First of all, I want to thank everyone who read through the general comments yesterday, and especially those who commented. Lets me know my long ramblings are actually worth reading! In all seriousness though, as promised, here are my top ten games of the year, presented in descending order (10 to 1, in other words), and with commentary (though maybe a little less for some of the top games, because I've already said a lot of things about them yesterday).
Oh, and to keep things classy, I'm using Roman Numerals. Why? CLASS!
X. LittleBigPlanet 2
The original LittleBigPlanet stood out to me as a game that dared to do something different: Be a family friendly platformer not based on a super old franchise, but also have an insane amount of customization in user created levels. Then MediaMolecule went and made the customization stuff even crazier, and vastly improved on the story mode likable characters, voice acting beyond Stephen Fry (who, by the way, is still phenomenal as the narrator), and more creative level design. And the game is a blast to play with friends, even if then it becomes as competitive as it is cooperative.
IX. Shadows of the Damned
Even if Shadows of the Damned was a bad game, it would probably have made this list by virtue of the fact that I love all of Suda 51's games, no matter how bad they are. But whether it was because Suda received a head injury and decided to allocate more resources to the gameplay, or if Shinji Mikami (another madmen whose games I love) was the driving force, but the game is pretty fun. The controls felt great (though a bit float-y with the aiming), the art design was fantastic, the voice acting was constantly spot on (and crazy), and, most importantly, the game has constant, amazing colored lighting. Okay, that's a joke, but the game is goofy enough that it works. I mean, there are parts where you need to follow a glowing fish that crawls along the ground because it has a light sticking off of it. Also, that isn't in the water.
VIII. Mortal Kombat
I've always liked fighting games, but the thing that kept me koming back to games like the Super Smash Bros. series or Soul Calibur was being able to play with friends. The thing I love about Mortal Kombat is the story mode. Voice acting, kutscenes, and the fact that it's a coherent thing that links together three old games, and explains how this alternate story exists alongside the story of the original Mortal Kombat series in a way that reminds me of the Star Trek reboot is amazing (also, anything that reminds me of that Star Trek movie is a good thing). And, to klarify, the game part of Mortal Kombat is great too. Yes, the story mode gets frustrating at times, but there isn't any other way to do boss fights in a "traditional" fighting game without turning it into Smash Bros. (though to be klear, I really like the boss fights in Brawl, and I would like to see some sort of MK vs. Nintendo or Nintendo vs. MK that played like Smash Bros., but I'm getting off topic).
VII. LA Noire
LA Noire was a...mixed experience for me. I absolutely loved the game through the Homicide Desk (especially the twist at the end, which I never saw coming), but kinda fell off in Vice Desk, and started to realize how thin the game-play is in the clue finding sections, and completely stopped caring after a plot twist that seemed completely out of left field. But I couldn't let the final few hours ruin the first 2/3 of the game, which I absolutely loved, so the game winds up at Number VII on my list. Also, that facial animation is unbelievable. I was skeptical before the game's release, but it blew me away. There was a moment where I knew a guy was lying not because I had any evidence or anything, but because he had shifty eyes. NEVER TRUST THE SHIFTY EYES!
VI. Yakuza 4
The fact that Sega keeps bringing the Yakuza games to the US is crazy. They don't sell well, and they're kinda messed up and backwards in some ways. But man, if you like the stories in those games, this is a damn good one. One of the things I loved most about was that it didn't have one solid protagonist like the other games, it had four. It's tough to make one likable protagonist, but they had four (three of which are some of my favorite game protagonists in all games). But as much as I liked the game, some things like inconsistent voice acting, by which I mean there are broad swaths of the game that just don't have voice acting (and not just side stuff, a lot of story stuff, including a lot of times where it goes to cutscene, changes to not voiced, then back to cutscene, which makes ZERO sense), but I still loved it, and put in about 60 hours in my quest to do all of its side quests (which I did, even the secret final boss(es)).
V. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
My expectations for this game were all over the place. The pre-rendered trailers Square Enix put out looked so good that I thought the game would have to be bad, but then I watched a lengthy game-play video online and thought it looked awesome. But then word out of places like E3 was negative, so my expectations were lowered, but then it came out, and it was awesome. It's easily the best stealth RPG out there. Okay, so the only other stealth RPG I can think of is Alpha Protocol, and the game part of Alpha Protocol is pretty bad, but you get what I mean. I love RPGs, and I love stealth games, and I was blown away that the game managed to blend the two together as well as it did. Yes, the story stuff isn't as good as it probably could have been, and some of the voice acting is kinda goofy (though goofy in a way I like), but in the end, it's just fun to play. And it allows for no kill play-throughs, which is something I love. I absolutely love it.
IV. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim! Man, what a big game. I've put around 40 hours into this game (so before when the PS3 problems supposedly set in, again, shut up, I bought and opened it before that stuff became known, but then decided to not play for a month, SHUT UP), yet I feel both like I'm still only scratching the surface (well, I've dug in a foot or so), and like I've seen all this game has in terms of variety. I love the world, and the incredible vastness and breadth of things to do. But on the other hand, the fact that every quest seems to involve entering a building/cave and killing stuff, and the fact that the same ten voice actors appear again and again and again is disappointing. The core combat is definitely fun, but not really great compared to smaller games that focus on it more. And it kinda feels like more Fallout, and between Fallout 3 and New Vegas, I've played over 260 hours of Fallout, so Skyrim feels pretty "been there, done that," just without the goofy post-apocalyptic-retro-sci-fi-world, and without a radio station to listen to constantly (because that's how I played those games).
I know that sounds fairly negative, but I still love the game, despite those problems, and the game's technical problems (again, SHUT UP, I don't want to see anything about the PS3 version not being the version to play in the comments, I'm not there yet, let me have hope for the next 10 hours of playing, especially since another patch is coming soon). This game may not be at the top of my list, but it's the one I would recommend to everyone because there's so much to do, and such variety in how to play. I play dual wielding melee weapons and magic, but it's totally possible to be a stealthy backstabber.
III. Batman: Arkham City
BATMAN. Seriously, I'm not really sure if I can say anything else insightful at this point. I could tell the story about how at one point I thought the game was going to end with Batman beating up aliens on a spaceship based on one line of dialog a character says at one point, but that's really more a story of disappointment at my insane ideas not being what happens in the game, than a description of why this is my third favorite game of the year. Or maybe that's why it's my third favorite. Things like that and "Protocol 10" weren't as crazy or ridiculous as my theories were, so the ending hour-ish of the game was not my favorite part of the game, so it ended on a down note (also, the ending is...sad? So that didn't help). Still an amazing game that all Bat-fans must play if they haven't yet.
II. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
I loved Uncharted 1. I really loved Uncharted 2. I think Uncharted 3 is one of the best games ever made. Like I said before, the game is practically flawless. I know a lot of people didn't like it as much as Uncharted 2, but I disagree. If for no other reason, I think it's because this one has the best ratio of combat to non-combat of the Uncharted games. It takes about forty minutes before you get a gun, and another ten or so before you actually get to shoot people. Okay, I didn't actually time it, so I can't say for sure, but still. It takes a lot of guts to do that in a series that is known for having a lot of shooting. But it works, partly because, at least for the first half of the game, it feels more grounded in reality than ever before. When you watch something like Indiana Jones, sure, he kills some guys, but not the hundreds that Drake kills by the end of one of these games. Having a lengthy section where the only combat is melee combat with thugs being knocked out felt more...well, real. More like some Indy would have done. Or Nolan North. I bet he can take a punch.
I. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
I didn't know what to expect in this game. It was getting some crazy good reviews, but there were other websites (cough, Giant Bomb, cough) that were practically ignoring it. Okay, I'm being rough, and shouldn't harp on GB, but I love this game. It's just fun to play. The dungeon design is some of the best in the series, the art design is good enough to make me not care that it's running on what is effectively ten year old software. And I can't stress enough how good the motion controls are. Not because they are necessarily the best or most precise motion controls ever put in a game, but because it was fun, and there were lots of moments where I had to stop and carefully think out how I had to tackle an enemy, and how to move my arm.
So, while Skyward Sword isn't my favorite Zelda game of all time (that still goes Twilight Princess, yes, Twilight Princess), but Skyward Sword is my game of the year. Playing it reminded me of the game of my youth that were about puzzles and exploring. It was a narrow victory for Skyward Sword, because I really loved Uncharted 3, and almost gave it to that, but man, those dungeons are astonishing.
It's fitting that the Wii was born with a fantastic Zelda game, and is now dying with a fantastic Zelda game. Not counting Xenoblade. That's not the game the Wii dies with, that's the game you hire a necromancer to raise your Wii from the dead in order to play (unless you're British and already played it).
So, there's the last of The Third Annual Moosies Game of the Year Awards. Was anyone surprised? I know I was. I almost put Deus Ex ahead of Skyrim, but then I played some more Skyrim. But now is not a time to think about the past, now is a time to look forward toward the future! I have some announcements to make about the rest of the year.
As you may remember, I had a bunch of game goals I set for myself last year. And now that the year is done, I'll be doing a write-up about how successful I was at these goals. I also have a pile of older games (all 2010 games, I think) that I recently bought for cheap, so when I get around to playing them, I'll write something about them, and I should have some good stuff. I mean, two of them I bought because Nolan North is in them (Singularity (though I think he dies early on) and Dark Void), and the other two are Bayonetta (360 version, because unlike Skyrim on PS3, the PS3 version's issues don't take 50 hours to become "unplayable") and Metroid: Other M, so expect strange thoughts from me on those strange games.
And there are a lot of really big releases this year. Darksiders II, Mass Effect 3, Witcher 2 (360), Yakuza Dead Souls, GTA V (maybe, they haven't put out a date yet), Max Payne 3, Borderlands 2, Prey 2, BioShock Infinite, Xenoblade Chronicles, and the game with the greatest title ever: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Hopefully I'll get around to playing most of these games, and write something about them. Or at least play them.
Beyond that, I have some big plans for this year, not necessarily in terms of gaming, but definitely things that I should be able to write about. Not anything I want to disclose now, because it could fail horribly and soul-crushingly, but big plans!