By Make_Me_Mad 4 Comments
I am terrible at this blog thing. This isn't going to be pretty, that much is assured, but I figure that it's the end of the year, and games this year have been pretty okay you guys. Note that this is a personal list, and that I haven't had the chance to play every game that came out this year, despite my best efforts. Also, I'd somehow be even more of an asshole if I was going around posting my thoughts on Game of the Year lists without letting my own opinions be publicly ridiculed, so... here we go!
I've done a fair amount of bitching about this game, make no mistake. I think that the glitches, bugs, and general brokenness that pervade every area of the game are shameful, and someone probably deserves an actual punch to the jaw for allowing it to be released in such a state, especially to PS3 users. That said, I can still understand and appreciate what they attempted, and it's not like they made a bad game in the process. They just made a great, very broken game, which is arguably the more depressing outcome. At least the Argonians look awesome this time around.
9: Dead Space 2
I'll admit to not liking this game quite as much as the first one, due in large part to the shift from survival horror towards... action-horror? Whatever it is that Resident Evil has become in recent years. That doesn't stop it from looking downright incredible and still managing to, if not make you nervous and jumpy in dark corners, at least turn your stomach with some serious eye-related trauma. It's got likable enough characters that you don't want to see horrible things happen to them, and this being Dead Space, it inevitably will anyways, and the gameplay still feels rewarding and manages to keep things interesting until the end of the ride.
About 85% of the population loves Batman unconditionally, or so I've been told in the past. Arkham Asylum, while critically loved, failed to inspire much more than disappointment from me when I played it in preparation for this one- And make no mistake, the boss battles were entirely to blame for that. That issue has been more than resolved with this game, which handles the major villains and showdowns with as much aplomb and grace as you'd hoped for in the first game. The combat is improved in some small but important ways, and the Detective Vision thankfully gets a break, allowing you to really soak up some of the downright fantastic environments scattered around. The only real shame is that there isn't a little more to do on the rooftops and streets, but I suppose there has to be something saved for the sequel right?
7: Portal 2
How do you make everyone's Game of the Year lists? Make a sequel to Portal, and don't fuck it up. It sounds a seemingly insurmountable trial, but it's been done, and in some people's opinions it's actually even better than the first. I tend to sit more with the crowd who found Wheately a little annoying... wait, I was the only one? Oh... okay, then. It was fun, it was clever, it was hilarious, and actually playing it feels as good as it did the first time around. The added Co-op was a nice touch that actually provided some of my personal favorite content in the game, but even without it this game solidly deserves to be on most Game of the year rundowns.
That's not a typo. I was expecting to remember some amazing game that I totally forgot about, but that never materialized, so we're left with a dark void where Number 6 should go. I'll use said vacuous abyss to store my memories of Alice, because holy shit you guys, this game got dark. It's gorgeous, it oozes style every time you glance at it, the levels are both smartly designed and intriguing, and the characters feel alive. That's perhaps unfortunate considering some of the territory that the story edges into later on, pulling some truly twisted material out of left field. I actually considered leaving this game off the list, because when I think about it I feel unhappy, and I find myself literally wishing that I hadn't played the game so that I could stay ignorant of the last few twists they pull. I'll have to live with the knowledge, however, like some unwanted black spot on my memories, but any game that could so thoroughly affect me has to be on a list like this. I wouldn't have it any other way.
This game came in late, to be sure, but it's hard not to be immediately grabbed and pulled in by the signature style of the Zelda world. This isn't a familiar one, though, and the changes allowed by taking a far-removed approach from the Hyrule of earlier (later?) games in the series is refreshing. A lot has been said about the slow start to the game, which I suppose was mitigated in my case by unabashed joy and nerdy revelry at the discoveries I was making about the series as a whole. For instance, I now know why there is a red bird on the Hyrulian shield, and that fills me with an unusual amount of joy. Make no mistake, this is a Zelda game at heart, and fans of the series will find themselves knowing where to go and what to do instinctively. For those not as well versed, Fi makes an excellent addition to the ranks of Link's companions, providing hints about puzzles, item suggestions for new areas, and even allowing you to search out and pinpoint particular goals. On top of that, the motion controls finally come into their own here, and had this game been released at the start of the Wii lineup instead of the end, I imagine the gaming landscape today would be quite different than it is.
A lot has been said about Catherine on this site. It seemed like no one really knew what to expect from the game, and when everyone found out that the majority of gameplay was a block-puzzler, the reactions went everywhere. To anyone who says block puzzles can't be fun, I say that while I understand it's your opinion, you can go directly to hell. Forget slogging through the block puzzles, I was waiting for Vincent to shut his mouth- despite my love for Troy Baker- so that I could get back to those awesome Nightmare stages. It's tense, it's exciting, it makes you think harder than a lot of games will just to get up the tower, not even mentioning when they're asking you what you'd do if you caught your partner in an affair. The game tackles some uncomfortable material in traditional Atlus style, by throwing it at you and letting you drown in the awkwardness and pressure that at times can feel scarily realistic. The side characters manage to be some of the most entertaining and endearing you'll ever meet, and several are inarguably more interesting than the cast of other games on this very list. Despite a few misgivings I have with the way the story wrapped up, namely the illusory nature of a certain character, and despite my intense personal distaste for Vincent Brooks as a person, there's no way that this game isn't completely deserving of the top of the list.
2: Dark Souls
But that wasn't the top of the list? Well, not technically, but these last three games are all so damn good that I can't actually pick between them. They all tickle different areas of my mind in just the right ways, and all three, including From Software's brutally punishing Dark Souls, claim the top spot as far as I'm concerned. This one, in particular, lets me really sink in and enjoy the story and the world. Everyone said this game's story wasn't important, or that it barely had one? They weren't paying enough attention, then, because Dark Souls actually has one of the more ingenious stories of any game released this year. Perhaps more impressive is the manner in which it's delivered to you, by scarce dialogue from the few NPCs and more often than not from the informational text describing the items lining your pockets. It's all the more amazing when you manage to piece together the bits you need to uncover the actual story of Dark Souls, to find the characters driving things from behind the scenes, and to once and for all understand your place in the world. There's a complex web of lies, betrayal, and tragedy just under the surface of the game, and uncovering it was one of the most memorable experiences of the year.
Saints Row The Third prioritizes having fun. This takes it a shockingly long way towards excellence, in no small part due to the fact that when they set out to do something, they set out to do it as big as they can. A lot has been said about the comedy, the outlandishness, the insanity that pervades the game world, and I feel like in all that joy and glee something has been missed, and that is the fact that this game is surprisingly good, even without all of that delicious icing on top. The driving is smooth, a must for a game like this, and the smart addition of in-world racing arrows to steer you around lets you enjoy the scenery, style, and spectacle of the game without risking performance, and the shooting is more than serviceable for this sort of outing. The improvements it makes to the old formula that the GTA series made popular are minor, but they are numerous and always appreciated. Everything serves the purpose of allowing you to more easily do the things you'd want to do in a game like this, and while simple it's effective in a primal way. I don't think I've had quite as much fun with a game, this year, as with Saints Row The Third, and considering that I am currently on playthrough 3 and a half and still looking forward to my next adventure through Steelport with yet another outstanding voice to experience, I think it clearly earned a place here.
There are so many commas in that list that I am almost physically ill. I can't edit all of that, that's crazy talk. You're just going to have to deal with what you got.