Part of the reason I bought a Wii U earlier this year was that I could play Sonic Lost World. I still get excited about Sonic games, and although I'm disappointed every time Sega puts out a Sonic 4 they remind me about why I loved the original Mega Drive games with games like Colours and Generations.
I fully understand why some people have such a distaste for the series, I played Sonic 06 earlier this year (almost at the cost of my sanity... It'sno use....itsnouseitse...just...fucking...jump...JUMP it's no use...fuck!JUMP you piece of shit!) and if that was a reason to never want to play anything Sonic Team put out again I'd know and understand why. But really... Sonic is back on track... sorta.
I have played about six hours of the game and am about two levels away from beating the last of the Deadly Six so this is probably a pretty short game if you are just playing through the story. Maybe there's more than one final world, but I have a teeny tiny teensy suspicion that Dr Eggbotnik will be the final boss. The biggest change from Generations is that there is far more of a focus on precision platforming with the new parkour system that automatically makes you climb scenery if you're holding down the run button and the double jump first seen in Colours. When they first started showing videos of the game it looked suspiciously like Sega had just tried to turn Sonic into Mario Galaxy, and the game doesn't really feel like that at all. It still feels very much like a Sonic game in the 3D sequences, but the 2D sections that rotate seem to have taken more inspiration from Donkey Kong Country.
The things I like about the game are that it is a visually great looking game that runs at 60ish frames and it has a collection of Jazzy-poppy-upbeat music that fits Sonic really well. There are four levels in each world and very few of them look alike. One level in the second world looks like a bunch of desserts and another looks like a honeycomb jungle for instance. The other thing I like is the increased focus on exploration for little animal canisters as you need to have collected enough to progress with the story. I think the run button was a good move as it allows Sonic to walk around without sliding off the level to his death and the spindash is a great inclusion for the people that still want to do speed runs. They have also added a new move in the kick which functions very similarly to the homing attack and is good for taking out bigger or armoured enemies which sometimes requires you to follow up a small pause with the homing attack. It's simple, but a nice change from just spamming the attack button. That said, occasionally there will be long chains of enemies that you can combo really quickly by mashing the homing attack and that is almost as satisfying as eating a long ghost train in Pac-Man CEDX. The colour powers which require various uses of the pad including tapping musical notes and steering a Sonic-eagle to aiming a rocket at other floating land masses (possibly the most Galaxy-ish thing I have encountered in the game... possibly a little more Ratchet & Clank.) You can tell that the developers have tried to include a lot more variety into the levels by giving you little tasks before you can move on from an area.
Not all of the ideas work though. Some of them feel like they have been copied from other games, but don't quite understand what made the similar thing in another game work. I still think that Sonic works best when he is running at top speed. And running around with an awkwardly physics-y giant pineapple trying to squash robot chickens just feels awkward and a little boring. The run button also feels a little too slow, but that might just be me missing the boost from the past games. I find the speed sections in the newer 3D games to be exhilarating and Sonic in Lost World it feels more like he's going for a nice jog at times.
The difficulty curve in this game is also bizarre. I found myself unchallenged by any of the first three worlds only to have the first two levels of the fourth spike into a really frustrating experience, and then return to being even easier than earlier levels. The bosses are an inconsistent joke also. You get bosses every two levels and they mostly fall into a predictable wait for attack then homing attack their face pattern, but every so often you can just spam the homing attack on them and get three hits in quick succession and the boss is over in seconds. all of them look good and seem like they had some effort put into them, but they mostly fall flat due to them being a a complete pushover. Another thing of note is that I find myself flying off of the world a lot more than I'd like, something I thought the last couple of retail games had fixed, but it occasionally feels like a step backwards.
Overall I think it;s a fun game that doesn't really live up to its potential. It really isn't a must have, and definitely not a system seller for the Wii U, but it's a good platformer with a lot of style, charm and good presentation. It's one of the good ones and even if I haven't finished it I know it's not the game that will bring everyone back and forgive Sonic for past mistakes. If you're expecting Sonic Galaxy prepare to be disappointed.
Oh yeah, there's a story or something. There's monsters and Robotnik is like good, but not and Tails gets kidnapped and lays in a canister doing a seductive pose while Chris Redfield is an annoying douche while one of the boss monsters talks about pounding your butt. It's a thing and there's probably a little more of it than I'd like.
The map screen music sounds suspiciously like a tune in Yoshi's Island.
Edit - I just wanted to update this to say that the final few levels of the game are a frustrating mess. Not only do they highlight a vast majority of the games faults, but also bring even more problems into play such as homing attack targeting that just decides to not work and annoying floating levels where you have to hold the button down to sort of float around a mess of fast enemies all while taking away a huge amount of Sonic's movement.
I'm ok if I am challenged by games, but the lives system in this game makes no sense whatsoever. It just puts a collection of loading screens in the way of me progressing. So much of the end game is ridiculous trial and error, often punishing you for not hitting something you had to react quickly to with little or no warning. The first sky world level had me fly off of the stage over twenty plus times and funnily reminded me of the similarly frustrating trial and error Crisis City stage in Sonic 06. I'm a fucking pro at that stage now and don't feel the slightest bit of satisfaction.
I'm pretty conflicted right now as I want to defend a huge chunk of this game for not being the abomination some people seem to think it is, but some of it makes me want to contact Sega and repeatedly ask them WHY DID YOU THINK THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA!?!?
I have put a good six-plus hours into The Wonderful 101 at this point and I have a bunch of thoughts on it. The first thing I want to mention is that this is a pretty tough game, the enemies from very early on don't joke around and you need to learn how to counter a lot of their attacks using Unite Guts (jelly form) It doesn't help that you can often be spammed by projectiles from far away and it can be pretty frustrating to collect all your little superheroes up only to immediately have them scattered everywhere again. This is not something that can be eliminated with skill, you would have to be psychic to know it's about to happen. So, the combat is great when it works and insanely frustrating when it doesn't. It can get a bit mashy and there's a handful of moves like the stinger that seem to unlock with use of each form/weapon, but for the most part you will stick to the fist or the sword as they are the most effective. The whip and the hammer are useful to destroy armour and spikes, but as all-purpose weapons kinda useless. Now, the biggest problem this game has is that as soon as you start having more than three weapons the game gets confused often about what you are trying to draw, and this applies to both the touchscreen and the stick.The hammer, fist and whip get confused so many times and when a boss or an enemy requires you to quickly switch between the two and it won't do what you're asking unless you take your eye away from the screen and draw it precisely It can make you want to scream... which in an action game as hectic as this is ridiculous.
I'm trying to get through the game's problems first and there is good stuff I promise! The other major problem is during some of the bigger action sequences the camera pans out really, really, really, really (yeah, really) far and you cannot see anything on the screen. The TV I'm playing this on is not small and I found one part incredibly irritating where I had to judge jumping distances at an isometric angle as the platforms I was standing on were falling. All while there was 100 little people surrounding me that were about the size of an ant. If you miss jumps with the leader of your party it's a loss of life.. this one section though was really bad from the camera angle to the distance. Upon completing it I was forced into a boss fight that required me to know what was coming before I'd even started.
The first thing that really strands out about the game is how damn funny it is. Really good writing and voice acting going on here with Red being the usual goody-goody hero, blue being the guy who just wants to cut stuff and Green the romantic that loves his food and random french in the middle of sentences. There seems to be a strange rivalry between Blue and Green and they make fun of each other constantly. I do love the little chat sequences, they are really charming and have these animated portraits that pop up on the side of the screen that have this almost stop motion quality to them. Pink seems to exist purely to have the camera zoom in on her boobs and bum, which seems a little out of place. I have also met the villain and he seems really fun. The theatrical pink alien that likes to reminisce about past relationships when he should be threatening the heroes, complete with confused minions and all of the unite powers you possess. He seems to be the standard opposite of Red which is pretty cool. I didn't know this game would have any sort of rivalry.
The game never lets up, ever. I was finding it hard to stop because I was constantly being pushed forward. Fight this boss!, Escape this burning plane! Fight this other boss by chasing it on your airship and shooting it! Jump off of this exploding building! Freefall towards the earth while a giant laser dragon tries to murder you you! Fight another boss!...and another! and another! This sure is a game made by the same dude as Bayonetta. It's actually surprising how similar a lot of it feels, the parts where you have to jump on platforms as they fall out of the sky or mashing the button to do massive damage feel exactly like the moments with the hair-demons in that game.
The game does a really good job at keeping you on your toes with boss fights full of quick time events that feel natural and never give a game over for failing them. It seems strange how forgiving they are when the bosses are super aggressive with tons of attack patterns to try and work out. It can be a little overwhelming at times due to the amount going on screen and the really limited time you have to react. It almost feels as if it wants you to struggle your first time through which is kinda cool, but can almost feel unfair at times like when you need to deflect a laser and the only chance of you doing so is to have the sword equipped... chances are if you don't you're going to take a ton of damage.
The second screen is used for a bunch of really inventive things, like controlling spaceships with giant buttons, turning dials, inserting giant batteries and playing roulette. I'm so glad someone is using the pad for something other than a map screen. I assume there will be a lot more inventive uses as I get further into the game. I haven't even touched a lot of the menu screen stuff including lists of figurines, files, the upgrades for the Wonderful 100 you have collected and a collection of 100 in-game achievements. The game feels like it never wants you to be doing the same thing at any given time, the amount of creativity and gameplay styles is to be applauded even if some of them work a lot better than others.
I'm definitely going to add to this as I play more of it later. It seems like a very good game with a bunch of problems that can't be overlooked even with the rest of the amazing stuff on offer. It feels like a game jam packed with secrets, upgrades and cute little jokes. It helps that the game is visually stunning and very funny and the combat can make you feel like a crazy miniature Power Ranger. This feels like a strange one. It doesn't seem fit for a casual audience despite it's cartoony looks and it's even less approachable than Bayonetta with such a high level of difficulty and controls that require you to experiment with them a lot before you're even close to being comfortable. It helped that I got used to them from the demo, but even the demo won't prepare you for some of the frustration ahead. Will add more later.
The first time it tells you to make a bridge/chain it is super confusing.
The theme tune is amazing.
It has almost zero in common with Pikmin.
Awsome/ful cocktail puns!
edit #1 - Space cops, cougars, adult humour, missile riding and some backstory for Wonder Blue. It's pretty cool how the background story seems to be played with a straight face despite the amount of craziness on screen. The writing has continued to hold up and there have been a couple of really cool sequences using the second pad like a spaceship shooting vents with electricity on the TV while you climb about coloured grates inside the building on the pad screen.
The amount of bosses in this game is insane!
Edit #2. So, the more and more I have played of this game the more I fall in love with it. I'm at 19 hours of game time now (although it's platinum so the in-game time says 12... Wii U log doesn't lie!) I feel like anything I write now could possibly get a little spoilery. The controls feel a lot more natural now and no matter how many amazing combo videos are put out there it still doesn't mean the problems aren't there. I have looked around the internet and my experience with the game seems to be pretty common among most people that are playing it. The level of skill required to pull off the moves/switching in this impressive video is really high and should not be used as an example of the way the game has to be played. This video is also against some of the lesser enemies and when things go crazy in the later parts of the game you will often find it hard to see what is going on, especially in the endlessly form-shifting face off fights against Prince Vorkken.
So the game has gone into a bunch of different styles now like an isometric spaceship shooter, a love letter to Punch Out which would be far cleverer if Ms 'Splosion man hadn't done it two years ago and a section where you have had to move around in a cube by hitting the coloured buttons with the right weapons (this was the most frustrating sequence I have played in any game this year due to the stupidly close camera on the game pad screen, there was so much clipping into the walls that I thought I was playing Sonic 06 again.) There was even a flashback sequence where you played the original Red with a cool D.A that could be used as a giant drill! This might have been one of my favourite sequences in the game so far.
I'm probably in the back portion of the game now (Shrunken down and inside someone's body at the moment) and it has opened up a whole new chapter with new villains and plot twists. I'm still very happy with the game, I'm having some of the best fun I have had with any game this year, but when things don't work it can wipe the smile off of my face in an instant. It's always good to know there will be something delightful or hilarious just around the corner.
Edit #3 - I don't have much else to say other than upon completion I was left exhausted. There is officially about five billion bosses in this game and they just get crazier and crazier. In fact I don't think there is another game to be released this year that could out-crazy The Wonderful 101. The final missions are like Asuras Wrath x10, utter insanity. One thing is for certain... This is a video game!
The start of this year feels like it should be the end of another. The amount of games that I wish to play getting released over the next two months is going to drive me insane, something is going to have to be ignored, and I'm probably going to be really twitchy about it.
Ni No Kuni - 1st. I feel like this has to be the easiest cut, I have a feeling it won't do massively well and will probably drop in price pretty quickly. the time commitment part doesn't help either. I reaaaally want to play this game, I'm a huge Ghibli fan... obviously not that huge. CUT!
Dead Space 3 - 8th. I LOVED Dead Space and loved (mostly) Dead Space 2, I think the art in them is amazing and really want to play what seems to be a mix of Uncharted, Resident Evil and Lost Planet from the demo. It feels really weird to say this, but I really, really miss the horror, the demo has cheap jumps, but so did RE6 when those monsters bust out of a wall in Leon's campaign. I feel like I've already seen what this game has to offer, I hope I'm wrong but sadly... CUT!
Aliens: Colonial Marines - 12th. So, I love Aliens, like I love Super Mario Bros 3, SFIV... did you see how I gushed about Kid Icarus? Yeah, like that x10. and I feel self forced into buying this canonical (until someone decides to make a real film one and ignore that this exists..) sequel to the movie. The moment I saw the giant ramming-headed aliens I rolled my eyes, the tunnel with the auto sentry...ugh, the power loader fighting a queen...just, ugh. I hope it's a proper sequel, a collection of injokes would be the worst thing the game could possibly be. Somehow all of this felt fine in Infestation, a 16 bit sidescroller, kinda like from the period the movie was released, it seems far more innocent and it wasn't constant. I fully expect there to be a moment in the game where the lighting all turns red and they are in the ceiling. That sort of fanwankery will drive me insane... maybe I'm way off base, and I'm not gonna have a DMC meltdown over it. I'm more likely to ignore it and pretend it doesn't exist if that is the case. Either way 'mm gonna keep this at maybe for the time being.
Metal Gear Rising Revengeance - 22nd. Totally preordered the game... it would be the perfect game to cut, cos like it's about cutting.
Tomb Raider - 5th. I am a big fan of the last reboot of Lara Croft (this is a reboot of a reboot of a reboot... remember those grand plans for Angel of Darkness... I do *sigh*) I loved the artstyle. I'm also a big fan of the Uncharted games. Before, they were quite different kinds of game, but the new one really does look like Uncharted with upgrades. I think the trailers are terribly exciting, but I've had that feeling a million times before. I'm about 95% certain I'm getting this game, but I'm not entirely certain it's going to be what I want from the Tomb Raider series.
Gears of War Judgement - 22nd. Everything they show of this game looks amazingly fun, I adore the hell out of gears. I think they've nailed the combat and movement and I really doubt people Can Fly will mess that up. The random enemy placement, cool class based horde-meets-beast, the optional challenges within missions... THE COLE TRAIN! Like I have to have this right... I've got to... don't I? AGHHHH
and here is the worst... FOUR DAYS LATER!
Bioshock Infinite - 26th - just fuck, have you seen this game? just... this isn't fair.
somewhere among all of this is Fuse (maybe??????????) from the Ratchet (<3) dudes and Luigi's Mansion 2.
Not really anything special about that, but I wanted to say some things about games I have played recently, games I plan to play in the near future, films, toys, other things and plans for a blog that are just over a year old. I guess I will start with the blog part. I wrote out Some early blogs last year when I decided I wanted a "thing" on this site, I started following a bunch of people and reading the popular ones on the site and wondered what the thing I was going to do would be about. I decided that they would A. be short , (like a handful of paragraphs) B. be about the art in games (not games as art, that would just be silly.) and C. I was going to draw a picture however mediocre I am at art summing up my week in games to attach to it. I made a banner and everything... I never really knew what to do with it so it eventually just became the header on my now deactivated Facebook. I have a couple of fully written ones I was never fully happy with. One about Street Fighter and another about the sad, nightmarish world of the deceptively cute ilomilo. Either way I'm gonna think on it and hopefully my "thing" will be a "thing" and it will help me get better at writing of fail miserably.
* I really, really, really, really want to play Sleeping Dogs. I know it's cool I have played a handful of fights in someone else's game (beat up a bunch of dudes in a karaoke bar) on the PC. I actually have it on this PC, but it really struggles to run and if I'm going to play a game for that long I'd like achievements or something (something I like to tell everyone I'm over, but still mildly care about)
* Over halfway in Max Payne 3. I think it's a cool game, really stylish, really great gunfights that feel so good because of all the the scenery flying about ( I Loved the mission in the offices) I like the storytelling and the Rockstarry-ness. I have no real attachment to the older games.
* Proffesor Layton & The Miracle Mask is a great game also. The game was given away with new 3DS XL's and I'd only played a little bit of the first DS game and found myself stumped really early on. I like the silly British accents (very "Brad") and I've managed seven puzzles without using a guide, so I feel far less thicker than I did with the other game. I'd love to get into these games as I love the storytelling and the old, innocent anime vibe it gives off.
* The original Mega Man is a total motherfucker.
* I ordered my first game of 2013... Devil May Cry which looks cool, I'm a big fan of Ninja Theory's storytelling and I kinda like the new Dante.
*The next games I assume I will be ordering are. Ni No Kuni, Metal Gear Rising (Demo is cool as hell) and Aliens even though I think it looks kinda lame. (Favourite movie ever! *sigh*)
* I have ordered a Lego Batman set with Aquaman in it, I find it utterly absurd he has a proper figurine and The Green Lantern and The Flash do not.
* The new issues of the Batman comic by Scott Snyder are fantastic, what an amazing version of The Joker. I am also a fan of Batman & Robin, I find Damian Wayne to be fascinating. A murderous 11 year old Robin is kinda great!
* The Total Recall remake is terrible.
* An ex girlfriend of mine might possibly, maybe, definitely, certainly be one of the most terrible people on this planet.
* Leon is a better film with the extra bits in it. (Jimmy Saville would have loved it.)
* Jennifer Connelly in The Rocketeer is the loveliest being in the entire world.
* I totally had more to say about games, but got really, really sidetracked.
So, I have written a lot of words about how I feel about ten games I really liked this year. I feel pretty confident in saying that there isn't another list that will be posted that will look like mine, and I have liked a lot of games released this year. Some of the bigger games were disappointing for one reason or another, but I continued to love and like the vast majority of games I played. I did outright hate a couple of games throughout the year which is quite rare for me, but overall it was a good year full of unexpected surprises.
I would have like to played Max Payne 3 and put more time into Dead or Alive 5, but overall I'm happy with what I did get around to finishing.
The game I played for the longest amount of time in 2012 was The Binding of Isaac after dismissing it as a rubbish flash game last year. The Wrath of the Lamb DLC and a real understanding of all the little quirks of the game made me fall in love with what I feel to be one of the most cleverly designed games I have ever played.
I have a lot of nice things to say about Asura's Wrath, Alan Wake, Fez, and will stay eternally conflicted about how much I enjoyed Dragon's Dogma (All the thoughts of all the games I played this year - WARNING!: Lots of words.) I have also added a handy spoiler tag with my top 10 to save you from going through a lot of awkardly structured sentences with my games of the year plus a short sentence on why I chose them.
10. Far Cry 3 - I like this game. 09. E.X Troopers - I like this game. 08. Lego Batman 2 - I like this game. 07. Resident Evil Revelations - I like this game. 06. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy - I like this game. 05. Halo 4 - I like this game. 04. Mark of the Ninja - I like this game. 03. Journey - I like this game. 02. Binary Domain - I like this game. 01. Kid Icarus Uprising - I like this game.
I like my list, it is my list after all. Thanks for reading. (or skipping to the end) I continue to love video games.
10. Far Cry 3 (360)
I had no intention of buying this game, I was always interested in Vaas since the Ubisoft conference unveiling of the game, but I had grown incredibly tired of first person shooters. It came as a real surprise that the game they were putting out in December was getting really good reviews, I started to warm to the idea of playing another first person shooter as I had been really impressed a month earlier with the wonderful Halo 4... and from experience (Red Dead) I know I like murdering wildlife in games.
I played the 360 version, I know it's full of technical issues, but that never really detracted from what is a really well made and story focused first person shooter. Sure, the story eventually goes off of the rails, but the scripted story moments with really memorable characters are well written, well acted and really bring you into Jason Brody's world. I would have been happier if they continued along the supernatural path it looks like they are headed about midway through the story, and any of the sequences containing the otherworldly are well done, especially fighting a giant demon and avoiding traps like Indiana Jones in underground caves to collect the parts of a seemingly magical compass.
There's a lot of content in the game, bases to take over, quick checkpoint races, animal hunts, tortoise stabbing, Assassin's Creed-esque towers to uncover parts of the map and what I found to be pretty strong story missions. I could have done without some of the turret sequences and the instant fail stealth mission was atrocious, but I felt compelled to see as much of the island as possible. I lost a couple of days to this game and loved almost every minute of it. It's a real shame that Vaas doesn't get more screen time.
9. E.X Troopers (PS3)
It hit me really early in the morning while I was shooting a giant space armadillo to death that a lot of the games I feel really passionate about follow the exact same pattern and that is, if it lets me dash and boost into super weapon counters there is a high chance I will really love it. I love simplicity, I love arcadey, it's why I'm so fond of a lot of older Sega games.
I was pretty down on lost Planet 2, but this anime inspired spin off which seems to have some light RPG moments and a hell of a lot of sharp, short missions that require me to boost kick monsters in the face is the kind of thing that warms my heart, zaps the "fuck yeah, VIDEO GAMES!!" part of my brain and just reinforces everything I love about noise and colour and spaceguns and monsters.
I hate being the person that puts a dumb imported game in my top 10, I expected Anarchy Reigns to be THE game here, but this is everything I want from a game, as simple and idiotic as that may be. Man, I love video games.
8. Lego Batman 2 DC Superheroes (360)
Lego! Yeah! Batman! Yeah! Superman! Yeah! Robin! Yeah! Green Lantern! Yeah! Hawk Man... No, fuck that guy. Lego games... What more can I say? An open Gotham City full of things to do, as much fanservice as either of the Arkham games, (if not more) and a bigger focus on telling an original story... with talking. There's some genuinely funny writing and the usual visual gags the series is known for running throughout the game.
Lego Batman 2 has a lot more set piece-like levels where you're falling from buildings or blowing up giant sky-bases with Superman. And this is the greatest thing about the game, the fact that Superman is godlike and fun to play. It works so well in this type of game that every time he was taken away from my little party I was a little disappointed. I would get so excited every single time I had control over him in the open world areas because the John Williams theme would start playing as soon as you leave the ground, and every single time the hugest smile would appear on my face. It's a shame the rest of the Justice League are really underused, especially The Flash as he has a really cool look and some unique movement compared to other characters, but hopefully that's something they fix for an inevitable third game.
Lego Batman 2 feels and sounds great, and while I know there's a bunch of framerate problems and the vehicle sequences aren't the best, the amount of content and care that has gone into creating this tiny toy world is incredible.
7. Resident Evil Revelations (3DS)
So, there was a Resident Evil game worth talking about this year, it just so happens to be the one the least amount of people played. I should mention up front that I used the Circle Pad Pro so this was my very first Resident Evil experience where I could both move and shoot. The funny thing is that even though I was able to back up whilst firing, the game still felt in line with previous Resident Evil's where 6 always felt loose and awkward.
I know that some people weren't as impressed with the game as me, but I found it to be a pretty good balance between the tense exploration of the older games and the all out action of four and five. There were points where I seriously had to consider fleeing from enemies as I didn't have enough ammo to take them down, and even though some of the horror is lessened by being on a handheld there is still a pretty tense atmosphere in the ship sections where enemies can come from vents above and behind you in a very Dead Space inspired way. I think the game is gorgeous for the system it is on which is probably why there is the insane loading into areas where the screen stutters and stops, which is quite unfortunate, but once out of them the game plays really smoothly with great animation and lighting.
I really enjoyed the stupidity of the story, it felt like the big, dumb overblown parts of five. Chris and Jessica probably have the stupidest sections, some of which are on rails boat sequences where lots of things explode. I am a big fan of the stupid parts of this series and this game seemed a little like it wasn't taking itself quite as seriously as previous (and later) games. I loved a lot of things about it, like the gun customization mods, the open environments where you would have to keep moving as enemies could do real damage to you if backed into a corner, some of the bosses and bigger enemies could take a whole chunk of your health off in one swipe. I even had a lot of fun with the scanning mechanic and there's a neat puzzle that could only be done with a touch screen.
I finished the single player game in about ten hours, but I put another thirty or so into the Raid mode where you had to get from one point to another in the fastest time possible while killing all the enemies that come at you. This mode proved to be a really great time sink where you are always unlocking new mods, perks and guns while leveling up and adding new herb slots and resistance to damage upgrades. I found myself addicted to this mode for a couple of weeks as there are a ton of stages and the difficulty really ramps up so playing with others online is the only real way to play. There's a ton of costumes to unlock and a constant stream of unending achievements that generate every so often.
I enjoyed the hell out of both parts of the game, but Raid was the unexpected star of the show. I wish this was more the direction the main series had taken, and I'll be pretty happy if they make another one of these for the 3DS... I need any excuse to get some use out of my neglected CPP.
6. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (3DS)
This game should be awful. A Final Fantasy music rhythm game... on a handheld. There's one major reason why I like this game. It feels more western in how forgiving hitting the notes is. A thing I have noticed over the years, being a fan of the genre is that the timing is always a lot less loose in Japanese music games, requiring much more precise hits. Games like Rock Band etc are far more lenient with much bigger windows to hit the notes, and Theatrhythm feels a lot less punishing in it's scoring. I never felt like I was unable to progress. It really helps that there is also a leveling system where you can equip your party with skills and perks to help with harder songs which is a really cool idea.
There's something incredibly charming about the cute style of the characters and their little nonsensical battle cries before a song starts. The game is a great reminder of how good the music in those games is, the older songs don't hold up so well and in some cases all sound a little samey, but Fighting Sephiroth to One Winged Angel whilst hitting notes in time with the song is a real joy.
It's always hard trying to explain how one of these games is better than another, they're all essentially the same kind of thing, just with a unique visual style. Theatrhythm goes out of its way to provide a fun playing experience with fanservice overload, and whilst I don't care for all of the games in the series some of the music from them is quite stunning. Who would have thought a bit of music from FFXII, a game I despise would have one of my favourite pieces to play.
I also must mention how great the DLC song descriptions are, really overblown and expressive descriptions instead of sound samples. It's totally dumb, but in a way really Final Fantasy-y.
5. Halo 4 (360)
Whoa, check out Cortana's boobs... no, no, no that's not how I wanted to start this... It actually took me by surprise to see people disappointed with the campaign, the reason why this game is placed so high on my list. I have always enjoyed the Halo series with ODST being my personal high point. My problem had always been that despite this rich universe they never seemed to do anything all that interesting with the series, and when they set the seeds at the end of Halo 2 for these two opposites (Master Chief/The Arbiter) to play a huge part in an overarching story it seemed like they were headed somewhere interesting, only for Halo 3 to come out and ditch all of that in favour of making The Arbiter "Player Two", what a waste. ODST tried a couple of new things with the flashing terminals scattered around the city, and Reach tried its hand at being an emotional story without the good writing or characters to back it up.
I know I've mumbled far too long about other games in the series whilst trying to explain what I loved about Halo 4 so much, but this is important. The Storytelling is a million miles ahead of what has come before, despite having far too much of the back story of the villain tied to easy to find, yet awkward to access terminals scattered around the game. The Didact stuff isn't really what makes the game so special. Sure, Cortana and Chief have always had a strange kinda-love-story-thing going on, but the way they humanize her in the game really adds a whole new emotional layer to what is essentially a big dumb shooty-space game.
I've seen complaints about overacting and how cheesy the love story angle is played out, but It worked on me. It made the game feel both intimate and like there was something real at stake beyond the usual fight for humanity displayed in the core action of the game. I found the game to be well paced with its story and big action set pieces, it never really let up, a forceful nudge forward instead of the "OH SHIT EVERYTHING IS EXPLODING AROUND ME!" that many shooters go for these days.
I Like the multiplayer and I think Spartan Ops is fine for what it is and as of writing this there has been interesting story developments in the small cut scenes that play out weekly, but I fell in love with Halo 4 from mission one. I can't explain what makes it feel better than previous games, and I'm sure I'd be called an idiot for saying that 343 is the best thing to ever happen to Halo. I don't come to these games for anything other than the campaign really and Halo 4 doesn't disappoint. A stunning soundtrack and visuals that I'm sure many would think would be impossible on such an old piece of hardware. I'm incredibly excited to see where this new trilogy takes us and if they can keep up a consistent level of quality. Man, what a great start they had here.
4. Mark of the Ninja (360)
One of the best stealth games I have ever played. It takes the best of the Arkham games stealth and then adds some gorgeous 2D art and really fluid controls. The first time through the game was slow, methodical and stealthy. If I felt like I wanted to do something there was a really high chance I could, and picking off guards one by one until one lone and scared guard was left freaked out was immensely satisfying. I loved the way that experimentation doesn't get punished and messing something up isn't an instant game over, you always know what your tools are going to do and watching a series of events you set up play out in a snap of your fingers makes you seem like the master ninja with the insanity inducing tattoo on screen.
I love the story cut scenes, they seem so well made and wonderfully animated. As brief as they are they really help with the atmosphere of the game. If I had any complaint at all it would be that I wish there was a little more, but that's a very minor complaint with such a well executed game.
I loved the first time through, but New Game+ is where the whole thing really shined. With a fully upgraded ninja and all your previous knowledge, you can jump and flip and crawl your way through the game speedily and gracefully in a handful of hours. I have never felt like such a stealth master in any other game based around hiding from dudes. Fantastic game which I hope gets a sequel, it really deserves one.
3. Journey (PS3)
I spent a while thinking about how I'd approach my thoughts on this game. I thought about whether I'd discuss games as art or if something as basic as running and jumping and floating without any challenge could really be described as being a video game.
My first time through Journey felt very guided by another player, a stranger who had obviously experienced this world before, prodding me and calling me towards hidden rooms and alien symbols. I felt almost cheated out of an experience that was supposedly to hit me at the centre of my soul.
I got up after an hour and forty minutes, put the controller down and went to bed. I woke up feeling disappointed by something that was so well crafted, so guided, so tested to perfection that everyone should walk away from Journey with some kind of newly formed sense of self worth or something else similarly impossible to gain from a video game.
I left it a day, wrote a couple of quick opinions and skimmed over others thoughts. People were describing how it had them in tears left me confused, did they play the same game as me? Sure, it's pretty and the music is stunning, but it's hardly this work of high art.
I sat at the opening area at about 5am running around the sand in circles, not really doing anything at all. I was jumping around the ruined buildings and floating around in circles. Eventually I grew bored and moved onto the fabric bridge and someone was running around and surfing in the sands moved by wind. I progressed, not really with any intention of going through the whole thing again, the same sights, the same sounds, the cave full of monsters, the seaweed corridor. I was no longer playing, but just moving, flowing through the environments with another at my side, flying and flapping and moving around each other in circles chirping our little chirps.
The room with the spiraling bridges and carpet-manta ray hit me in the face out of nowhere, I was there for so long just weaving in and out of a strangers path, our flowing scarves moving gracefully through the air, it was something different, something magical and in that tiny moment my whole opinion on this thing had been turned on its head.
I cannot describe how I felt whilst climbing to the top of the mountain, Austin Wintory's sublime score escalating, me and my voiceless friend had made it through everything, it was like my first playthrough had never happened. It's not the kind of thing that would make me cry, or even consider doing so, but that thud in my chest, my heartbeat had changed. For a handful of minutes, a video game had done something amazing, something that I doubt could ever be recreated.
What is most important about this waffley description is that I totally prestiged to the max in Journey. White, fully embroidered robe bitches!
2. Binary Domain (360)
I never thought that this would be the game I would have the most difficulty describing my love for. I didn't really have to replay any other game to come up with a handful of barely cohesive thoughts for my top ten. I messed about with Kid Icarus for two missions before I went "Oh yeah, this is why I love this." but Binary Domain doesn't do anything particularly spectacular. I played through the first four chapters again and fell in love with it all over again, and I still don't have a concrete answer why. I'm sure its heavy emphasis on story has a lot to do with why it unexpectedly gained a place in some of our hearts. The shooting is great, (I have a real issue with people calling it "Competent", Mass Effect is Competent, this is up to the standards of many western shooters on the market.) the voice acting is way above average and in places it looks incredibly sharp, with great character models and some well designed robots.
It really shouldn't be that surprising that a game from the maker of the Yakuza series would have expressive faces and a lot of character development. The hero, Dan starts the game so unlikeable, with a crap catchphrase and some dickish comments to others in your elite robo-killing squad, but over time he grows, not only into someone you want to see succeed, but his stupid sense of humour starts to grow on you.
In fact a lot of the characters that seem like your standard action movie stereotypes have a very human side after you get to know them. It really took me by surprise how seriously the game takes its story, it isn't devoid of fun (Cain the French robot.) but it isn't trying to be dumb, it is actually trying to tell a pretty compelling story with some great twists and a real I Robot type feeling. I never expected violence towards robots to seem so much more brutal than a lot of games where you kill humans.
I think the game does a really good job of mixing things up with a little variety. The game starts with some swimming and there's some vehicle sequences and on rails driving mixed in with the cover based gunfights featuring some really satisfying combat where every single part of the robots can be taken to pieces. It isn't without a couple of issues like when some of the larger bosses constantly knock you down with rockets, but there is some really great bosses designed to look like spiders, gorillas, jellyfish, horses and a variety of other animals. I found so many things about the game quite charming, a word you wouldn't expect to use when describing a sci-fi third person shooter. I thought this would be one of those games I'd feel passionately about and constantly find myself telling people they need to play the dumb robot game with the silly name from Sega, but it seems to have found an audience and deservedly so. I adore the hell out of Binary Domain... Of course I do. IT HAS A FRENCH FUCKING ROBOT IN A NECKERCHIEF!
1. Kid Icarus Uprising (3DS)
When I say I love this game, I mean I love it from the core of my heart. I get a warm glow just thinking about my time with this game. It's like Nintendo wanted to make the video game equivalent of a Disney movie, Kid Icarus is one step away from having songs and a talking candlestick sidekick. Kid Icarus is a weird game, a really weird game, not just because it's a pretty hardcore action shooter from Nintendo (which can be made infuriatingly tough using the difficulty slider), but because it mixes so many elements of other things without ever feeling like it's being held together with staples and glue. From the box art you could be mistaken that this is high fantasy, all bows and arrows and high adventure, but by the fifth stage we are flying through Starfox on the SNES-like tunnels and we are firmly in Science Fiction territory. The game gets much weirder as it goes on, you fly through space, jungle planets, shoot giant bombs out of the sky, through constellations, fight space pirates and A GIANT SPACE OCTOPUS! and that's not even mentioning that you occasionally get into space motorbikes, gladiator spheres and pilot angelic mechs. As I said... Kid Icarus Uprising is a weird game.
So, Kid Icarus is a game that never shuts up, never! You would think that a constant stream of people talking at you and Pit being so enthusiastically pumped like some kind of heavenly Power Ranger you would get annoyed at all of the noise, but somehow the writing is so self knowing, so witty that it comes across as charming more than irritating. I found myself in fits of giggles at some of the things Palutena or Viridi said to me. There's a lot of winks and nods to other Nintendo franchises, it wants you to know that they are in on the joke. Kid Icarus is a game and it is proud to be game, but not at the expense of its storytelling, there's a shift in the later parts of the game where the story moves towards to being a little more serious, you get to play as a couple of other characters other than Pit and they manage to do this without sacrificing the humour. Anyone that wonders if Nintendo could do a fully voiced Zelda this is the game that proves they could pull it off perfectly.
I know I need to stop at some point, but I have so many things to say about the game, I think the game looks stunning and the Sin & Punishment-esque on rails sections at the start of most levels weave in and out of the scenery and put the 3D effect to some of the best use on the system, and the music is so varied and consistently good with huge orchestral themes, 16 bit era boss music, classical guitars and even some jazz. Now I get that some are not fond of the on foot sequences which I found to be just as fun, but for long periods of time they did hamper my ability to play well, there are ways to lessen the awkwardness and once I was into a rhythm I barely thought about it. I think the positives of the game far outweigh the control issues it has. Kid Icarus is one of the best game universes I have ever encountered, wonderully expressive bosses and a couple of main villains that are just gloriously evil in that Jafar-like way. This is pure Disney, if Disney did explosions and made fun of their other properties, hell, there's even a section where Pit sings along to the music.
As I said, I love this game from the core of my heart. My mum knew I was so taken by it she made me a Kid Icarus birthday card. The best game I played this year, the best game on the 3DS and one of the best games Nintendo has ever given us. I fucking love this game.
So, I totally wrote one of those annoying end of year top 10's. Thankyou for reading it, because if you wrote one I definitely read it. I love making lists and I love reading them, I don't really care if my opinion only matters to me. I love video games... I cannot stress that enough.
I will have linked this to my top ten that will be linked to the forums probably.
This is where I spend too long describing my thoughts on all of the games that are not in my top 10. The other list is overly long as it is and this has only been skimmed for mistakes a couple of times as there is an insane amount or writing that I have worked on for the last couple of months. I'm probably going to add something about Black Knight Sword at some point and I have included a lot of music that I loved in video games throughout the 35+ games I talked about here.
Asura's Wrath (360) - So, this is a game... kinda. Firstly I want to mention that there's a lot more "game" than you would expect. While the core character action sections are very simplistic and basically require you to mash and roll around some pretty small environments it probably takes up around a third of the game. There's some other sequences that are a little like Panzer Dragoon, but when you're not doing either of those you're probably hitting the Y button and Asura is probably screaming and/or punching something very large in the face/giant god finger/planet/space monster/demon/mutant monkey/tortoise etc.
If you like big dumb anime about muscular men with godlike powers screaming at each other this is the game for you. Whatever your thoughts on Capcom, they should be praised for putting out such a unique title, a game that wants to be a movie, but could only ever work in the medium of video games. It doesn't use quick time events just as an excuse to show you something big and dumb play out, it uses them in creative ways to push the story forward.
Asura's wrath tells an interesting story, full of big dramatic betrayal and punching gods. It's essentially a stupid soap opera where the hero occasionally sprouts six arms or is infected with a nasty illness that makes him even angrier than he already is.
I played all of Asura's Wrath. The true ending with DLC is a little annoying, but the game definitely wraps up neatly if you never wanted to shell out for it. If you did buy it however, you will be treated to some truly insane spectacle as you grow to the size of a planet and face off against a final foe in a really striking battle. I feel like the true ending was worth the money, I'm happy to give money to the developers of something unique that was clearly made with so much passion.
On paper it sounds like a pretty horrible experience, limited gameplay interrupted by endless quick time events, but that's enough about Resident Evil 6... Oh I mean Asura's Wrath... What we have here is a game that couldn't have been made by anyone other than Japan, and couldn't have worked in any other way, and I am thankful for its existence.
I wouldn't want all games to be this, I don't even think I want one of these every year, but this is the kind of game that rarely comes about. Asura's Wrath has great style, good music, interesting characters and you can punch the shit out of Ryu and Akuma from Street Fighter.
Yo, this music is cool.
Dragon's Dogma (360) - ARGH!!!!! how do I feel about this game? Is this the best three star game I have ever played? I have never put over ninety hours into a game and felt so conflicted with everything about it. The voice work is terrible, yet simultaneously the greatest voice work in any game I have ever played. I hate running everywhere on foot, but I'm excited about traveling to everywhere on foot. I hate getting ambushed by dudes, but I also love fighting them "Tis a goblin sir, a nasty one I shall smite thee with my stick of vengeance" Those words(or some variation) may or may not be shouted at some point, but this is the level of writing that has gone into this game, attrocious, wonderful, glorious. I HATE high fantasy, I hate orcs and goblins and harpies, FUCK harpies. WHY DO I STILL THINK ABOUT THIS GAME. J-Rock, big open world with limited fast travel points, climbing on hydras, talking Sean Connery dragons, nonsensical storytelling, ugly NPCs, one town, brown, muddy, windy all the time, stupid, stupid... stupid... STUPID GAME!!!!!!!
I really liked Dragon's Dogma.
Below I have added the ending theme to Dragon's Dogma, the J-Rock intro is wonderfully absurd, but it is the final song that sums up nearly everything about why I think the game should be talked about. Just listen to it... 1min 30 is so dumb, and then at the 2 min mark it turns into a Disney princess song.... just... just brilliantly dumb.
HELL YEAH! Wrath of the dead rabbit (PS3) - HELL NO!
Resident Evil 6 (PS3) - This is a game that I played for 30 hours.
If I heard this bit of music it probably meant that I was at one of the four endings and I was full of sighs and relief... it's also a pretty cool bit of music, one of the very few things that is good in Resident Evil 6.
Mass Effect 3 (360) - I didn't like the ending either.
Superbrothers Sword & Sorcery EP (PC) - This game is quite cool although you can really tell the game was not designed for a mouse as some of the puzzles are a bit fiddly. A wonderful soundtrack and gorgeous pixel art, in fact some of the best use of minimalistic pixel art I have ever seen. It's very easy to pick holes in something that has become so embraced by a huge amount of indie devs, but the art in this game is quite wonderful. S&S is a really weird thing, it's barely a game, but a nice distraction nonetheless.
Love this, reminds me of early John Carpenter movies.
Thirty Flights of Loving (PC) - I played Gravity Bone a whole day before this was released and it's a fun little 10-15 minute story that I think is really worth playing. I did prefer Gravity Bone a lot more though, it seemed a lot more focused on it's spy setting, it's hard not to admire what Thirty Flights is trying to achieve though.
New Super Mario Bros 2 (3DS) - Yeah, This is a game.
Rhythm Thief & the stolen ideas from the Layton series. (3DS) - I think my fake title sums up a hell of a lot about the game. RT is full of fun and catchy music rhythm games, a big world map with lots of people on static screens you can talk to or tap frantically around the environment to find coins and notes etc. The game is mostly fun with a silly and cute anime adventure with some really bad voice acting and a pretty good variety of mini games. The game is far too punishing with its scoring and any of the games that require the 3DS's gyroscope feel a little unfair due to inaccuracy, but it's a cool little thing if you're desparate for a new game in a pretty dead genre.
Anarchy Reigns/ Max Anarchy (360) - I feel that when this game comes out in the west early next year it will be one of those games that is talked about passionately by a very small group that likes to tell everyone that it's one of the best games they have ever played. Anarchy Reigns is not the next Bayonetta from Platinum, its combat isn't flawless and it has a pretty terrible camera that I found myself fighting with a lot more than I'd have liked.
My opinion on the game is about 97% (yes 97 exactly) based on the single player. Yes the game is crazy, yes the game is full of weird and wonderful (and very Japanese) video game characters, yes it's unashamed of being a video game, but once you've gotten how the game plays down it really does boil down to doing the exact same thing on a very limited amount of enemy types for about six to eight hours.
It has a weird sort-of hub-like structure where you can run around and beat up hundreds and hundreds of people to unlock new skills for multiplayer and get concept art. I found some of the randomly generated stage hazards to verge on annoying, where the randomness can often lead to some fun chaos/ frustrating loops. There's nothing like getting carpet bombed out of nowhere when you're just trying to hit stuff. Its got an ok story, totally nonsensical mind you, and you get to see it from two different perspectives. Throughout the story you get to unlock 16 or so other fighters that range from maddeningly annoying to quirky and amusing. The game really shines when big dumb shit is happening on screen, and while some of the characters verge on being racist stereotypes, there's something quite charming about Jack, A giant robotic bull, some asian sisters each with their own elemental attack style and some mad, half robotic Russians.
I liked the game, it's fun, but it's totally understandable why Sega panicked about putting the game out. It's never going to sell, it's far too weird and incredibly unforgiving to new players that just want to mash buttons.The cutscenes are nice, the music ranges from catchy to irritating, and while the models look lovely the environments look as ugly as shit. If you thought western games were all a bit too brown this game fucking LOVES brown. It's a weird game to talk about, I can only really recommend it to the people that have always wanted to punch a krakken in the mouth.
Borderlands 2 (360) - I thought I would have something more to say about Borderlands 2 after missing the first game the year it came out. Borderlands gradually seeped into my system little by little over time and unexpectedly become one of my favourite games ever. There's that easy description of BL2 "It's totally more Borderlands" While it is a lazy description it also is the most accurate. I wish I had more reasons to explain why I like the game, but that one sentence sums up my feelings for the most part. I could mention the really great soundtrack by Jesper Kyd, I could also talk a lot about some of its genuinely funny missions based around things from popular culture, how pretty it is or even how insanely dumb that Face Mcshooty mission is, but hey... It's totally more Borderlands.
It's a shame the version on youtube doesn't escalate as much as it does in game, but the music in Borderlands 2 is outstanding.
Botanicula (PC) - I never finish these point and click games. I don't know why, but I get really into them for a handful of hours and then never want to return to them. I haven't finished Botanicula, I probably never will, but what I played was charming as hell with some cool art that balances on the fine line between cute and creepy as hell. the music is fantastic and the sound effects always bring about a smile. I really should finish this game.
Dum dum dum dum dum dum, this is ace.
Assassin's Creed 3 (360) - This was the game I was most excited about this year and oh man I was disappointed. A buggy mess of a game, full of insanely linear missions, frustrating fail states and a quite frankly boring story. Living in the UK where we learn nothing about American history moments like meeting George Washington or taking part in famous battles does absolutely nothing for me. Sure the core climb & stab mechanics are there and there's a huge world full of really uninteresting things to do, including the QTE-Heavy hunting and no real sense of progression. It's not a bad game, but the ending and Desmond are wasted in favour of some more alien nonsense that seems both rushed an unexplained. I never felt like the end of the world was approaching and I definitely don't feel satisfied by the vague storytelling. Oh well, good riddance Desmond.
AC3 is not a bad game, but it feels a little unfinished, a little souless, a little too much like the games that came before, but also like a few steps have been taken back when thinking about the overall world design. It looks really good in some places and really terrible in others, the voice acting is so inconsistent and British soldiers are so awful it is laughable. I'm glad Haytham gets a good chunk of playtime as he is far more interesting than the star of the show and the Naval missions are both stunning to look at and fun to play. A real disappointment, I think the series needs a well deserved break... shame it won't get one.
Double Dragon Neon (PS3) - A real surprise. I spent an afternoon with the game leveling, beating up bad guys and getting down the timing whilst humming along to the best fake 80's soundtrack I have ever heard, Jake Kaufman is responsible for so much about what makes the game special. It's a competent brawler that you can actually get good at by learning to dodge and roll at the right times, I assume you'd be able to get through a vast amount of the game without taking any damage.
The writing is fun and dumb with a real bro-ness surrounding the brothers. I'm no DD purist so this came off as more amusing than cringeworthy. I really must mention the music again. It is easily one of the best soundtracks of the year, full of reallycatchyleveltunes and some of the best original songs written for a game since 'Splosion Man.
I came away from the game with a real Big Trouble in Little China vibe, maybe it's all that Neon lighting or maybe its the start of the music that plays before a level, either way this was one of the few that very nearly made my top 10 and I'm more surprised by that than anyone.
All those people that say good things about the music in this game are correct... listen to the links above also.
Tokyo Jungle (PS3) - This game is neat. It's funny and violent and incredibly Japanese. There is a hell of a lot to like about its overly punishing progression and bizarre storytelling. Just knowing you can play an elephant or a bear and attack dinosaurs around a post apocalyptic Tokyo would be enough to sell most people that like their games as dumb as hell, but the core here is pretty hardcore, requiring a real knowledge of your surroundings, how to deal with an overwhelmingly hostile world and a lot of quick decision making. Stop and you will die (probably by the weather) There's a ton of content and the idea of unlocking some of the bigger animals is both time consuming and exciting, but there came a point where it felt far more of a grind than I wanted it to be just to unlock another dog, goat or chicken. It's hard to want to put the hours in when some of the bigger animals are sitting in the menu for a miniscule price, Yeah, it's kinda terrible that some of the animals are locked out that way, but have you ever seen a giraffe in a hat attacking a wolf? I have and it was glorious.
I'm still not convinced a Porcupine could lunge kill a Gazelle in one hit, but I saw it in Tokyo Jungle so it must be factually correct.
Dustforce (PC) - I really like the artstyle and the music is mostly fantastic, I just don't like the way the game requires real perfection. I found myself not being able to progress early on and I don't think the controls are tight enough for a game that demands so much precision. I was a little bummed out to find I didn't like it very much.
I really like most of the music in Dustforce, I like it a lot more than the actual game.
Liberation Maiden (3DS) - Animeeeeeeeee!!!! So the president of New Japan pilots a mech and blows up shit that turns into trees and then a giant boss appears and you shoot it some more and then you spin around a lot and shit explodes. Very Zone of the Enders, kinda Kid Icarus-like in its controls. A really fun downloadable game, but very, very short.
FEZ (360) - It wasn't until watching Indie Game The Movie that I realised that Phil Fish totally succeeded in making the kind of game he set out to make, It really does feel like the kind of game based around playground secrets. At it's core it's a basic platformer where you rotate the world and jump about a bit eventually leading to a mindfuck ending that requires so little effort that it would be easy to say "is that it?", give a shrug and move on.
The surface of Fez is the least interesting part about the game. The pixel art is nice, The Blade Runner-esque soundtrack sets a really unique mood and the rotating seemed pretty neat, although it suffers from some pretty awful technical problems when loading into areas. The "real" game part is pretty mindblowing though. The strangest part is how the best Fez has to offer is locked away behind a certain mindset, a lost art from a time before the internet, a time when your cousin fought Shen Long on some secret stage in Street Fighter 2 by pushing Up fourteen times when highlighting Blanka on a Wednesday... at 4.10pm.
I have notes to show for this game, pages of notes and diagrams, and scribbles. There is a whole alphabet in here with Tetris-like symbols to decipher and hidden answers to puzzles by looking around the world in first person... in what initially seems to be a one-note-gimmick 2D platformer. Puzzles that require timed rumbles, QR codes and discussion on messageboards, not to mention unexplained secrets and a mad monolith. Fez is a great game, and being there at its release was a special time, but it's totally unrecreatable now in this era of achievement guides and google. I was done with the game very quickly and once you've played it there's not a lot left to do other than soak in it's unique atmosphere and truly stunning soundtrack.
For all the hate Phil Fish has gotten his game lived up to the strange hype surrounding it. It isn't without its issues and to the casual player it's a pretty uninteresting game. whatever way to look at it, and however you feel about the developer it's quite a fascinating and unique experience that plays on both nostalgia and the strengths of modern technology and I am really intrigued to see what he goes on to make next... in 2054.
One of the best soundtracks this year.
Dead or Alive 5 (360) - I really like this game, its been so hard to ever get good at a fighting game when so many other games have demanded attention, every single time I have wanted to return to this to get good at it I have been sidetracked by something else.
The game is great though, there's the usual idiotic (brilliant) storytelling but at its heart there is a really good fighting game, ignore the boobs (I know, it's hard) ignore the overall stupidity and there is a really well crafted and simple to pick up, but hard to master fighting game. I discovered I really liked the way Helena plays from my time with it and I'm reminded weekly that I need to play a lot more of it. I should play more of it, like seriously - Note to self PLAY MORE DOA5!
The Walking Dead (PC) - I'm not the biggest fan of Point and click adventure games, and I have had a pretty miserable time trying out other Telltale episodic games, so it comes as a surprise that I was fully drawn into the miserable world of The Walking Dead. I finished the game over three nights and found myself attached to a handful of characters, I kinda knew early on that the decisions I was making weren't always changing all that much about the story, but it didn't stop me from being shocked when certain things played out unexpectedly.
I found the last episode to be the weakest, full of idiotic and out of character decisions and an ending that didn't hit as hard as a moment in the later part of episode three. Some of the acting was off, most notably Clementine, a character I couldn't quite understand the love for, I just wasn't always feeling it, although Lee's care for a young girl comes across really well, and I would stick with Kenny right to the end. I really, really liked the game, I wouldn't have finished it if I didn't, It's just... I don't get the extreme love for it, as a film or a piece of TV this would be merely good, as a video game it's apparently a masterpiece, but hey. I can't quite put my finger on what it is, the occasionally dull gameplay or unlikeable characters I found incredibly easy to sacrifice, or the ending that you can see the writers set up about midway through the series.
Maybe I'm just over-analytical of this kind of stuff, I do the same with TV and movies. This game is hanging around the 15th spot on my list (out of 49) so I very definitely liked it and I'm curious to see what they do with the second season.
Ratchet & Clank: Full frontal Q hey Insomniac make a proper Ratchet game force assault (PS3) - Hey, Insomniac! MAKE A PROPER RATCHET & CLANK GAME!
Rhythm Heaven beat the beat paradise Wii (Wii) - I LOVE the DS game and I love parts of this game, but the timing is so god damned strict. I love the hell out of Music Rhythm games, I have bought four of them this year and I love the art and the humour in this game, but some of the unconventional timing on these songs seems overly complicated. It's a hard game from song one. I'm sure people with a really great sense of rhythm or drummers would connect instantly, but I found myself barely getting through songs or not very clearly being told when I need to hit the button. A song featuring a giant clock where I had to high five monkeys initially seemed so cute and fun, but half an hour of frustration later I no longer wanted to play any more of the game.( I did) It seems strange that Nintendo try to dumb down everything whilst keeping the strict difficulty in this so high. A more lenient mode in the place of a skip song would have made this a better game for people like me, having the option to progress to harder versions would be a better choice. I want to love this game more, it's so imaginative and vibrant with some truly great songs, I just wish it was easier.
Alan Wake's American Nightmare (360) - Give me any excuse to return to the weird world of Alan Wake and I'm right there. While this is far more combat focused and a little cheaty in it's Groundhog Day repeating of the story it still retains the usual trashy horror novel theme, some well placed FMV sequences and silly missing pages from a book written by Alan read out to you. I think the combat in Alan Wake is good enough for a more action orientated game, but I had far more fun watching the psychopathic video's which would play on screens occasionally, the actor getting to play those out must have had a ton of fun shooting them. I had a lot of fun for the four or so hours it takes to finish and despite having to play sequences over three times there's enough shortcutting and unique instances to stop it from feeling a little cheap. I would be happy if they stuck to this episodic format as any Alan Wake is a good thing in my opinion, but man, Remedy should totally make Alan Wake 2.
Hotline Miami (PC) - It's violent and it's fun and is has a really great sense of style. The hour or so I have played hasn't grabbed me like others, but it's cool if a little frustrating with all the unpredictability.
Sonic & Sega Racing Disney friends and the cast of Friends with some lady I have never heard of racing transformed! (360) - Yo, this is a kart racer and it has a lot of love for both Sonic and older Sega properties. It has a really nice sense of speed. The influences are pretty obvious, but the game is well made even if some of the AI is a little unbalanced and plainly cheats. I really liked the game, there's a ton of content to unlock and level progression for a wide variety of characters. Oh, and Nights is a nightmarish car-monstrosity that will haunt your dreams and consume your soul.
Malicious (PS3) - I don't really have a lot to say about the game as I only really played it for about two hours before deciding it wasn't for me. When I first saw it I thought it was my kind of game, but awkward controls, a hideous camera and bosses that show no real sign of taking any damage at all really turned me off. It has a nice visual style and the music is quite pleasant along with the Mega Man-like structure of doing any boss to receive their power in any order you want being kinda cool. It really all comes down to this though... block and dash on the same button? That's just weird.
Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Episode 2 (360) - Why does this exist? People were generally not fond of the first part as the physics were all off and it seemed to just be a rehash of levels from older games to try and pull in the idiots blinded by nostalgia. (probably me) Part two tries some new things, like including Tails for a double dash spin, lets you swap between the two characters at certain points and tries some brand new zones (that still seem like rehashes of old levels)
This game wouldn't be so infuriating if Sega hadn't shown us that they were still capable of great Sonic games (Colours/Generations) Instead they decided to take two (fifty) steps back by putting out this awful game that halts your momentum by forcing you into walls only Tails can fly over, cheap deaths and bosses that go on for an age. Dimps shouldn't be let anywhere near Sonic again, all they are doing is hurting a series that was totally on its way to being back on track.
Oh, and the music... the music...
Dear Esther (PC) - Not really a game, Walking and talking. If it was a great experience for you I'm totally cool with that, but I found it to be boring as shit. Looks lovely in places though.
SSX (360) - I don't buy sports games, I have never played SSX, but I enjoyed the demo, I felt like I was getting better with each run and played it for hours. I played the full game for a weekend, I didn't even finish the campaign. I just burnt out on it really, really quickly. I had no idea how to play the game properly until I had read a ton of stuff on message boards, the game assumes you will know how it works and that is never any fun. If a game tells me to "wind up" before a jump maybe it should tell me what winding up is y'know. It's ok, It was fun for a weekend I think (?????) I'm just going to file this under the not-for-me category.
Rock Band Blitz (360) - I had no fun with the game when it released, I was only ever hitting three stars with an occasional fourth and I didn't feel like I was getting any better even after seventy or eighty songs. I found myself looking up how to play the game properly on message boards and that to me says "hey, your tutorial is bad" After a few hours of massive frustration that made me just want to return back to playing RB3 (I still do) it finally clicked, A different control scheme, I started knowing when to switch, when to stay in lanes and what powerups I should be using which meant I started doing relatively well in it.
The problem is this. Every song is essentially the same, patterns are similar, the way you get 5/gold stars is identical every time, and it just becomes a little tiresome. It's fun, but not the game that's going to revive the music rhythm genre.
My other complaints are the challenges through Facebook, kinda disgusting, badly designed and once the coin winnings were adjusted serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever. Why do I want to play 4 songs for the exact same amount of coins I can get playing one of those songs and getting five stars? The massive focus on getting you to buy more and more and more songs is really offputting and there is absolutely no excuse to not have the challenges in game or at the very least give you the progress you've made in-game.
Spec-Ops: The Line (PC) - For a game that seems so important I really don't have a whole lot to say about it. I played the campaign in one sitting, It's a very standard third person shooter that can occasionally get quite tough if you don't have the right ammo.
The interesting part of the game is not the way it handles and there are about a billion pieces written dissecting every inch of its story, and while I have nothing but praise for them trying to make you think about your actions, the story really isn't all that clever. The ending can be seen a mile off and has been done countless times in film and that left me a little disappointed as the credits rolled.
The game uses a lot of licensed music to great effect and the kill animations are suitably brutal to make you wince every now and then. There was about three points in the game where I felt genuinely unsettled, something very few games have been able to do. I had to take a break after the very first "holy fuck" moment and while I hope this is the blueprint for a game with a better story, I don't want every single game to be this. Extra points for being the very first video game I have ever played with a Bjork song in it.
Ghost Recon Future Soldier (360) - GRAW2 - good times, brilliant times, making friends, co-op-ing, sniping, hiding, awesome campaign. WHAT HAPPENED!?!? I thought this game looked amazing from the trailers, but it turned out to be just another cover based third person shooter with a great tag & clear mechanic. I found the campaign to be a frustrating mess with a story that made no sense, awful character faces and far too many fail states embedded into all the missions. It has its moments, but it really does lose what made the previous two games special.
I hate that they removed the co-op missions in favour of full campaign and a boring horde mode, but the multiplayer is quite a lot of fun. The maps are great (I have no idea about anything released after the ones on the disc) and there's a lot of fun toys to mess about with, you're also never stuck in one place doing the same thing for too long. If there is a small complaint it is that in order to do well at the game you find yourself constantly switching to first person mode to hit people from afar. If that is so core to getting kills why isn't the game in first person? But hey that's a minor thing and becomes second nature after a few matches. This game left me really conflicted at release. I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue going up the ranks or move on to better games. I don't miss the multiplayer so I guess I made the right decision.
Darksiders 2 (360) - I adored the first game, stunning art, great music a fiery fucking horse! I could go on and on about the Z-Word comparisons, but DS2 was something a little different, and not entirely for the better. The first world seemed like a generic, boring fantasy land so I was immediately put off right out of the gate.once I got to the dungeons things seemed a little better, but it wasn't until I got to the second hub world that the game felt at all like Darksiders.
A lot of my problems came from things like the loot, insane side quests and big open worlds which really serve no purpose at all. I hated that I could sometimes come up against enemies (usually optional)and be under levelled or just insanely godlike, far too much of the loot is just junk. The combat is so mashy in the game that almost everything can be beaten by just rolling about like an idiot, the final boss took me under five minutes and required me to hit one button a lot.
I think some of the puzzles are clever, but I was only mildly stumped on like two of them. I remember being stuck a few times in the first game, but for the most part everything was really, really straightforward.
So here is my biggest complaint, and it's not the technical problems or the camera or the section on earth that is one of the top 3 worst sections in a video game this generation... It is the boring as hell story, Michael Wincott as Death is amazing and a lot of the other voice acting is really good, but this story goes nowhere and ends on a big "oh, what, is that it?" There are times when you can get extra dialogue but it just feels like you unnaturally going through a list like in a point and click adventure and none of it really fleshes out the world. After the "F'YEAH!" ending in the first game it is hard not to be a little saddened by the story in this.
This just reads like a big whine, but I genuinely liked a lot of things about it. The artstyle is some of the best in any game, Jesper Kyd's score is wonderfully grand and atmospheric and the combat can make you feel really, really powerful and skilled despite being mashy as hell. I know I am not alone in my complaints about the game. I really hope a third game gets made, this could have been something truly special.
Jesper Kyd did two amazing soundtracks this year, I think the music in Darksiders 2 was my favourite thing about it. There was another version of this piece of music when you fight the giant guardian also.
Dust: An Elysian Tail (360) - Ok, I'm gonna get this out of the way. I'm one of the pieces of shit that thinks the artstyle in this game isn't very good. I don't like the backgrounds, enemies, the close up dialogue shots, almost none of it. I do however think that it is beautifully animated and transitions from one move to another look great. I feel a little terrible knowing one dude did almost everything for the game. It clearly has a lot of passion behind it and it's a really good thing that the core of the game which is killing the hell out of hundreds of monsters faces is really, really fun.
I enjoyed my time with Dust, it is lengthy has a lot of content and a fully voiced story. I grew tired of the story early on and skipped past quite a lot of it as I found a few of the voices to be a little irritating and sometimes didn't mesh well with the serious storyline.
As I said, there was a lot of exploring, secrets and the combat was always flashy with combos flying up into the hundreds. I can't complain about the fifteen or so hours of game time I got out of it. I'm definitely interested in what the developer goes on to create next... and y'know Meat Boy characters are always a nice addition.
NeverDead (360) - This game starts off with you fighting a frog-bird demon-man with ruffles whilst Megadeth plays. I've seen people say they hate this game with a passion and people that think it has its moments (me) But never anyone defending it as a good game.
I have played through the game twice and oh man does NeverDead have some pretty big problems. The core of the game is being able to break into bodyparts and still be able to fight. losing a leg or an arm is fine and you can kill things from a distance, but far too many enemies require you to use your sword which is pretty much the only weapon in the game of any worth. This doesn't sound too bad, but when most enemies can break you up into pieces with little more than a whisper, requiring to roll your head around Katamari-ing up the rest of yourself, you find yourself swearing uncontrollably at the screen.
The more you play it, and I know many would give up very early in the game, the more you figure little combat tricks and find yourself being able to take out large groups with only the loss of an arm or a leg. That doesn't stop the inevitable death-revive loop you sometimes find yourself in every so often.
The story makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, some of the voices are ok and the final two bosses are like anti-fun... like Shadow The Hedgehog levels of bad... fuck those guys!
YEAH! This song is dumb... I like dumb.
Sound Shapes (PS3) - I enjoyed the music in this game a lot more than the actual game itself. It isn't a bad game, but it's really nothing more than a quite basic platformer. There's maybe fifteen or so songs in the game and they could easily be done in one sitting. The most interesting thing about them beyond the artists involved is the art that compliments each album with each one giving off a really distinct look. Beck's hand drawn pen scribbles and the Superbrothers levels are really great.
I didn't really mess with much of the user created stuff as the few I tried all seemed like big messes of lasers or ultra simplistic. I'm sure at this point some creative people have made some amazing levels, but the core gameplay is not enough of a draw to make me want to go looking for them... maybe I should go have a look.
I feel pretty indifferent about Beck most of the time, but I love the combination of art and music in this level.
Lollipop Chainsaw (360) - "I'm gonna fist my ass with your head" No other line of dialogue sums up Lollipop chainsaw quite like this. (maybe "I'm so totally gonna masturbate to you tonight Juliet" also.) So, where do I start? LC is not a good game, no it's ok, I think, maybe... it is. Before the game came out a couple of reviews talked of it being a score attack game and that's something that stuck with me whilst playing through it. The game holds you up far too much for this to be something you pick up and play in short bursts to get the best high scores. You can play it like that, but you will grow tired of the combat very, very quickly.
I feel like I have gotten off to a negative start here... I found Lollipop Chainsaw to be a lot of fun with its vibrant colours, great soundtrack, great characters and genuinely funny writing. I thought I would have a lot more to say about the game, but it's one of those things you either know you're into or you aren't. *shrug*
Special mention goes to Nick the body-less, voiced by Lex Luthor dude from Smallville. He is pretty much the voice of the player and is both likeable and charming in an otherwise crude and offensive game. One of the best characters in any game this year.
I will have added a bunch more of the music in the Kid Icarus entry on my top 10. I found the music to be great in this game, so varied and so much of it. Almost every single stage has not one, but two pieces of music.
I'm a sucker for creepy, atmospheric strings.
The music in Journey is stunning and deserves all the praise it gets. If you haven't played the game and want to experience it some time in the future I do not recommend listening to this piece out of context as the music is integral to the experience..
I adore the music in Halo 4, really fitting and appropriately grand.
This is a pretty unexciting blog, I really just wanted to show the Journey soundtrack CD I received in the post today. I'm unlikely to ever put the actual CD into anything as I own it digitally, but it's a really nice thing to have and came with some postcards.
It's also signed by Austin Wintory, Jenova Chen and someone else.