Conquering the Pile of Shame, Week 10

A couch-based detour

This week I’ve eschewed the PC to take some time working through the console Pile of Shame. I have, throughout my life, primarily been a PC gamer, but have owned consoles from time to time. Most recently, I was lucky enough to secure an Xbox Series X, and alongside playing Cyberpunk 2077, I’ve been gradually working through a couple of series, one new and one old, that have been sitting on my Pile of Shame — Yakuza and Halo.

The karaoke just got real.

My first exposure to the Yakuza series came a few years ago, not with the core original series that has been running since 2006’s Yakuza, but with the recently released prequel, Yakuza 0. It popped up in my Steam queue, and I was instantly taken by the premise —an action-RPG set in Japan in the 1980s.

From the little I’d heard about the Yakuza series over the years, all of it was good, so I took the dive. I was blown away. The game is incredibly cinematic, with some amazing camera work and excellent scene composition. The screenshot key has been worked overtime. Yakuza 0 balances classic crime-drama with oddball humour and a satirical take on Japanese fiction tropes. It has a relentlessly Japanese flavour, and the tone is refreshing when my gaming consists almost entirely of Western titles.

For some reason, I stalled, and stopped playing. So when Yakuza 0 joined GamePass (as well as the remasters of the rest of the series), I thought this was the perfect time to jump back in.

A couple of months ago, I finally played through and completed Halo: Combat Evolved thanks to the Halo: Master Chief Collection’s availability on Xbox Game Pass. The Halo series is the defining FPS for consoles, and is largely responsible for helping the FPS genre make a successful transition from keyboard and mouse to controller. So, as a self-styled game historian, I figured that I kind of have to play through the Halo series.

The game itself isn’t that revolutionary, as it’s a fairly standard sci-fi power fantasy. It’s mostly an important for its impact on the industry. That said, it’s not bad either. It’s solid, approachable and enjoyable, and the gameplay holds up remarkably well.

I’ve now moved on to Halo 2 and have made it about halfway through the game. After completing Halo 2, I’ll then move on to Halo 3. Funnily enough, Halo 3 is a game I have actually played from start to finish in co-op, but for the sake of narrative consistency, I’ll work through that as well before hopefully wrapping up with Halo 5 later in the year, just in time for the upcoming Halo: Infinite.

At some point in about 1989 I played my first videogames on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. This was the beginning of a lifetime obsession with games...