By believer258 2 Comments
An hour or so ago, I was busy writing up a little rough draft of what my own little Game of the Year list would look like, and I wanted to do some honorable mentions of games that, while not necessarily great, did some things that I really wanted to give some kudos to. Originally, I had only planned to give each game a little sentence, but it wound up being pretty long and I felt like it would be better to give these "honorable mentions" their own blog post rather than have an incredibly long one full of both. And so, here they are, a list of games that I felt did some things really, really right that deserve recognition, but also did some things pretty badly.
Darksiders 2 was, like Mass Effect 3, one of those AAA disappointments of the year. It didn’t really capture the magic of the first game. Players spent a lot of time traversing dungeons whose end prize was just a boss fight. Which is fine, boss fights are a great prize, but the original game had you traverse dungeons where you had to find an important tool that often had many different uses beyond just “use this to get here” (this is not an original idea, but it’s a damn good rip-off of Zelda). However, what Darksiders 2 did do is lay a good foundation for a third person loot game. Remember how Borderlands took Diablo and applied that to shooters? Well, imagine a game that takes Diablo and applies that to action games like God of War or Devil May Cry. It seems to me like that was what Darksiders 2 was trying to do, and hopefully a developer somewhere, or Vigil themselves, will take that formula and do it much better next time, maybe combine that with the Zelda formula of finding a special tool to get through a dungeon.
Mass Effect 3 isn’t a game that I’ve been kind to in retrospect. I’ve always made sure to say “it’s not a bad game” right after bashing it for its bland gameplay, its cheesy-in-a-bad-way dialogue, and its terrible hole-ridden ending. But you know what? Time to be a bit kinder to it. There are some genuinely cool moments in this game. The level where you cure the genophage, for instance, or fighting a Reaper just before deciding the fate of the Geth and the Quarians. Beyond those, however, I must commend it for incorporating a pretty good multiplayer. Say what you will about the rest of the game, or about how multiplayer ruins single player games, Mass Effect 3 managed to include a really good, really interesting multiplayer component that kept me plenty busy for far longer than I ever expected it to.
Far Cry 3’s first half is fantastic. If the entire game had held up as well as its first half does, then it would probably be on my own personal GOTY list – but it will not be simply because the latter half is pretty lackluster. Its greatest character isn’t in the latter half, the missions boil down to one silly guy telling you to go here, then here, then here, and they are often way too scripted and way too linear-feeling to take advantage of the game’s considerable strengths. However, this game presents one of the most fun open worlds to romp around in that I’ve played in a long time. Taking out outposts could have been pretty repetitive, but each one is carefully designed around tagging all of the bad guys, knocking out the alarm boxes, and then killing everyone in either spectacularly explosive fashion or knife-y sneaky fun. The radio towers are each a tiny little jumping puzzle of their own, which is normally a bad thing in any shooter but here it feels pretty good most of the time. And, really, “feels pretty good” is an apt description of most of the things you do in the game. Just don’t be surprised if you’re a bit annoyed at the end because there’s no real payoff. And… save your friends. Do not join Citra. Trust me on this one.
You could take any single part of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and point out why it might be boring. I didn’t personally think it was terribly boring, but it’s not necessarily what you might think of as “exciting”. Still, this game placed you in this weird and colorful world, full of its own little oddities and differences, enough to make it stand out from your everyday Tolkien-esque fantasy. Unfortunately, the game’s combat mostly consists of occasionally dodging, mostly mashing a button to keep interrupting whatever you’re fighting and knocking it into a wall. I have the game turned up to the highest difficulty and it’s mostly not that difficult. If there had been a second one – or if whoever owns the rights gets to make a second one – find a way to give more variety to this combat other than pausing between hits. Do that and make the dialogue more interesting, and you could have a recipe for a great RPG. As it stands, this one’s good, but I wouldn’t spend any more than 25 hours in it.
And finally, Syndicate. I did not even touch the co-op of this game, but the single player campaign is actually well-worth checking out. The graphics and aesthetics of everything are very clean and bright, which is in stark contrast to the dull gray, brown, and green of most shooters. The shooting itself feels pretty good, but really isn’t all that different from most modern shooters and most of the game is that way – a modern shooter with a fresh coat of paint. However, this game managed to include some really good boss fights as far as I’m concerned. Most of them are the antithesis to Deus Ex Human Revolution’s boss fights in that they really take advantage of the game’s hacking-mind-chips idea. None of the bosses are just enemies with bigger health bars, they actually ask you to take the skills you have gotten up to that point and use them in a creative way. Plus there’s a boss fight against a helicopter on a train that’s high above the city. Awesome! If you have a capable PC and haven’t picked this up on one of the many sales it’s been on, what’s stopping you?