ system. I’ve written about the stories it can throw up fairly extensively this year, including right here on this very site. It’s a truly original system that allows the game to build you your own character driven stories that are unique to your own playthrough.
With every death, instead of frustration, you likely gain a new character that you’re going to develop an emotional attachment to. That’s not an attachment in the same way one may be to say, Aeris, or something, but like, a real feeling of anger towards this previously unnamed Uruk. Now, they’re your nemesis. They’re the target of a vengeance that can’t be built up by cutscenes or other exposition. This Uruk killed you and is starting to climb the ranks of the Uruk army off the back of your murder. Let’s go get that bastard.
Also, the Uruks have a really odd Pro Wrestling vibe to them, which is obviously going to win points around these parts. The big warchief Uruks arrive to what appears to be their very own entrance music, posing and looking mean and menacing as they walk onto the scene. The nemesis system creates these classic wrestling style ‘you wronged me so I’m gonna wrong you back twice as hard’ storylines. In fact, some of this should really be lifted wholesale and dumped in whatever WWE are planning next. AH
MLB ‘14: The Show
A BASEBALL GAME??! Really?? Yes. MLB ‘14: The Show is a very good baseball game. Probably the best. I discovered I actually quite like baseball games after playing a boatload of them as I played my way through an N64 ROM archive. Stranger things have happened.
Anyway, MLB ‘14 looks incredible and plays a pretty decent game of baseball. As per every baseball game ever, you’ve got the three gameplay sections - batting, pitching and fielding. There’s a subtlety to this stuff I’ll likely never understand, but a frankly unbelievable set of difficulty sliders for pretty much every single individual aspect of the sport can be tweaked, and after a few games where I found myself in a couple of baffling situations, I’d tailored my experience to be challenging, but allowing for the occasional TOTAL SPORTING HERO moments that are the reason you play games like this. I imagine if you actually watch baseball, this game must be pretty incredible!
A final word has to go out to the ‘Road To The Show’ mode, where you create your own baseball player and control only him as you travel through their career and eventually to ‘The Show’, whatever the hell that is. It’s really smart - you only play the moments where your guy is actually needed, while the game simulates itself. The commentary is really clever and gives you enough information to know what your guy needs to do to influence the game when you take control. It’s quite a lot of fun, as all you’re doing is playing the exciting bits! I still don’t fully understand the sport and there’s a few modes that went right over my head, but MLB ‘14 is a very fun video game regardless. AH
Nidhogg is a fast-paced, 2D fencing game in which two players engage in a push-of-war - the aim being not to kill your opponent, but to run far enough into their territory to reach a scoring zone (although this generally requires you to kill your opponent repeatedly along the way). It's been doing the rounds at various events and art galleries for a few years now, but here in the space year 2014 it has finally been released to the general public.
As you might expect from a "gallery game", Nidhogg is best enjoyed with friends. The speed at which your daft fencing gambits shift the flow of the game back and forth means you will often have cause to boke with laughter, but the experience is rather lost when playing an absent opponent online; similarly, it's also a great spectator sport, with all the visceral thrills of a beat-em-up but no arcane knowledge of special moves required. OG
Hideo Kojima you motherfucker. Easily the biggest surprise of the year, P.T. was revealed with very little fanfare during a Sony conference in August. A first person horror experience, with a few obscure puzzles scattered throughout, upon finishing P.T. a video revealed that this was in fact a playable teaser (you see what they did there?) for a new Silent Hill game, directed by Kojima and film director Guilermo Del Toro. Woaaaaaaaaaah.
There’s way more to P.T. than that, though. As a horror experience, it is unmatched. They’ve used FOX Engine to create a near photorealistic enviroment for you to walk around and frankly, you don’t want to spend time in it. There’s far better writers who have written far better things about P.T. this year but to be honest, I don’t recommend you read them. I recommend you just grab this free ‘teaser’ and play it. I’ve never felt so uncomfortable playing a video game and even after I’d finished with it, I had to delete it from my PS4. Not for space reasons, I just didn’t like having it on there. It feels like a portal into a place you never ever want to find yourself. It was fascinating to take a peek.
It was also terrifying. AH
Scram Kitty & His Buddy On Rails
Yet another highlight in the Wii U’s stellar line-up, Scram Kitty is a tremendously smart shoot-’em-up that is so off-beat yet perfectly designed that it invokes comparisons to the likes of Treasure’s work, which is no mean feat.
A recent patch made the game a bit easier, which is perhaps a slight climb-down from the game’s original vision, but the truth is that many found the game massively impenetrable to begin with, and the idea of so many people bouncing off the game and not giving it a proper go is basically heartbreaking. If that’s you, give it another shot with the new patch and see how you get on. You’ll be glad you did. SB
Without question, the best game to be released on the NES. Sort of. Shovel Knight is a game that takes all those brilliant things from that classic era - the gameplay from Castlevania, Ghouls and Ghosts, map screens from Mario 3 etc - and takes away a lot of the stuff that makes some of those titles an absolute arse to play in 2014. How many times have you gone back to an old favourite and, well, it hasn’t been shite as such, but so much has changed and there’s so many things we take for granted these days that it just isn’t that much fun to play. Imagine you went back to an old classic and it is BETTER than what you remember? That is Shovel Knight.
Really tightly designed levels with a nice difficulty curve, graphics that are clearly better than what the NES can do but by god that’s how you remember them, LOADS of secrets and arguably the soundtrack of the year combine to make Shovel Knight pretty much essential. If you’re old to have been playing games during the era that Shovel Knight apes, then it is almost impossible to not fall completely in love with this game. It is coming to PS4 and Vita next year and you’d be a fool to miss out on that. Well, you’d already BE a fool for not having a Wii U or a 3DS, but that’s a different issue altogether, isn’t it? AH
South Park: The Stick Of Truth
South Park has had a pretty poor relationship with video games, with a handful of absolute stinkers cropping up many years ago, none of which truly represented what the long-running show is all about. The Stick Of Truth has put an end to this run of dogshit by being the absolute perfect South Park game. Written by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, it isn’t just some next game but with dialogue from the show in it - it *is* the show.
The presentation is flawless, giving you the impression that you’re playing your way through a feature length interactive episode of South Park. The gameplay is pretty much half-inched entirely from the Mario RPG games and is a pretty simplistic base for everything to build from, but to be totally honest some kind of glorious skill based gaming accomplishment isn’t really the reward you’re looking for here. You’re trying to beat this section or ridiculous boss to see and hear what jokes are coming up next. It is gleefully offensive and one of very few games that has had me crying laughing. AH
An early 2014 surprise! I’m a huge Strider fan, having all sorts of wonderful nostalgic memories of the Mega Drive version of the original game, so there were a lot of warning signs going up about this reboot initially. Double Helix Games had what could be politely referred to as a ‘patchy’ catalogue but by god they really pulled it out with this reinvisioning of Strider as a Metroidvania game.
Now, it is easy to get me to pay attention to your game if it is a Metroidvania style title, even easier if it is trading on the name of an old favourite of mine, but Strider combines both with some real grace. As always, you’ve got the big map full of places you can’t go and bosses to beat to get items that allow you to go into all those place, but Strider’s agility, ability to climb on certain surfaces and rapid flurries with his sword make exploration and combat an absolute delight.
Stick this on hard, it plays like a really tight, old-school action game. For those not so bothered by that sort of thing, it is a great Metroidvania title, full of interesting abilities and ways to uncover the map. Rad. AH
Tites! What an absolutely incredible game Titanfall is. “Oh but there’s not much content” says the idiot internet. Shut up, you’re an idiot and I hope your thumbs disolve overnight. Titanfall is a story generator. It generates those stories that you bore your mates to death with. There’s so many ridiculous things that can happen in your average Titanfall match and there’s plenty of ways the game even goes out of its way to help make these great gaming moments.
The freerunning, fast-paced combat has had an influence on every online FPS I have played this year and none of them have gotten the feel and weight to be anywhere near as satisfying or as fun as Respawn have gotten with Titanfall. It is actually a very simple game. Sure, there may not be as many guns as Call of Duty, but everything has a real use and is different enough to offer variation.
Ultimately, running around shooting your mates has always been fun. Titanfall allows you to run in more places than these other games, in a more spectacular fashion and adds gigantic robots into the mix. Brill. The best FPS game of 2014, and probably 2015 too. It will take some time to dethrone this as the multiplayer king. AH
THE RETURN OF THE OTHER KING. Jeff Minter returns with another crack at refining the Tempest formula and it may well be his best yet. His games share a lot in common. Some people, who claim to know a thing or two about video games mewl that his games are “all the same”. The sort of gamer who dismisses Call of Duty as a ‘rubbish kids game’ and then bangs on about Spec Ops: The Line being some kind of fucking revelation.
Sure, there’s the wireframe, psychedelic Elite-meets-ayahuasca visuals, the pumping techno soundtracks, the high score chasing, the British sense of humour and an obsession with fluffy farmyard animals. Classic signs you’re playing a Minter game. Hallmarks. What they also have is a central core gameplay mechanic that is absolutely rock solid. Gameplay that rewards those who put in time to become skilled at it. Systems that have a perfect balance of Risk/Reward to ensure that no matter how good you are there’s always a way to roll the dice and gamble with your current run. Brilliant, memorable audio cues, so that when the visuals become a hectic hot mess of neon, you’ve no excuse not to know what enemies were firing what at you. Power-ups that seem so simple, but actually offer you deep, strategic options to improve your skills. The Vita, with PSN support for online high score boards, beautiful HD screen and powerful handheld hardware, is a natural fit for Minter's arcade action.
The game that has dominated my commutes in 2014. AH
I was a bit down of Velocity 2X at first. It felt a bit easier and a bit less refined than the original game. This, it turns out, was down to the fact that I’d just 100%ed Velocity Ultra and went straight into the sequel, so I was still operating on a level that you need to be on to tackle the absolutely most ruthless and devious levels Velocity can throw at you. Velocity 2X needed some time to warm up. After all, not everyone can be as good as me.
Once it gets going, it is another absolute masterpiece from Futurlab. The new on foot sections are all really well implemented and add some variety to the puzzles, whilst brilliantly maintaining a lot of the fundamentals of the core Velocity gameplay. There’s now boss battles, where Velocity 2X briefly becomes a shmup. It is a more varied game than the original but all of the new stuff is at the same high quality. Better in almost every conceivable way and another essential title for Sony’s resurrected handheld. AH
Wolfenstein: The New Order
“Hey this new Wolfenstein is a pretty cool dumb shooter” said we, after smashing our way through the EGX 2013 demo. And it still is, but we had no idea that it was going to have a few more strings to its bow.
Yes, it’s got the bits where you charge around with two shotguns, shooting a load of Nazis’ tits in. But it’s also got some stealth bits, some puzzle bits, and some pure story bits. If I’d known this going in, I’d have been wary. It tries so many things that it really has no right to do them all well - and yet, miraculously, they’re all just a bit better than they needed to be. The stealth is totally optional, and mechanically slight, but it’s a wee bit of fun trying to sneak about silently taking out Nazi commanders, no big deal if you fuck it up. The puzzle bits, again, never too complex, but never frustrating either. An occasional pleasant change from shooting the bad lads.
The story, despite a few mis-steps, has some genuinely beautiful and eloquent moments, as well as some cool but daft ones. You’ll likely have heard more about the latter. I’ll happily rant at anyone about how rad it is when Blazkowicz wakes up from his coma, but I wouldn’t tell them about the ending, or Bobby’s letter to his wife, or the woman who’s lost her wedding ring. Because if I talk about those things, I’ll get sad, and you’ll think I’m an idiot for getting sad about bloody Wolfenstein.
The New Order grasps quite unnecessarily at things well beyond its station, and succeeds at every turn. Apart from that first shagging scene. Really comes out of nowhere, that does. SB
HAPPY NEW YEAR