Top 5 games, 2011 edition.

Top 10 be damned. Well, I'm afraid this list is going to be a bit disappointing. The top 2 games on the list are sort of their by default, as they are really the only two games I completed this year that were actually released this year and felt comfortable enough with to put on a top games list. So without further ado:

5. Demon's Souls - Now, I know what you're thinking. What isn't Dark Souls in this spot? Well, if it will make you feel better, just imagine it is. It doesn't make much of a difference, does it? But I haven't played Dark Souls yet because I'm a bad person (and I think it would be weird to play it without beating Demons Souls, which I still haven't done by the way). I really don't know why I like this game, anyway. It's not easy to explain with the English language, so maybe Japanese would work better. ファック。このゲームは狂気です。私は私の人生を憎む。

4. Dragon Age Origins - Yeesh. I got this game for Christmas last year, and played it in January. So I'm going to say it counts. And what a game. I'm not ashamed to admit that I didn't like Mass Effect all that much. My favorite part of the game was actually the beginning, wandering around the Citadel. I thought the narrative tricks Bioware is known for were all rather lame and predictable, and the ending did absolutely nothing for me. So enter Dragon Age, I had pretty muted expectations. And I couldn't have been more impressed. The morality system wasn't dreadfully mundane, the narrative, while not groundbreaking, was engaging and well-told. And it had a pretty satisfying ending.

3. League of Legends - This game is actually the source of where my year went wrong. I put in about 500 hours into this game in 2011 and only recently have been able to 'put it on the shelf' for a bit. I don't want get into a MOBA discussion on why this game's mechanics are better than DotA 2 or HoN, but there is a simplicity and elegance to League of Legends that makes it a damn fun game and one I can't seem to stop playing. Bi-weekly content patching and pretty good balance don't hurt. (We'll make believe Dominion never happened. That mode pretty much blows.) I know I won't be the only person on this website with this game on their list this year. If you don't like it, FINE. I DIDN'T WANT YOU TO LIKE IT ANYWAY.

2. Bastion - I don't like this game as much as others. If I had played Skyrim, LA Noire, Skyward Sword, Battlefield 3, Batman Arkham City, or Rayman, this could have easily been bumped off. It was, or is, a neat premise and the game is easy to play through and complete, and it has a tasteful ending which is the hardest thing to do for video game developers apparently. (Watch a fucking movie, for fuck's sake.) I felt like if this game went on any longer, it would've outstayed its welcome, which is a credit for the developers for knowing when to stop.

1. Portal 2 - This is a perfect video game. Or at least, what I expect a perfect video game to be. The humor was sublime, the puzzles were impeccable, the ending was nuts. Yeah, I understand the argument that it wasn't as good as the first. But Valve managed to make a game that, apart from the fundamental premise, feels nothing like the first. If a book was written on how to make an appropriate sequel to a beloved game, Portal 2 would be chapter one. They didn't try to be cute with themes the first game established. They went beyond and built something grander and different, without ignoring what made the first game great in the first place. I don't know how they keep doing it. Bring on Episode 3, Half-Life 3, whatever. Just keep making games.

So, perhaps if I had played about a dozen other games (To the Moon, Witcher 2, Dirt 3, Ico/Shadow of the Colossus collection, Deus Ex, Dead Space 2, Uncharted 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, well let's not get carried away with that last one) my list would be a bit more complete. But whatever, I did my best asshole. Why don't you go take an arrow to the groin.

P.S. Games that will be on my top 5 games of 2012 list: Diablo 3.

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Kindle Fire Review

Good:

  1. Impossible not to mention the price first. At $200, it is an easy recommendation to those interested in buying a tablet but hesitant of a $500 plus price tag. And it cannot be understated, the Kindle Fire is a very good (not perfect) iPad substitute.
  2. Amazon.com and cloud integration is seamless. Apart from the price tag, this is easily the biggest selling point. Once registered, all Kindle books, magazines, applications, Amazon instant video and MP3s sync immediately.
  3. Bright, color rich screen. Decent built-in audio. It's small and lightweight, yet sturdy.

Unsure:

  1. The Amazon Silk web browser is fast, but the quality of a particular page is really inconsistent. Having the ability to tab browse is awesome, but it would be nice to be able to view websites and internet video in a landscape mode. This could possibly be corrected with a firmware update.
  2. The battery life is about 7 or so hours. In this price range, it is neither good nor bad. For how I use the device, it is more than acceptable.
  3. No access to the Android application marketplace. This might be a bigger deal at launch, but the Amazon app store will grow rapidly to the point of it being irrelevant.

Bad:

  1. No 3G support and only 8 gigabytes of on device storage. As impressive as the Amazon Cloud is, it is moot if you can't communicate with it. For times when you don't have access to wifi, this could be a legitimate pain.
  2. No camera, bluetooth. Cameras are nice, though not a necessity. Bluetooth is a bigger deal with regard to making edits to documents with the virtual keyboard.
  3. It doesn't have that Apple polish. The Kindle Fire suffers from a little bit of first generation "jankiness". This will be a bigger deal to some than others. In most cases, it's form of function. But it's hard to rival the sleekness of the iPad, and the Fire falls short.

Conclusion: Buy it if you are either heavily invested in the Amazon cloud with your Kindle and MP3 library (and if you have a Prime account for streaming video), or are looking for a cheap alternative to the iPad. Don't buy it if you want a top of the line tablet with a fully established application store and/or if wifi isn't readily available in your daily life. It's not an iPad killer, but it's a legit competitor. It will do well in expanding the tablet market, which I think we can all agree is the healthiest of predicaments.

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Hey, the decade isn't over.. let's stop with the GotD talk!

This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but I can't stand all the "game of the decade" talk, or whatever. The decade doesn't end until Dec. 31st, 2010!  
 
For those that do not know, the first year of recorded history would end on Dec. 31st, 0001. The tenth year of the first decade would then end on Dec. 31st, 0010. Likewise, the first year of this decade ended on Dec. 31st, 2001. I understand the cultural convenience of defining a decade as 70-79, 80-89, and 90-99, but it isn't accurate. Does this bug anyone else, or am I just making a big deal out of nothing? 
 
So the moral of the story is, stop making your game of the decade lists. We still have another outstanding year of gaming to consider! 
  
Games we will play during the last year of the decade: 

Starcraft 2 
God of War 3  
Mass Effect 2 
Super Mario Galaxy 2 
Gran Turismo 5 
Metroid: Other M 
Bioshock 2  
Halo Reach
Bayonetta 
No More Heroes 2 
Final Fantasy 13 
WoW: Catyclsm 

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Top 5 Games, 2008. It begins.

Gnomes are so fucking hot.
5. World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King - A masterful addition to unarguably the most complete, polished, and accessible MMORPG to date, Wrath raised the bar in both story-telling and immersion. Arthas has been in our minds since The Frozen Throne 4 years ago, and I look forward to the conclusion of this story arc.  

4. Mega Man 9 - Back to the basics, Mega Man 9 is an example of what I want the video game industry to embrace and encourage. With most developers constantly reaching for the most bleeding edge graphics and gameplay, sometimes the soul of a game gets lost along the way. Fallout 3 is one such game that utterly fails in this regard, providing a cold experience beyond the whole post-apocalyptic wasteland thing. There was a lot of attention to detail paid in the creation of this game, and it shows with the intuitive and classic 2D gameplay we all "love" and grew up with.

caption

 3. Left 4 Dead - 5,133 zombies were slain in the making of this blog, and this game is fucking awesome. Four movies, each with five chapters of insanity. The only reason this game isn't at the top of my list is do to the lack of modes and more chapters. I know they'll be coming later on, but I'm a greedy bastard.

2. World of Goo - Is it against the rules to pick a small, low budget game as one of the top games of the year? Everywhere I look, it seems that games like Fallout 3, Grand Theft Auto IV, and Metal Gear Solid 4 are at the top of everyone's list. It just so happens all of those games are multi-platinum and multi-million dollar productions. None of those games, I repeat, none of those games provided a more charming, joyful, satisfying, and exhilarating experience than World of Goo. 

More Heroes, please.
1. No More Heroes - This is not the best game of the year. What I mean to say is that this isn't the best made game of the year. And that's why it sucks to be a game critic. They don't get to pick games like No More Heroes. They have to pick the popular games, the cutting-edge games, the games with the most impact on the industry.. not this goofy, flawed game on the Wii. And flawed as it is, despite the flaws I should say, no game in 2008 left a more memorable and lasting impression on me than No More Heroes did, no game captured my interest as thoroughly as No More Heroes, and that's why it is my game of the year. Encore Travis Touchdown, encore.

 This is the first time I've ever concluded any year's top 5 list with a downloadable game on it, let alone two. Honestly, I'm OK with that. The mega-blockbuster titles like Fallout 3 and GTA IV, even Super Smash Brothers Brawl always seem to fail to meet the hype and expectations I have before playing them. This was a pretty good year for gaming, but it is likely to pale in comparison to the monster year about to befall us in 2009. Cheers! Merry Christmas!

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Fragile, What are you?

Fragile: Farewell Ruins of the Moon























If there is any game I'm looking forward to hearing more about at TGS, it's Fragile from Namco-Bandai. When I saw the first screenshots of the game, I kind of immediately had an attraction to the art design, almost to a point that I would buy it no matter what reviews it got, just to see the sights. The screenshots just blow me away; and before you jump on me for saying that, I don't mean technically. I like the feeling of loneliness, the derelict world. Simply put, it gives me a good vibe and I want to see more of it. Here's to hoping the combat isn't complete shit!

Awesome.




























It bothers me that I know so little about the game, specifically in how the game with play. But moving on, I also have to mention Madworld, if only because how can one not want to hear more about this title?

Madworld

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Favorite Mega Man 9 Levels

Mega Man 9

I've been playing this game for a few days now (it's great, by the way) and I thought I'd give a run down on my favorite levels and why.

I have to start with Concrete This pick is more a tribute to the music in this level, which is absolutely fantastic. It has solid level design, minus the first 30 seconds of the level, and I of course have to give a shout-out to the elephants, which are adorable.The boss is challenging, but not to the point of frustration. He has the potential to do some lame things during the fight, like the combination of his aerial attack in the middle of the room, immediately followed by his block attack. But, he is definitely beatable with the Mega Blaster, and a lot of fun once you figure out the pattern.

Next up, Splash Women. I've always liked the feel of water levels in Mega Man, and many elements of this level reminded me of Mega Man 5, which is probably my favorite in the series. The bubble-jumping puzzles are always pleasant, but what I really found enjoyable was water-platform jumping later in the level. The music is solid, although not on the same level as Concrete Man, Galaxy Man, or As for Splash Women herself, aside from the 'weirdness' of a female robot-villain in Mega Man (do robots, y'know..), it's another fight on the easy side, very doable with your Mega Blaster and a lot of fun.

Concrete Man, acting sexy for the lady.

Fourth, This level also gets a nod for its music, which is among the best. The level design is overall well done, with the canon interaction. Some of the enemies in this level are a bit annoying though, and the mini-boss can be frustrating. The basic premise for the mini-boss is moving clockwise around a circle of platforms, avoiding a rotating wall of flowers that inflict a lot of damage. Meanwhile, you have to shoot a flower that spawns randomly on one of the six platforms which is trying to kill you with a pedal attack. The problem is that sometimes the flower spawns in the most unreasonable places over and over, which generally leads to fail. The boss is quite challenging, but not too difficult with the Mega Blaster if you can take out the hornets quickly.

Fifth, This boss and level are the easiest, and that may be part of the reason he's this high (or low). The music in this level is also catchy and well done, and keeps me groovin' throughout. There are a few annoyances during the level, particularly with those claws that fall from the ceiling and grab onto you. Other than that, it's a smooth ride. The boss fight is fun, but definitely easy, easier than some mini-bosses. It's nice to have an easy level now and again, you know?

Semi-non sequitur: Is it considered cheating to use special weapons in the actual levels (not counting bosses of course)? I can never shake the feeling that I am whenever I do.

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McCain and Palin for President!

It's this new game coming out in 2012, introducing two new characters to gaming, John McCain and Sarah Palin. Fallout 4 I believe it will be called, a loose fiction based on the historic, yet tragic presidencies of  both John McCain and Sarah Palin. Be sure to check it out.

I'm awesome at photoshop, by the way.

In a world with no future, who has the courage to lead you now?
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Warhammer != WoW Killer.

That about sums up my opinion of the game thus far. It would probably be easiest just to list some pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Public quests are very cool.
  • Quests lead the player around the world well.
  • Overall smooth servers.
  • Accessible.
  • PvP is fun and balanced, giving the level bump to lower players is good.
  • Tome of Knowledge is cool.

Cons:

  • Feels like WoW in too many ways (and inferior in most of those).
  • The classes aren't particularly interesting at the lower levels.
  • The game is a system hog. I run Crysis better than I run Warhammer. Not alt-tab friendly (and the game doesn't look that good either, poor anti-aliasing).
  • Public quests aren't cool if there is nobody around to do them.
  • Minor quibbles like enviornmental interactions (getting stuck), and animations.

I'm having fun and will be playing it for awhile, but as it stands now, I will definately be purchasing Wrath of the Lich King. I kind of feel like Blizzard has ruined me. The gameplay in WoW is so polished now that it's hard to overlook some of the quirks in Warhammer and just enjoy it. I'm liking it more and more the longer I play though (as I begin to forget why WoW is better). 
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