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Posted on Dec 30th 2017 at 01:00:00 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under lists

What a super weird year for my gaming habits! So let's see... after several years of pretty much playing everything on PC, I bought a Switch and barely played it for more than a month, dusted off my Xbox One and remembered how much fun it is to play games on a couch and using a controller. Since then I sold off a bunch of stuff, bought a new 4K TV, shoved my PC in a closet somewhere and still haven't really taken the Switch off its charging dock. (The Switch is a great console by the way - and great piece of tech. But I prefer it as a handheld rather than as a docked console, and to be honest I just don't play handhelds all that often lately). Anyway, yeah it's been a weird year for my gaming habits, but it's also been a pretty stellar year for games. Once again I struggled to actually keep up with everything I really wanted to play. So of course this is just a list of my favorite games that I did manage to play this year. Oh, the places I've been!

Continue reading noiseredux's Top 10 Games of 2017

Posted on May 28th 2017 at 12:00:00 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PC, tablet, Windows

When the Nintendo Switch was first revealed, I actually gave it a fair amount of thought. It was strange for me to even consider, since I've been a primarily-PC gamer for such a long time. But the more thought I gave it, the more I realized that I wasn't actually all that interested in the games themselves. It was just the idea of having a new portable toy. And so I passed. The truth is that I don't actually do much gaming "on the go." So really, the bulk of my portable gaming is actually done in my house - usually on the couch with the TV on in the background. But having said that, I do like having the option.
I've dabbled with many Android based portable devices over the years; ranging from low end cheapies like Amazon's Kindle Fire to upper-end "powerhouses" like Nvidia's Shield (which the Switch's own hardware is based on). But ultimately, I'm always drawn to the idea of gaming on a Windows-based device. Perhaps the biggest reason is that I already have a rather gigantic collection of PC games. And thanks to cloud saves, it's easy to share a game between desktop and tablet. It's just a matter of figuring out what will play nice on a Windows tablet.

Continue reading Gaming On A Windows Tablet

Posted on Mar 28th 2017 at 12:00:00 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PC, Xbox One

Back when the Wii U and PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were all announced, I took a serious look at each and decided that I just didn't need a new console. Oh sure each system may have had a few games that would pique my interest, but the bottom line was that as a PC gamer I had become totally happy with the (nearly never-ending) selection of games that were available to me there. Basically the whole idea of 'consoles' had become antiquated to me. It had been almost a decade since I even played games on a TV rather than a monitor. To me, sitting on a couch across the room from the TV wasn't nearly as comfortable as sitting at a desk in front of my (far better) gaming monitor. But something weird happened a few months ago: I bought an Xbox One. And what's even weirder is that it's turned out to be a pretty great addition to my PC.

Continue reading I Bought My PC An Xbox One

Posted on Jan 29th 2017 at 01:00:00 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PC

With the new year upon us, I thought I'd take a look at my Steam library. I wondered: going into 2017, what are the games that I've spent the most time playing? This is kind of easy to figure out, as I have been PC-only for years. But the tricky part is non-Steam games. I don't know about those as much. Though in fairness, the only ones that would end up here are Heroes Of The Storm and Hearthstone most likely.

So let's take a look at what I've played the most, according to Steam's hours logged anyway. And let's try to make some sense of me as a gamer. Maybe.

Continue reading My Top 10 Most Played Steam Games - 2017 Edition

Posted on Dec 16th 2016 at 01:00:00 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PC, Favorite, 2016

Wow... 2016 is coming to an end. Already! Maybe I'm getting old, but it felt like one of those years that just flew by. And what a crazy year it was for gaming. As a pretty much exclusively PC gamer, I saw some really wild developments this year. I guess the biggest one would be the real deal retail release of virtual reality as a thing that is now kind of, but not totally, normal for people to have in their homes. Indeed, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive along with PlayStation 4's PSVR and Samsung's GearVR are all making VR gaming a more normal reality. This year also saw Nvidia and AMD both put out super beefy and super cheap graphic card lines - most likely to help usher in the "VR revolution." Additionally, this year saw a shift in the way console makers seemed to view PC gaming. Microsoft seems to be pushing towards a shared ecosystem for Xbox One and Windows 10, while Sony has launched the PlayStation Now streaming service for Windows that allows PC gamers to play PS3 games. Even Nintendo... well, I mean Nintendo saw a hit with Pokemon Go and is bringing a Mario game to iOS and Android. So that's something.

Anyway, enough rambling I suppose. Within all that craziness I also played a lot of games this year. So let's take a look at the ones that really stuck with me. There's some surprises here, and some totally obvious ones. But these are the ones I honestly played and enjoyed the most. So here we go!

Continue reading noiseredux's Top 10 Games - 2016 Edition

Posted on Oct 31st 2016 at 12:00:00 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PC

As a hardcore fan of horror movies, there's something that I feel slightly embarrassed to admit. The truth is that I find many horror games actually scare me. Now you might be correct in telling me that that is exactly the point of those games. But it's still odd to me. It is extremely rare for a movie to scare me. I've even found that jump-scares in film have become less effective on me over time. And yet games that many of you play and have no problem with will often leave me totally stressed out.

So what is it about horror games that make me nervous while a movie may not? I've given that some thought and I think the best I can come up with is the way in which we interact (or don't) with media. Which is to say that watching a movie is a passive experience. Though I certainly may feel tense at times, I never really feel like I'm the one in the movie. But a game is an active experience. I'm the one controlling the character in the game. It's easier to put myself in the terror when my decisions matter. If I were to ever yell "don't go up those stairs!" at a movie, the actor wouldn't care less.

Continue reading Do You Like Scary Games?

Posted on Sep 25th 2016 at 12:00:00 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PC

In recent years, I've gone from being a console gamer, to a mostly PC gamer, to a totally PC gamer. I could go on and on about why I finally decided to be a PC-only guy, but it doesn't really matter - at least not for this blog post. Instead, I thought we'd explore the many options that PC gamers have in the area of controllers. Truth be told, I probably end up using the mouse and keyboard for the majority of games I play anyway. And yet, I've got controllers scattered around this room everywhere I look.

Now this post can really only be as thorough as my own experience goes. I mean, ultimately the options are nearly limitless. Basically anything with a USB connection is fair game, right? And pretty much any Xbox 360 device is going to be plug-n-play on PC. Not to mention the fact that nearly every classic console controller has some kind of USB adapter you could use. However, for the purposes of this article, I'll just focus on the major controllers just to scratch the surface of the options available.

Continue reading Taking Control Of PC Games

Posted on Jul 27th 2016 at 12:00:00 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PC, Sports

Summer is a great time to get outside and play some sports. It's also a good time to stay inside and play some sports video games instead. For the past two years, I've taken the Summer as a queue to take a look at the landscape of sports games available on PC. In fact, I'm now going to call it a tradition around here. As a note, these outlines are not meant to be a thorough list of all sports games released in the year, but rather more of a guide to let you know about the best current options you can play for each sport. I've also intentionally left out the management sims like Out Of The Park Baseball, as those are really their own sort of sub-sub-genre. The 2016 edition of our survey actually has some pretty interesting entries that weren't around last year. But don't get your hopes up... there's still no Madden, and hockey and volleyball games are still nowhere to be found.

Continue reading The State Of PC Sports Games - 2016

Posted on Dec 17th 2015 at 01:00:00 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PC

Another year ends, and another Top 10 lists needs to be assembled. I have to admit that this was kind of a weird year for me as far as new games went. There were actually a lot of unexpected disappointments really. I loved Wolfenstein: The New Order last year, but couldn't enjoy The Old Blood this year. I loved Shovel Knight last year, but the Plague expansion did nothing for me. Ori and the Blind Forest and Mortal Kombat X come to mind as well as let-downs. I also played a lot of indie games that just didn't leave a lasting impression.

The other weird thing is that this was a huge year for independent Dreamcast releases and a bunch of them were released in the latter part of the year. While many of these are either on their way to me now or still on my want-list, I unfortunately didn't get to play all of them. So for all I know, this list could have or would have changed by the time the year officially rolls to an end. I guess you could say that about any list of favorites: it's always going to be in-flux. But as of right now, at this very moment, as the words pour out from my fingers, these were my favorite games of the year. The top half feels really solid to me - the best of the best, but strangely, the lower half feels like games that were 'just good enough' to make it onto the list.

Continue reading Top 10 Games, 2015

Posted on Oct 18th 2015 at 12:00:00 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PC


Metagaming is a series where I force myself to play through Metacritic's highest rated PC games, working my way down the list one game at a time. There's no real goal other than giving myself an excuse to experience these critically acclaimed games. Sometimes I'll beat the games, and sometimes the games will beat me.

I started playing Undertale a couple of weeks ago, when it miraculously dethroned Half-Life 2 as the #1 PC game on Metacritic with a beyond impressive score of 97%. I say beyond impressive not because the top games are actually a six-way tie with 96%, but rather because Undertale is a pretty small, indie game developed by one guy using Game Maker Studio. I'm not knocking such a thing, since the same can be said for Spelunky, one of the most perfect games released in the last decade. But I mean, look at these graphics! The overworld map feels like we're in a SNES game and then the battles shift to something out of an Apple II game. It's all so lo-fi that I'm amazed - maybe impressed - at such a universal acclaim.

And maybe that initial hype simmered a bit as well. In the weeks since I've started playing, Undertale has received further reviews and dropped "all the way down" to #13 with an average of 94% where I suspect it will most likely remain comfortably wedged between Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Civilization II....still, not bad company to keep. Now before we go any further, I must warn you:  to talk about Undertale at all is to give away spoilers. So if you're planning on playing these soon and want to keep as many surprises as you can, I suggest you stop reading here. There are plenty of other good posts to read on these blogs.

Continue reading Metagaming: Undertale

Posted on Sep 22nd 2015 at 12:00:00 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PC

Some of you may have noticed that I took a bit of a hiatus away from writing here for the past couple months. Mostly I just needed a break from deadlines for a bit. The Summer months can certainly get busy between yard work, vacation, beach days, and BBQ's. So I mean, there's good busy in there, but busy none the less. I did however get some gaming done as well, so I thought I'd take a look back at some of the stuff I found myself really into recently.

Continue reading What I Played On My Summer Vacation

Posted on Sep 16th 2015 at 01:01:29 AM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PC

Out Of The Park Baseball 2007

Metagaming is a series where I force myself to play through Metacritic's highest rated PC games, working my way down the list one game at a time. There's no real goal other than giving myself an excuse to experience these critically acclaimed games. Sometimes I'll beat the games, and sometimes the games will beat me.

The #3 game on Metacritic's PC games list is outside my comfort zone. Like, way way outside. Out Of The Park Baseball is a baseball sim. And I'm really not much of a baseball fan. I mean, I can enjoy the sport. But really I think playing it is more fun than sitting and watching it. Or better put, playing a baseball game where you swing a bat is a lot more fun than reading about the stats of those little computer players. But this is a sim. One where you don't actually play in any "action" oriented sense. Nope, this is all stats. It's like baseball is a very complicated text adventure. It's all pen and paper stats. And yet there it is: #3. Looking at reviews, this series has been praised for years. And the 2007 edition has actually sat pretty at #2 until just this year even. Luckily for me the publisher has made this particular edition of the game freeware through their website. So let's give it a chance...

Continue reading Metagaming: Out Of The Park Baseball 2007

Posted on Sep 10th 2015 at 07:56:18 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PC

Grand Theft Auto V

Metagaming is a series where I force myself to play through Metacritic's highest rated PC games, working my way down the list one game at a time. There's no real goal other than giving myself an excuse to experience these critically acclaimed games. Sometimes I'll beat the games, and sometimes the games will beat me.

It's kind of crazy that the #2 PC game on Metacritic held on to the same position for eight years until Grand Theft Auto V came along to dethrone it earlier this year. Of course this game has been available to console gamers for nearly two years now, but for we PC gamers this is a new release in 2015. It was a game that we waited for - only sometimes patiently. Heck, I bought the strategy guide nearly three months before the game was finally released on PC. Not only did I buy it day one at full price... I made sure to pre-order a physical copy of it. To me it felt like the anticipation had been so high, there needed to be a certain ceremony. The act of going to the store and picking up my preorder was a needed part of the experience.  And so you're probably wondering if it was worth all the hype to me. At least I assume you're wondering if you're taking the time to actually read this...

Continue reading Metagaming: Grand Theft Auto V

Posted on Sep 7th 2015 at 11:32:55 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PC

NOTE: Metagaming is a series where I force myself to play through Metacritic's highest rated PC games, working my way down the list one game at a time. There's no real goal other than giving myself an excuse to experience these critically acclaimed games. Sometimes I'll beat the games, and sometimes the games will beat me.

Half-Life 2

As I write this Half-Life 2 sits comfortably at #1 on Metacritic's list of the best PC games of all time. It holds a score of 96 - one of only 6 games to rank so high. Technically one of only 5 games, as one of them is The Orange Box which is a compilation of Half-Life 2, its expansions and Portal - all games that find themselves just slightly further down the list on their own. So this is how we begin; with the best of the best.

Now before we get the ball really rolling, how about a little background on the history of me and Half-Life 2. Our relationship started off in a very... very odd way. You see although I actually sorta love FPS games now, that wasn't the case several years ago. Though I had grown up playing stuff like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom back in the day, I became pretty much inept when the y-axis was introduced to aiming with a mouse. And attempting this stuff using twinsticks on a controller baffled me even more. Sometimes ending in feelings of "I have to vomit."

And then something really weird happened a few years ago:  I got this sick idea to attempt to play the unreleased port of Half-Life on the Dreamcast. This was mostly out of sheer curiosity. Not just for the port itself, but for how the controls would be handled on a controller that only had one analog stick. The experience was admittedly strange. But I was able to work my way through the game using this weird Southpaw controller style. And more importantly - I fell in love with the world of Half-Life. After that I immediately decided to move on to Half-Life 2, this time on the Xbox 360. This meant I'd have to get used to twinstick controls. I started my way working through the game, and it was tough. Eventually I gave up somewhere around the first vehicular section.

Not long after this I got bit by the PC gaming bug. And it's been a whirlwind ever since. After spending time with Quake, Quake III Arena and Quake 4, I actually became one of those people who plays FPS games with a keyboard and mouse. And now I can't go back to use a controller! I even got myself a nice mechanical keyboard produced by WASD and installed Cherry Red dampeners in it, along with the wonderful G502 mouse by Logitech - both gifts. And since I've become a keyboard & mouse convert, I've found myself enjoying first person shooters even more. The time was right to revisit Half-Life 2 and finish it once and for all.

So is Half-Life 2 really deserving of such high praise - the #1 spot on Metacritics PC games list? Dudes... it is. For starters the great thing about Half-Life 2 is everything. It really just feels like it does everything right. Here's a game well over a decade old, and I struggle to find any faults with it. As much as it's gone on to influence countless other single player FPS games, I can't say that any other has nailed everything so perfectly.

What immediately comes to mind is the pacing. Indeed this is where HL2 truly shines. It is such a well designed game that you never really feel unsure of how to proceed. Yet there is no modern FPS trap of making levels entirely out of long hallways. Nope, there's actually lots to explore here. But there's such a natural flow - both to level design and the story itself - that it feels like the you're constantly a moth to a flame. You just know that you're always marching forward. Always making progress. It's genuinely quite brilliant.

The pacing is further applauded thanks to constant variety. In a sense it feels like you're on a rollercoaster ride for the entire dozen or so hours it will take you to get through. One moment you're sneaking through tunnels, the next you're speeding over water on some sort of jet ski. Even the tone of the game shifts abruptly in fantastic ways. The section known as Ravenholm feels like one of the scariest horror game settings and has a color pallet that will make you feel dread. A few hours later you're exploring a beautiful cliffside area.

The storytelling is also superb. Much like the original game there are no cut scenes here. Everything happens in-engine. You never lose control of Gordon Freeman. You are always a part of the story - never a voyeur. The soundtrack - both musical and voice acting - goes a long way to reinforce this storytelling and the unique atmosphere.

The combat is wonderful as well. There's an excellent freedom to how you might address any given situation. Certainly there are some very satisfying weapons here - from the trusty crowbar, to a perfect-for-silent-sniping crossbow all the way down to far heavier artillery. But it's the gravity gun that will get you killing in all sorts of puzzle-solving ways. Ravenholm for instance leaves you with limited ammo, but a bevy of sawblades and explosives to throw around in a fountain of headcrab zombie blood-rain.

But ultimately no matter how much I gush about Half-Life 2, it's pretty impossible to put into words just why this game is so great. I'm thrilled that I finally pushed my way through, and I'll surely be delving into the expansions soon enough. If you're a fan of FPS games - and maybe even if you're not - you owe it to yourself to experience this one.

Posted on Jul 12th 2015 at 12:00:00 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PC

Oh to be young again. Remember "school vacation?" That magical time where you could sit and play video games for several months straight, and because you still had a working metabolism you wouldn't even gain any weight. But for some of us those days are long in the rearview. Now we have things like schedules, responsibilities and beer bellies to deal with. And so our downtime is more precious. Of course that doesn't mean we lose our hobby. Instead we find new ways in which the games fill these little cracks. Rather than gaming be all we do, we find that our schedules, responsibilities and beer bellies dictate how our lives flow and somehow the games themselves seem to figure out how they fit into our lives on their own.

Continue reading How Games Fit

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