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Posted by DarkFury

With one more week until the end of the year, I've still got quite a few games to get through. Here's my penultimate post, featuring the games I've played enough that are worthy of the spotlight.


Mass Effect 3

  • Released: March
  • Giant Bomb Score: 4/5
  • My Score: 5/5
  • Quick Look

Mass Effect 3 is quite an achievement. An end to a sci-fi trilogy is a huge challenge, especially when the series has been about player choice. At some point I have to sit back and commend Bioware for wrapping it up, despite my misgivings about the way it was handled. It´s here where I remind myself that what I love of the game isn´t anything to do with the ending, but with the journey there. Meeting up with characters from the first and second games, Exploring new locations and engaging in much more chaotic and climactic battles than in series past.

The combat and general gameplay mechanics are also improved, though I did feel that the framework in use since the original gets stretched uncomfortably at several points. Multiplayer was an entertaining diversion though nothing incredible. I think its impressive that the game held together as well as it did, against the odds.

Max Payne 3

  • Released: May
  • Giant Bomb Score: 4/5
  • My Score: 5/5
  • Quick Look

Max Payne 3 hosted the lion´s share of my favourite gaming moments this year. I was so exciting about getting to continue Max´s story, and when it arrived I found in it everything I had hoped for. The upgrade to the physics engine and masterful animation system made diving about so very exhilarating, and coupled with the solid cover mechanic it made Max manoeuvrable despite his heavier frame, a necessity given the increase in difficulty in this third outing. I found that difficulty to be very well balanced and a fun challenge - enough that it was the only game of the year that I played through for a second time on a higher difficulty level.

I loved the story and the variety in locations, I thought the colour separation-style to the cutscenes fit really well, and thought the voiceover from Max throughout gave the experience an extra dimension. The atmosphere throughout is thick, the mood is perfectly pitched and everything is so damn cool. The soundtrack by HEALTH is a masterpiece.

I found myself hooked on the multiplayer too, and sunk over a hundred hours into it, maxing out my level and prestiging to go around again. In its heyday around time of release, it was brilliant with enough players to keep full sessions going for long sessions played into the night. The DLC is still being trickled out to this day, and with double and triple XP weekends coming around at a regular pace, there are usually just enough people online at any time to get a good hour or two in. Max Payne 3 is the complete package for me this year, and hit all the high notes.

Halo 4

  • Released: November
  • Giant Bomb Score: 4/5
  • My Score: 5/5
  • Quick Look

I´m in deep with the Halo saga. More than 10 books deep. All the games deep. Hundreds of Halo 2 online and clan match gaming deep. Halo 4 is my jam, and I´m really happy with how it turned out in the hands of the guys at 343 Industries. They made one the best Halo campaigns in the series, which takes the story to some interesting places and keeps the 30-second gameplay loop working its magic even with new enemies and weapons in play. I think the main complaints I have are with the lack of freshness on display - those new elements are very similar to what is already available - and with the lack of explanation around the Didact, a new antagonist for the series that is given no real introduction, as if everything should already know who he is. This is coming from someone half-way through a trilogy of books solely based on the Didact and the life and times around which he rose to power.I will let them off under the expectation that the go all out for Halo 5.

For the multiplayer, 343 seem to have learnt from the competition and modernised the game, for the better. Spartan Ops is also a grand idea (episodic multiplayer story with cutscenes, set after the campaign´s conclusion), and I really want to jump back in in the new year. Oh, and for crazy multiplayer shenanigans, Halo is still the place to be. Evidence can be found in the Community Nights hosted by us around the game´s launch.


I loved Spelunky because every attempt through the randomly generated cave system was a new adventure that taught me new lessons that I could put into practice straight away. Encounters with new enemies would prepare you for future match ups, breaking your neck from a fall too far would teach you your characters limits for next time. The game is ruthless but not unfair in a way that will turn you off. You need to be cautious but also have the skills to react at a moment's notice. The feeling of progress and personal development will keep you playing, and you'll live for the runs that have you survive for entire worlds, riding on some crazy adrenaline high that sees you beat the odds and make it through.

The Witcher 2

  • Released: April (on Xbox 360)
  • My Score: 5/5
  • Quick Look

The Witcher 2 starts off as the best RPG I´ve every played. The world and in-fiction is dense and impressive, the combat mechanics are unique and tactile, and the game looks gorgeous. It is however a shame that I felt the game had hit its high mark around half way through, and never reached that same height for the rest of the game. Things got slower, the story started to drag and my interest waned. However, I have fond memories of some of the earlier moments and characters that I still recommend it to anyone, even those, like myself, who would normally be intimidated by a straight-faced RPG. Well done, Poland.

Alan Wake's American Nightmare

  • Released: February
  • Giant Bomb Score: 3/5
  • My Score: 5/5
  • Quick Look

An atmospheric trip through Alan Wake´s mind, borrowing gameplay mechanics, characters and quirky Remedy humour from the 2010 game and using it in a very unique fashion. The game´s 3 locations are visited several times as Alan picks up more manuscript pages and his story starts coming together. Not everyone appreciated this and felt like it was lazy design, but I thought it was very well done, and gave me more of what I wanted - more Remedy, more creepy Alan Wake atmosphere and more Poets of the Fall.One of the best XBLA titles of the year.

Current List

1Max Payne 3NEW
2Far Cry 3vv (WEEK 5)
3Journeyvv (WEEK 2)
4Halo 4NEW
5Forza Horizonvv (WEEK 3)
6Hotline Miamivv (WEEK 1)
7Dishonoredvv (WEEK 1)
8Fezvv (WEEK 3)
9The Walking Deadvv (WEEK 5)
10Mass Effect 3NEW

Max Payne 3 takes the crown, Halo 4 slots into 4th and Mass Effect 3 takes number 10. Spelunky, The Witcher 2 and Alan Wake´s American Nightmare do not place.

This isn´t the final placing, I still need to spend some more time deliberating and also have a short stack of other games to spotlight at the end of the week.