Really good week with some familiar games for Xbox Game Pass holders. Themes this week include a couple of top-notch simulation games, Three games with a western theme and yet another tactical soccer game.
Two Point Hospital
In my previous Game Pass roundup I said Two Point Hospital is getting superb reviews. It has a great sense of humor, a Wallace and Gromit art style, and a deep simulation gameplay. Honestly, it sounds perfect. Every level is a sandbox level, a perfect balance between accessibility and depth, and more than one reviewer has called it the best game they have played so far this year. Add on the fact I love management sim games (even on console) and you have a winner.
Now that I have played Two Point Hospital for a dozen hours, I enjoy it. It isn’t as deep as one might think, and there really isn’t much of an endgame. Also, it is a bit of a shame you can’t personalize the staff more than is available. It is relaxing and is perfectly tuned for console. If. you like this kind of simulation game Two Point Hospital is one of the best.
Speaking of simulation games, House Flipper hits the consoles and allows you to bring out your inner Chip Gaines. Lets not mince words, this is a deep and tedious simulation game where you meticulously repair a house and resell it. Complaints are basically that you nare screwing every screw and painting every wall yourself. While some see very tedious minute gameplay, other see nirvana as the two video reviews will show.
One problem with this game is that spending hours painting a virtual house instead of actually painting my porch, which needs it, is a bit of a disconnect. I am not sure I need another meditation time-wasting game, but House Flipper has a definite appeal.
Romance Of The Three Kingdoms XIV
I have to admit I am a little gun shy about deep strategy games on the console. Both Grand Ages: Medieval and Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence – Ascension have made me quite gun shy with complicated controls and poor introduction of mechanics. Often important information is buried under multiple sub menus and knowing what you want to do and knowing how to do it are often an impenetrable gulf.
All that said if the game grabs me I am up to the challenge. I have hundreds of hours in Crusader Kings II which is eight years old and practically requires an associate degree to figure out. And by that I mean an associate degree in how to play Crusader Kings II.
Again, if the game grabs me enough, I will sit through hours of YouTube tutorials to learn the ins and outs. Crusader Kings II has the advantage of being more about people and dynasties than military battles which helps gets its hooks in. And before you know it you are hip deep in an incestuous relationship with your niece who you married off to a horse, and you have declared war on Brittany because they poisoned your kitten.
I am thinking Romance Of The Three Kingdoms XIV will not allow me to sire bastards or arrange marriages despite the word Romance in the title.
Hotline Miami meets Bone Tomahawk in this top-down shoot-’em-up. The good? Nice colorful graphics and plenty of weapons with a surprisingly deep story (for the genre)
The Bad? Poor camera and some platforming levels make for a frustrating mix. The wrong kind of frustrating. I like Hotline Miami style games, and this overall looks like a fun one.
Hero Must Die. Again
Let us see a JPRG transferred over from the Vita with turn based combat. Seems simple enough. Nice character design and a robust dating mechanic. And it is a time-based JPRG where your character gets weaker till he dies and you have to find true love.
Man, this could be so good or so frustrating and I honestly can’t tell which. I hate time based RPG’s. The older Atelier games are the most notorious for this, but the game that will always stick in my mind is Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
I am a dawdler in games as it is. (See hundreds of hours in Oblivion and Skyrim without actually finishing (or in the case of Oblivion starting) the main quest.) It isn’t just RPG’s mind you as anyone who has seen me play Grand Theft Auto V or Far Cry 3 can attest. Girlfriend kidnapped by gangsters? I will get to that after I take my nice cousin bowling, thank you very much. (Yeah, this is a problem in all the grand Theft Auto games).
Once you put in an artificial time limits there is a new stress added. Should I visit this village or go into this cave? Am I going to be able to see everything? (Spoiler alert no, but in all fairness Hero Must Die Again is designed for multiple playthroughs much like Nier: Automata.). Adding to the issues your character becomes weaker the longer you play. That doesn’t seem fun. I love building up my character.
All these negatives there is something fascinating with a game that is truly trying something new. I may not enjoy playing Hero Must Die Again but I can’t Say I am not curious to try it.
Ritual: Crown of Horns
There are three Western themed games on the list today (Bloodroots, Wasteland Remastered and this one) and all take a different twist. Ritual is a twin stick shooter with an almost Lovecraftian twist. You shoot zombies (they call them cultists but they are basically zombies) in a top-down shooter. When you kill a cultist, you get a souls and with enough souls you can do a little magic.
The entire game is basically a horde mode with the use of magic and barriers. It has a good story and some excellent action. Of course all this with that addictive top down twin-stick shooter gameplay.
Ganbare! Super Strikers
Ganbare! Super Strikers is a tactical RPG soccer game, think Final Fantasy Tactics meets FIFA with a coat of anime. Hey, didn’t you preview another soccer tactics RPG just a month ago you might think and well I did. Football, Tactics & Glory is the exact same premise. To the point where football manager RPG is threatening to be a whole new category of games. Like the proverbial bus, you wait forty years for a tactical soccer role-playing game and two come by a month apart.
In this brave new world of football tactics games, (I am interchanging football and soccer randomly in this review. I am not sure if it is irritating or charming) there has to be a winner and I am afraid for those Ganbare fans out there that Football, Tactics & Glory is the stronger game.
Ganbare seems to have much more limited character creation, worse opponent AI and uglier graphics/art style. Football, Tactics & Glory seems the stronger of the two games across the board. Either way, both look fun. And if you are interested in non tactics soccer, we have PandaBall released a month ago. If patterns hold up, I think we can assume another Panda based soccer game is only weeks away.
One Finger Death Punch 2
One Finger Death Punch was a fun if mindless indie game. One Finger Death Punch 2 expands the simple Beat ’em up gameplay with brighter graphics and some new twists. That said, it is the same mindless addictive gameplay, perfect in short bursts though more appropriate for a portable game system than a console. (In other words, the perfect Switch game)
As I stated in my Xbox Game Pass Update for February Wasteland Remastered is not a remaster like Wasteland 2. It is actually the original game with a new coat of paint and a very few quality of life changes. Wasteland is a very, very old game. Now I played CRPGs in the late eighties (Bard’s Tale trilogy on the Commodore 64) and have great memories of them. That was thirty-five years ago however and if my time with Intellivision Lives! is any sign my memory definitely clouds over the actual experience.
Heck, I don’t even have to go back to the mid-eighties. Just play the original Tomb Raider from 1996. Both the graphics and gameplay seem almost alien today. (I remember thinking at the time it looked just like a movie.) And while I hated Tomb Raider: Anniversary for ruining the T-Rex fight with quick time events, I have no real interest in playing the original again. Some games are best kept as good memories.
Wasteland Remastered is an old school game with slightly better graphics. It doesn’t have the depth (or depravity) of a Fallout 2 to entice you to power through the issues. (In all fairness, Fallout 2 came out ten years later). It is one of those games where you assume that the reason your rolled character can’t shoot a gun is a game breaking bug when in reality you have an 8 dexterity and the rat has too high an armor rating. Yeah, that kind of game.