Welcome To The New Age

Happy Weekend TAY! I hope everyone survived the holidays and that many of you are having a blast this weekend before the return to normality.

I think 2016 will see the dawn of a new era in gaming with virtual reality and I’m ecstatic to be around to see this come to fruition. Almost since the dawn of gaming VR has been the sci-fi dream of many gamers and now it is just around the corner in a big way. Let’s hope it all turns out amazingly and that I’m still around, a little more down the road, to see those holodecks when they show up.

Last week was a mixed bag for me in terms of play time. My son’s 9th birthday was last Sunday and my house guests who arrived for his birthday stayed until a few days ago. Little gaming happened during that time. My son did get Yoshi’s Woolly World, Lego Dimensions, Skylanders Swap Force (he’s behind in that series), Disney’s Infinity 3.0, and Sonic Lost World. This means we’ve got loads of new console games in the house needing to be played...loads of new games that require lots of additional toys to be bought for them that is.

Advertisement

After my guests left, I had a single session of Binary Domain which was enough to finish the game off. What a fantastic game and a sorely overlooked gem. Highly polished with fantastic gameplay, there is nothing at all to complain about here. I even dug the music which is something I don’t generally like in most games. I especially loved the game’s procedural damage implementation on the enemy robots, I don’t think I’ve played a game that felt so precise in this aspect.

Advertisement

The story in Binary Domain was excellent and did a great job of exploring what it means to be human. If you enjoy a good sci-fi story of how humanity might be on the path to creating other lifeforms and what that means for all of us; then you’d probably groove with the events that unfold in Binary Domain. Highly recommended just for the sheer fun of it all. It is a pity it didn’t do well, I would have loved to see a sequel.

New Year’s Eve happened to be my “all-night-game-night” with my son that we always enjoy around his birthday. It actually worked out well having it on New Year’s Eve since my wife worked New Year’s Day and that meant she had to check out before the ball dropped.

Advertisement

My son and I started the night with Yoshi’s Woolly World and what a fantastic game that’s been so far. Since I generally avoid reading reviews for games I haven’t played, I didn’t realize that Good Feel were the devs responsible for Woolly World. I should have guessed they were though, since the game looks so much like Kirby’s Epic Yarn.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn was one of my favourite surprises on the Wii. I’ve never been a huge Kirby fan, but Epic Yarn wasn’t like most Kirby games. With an exciting new set of controls and a stunning fabric-like visual look to the game, Epic Yarn ended up being one of the most fun and unique platform games I’ve ever played.

Advertisement

Yoshi’s Woolly World shares the textile feel of Epic Yarn, but with Nintendo finally embracing the world of HD output, the overall visual fidelity is quite striking. It might actually be the best looking visuals I’ve seen on the WiiU, though being a 2D game you can always get away with higher performance out of a game than the 3D counterparts.

My son and I have only finished the first world, but the gameplay is challenging enough to keep us thoroughly entertained. I’m not sure I like Woolly World’s mechanics quite as much as Epic Yarn, but since Yoshi’s Island is my favourite SNES game, I feel right at home and extremely pleased with the experience. It is weird how much Woolly World feels very similar to Epic Yarn in both design and gameplay. Since I thought Epic Yarn was one of the best offerings on the Wii this similarity isn’t a bad thing; the WiiU certainly needs all the high quality gaming it can get. Nintendo has definitely hit it out of the park with this one.

Advertisement

After some Woolly World my son and I watched Halo: Forward Unto Dawn on Blu Ray (which my son also received for his birthday). Having never watched it before, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it. The dark tones and human story to the Halo universe were a fresh look at the real horror of such alien invasions. While often having a “made-for-TV” feel (actually made for the web would be more accurate) and some questionable acting/character development, the whole thing comes off better than it likely should have. Definitely lots more fun than either my son or I were expecting and a great viewing for any Halo fan. (non-Halo fans need not apply here).

After the movie my son and I began our first foray into the world of co-op PC gaming. Out in the Borderlands was where we began.

Advertisement

I’ll admit it, I’m not a huge Borderlands fan. The massive amounts of loot and somewhat generic mission structure doesn’t really appeal to me, but the visual styling and great gameplay are hard to knock. We played quite a bit of the game (several hours at least) and I’m not so sure my son likes it. This is basically the second first person shooter he’s played outside of the Halo series and I think Borderlands might be too unfocused for him. Plus, all the loot you collect ends up involving lots of math to see if newly acquired equipment is better than your current stock and this is a bit of a drag for a nine year old. We’ll have to see how it goes I guess.

Thankfully, once I gave up trying to get a LAN game to work (apparently the first Borderlands has known LAN issues), we ended up playing an online game while sitting next to each other. I was happy to find out the game fully supports the Xbox One controller so we didn’t have to add another layer of learning to the game by cutting his teeth on a mouse and keyboard for video gaming.

Advertisement

We ended the night on a bit of a downer with Ni No Kuni. I think trying to play that at 6am after all the action games was a bad move; though my son has asked not to play Ni No Kuni anymore at all. I can’t really blame him. I think I too have reached my limit with the game. The storytelling is alright but the handholding gameplay and frankly unexciting combat do nothing to endear the game to me. Plus, I don’t enjoy RPGs for the most part since they often involve lots of chatting with folks...I came here to play and not read. Certainly if you enjoy RPGs, Ni No Kuni is a visual feast and offers a nice story. It is funny to watch yourself reflected in your child and how gaming tastes are maybe somewhat genetic as well as a product of your environment.

With my son fading at 8am after being up all night we packed it in and fell into bed. I am still rather exhausted and I’m looking forward to a nice quiet weekend. I’ll be back to StarCraft if I get a chance this weekend, but hopefully I’ll be able to play something with my family as well.

What are you playing this weekend?