A year on this website wouldn’t be complete with a rundown of some of the games I managed to play in the preceding twelve months; almost none of which came out that year! Frankly unless it’s a big Nintendo release or something REALLY up my alley like a Hideo Kojima game, I rarely buy games when they come out and 2020 proved to be pretty anemic for big releases that caught my attention. Still, my backlog is enormous and it’s worth pointing out what games were really good (or really bad) even if they aren’t the freshest things out there. I mean heck, with Steam and online storefronts being what they are, who can even say what’s relevant anymore and what games can or cannot capture a bit of the spotlight? Probably not most of these games though as I tend to not have much in terms of “taste” but let’s see take a glimpse at what kept me entertained in the bad year to end all bad years!
Batman: Arkham Knight (PC)
Developed by Rocksteady Studios
My big purchase of the year was a brand spanking new graphics card for my very old and out of date system, and one of the games I got to kind of benchmark it was this. The Batman games to me are kind of like Dynasty Warriors in that I ignore pretty much everything going on around them when they’re released and will just pick and choose the ones I want to play years after everyone stopped caring. To its credit, whatever bugs plagued this game on release don’t SEEM to be there anymore as I had a very smooth experience, and while the narrative is eye rolling tripe the gameplay was interesting enough for me to stick with it for a while. What kind of sticks out about the Batman games is that they do go the extra mile to make things feel like a “Game” and not just an open world sandbox of repetitive action. Sure, you can while away the hours picking off random things if you really want to, but the story missions aren’t just concentrated arenas for the same open world gameplay. The last mission I played before I put it down for a while (I’ll try to get back to it at some point) was the blimp level, and the fact that they bothered to introduce this shifting angle mechanic to give it something distinctive was very much appreciated. If you liked the Batman games and aren’t burnt out by them just yet then this is more of the same with a next gen sheen to it (though I guess at this point it’s decided CURRENT if not LAST gen) and one of these a console generation seems to be the right amount.
We’re back with Part 2 of this list! Let’s not waste any time and jump right into the games!!
Developed by Insomniac Games
Am I getting too old for this? I might be getting too old for this. As I’m sure is a common consensus among those of us over twenty-five playing this game, I still feel a stronger connection to Spider-Man 2 from all the way back in the stone age than this one despite it still managing to be one of the best games I’ve played this year even if it can’t quite surpass my nostalgia for the one with Bruce Campbell in it. I don’t know, I just feel that the new game is guiding me too much in my web swings; pulling visual tricks or redirecting my momentum to minimize mistakes, and while I will never claim that harder games are inherently better (or that players just need to “git gud”), I found the hectic and less controlled web slinging in Spider-Man 2 to be more rewarding and much more engaging on long trips to far off objective markers. Other than that, the game is an improvement in every way. The combat is fluid and allows for lots of varied combos, I LOVE it whenever a level has multiple levels so you can swoop in, kick butt, swing away, and come back to smash some faces one floor below, and even though the stealth sections are pretty unengaging, they at least function well enough. That said, it can get a bit monotonous with some of the combat sections and I would have gladly traded all the battle challenges on the map for just one more fine-tuned and well-crafted story stages like the skyscraper one that was shown in the trailer. Also, it felt a bit… anachronistic I guess to have the bad guys be SO defined by their Asian culture especially since the game doesn’t have much to counterbalance that. When a minority group of people is almost exclusively shown to be terrorist (Yuri Watanabe is the only other Asian character of note), well at that point you’re basically recreating that one episode of Sherlock that’s always gonna be a bit uncomfortable to watch. Still, this is a Spider-Man game that, at least for the modern era, will define what it means to be a Super-Hero game, and while I’ll always carry a torch for the PS2 game I won’t begrudge the new generation for having a version made for them to enjoy.
Tomb Raider and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures
Directed by Roar Uthaug
ANOTHER video game movie!? Haven’t we tried that like forty times already!? Well that’s a bit unfair. I’ve always maintained that a good chunk of them are actually pretty good for their respective genres such as the first Mortal Kombat, and we’ve rebooted the video game franchise since the LAST time we were making films off of this series, so an updated interpretation with brand new Lara Croft could really be something if they get the right people behind it! Does this manage to be the first video game movie to be one that EVERYONE thinks is good instead of just me? Let’s find out!!
Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is the daughter of a world renowned… business man I guess (Dominic West) considering her family is renting that building from Iron Fist, but she doesn’t hang around much anymore since her father disappeared several years ago. Instead, she spends most of her time MMA training and working in the Gig Industry; riding her bike for fun AND profit! However, an associate of her father (Kristin Scott Thomas) has to bail her out of trouble due to a situation that REALLY wasn’t her fault (how do you get arrested for getting hit by a car!?) and she insists that Lara give up this lifestyle to finally claim her birthright and the millions of dollars that go with it. All she has to do is sign the documents confirming once and for all that her father is dead (is that a thing? Does a family member have to sign those in order for a missing person to be declared dead?) which she’s been reluctant to do as she still thinks he’s out there somewhere. She might just be right about that when she finds her father’s secret laboratory where he left a final message for Lara; telling her to burn all his research to the ground and to not look for him. Naturally she doesn’t do that because who WOULD just give up after getting some pretty solid evidence that could lead to where he is, and so she enlists the help of a fisherman (Daniel Wu) whose father was connected to Lara’s and the two set off to some MYSTERIOUS ISLAND! The good news is that it’s not Skull Island and teeming with giant monsters. The bad news? Well there are a bunch of dudes with guns looking for something on the island, and the head dude named Vogel (Walton Goggins) thinks that Lara might hold the key to finding it. Will Lara be able to find what these men are looking for as well as finding her father in the process? What are the sinister plans that Vogel has in store once he locates this mysterious artifact? You know, we keep going on about her dad, but are we SURE that her mother is dead too? All I’m saying is that if Angelina Jolie doesn’t show up in the sequel, I’m going to be VERY disappointed!
Hitman: Agent 47 and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Aleksander Bach
Are we really back here again? Of ALL the video game franchises to get made into movies, of course we have to get ones based off a weak sauce Léon: The Professional. The Hitman games have always been fantastic and unique experiences which are the reasons why the series has endured for so long, but the story was never the selling point. Whatever lore was in those games just never connected with me and I never understood the point of making such a basic premise so complicated by including a cloning subplot and then an evil double at one point (I think) and whatever the hell else was going through IO Interactive’s heads when making those games. Not only that, but they already TRIED to make this work and it sure as hell didn’t the first time around. Why exactly are they bring THIS back to the silver screen when there are so many other games out there that aren’t already tainted by a poor adaptation? Could it be because they were genuinely inspired to do better this time around, or is it just another cynical cash grab off a recognizable franchise? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with a brief history of who the Agents are and how they were created which is strike one against this film, but we’ll get to that later. Dr. Litvenko (Claran Hinds) basically made the Captain America Super Solider Serum for… reasons, and it leads directly to the Agent program which turns regular dudes (or clones maybe?) into unstoppable bad ass assassins who don’t feel emotion (*cough* bullshit *cough*) and always get the job done. Dr. Litvenko however fears His own creations, and runs away to never be seen again. The company who was bankrolling him is uber pissed and spends the next twenty years looking for him and the daughter he abandoned (because reasons) without much success despite having access to ALL the cameras ever, but maybe their progress is stalled because Agents (or maybe just 47 specifically, played here by Rupert Friend) are wrecking their shit on a regular basis. Eventually though the evil organization called The Syndicate (I see they’ve continued the trend of shitty group names in this series a la The Organization) finds the guy’s daughter who JUST SO HAPPENED to finally show up on a single security camera, and so they track her ass down in Germany.