Well, it’s that time of year again; time where I utilize my hyperactive chronicling and rating tendencies to list out all the things I liked the most this year. This year I have a list for Video Games, Movies, Music, and Books… however, I’m only touching stuff that I’ve completed myself, regardless of what year it was made (the exception here is music, where I was able to confidently pick out my 5 favorite albums of 2019). In order for you to see everything I’ve completed this year, I’ll be linking my relevant chronicling profile for each of the subjects listed as a hyperlink for that subject. Anyway, let’s get into it.
I’ve decided it’s been long enough since we’ve had another chill, blog-exclusive article; and what better way to do it than with another game review?
This time, I wanted to try my hand at Hitman 2016. It’s been awhile since I’ve last played it, but I wanted to put some notes down for it anyway since it was a pretty fun experience. Overall I definitely believe this is a contender alongside Blood Money for best assassination game, but let’s get into the nitty gritty details.
Gameplay – 9/10
Gameplay is honestly what I believe is the clear advantage for Hitman 2016. There is so much to do in this game; so many combinations, so many challenges, so many routes, and so many weapons. And yet, despite this, the game is very simple at its core; there’s only a couple of maps and the core game loop is essentially Clue (kill X with Y in the Z costume). This massive amount of diversity in the game loop is what makes it so appealing; each new variation of the map and mode teaches you more about the map, allowing you to do progressively cooler things and gain more unlocks, to teach you more about the map, etc. etc.
Art – 6/10
While a lot of these environments are very pretty, the art is mostly pretty generic. I mean, it’s a modern shooty game, what were you really expecting? Typically I would give this a mild score of 5, but I will give some credit to the ultra-beautiful Sapienza, Marrakesh, and Bangkok maps.
Music – 7/10
The soundtrack of Hitman 2016 is the surprise hit of all the categories. While Blood Money did have a iconic soundtrack, I think this soundtrack was less iconic because it was good and more because you heard the same tracks over and over again trying to complete a mission. There’s a lot more diversity to 2016’s music, and it definitely vitalizes the spy intrigue feel of the game. There’s no tracks on here that you’d listen to on repeat, but it fits the game very well.
Story – 5/10
Hitman’s story is overall fairly inoffensive. To be fair, it’s always been this way; pretty much exactly the same. Not really much to discuss here; just your classic spy intrigue/revenge story.
Extra – 4/5
For my extra points, I’ll repeat what I said in the gameplay section; there’s a lot to do here. The pure amount of content in the GOTY edition will keep you satisfied for a very long time. Better yet, it’s my favorite kind of game; a game that’s very quick and simple to beat, but long and difficult to complete.
Total Score: 31/40, 77.5% — GOOD
Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive the Top 10 Tools I Use on a Daily Basis to help better manage your workload and do high quality work in a shorter amount of time. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.
Well, since it’s about the holiday season and I don’t know anyone who’s going to be out reading blogposts, I’ve decided to make one that is more for myself than anything else. A long time ago, I used to write these “State of the Union” posts at the beginning of each year that would go over what I planned to do for that year, as well as going over last year’s goals for what did/didn’t work. Not sure why I stopped; in my opinion, it’s still a pretty good idea. That is exactly why I’m going to try to bring it back with this post. Since I don’t have any goals to go over for last year, I’ll start this fresh by giving some new goals for 2019.
I definitely want to get back to writing on a weekly basis, and I’ve already started it back up a bit as of recently. I think the most important thing content wise for the blog is just to keep the posting consistent for all 52 weeks of next year; a feat I’ve never been able to accomplish, but would love to finally hit.
In terms of actual data on views and followers, it looks like the website has around 18 followers with 137 views for the year (and 76 unique visitors). As I began posting weekly only in September, I’d like to see an approximately 4x increase in these numbers for next year (correlating with the other 3-month periods). So, let’s go for ~550 views, ~300 visitors, and ~70 followers added on for next year. For the Medium blog, we currently have 370 views, 203 reads, and 7 fans. So, let’s apply the same logic as last time, and go for 1,480 views, ~820 reads, and ~30 fans.
Astukari & Friends
For the podcast, I think qualitatively I’d like to pin a solid structure for the show down and start consistently getting ~1 hour episodes in every week. When it comes to collecting data, this is a bit harder to pin down; there’s about 172 views in total for the new series for far, with 26 episodes (that’s an average 6.6 views per YT podcast). In contrast, the original AstukaGaming podcast had about 808 views with 36 episodes, bringing it at 22.4 average views per podcast. This increase can be seen due to a couple of more popular videos in the bunch as well as (I believe) the fact that the podcast was a YT exclusive compared to Astukari & Friends which is not just on YT but also on Twitch and Podbean. Incorporating Podbean views, we have 341 additional plays for a total of 513, bringing the average up to 19.7.
For next year, I’d like to see this average increase to go beyond the average views per podcast of the original. I feel like this is definitely possible – AG was around for two years with minimal advertising, vs. A&F which has only been around for a few months with some more focus on tagging – and I’ll try to keep best practices forward when it comes to the podcast and hopefully due to this we’ll see an average increase.
There’s a few major focuses on the social media front: We have LinkedIn, my personal Twitter, the AG + BDC Twitters, and my Instagram. Honestly, not too sure what I want to do with the AstukaGaming twitter anymore, but it does have around 330 followers so I figure I might as well use it to retweet some of my other content. I feel like advertising LinkedIn content has been pretty helpful so far, so I’m not really interested in cutting it off either; though I don’t really have any defined goals set in place for it. That leaves the personal Twitter, BDC Twitter, and Instagram.
For the Instagram, my follower count has been levitating right over the 190 – 200 range for a few months now, and I’d love to break that sometime soon. To be fair I haven’t been posting as regularly recently, and that has caused it to fall into the 180s, but at the same time I feel like if I have to post on there every single day I’m going to go crazy, so I’m going to at least one post every week or so. For the BDC twitter, I’m not quite sure what I want; it’s been a few months since Season 1, and so I’ve mostly been advertising my podcast and blog content on there. However, as I prep for Season 2 (which I’ll go more in detail about in the “Other Projects” section) I’ll try to post specifically BDC content. Finally, for the personal Twitter, my main goal is focused on getting the follower count up to 200. It seems to have been increasing pretty nicely by itself, so I plan on adding a bit more advertising of it to content as well as using it more actively.
In terms of big projects, another book is on the way. This will not be a compilation piece like the one released a few years back, but rather a brand new full-length piece. I don’t have much to share about this just yet since I only just finished the first round draft of planning (not writing), but I’ll put out a tentative release date of summer 2020. More information on this can be expected soon.
As I mentioned before, BDC Season 2 will be coming at some point; likely around November 2019, which will match up to about a year after Season 1. In the meantime, I plan on throwing on a few sales (or perhaps inter-Season shirts) and advertising them on the BDC twitter to try to get some more sales in. No specific milestones for this one either – just want to see what ends up cookin’.
Well, that’s all for now. As always, check out my personal Twitter for more content in the future!
This time around, I’ve decided to work on a website exclusive; this is mostly just an exclusive due to the fact I don’t believe the other outlets would care about it as much. Recently, I got around to finally beating Fable II, a game I’ve wanted to play ever since I was a kid. While I had played both Fable I and Fable III in the past, it was because those two games were ported on the PC where Fable II never was. This was fairly upsetting, because Fable II was considered the definitive Fable game. My experiences with Fable I and III were mixed (especially with III, which I hold a particularly love-hate relationship with and will come back into play a bit later in this review) but I decided that this was because they were simply inferior in comparison to II. Finally, when I got an Xbox One just last year, I decided that now was my chance to finally try out the game. And here we are, one year later, I’ve finally seen it through. So, let’s get into it.
I also want to mention that for this review I’m bringing back a bit of a classic. Some might remember my old out of 40 review scale from my old reviews on Blogspot; well I’m bringing it back again, this time with a couple of new tweaks.
Gameplay – 6/10
This was one bit I was really hoping they’d improve from the other games, but unfortunately, they did not. This game’s combat is totally broken; there’s nothing more to it other than dodging out of the way and spamming the attack button in hopes of doing something. There are three ways to attack: sword fighting, ranged, and magic. Sword and ranged are essentially the same thing, except one is from farther away. Magic is just straight god awful. In order to use it, you have to press an unholy combination of buttons just to target the attack. Killing enemies using magic is really just not even worth it.
Alternate gameplay features of things like the economy meta are decently fun enough but get insanely broken by the end game (just like in the previous two games, you get to a point where you essentially have infinite money).
Art – 5/10
While I do appreciate the Victorian aesthetic, most of the game feels pretty bland in the art department. The concept art done in caricature form is pretty interesting, but you rarely see it throughout the game. Another thing I noticed; not sure if this is just due to the Xbox One uprez, but the entire game looks significantly blurry.
Music – 8/10
Alright, I do have a bit of a soft spot for the music in this game. In reality, there’s probably only like 5 tracks in the whole thing overall, but most of it does sound good and does very well fit the theme of the game.
Story – 7/10
They… tried? It always feels like they give at least some attempt for the stories in this game. The opening seems fairly nice – the classic hero’s journey – but as time goes on you just sort of forget the story as a whole. You also don’t make connections with any of the characters; typically I wouldn’t care too much about this point, but in this game it seems like they want you to have deep connections (some of the ending decisions require such a thing to make sense).
Extra – 3/5
Overall, I’d say Fable II is much like the other games; a pretty lackluster disappointment. While there are bits and pieces of the game to enjoy, overall the game still leaves much to be yearned. This disappointment strikes hot in II specifically, as it is supposed to be the best but rather falls flat in the same ways as the others.
Total Score: 29/40, 72.5% — OKAY
Epilogue: Some Explanations on the Score
The four main pillars of a game, in my personal opinion, are gameplay, art, music, and story. Gameplay is essential, and is how a game feels. Art is how the style of the game best represents its theme, and is a mixture of both the actual style (e.g. Monument Valley) as well as the actual quality of the art (e.g. Red Dead Redemption 2). Music is self-explanatory. Story is a bit more of a loose category; technically most games do not have a story, and for those games I would judge the story category more along the lines of how well immersed you become in the game or otherwise how good the flow is of the external narrative.
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