Sorry, What to Watch took a turkey day break as last week was really light on new product worth mentioning. This week? Pretty much the same but we don’t want you to miss us too badly. Here’s five recent Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming releases that may have caught your attention on new release shelves lately, ranked in the order we’d add them to our holiday wish list.
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CHICAGO – Edward Kenway stands upon a Nassau stronghold ledge above two guards having an idle chat. I push the X button and he drops down upon their necks with piercing steel. I hold RT and the directional stick and hop into a nearby hay bale. Save for the two bodies, it was like I was never there.
CHICAGO – Sometimes you get a freebie. While seemingly millions of other players were cursing the house that Houser built, stuck waiting for “Grand Theft Auto: Online” to load the first tutorial mission, I was already in and playing a day after launch.
CHICAGO - If you ask me the first console game to get giant robots punching each-other right is the N64 Cult Classic “Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon”, which is strange because that game is the most absurd thing I ever played.
CHICAGO - It’s scary that I live in a world where that most gamers didn’t start with the Nintendo Entertainment system like I, and my peers, did. Having the first three levels of “Super Mario Bros.” memorized, playing “Teenage Mutant NInja Turtles The Arcade Game” until the way-too-late hour of 11pm on a school night, and nearly ending friendships over “Battletoads” were experiences I once thought universal to all game players.
CHICAGO – Despite being a massive game, the best parts of “Grand Theft Auto V” are the little details: The way whiskey sloshes around in a glass, how characters show up to cut scenes in their custom saved cars, how surfboards litter the beaches, the numerous dynamic touches like the radio updating you on a given happening you had a hand in, as well as little narrative details that hint at “GTA V” being about something a little bigger than it lets on.
CHICAGO – I don’t know if “Madden 25” wanted to slap me in the face each time I loaded a game, but it did, and my cheeks are still red. Practically every load screen in the game features some tidbit of “Madden” history, things like “Madden was the first football game to feature 11 players on both sides of the ball” and “Madden 2006 featured the now infamous vision cone”. Which, in theory, is cool - I’m a gaming enthusiast who’s bought this game every year since 2003, sometimes twice depending on the platform, and the chance to relive the memories of “Madden”s gone-by is a welcome experience. Until you think about it. For all the features these loading screens tout, few remain. I lament the loss of my precious “Weapons” system, Madden IQ, surprise onside kicks, and, yeah, even that bastard yellow vision cone.
CHICAGO – A part of me likes thinking that somewhere in the Middle East, an American like Sam Fisher is prowling. Clear and present danger abound, mind racing with a dozen different ways the next few seconds could play out. A guard wanders close to his hiding place. Does he take them out with a silenced bullet to the head? Show mercy and knock them out - or simply let him walk by?
CHICAGO – During a 4th grade sleepover party for a kid I knew named David, I waddled downstairs looking for the potty, and set eyes on a most fascinating game being played by David’s older brother on a computer. I’d never seen anything like it. There was a 3D globe, customizable characters, a haunting soundtrack and atmosphere, aliens, urban environments, and at the time, it was the most awesome thing I’d ever seen.
CHICAGO – Somewhere between getting abducted by aliens, dropped into a ’50s TV sitcom, leaping off a space platform in the buff in a direct reference to “Mass Effect 2”, and flying through space in a “Return Of The Jedi”-esque escape, “Saints Row 4” snagged me with both hands, and I forgave it for past transgressions.
CHICAGO - If you close your eyes and picture some of the iconic moments in gaming history, most of them involve some sort of personal touch. The fireworks when you beat a level in “Super Mario Brothers”, the first time you were attacked by dozens of chickens in “The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past”, hiding in a cardboard box in “Metal Gear Solid”, the “Lazlo” show in “Grand Theft Auto III” and probably whatever your personal favorite gaming moment is, all managed to connect with gamers on a level beyond simply ‘gaming’ - instead ingratiating themselves into our psyches via charm and character, remaining there forever.