Hundstrasse Top 5 Games of 2018: Are You Excited?

Forget all the other ‘Game of the Year’ titles, all eyes in the gaming world are on my own Top 5 of the year, what is going to make the list and of course which title is going to land that illusive top spot!… I assume… 

It has undoubtedly been an exciting year in for gamers with Bethesda controversy, Red Dead Redemption 2, and the new Smash game, but strangely these are not things that I’ve been involved in. Looking back on the list of new games that I’ve played this year there are no signs of a big AAA release; I usually tackle at least one of the major releases in the year so in that way 2018 is an anomaly. It’s also surprising that I’ve relatively few multiplayer games in the list this year; Wednesday evening online gaming has been a little sporadic and when we have played it’s generally been to revisit old favourites rather than sampling anything new.

So what has characterised my 2018 gaming year? Two things: Retro & VR. Much of my gaming time has been revisiting, or playing for the first time, some classics of yesteryear. I’ve covered a good amount of PS1 ground and, in recent months, PS2 going back to my favourite ‘Resident Evil‘s, scratching an itch by completing ‘Men in Black‘, and finally getting around to that revisit of ‘Silent Hill 2’. On the PC I tackled the DOS version of Jurassic Park (to add to my meandering trip through all the JP games I can get my mitts on!), Theme Hospital, Max Payne, and even discovered that populated Unreal Tournament servers are still a thing!

Since entering the world of VR back in August I’ve also been sampling as many flavours of that particular ice-cream as I can stomach and, as many of these games are short experiences, it has undoubtedly ‘artificially’ inflated the number of new titles that I’ve checked out compared to previous years.

… but enough retrospective rambling, you’re all here to read the Top 5!  Continue reading “Hundstrasse Top 5 Games of 2018: Are You Excited?”

Skyrim VR: The First Few Hours

As I was standing the other day, waist deep in a horse, nauseatingly galloping over the rolling heath-land of Skyrim I realised two things: Firstly that I had no idea how to “get out” of the horse and secondly that I had no idea what as going on

I’d never played Skyrim. Kind of a unique confession for a gamer given how many different systems and versions this game has seen and also how many friends rate the experience so highly. I guess I’ve just never been drawn to that traditional fantasy setting preferring instead the post-apocalyptic Bethesda romps. At the same time I’ve also been caught in a bit of a VR conundrum recently; the Vive is pretty excellent, but in truth there just aren’t that many “full length” titles available. Sure, some of this is due to practicality; my back aches from standing in the virtual world for more than a few hours and having a special VR hat strapped to your face for that length of time can get hot and uncomfortable. None of that seems to be putting me off however and I’ve been keeping a look out for the more substantial VR offerings to feel that sense of immersion in a more expansive world.

Bethesda are one of the few bigger publishers who have embraced this technology releasing both Skyrim VR and Fallout 4 VR; both virtual re-jiggings of the entire 2D experience. I guess that Fallout 4 was the more obvious choice to satisfy this hankering, but I just couldn’t bring myself to fork out more money (even with a heavy sale discount) for that joyless wasteland romp; it didn’t captivate me in 2D and I doubted that VR would change that.

Instead I opted to pick up Skyrim VR; almost everyone raves about Skyrim so this open world classic in VR was surely a winner and gave me the opportunity to try something new despite being a little far removed from the type of setting I’d normally pick so I jumped in. Continue reading “Skyrim VR: The First Few Hours”

Editorial: December 2018 – Urgh, I Have to Remember to Write ‘9’ After This…

Merry Happy Winter to you all! … except anyone reading in the southern hemisphere… in which case… Merry Happy Summer to you all! 

How’s everyone’s gaming going out there? Are any of you embroiled in the Fallout 76 fiasco? I was pretty curious about the game; sure, Fallout 4 was nowhere near my favourite entry in to the series, but I did at least play it to “completion” … well, the end of the main story. 76 seems to be ricocheting from problem to problem from severe technical issues at every turn, the canvas bag caper, leaked player account details, and roaming homophobic gangs… overall it would be an understatement to describe its first few weeks as shaky. The problem is that so many games are now “released” in a state less than finished that it’s tricky to know if the concept is flawed or these are just release jitters.

Whatever the explanation I don’t think I’ll be exiting vault 76 anytime soon…  Continue reading “Editorial: December 2018 – Urgh, I Have to Remember to Write ‘9’ After This…”

Butterfingers: Seller’s Remorse

Two weeks ago I rambled on about that slightly bizarre outing in Raccoon City “Resident Evil Outbreak“. Aside from the obvious disappointment that ‘Raccoon Hospital’ and ‘Raccoon University’ didn’t feature little fuzzy tailed surgeons and professors respectively, there was also the slight disappointment that I’d ever parted ways with this game and its sibling (File #2) in the first place. Adding to that seller’s remorse were some comments I made the following week as I talked about my rediscovered PS2 collection, and the games that were absent from it that had slipped through my fingers some years before. Continue reading “Butterfingers: Seller’s Remorse”

PlayStation 2 Games Snarfle; P.S. To The Attic!

Remember way back at the beginning of October when I wrote about wanting to revisit Silent Hill 2 in that month’s editorial? No? …hmmmm… anyway, the whole thing got me hankering for some PlayStation 2 action, after all the PS2 was the last console that I was heavily invested in. Sure, I have a Switch now, and it’s great, but most of my gaming is firmly in PC territory. The problem is that I couldn’t track down my PS2 games; for younger readers you may have yet to experience your belongings being scattered between various places due to moving from ‘home’, maybe away to study, some tiny flat somewhere, or a house that you’re trying to decorate and fit a loft hatch in. The crouton-on-the-soup was that I was pretty sure that I had packed up my favourite PS2 games and brought them with me to our new home (well, almost four years ‘new’ now) and stashed the remainder safely with my Brother. Sure enough my Brother did (and still does) have some of that collection, but many of my favourites were missing and no amount of searching repeatedly in the place that I knew they were could change that.

Finally, last week, my Mother and I (quick shout out here because I know that she reads this; “Hi Mom!”) delved into the depths of the attic cupboard at my old family home and revealed yet more of my belongings that I neither remembered putting there or have space for in my house, but we did find that elusive box of PS2 games, my original PS1 and 2 consoles, the guitar hero controller … and an EyeToyContinue reading “PlayStation 2 Games Snarfle; P.S. To The Attic!”

Resident Evil Outbreak: Here Comes the B-Team

… as the intro kicks in we see the events of William Birkin’s confrontation with the Umbrella agents play out amid the unfolding imagery of the spreading infection. Outbreak is a game firmly seated in the lore and style of the original trilogy. 

It’s no secret that I love the first trilogy of Resident Evil games; they were the reason I owned a PlayStation and consequently a big part in why I graduated on to a PS2 as soon as it was released. Unfortunately there weren’t any Resident Evil titles confirmed for PS2 at the point of release and through its life it would play a surprising second fiddle to its contemporary consoles in those tales of S.T.A.R.S. & Co. especially considering how the first games had been such prominent titles in its predecessor’s roster. The two big RE titles that would find their way there were both ‘exclusive’ to other consoles at launch: RE: Code Veronica being originally made for the Dreamcast and RE4 setting sail with the GameCube. PS2 didn’t even receive the fantastic REMake of the original or similarly styled RE: Zero. I did play and enjoy RE:CV at launch on the PS2 but had drifted further away from the series by the time I would have been able to play RE4 and when I finally did get around to sampling it in recent years I wasn’t a fan of the new, action-heavy, style of gameplay.

Between these two titles was dropped the PS2 exclusive RE:Outbreak subseries (Outbreak & Outbreak File #2) which could be considered some of the last Resident Evil games to feature the classic style of gameplay and shambling zombies. They shared the fully 3D backgrounds of RE:CV, but maintained the fixed camera angles (albeit with panning and tracking) that defined the feel and pacing of the early games. Given my own background I find it hard to believe that I owned both of these games and barely explored them at all before trading them in – I think I may even have sold ‘Outbreak: File #2’ with the cellophane still intact given that I didn’t finish Outbreak itself. A couple of weeks ago however I spotted Outbreak for £5 in a branch of popular-chain-of-used-games-stores-here-in-the-uk and decided that it was worth a revisiting. Continue reading “Resident Evil Outbreak: Here Comes the B-Team”

No Body Knows…

I’ve spent the past few months in and out of VR, waving my hands around in the hastily cleared space of our lounge with the Vive on my head, shooting zombies, carrying out spy missions, or pulling a good old fashioned bank heist. Before I was gifted a Vive however, my VR experience was limited to a handful of hours using PSVR’s belonging to a couple of close friends. One of the first of these was playing a demo of “Until Dawn: Rush of Blood”; if you’re not familiar it is an almost literal “rail shooter” with the player being placed in the seat of a demonic ghost train and wheeled around in VR, guns in hands, blasting murderous clowns (iirc). The experience was suitably impressive in terms of immersion for one of first times I’d donned a VR hat and worked as a concept, but one of the things that really stuck in my mind about it was that I had a virtual ingame body. Sure, it was just a static model sat in the seat of the ghost train that you sort of had to awkwardly align yourself to, but once I had that figured out, being able to see a virtual body with outstretched arms holding the guns really added to the sense of immersion. Continue reading “No Body Knows…”