After finishing my MBA, I was in dire need of a break from life. The closest thing to a break I had in the past six years was my last trip to Los Angeles for the Academy Awards, and while it is always a ton of fun, even that is far from restful. I decided I was going to take January off and devote it to leisure reading and pick my life back up in February and March.

After a great month-long break, I got my career items in line and found myself with a lot of time in between emails and cover letters. My February was spent mostly watching Twitch streams and I made a commitment to myself that I would play some of the games sitting on my Xbox instead. Here’s the list of what I got around to playing this month.
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Highlights of the Month

Rocket League

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The last week of February was the week I realized that Rocket League had launched on Xbox One and I couldn’t resist buying it. I had followed it when it became a massive success as a PS+ game. I thought it was a great business case of how to pivot a product when little to no meaningful changes could be made to it. I think Psyonix has done a great job so far, and it looks like they will for the foreseeable future.

It was only after stumbling into a stream of it on Twitch that I realized I needed to play it. I’ve been having a ton of fun with it and it has been great to expand the games I watch on Twitch to more than just Hearthstone. There are some incredibly good people that play this game and I love watching and picking up tips. I can’t wait to see how it develops with the inclusion of cross platform play that was announced. I expect I will be playing this for quite a while to come.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

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I had heard great things about Black Flag when it came out and was excited to jump into it when I redeemed it from Games With Gold in July. When it came time to play it though, I didn’t quite enjoy it. I completed one or two missions in Havana and dropped it until this month when I promised I would give it another shot. I am so glad I did.

Black Flag is everything that I was told it would be. The on-ocean activities are incredibly well done and the game never looks better. After a few hours I was more familiar with the controls and accustomed to the responsiveness that I previously had issues with and was really enjoying it. I’m about 50% finished the game and I’m not quite sure I’ll finish it, but I have really enjoyed my time with it so far. I think this is my favourite Assassin’s Creed game to date.

 

Gears of War 3

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I spent hundreds of hours playing Gears of War and its sequel, both in the campaign and in online multiplayer. By the time Gears of War 3 came out, I had had my fill for quite a while. When I saw that Gears of War 3 was in my list of backward compatible Xbox 360 games, I decided it was about time to see what I had missed out on when it originally came out.
I only played the first chapter but the game felt great. The biggest surprise for me was not knowing which buttons to use after they were more than second nature for me in the past. I’m looking forward to jumping into the multiplayer and dearly hoping that there’s still a healthy and active community there, even if it is just pros and wanna be pros.

 

Lords of the Fallen

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I really enjoyed my time with the Souls games and am eagerly awaiting Dark Souls III. When I saw that Lords of the Fallen was going to be a Games With Gold game I became excited that I would be able to get a bit of a fix before jumping into Dark Souls again. I was even going to purchase Lords of the Fallen a while back when the Xbox Marketplace bugged and put it on sale, shortly after release, for less than $10. My immediate indecision made me lose out but now I had an opportunity rectify that.

My expectations were probably too high for this game. All that I had known about this game was from the Giantbomb Quick Look which made it look very similar to the Souls games. I don’t feel the controls are as tight and the boss design isn’t very interesting, so I haven’t gotten too far before putting it down for a while. Let’s see if I give it a shot in April.

 

DiRT Showdown

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I have a longstanding love of the Colin McRae and DiRT games. I had no real idea what Rally was before I played them but I loved the control over the handling, the physics, and the look of the games. I haven’t been a huge fan of the direction the series went in, focusing more on the X-Games aspect, but I’ve put up with it for some of the other fun races to be had. I should have known that this was not the game for me. It falls flat in almost every respect for me, whether it comes down to aesthetic, controls, event types, and career progression. Hopefully the next one is better.

 

 

Honourable Mention

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The guys at Idle Thumbs are a staple at the top of my podcast app. I think their discussions about games are insightful, well informed, and often hilarious. They’re the types of guys I wish I knew that I could talk games with in person. Now that their game has finally shipped, I knew I had to purchase it. The reviews are great but I haven’t gotten a chance to play it yet because I want to use a controller and I purchase it on Steam. It will be the first game I load up as soon as I get a new gaming PC and move up from this MacBook Air.

 

 

Hearthstone

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My new perennial, evergreen game. I play Hearthstone every month and attempt to climb the ladder to legend. This month I climbed to rank 5 but couldn’t find a deck I liked enough to grind the rest of the way to legend. I’m only playing now to build my purse for new packs when the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion comes out.