By CandleJakk 4 Comments
Yes, I know, I've arrived a little late to be posting one of these, but I often receive video games that are released later in the year for Christmas, and as such, I like to spend a little more time with some of these before posting 'A Best Of The Year' blog before at least sampling the best of the year.
This post is comprised of games that I have played this year, that were released this year, as such titles I wish to play, and will do soon are missing.
So before I get straight to my personal favourites from this past year, a few other categories that I feel a lot of places are more likely to overlook than others.
BEST PORTABLE VIDEO GAME, INCLUDING MOBILE PHONE GAMES.
I've bunged what would otherwise be two categories together for the simple fact that I didn't buy many portable games this year, apart from a load on my iPhone.
5 - Sky Burger (iPhone)
This is most likely unknown to the majority of iPhone users around here. This is a simple game whereby you make burgers by catching falling ingredients to a specification, using nothing more than the iPhone's built in accelerometers. The UI for this is simple, elegant and very functional. A great little time waster.
4 - Bejeweled 2 (iPhone)
It's Bejeweled. 2. There's not a lot really more to say, other than this has killed some 9 hour train journeys marred by delays and breakdowns for me.
3 - Scrabble (iPhone)
It may be a pretty portable board game already, but I recently got this on it's limited sale price of £1.19, and has re-ignited my faith in mobile gaming, with functional, though occasionally clunky controls, EA has implemented them well, and with the ability to have the dictionary updated as language evolves faster than a dictionary can be, this helps maintain it as a staple. I cannot stop playing Scrabble.
2 - Canabalt (iPhone, PC)
Most of you are probably aware of this game. It's the one that's in grey-scale and uses one simple tap or button press for controls. This game is great as it's deceptively simple, and can be used to hone reaction times, and timing of jumps, which also aids deftness of touch. Very, very addictive.
1 - Grand Theft Auto - Chinatown Wars (DS, PSP)
I picked this up not long after release, and whilst I feel the story falters in places, and the controls can be a bit of a pig at times, the immense fun that can be had with this game, and the inclusion of the drug-dealing mini game is superb.
Honorable mentions: Word Fu, Rolando, Tetris.
GAMES OF THE YEAR THAT I'VE ONLY HAD A CHANCE TO PLAY THROUGH A LITTLE BIT, BUT NOT COMPLETE.
5 - Left 4 Dead 2 (XBox 360)
I would have played this by now, as it was my birthday present. (My birthday was in the middle of November, but the UK's shite postal system meant it never reached me until I came home from university, without my XBox). However, I played the hell out of the co-op demo that was available at the Leeds Eurogamer Expo, and again once I downloaded the demo.
4 - Tekken 6 (XBox 360, PS3)
Again, I played this at Eurogamer, for quite a while, it took ages to get on, and when you inadvertently end up in a tournament, I felt like I was 8 again, playing Tekken 3 for the first time. I can't help but feel that Tekken 6 is the return to form that disappeared since Tekken 4 or Tag Tournament.
3 - New Super Mario Bros Wii. (Wii)
I only played a few hours of this with my mother and brother over Christmas, and we haven't had quite so much fun playing a game together, due to partial ineptitude and the main conversation that involved yelling and laughter as we all managed to fall down the same hole and bubble ourselves.
2 - The Saboteur (XBox 360)
I played all three demo missions that were available at the Eurogamer Expo, and loved every minute. I am aware there are imperfections in the title. I found the art style brilliant and well implemented, despite all the gaminess that you're always aware of, I had far too much fun playing this game, and wanted it the second I put that controller down.
1 - Uncharted 2 (PS3)
I know this will be an awful lot of users GOTY, but I received this for Christmas, and haven't had much free time to play this yet, I only managed to squeeze an hour in last night, and I loved it. I was completely immersed in this game, but damn New Year's meant I had to stop playing to watch the last bit of Jools Holland on BBC2.
Honorable mentions: Dante's Inferno, Killzone 2.
THE CandleJakk AWARD FOR KIDNAPPING.
A special award given to games that have stolen something from me over the last year.
3 - 50 Cent: Blood On The Sand. (XBox 360, PS3)
This game stole my dignity. Receiving near constant lampooning for playing such a game, especially given my disdain of 'Fiddy' and his music, to be caught playing his game was a tad embarrassing, despite the game actually being quite fun.
2 - Peggle; Peggle Nights expansion) (XBLA)
Given for stealing too many hours of my life, and ironically, many sleepless nights have been caused from these games, and I have received better value for money from the £15 or so I have spent on them. Pure, simple, addictive. Peggle.
1 - Street Fighter IV (XBox 360, PS3, PC)
For stealing my money. I never played Street Fighter II when it first came out, I didn't have a console then, and possibly even not a PC, as a result I was horrifically unfamiliar with the control style, but that's not it so much. I couldn't help but feel that this game was ludicrously unfair to those unfamiliar with the controls, and the lower difficulty levels are rock solid hard, and Seth is one of the cheapest boss fights I've ever struggled through, taking about 40 minutes to beat the bastard. It caused me to break two controllers through sheer Nerd Rage, and I ultimately traded it in, which is a shame as I think, had I not raged so much, I could have grown to love such a revered series.
MY GAMES OF THE YEAR.
5 - Shadow Complex (XBox 360)
A shining example of what can be done within the limiting specifications for an XBLA game, given a decent budget, enough ambition & passion. A game that has re-play value, and what is already a challenging and lengthy title for the size. This was a welcome addition to the 'MetroidVania' style of side-scrolling, action-adventure-platforming-shooter that housed a fantastic collectibles system that challenged your lateral thinking as well as gaming abilities. This is worthy of a place in anyone's list.
4 - inFamous (PS3)
I bought my PS3 in April, with Little Big Planet, but after playing that, it lay dormant for quite some time, until this title came along. I have long been a fan of graphic novels, and whilst this isn't based on one, I can't think of any game I have played that pulled off the feel of one so well as inFamous has done. Whilst the characters are not wholly believable, they are fun and larger than life, who do possess a human element that isn't quite fully realised, I whiled away several hours working through the game, with it's intense combat, tough 'boss' fights, and a crackling use of electricity as a not fully obvious choice of super power, but an idea that is perfectly realised.
3 - Skate 2. (XBox 360, PS3)
The first new game that I purchased in 2009, and it remains possibly my most played game this year, excluding Call of Duty 4. It is certainly one of the titles that I have had a lot of fun on, whether going through it's weak, tacked-on story that is ultimately forgettable, to completing the Hall Of Meat challenges, or just freeskating online with friends. Skate 2 is a highly polished sandbox game that improved on the original and raised the bar once more for the Tony Hawk franchise. Despite the poor on foot controls, just having that ability there was a blessing enough, and something I could tolerate the small amount of time I spent off board. I will get those last four achievements on this game.
2 - Assassin's Creed II (XBox 360, PS3, PC)
Hands down, without question, the best sequel I have played (to completion, before I get flamed for not giving Uncharted 2 that honour, it could change), this year. This game takes everything that the original did correctly, improves on it, and strips out the shit that came bundled with the original, to create a better, more rounded experience that lasts about 2-3 times longer, and makes you relate to and feel for the Characters. I'll stop now before I spoil it, except I can't wait for the DLC.
1 - Borderlands (XBox 360, PS3, PC)
I followed Borderlands ever since I saw a couple of pieces of concept art about 2 years ago on Joystiq, and have waited for it for a long time, and it inevitably became a 9a.m day one purchase for me. I decided that I would play through the game at a leisurely pace, savouring every morsel of it. Some four days and too many hours later, I had collected all 1000 Gamerscore within the game, 100%ing the game twice in this period, which included two all-night sessions. My plan may not have worked, but the overall feel of the game, the art direction and the way the game oozes out early Tarantino style & charisma builds up into a fantastic experience like no other that I have played. From collecting Tannis' frankly hilarious tapes scattered throughout the Borderlands of Pandora, and working out all the references to pop culture, from Pulp Fiction to Lord Of The Rings, it is unabashedly shameless about paying a wonderful homage to everything, creating the best character to come from a game in a long time.
Honorable mentions: Modern Warfare 2, Red Faction: Guerilla, Splosion Man, Worms 2: Armageddon, The Secret Of Monkey Island.
Games I wish I'd had the chance to play this year: Demon's Souls (Very expensive to import), Dragon Age: Origins (This could be the game to get me to like RPGs), Noby Noby Boy (PAC-MAN PAC-MAN BUTTON!)
Sorry for length, cheers for reading my ramblings.