By Jimbo_N 0 Comments
All my blogposts about GOTY 2011, see ya in 2012
All my blogposts about GOTY 2011, see ya in 2012
In no particular order. Leaving out guesses and wishes as to stuff I would really like to see but that isnt revealed yet.
That should pretty much do it for my GOTY stuff this year. I will probably collect everything in 1 single blogpost from here unless I think of something more to throw in before that.
Thanks for reading and have a safe new year!
In no particular order, showing what music can do for a game and how far gaming soundtracks have come:
BEST COVER OF A VIDEOGAME SONG:
The Elder Scrolls V:Skyrim - The Dragonborn Comes. By Malukah
Stay locked on for more random cleanup stuff! The year isn't over yet!
Thanks for continuing to read (and in this case watch)
Such a great return to form for Mortal Kombat ! As I previously wrote in "Comeback of the year" MKs return to the scene this year was massive. E-Sports popularity, great reviews and standing ovations from the gaming crowds. All of this, of course, has a reason. Netherrealm returned to the gory, bloody, violent roots of the series but also managed to create a superb fighting engine by continuing to improve on their lincensed Unreal Engine 3 tech. The results felt great. This is how a fighting engine should feel in 2011. Smooth move executions that feels just right and crazy, spectacular combo opportunities while maintaining balance. As if that wasn't enough the package here is huge and the value put into this box is nothing short of fantastic. What seems like an unlimited amount of unlockables and goodies, plenty of different modes to both play around in, hone your skills in and fight people in, in the craziest quirkiest ways you can imagine. When you think you've seen it all there's still more to dig around with in here. The roster is great and the DLC characters are probably the best DLC of the year both in terms of polish and value added. A great leap forward for the franchise and another good injection of vitamins into the genre to keep fighting strong and healthy going forward !
This is how a fighting engine should feel in 2011. Smooth move executions that feels just right and crazy, spectacular combo opportunities while maintaining balance.
One of the best stories I've experienced in a videogame in recent memory. It knows what story it wants to tell and with what tone it wants to do it. So you are sitting there thinking you are getting tired of everything fantasy related because it's all just the same stories told with the same type of characters in the same type of world everytime right? Well I would go as far as to say that if you grew up playing any kind of RPG for any amount of time you should do yourself a huge favor and play The Witcher 2. Here you will play one of the most well realized fantasy worlds in gaming to date with none of the clichés. Its dark, very mature and it will all feel very grounded and interesting. The Witcher 2 kind of feels like the RPG that grew up alongside of me instead of trying to bring me back to the nostalgic feeling of the old ones. It's fun to see this coming from a Polish developer when we live in a world where none of the American and Japanese ones can muster up anything resembling this kind of depth and tone anymore. With all this being said Witcher 2 is probably also THE best looking RPG ever created, it has fantastic looking environmental design and the core game fundamentals such as U.I, technical polish and gameplay variety are all top of the line. But that is almost all beside the point. You need to experience this world and this story if you call yourself a fan of the genre. It's a shame that awful inventory management and a combat system that wants to do more than you can actually do with it keeps this game from the absolute top of my list, so do what I did and play the game on Easy. You won't have a chance to regret if before its over !
The Witcher 2 kind of feels like the RPG that grew up alongside of me instead of trying to bring me back to the nostalgic feeling of the old ones.
Its no big news anymore that Valve is one of the greatest development houses in the world by now right? It's almost as if we don't even give them enough praise for it anymore because we know to expect the best of the best from them everytime. Portal 2 is their magnum opus. It's the game where everything Valve knows how to do better than just about anyone comes together better than ever before. They flex their muscles when it comes to sharpness in level design, writing, voiceacting, mystery and atmosphere. They also show better than ever before how they master the art of letting the game, its enviroments and minimalistic designchoices speak for them rather than throwing what they want to say in the players face. Combine this with the fact that this game includes some of the best enviromental puzzledesign in gaming and you have not only the best puzzler you'll play in a long time but also a puzzler that will stimulate enough other parts of your brain to keep you engaged to more than just the puzzle you are trying to solve. Portal 2 has nothing short of masterful storytelling and it weaves sound and graphical design into it to create a very unique and immersive first person experience. Play Portal 2 to experience a turning and twisting digital world where you will have to solve fanstastic puzzles to see what will happen next, because trust me, you will not want to stop.
Play Portal 2 to experience a turning and twisting digital world where you will have to solve fanstastic puzzles to see what will happen next, because trust me, you will not want to stop.
Skyrim is really, when it comes down to it, the ultimate version of the oldest kind of western RPG playstyle in the books. When you strip everything but the core mechanics away from this game its interesting to think about what you are actually doing. In a sense It's very nostalic. This is the purest form of dungeon crawling and questing and you can almost see the textbased rpg shining through. Bethesda are not afraid of this fact. In fact, its the very thing that they thrive on with the Elder Scrolls series. They then take these pure, old, dusty RPG conventions and put a layer of excellence onto them to create pure roleplaying magic. The feeling of a new Elder Scrolls game is almost orgasmic for those of us who can appriciate turning off reality and embracing a world that you will never see in real life, all the while knowing that it's your world. MMO's are coming strong and heavy and there is really something genious with sharing a persistant world with fellow gamers. But to embrace your inner nerd and run out into the woods in a single player experience just to see whats there, or just to hunt a rabbit, or pick flowers, or find a lost dog, is something else entirely. And the thing is that Bethesda creates this inviting world and offers up an RPG experience like nobody else. Its atmospherical qualities and enviroments are crafted with such love for the concept that you can excuse kind of bland combat, truckloads of bugs and a lack of personality in the worlds inhabitants. When you are offered a digital world like this in a box you have to appriciate and acknowledge it, because this really shows what gaming can offer compared to movies, books or music when it comes to fleeing reality into a crafted experience.
When you are offered a digital world like this in a box you have to appriciate and acknowledge it, because this really shows what gaming can offer compared to movies, books or music when it comes to fleeing reality into a crafted experience.
Epic Games and Cliff Bleszinski shows us once again why they are the masters of third person shooters. They brought this kind of game into the new generation and with Gears 3 they cement their place as the rightful owners of it. When they sat down and created Gears of War 1 they created the best possible mechanics for shooting stuff in 3rd person possible and since then nobody has beat them but themselves. Active reloads, 3rd person cover mechanics, roadie run, the way the camera works when shooting in 3rd person, level design when working with coverbased gameplay, the "grenade throw arc", moving slowly forward and remaining in control while hearing dialogue, wehicle sequences and setpieces, "horde" mode. The list goes on.. When it comes to this genre of 3rd person action Epic was there and brought in (and refined) old mechanics for a new generation of gaming that is now copied by everyone everywhere. And with Gears 3 they outdid themselves again by improving all of these mechanics while also adding more stuff that will surely keep being copied. With this new game Epic adds 4 player co-op through a campaign that is better than it has ever been before, beast mode multiplayer, and an Arcade mode, all while maintaining and improving on the magical shooterexperience that has always been Gears of War. Unreal Engine 3 is looking better than ever before and is now one of the absolute best looking engines on the market, again. I have always been in awe of the design choices that were made while creating this series. Epic really shows us how important the small stuff is for a game of this style to feel right. It feels like unparalelled designvisions and playtesting is the meat of this company.
Not only do I wish to thank Epic for how they formed this generation of games, but I also want to show my respect for how they still manage to stay ahead of the competition. The multiplayer managed to hook me completely even though I was set on not playing it and the campaign was more of a rollercoaster ride and a pleasure all the way through than ever before. When it comes to the "feel" of a shooter when having a controller in your hand, Gears of War is once again, without competition and looking at the endless amounts of games deploying the same mechanics these days the contrast only grows larger with Gears 3. And this is why Gears 3 is the best game of the year. The industry can keep trying, but I'll doubt they have enough genious in one place to beat this mammoth of a videogame.
When it comes to the "feel" of a shooter when having a controller in your hand, Gears of War is once again, without competition and looking at the endless amounts of games deploying the same mechanics these days the contrast only grows larger with Gears 3.
My GOTY list will probably continue with some honorable mentions, stuff I wish I had played more of for this list and probably some other fun stuff I can throw together. So if you read all they way here I wish to thank you and hope you will stay for some more!
As always please tell me in the comments what you don't agree with and why !
I debated long and hard about this 10th spot on the list seeing as I probably had 10 or so games that I enjoyed the actual gameplay of more than Drake's Deceptions trial and error like chases and unbalanced and janky feeling combat scenarios that dragged on for what felt like hours too long. But U3 is still such an achievement on so many other levels that it just NEEDS to be on a list like this unless you're some kind of crazy person. What Naughty Dog managed to put out in two years in terms of scripting, animation, technical fidelity and polish is astonishing. On top of this the intensity of U3's setpiece moments and chase sequences alone kind of gives it a free pass onto my list. When things are cinematic and going crazy in this game the world around your television just kind of fades out. Thinking back on what Naughty Dog managed to do without resorting to quick time events in this game more than ever before in the series combined with the ridiculous presentation kind of makes me overlook that it feels rushed in spots and have gameplay that takes a backseat to the rest of the gaming year.
Bulletstorm might not reinvent the wheel here but People Can Fly showed us that they are still all about the pure gameplay fun. This year marks the great return with the now Epic backed studio and Bulletstorm shows us that in this very pretentious industry that constantly tries to move story and gameplay features forward, you can still just make a first person shooter that feels and plays better than many others who tries a little too hard. The skillshot/leash combos in this game is without a doubt one of the coolest mechanics in a game in a long time. It makes you look at shooting enemies in a whole new light and when you manage to pull off some huge, crazy combo with your guns, your leash and the environment itself being a part of it, the payoff is gigantic. The game also brought Unreal Engine 3 into a world full of vibrant color and man if I didn't enjoy the slightly offensive, ironic take on storytelling. Bulletstorm is also a creative masterpiece when it comes to weapondesign but that is nothing new when it comes to this fantastic shooter dev.
Visceral continues their tradition of merging the best of classic japanese survival horror games with the streamlined smoothness of modern western 3rd person shooters in the same masterful way that they merge psychological thriller with Aliens and Event Horizon inspired claustrofobic space terror. The sheer intensity of the story alone is enough to warrant a spot on this list but Visceral brings a level of polish to the table that no other company trying to do the same thing can even come close to. Really, when you talk about DS2, you kind of just want to start listing of stuff like a boring person. Sound design, environment art, graphical design, storytelling, U.I, you name it. Dead Space 2 is a great sum of its many polished parts. You find yourself on the edge of your seat terrified about what you might have to go through next but you are also filled with a great sense of exploration making you really want to press on. You just want to bathe in the atmosphere and keep taking in the detail in whats happening around you and never do you have to stop and get frustrated about anything mechanically at all. A great atmospherical experience !
The prime example of the year of people expecting the wrong thing. If a game features an inventory and a wasteland it has to be some kind of an RPG right? RIGHT?! So wrong. I grew up playing ID Software shooters and I managed my expectation and early realized that I would be getting a best in class FPS where you go from mission A to B in a car instead of by foot. ID Software continue to do what they are best at. A core FPS experience. On top of this they have layered fun but not needed distractions that mixes things up a bit but at its core this is the new game from the company that created the genre. Well, if you want to be specific about it they kind of created both the genre and defined shooters in general. Deathmatch, what guns we have in games today and, to a big extent, how games look today. So naturally I expected nothing less than the best graphics of the year combined with masterful shooter design both in gunplay, leveldesign and enemy A.I. Rage is all that for old school FPS gamers like myself. The distractions didn't really need to be there, the game dragged a bit in spots, there were technical issues that were very unfortunate and the ending is the worst of any game this year. Does it matter when we finally get a lesson from ID on how to create a shooter again? No, no it does not matter at all.
I am going to put aside that Greg Kasavin himself co-created this game. The man that was once one of the best writers on the internet and one of the most respectable persons you'll ever see in an internet video window. Bastion is without any doubt in my mind one of the most unique and creative experiences of the year. It almost feels wrong to start describing it as a streamlined action RPG. This is an experience unlike any other. The game practically throws stuff you've never seen or heard before in your face. The world forms around you as you play, the soundtrack constantly keeps you guessing and gasping, the upgrade perks are tonic-slots, you rebuild a town by completing levels, there is a dynamic narrator telling the story of your every move, you can use a hammer or dual pistols, enemies are everything from giant gasbags to lich-like ghosts. The list just keeps going. Adding to this nothing short of masterful gameplay design and you have one of the best games of the year and a Bastion (sorry!) for indie development going forward . Combat feels fresh, snappy and very thought out and the artstyle...well, just watch some screens of it..The game is also made with ridiculous amounts of love for old school gaming that shines through at every twist and turn in the game. Bastion is a work of love, a work of art and a work of creative genious.
Spots 5-1 coming up some time before christmas. Thank you for reading and I will gladly take all your hate, love or discussion in the commentsfield below!
And by nobody I mean way too few people. Compared to the attention that the big AAA releases get, Catherine should have sold way more in my personal opinion. I was so excited for this I actually imported the Japanese version and played through it with almost all of the dialogue flying over my head. And yet, I still enjoyed the tone and atmosphere of the game. I also really liked the gameplay mixes and the puzzlesolving. Catherine is a game like no other, mixing a mature relationship theme with adventure, dating, blockpuzzles and loads of polish and attention to detail. Great characters and a kick ass soundtrack was just frosting on the cake. Catherine somehow drove me to challenge myself to lenghts I didn't know I could go to finish a game with extremely demanding puzzles towards the end. In a version of the game that did not have a patched in casual mode. The thing is tho, I enjoyed the puzzles so much I wanted to push myself to finish them and see how the fuck this twisted story would end. Now where is my Persona 5? Where is it!!?
WINNER: UNCHARTED 3 - DRAKES DECEPTION
Now stop and read carefully. I do not mean that "missed potential" means bad. So do not, even for a second, think that I mean that Uncharted 3 is a mediocre game that could have been good. The truth is that Uncharted 3 is a great game. I love the stellar presentation and the "best in gaming" setpieces. And thats just the thing. If Naughty Dog could handle 3rd person shooting like the companies that do that the best, Uncharted 3 would be one of the best games ever made! It hurts me that such polish and cinematic presentation feels frustrating and stumbles in its unbalanced and janky feeling action. The other nominees in this category had much more to work on to even come close to Uncharted 3's level but man, I like Nathan Drakes latest adventure so much I can't help but thinking about what a timeless classic this could have been had the actual gameplay felt better. I played through Uncharted 3 in one sitting and it is one of the best titles of the year, but just thinking about what it could have been gives me goosebumps.
WINNER: DUKE NUKEM FOREVER
Duke Nukem Forever is not a great game, in fact it hardly even passes for good. But man did it get way more shit thrown at it than it deserved. The games' flaws are many but Duke Nukem is an ok shooter. It's a passable timespender where you get to ride a nostalgiawave and get to witness how this game finally played out after one of the craziest development stories of a game ever. This product is of historical value and the fact that it was released in a playable form is great! It was interesting start to finish to actually finally play this game for yourself. The sexist humor didn't really play, the loading times and overall performance was terrible, the feel of the gameplay was outdated and MAN was the game frustrating at parts. But taken for what it is it's cool to see and play an actual copy of this game that people thought was a ghost forever. On top of that I actually dare say that small sections of this game was fun and creative when it comes to FPS design. Duke Nukem Forever is a real rough game but I feel people took a way too big of a shit on it this year. Was it the wallboobs? Are people really so easily offended? I don't know. All I know is that the game was underrated, maybe not by much.. but still underrated !
WINNER: MORTAL KOMBAT
Some of my favorite franchises made comebacks in a huge way this year. Games I played growing up and that had way smaller audiences then compared to what they will have going forward from here. Mortal Kombat was the biggest bomb here. MK have struggled for a looooong time trying to find its way back to some kind of excellence and this year they finally did it. After coming close with "MK vs DCU" they just nailed it in 2011. Mortal Kombat is back and is now bigger than ever before. It sold well, got great reviews and is now played on the highest competative levels next to giants like Street Fighter 4. Mortal Kombat has grown up and is finally taken seriously. Even the most hardcore Street Fighter players that have always shrugged MK off as silly and "for the people that aren't good enough for real fighting games" are now no longer in a position where that argument holds any weight. As someone who grew up playing MK I can finally start twisting that argument around and maybe, someday, it will be the completely other way around. And on that day we will look back on this game and rejoice.
That is all for this extra controversial edition of my GOTY stuff. I will probably jump into my overall top 10 pretty soon with some honorable mentions following shortly after. If I come up with another round of good awards I might try to get them in there first tho.
Stay tuned !
Games now look so very good that having a category like this is really, when it comes down to it, kind of meaningless. 2011 carried games forward from both an artistical and a technical perspective in a really big way and I felt like I went "oh holy shit, this really looks ALOT better than games have done before" more than ever before. What it really came down tho was the crazy capabilities of ID Tech 5. Sadly enough the game suffered from pop-in problems and some technical stuff on the PC and PS3. But when the engine runs as it should RAGE just is in a league of its own. The artdirection is very well realized and the megatexture technology really allows for a level of detail and variation in the textures that cannot be seen anywhere else. All the while the game runs at double the framerate compared to the competition. While aspects of the games graphics might be subpar to aspects of other games, this very fact alone still puts it at no.1. RAGE is probably the best looking game I've played on my 360 and it never drops a frame under 60fps.
WINNER: SAINTS ROW THE THIRD
Bossfights are now a thing that in most cases can no longer be taken seriously and no longer be made the same way they once were. There are exceptions to this rule but you need to be creative with all aspects of it and that is what I was looking for this year. Its 2011, I want to see something new or I want to see something funny or creative done with the fight. This is why SR3 really succeeds. The infamous Hackers section of the game where you are put into a videogame world inside of a videogame and the bossfight that follows is really nothing special from a gameplay perspective. But the fight so so out of left field that it works. At the same time it makes fun of our history with bossfights. Taken out of context it dosent look like much but getting to that fight in an open world sandbox game is by far the most memorable fight of the year. WATCH (11:30 min in)
WINNER: KILLZONE 3
Now the important thing to mention here even tho it should be obvious is that the game dosen't need to be bad to be a disappointment. It has more to do with your own expectations or with the missed potential of what the game could have been. Killzone 3 had alot to live up to after Killzone 2 for me and for the most part it did not deliver at all. The story felt very much tacked on, silly and it almost felt like a comic book in a way it didnt need to. Leveldesign felt stale and uninspired and I feel both audio and graphics took a big step backwards from the second game. The game felt kind of rushed on all levels and after the masterpiece that was Killzone 2 I found myself just shrugging my shoulders to most of what this game had to offer. Now compared to alot of whats out there Killzone 3 is still a great shooter if you want a PS3 exclusive but in a year where we got Rage and Bulletstorm that really shows us how FPS design should work in 2011 I just feel Killzone went back a year instead of moving forward.
WINNER: THE WITCHER 2
The overall feeling I get is that games are moving more and more towards good storytelling rather than the actual story being super deep or super interesting. Getting characters to feel alive and human, voicing them well and directing good scenes within the confines of a gaming engine is what is really moving forward. Games like Uncharted 3 shows us how well you can direct a game even tho the story itself is very cookie cutter, and that is fine. It is however in the land between atmosphere, character development, intrigue and tensity that Witcher 2 falls. The story here is actually gripping and good while also having really good storytelling. I guess it's still kind of chiché that a fantasy RPG wins a category like this but I feel Witcher 2 creates an adult interesting case for itself that I want to see more of, all the while having memorable story beats and never taking the player for a child. Instead they rather take the player for an adult who wants a fleshed out story in videogame form.
Stay tuned for more in the near future and please go back and read my earlier entries!
This was a year oozing with great musical scores. To pick out three of these as nominees and then actually choose one might be one of the harder choices to make on this years list. What it all came down to was remembering individual tracks long after the game is turned off. A soundtrack with tunes you want to listen to in other situations of your life and that rises above the more "standard" orchestral scores, beautiful as they may be. Bastion was unique in so many ways this year and that goes for the music aswell. The soundtrack to Bastion triggers an atmosphere that Super Giant Games really could not have pulled off without the music being as good as it is. Its a unique blend of genres and instruments and it is the most memorable soundtrack of the year! LISTEN (Setting Sail, Coming Home) / LISTEN (Terminal March)
As with the original score this was a huge year for female voiceacting in games. Finding unique standouts here was not the hard thing, it was narrowing it down. And in the end it came down to Ellen McLain and the way she first brought a computer to life with more dark humor, sadism and personality than anyone could have thought possible, and then improved on it in this years sequel Portal 2. Of course it dosent hurt that the lines she was given was extremely well written and that the voice wouldn't be the same without the voicemodulation going on but Ellen has a fantastic voice and delivers every line as this evil supercomputer who might or might not be just looking for love deep inside! LISTEN (Slowclap Processor) / LISTEN (Want You Gone)
So, Portal 2 huh? So well written and so very well acted. At this point I'm actually kind of trying to stop myself from giving Portal 2 even more praise but with people Like Stephen still in the mix it's an impossible task. Portal 2 dropped early this year and because of this man I am still thinking back on it as one of the funniest games ever released. Stephen does the spherical robot Wheatley with such precision it's almost at a level where you want to bring in the big superlatives like "best voiceacting ever". I will not, however, go that far. But when I think back on Portal 2 this little cube for a machine is the first thing I think about. Just like with GLaDOS, Stephens lines were well written but without Mr Merchant bringing an unreasonable amount of personality to this robot, it would all have been for nought! LISTEN (Best of Wheatley)
Check out some of my earlier entries in my blog for more and stay tuned for upcoming awards in the coming weeks.
WINNER: DEAD SPACE 2
WINNER: DARK SOULS
WINNER: SHADOWS OF THE DAMNED
Alright, GOTY stuff is as good a reason as any to try and get back to writing in this here blog and I thought about doing the GOTY stuff across all of December this year, starting with small, wierd categories that I kinda want to get in there without affecting the true end of the year stuff. So hey, its 2 AM going to Saturday and I got off work a couple of hours ago. So why not try starting this thing off instead of going to bed.
I just now went over all the tracking services I have to try and single out every game I played this year. It turns out I played alot more games than I thought in 2011. Iäve probably missed some but so far I count 38 uniques games over PC,PS3 and 360 not counting some of my mainstays since last year and not counting picking up and playing games that wasn't actually released this year.
So narrowing this down into some categories will be just as much of a headache and just as much fun as every year. I'm not sure how to really put this together yet so I'll just somehow start this off by throwing some stuff in to this blogpost. I hope that these small early things will be pretty self explanatory and I will probably not explain the categories or the nominees here.
WINNER: PORTAL 2
If you feel like something obvious is missing its probably because I didn't play it ( Lists like thes always comes down to what you actually played when you don't do it for a living) or because I disagree with you but feel free to chime in on the categories and i'll see you in part 2 of these random categories in a couple of days or so.
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