The 2017 Backlog (Summer)

About a decade ago, I developed a pretty costly habit of buying video games by the bulk and trying to play through them all. I tried to rationalize it as the purchases being a part of me amassing a gaming collection, mostly from the Xbox and PlayStation 2 catalog, though there were a fair number of Xbox 360 games as well. I did have a lot more free time to dig into these games, but it started becoming 75% game collecting and 25% playing them, with an ever-growing list of titles that were partially completed, and left idle soon after.

Fast forward about ten years later, and it seems as if I’ve gone back down that road, though with the caveat being my free time is an eighth of what it was back then.

Nonetheless I’ve got quite a list of games in the backlog that I am going to attempt to chip away at throughout the rest of the summer, so I can clear up time to pick away at some of the holiday releases coming up. Thought it’d be fun to share with you what is in my backlog this summer, how far along I am and the probability that I will complete said game.

 

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
(WiiU)

Percentage completed: 40-45%?

Breath of the Wild was well on its way to becoming the single best game I have ever played. Unfortunately it was somewhat a victim of circumstance; two weeks after its release, Mass Effect Andromeda was released, which was another highly anticipated release. It all but halted my progression with Breath of the Wild, a game I put at least 80-90 hours into in the first two weeks (I had time off in the month of March to take care of personal and medical issues). I think two weeks after that Persona 5 was released, and that stunted my progression with Andromeda.

Spoiler: the aforementioned two games are also on this list. Le sigh.

Honestly, this is the game I’ll most likely be jumping back into. What I had played in the first two weeks felt surreal; almost magical in every sense of the word. More or less, Breath of the Wild was the dream Zelda game that I’ve pitched for well over a decade – an open world with lush jungles and a myriad of other fully realized scenery, voice acting (though really, enough of these mute protagonists; I wanted Link to be able to speak as well, but I’m more than satisfied with what I was given), and just an overall scope and sense of discovery never before seen to the franchise.

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I’m hoping to write a review on this in the coming months, which should be enough time between the first impressions and almost 50% completion from early March, right up to what I honestly see will be its completion before my birthday in a couple of months. While I own Breath of the Wild on the Wii U, I can definitely say that it was worth the price of a Switch day one.

Probability of completing it this summer: 95%, if not, then one week after summer ends

 

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Mass Effect Andromeda
(PS4)

Percent completed: 15%?

Oh boy.

Mass Effect Andromeda was almost as high on my most anticipated list as Breath of the Wild. I absolutely adore the franchise, and on Mass Effect 3 alone I’ve put in 2500+ hours on both the Xbox 360 and PC in single and multiplayer. The paragon symbol from Mass Effect 3 was permanently inked to my right forearm, which is now a centerpiece to a half sleeve I had completed earlier this year. The franchise has left and indelible mark physically and emotionally, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Then I bought Mass Effect Andromeda.

To be brutally honest, Andromeda was not a horrible game whatsoever; what killed it for me were the bugs and online component being riddled with latency issues and more bugs. The intricacies to Andromeda‘s multiplayer had a bit of a learning curve to it, but once I got comfortable, though it wasn’t anything like Mass Effect 3, it still had a hook to it. I was even number one in the world at one point in terms of achievement points gained in the multiplayer game before I just couldn’t stomach the nauseating amount of multiplayer issues.

I put down the multiplayer after repeated game disconnects right near the extraction wave and jumped into the single player. I was slowly getting into Ryder’s adventure, but more bugs reared their ugly head. After I reloaded a checkpoint and saw myself under the world with no way to return, I shelved Andromeda until it was patched back up to a competent state.

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Seems as if there have been a number of stability fixes for the game, so it looks like it might be ample time to suit back up and give it another go. Sad to say though, but I’m not really feeling it still. I definitely want to give Andromeda another chance, and I know I will, but I don’t think it will be this summer. I know that the multiplayer suite has had some additions over the last few months, from a new difficulty to new kits added in, but I don’t think I need to rush back. If I have a lull at some point, I may just chip away at it, but with how busy I am lately and how many games are in this backlog, I don’t see there being much of a lull for a long, long time.

Probability of completing it this summer: 15%

 

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Persona 5
(PS4)

Percent completed: 75-80%

I’d tell you a story about Persona 5, but like the game it’s self, I’d be here 130+ hours telling it, and still not be done.

Persona 5 fell victim to two thing – a busy, hard time I had around when it came out, and the length of its adventure. I thoroughly loved the first 125 hours I played of Atlus’ RPG behemoth, but I reached a point (that I cannot explain without spoiling the game) where I just needed a break. I also thought I was at the last cognition of the game, however my manager told me I still had a few more to go.

Between being fatigued with how long this adventure was going and how much more there still was, along with personal issues, I kinda just dropped it then and there.

Funny enough, I consider Persona 5 probably in my top 25 games of all-time, even though it really could have axed a good twenty hours from its playtime. The cast of characters are magnificent, though there’s one that’s introduced about 50-65% that I have no kind of investment towards. Everyone else, from the playable Thieves Guild members, to the side characters you meet along the way, helped make Persona 5 a brilliant journey, albeit twenty hours too long.

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Probably the second or third most likely game I’ll tackle and finish from my backlog this summer, Persona 5 deserves that much. I have to see it through to the end, especially with the jaw dropping revelation that came around the time I had stopped playing. Far and away the best JRPG I’ve played since….gosh, maybe since Persona 4, or maybe Lost Odyssey (yes, I enjoyed that one). Hopefully I can write about it on the near future as well.

Probability of completing it this summer: 80%

 

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Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
(PS4)

Percent completed: 1%

As of the time I started writing this (late Wednesday night), I literally started playing this a few hours ago and only put an hour into it so far. Final Fantasy XII on the PlayStation 2 was a gem, and playing the first hour of The Zodiac Age, I can appreciate how ahead of its time Square Enix was with this one. Every facet was cleverly done, from the tone of the story and its presentation as a whole, to a strong musical composition, right on through to what many fans of the franchise had issues with – the gameplay.

Final Fantasy XII felt like it had an MMORPG’s gameplay in a single player domain, years before Kingoms of Amalur: Reckoning masterfully crafted this (which, ironically, was supposed to be an MMORPG at first). The freedom of movement and positioning during battle felt natural, and the idiosyncrasies of combat were still quite reminiscent of older Final Fantasy titles, where there was still somewhat of a timer that ticked to your next action. I definitely can see how series veterans would thumb their noses at this installment, however with how Final Fantasy XV plays more like an action RPG and further straying from the series roots, the evolution of the franchise (or devolving to some?) will only continue to occur.

Final Fantasy XI: Online was the beginning of the change to the franchise, and I feel that Final Fantasy XII still doesn’t get the acclimation it deserves due to how radically different the feel is. But with an open mind and maybe a little time, I feel that it would change the minds of many that have abstained from this installment, or wrote it off for whatever reason.

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Oh, and there’s no way in hell I’m completing this one anytime soon. I’ll definitely put in some time on it off and on, but I have no aspirations of completing it this summer.

Probability of completing it this summer: 1%

 

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River City Ransom Underground
(PC)

Percent completed: 21%

River City Ransom on the NES is one of my all-time favorites. This beat em up title was all about taking the gangs lunch money and buying implausible physical augmentations, such as Aero Circus (jumping forward while rolled up in a ball) to Javelin Toss (tossing an enemy like a javelin). It was an extremely short game, but one that left quite a mark.

Years ago I had saw a Kickstarter about an all-new adventure in the River City Ransom franchise (which in Japan was the Kunio Kun series) called River City Ransom Underground. Though I did not back it, I had a heavy interest in how this project would unfold.

Unfortunately, it took a long, long time to finally come to fruition, and when I finally got my hands on it, I was left with quite the mixed feeling.

On the one hand, the attention to detail, the animation, everything visual, was obviously done with quite a bit of love and care. Each character animates so very fluidly, and in a game world that looks like both an expansion of River City Ransom, as well as what it would look like twenty years later.

On the other hand, the gameplay just rubbed me the wrong way. There was a simplicity to River City Ransom‘s gameplay, where you could tap punches and kick repeatedly and the rhythm to attacking would remain fluid and natural. The few characters I have available to me, while they have multiple moves and playstyles across the board, doesn’t feel cohesive or fluid in the least, leading to enemies always slipping in an attack, no matter how you try to set the pace.

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That’s more or less what’s turned me off from River City Ransom Underground. It’s a short game, so I’m more inclined to give it more time and see it all the way through. Who knows, maybe the gameplay issues will fall into place and reveal themselves to be a solid, refreshing system. Strangely enough, there’s a 3DS installment of River City Ransom that I picked up from my trip to E3, titled River City: Tokyo Rumble which, in its own way, has some faults to it as well. Maybe the NES game was never meant to be followed up all these years later? Regardless, I’m hoping I can get both of these completed before the end of summer, and perhaps have a brand new installment of the Comparison Series between River City Ransom Underground and River City: Tokyo Rumble.

Probability of completing them this summer: 70% for both

 

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
(PC)

Percent completed: 1%

Here’s a bit a sacrilege – I’ve never been a fan of the Metal Gear Solid franchise.

Now there’s a difference between not being a fan and disliking; as a whole I am not a fan of the franchise, but I do abhor Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. What goes completely against this all is that I actually enjoyed Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriot, the one title in the franchise that many didn’t enjoy as much for whatever reason.

I never intended to play Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but there was that sale on Steam that they do every summer, and I couldn’t help myself. I never did get much time with it either, as the intro portion felt like it just dragged on forever. I’m all for exposition and character development and the like, but my God that first portion nearly put me to sleep several times.

I only got part way through the first mission in the desert, though the gameplay was stellar. It’s a game that demands your undivided attention, and that’s probably why I won’t be completing this by the end of the summer. There’s too much to play, and what ended up being a sales purchase for a distant future playthrough, became something I tried out briefly too soon, and feel bad that I just can’t commit the time it deserves.

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If anything, I want to give the franchise another shot; start from Metal Gear Solid again on the PS1 and go from there. But that’s a tale for another day.

Probability of completing it this summer: 0%

 

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Cosmic Star Heroine
(PC)

Percent completed: ? (30 minutes in)

Cosmic Star Heroine is a game that I first heard about for the PS4, but quickly learned it was coming to, or already out on the PC. From what I briefly read about and saw, it seemed like quite the 16 bit JRPG throwback, which always speaks to me.

This was another Steam sale purchase, one that I am thrilled over so far. From the brief run of the first portion (and bosses), it definitely has a unique and what may end up being an enjoyable feel to it. From what I read, the playtime is about 15-20 hours, so its brevity will definitely play a hand at having a chance of being completed.

From a gameplay standpoint, I dig the aspect of (so far) having a one time per battle use for most skills, unless you spend a turn resting and recharging. Straight up fighting only got me so far in the brief time I had with this one, and strategic use of skills and resting seemed to be the crux of the battle system.

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Cosmic Star Heroine looks like it will be an enjoyable, bite-sized RPG morsel that will sate the hunger for those jonseing for an RPG but without the major time commitment. I’ll definitely keep you abreast on how this one goes, as it’s just short enough for me to commit to and not feel like I am short handing another game

Probability of completing it this summer: 80%

 

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Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
(PC)

Percent completed: 5%

Yet another Steam sale purchase, the $4 price tag was an attractive price point for a game that I actually had borrowed from my old job a couple of years ago for the Xbox 360. I remember the gameplay quickly becoming monotonous, though it had its moments here and there.

Lo and behold, nothing’s changed, though it looks a helluva lot prettier, and maybe the monotony isn’t as thick after a few years away.

There is a bit of variety in how to approach certain situations, and that does help freshen things up every so often, though just the general pace of encountering enemies and combating them does get tiresome pretty quickly. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how gratifying the myriad of kill shots were, as some of them are quite brutal.

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As with Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is something I’ll willfully chip away. Its definitely something enjoyable is short bursts, and that’s how I’ve wanted to treat this one since day one. I sincerely doubt I’ll ever see the end credits, nor will I play the sequel right away, but I’ll enjoy my very short play session with Shadow of Mordor for the months to come.

Probability of completing it this summer: 1%

 

I have a few other games on the backlog, but there’s next to no chance I’ll get to those (Pokemon Moon, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided to name a few). What say you? Do you have any titles in the backlog that you’re looking to complete by the end of summer? List them down below in the comments, I’m curious to see what you’re looking to finish in the coming weeks!


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