The last article you need to read in 2014.
On the Table
Publishing a day early for the holiday…but it’s that time of the year. Barnes’ Best 2014. Scissors was, again, the closest to anyone for picking my list.
I won’t spoil it here, but the GOTY pick may surprise some for various reasons. It doesn’t surprise me, because I pretty much decided it was GOTY many months ago. Nothing was going to top this game.
As for the rest of my picks, all great, great games that I expect to play more in 2015.
Not much gaming going on lately with the holidays…but I did have an old friend in town for a few days so over the course of a couple of visits we hammered through four missions of Imperial Assault. It was enjoyable enough, but I’m still not feeling the overwhelming enthusiasm for this reskin that others seem to be, nor am I really feeling the Star Warsiness of it all that much. It feels hugely gamey, often times a little weird. Some stupid, stupid situations tend to crop up, and the scenarios aren’t particularly interesting. This one, “Brushfire” in particular bugs me. You have to (for some reason) disarm these explosives. If Finn Signis is three spaces away or if he’s the disarmer, you get to keep the bomb and then go put it on the AT-ST, which kind of stands in this little room shooting at you if it sees you. It’s supposed to be an outdoor thing, but it feels REALLY confined and small. Lots of point-blank shooting battles, which just feels ridiculous.
The campaign system is actually quite nice though. I like that you can do things as the Imperial player like buy cards and spring them out on the Rebels, giving a little surprise. The threat mechanics seem to work much better than they do in Descent.
I dunno, I still am really, really lukewarm about it…but I also can’t say that I hated playing it. And it’s not sold/traded yet.
On the Consoles
Skylanders, Skylanders, Skylanders. Santa dropped off 30 second-hand Skylanders along with Giants and Swap Force. Really enjoying it, even after the kids go to bed. It is total plastic crack. I’ve already bought another figure because we didn’t have a swapper with the bounce ability, OMG. Now I’m wanting specific characters…we don’t have Gill Grunt or Magna Charge and that is unacceptable. This is bad, bad news. The game is really fun though- it is SO old fashioned, which I didn’t expect. It’s very much in the vein of a PS2-era 3D adventure, but with some modern conveniences and tweaks. Never had to collect hats back in the day.
I actually didn’t realize that the game was designed by Toys for Bob…who also did a little number called…Star Control 2. The thing is, I can TOTALLY see how the game is an evolution of Star Control even though it’s a different genre. It also feels like an evolution of their old PS1 cult title Unholy War.
I got Dragon Age: Inqusition through Gamefly…I don’t know, it seems good but it’s just not grabbing me for whatever reason. Maybe because I’m anticipating the inevitable eye-rolling that will happen once the clumsy hookups and cheeseball come-ons start happening. And why does everyone in this game squirm like they have to pee in every dialogue scene? I love how some of the laughable stuff from the FIRST game is back, like how the characters are completely covered in blood splatter and don’t seem to notice during the dialogues. Update that shit, yo.
Barnes Best Video Game division- Super Smash Bros. Wii U, Mario Kart 8, Bayonetta 2, Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker, Hyrule Warriors.
I got the new Ascension add-on and it’s just about all I’m playing. It’s GREAT. Probably the best set yet. It’s fun on its own, but now I’ve gotten into playing 120 point games with EVERYTHING.
Barnes’ Best IOS Game of the Year- Papers, Please by a longshot. I’ll write more on it later, when I finish it. But it is staggeringly brilliant.
On the Screen
I tried watching Amazing Spider-Man 2. What an awful, awful film. I didn’t even finish it. I could just imagine that Spidey meme, the one where he’s shrugging…saying “HOW DO I MAKE MARVEL MOVIE?” Jamie Foxx…talk about miscasting. I believe his on set direction was “We need you to act like a total doofus who has no clue what movie he’s in. Total garbage.
The big win on the screen over the holidays was the Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas special. Holy crap, it has to be the most camp thing I’ve ever seen on TV. Guest stars- Grace Jones, Oprah Winfrey, Little Richard, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, KD Lang, Magic Johnson, Dinah Shore (!?) and Cher. Holiday madness ensues.
Of course, we made the usual holiday show/movie rounds. A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, Nightmare Before Christmas, Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, Rudolph…actually took the kids to the Center for Puppetry Arts for a live-on-stage puppet show based on the Rankin-Bass original. It was pretty awesome, but we were already kind of Rudolphed out. When I was a kid, you’d see it ONE time a year. We watched it like eight times.
Barnes’ Best movie of the year is definitely The Babadook. Second would be Guardians of the Galaxy, if only because it was a great return to FUN science fiction.
The other day we were at the kids’ school holiday show and while they were jingling bells, singing “Must be Santa” and doing a Frozen medley, all I kept thinking about was “Protest and Survive” by Discharge. So of course that led to rolling out “Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing”, “Why” and a couple of other original D-beat classics. If you have no idea what Discharge is all about, just listen to the aforementioned song. Hugely influential UK hardcore- thrash metal never really happens without this band. Also took some time to listen to some Broken Bones, a Discharge spin-off with a couple of good records.
And of course, as it happens, Discharge also led me through a ton of crust/early grindcore stuff as the holidays wound down…Amebix, Heresy, Rattus, Mob 47, Nausea, Siege, Extreme Noise Terror , Doom, and so forth.
Barnes’ Best record of 2014- D’angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah. Runner up would be St. Vincent’s record.