May and June 2020 - Gameplay - NFS Heat, Hyperdot, Hellblade, Forza Street, Golf with Friends, Fractured Minds
So the last few months have seen a lot of bad weather, as well as a lot of alone time due to some unforeseen family events that have taken my wife - best pal - away for a few weeks. Game-wise this is what I've been up to and my thoughts:
Need For Speed: Heat - I've logged hours into this game, but I don't feel the pay-off. Visually its good, I'd been spending so much time in Forza Horizon the last couple years that seeing a different landscape and creative environment was nice. Reminds me a lot of Need For Speed: Carbon from back in the day. But overall, the plot and achievement progression is extra slow, as its pretty much an 8 hour game plot, but making the progression inaccessible until you level up, which means grinding out race after race after race, with a lot of them feeling the same, turns it into a 20+ hours slog. And then, having to return to the garage to realign the car for the different events - drift, race, offroad - turns into another time killer. And then, you spend all your money upgrading the car you chose to begin with, in my case the Mustang, that once you get other cars they're pretty much unusable for the races your presented. Anyway, disappointed is pretty much my feeling. Let me be honest, my favorite Need for Speed was Need for Speed: Payback - the campaign was a no-fuss, no nonsense, 10 hour over the top plot with no filler. The online multiplayer was pretty robust for those who wanted more, and the challenges after the campaign kept me busy for hours. With this game, I'm just tired of it - I'm guessing I'm about half-way through and I have 4 levels to progress before the next mission opens up. The past week I think about starting it up and then just kind of lose the mojo. Bummer.
Hyperdot -So this game, downloaded on GamePass on a whim, has found its niche in a game I'll play when I don't have a lot of time - or, a lot of uninterrupted time. Each level should take less than 35 seconds to complete, when you win. But a lot of trying is involved as the incrementally harder levels as you progress get pretty difficult. Playing this between calls for work, or during a quick work bio-brake, is very convenient as its never taking more than a minute of your time. Basically, you're a dot, and the play field is filled with things to avoid. Avoid the things for the set time limit and you win the level. Highly recommend for some quick gaming between other stuff when you can't devote more than a few minutes. Plays like a really good mobile game.
Golf with your Friends Another GamePass gem with a stack of achievements for just playing the game, even if you suck at it. Easy controls - easy enough that most kids can pick it up and play - but complex enough with the aiming that its still a challenge. The courses themselves are creative and fun, and sometimes the difficulty level is astonishing for a game completely aimed at family play. To that end, some of the later achievements are extra-hard as even completing these courses at par seems impossible without a video guide. But playing it for those easy ones is more than worth it.
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice Got a good 4 or 5 hours into this and it is intriguing, looks great, and is pretty amazing. But the puzzle elements give you absolutely no hints as to what you need to do other than just run around focusing on everything until, by chance, you figure it out. After I checked out the TA walkthrough for a few parts I have decided to throw in the towel, which is a shame, because the plot, audio, and graphics are pretty amazing. But paired with a game that comes to a complete standstill to figure out what to do with no hints whatsoever, is not my cup of tea. A game made with love that unfortunately provides the player with no sense of direction for either the puzzles or the gameplay (there's not even a control tutorial - finally after losing several fights I checked out the control scheme. Not a game killer, but definitely an unusual choice.) Into the tried and wanna-likey, but no-likey-pile it goes. Thankfully as a GamePass title, no $ lost.
Fractured Minds Another GamePass easy completion. I admit, I don't get it. Interesting to pair this with Hellblade which is so full of atmosphere and absolute high-budget craziness, and this low-budget title is trying to do the same thing - address mental illness. Some cool environmental set pieces, some easy cheeves, and a story, though while I didn't get it, definitely kept my interest, I do recommend this for an easy couple-hour playthrough. I have to give a game credit that knows what it is, what its limits are, and to realize there is value in an under two-hour game. Kudos to the developer - although, a more concrete story probably would have gotten your point across better.
Forza Street So, very close to the episode one completion achievement. Naysayers be damned, I probably won't get very many more cheeves past that one, expecially since I'm logging 30+ days and the cheeve for logging in 7 days still hasn't popped, but I have had a good time in those quick races. I like it, and with a shortage of Xbox Cheeve phone games, I'll take it. Just don't expect an easy completion, nor to complete it at all, if that's your thing.