Hey, so it's been over a month since Gears of War Judgment came out. Most likely you forgot that the launch ever happened or you were just not paying attention to the game in the first place. Don't worry, I forgot that the game came out too and I fucking love these games. I don't consider myself too prevalent on these forums so I constantly feel the need to reiterate my passion for this franchise. Ignited by countless dumb online matches with friends in Gears 1, I've played the multiplayer of all of these games right into the ground so it hurts that my feelings for Judgment are the way they are which I will finally get to explaining.
Get Off My Lawn?
I wanted to like this game. I consider myself a fairly open guy that can accept changes and hearing about some of the changes in this game at first worried me, but then I accepted them because I wanted to see what would happen if the formula was messed with just a bit. Well it turns out that hundreds of hours spread across several years in 3 games that more or less share the exact same control scheme does create a negative effect when the 4th (arguably unneeded) game in the series decides that now is the time stop you from switching weapons via the D-Pad and puts a greater emphasis on the use of grenades.
Now I'm not saying that the new control scheme is worse, but for me, personally, it just sucks and it became more than just an issue of having trouble adapting. There was a specific playstyle for me when it came to online matches. I constantly used the Tac/Com option (the batman vision mode like thing that gives you situational awareness) and it was easy to reach by holding down the left bumper. Well too bad because now if you want to use the thing you'll have to do it by pressing down on the D-Pad and you can't keep it on forever. That right there was a big negative for me, I essentially lost having that "sixth sense" that was so readily accessible and helped me move around the map efficiently.
Team? Hello? ...Bueller?
There is also a shift in the pacing of the gameplay/multiplayer matches that I don't exactly care for. Gears 3 started this by speeding up the run speed of characters and it could just be me but that pace feels even faster in Judgment. There is a greater focus now on Team Deathmatch where you can basically spawn as soon as you die and matches now feel CoD esque in the sense that you want to get back into the game as fast as you can, roadie run like a speed demon across the map till you run into someone, kill or be killed, and repeat the cycle.
That feeling wasn't as large as it is with this game versus Gears 3. In 3 you still had access to more weapons which allowed you to have a more diverse set of tools to approaching situations in the right way versus only having two weapons that you can swap between in Judgment and having to choose between a rifle or shotgun when you first spawn. Hell you can actually shoot rifles/shotguns/just about whatever while holding a shield or meatshield. If that doesn't encourage more lone wolf styles of play then I don't know what does. There was a sense of tactical combat and a deliberate slower pace when moving around the map in the last game and if you're laughing about the concept of Gears multiplayer being tactical then you clearly haven't played with teams. No, constantly rolling into people with shotguns does not count as "tactical".
Get to The Point, You Think This Game is Shit?
Not exactly. Gears of War Judgment is well made and fucked with the formula just enough to create its own flavor unique to just this game. I think that if you are not as crazy as me when it comes to playing multiplayer in the past games then you will have a great damn time with this. I'm not going to get into the other negatives like lack of content, a bare bones story, and the weird shift to having a red vs. blue thing going on in multiplayer instead of just keeping the Locust (did they run out of space on the disc?!).
All I know is that I simply don't like this game. This is a game where I assumed I would feel at home (while simultaneously wondering why someone rearranged the furniture) but instead I feel like an outsider, I didn't finish the campaign (even though I think it's the better part of this game) and I didn't play near as much multiplayer matches as I would have expected. It's just a bummer to end my ties with the franchise on such a poor note, but on the bright side I now can go ahead with getting rid of my Xbox that I've been looking forward to doing for quite some time. So yay?
The Xbox 360 was my first console of this generation which I purchased back in the summer of 2006 with a copy of Call of Duty 2. It was great, Oblivion blew my mind and I truly gained an appreciation of the potential of the “next generation” with the release of Gears of War which quickly became my favorite franchise in terms of multiplayer.
I picked up a PS3 shortly around the time of Killzone 2’s release but the Xbox 360 continued to be my go to console. I enjoyed the Halo and Mass Effect franchises (even though I now played the latter on PC) and just about any of the top 3rd party titles on that system, it was great. Gold, at the time, was a great service that I vastly preferred over PSN and I can still remember the countless hours playing with friends either in Gears of War 1, 2, and recently 3. I loved that console so much that despite going through 7 goddamn consoles, yes 7, I still stuck with it. Although to be fair, 5 of them red ringed, the other could no longer read discs, and the 120 gig Elite I used to have was fine but I swapped it out for a 250 gig 360 S when they first came out. Oh and there's an HD-DVD player somewhere around here. Yeah I enjoyed playing on that system that much.
Now for the downhill slope. Most of this I can blame on getting a new desktop which has taken over as the go to thing to play games on apart from the occasional great console exclusive, I honestly have a hard time going back to the 360 because its slow, clunky interface’s age is even more apparent now than ever before. The other thing to blame is being back at college again which means that my free time has dramatically decreased. I can no longer play multiplayer games as much as I would like to so I tend to put that free time into single player experiences that I really want to have. Speaking of single player experiences worth having, the solid exclusives for this system kinda have dried up, Halo 4 is the only thing I can think of that recently forced me to remember my 360's existence apart from Gears 3. It's mostly a third party system now which is unfortunate for me cuz my PC has taken that role now and does a better job at it for obvious reasons.
Now the one lifeline that has been keeping me clinging to this old machine has been Gears of War 3, that game is my 2012’s 2011 GoTY. I love that multiplayer to death; it’s just so much fun to blow away guys with powerful sounding weapons and watch them blow up into chunks. Unfortunately the online community has quickly descended into shit; there are not as many people playing it to the point that it’s easy to find games where there are just too many bots. It’s fucking depressing to see my favorite online game starting to become a ghost town. The other thing that has slowly begun to rip me away from my love of this game’s MP is Team Fortress 2, some of my friends made the shift to PC and we all go on TF 2 now which is just easy drop in/drop out multiplayer fun.
Looking back, the 360 has given me countless great moments in video games. I don’t regret owning the thing, but now I think it’s time to sell this console and everything else with it. I don’t see any reason to hold onto the machine apart from the upcoming Gears of War: Judgment which I already know I won’t like more than Gears of War 3. 3 is the pinnacle of that franchise and Judgment doesn't look like the leap that 1 to 2 to 3 were. Don’t get me wrong, my fanatical love for the franchise won’t allow me to pass it up but I won’t be sticking with it as long as I did with 3. Once that is done I think I’ll be ready to call it quits, wrap that 360 up, and get rid of it. As for my PS3, I’ll be keeping that one because I need to play Ni no Kuni. Looking back, I realize that I like the exclusives more on that system than on the 360 and I still have to play Beyond and Last of Us.
So I started up a new semester here at Florida State University (I tried UF but fell short of the psych department’s 3.5 GPA req, mine was 3.49. Oh well) and I must say that it's been a pleasant experience so far. It’s not like I’m a freshman, I transferred in as a junior after finishing a community college up in Maryland and graduated with an AA (I lived in Florida before and I decided to come back cuz I’m in this prepaid program thing). I can easily see where things can get overwhelming for some because it can be a big shift to be on your own and having to take care of nearly everything by yourself. I’m lucky enough to have my parents cover the costs and I won’t brag about it because I certainly know that I would be on the verge of a nervous breakdown having to work multiple minimum wage jobs trying to fund all of this by myself, you guys who do that sort of thing are seriously something else and I hope you all can keep pulling through.
Anyways, I’m two weeks in now and my classes are not bad at all. Paying attention in class is no longer an issue for me because the perks of being this far in my undergraduate studies is finally being able to have classes, that are pertinent to my major, make up the majority of my schedule. I don’t live on campus so I’m not involved yet in the on-goings in FSU. I don't have many large classes, a couple of 60's-70's, and then one 220 or so large class. Being in a large class isn't really scary, it's just easier to blend in. For now I just go to classes and then leave the campus, but I think I’ll join an honors psych society just to see what that’s all about.
On the personal life side of things I have become more used to being on my own and preparing my own meals, my experience of being a line cook at the local restaurant at where I used to live at is really paying off now. I live less than a mile to campus so I'm making it a habit to jog to all of my classes and only taking the bus at night or if I'm running late. The apartment I’m in has 2 other roommates who tend to keep to themselves which is fine by me, I’m introverted to an extent. The guy across the hall though is way further on the introversion scale because I’m only reminded of his existence when I can hear him yelling party commands in what I’m guessing is World of Warcraft.
That reminds me, on the entertainment side of things I am grateful for making the switch to PC because I have basically everything I need in this desktop even though my free time has now dramatically decreased. My PS3 is at home and my 360 is still disconnected somewhere in here. As someone who is 21 I realize I can take advantage of a whole lot of parties but that’s not really my scene. I lost the appeal in drinking very early (17-18) and I realize that the only thing I would enjoy doing, even more so with others, would be to just smoke weed and enjoy movies and music with friends or on my own. I don’t plan on doing that either because I always stay sober during class time. I might smoke up again when spring break comes around.
As for negatives, there’s not much. You gotta be careful when going out late at night, apparently someone got shot nearby over a prostitution scam that robbed customers (not even making that up)…so basically just don’t be stupid. I have people who live below me who are of the idiot frat variety because they threw multiple late parties with loud shitty music. Good thing I invested in studio headphones. It’s still way early and even though they pulled that crap on weekdays I’ll be lenient…for now. Not only that but I walked into my apartment recently to the faint suspicious smell of something very dank. It looked like the geniuses downstairs think that hotboxing the bathroom with the vent on will clear out the smoke. The only thing that bothers me more than loud, obnoxious drunks are retarded stoners and luckily for me they just so happen to be both. If they do something dumb along those lines again I'll just go ahead and call the cops. Yeah, I'm going to be that guy.
So that’s pretty much it for now, I just decided to do this for no reason other than to delay reading a chapter for my bio psych class, it felt good just to sum up my first impressions on this change in my life. Thanks for reading or not reading.
I know I'm generalizing to a certain extent here but I've been getting the impression that a lot of people have found this year to be disappointing and/or weak for games. Sure I wished that Mass Effect 3 turned out better than I expected and the same can be said for Resident Evil 6 which I hated to admit was just too bad for me to continue playing. Hell even Assassin's Creed 3 and Darksiders 2 (I wanted more "zeldaness") could be considered "disappointing" but don't let that drag down a whole year that hasn't been so bad at all.
Enough of that sad sack shit, how about taking a look at some of the surprises of 2012
The Year of The Downloadable
I think the number of downloadables from this year that I ended up really digging have finally outnumbered the amount of retail releases that I've enjoyed. Let's not forget Trials Evolution which made me want to hurl my controller at the wall numerous times but I always managed to convince myself to hit retry one more time. Hotline Miami is another game that comes to mind when I think of great downloadables. That game is dripping with style and has tight violent gameplay that forces you to form a plan of attack and execute that plan as fast and accurate as possible (plus the soundtrack is just too fucking good). Also don't forget about the fantastic Crashmo for the 3DS, if you're a fan of Pushmo then you know why you need to hurry the hell up and play this. The changes they brought to that puzzle game are refreshing and will keep me coming back to solve more puzzles. On top of that I'm about to jump into Journey and eventually Dust: An Elysian Tail which both have received their fair share of critical praise.
I wonder how many people forgot this came out this year because this game just barely flew under my radar. Despite looking like a basic third-person shooter, Binary Domain has some solid gunplay filled with enemies that are just too fun to shoot at. There's an extreme satisfaction you get when you watch the robots break down and fall apart as you rip them apart with bullets. The story also went a long way in keeping me engaged and wanting to see it through to the end. Adding what might seem to be a minor mechanic of choosing dialogue options when talking to your squad mates and increasing/decreasing their preference towards you helped me to care more about them. Now I would be a piece of shit if I continued on without mentioning two very special characters, Big Bo and Cain. A french robot armed with a pistol and stylish neckerchief teamed up with a hulking, overly-enthusiastic mass of muscle shooting the shit outta bots is nothing short of pure joy in my book.
I'm not exactly sure where to start with this game interactive anime. I could have easily written this game off because of its dependence on QTE's and cutscenes but I'm glad I gave it a chance. You may have to wade through some mediocre gameplay but witnessing the ludicrous events that unfold are easily worth the price of admission. I'm fighting myself to stop listing the crazy shit that happens but that would just be robbing you from a worthwhile trip through this insane game that is simply stupid fun. Asura's Wrath gets some serious mileage out of its QTE dependent gameplay and manages to throw in just enough surprises that will keep you tapping the shit out of that controller till it breaks.
I already went into some detail as to why I seriously like Sleeping Dogs so I'm going to try to talk about it without just copying/pasting from my last blog. This game probably shouldn't have happened and it seemed like luck that it managed to hit store shelves, but the huge surprise for me is how solid the end product turned out to be. Made up of recognizable mechanics from other games, Sleeping Dogs blends together familiar components and a richly detailed rendition of Hong Kong all into one outstanding package. The melee combat is what got me hooked to the point that I would go out of my way to search for fight club side missions just so I could break more arms and faces. It's no wonder that Vinny just can't help but attack innocent NPC's. Play this game.
Far Cry 3
This game is more of a personal surprise for me than a general one because I didn't care for the first game and the second one fell completely flat for me. I needed an excuse to push my new video card so I saw no reason to not give Far Cry 3 a chance. First off the visual fidelity on PC has been a joy to look at, there are times where I can't help but get overly excited at just how good the environments look in this game and it's a good thing that the world is filled with tons of great content to give plenty of reason to explore this tropical "paradise". I would be shocked if someone told me I would be hunting animals (take that AC 3) and raiding pirate camps just for the fun of it. Now it obviously seems like the story won't go in the direction that I would have hoped it would but that doesn't matter because I'm too busy happily setting this pot field on fire.
Halfway through the year I was just about ready to write 2012 off as a weak year overall for games but it was great to realize that I was having trouble narrowing down my list of favorite games down to 10.
I did miss out on playing some games that I’ll probably get to later like Journey and Far Cry 3 (I know this one isn't out but I lost interest in buying it day 1). Here's a list of all the games I did play this year. One major thing that caught me by surprise is the amount of retail box copy games I cut from the list in favor of some downloadables. The year of the downloadable couldn't be more true and without further ado, let's start with a 2011 game before going into my favorite 2012 games.
2012's 2011 Game of The Year
This game is the reason why I occasionally turn on my 360. Recently my consoles have fallen to the wayside because of my shift to the PC realm but the amount of fun I derive out of the multiplayer is just too much for me to ignore. This game kept me coming back for more thanks to the solid season pass that was chockful of great multiplayer maps that also became more maps for Horde and Beast Mode. I’m not sure if Judgement will pull me in like all of the past Gears games did but I do know Gears 3 will continue to stay in the disc tray for many more months to come.
Now onto my top ten...
10) The Darkness 2
I picked this up for cheap on PC at Amazon and I got my money's worth and more. Although this game went for a more linear path than the last game it still retained a good amount of the last game's personality plus adding solid gunplay with some visually-striking, over the top gory darkness attacks. It was a blast working my way through the game and the more linear nature of it all didn't bother me because of how engaging the gameplay was.
9) Asura's Wrath
This game is stupid...in the best way possible. Ludicrous cinematics would be an understatement in describing just how ridiculous all of the shit that happens in this game is. The gameplay may have only ranged from simple to tedious but damn this game has heart. Also say what you will about Capcom cutting the "true ending" into DLC but the outrageous events in that ending DLC still remain fresh in my mind and I’m glad I played it.
8) Persona 4: Golden
OK, I haven't finished this yet so placing it here is somewhat unfair in some respect but being able to play Persona 4 plus a lot of new content is more than enough reason for it to sit here on my list. Enough said.
7) Halo 4
Here's my second reason to keep my Gold and 360 plugged in. This game would be sitting a lot higher on my list if it managed to truly shake things up in the campaign and manage to keep the narrative compelling as it was in the first third of the game...unfortunately I think 343 dropped the ball on the story shortly after revealing the main antagonist (I can’t go into specifics because of spoilers). I honestly didn't expect to like this game as much as I did because I was worried about being all "Halo'd out" but I think Halo 4 was able to keep me engaged just enough to not be turned off. The enemy AI is as sharp as ever here, I never had this much joy from the challenge of playing Halo 4 on Heroic than any other Halo game and the new high level of visual flair that 343 added is a nice bonus. After stopping with Halo multiplayer shortly after the launch of Reach it was refreshing to jump online with the new changes that 343 brought. I know some people don't like the changes but a faster paced Halo game is fine by me. One thing's for sure though, if I have to fight more Covenant in Halo 5 then I'm done with Halo.
It’s not too often that you see a big retail release that is also a new IP. This game was a nice surprise and well worth the price (got it off GMG for about $40). You may stumble at first as you figure out the mechanics and enemy AI but once you hit your stride and get comfortable this game is truly something else. The level of freedom that you have to accomplish your goal in so many ways is what kept me coming back to retry a level and get a more perfect playthrough. You can’t beat that badass feeling you get when you pull off an elaborate plan with the fun powers at your disposal, accomplish your task, and leave the scene like nothing happened.
5) Diablo IIII
I never played any of the past Diablo games (but I did play Torchlight) so this was a fairly new experience for me that I enjoyed immensely. I think I just hit 60 with my monk somewhere in Act III on Hell difficulty and once I catch up some more on my backlog I think I’ll revisit the game. I loved grinding dungeons and the pace of the game was perfect for me because I could boot it up grind for 30 minutes and then hop off and play later. My only problem with the game was the always online requirement that it has but it didn't give me that many issues.
4) Lumines: Electronic Symphony
I think one of the reasons why I adore this game so much is because I basically skipped all of the past games in this franchise so I was able to avoid the feeling that I've done this all before. I did play a bit of the 360 version (I know that’s a weaker version) and it didn't pull me in like the way Electronic Symphony did. This game is the reason why I bought a Vita (getting the device for like $40 after selling stuff did help though) and why I don’t care about just using the Vita to play more Lumines. The soundtrack and visuals are top notch and still manage to entertain me as I cruise through the Voyage mode for the 500th time.
Dude this is the fucking sequel to Pushmo, I don’t think I need to say more than that but if you insist...Pushmo is one of my favorite 3DS games that I can easily pick up, solve a couple puzzles, and then put down again. The new mechanics in the sequel are enough to keep the experience for me fresh and engaging and I’m just glad to be able to have new puzzles to solve whenever I have some downtime. Buy this game.
2) The Walking Dead
I think I regret not paying full price for this (got it in a Steam Sale) because of the enormous value that I personally derived from this game. The gameplay mechanics range from mediocre to simple and the “illusion of choice” still exists here to a certain extent. With that said, none of those issues have stopped me from being emotionally invested on such a level that I can’t remember any other game that has made me feel this way. If the narrative wasn't so compelling and sharp as it was then I probably would have fallen off the fan train a long time ago. I know this game will be topping a lot of other user’s lists here and I’ll support them because this game provides a unique emotional ride that more people need to experience.
1) Sleeping Dogs
OK, even I’m a little confused...how did this happen? Here’s a game that nearly flew under my radar and barely caught my attention when it was released. A competently made open world game set in Hong Kong? Yeah I’ll get around to playing it sometime....then Amazon had the PC version for $18...I guess it was time to figure out why some people are really liking this and why Vinny can’t stop violently attacking the NPC’s.
First off I want to highlight the visuals. This game looks great and I can’t wait for my GTX 660 ti to arrive so I can play it again with some more bells and whistles on but even with my GTX 555, this game runs so damn smoothly at 1080p. Kudos to United Front for putting out a solid PC port and thank you Square Enix for making sure this game reached the finish line.
I think that the setting and melee combat was what blew me away. I know that this game wouldn't be first in line when it comes to being called original but that doesn’t stop it from having solid gameplay mechanics, detailed environments, and a somewhat engrossing story that all blend together to form a game world that I want to dive headfirst and lose myself in. The setting and story allows the game to highlight the well made melee focused combat that takes plenty of cues from the Batman games, which isn't a bad thing. You can fuck up dudes badly in this game and the audio and visuals reinforce that fact superbly. Once I got a good grasp on the combat I went out of my way to seek fight club side missions to complete because it was just fun to fight dudes. Driving was also a blast to do in this game and I’m glad that United took a page from Just Cause’s book and added a similar “stunt position” mechanic so you can jack other vehicles while driving. As for the gunplay....yeah it’s a little weak. Shooting guys is manageable but it’s not a highlight for me so I was disappointed when the game started to shift towards more shooting focused missions but I was grateful that beating the shit out of dudes with your fists was a not so distant priority in the last hours of the game.
Now I've noticed that I haven’t really talked about the story. It’s not because it’s bad, it's just that I got most of my enjoyment out of playing the game than just watching the cutscenes which I can’t say for many other open world games. I’m not gonna go into story details because you can find that out elsewhere but it’s just a basic undercover cop story of a guy who is trying to toe the line between being a cop and a thug and while I personally thought it was good enough to keep me interested in what was happening, unfortunately there was a huge amount of dissonance in the narrative that still calling Wei Shen a cop was pretty ridiculous because of all of the over the top shit that happens.
In summary though, I simply had a lot of fun with this game. United Fronts’s version of Hong Kong is a place that I wanted to sink hours into exploring and I’m glad that I did just that. After listing all of my favorite games for this year and beginning to rank them I was surprised to see how high I was moving Sleeping Dogs up the list until it hit #1 and you know what? I’m feeling pretty good at where it’s at on my list and calling it my game of the year.
I do have a couple of honorable mentions which go to The Witcher 2 and Trials Evolution. It’s a shame that Trials couldn't make the cut but that didn’t mean that I regretted my purchase, I may have wanted to throw my controller at the wall but I still kept coming back to try that track over and over. As for Witcher 2...I’m only mentioning it because the 360 version allowed me to finally experience this fantastic game until I got a desktop to run it. This game would be in the running for 1st place with Sleeping Dogs but it is technically a 2011 game so I had to remove it.
Long time lurker, first time user here. I guess I manged to skim through the site and forums for years without feeling the need to make an account, until now of course. Now that it looks likes GB is going to start cranking out more premium features I think I might actually jump on board with the premium sub.
I should probably put some more stuff in here but nothing else is coming to mind right now. I've become a lot closer to PC now that I'm starting to notice the age of my 360 and PS3 so it will be fun to watch how the next-gen will turn out from the safe zone of my PC. So with that, yeah this website about video games (a video game website) seems to be pretty cool!