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Brief thoughts on some of the games I played this year: Ghost of Tsushima (PS4), God of War (PS4), Far Cry: New Dawn (PC) and Cyberpunk 2077 (PC)

genre: action, adventure, open-world
year: 2020
platform: PS4

I just platinumed Ghost of Tsushima. At the time of purchase I was aware it was going to take me a long time to finish this game. Actually I wasn't really planning on going for platinum. However the game was so much fun I couldn't resist.

In essence the game is like an Assassin's Creed game with samurai during the first Mongol invasion of Japan. Instead of assassins you have Jin Sakai who starts out as a samurai and who becomes the Ghost of Tsushima, a ninja type of warrior who is forced to abandon the strict samurai code of honour. It's a big deal in the game but in real life samurai were allowed to do whatever it took to win the war so the objection to abandoning the old ways is put in there for dramatic reasons. Normally I am not to talk about the story much since for me it's always the gameplay that matters the most. But I have to say that the main story and several of the side stories are absolutely compelling. Especially in ways I wasn't expecting. Sucker Punch Studios have made sure that most side missions matter and that you really get to know the characters you meet during these missions. The game got to me many times. A whole lot more than God of War did.

Like I said the gameplay is very reminiscent of an assassin's creed game. But with much better combat. It's much deeper and remains fun the entire game. Especially when you get more tools and weapons to use. There are two approaches. The full on and out in the open samurai combat. And the stealthy and sneaky approach. Both are fun but I always preferred to do it stealthy first and if I failed I would face the enemy head on. 

The visuals are absolutely gorgeous. It doesn't matter where you are in the game there is always something to be amazed by. The same goes for the soundtrack. If I didn't know any better you would think this is a Japanese game made by Japanese developers. But no, it's the people behind the Infamous franchise who made this happen. Of course they took a lot of liberties but the world they created is one I will be very happy to return to soon enough.

genre: action, adventure
year: 2018
platform: PS4

God of War is a game I finished (main game) a while ago and took a long time for me to get into. 

Yes, of course I was astonished by the graphics. It's an incredible beautiful game. And once I got used to the combat I found myself enjoying it. However I wasn't as impressed as many were with the story and new take on Kratos. After all the raving reviews I was wondering if I had missed something. Unfortunately this was not the case. Gone is the spectacle and free flowing combat of previous games. Those games always made me feel like I actually was in Ancient Greece where the gods and other creatures were roaming around making life difficult for people like Kratos. Almost every turn there was something unique going on like told in the myths. Kratos was more than an angry man out for revenge. He did have moments of clarity and compassion when necessary. Actually I dare to say that he was a whole lot mature in previous games than in this one where he is supposed to be calmer and wiser. So unlike others I for one will be very skeptical towards the sequel.

genre: FPS, open-world, action, adventure
year: 2019
platform: PC 

At first I thought Far Cry 5: New Dawn was nothing but a lazy expansion on the original with very few changes. 

However the visual upgrade and the fun combat mechanics was more fun to me than what the original offered. Also don't think you can just waltz in and out the game easily. There are quite a few main missions and some are though as nails. Like for example Adventures in Babysitting. Plus you can scavenge already conquered outposts. This means that the enemy will retake the outpost and fortify it so it becomes more difficult. However you will earn more ethanol and parts which is your currency in the game. I wished I could say this was not needed but it is. Even as something as basic as fast travel needs to be unlocked by this currency. At times it does feel like busy work. Still I couldn't get enough of exploring the map and battling the highwaymen. I wasn't particularly interested in the main villains. Joseph was a far more compelling character. 

genre: open-world, RPG
year: 2020
platform: PC

When Cyberpunk 2077 was released I had decided to wait it out until I had upgraded my pc. I tried playing it on my trusty old pc and while it didn't look that bad, it only was like 17 frames per second. Kind of unplayable. Then Covid happened and my plan to purchase a high end pc was postponed since I definitely wasn't going to pay extra for already super expensive systems. Plus the promised RTC video cards weren't available due to the global chip shortage which is still in full effect. Few months later and I saw a MSI prebuilt being offered (mid-range: I5-10400 / GTX 1660S). Since it does have a reasonable upgrade path to make it future-proof I decided to purchase it. Best decision ever since it upped my gaming experience by tenfold and still is offering me so much.

I was finally able to play Cyberpunk (60FPS) maximum I can get on my 4K TV. And played it from start to finish. Only two or three times I experienced minor glitches. GOG kept the game up to date and had not seen the bugs and glitches other people were seeing. When I discovered that the stealthy gameplay was very much like Deus Ex: Human Revolution I went in full stealth until I got fed up with it. That was like after 100 hours or so. By that time I already had enough abilities and skills to go in guns blazing and be invincible if I wanted to. Not going to lie. I had fun for pretty much the entire game. But can't help but be disappointed with the stories. There were only a few missions that touched upon deeper and complex themes like A.I. or politics. However if it was the goal to be as good as Deus Ex: Human Revolution then they failed miserably. Even Deus Ex: Mankind which was unfinished did more with little. Sure there are some moments that had some impact on me but I wished that there were more of them. There also wasn't that much variety in the gameplay. Sure you could engage in some fisticuffs. Only to be real victorious you will need to upgrade certain skills or you are going to have a hard time. The collectibles hardly seemed worth it. I had finished all gigs but I think because of a glitch it has not been registered or tracked. Could also be that because of a forced deinstall the achievements hadn't synced yet. If new content is coming I will install the game to see if certain achievements get synced properly. Otherwise I won't care. I have put in 192.15h. That is more than enough.

Cyberpunk 2077 might give you the idea there are multiple ways to accomplish missions but they aren't as expansive as they were in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Still I couldn't resist fooling around in Night City as it looked amazing. In my version the city was alive and kicking. Naturally I would have hoped for a little more interactivity. Like being able to play arcade games or something similar. However cruisin in the city with certain tunes like Harm Sweaty Pit from Nina Kraviz certainly was something I never got tired off. When riding my bike I would let the song play out even if I already had reached my destination.

Overall I liked it but I was disappointed that the stories weren't more compelling.

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