2016 year in review. Gaming/Movies/TV/streaming.

This year was more gaming focused for me this year rather than last year, a first since I started listening to audiobooks 2 years ago. I played an insane amount of the The Division, World of Warcraft: Legion, Overwatch, and The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine. I also played a decent amount of Civilization 6, Battlefield 1, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue, and Assassin’s Creed: Unity.

The game that surprised me the most was The Division, the leveling experience, the game-play, and the coop experience were all very well done. It had a huge drop off in play for a couple of months because of the very lax response to cheaters and exploiters, the nerf to crafting, and the reliance on the Dark Zone as endgame. Since 1.5 patch, however, it has been changed for the better. It’s extremely easy to gear but still very satisfying to do because there are numerous path’s to get good gear, and the are interesting play-styles that are enjoyable to play. I’ve been playing a lot recently as it is a nice break from WoW mythic+’s.

My personal best experience of the year is easily The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine DLC. It provided a great story with very compelling characters and interesting conflicts while also giving a nice closing of the series. I personally thought Heart of Stone was better story-wise but this year no other game I played this year has really had such a well done story that can branch out in drastically different directions.

The only game I found disappointing was Assassin’s Creed: Unity, as I’ve said in a previous post. In contrast, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue was a very interesting and well done game, it took what made Black Flag good and then added to it, and told an interesting as well as compelling story that also advanced the modern-day Assassins vs Templars story.

I’ve switched up how I buy games, unless it is a game or developer I have confidence in, I wait for a sale to pick it up. It’s a patient gamer approach and really manages expectation vs investment. Games that are bought at full price usually have some regret and disappointment involved, not to mention the current trend of Developers releasing buggy games at launch. Buying games later on sale really cuts through disappointment from buyers regret or from having high expectations from a game that does not deliver on the hype.

Here are my arbitrary and personal choices for best games I’ve played this year, some of these games are oldish but new to me, as explained above:

  1. The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine.
  2. World of Warcraft: Legion.
  3. Overwatch.
  4. The Division.
  5. Civilization 6.
  6. Battlefield 1.
  7. Assassin’s Creed: Rogue.
  8. Assassin’s Creed: Unity.

Here is a list in my to be played queue:

  • Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate.
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider.
  • Far Cry Primal.
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
  • Fallout 4: Far Harbor and Nuka World.
  • Planet Coaster.
  • Doom.

I also have fewer games in my backlog that I hope to get into or back into to replay eventually:

  • Dishonored.
  • Splinter cell: Blacklist.
  • Bioshock remastered 1 and 2.
  • Bioshock Infinite and it’s DLC.
  • Crysis 2 and 3.
  • Final Fantasy 13 and 13 two.
  • Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines.
  • Legacy of Kain: Defiance.

For Movies and Tv/Netflix or other streaming services this year, How fucking good was Westworld? My show of the year and very easy choice. I think its as good as, if not better than the HBO’s Flagship Game of Thrones. Can’t wait to see season 2. I also got to watch the Wire (seasons 1-5) this year and was very impressed. I was also very impressed with the various Netflix series, Daredevil season 1 and 2, Jessica Jones, Stranger Things. I still need to get around to finishing Luke Cage, which I enjoyed but The Division and Legion took my focus. Game of Thrones season 6 was also good, I was able to guess alot of what was going to happen but the show also threw some nice curveballs to my expectations.

My movie of the year is definitely Deadpool, it showed that a superhero movie could be successful with an R rating and it really did justice to my favorite X-man Colossus. I also enjoyed and liked Batman vs Superman, while many people didn’t like its darker tone and the change of character for Batman. X-men Apocalypse was also a favorite of mine. Captain America: Civil War was also decent. Hateful Eight and The Revenant were also stellar. Star Trek Beyond was also decent.

I have a trip to Vancouver next month, in which I will be watching the following movies:

  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Star Wars Rogue One
  • Arrival
  • Dr. Strange
  • Passengers
  • Live by Night
  • Fantastic Beasts and where to find them

Can’t wait to see all those movies.

What I’m looking forward to in 2017:

Gaming:

  • Mass Effect: Andromeda
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Vampyr

Books/Audiobooks: Either coming out in 2017 or new to me.

  • Neil Gaiman’s North Mythology
  • The Vampire Files series by P.N. Elrod
  • The Black Company series by Glen Cook
  • Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey
  • The Expanse by James S. A. Corey
  • Lady of the Lake by Andrzej Sapkowski

Movies:

  • Logan
  • The Dark Tower
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • John Wick 2
  • Wonder Woman
  • Alien: Covenant
  • Guardian of the Galaxy 2

TV/Netflix/Streaming:

  • Daredevil season 3
  • Game of Thrones season 7
  • Jessica Jones season 2
  • The Expanse
  • Penny Dreadful
  • Luke Cage
  • Stranger Things season 2
  • Spectral
  • Westworld season 2

Again, if you read all of this, I hope you have a great 2017. Happy New years!

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My 2016 year in review. Books/Audiobooks.

Like last year, I really did stick to my at least 2 books/audiobooks per month read or listened to resolution from 2o14. Although it felt like my focus was more on gaming this year as I read/listened to about 26 books this year compared to around 30 or so last year. I’m not counting rereads or I should say re-listens, if I did the number of books would be at least 50. The First Law series, the Dark Tower, and various Neil Gaiman books would be the bulk of the re-listens.

My favorites of the books that came out in 2016 or re-released in 2016 is as follows:

  • The Fireman by Joe Hill, narrated by Kate Mulgrew – The narrations was top-notch, Captain Janeway narrates extremely well and I thought Joe Hill’s writing was compelling and nicely done. The Story was inspired by Hill’s father’s The Stand and it really had interesting characters, it was not was I expected especially after the more supernatural/paranormal N0S4A2 and Horns, and I could not easily guess how the story would unfold. Although it was heavily inspired by the Stand, it really does “stand” on its own without being in the shadow of his father’s classic book.
  • End of Watch by Stephen King, narrated by Will Patton. This is the final book in the Bill Hodges Trilogy and it has a cool X-files type vibe to the story. The Hard boiled type detective story and it’s characters who are extremely well done are the best part of the book, as well as the narration which was nicely done. King continues to be a prolific writer and continues to create interesting characters and tell compelling stories.
  • Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie, narrated by Steven Pacey. This short story compilation of various First Law related tales was great and the narration is also excellent. I extremely enjoyed the stories and characters of Shev and Javre. The stories that are “prequels” to characters like Glotka, Logen and Bethod, as well as Cosca  were also well done and provided some nice insight and details into some the best characters in the First Law trilogy.
  • The Audible re-release of the Steven Pacey versions of Best Served Cold and the Heroes, written by Joe Abercrombie. Best Served Cold is my favorite of the stand alone books followed extremely close by the Heroes, and Pacey doing the narration was excellent. The Michael Page versions I had previously were also well done but to me The First Law is all  Steven Pacey, like the Dresden Files are James Marsters.
  • The Tower of Swallows by Andrzej Sapkowski, narrated by Peter Kenny. I am thoroughly hooked into this series as I am for the video game adaptations by CD Projekt Red. I enjoy the characters of Ciri, Triss, Geralt, Yennefer, Milva and Regis. I am extremely looking forward to getting Lady of the Lake when it’s available on Audible and completing the series.

My favorite books in the very wide “new to me” category or the late to the party are:

  • Zero World by Jason M Hough, narrated by Gideon Emery. This was a book I picked up based solely on the recommendation of Felicia Day, I read a tweet from her and then read her good reads review and went all in. The story and characters were great, the narration was also very well done. I hope this turns into a series and continues the story. A very well done story with compelling characters and an extremely interesting premise.
  • The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan, narrated by Robin Sachs. Seriously, I am the type of dude who will go all in on anything involving Werewolves and Vampires in a modern setting, and this is an excellent story with the best narration I’ve heard this year. Robin Sach’s narration is what really blew me away and the story was compelling as fuck. Too bad the sequel was such a let down.
  • Mr Mercedes and Finder’s Keepers by Stephen King, narrated by Will Patton. I love a good detective story and I enjoy good characters, and Stephen Kings hardboiled type story was very well done.
  • The Gentleman Bastard Sequence by Scott Lynch, narrated by Michael Page. My favorite trilogy of the year, the first two books were great and the third was good.  There is some debate about it as the first book “the Lies of Locke Lamora” is extremely good and many people think the series goes down from it, I enjoyed the second and really liked the pirate setting. The third book is a change-up from the first two as it tells 2 stories and it isn’t as compelling as the other 2.
  • The BBC adaptations of Neverwhere and How the Marquis got his coat back – An extremely well done cast and abridged version of 2 Neil Gaiman books. Definitely worth checking out.
  • A Knight in the Seven Kingdoms by GRRM, narrated by Harry Lloyd. The stories of Dunk and Egg narrated extremely well by Mr. Don’t Wake the Dragon himself, Viserys Targaryen. Well worth checking out if you are even the slightest bit interested in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

If I had to pick one book this year as my absolute favorite, I’d totally fucking choose 2 because fuck you and your rules. It would easily be Zero World and The Last Werewolf.

As I said before, my focus this year was more into gaming and my overall count is lower than last year, so I wasn’t able to finish off The Last Kingdom series by Bernard Cornwell, I was sidetracked by World of Warcraft Legion, Tom Clancy’s The Division, Overwatch and The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine. I am currently right in the middle of Death Kings, with the Pagan Lord, Empty Throne, Warriors of the Storm and the Flame Bearer to read.

Also in my “To be read” pile, as in books I picked up this year but did not read yet, are:

  • The Aeronaut’s Windlass: The Cinder Spires, Book 1 by Jim Butcher.
  • Bloodlist by P.N. Elrod
  • No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
  • The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper.

This turned out to be bigger post than I thought it would be, so I will make this my 2016 year in review for books/audiobooks, with versions for gaming, movies/TV/streaming to follow.

If you read all the way to end, I hope you have a great 2017.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity.

So I just finished the game.

It was a mixed bag type deal, some things like the look of France and the environments were greatly done, the number of people on-screen at once was impressive, the customization of gear and progression was nicely done, and the DLC was interesting. However, the story is very underwhelming, Arno and Elise were interesting characters but the story was predictable and really short. The ending was a let down because you have no context or scope and felt like nothing was achieved because the modern-day assassin vs templar story isn’t even present and it doesn’t really advance the overall story at all. It literally is just a side story like AC: Rogue was and seemed like a money grab, with a half assed story that is littered with pointless side missions and collectibles. The Co-op is very forced, with missions that hold multiple rewards and unlocks so it has to be repeatedly done to get the gear you would want. At least AC Rogue had a very compelling story with great characters and a very interesting conflict, Unity really only had some good visuals and a some good customization. I can see why so many people didn’t like Unity.

The combat was pretty basic and the enemies really did pose a threat in large numbers but it wasn’t satisfying or that enjoyable to do. I did not like that you had to get “sync points” to unlock abilities like air assassinate or double assassinations or certain types of combat abilities, it being gated by story progression was also a real let down. The Story in the DLC was at least interesting and I thought it rewarded some very good gear.

The biggest problem for me is that the modern-day story of the Assassins vs the Templars was completely meaningless, in Rogue and Black Flag you had some context of how the story plays out even if the modern-day storyline was badly done. The “meta” story of ubisoft and abstergo was pretty cringe although some of the characters were interesting/compelling.

I play games mainly for story and I am willing to look past many flaws if a game has a decent story but Unity didn’t have that, and so I would call this just a below average game. Only worth playing if you got an insane deal (like I did buying it on a sale through steam) or if you are really committed to supporting ubisoft and the Assassin’s Creed brand.

I have Syndicate to play next and I hope it’s not just more of the same like Unity was.

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, read by Neil Gaiman.

Neil Gaiman is such a good narrator, one of the very few writers who can really narrate well and his reading of parts of the 10th Anniversary edition of American Gods or narrating Neverwhere is so well done. This is also extremely well done and the ambiance is great.

I like his work so much that I’ve pre-ordered his next novel, the audiobook version of course, Norse Mythology. Some time next year the TV adaptation of American Gods is out as well, something I’m really looking forward too especially with Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday and Orlando Jones as Anansi.

What I am playing/listening to/watching/reading/looking forward to for December 2016.

Time seems to really pick up its pace in the later months of the year. December, already. Soon I’ll have to do an end of the year wrap up.

On the Audiobook front, I’m still one my re-listen to the Dark Tower Series, I’m on Salem’s Lot at the moment (the last half of it.) I’m going to be skipping Wind thru the Keyhole because Stephen King narrating it is pretty bad, that’s too strong a description for it but it’s bad in comparison to how well Frank Muller and George Guidall narrate the series. So I’m gonna jump right into The Wolves of the Calla after Salem’s Lot. I enjoy Callahan’s arc of redemption as well as Balazar and Andolini returning as big coffin hunters to battle Roland’s Ka-tet.

I have about 7 novels to finish off the Last Kingdom/Saxon Stories, I’ll be using 1 credit to pick up the last book in the series The Flame Bearer, the novels are fairly short (about 10 hours each) and I should be done by the end of the month. I’m extremely looking forward to finishing off the series because I already have the next series ready to go, it’s P.N. Elrod’s Vampire Files series. I’ve been wanting to find a good vampire or werewolf series (that isn’t Paranormal Romance or the more heavily erotic Urban Fantasy, and it’s pretty difficult to find) and the Vampire Files is the one I settled on. The series I would have prefered to get into is M.L. Brennan’s Generation V but that series does not have any audiobook version.

On the games front,  I picked up Battlefield 1, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Far cry Primal, and the Season Pass for Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate (also picked up the Dreadful Crimes DLC, which wasn’t included the season pass.) Only paid full price for BF1, I got the rest on pretty good sales from Steam and Uplay. I’ve had my eye on picking up the new Tomb Raider as well as Far cry Primal and to get them for less than 35$ CAD each. I picked up the DLC for AC:Syndicate because I’ve been enjoying playing through the AC series so far, I’m liking the look and feel of Unity and enjoyed the story for Rogue. My only dislikes so far are the story gated skills for AC: Unity, and the emphasis on doing Co-op missions to unlock all the skills and for AC:Rogue the short story length.

At the moment, I’m near the end of Unity, and I’m doing the collectibles, side missions. I’ve already completed the Dead Kings DLC, which I thought was okay, it definitely rewarded some good gear though.

This month I picked up a subscription for CraveTV, mostly for The Expanse but it also allows me access to Penny Dreadful, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Battlestar Galactica, Carnivale, and the Flight of the Conchords.

Also, how fucking good is Westworld? If this is HBO’s replacement for when Game of Thrones eventually ends, then they have a damn good show already and HBO won’t miss a beat when GoT does end.

I picked up a subscription for Google play Music, and I’m liking it so far except that they don’t have some songs I would like. I’m also displeased with the amount of “my interpretation” of whatever song that shows up when I do look for a song.

What I’m looking forward to is going on a trip to Vancouver next month to be able to watch the following movies: Star Wars Rogue One, Doctor Strange, Assassin’s Creed, Arrival, Fantastic Beasts and where to find them, and Live by Night.