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16 March - Playing For Fun - Part Two

After three weeks of playing for fun… it seems to be working, I’m enjoying gaming but it’s taking a few days to get used to my hearing aids… so many sounds that I haven’t heard for so long… it’s a cliché but hearing the birds on the walk back from the hearing clinic to work having collected them was awesome.

At date of writing (January 20th close to midnight) I’m facing a busy week of hospital appointments and my fourth session of chemotherapy on the 23rd… as the last two session have left me wiped out for a good 24 hours after I’m looking at a day in bed, or at least resting up, on the 24th which offers the perfect time to start Red Dead Redemption.

Before then I’ll grind a few Achievements on my latest started title… one that I have been putting more time into than it probably deserves…

The Grand Tour: The Game is not going to give Turn 10 or Playground Games any sleepless nights, and it won’t win any game of the year awards either… but as a fan of the series I was interested to see what we got, and using the rest of my Xbox credit the game cost me a whopping 47p and I’ve got my money worth to this point.

The single player campaign (thus far) consists of three sets of events based on the first episode of each series, so Season 1 is based on the three Hybrids they tested/raced in the first series, races, drag races, drift challenges and so on… 15 events where I managed to collect a gold medal for each… between each race is a clip from the show leading up to the next event and so on.

Season 2 covered the Past, Present and Future vehicles ending with the big crash that saw Hammond hobbling the first few weeks of the show and Season 3 started with the trio in Detroit using Muscle Cars.

Now some of these are repetitive, in the latest set of events (Season 3, Episode 1 had 16 events) there were three identical events where your aim was to build up the decibel level in an old theatre, and three separate events on the same track one after the other in each of the three cars.

None of these take that long if you’re skilled… I’m not so some took time, and I’ve given up on getting Gold in every event because there are times when the handling is an absolute bitch, under 32 seconds on the factory track is not happening when my best (after an hour) is still over 34 so I’ll skip that.

The one big selling point (well… the only selling point) is multiplayer being local split screen stuff, so you can work through the online Achievements if you have a second pad… but they take time, 50 wins for each of the four characters is a grind, after 2 sessions grinding I’ve only got one presenter to 80% completion for these Achievements so the other 3 will take a while.

But… am I having fun?

Sure, it’s mindless fun… and the game itself is better than I had expected, but if you hate the show it’s probably not going to convince you to start watching… but I love the childish nature of it all, so I’ll keep going back occasionally when I need to kill a little time.

Okay… small confession… even though I’m playing for fun, the part of me that is a huge Gamerscore whore refuses to lie dormant.

Even though I’m not planning on playing any games for points this year, I’m still buying the occasional easy completion title using the credit I’m collecting through Microsoft Rewards to buy and stockpile games for next year… and if I’m not buying them, I’m making a note of the names in case they appear in a Live sale later on… next January ought to see a huge spike in my Gamerscore to cover the pitiful total I’ll add this year by avoiding them.

2018 saw me add 31,000 to my total (almost 10,000 more than 2017) but with the bulk of my backlog being PS4 based if I hit 10,000 total for 2019 then I’ll be happy.

Now at this point I did start a couple of fairy big name releases… Resident Evil 2: Remake and Red Dead Redemption 2… but neither really grabbed me straight away… so I went wandering off, game wise at least, and started a couple of other titles to offer a change of pace… and before I even considered going back to either of these monster titles, I’d finished…

Crackdown 3 on the Xbox.

A game beloved of Sony fanboys everywhere as they feel it gives them a stick to beat the Xbox with if you look at the review scores… if you listen to people who have actually played it… it’s a different story.

If you enjoyed the first game this is great, the repetitive gameplay can be levelled at most shooters (see also Doom which got very grindy at the end) but here this is actually a reason behind it… try taking down the main boss before you’ve weakened her supply lines and support lines and you’ll have a bad time… try taking her down after wiping out the eight sub bosses and you’ll still find it tough… but not impossibly so.

In the end this, part time change of pace, kept me enthralled for a week or so, I could keep playing and try and hunt down the missing 360-370 orbs scattered around the map, or find and jump through the last 13 or 14 stunt loops, or complete the final 19 roof top races… but that wouldn’t necessarily be fun… and this game is all about fun… and boy I had a lot of it.

With Red Dead 2 still failing to grasp my full attention I go in search of some quick fun and delve into the backlog… and decide to go for Far Cry 3 Classic Edition that came with the season pass for Far Cry 5… now I could go into a lot of detail on that here… but as the next piece I intend to post does that in some detail I’ll leave this paragraph relatively short… but man did I have fun.

Now the next one is a difficult one, to come down a little after the platinum in Far Cry 3 something more relaxing was required, and a walking sim that I’d heard told a compelling story… Drowning on the PS4.

Now it does tell a story, but it could tell it better, and the translation to English could be better… basically it revolves around a childs decent into depression and there are several endings, half of which are bad, and the story is told by the child inner dialogue with himself.

And while the story is interesting enough the graphics and pace of the game are awful… which detracts from the tale being told… it’s not a long game, and a relatively easy completion, the publisher is known for knocking out games with an easy 1,000 Gamerscore on the Xbox, but here they had a chance to disprove that reputation (or at least repair it a little) but the presentation lets it down… in the end a resounding Meh on the fun scale.

Running Totals:

Fun Times… 4, Meh Times… 3, Bad Times… 0