Flapperdoodle's Gaming Blog Ep. 127: Flapperdoodle's Games of the Year 2012! (Part 1)
Hey guys! It's the end of December! Ya know what that means? IT'S ALMOST TIME FOR NEW YEARS!
Yup, it's the time for looking back upon the year, and taking a look at what was bad, what was good, what we could've improved upon, what was awesome, and so on. But people also take some to recall the best moments of 2012. For some, the best movies. For some, the best in television. For some, the best music. But for us... most of us will be looking back on the best games of 2012.
If you recall, last year I spent a lot of time posting blogs about the holiday season, and I had a good time. Four of those blogs were a large yet very rewarding analysis of gaming in 2011, as I went through every month of the year and discussed the games I liked, disliked, and missed out on. Since then, I have played many of the games I missed last year, and I am thankful for that. However, it's the end of a new year, which means it's time to get the ball rolling once again. It's gonna be one hell of a ride, so let's get started as soon as we can! This is…
Yeah… like that title card? Well I got three others just like it… so enjoy it. Let us begin with… well… the first month of the year obviously.
January started us off… alright. Not too much good… not too much bad… not even too much to miss. Let's take a look-see.
This looks to be the year of indie games. Honestly, some of the best games of the year have been indie games, and there are plenty of other great indie games that came throughout the year. Mutant Mudds was a fantastic way to kick off the year. Mutant Mudds puts you as Max, a boy with a simple handgun trying to save his world from a mutant muddy infestation. When the game arrived on the 3DS eshop, I decided to take a look, and I was surprised at the simple fun I was having. The game isn't very complicated at all. Besides for some choice puzzle mechanics, the game doesn't break any boundaries. However, I was having a lot of fun. The game isn't too hard, so it's easy to pick up, and it's formula is simple platforming. You jump, you shoot enemies, and you explore. The graphics have a classic 8-Bit feel to them, and the world itself has some interesting textures. If you like simple 2D platforming, this is a good game. It's definitely worth the price tag.
Say what you want about this game, I don't care. I personally enjoyed SoulCalibur V, despite a lacking story mode. I thought the multiplayer was fun as usual, and the character selection was interesting, especially Ezio. He was a near perfect choice for the game. SoulCalibur's idea of adding weapons to the usual 2D fighting landscape has always intrigued me. I like sword battles, what can I say? And the game doesn't disappoint in that regard. The combat isn't the most inspired or the most creative, but it's interesting to use weapons. I think it's a nice twist, and SoulCalibur is really the only place I can find this sort of thing. The graphics also are very good, keeping up the medieval and classy vibes. If one thing has been consistent in this series, it is the graphics. They never disappoint. Don't worry, I know the story mode is very lazy and very lacking. I didn't enjoy it as much as the next guy. But story mode has never been something fighting games have done right consistently. So, while flawed, I think SoulCalibur V has fun fighting, and as long as a fighting game has that, it's solid in my book.
Oh god… where to even begin. This didn't look too awful from the gameplay I saw. It looked average at best. Then I played it… and I never saw the survival hour genre the same again. I just couldn't understand how the hell something like this could be f*cked up SO badly…. I mean, I know survival horror is a delicate genre. It needs a lot of skill to master a survival horror game. But it is NOT very hard to make a game playable, but even Amy has problems with this. The game is about Lana, a woman who is essentially doing an escort mission with Amy to escape their infected town… how original. The controls are cumbersome, causing trouble and struggle throughout the game's campaign. The game is very eery, but not in a way of being respectable and not even in a way that you can see some kind of artistic brilliance. It's just… gross. The terrible frame rate and the terrible graphics don't help this. And the game is not scary in the slightest. Actually, I'm lying. There is one thing scary about the game. Amy herself. That's right, everything about this character freaks the crap out of me. Honestly, her face gives me the shivers. Sure, this downloadable game may seem innocent… but don't be fooled. There is NOTHING innocent about this piece of absolute garbage.
I saw the trailers for this game and even some gameplay, and saw a lot of potential in its characters and gameplay mechanics. Then I read some reviews, and to my surprise, critics were panning this game left and right. I decided to sit down with a friend and play it, and sadly, they were more correct than we had hoped. The game isn't awful per say. I like the main character, and I do think the game has good graphics and smooth frame rate… but everything else lacks creativity and ingenuity. The game stars Bryce Boltzmann, an immortal demon hunter who must stop a bunch of demons with Arcadia Maximille, a partner for him to ogle. The concept I was originally rooting for was fun at first, just due to the sheer hilarity of it, but eventually became boring and annoying at best. Sure, it's funny to watch a guy break into five pieces, but once this mechanic becomes tiresome… it's not a good sign. This is especially bad considering this is the ONE thing NeverDead is creative about. The combat and plot are nothing short of dull, and various boss fights are repetitive and a chore to get through. The worst part though, is that overall, the game wasn't fun for the right reasons. We had some fun with the main character, and we laughed a bit, but the game become irritating after a few hours. Similar to what I did after the millionth time Bryce's body parts came apart, NeverDead should just be left to lay there.
I am not a sports guy… at all. Game series like Madden, NBA, or NHL don't intrigue me. I can't play sports in real life, and it's usually the same virtually. With the few exceptions (the Backyard series, NBA Jam, Mario, even some FIFA), I just cannot get into them most of the time. However, many people were seeing something different with NFL Blitz. If I remember correctly, ScrewAttack were happy with this game, with Craig and Bryan playing it and enjoying it. I am not a football guy, but if a game is polished and well done enough, I could get into it. Honestly, I am most likely never gonna play this game. However, I would give it a chance if someone had it available. I dunno, not much is more to be said. Anything SA promotes has to be awesome… so, hey, why not?
February is that time where game start to come out more quickly. It's a time where games are beginning to get noticed, and it's a nice time to relax and see what's available before the Summer sales and the inevitable 2013 Winter sales. So, what did the month of lovey woveyness have to offer?
Gotham City: Imposters
This game got a lot of flack, and I didn't really get it. After playing a bunch of rounds and taking a look at what the game has to offer, I was pleasantly surprised. Gotham City Imposters is… essentially Team Fortress 2 if Batman got into the mix. I was really intrigued by the whole Batman vs Joker makeup all of the characters had. I love that zany visual stuff in games. It just makes it more interesting. As for gameplay, while I'm not a big FPS guy, this game can be fun if you know what you are doing. The multiplayer camaraderie can be nice, and with friends, the game can get seriously fun. The customizable elements also work. While they can be a bit bare bones at times, I do think they change up gameplay enough to be sufficient. The maps are cool, and I think overall the visuals of the game are cool. Since it is set in the DC universe, you can tell they had that in mind. It may be a bit flawed, and it's nothing revolutionary to the multiplayer shooter world, but Gotham City: Imposters is a simple game. May not be worth a too hefty price tag, but it's simple fun. Try it out if you get the chance.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
There are no words to describe how much credit Kingdoms of Amalur DIDN'T get. Barely anyone I know has heard of this game… and it's so unfortunate. In a world where RPGs have been scarce with new IPs, Kingdoms of Amalur came along and surprised the hell out of me with how much polish it had. It's large expansive world combined with it's beautiful graphics made it one of the best RPGs of the year in my opinion, and I say that as a guy who isn't tha big of an RPG guy myself. The character design was pretty cool, the combat was fun and satisfying (thought a bit repetitive), and the game's story is actually not half bad. The whole shtick with "The Fateless One" was actually in-depth. Honestly, if financial troubles didn't hit 38 Studios so early, it could've made some wonderful games. But alas, fate was not in 38 Studios' favor. Even so, they should be proud to have made this game. It was a refreshing new studio taking on a truly interesting world. The studio had a lot to learn, but it also had a lot to be proud of with the final product. it may not be as popular as Xenoblade Chronicles or Borderlands 2, but it definitely was just as good. If you get the chance, do NOT pass this up.
Man… another indie game. This was a great year for them, wasn't it? Two of them were game of the year material, legit. Shank 2 may not be game of the year material, but it certainly is a quality game. The game puts you as Shank, trying to save his mentor Elena from General Magnus who rules over Shank's city. He's gotta put a stop to their evil ways. It's a simple story, but it makes up for it. How? Well, in my opinion, Shank 2 is essentially what made the original Shank so good, but polished to the upmost degree. The combat is more fluid, fighting and attacking is a lot more fun and badass. The character designs are cooler, and the game's aesthetic and atmosphere keep you pumped and excited. The graphics keep up a very enjoyable cartoony vibe, while also staying epic. The story is really the only thing that hasn't improved, still staying a little bit too simple for my taste. Hopefully Shank 3 (if in the works) improves upon this. I feel Shank can have a truly deep and emotional story, with some laughs in there. It would be great to see some effort in that department. But overall, Shank 2 is exactly what it needed to be. It took the original and improved in nearly every department. And lots of it.
Sweet Tooth is back again with his gang for another installment of Twisted Metal, this time essentially rebooting the entire franchise since 2008. A brand new tournament is being run by Calypso, and the game explores Doll Face, Sweet Tooth, and Grimm, as well as their stories. The game places you in a multiplayer arena as you use various vehicles and weapons to obliterate your opponents. It's all in good fun, obviously. Like many games that came out this year, the multiplayer in the game truly shines. It's a lot of fun to play with friends, and the various vehicles and weapons allow for total insanity, which only makes the experience more badass and exciting. I don't know how much love I can truly express for the Axel. It is so much fun to battle with. Shooting up my opponents in that just automatically makes me go berserk. The graphics are dirty and grimy, which definitely gives the game an atmosphere that is kinda nasty. But then again, that is what Twisted Metal is. It's a destructive, dirty, nasty, post-apocalyptic mess. And I couldn't imagine Twisted Metal in any other way. Jaffe has done it again folks. It could use some online polish, and the story at times can be inconsistent in creativity and keeping me interested. As a whole though, the 2012 Twisted Metal is a welcome edition to the series.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
The Uncharted series has been known for some truly adventurous and wonderful gaming experiences. Off the coattails of Uncharted 3, a true Game of the Year contender last year, Golden Abyss was hoped to be another fantastic game. It wasn't utterly brilliant in any way, and it doesn't hold a candle to the console experiences, but Golden Abyss is a solid, average Uncharted experience. We meet up with Nathan Drake, in this prequel of sorts, as he is now in Central America to discover a lost city… excitement! Now, as I said, Golden Abyss isn't as good as any of the console Uncharted installments. This is mainly due to the fact that I personally dislike the Vita's design. I don't like the analog sticks, mainly because I feel they are small and extremely sensitive. Also, I just feel I wasn't enjoying the game. I didn't feel the Vita's features were incorporated very well. The touch specialities didn't suit me, and I found it a bit easier to go with Vita's main external controls. Either way though, I felt slightly uncomfortable playing it. Also, the plot is not as strong as the other console Uncharted games. Now, a possible reason for these problems may just be the involvement of SCE Bend Studio… the studio that… in 1996… developed Bubsy 3D… now, then again, this was before they were bought by Sony, so who knows. Either way, Golden Abyss is still good. It has good gameplay and good ol' Uncharted level design. But sadly… it just doesn't live up to the past three Uncharted. But hey, at least it isn't Fight for Fortune…
Style over substance was key here for most reviews. Everyone was praising the cinematics and the story, especially the graphics, but there was minimal gameplay and not much to actually play. They are right, and it does annoy me more than 50% of the actual gameplay is simply quicktime events. However, Asura's Wrath makes up for a lot of this due to the sheer cinematic experience of the game… which I can argue is one of the BEST of this year. Say what you want about the gameplay, but give this game credit for actually making one hell of an awesome story, full of great characters and pacing that is near perfection. Asura, as a character, is fun to watch. He can get pretty fricken mad, but on the same time, you feel for his character through all of the tragedy he is going through. Asura is one of the eight Guardian Generals, and he has his wife killed, his daughter kidnapped, and he essentially is betrayed by his brethren demigods. The game is a great revenge story, with some great dialogue. But easily… the game's visuals are absolutely stunning. This is easily one of the most visually astonishing games of 2012. Sure, gameplay is lacking a little bit, but as a whole, Asura's Wrath is a badass journey that is deserved to be played by everyone. Definitely one of the better Capcom decisions for 2012.
As I previously said, sports game are not my forte. I doubt they ever will be my forte. But, in my opinion, one of the keys to gaming is to always keep an open mind. So, I was hearing some good things about the new SSX game. So, I decided to mooch off of some friends to try it out. And… it's actually pretty damn cool. I've played winter sports games before, so I know the whole thing about tricks and rails and all that. SSX does a very good job of keeping you interested throughout gameplay. As you slide down rails, do some slick flips and kicks, and gain speed, there's never a time where you start to get bored. Even when you are slowing down, you always need to be thinking and you always need to plan everything ahead. Outside of the main gameplay, there's the story, which doesn't shine, but is there nonetheless. The story centers around a 9 player winter sports team who want to do take on some dangerous stunts. It's pretty much them against others. Will they win it first? Who knows… yeah, I know you know. Anyway, besides World Tour Mode, there's the free play mode, which I found very enjoyable. It allows you to take in the sights and play at your leisure, which is always fun. Plus, with a shop to purchase various upgrades, SSX is essentially a perfectly packaged snowboarding game. It's a fun time, and I suggest you all try it out.
So… remember how I dislike the Vita? Well, I do. But, if there is one game I can easily recommend for the system (besides LittleBigPlanet), it is Escape Plan. From the creators of Fat Princess, one of my favorite indie games ever, Escape Plan stars Lil and Laarg, a duo of white-faced, black-clothed people who need to escape… now. To do so, they must make their way through several rooms with possible death at every corner. There is so much to love about this game. For one, the visual style is very unique. The black and white color palette allows for a lot of charm and interesting concepts brought into the art design. The gameplay as well is absolutely top notch. Puzzle games can be a lot of fun if some thought needs to be put into them, and Escape Plan masters this idea… strangely enough, using the Vita's controls. The touch screen is your best friend, as a path must be laid out so Lil and Laarg can follow it. However, you must tap various obstacles to get them out of the way so Lil and Laarg can stay safe. If even the smallest obstacle is in their way, the character will suffer a very hilarious death… usually involving blood. Black blood… yup. Sadly, Lil and Laarg aren't exactly the most speedy people. So, you are gonna have to do a lot to cater to them. No matter what level, Escape Plan truly keeps you on your toes thinking. The levels are fun, the controls work, and the entire look and feel of the game are top notch. It takes a while to get used to, but once you do, you'll realize why this is one of the most underrated games of the year.
PokePark 2: Wonders Beyond
This got… a sequel. It literally blows my mind. PokePark Wii was so boring and so below average, and yet it got a sequel. My god, these games don't even sell that well. Not many people buy them… and for good reason! PokePark 2 has a lazy plot, centering around Pikachu and Piplup finding a Wish Park. But when Reshiram and Zekrom tell of some dangerous events to come, Pikachu has to save the PokePark… woop de doo. She, it has absolutely no substance, and neither does the gameplay. The main game is repetitive to all hell. It feels like the same thing over and over, it's running around and doing stuff for people. It's fetch quest after race after game after quest… and it's aggravating. With the RPG series getting slightly stale to me, Pokemon doesn't have many other spin-offs that I can be proud of. Mystery Dungeon is very fun, Conquest is surprisingly deep, and even Rumble Blast, while repetitive, is fun with friends. PokePark just has nothing to fall back on. It's boring, it does nothing new, and it's just lazy. Sure, the graphics are all nice and cuddly. But this graphical style is NOTHING new for Pokemon. It's been used in Pokemon Battle Revolution… a 2007 game… there is no remorse. Don't buy this for your kids. It's one of those games that your kids will not spend more than one day on. Even when friends show up, it will STILL stay dormant. Stay away everyone… stay away.
I will admit, I didn't spend much of my time with Little Deviants. I was in a store, and I saw the Vita, and I spent about… 30 - 40 minutes playing it. But the time I spent on it was enough. Honestly, this showed me more and more reasons to highly dislike the Vita on an external design level. I just felt uncomfortable playing most of the mini-games. I just feel the motion controls don't work with the fact that Vita is a wider handheld. It's even worse when you look into how poorly designed the mini-games are, whether it's using the back touch pad or the camera or the AR functionality. The mini-games are boring, and it doesn't take long for you to get bored. The mini-games aren't creative that much, and we've seen them before. Funny enough, it will actually remind you A LOT of what the 3DS was doing with some of the launch stuff like Face Raiders and AR Games. I don't hate the game, and I was really hoping this game would be more than just a mini-game collection… but sadly, it stumbles and falls. It just needs to get some more creative ideas, and then maybe it can stand a chance. The game is only $30, but even that price seems a bit steep for a mini-game collection tech demo. Could Little Deviants 2 work? I guess, but the mini-games need to be fun. There needs to be more as well, and some replay value would also be appreciated. For now, don't pay for the game, but if you want to try out the back touch pad (which, while a bit odd to use and cumbersome, is very creative and is used to its full use) then try this game. It's alright…
Resident Evil: Revelations
Resident Evil has had some great games. It also has some failures. Resident Evil 4 is a fantastic Wii game with great controls. The original Resident Evil is a weirdly angled, kinda creepy, and at times unplayable game. So, when I heard about a Resident Evil game on the 3DS… I was slightly worried. Honestly, I was very worried to say the least. But then, I heard some fantastic things from it. A 39 out of 40 on Famitsu? A 9 out 10 on Game Informer? An 8.5 out of 10 on IGN? Wow… I was legitimately surprised at such a strong critical response. When I did some research, the game began looking better and better. It actually focuses on survival horror, with some truly suspenseful moments. It looked to give some scares, it looked to have a plot you'd actually want to follow, and more. Sadly, due to my lack of funds at the time, I wasn't able to try the game out at all. People were saying it was good, but I guess it was one of those times where I was stupid and didn't listen to anyone. Aw well, can't play 'em all. I'm going to try to hit this game up next year, so we'll see. Either way, it looks very good. I suggest trying it if you have the opportunity. But don't ask about the Circle Pad Pro thing. I haven't even touched one let alone used one for gameplay purposes. It's just… another analog stick… woo.
Rhythm Heaven Fever
It's not surprising that I, at first, attempted to avoid a rhythm game. Rhythm games are not my forte, and there aren't many that impress me honestly. Games like Rock Band, Guitar Hero, Rhythm Thief, etc. just don't mesh with me. Theatrhythm came the closest considering it was Final Fantasy music, but back on topic. Rhythm Heaven Fever wasn't looking good. And even now I can't say I know it would be worth the money. After watching gameplay, it looks interesting, and some of the concepts in there do work. I like the cartoony look of the game, it's cute and all. But I am not going to regret buying it. I don't know if it's worth this kind of money. So, I can't lie and say it doesn't appeal to me at all. Even some of the music is kinda cool. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not a big fan of cutesy yet upbeat Japanese-sounding music. However, it wasn't retched. It wasn't low on a dubstep level or anything. It was ok. The lyrics kinda annoy me, but the orchestration itself is fine. Now, the main thing I am questioning is how much depth the game has. It just looks to be levels after levels with no continuous narrative, or any other modes. Who knows, I may be wrong… I probably am wrong. But hey, here's to learning more in the future.
What the hell is this game? I heard about this from ScrewAttack, and I was interested, get this, simply by the look of the main character and the name. Literally, that is how easily I can persuaded to look something up. No, I'm not joking. Stop laughing, and keep reading. So, after I looked up the game, I got even more invested. So, that weird alien dude is named "Zero", and he wakes up in a facility where they begin to do surgery on him. But once he hears of other aliens trapped in the facility, he decides to escape using his stealthy skills. I think. So, the game's main mechanic is that you can warp around the levels. You get to warp father distances the more levels you beat, and you can do this in open space and through various objects. You even frag them, which pretty much means you cause them to explode. You also must avoid guards and scientists in the facility by hacking alarms and hiding behind things. The game looks to add more and more stuff as the game goes on, which is always great. It kinda reminds me of, and hear me out, The Adventures of Lolo. Both games have you making your way through puzzles, avoiding enemies and stuff. The games have differences I'm sure, but hey, just a comparison. I doubt I'll find the opportunity to play the game anytime soon, but we'll see what I can muster up.
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games
I was one of the only… ONLY people who enjoyed their time with the first two Mario and Sonic games. I felt the first Olympic Games game had flaws, but was overall an enjoyable experience. Sure, it was a motion control clusterf*ck, but I think it was fine. The second entry in the franchise, Winter Olympic Games, was actually better to me. It had more minigames, much more variety with music and stages, more characters, customizable gear, costumes, and just a lot more content. I didn't expect there to be another entry, but it looks like the London Olympic Games would be the third entry. I personally decided to step out on this one. Why? Well for a few reasons. First off, I found it unnecessary to keep the Olympic Games series going. The two games weren't successful on a critical standpoint, and it did average in sales. I personally wanted SEGA and Nintendo to venture out a bit and make a true Mario and Sonic adventure game. That would be a dream come true for me. Maybe even a fighting game! But another sports game just wasn't the answer. I also heard from someone who shares the same previous opinions as me that the game is disappointing and not as good as either of the first two games. Those are not kind words, even said by people who kinda liked the original games. So, sorry SEGA and Nintendo, I'm not in for a third round, but I recommend checking out this game if you like the Olympic Game series. I did, but the love… has kinda… left. Aw well.
Once again… it's just… that month. It's March. It's spring time! Which means we all anticipate Spring Break, and we get to see some pretty flowers… before April ruins it with the rain. Hopefully this month has some goodies.
The Simpsons: Tapped Out
As you probably already know, the mobile gaming world isn't exactly taken seriously by many gamers. This is usually because casual games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope are the most successful, while more hardcore games never get enough attention. And even though games like Street Fighter or The Walking Dead are put on mobile devices, barely any sales come from those, or at least not a truly substantial amount. Thankfully, EA still isn't letting this get them down, as they released The Simpsons: Tapped Out. It was essentially a game like The Sims, if it was based entirely around the world of The Simpsons. Thanks to Homer, a nuclear lab accident blows up Springfield, and you have to rebuild it. You get to build famous locals from the show, have various characters do deeds, etc. Sadly, during the first few weeks of the game's lifespan, there were so many people playing the game, that I couldn't get onto the servers… yeah, the game requires an internet connection to play. That's the only downside. However, most of the game is well done. The graphics are nice and colorful, and the gameplay never becomes to daunting. It gives you many chances to take a break and come back to it the next day, which I always appreciate in mobile games like this. I suggest trying the game out if you like The Simpsons. There's enough humor in there to make it last. It's definitely a good mobile game, that's for sure.
Street Fighter X Tekken
It's too bad that this game got looked at with spite due to its DLC issues with Capcom. Honestly, I feel this game got a bad wrap simply due to the fact that it got into a bunch of controversy over its on disc DLC. Oh Capcom… Anyway, I love the Street Fighter series, and most of the time, Tekken is a solid fighter as well. So, when I heard the two were coming together to make a single crossover, I was very excited. They are both decent franchises, so if the studios put their minds together, they can surely come up with something of quality. Sure enough, the game did win me over with the fighting. Say what you want about Capcom, but when it comes to straight up fighting, they deliver. The cast of characters is also excellent, bringing a ton of great characters from both sides into the mix. Yes, I do agree that plenty of notable additions are missing, but the cast of characters is solid. Sure, the story mode is lazy, and there could've been a bit more bulk to it. But the way I see it is like this: I play a fighting game for fighting gameplay, and even if the modes aren't too exciting, if the fighting is good, I am content with it. It's fluid, it's fun, it's Capcom's mastery. Even with all of the crap Capcom has gone through, they deserve credit where credit is due, and Street Fighter X Tekken has good fighting. Sure, it isn't as original or exciting as some other fighters out there, but it has some god fighting, and it's worth playing simply for that.
Kid Icarus: Uprising
Words cannot express how happy I was to see Pit back with us again for a whole new adventure. Kid Icarus is one of the best NES games out there in my honest opinion, so seeing another game in the series gave me a smile. Then, I got a little discouraged when I saw some reviewers give the game a less than average score. But, I knew a game needed to be experienced first hand. So, I borrowed a copy from a friend and I tried out the game, and I was mostly pleased. The game centers around Pit being asked by Palutena, goddess of light, to destroy Medusa, goddess of darkness. Simple plot guys. As for the gameplay, I'm not gonna say that this format should be stuck to, but I will say that it mostly works. The mechanic where they incorporated the two touch screens to work together was alright, and it definitely offered a different gameplay experience than what I was used to. Not many games on the DS lineup use that type of system. People have been comparing this to Sin and Punishment, and I can easily see this. The stuff going on up on the top screen reminded me A LOT of Star Successor. The way the camera moved, the way Pit ran, the way you attacked enemies, etc. It all felt familiar, yet new. Now, the game has faults, such as a wonky camera, and several ground elements of gameplay that were cumbersome. As I said, the gameplay style was… different, so it took getting used to, and the weird angles and decisions made with the ground gameplay didn't help the transition. But the aerial gameplay is easily the strong suit here, and the boss battles can actually be a lot of fun. I'm not gonna 100% recommend this game, but if you liked Sin and Punishment, this is definitely your cup a' tea.
Oh boy… where to even begin. Sorry to spoil, but this is most likely my game of the year. Yup. An indie game is my game of the year. It seems surprisingly, but I swear, just play Journey. If you've played Journey, you'll know exactly what I mean. There's a difference between playing a video game, and playing Journey. There's no other game like it. Basically, you are this robed figure who must make its way to the mountain ahead of you. The thing that makes Journey special is that it has no spoken word. At all. Besides for some words on the screen occasionally, words are not spoken. You don't get much guidance either. The game is just you, and the world Thatgamecompany has put you in. But what must you do in the game? Well, you get this scarf, and you have to get pieces of it to make it bigger. This will allow you to fly longer and longer depending on the length of the scarf. Yes, flying is a key part of the game, as it allows you to access places you couldn't normally. Back to what makes this game amazingly amazing: the environment is so beautiful and the soundtrack is also beautiful. It sends chills down my spine. But just the sheer playing of the game is like going into this new world. You are in the game. Sure, you are seeing a robed figure, but everything happening feels so direct. You feel the emotion, and this is mainly because the game allows you to feel whatever emotion you feel is necessary. There is never a time where you can tell what the character is feeling. It's all you. If you haven't played Journey… you are doing yourself more than a "disservice". You are causing your life to have a big, empty, gaping hole. Go fill it, and play Journey. Do yourself the necessary favor.
Mass Effect 3
Blah blah blah, the ending sucked, blah blah blah, should've been more fleshed out, blah blah blah. OK, that's out of the way now, let's talk legitimately why Mass Effect 3 is an enjoyable game. For one, I personally feel the combat has hit its peak. The first two Mass Effect games continuously built upon the combat and made it better and better. But in Mass Effect 3, I definitely thought that they perfected it as much as they possibly could. ME3 is also enjoyable because the story is still very compelling. Mass Effect's characters are actually pretty great personalities. This entire saga of trying to stop the Reapers and put an end to their constant attacks has been quite the journey, but yet talking to these characters and having relationships with them seems to never get old. The dialogue is so good, the comedy is very funny, and the drama feels real and intense. And yes… even though the ending made this pretty much useless, the idea of constantly being able to change your journey via conversations has always hooked me. Even if BioWare ruined it for themselves, by themselves, they still were the ones who perfected it. So give them credit for that. The environments and graphics are still up to snuff, as usual, and most of the game keeps a steady frame rate. OK, let me address the elephant here. Just because the ending was disappointing, that does not mean ME3 is a bad game. I hate the people who haven't given the game the time of day simply because of the ending. There's plenty to love here, so give the game credit where it shines. Because it does shine in many aspects.
One day, I was rummaging around the community blogs on ScrewAttack, and I found that a new installment of one of my favorite g1 community series, Indie Shack, had been posted by LousyTactician. He's a good writer, so I decided to check it out. One of the games he discussed was Dungeon Defenders. Since I trust his opinion, I asked my friend to try it out, and he enjoyed it as well. So, I went to my buddies' house and decided to try it for myself FINALLY. As it turns out… the game ROCKS. This is an action tower defense game where you try to defend a castle (derrrrrrrr) by placing various defense devices like traps and little mini-projectile shooters. But what makes Dungeon Defenders really epic is that you can get into the action yourself in real time. Whether you wanna be a huntress, a monk, a squire, or an apprentice, you can hunt your way and lay the smack down on some enemy ass. And the game is bursting with stuff that enhances the gameplay experience. You can have the cutest little pets to help you out in gameplay, and both you and the pets can be leveled up. You can make yourself stronger, make your equipment more kick-ass, and even upgrade regular skills. There's a ton of different enemies to learn about, and the bosses are creatively designed and creatively incorporated into gameplay. The environments are so epic and majestic, with a ton of variety. Ya know… that's the key word. Not many games have this much variety in gameplay. It may surprise you an indie game is the game of variation, but this has been a good year for them. Maybe this is why I love tower defense games so much. There's a ton of variety and towers to choose from and classes to be. Dungeon Defenders embodies this 100%. That's why I recommend it. Also… the graphics are pretty.
Mario Party 9
Oh man… this may be coming off a little harsh. Look, I love the Mario Party franchise. Those are some of my favorite games to play with friends. The mini-games, the hilarious moments where you screw over your friends, the items, and a ton of other stuff. It's a ton of fun, and I have plenty of great memories about it. So you could imagine my dismay when I learned Hudson Soft, the ones partly responsible for the epic fun Mario Party offers, I was incredibly disappointed. I considered the franchise done. But of course, Nintendo isn't willing to let a nice concept finish itself up. So, they made a new Mario Party. So why is it one of my least favorite games of the year? Because apparently "NDcube" (which apparently consists of Hudson Soft's president and many workers) thought it would be smart to take what made Mario Party so much fun, and crush it to oblivion. Things as simple as collecting stars, boards having no consistent length, it being every man for itself, and so many other things got cut. It amazes me Nintendo would take this many risks this late in a franchise's history. Why take what made Mario Party good and squander it? Sure, maybe there's some new strategy added, but it's not substantial enough. And what did they keep? The luck based mini-games! Yup, there's more of 'em than ever, and let's not forget how forgettable the mini-games are. I just don't get it. Nothing about these changes make sense. I mean, I get that after eight installments, some changes needed to be made… but not like this man. NOT. LIKE. THIS. Honestly, no question about it, THIS is my least favorite Mario Party. Hands. Down.
Silent Hill: Downpour
I was not expecting much of this game honestly. My hopes were always low. The Silent Hill series hasn't really been my favorite survival horror series ever, but at least it had Silent Hill 2, which is a very good game indeed. But with all of the less than average games they've been making, like Homecoming, Shattered Memories, and Origins. They weren't awful, but they don't compare to the first few. But Downpour is just… not very good. I mean… it isn't god awful, and not one of truly worst of the year… but it isn't a fun experience at all. It comes to everything just being lackluster, boring, and at times, kinda uncomfortable. The graphics are murky and depressing, and not only by design. The frame rate at times can be really annoying, and the grays and blacks and browns get old way to quickly. The gameplay gets kinda repetitive honestly. After so many years of Silent Hill gameplay feeling so similar, it gets tiresome to always fend yourself off and just walk around. This game showed me that Silent Hill needs a change, and fast. I'm just tired of this gameplay. It's old. It's boring. It's tired. I just wish that Silent Hill would try change it up a bit. Downpour is the same ol' murky, dark, depressing, tired story I'm used to with the franchise. I remember the trey shivers I got when I played the first few Silent Hill. Those were some spine-chilling games man. For Silent Hill to be successful, they need to compete and bring something new to the table. If they don't do it soon… they are just going to be forgotten. And it's depressing too, but it's jus the honest truth. Let's hope Silent Hill releases a much better game soon… because Downpour wasn't it… and neither was Book of Memories… *sigh*
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
So, ya know how some people are constantly complaining than Resident Evil is becoming too much of an action franchise? Well, in my honest opinion, Raccoon City is a prime example of why this is. And don't get me wrong, I am not truly complaining. I think this game has some parts of it that work. But I didn't feel like I was playing a true Resident Evil game. I felt like I was just playing a generic action game. An, at times fun, yet generic average action shooter. The game never truly makes its mark and made me feel like I was playing a new game. It felt like I had played this game already. When I play a Resident Evil game, I want to be legitimately scared and frightened. And yeah, sometimes the zombies freaked me out, but I mean I wanted it to scare me internally. The older Resident Evils were truly scary. They had gripping stories, lots of survival horror suspense, and a ton of scream-worthy moments. Don't forget some pretty awesome characters and some epic graphics. I mean, have you played Resident Evil 4? My god… it was so good. But Operation Raccoon City… had nothing I could try enjoy. The story was kinda confusing to me, and I could never care about too consistently. Nothing about the gameplay felt new, and it all felt recycled. None of the characters were interesting, and the multiplayer was the only good thing about it. Why? Cause Leon and Chris were there. Bam. Was anyone else disappointed they weren't too involved? Now, I know I kinda repeating myself after Downpour, but I was just not feeling it with these franchises. Of course, later in the year, Resident Evil would release another game. And unlike Silent Hill… it redeemed itself.
Every console has those first party games that everyone wants. Mario Kart 7, Professor Layton, Kingdom Hearts, and the list goes on. But then, there are also those smaller games that show some true potential. But nobody notices them because they aren't made by famous developers or they don't get commercial budgets. There are quite a few of these games on the 3DS. This includes Cube Ninja, Ketzal's Corridors, Pushmo, and Crush 3D. I saw some gameplay videos for Crush 3D, and it looked actually good… the weirdest part is that the "3D" implied it was a remake. Crush was a game from 2007 on the PSP. But it looks like a new generation needs to be introduced to… a game as good as Crush? Crush 3D is a puzzle game that essentially has you as Danny. Is the 3DS version, Danny is the test subject for Doctor Doccerson. But soon he gets trapped in the mind of "C.R.U.S.H." and must escape. If you like games like Fez or Super Paper Mario, this game does the exact same thing. It forces you to change perspectives from 2D to 3D to solve various puzzles. You can turn the camera around you to see the level in new ways, and you can have a bird's-eyed view as well. But here's the catch, whenever you need to, Danny can use the titular "crush" ability to crush his environment down to a 2D perspective. Whether in 2D or 3D, changing perspectives is key to getting collectibles and completing levels. Why did I not get this game? Well, a few reasons. For one, money. That is kinda self-evident. The second is that my heart was kinda… set on… well… Paper Mario: Sticker Star. We'll get to why that game is SO FRICKEN AWESOME later in this series of blogs. But, I was saving up a lot of money. And even though I actually do have some money on me right now, I wanna save that for things like movies, and surprise awesome games. So for now, Crush 3D, we must stay apart. But hopefully not for long.
Games Worth Mentioning
Run Roo Run
Final Fantasy XIII-2
The Darkness II
Jak and Daxter Collection
BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend
Tekken 3D: Prime Edition
Touch My Katamari
Angry Birds Space
Rayman 3 HD
Total War 2: Shogun 2 - Fall of the Samurai
Silent Hill HD Collection
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2
Shoot Many Robots
I Am Alive
*gasps for breath* GOD... DAMN that was a lot of pictures... phew...
Well friends, that does it for Part 1 of this yearly retrospective. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we go through Q2 of the year. It's only gonna get better and better… and at times… worse and worse. There's three more parts to go, so all aboard the Year-End Train! CHOO-CHOO!
- Larry :)
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