EDIT: Added in Portal 2 since the editor seems to be working. And this is the finalized version of my GOTY list!
The end of the year. The end of the crazy magnitude of high profile video game releases. The beginning, however, to happiness, joy, and eggnog. It is also to the beginning to the Game Of The Year discussions. As Spike TV will be rolling out it's Video Game Awards tonight, I thought it would be fitting if I would put together my own list, instead of giving out specific awards, it would mostly be aimed towards video games I have enjoyed throughout the year.
I saw a couple other topics on it, so I figured why not. A couple of days ago I began to hunt down video games I have played, the ones I liked, what I didn't, and my overall Game Of The Year. And after quite a bit of work, quite a bit of typing and some image hunting, this is what I have to show for it.
It would be great if someone could read through this and give me their opinions. So if you will allow me, let us get this show on the road.
For some reason I keep wanting to type this down as Portale 2. I don't know why.
Portal. A game that caught the world by surprise as being the pinnacle of innovation and in the process, being funny and witty and overall smart. It was unfortunate that I was never too interested in the first Portal, and when I did play it, I actually ended up not liking it. But I always knew what Portal was. It just never interested me much. Until Portal 2.
Portal 2 starts out being more or less the same, gameplay wise, and at the same time, it doesn't. It's an entirely new take on what the first game was and an incredible experience, crafted by minds smarter than you or I times a thousand. Portal 2 has charm in its very core.
It was such a unique game to me, as I've never experienced a puzzle that stumped me for twenty minutes until I screw around and do something right. "Oh, you mean all I had to do was pick up this block and aim the lazer that way?". It's funny to think that you can dramatically overthink the puzzles in this game as much as you can. Knowing what Portal was, and seeing enough about it online to see for myself what it was, I knew how crazy and complex it could be. So when I would run into rather simple filler-puzzles, I would never be able to look at them at their face value, instead offering a much more methodical and intense look at what the outcome COULD be.
It does exactly what it sets out to do, and it does it right, in fact, better than most other games. It's such a simple yet unique little game that is loaded with so much charm, so much style, and so much personality, that it makes me wonder just how much black magic Valve had to use to forge this thing into existence.
And then there's Wheatly. I've never seen such an enigmatic and hilarious video game character in my life. Being the central buddy in the game, it was almost like he was responsible for the game being great. Him, Cave Johnson and GlaDOS are the main storytellers in this game, as Chell is just an empty husk which allows you to use her as an avatar to experience this world, much like Gordon Freeman of Half-Life glory. The supporting cast makes this game what it is, by instilling such unique personalities into everything they do. GlaDOS with her insufferably dark, yet hilarious insults. Cave Johnson for being an intense man-of-men and for having the voice of a champion. And Wheatly for being such a fun character.
Portal 2 is much more of a minimalistic game than I was expecting, but that's no indication on quality or length, as it was actually a pretty long game. And in being so minimalistic, there's not much that I can even think to write about. It's a game that you have to play to believe.
It has, by far, the most personality out of any other game this year. And is one of the best, no less.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
I had never played a Deus Ex game before. Especially hearing bad things about the sequel turned me off completely. Like Mass Effect 2, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was it an an FPSRPG. And that was all I needed to be excited.
When I began the game, it was something very unreal to me... Mostly because it was pretty much a first person Metal Gear Solid. I had no idea if this is what the past Deus Ex games were like, but I was liking it so far.
The way the game presented the multiple paths to you were sometimes a problem; I wouldn't see a convenient manhole cover until I had already knocked out all of the sentries. That was an issue that happened to me all the time. As if the game were at one point supposed to tell you "HEY! HEY! OVER HERE!", but ended up not working properly. That was almost the entirety of my issue with the game, but other than that, I was pleasantly surprised.
The way the story plays out, you are just Adam Jensen. You were loving life one day, just having a ball with your girlfriend being a gravelly-voiced bodyguard. And then your life turns bad. Real bad. Your company gets raided by a group of Ghost In The Shell rejects, your girlfriend gets kidnapped and you get beat nearly to death, losing your arms, eyes, and almost your life. You're pissed. You're angry at the world and at yourself for letting this happen. You never asked for this. You never asked for anything. But here it is, in your face, and you have to deal with it.
But the game isn't about the first few hours into it, and cannot be summarized by what happens during those hours. It's later on down the line when you have to sneak into a police HD, it's when you're sneaking behind an army of thugs with nothing but a stun gun and your ability to sneakysnake around them.
This game can be summarized by one word: "Cool". This game is nothing but cool. Everything about it is just... Cool. The overall design is badass, the story, while pretty crazy at some points, is actually pretty good. The characters can be a little annoying(Adam in particular because he never asked for this), but they are pretty cool too, for the most part. But, in my opinion, what sets this game apart is the two directions you can take with it: Will you go in murderously gunsablazin, or non-lethally and stealthy? I feel it was exzecuted very well and it never really feels forced. There are some points in which you undoubtedly have to save and try again until you get it right, but that's just a part of the fun for me.
After 40 or so hours of the game and many a-sneakin', I was rather disappointed to see that I had killed three people by the end of it... Which was quite curious considering I never even used a single gun in the game, but it was still a pretty good game for me. It took the style and flare of the cyberpunk genre, introducing me to a series I had no idea about, and in the process being a pretty damn fun stealth-action RPG.
While not the best game ever made, it was certainly a game I'm glad I got the chance to finish. And certainly one of the best of the year.
Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception
I remember when Uncharted: Drakes Fortune came out. The game didn't interest me because I didn't know what to think of it. I wasn't quite sure what it was. I kept being told "YOU NEED THIS GAME" by almost everyone, but I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out why that game was so great. And it wasn't until Among Thieves was announced that I need Uncharted in my life. I had never been hyped up by a trailer more than the Among Thieves trailer, which resulted in my decision to obtain Drakes Fortune under any means necessary. And so I did. And I love it so.
Two games later, my love for Uncharted is even more than I anticipated. With a video game version of a younger and much more charming Indiana Jones, it was hard for me to find any reason to hate it. The series had introduced characters that were so real in everything they did(Aside from mass genocide) that it was hard for me to NOT like them, even Flynn, the jerk. When I got my hands on Uncharted 3, I didn't know what to expect. I knew it was going to be more than I could imagine, and so my hype had maxed out and exploded all over my wall. It was a messy scene.
As I play Uncharted 3, I get immersed in this world of such deep realism. An entirely fictional world deeply rooted in mystical treasure and the dark void of the unknown. It was this modern day treasure hunter Nathan Drake that I was attached to. Him, all of his cohorts and everyone involved. Such deep natured people in this completely fake video game. It's an incredible achievement that everyone talks about nonstop, but it's ever so present in Uncharted 3. Charlie Cutter being one of the best new characters from a video game since Wheatly. And they do a great job with these characters until about the half way mark of the game, where some of these characters are never heard from again. Disappointing in almost every way possible, yes, but from the first few minutes of this game, you see immoderately the direction this game is taking: The relationship between Drake and Sully.
It's pretty clear in the other games that Drake and Sully are the best of friends, but it isn't until Uncharted 3 that we get to see exactly what extent it was. And it was an amazing moment in the video game. Definitely one of the most heartwarming moments in any video game I had ever played before. It was this deep connection to Sully that you get to see, and even feel at times. It's these real characters, that you can feel for and care about, with an added layer of, well, love. As cheesy as it is, they definitely pull it off in such a fashion that left me almost in tears, and at the same time, completely crazed out in excitement that I got to see something like this happen. Long story short, it was a sweet addition that hit close to home.
The Uncharted series is one built on cinematic grounds. Everything about the game is something straight out of a blockbuster movie. Uncharted 2 had a lot of that going for it, and with the set pieces in Uncharted 3, I thought they were better than ever. At least two parts in this game have left me absolutely breathless. The graphics, soundtrack, personality of it all comes out in full force in some of the best scenes I have seen in a video game. And the coolest part is, they're all playable. Every one of them is a fully playable chaotic mess of fun and more fun. Whereas some games would do what this does in a cutscene, Drakes Deception is fully playable and totally crazy, in a good way.
It's easy to get angry at Uncharted 3 for not matching the levels of Uncharted 2, but the sad fact is, Uncharted 2 was almost a freak accident. They threw everything they had at it and it ended up being one of the most beloved video games of its time, and an instant classic to many. Uncharted 3, on the other hand, took those same levels of creativity and added more to them and made them bigger and crazier than anything from the second game. Maybe they didn't go far enough in one place, and maybe they went too far in another. But the point being, Uncharted fans are dedicated and want only the best that they can get. And it's easy to resonate with. And yes, while there are a couple of pretty big plot holes that they never really seemed to go ANYWHERE with, it's easier to think of those things as shoot-and-forget plot devices that maybe they were hoping people wouldn't focus to much on. That didn't work out as well, to a negative effect on the game, and we may never know just what they were thinking.
Whatever the case, I thought Uncharted 3 was easily one of the best games this year. You can't have what Uncharted has and not be the best. So yes, while Drakes Deception wasn't as good as Among Thieves, you might want to take a look at just how good Among Thieves was. You can't beat 100%, or so they say.
Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection
Metal Gear Solid games earn a lot of flak with each announcement, release, delay, etc. The story, too bananas for some people. The gameplay, too campy, not action enough. The cutscenes, too long. Growing up, I had never played the original Metal Gear Solid myself. I once saw a family member play it from beginning to the first Psycho Mantis encounter. Back when I was a kid, it was just a game to me. Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing I thought I'd ever be interested in. And years later, I played Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty. It changed my life.
Sure, it's pretty weird to say a video game changed my life. I won't deny it. Sure, I may seem obsessed with it at times, but when I was a stupid kid who did nothing but say "OH DUDE THAT'S GAY HAHA YOU'RE GAY I'M GAY THE WORLD'S GAY", it was almost a revelation. It made me look at things differently, for video games. It almost, dare I say, woke me up. I had this new found passion for stories and creating. From the day I experienced Sons Of Liberty until the day I beat it, I was lost in a world of vivid characters with a deep compelling story that would shame even Hollywood. The pinnacle of storytelling for video games and interactive entertainment. It was this rich world where everything had a reason for being. Nothing had a face value; there was a reason for everything.
And, suffice to say, I fell in love. With the characters, the story, the game, everything about it. It wasn't a game at that point, it was an experience to me. From that day forward, I knew that my place was in the creative department. I can't draw, I can't code, my mind would implode at the simple thought of what C++ is. My destiny was writing. I knew that one day, no matter what got in my way, I would do what my idol does: I would create. Hideo Kojima inspired me to want to write fiction. It was something I would have never found myself interested in had I not gotten my hands on Metal Gear Solid 2.
It makes me wonder what would have happened, had I not played Sons Of Liberty. Where would I be today? Surely I would have obtained this passion some other way, right? Who knows? The point being, Metal Gear Solid 2 had a major impact on my life, and made me put things in perspective for the first time.
And then Metal Gear Solid 3 game out. I remember going into Gamestop and getting Snake Eater and a strategy guide. I'm actually pretty sure it came with the guide somehow, because I've never found an interest in them. But anyway. For the next week, that game was my life. It didn't necessarily have as huge of an impact on me as Sons Of Liberty did, as I was already a somewhat mature individual who has at least SOME sense, but it was a fantastic experience and a master fictional craft that I will never forget about.
The characters, so complex and mysterious that I would WANT the game to explain them to me for hours on end. Gameplay so hell bent on hiding in plain site that you'd lay right next to an unaware enemy as the tension rises higher and higher until you feel like your heart is going to explode. A look at a fictional Cold War with fictional events that somehow manage to make room from the reality for it all to settle in.
It was a game, that, for a time, felt like it was designed just for me. I found it so perfect in every aspect that I just can never manage to forget it. It was a part of my life for a while and these games made impressions on me that I'll never let go.
The HD Collection also comes with the newest of the series; Peace Walker. Peace Walker is a weird game on many accounts. Going from full on stealth action and intense battles to micro-missions designed for co-op play. And the weirdest thing of all was the fact that it worked so beautifully. It felt exactly like a Metal Gear Solid game. Nothing was lost in translation from Portable Ops to Guns Of The Patriots to Peace Walker; but it had all of the best from both worlds.
The ability to capture and recruit soldiers to build your own army and staff it with crew ranging from Otacon's father to the "mentor" of Solid Snake himself. Peace Walker bridges somewhat of a gap between Big Boss as a soldier, and Big Boss as a mercenary and it's more than welcome.
From recruiting soldiers, to fighting crazy bosses, to saving the world as only Big Boss can, Peace Walker is a hoot. On the PSP, I put in over 135 hours and I'm catching up rapidly on the PS3, and it feels even better with dual-analog controls.
Peace Walker struck a cord with me when I began playing it. From the first mission to the ending, I was so into it that I couldn't believe it was actually a thing. They had managed to take Metal Gear Solid and turn it into a pseudo-RPG. While, yes, Portable Ops did do all of this years before, it was regarded as the black sheep of the MGS games. Even Peace Walker makes no reference to it. And by all accounts, Peace Walker does it better. Being able to create your own Metal Gear is an amazing feature and the level of customization, while relatively linear, is welcome in more ways than one as it adds some personality to the game.
Make no mistake: While I'm not sitting here talking about how Peace Walker changed my life or praising it as a masterpiece, it's an amazing game on all accounts and one of my favorites of the entire series, as it shows the birth of Big Boss and Outer Heaven.
An amazing collection with three amazing games. Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection, while consisting of games which game outer years and years ago, is still one of the best games I've played this year, and rightfully so
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 2. What can be said about Mass Effect 2 that hasn't already? Aside from making me feel like no other RPG has managed since Knights Of The Old Republic, Mass Effect 2 was one of the best games I have ever played. Ever. In my life.
Aside from managing to capture what I loved so dearly about Knights Of The Old Republic, I actually hadn't followed Bioware at all since getting older and growing into adulthood. I had no idea who they were as a company, or as creators. I had no idea what to expect. So when I played the 60 Minute Trial on the Playstation 3, I had only managed to procure a little sample of the game, but it told me everything I needed to know to get unbelievably hyped up for the title, which released a mere few days away.
When the game came out, it was like a match made in heaven. Everything that I loved about Knights Of The Old republic was coming back, allbeit in a less than KOTOR way, and instead more of a shooter than the traditional RPG combat found in Bioware games. It was the charm, the style, the setting, everything about the game was aesteticly pleasing. But, not just the asthetics. It was the gameplay, the decision making, the squad chatter, the way you upgrade the Normandy, gain party members and interact with them. I was blown away completely by what this game presented. I could not comprehend how I could resonate with a game so much. There was not a single thing that I had an issue with, combat, story, or mechanic wise. It was unrelenting bliss for me to play.
Mass Effect 2 launched for the Xbox 360 and the PC the year prior, so I had plenty of time to hear about it. How "amazing" it was. Truth be told, I really hated this game before I played it because no one would shut up about it. And when they announced it for the Playstation 3, it was even more annoying that I'd have to experience it all over again. I was so wrong about Mass Effect 2, and I couldn't have been happier about it.
Mass Effect introduced me to a series I had no pertaining interest in. It introduced me to Bioware for the first time in years and brought back a deep feeling of nostalgia. It gave me more entertainment in one month than many other games have given me in years. And aside from never playing too much of the first Mass Effect, it has definitely secured me firmly on board the Mass Effect fanboy train, whose next stop at Mass Effect 3 has me more giddy than I think I've ever been for a game.
But all games have to end sometime, and end it did. Once I was finished with the game, there was only one more thing I wanted: More Mass Effect. Having the Playstation 3 version, I had all of the DLC(Up until Arrival), so there was nothing I could do to obtain more. I had everything there was, and that was kind of a bummer. It is a pretty crazy and maybe even irrational thought that buying DLC that I should have already had access to would have given me more than I would have experienced for the first time, but I was on a Mass Effect high that I didn't want to come down from. And after obtaining the Platinum trophy, purchasing Arrival and going through once at Femshep, I knew the only thing that could cure Mass Effect Fever was more Mass Effect. And when Mass Effect 3 was announced, it was Metal Gear Solid 4 all over again. Never have I been so hyped for a video game in all of my life, but that's a story for another time.
And that is why Mass Effect 2 is my Game Of The Year.
Fight Night Champion
The newest iteration of the Fight Night series, Champion is a somewhat fresh take on the franchise as it makes introduction to a feature not found in any previous entries; A story. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for a boxing movie. Raging Bull, Rocky, you name it, I'm there.
While having a really entertaining story, it was a sad shame that the gameplay was limited to being nothing but a mini-game at that point. One fight forcing you not to use your left hand, the other fight using a dirty ref so the other character can cheap-shot you time and time again, and another fight forcing a cut to be opened in the first second of the fight. It's such a shame because the game was going so good for the first couple of fights, and then coming up short and having nothing to show for it.
But, it was a fun addition and one of the better games I've played this year. From fighting your rival, Adolf Drago, to putting away your girlfriends sleezy and corrupt father, Fight Night Champion is an excellent game.
Fall Of Man launched with the Playstation 3 back in the dark ages of the generation. It was unlike no other, as people have said time and time again. It was this really solid shooting experience layed onto a great foundation coupled with a really interested story. And then Resistance 2 showed up, pretty much ruining everything the first had set in place. It burned a lot of people, and in my opinion, failed to live up to the hype.
So when Resistance 3 was announced, everyone started to grit their teeth. It's a safe bet that everyone was wrong about Resistance 3. It came out and basically gave the finger to its predecessor. It had even better shooting mechanics, really interesting set pieces and some extremely interesting story moments.
It would have easily been one of my top games of the year, had the campaign been too short compared to other games we have today. Being able to beat it in four hours by myself and in another four for co-op, Resistance 3 really go the distance. Make no mistake, that is no indicator of the quality found within the game, as it trumpths everyone else in terms of quality, just not quantity.
inFamous 2. Not much to be said about this game other than how much I loved it dearly. It was such a great game compared to the first, and it improved almost everything there was to improve. From changing Cole from some European raver to something a little more familiar and recognizable.
Not to mention the inclusion of some pretty awesome new powers and the User Generated Content part of it. The problem with inFamous 2 is almost ironic. The world is so full of live, and at the same time, it's so devoid of it. The effort and talent that went into the soundtrack, yet there's no much music in the open world part of the game, save for the cutscenes. Sometimes it got a little dull. And then there's the ending of the game which people managed to predict from a couple of weeks after the first inFamous. It just felt like a low blow to someone like me, who is a huge fan of the series.
There is a lot to this game, and at the same time, there's not. But like Resistance 3, this is no indication of quality or quantity, as this game is unrealistically polished in almost every aspect, and is a pretty long game. It just feels like something is missing.
Agree? Disagree? Comments and opinions? What is your Game Of The Year?