Hello readers and welcome once again to Shoot the Rookie. This is my first proper post of the year and this one has been inspired by a post-christmas lurgy which kept me off work for a few days last week. Cheery huh? It’s ok because I’m all better now, but I thought it would be fun to write up my gaming exploits from my time off.
Don’t let anyone from my work read this, but sick days are a great opportunity to play games. Sure, you’re not well enough to walk a mile to work and sit at your desk for eight hours, but you’re quite happy sitting on your couch with a blanket, a nice hot cup of tea and a controller or two. I did quite a lot of gaming during my time off last week, so let’s get down to business and find out what I’ve been up to!
King of Fighters XIV (PS4)
Yep. I had to double-check the number there! I’ve never played a King of Fighters game before but have always fancied trying the long-running SNK series due to its aesthetic, so this was the perfect opportunity to see what I’ve been missing!
Turns out my first impressions of the aesthetic were right. It looks cool, I like the character design and general, er, ambience (?) of the fighters available in the demo. It’s fun, kind of anime-ish I guess. However, I’m not so sold on the actual fighting. My fighting game experience is pretty narrow. I’m a big fan of Tekken and DOA but that’s about it, and the gameplay in King of Fighters XIV just doesn’t seem to flow like it does in either of those other series. I’m not sure if it was because I didn’t spend enough time getting to know how it worked, or if it just isn’t my style of fighting game, but whilst I really enjoyed the design of the game, I think I’ll be waiting for DOA 6 to get my next fighting game fix.
Fitness Boxing (Switch)
New Year = New Me, right? Well probably not, but I do like to exercise when I can so I thought I’d give this a shot. I generally find excercise quite boring, so I thought gamifying the process might help, and I have to say it did! I really enjoyed this demo, which allows you to play for a trial period of 3 days, with an extra 10 shots at ‘Free Training’. Whilst I did enjoy it (and oh my god did my arms hurt the next day), I’m not sure it is much more than a New Year novelty game. I mean, it certainly isn’t a must-buy classic, but for people looking for a different way to get some excercise it is pretty good. Except that it’s £40 quid. I’ll wait until it’s down to £20 thank you very much. Boom! Boom! Boom!
Crypt of the Necrodancer (Switch)
Ooh a rhythm action game. This was on sale on the Nintendo E-shop for a ridiculously low amount of money (under £4!) and having been interested in it for a while I just had to pick it up. I’m not terribly experienced with this kind of game. I mean, I obviously love Guitar Hero, but that is a whole different type of rythym game. In Crypt of the Necrodancer you have to move in time with the music, defeating enemies and collecting useful items as you go. I’m not usually a fan of the pixel art style in modern games, but this one is very stylish and feels generally well made. The music, which obviously plays a crucial role in the game is also very cool and I particularly appreciated how if you visit the shop at the right time then the shopkeeper sings in a slightly comical, over the top way. I also had the opportunity to have a go at the 2-player co-op, which was a lot of fun but arguably makes the game even harder than it already is…
…which brings me to the main problem with the game. DAMN-IT! IT’S TOO HARD! I’ll admit I haven’t played for terribly long, but I didn’t even get past Zone 1 and I am honestly unsure if I ever will. This is a shame because I’ve really enjoyed playing it regardless of it’s difficulty. If you fancy a challenge I’d definitely recommend picking this up. If not then I would still argue that for £4 quid it is worth checking out, even if you never get past Zone 1.
Persona 5 (PS4)
If you read the blog regularly or follow me on other social media channels you will know I’ve been playing Persona 5 for a while. As I write I’m just over 40 hours in. This is my first time playing a Persona game and I have to say that I love it so far. One thing that struck me early on is how dark the game is – introducing serious themes which mostly revolve around the abuse of power, particularly within teacher/student relationships. It normally takes about 20 hours for me to be comfortable with a JRPG, but it took closer to 30 with Persona 5, mostly because of the against the clock element and the ‘security level’ system. I wasn’t really expecting there to be stealth elements and even though it isn’t particularly difficulty, it still kind of freaks me out. That aside, I’m loving the game and really enjoying getting to know the characters. Ryuji is definitely my favourite so far and I’m looking forward to seeing where his story goes and how all the characters develop!
Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna the Golden Country (Switch)
Mmm, Xenoblade. Did you know that I like Xenoblade? Well I’ve finally taken the plunge and dived into the story DLC for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, entitled Torna the Golden Country, which serves as a prequel to the story of the main game. Having played maybe 15 hours or so, I can definitely say that I love it. I guess that’s no great surprise, but why do I love it? Well, it changes up the battle system a wee bit which is cool because it gives you something new to learn. It also introduces a few new options like ‘crafting’ and ‘community’. I feel like Community might be something you only focus on if you’re really bored as it involves doing lots of quests, but crafting is both useful and fun (who knew Jin could cook? Seriously? What a guy!). Aside from that it looks and feels very much like the base XC2 game, even having some of the same characters.
In the Xenoblade series the characters are probably the most important element for me, and it is interesting to meet characters from the base game such as Mythra and Brighid in a different setting. It is also awesome to get to know Lora, who features in the base game but not as a playable character. Overall the characters are fantastic – Lora is a breath of fresh air and Jin is as moody and intriguing as ever. I have to admit though that I do seem to be developing a slight love/hate relationship with Addam…I always seem to have a bit of a, er, ‘problem’ with posh english guys in Xenoblade games. The less said about that the better.
Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age (Let’s Play by Joe’ke)
Until recently I never really watched Let’s Plays, but as an experiment decided to watch a commentary free play through of Silent Hill 2 over Halloween and really enjoyed it, so decided to give something else a try.
As I was ill and tired and stuff I chose to watch something I’ve already played but with a twist. Whilst I’ve played the original version of Final Fantasy XII, I didn’t splurge on the Zodiac Age as I rarely if ever play JRPGs more than once. However, I was fascinated about the changes they had made, particularly in the new job system, which adds to the character customization options by making you allocate a specific job to each character right from the start. This was one element I thought was sorely missed in the original game so I was interested to see how they had worked it in, and from what I’ve seen so far it seems pretty cool.
I’ve got as far as the 12th chapter of the play through (out of like 10 million), and although I’m unlikely to watch more as I’m now back to work (yay…), I have to say I really enjoyed it. The play through itself is well done, my only gripe being that they use ‘Steal’ too often, which only serves to prolong the many, many battles. Despite that, this was a really relaxing and engaging thing to watch. XII is probably my least favourite Final Fantasy game, but it has *something* about it, something special that I can’t put my finger on, and it was great revisiting Ivalice if only for a few hours.
So what do you think? What games do you play when you are off sick? Maybe something old and familiar or perhaps something new to take your mind off things. Either way, let me know in comments below.
Thanks for reading,