Grand Theft Auto V (2014)
When a young street hustler, a retired bank robber and a terrifying psychopath find themselves entangled with some of the most frightening and deranged elements of the criminal underworld, the U.S. government and the entertainment industry, they must pull off a series of dangerous heists to survive in a ruthless city in which they can trust nobody, least of all each other.
There is little left to be said about Grand Theft Auto V which hasn’t been said before. There is a reason that this mammoth game is one of the best selling games of all time, why five years down the line it still features in the annual top game lists, and why it continues to be an absolute unit of a cash cow for parent company Rockstar Games.
Now I’m not interested in the massively successful multiplayer mode, instead it is the campaign which I want to gush about. Extremely late to the party, all I can say that this is once again a masterclass in merging story into an open world sandbox title. The seamless story/action transitions, the character switching, the seemingly endless amount of things you can interact with or do in the world is astounding. Sure, the gunplay could be seen as a little simplistic (even at the time of release), but mixed in with the rest of the elements, the cinematography, the exceptional soundtrack… well, everything just works.
Honestly, I can see exactly why GTA V sits with as high a metacritic rating as what it does.
Cities: Skylines (2017)
There isn’t a story blurb for this one, but basically Cities: Skylines is hands down the best city builder currently available on the Xbox. After the last Sim Cities dropped the ball in a horrible PR negative way, developer Colossal Order and publisher Paradox Interactive unleashed this modern city builder that quickly became a firm fan favourite, so much so that developer Tantalus Media was approached to produce a console port.
The end result is a magnificent city builder that works flawlessly with a Xbox game controller, one which is guaranteed to suck up MANY precious hours of your lifespan. Urban planning, zoning, districts, taxation, policies, road, subway and rail placement, public works – its an absolutely delightful time sink.
The game runs well, is particularly well supported with DLC, and in my opinion is an absolute must for anyone with an inkling of love for the city building genre.
Naturally, I’m completely in love.