Shadow of the Tomb Raider Screenshot

As has been the case with the last several weeks, I’ve had an awful lot of time to play games over the last seven days, given that I’ve been furloughed and have remained at home (no need to test my eyesight by driving to a castle for me!). That’s going to change as of tomorrow – with me back to work, albeit remotely – so I thought it would be a good opportunity to take a look at what I’ve been able to play recently.

When lockdown started, I thought it’d be a good opportunity to catch up on a few games in my backlog. Little did I know how long it’d last and just how much opportunity I’d have to get through many, many games.

REVIEW: "Crackdown 3" feels like a throwback to Xbox 360 days ...

The first game I finished during lockdown was Crackdown 3, which I’d been playing in short bursts for months since first acquiring my Xbox One X. It was a lot of fun in short gaming sessions, but did feel quite repetitive and basic in longer sessions. The endgame felt particularly tedious too, but the real attraction of Crackdown is – and always has been – using the city as a playground in order to hoover up the vast numbers of collectables – and it’s this that the game really gets right.

Gears of War 2 Screenshot Watching the destroyed skyline

Next up was Gears of War 2, another that I’d just become bored of before reaching the end. I wasn’t a massive fan, though it was a big leap over the tedious first entry that many still seem to regard as a masterpiece, much to my eternal bafflement.

I then worked my way through the entire Tomb Raider reboot trilogy. Absolutely fantastic games with some brilliant writing, very engaging stories and excellent characters (Lara’s platonic friendship with Jonah is a particular highlight – it’s so refreshing to see a story in which romance isn’t shoehorned in for the sake of it).

Gears 3 next. Again, a marked improvement but the Michael Bay-isms were still there and the emotional moments were still not as earned or affecting as they were supposed to be.

Gears 5 Screenshot

Gears 4 and 5 came soon after and I was much more impressed with the more open gameplay and far superior writing, even if 4’s story ends just as it feels it’s peaked. Gears 5 was a triumph in every way though – as with all Gears games it’s a remarkable technical achievement, but it absolutely nailed the writing, characters and story too this time around. Excellent stuff.

Over the course of the last few months I also managed to finally – after more than a decade – overcome the tedious final third of the original Assassin’s Creed. Though the game in general is pretty dull, there’s some awful game design elements toward the end that make it feel even worse; waves upon waves of enemies, for example, just thrown at you over and over again. Or a tediously drawn out boss battle against what is supposed to have been a surprising antagonist, but which comes as no shock at all. The modern day Abstergo sections were also guilty of bringing the game’s pace crashing to a halt and felt like it had little of interest to say or add; yet this is rectified immediately in Assassin’s Creed II, which I’ve found to be a vastly superior game in every way.

Old Man's Journey Screenshot

In terms of smaller scale games, I also managed to find time to complete Old Man’s Journey, Fractured Minds and play countless other games too.

As my gaming time will become much reduced – and more in line with my usual availability to play games – I expect I’ll probably move back to playing shorter experiences, but I’ve made my way through a number of games that I may well have time to complete even without such large chunks of time available. I suppose that things are still up in the air somewhat regarding ‘normality’, so it’s likely that I’ll still have a little more time than I was previously used to anyway. I’m certainly looking forward to finishing off Assassin’s Creed II, the Star Wars Battlefront II campaign and the Titanfall 2 campaign too.

Please though, do stay safe and well – take care of yourselves and I’ll no doubt see you back here soon for more reviews, previews and other stuff that’s caught my attention!

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