WOOOO!!! This summer has been an amazing experience. I finished Mass Effect 2, Assassins Creed Botherhood, 007 Quantum of Solace, CoD 5 & 7, Perfect Dark Zero, GTA 4, Enslaved, Darksiders, Stranglehold, Tomb Raider Legend, Mercenaries 2, GRAW, Red Faction Armageddon, & Ms Splosion Man. I know that most of these games are old but I just got around to finishing them (Until this summer, I was mainly a multiplayer gamer).
Here's a mini review for each:
Mass Effect 2 (5/5): A fantastic story structure, great setting & memorable characters. This game was looooong (finished it in 62 hours) and satisfying.
AC Brotherhood (5/5): Admittedly, this was my first foray into the Assassins Creed series (I had played a bit of AC 1 at a friend's house, and the experience was a bitter one due to the annoying guards) and I loved every minute of it. It was the first game that I had committed myself to finishing immediately (without drifting off to play a different game). The story was fascinating and deep, the characters were very likeable, the gameplay was unlike anything I had played before (that is, before I got into Enslaved, Tomb Raider Legend, etc), the weapons and fighting mechanic were fast and fun, the assassins at your disposal is just as awesome as I imagined it to be, and the Da Vinci side missions and tools helped give more variety to the gameplay. I didn't care much for the training missions (races, stab # of enemies, collect # of flags) because they felt too detached from the story to care about them (achievement or no achievement). I started playing the multiplayer before the single player and looking back at that, I definitely think that the multiplayer is a nice add-on but not necessary in the already amazing single player (the multiplayer server issues were also too monotonous to excuse).
Quantum of Solace: (5/5): Amazing Bond game that perfectly dove tailed Casino Royal & Quantum of Solace, into one fluid experience.
CoD World at War (4/5): Great game that had a great campaign & good multiplayer (although I hated the fact that I would get kicked out of the lobby if I did not have a specific map).
CoD Black Ops (Blops) (5/5): Hands down, this was the best Call of Duty experience that I have ever had. The story was mind blowing due to the excellent use of Cold War/espionage style scenarios. The inclusion of the zombie mode/arcade game, wager matches, the computer was well done (quality and quantity). I am not a big CoD multiplayer person but I enjoyed the heavy customization settings at my disposal.
Perfect Dark Zero (4/5): A good game that is only flawed by the AI that will shoot at you from any distance (and maybe a tad too much motion blur).
GTA 4 (5/5): An over-hyped game that lived up to its hype. I loved the story and the characters. Other than that, the tv and radio stations are entertaining while the DLC is huge (too huge for me to play through at the moment). My only gripes come from the ridiculous player choices that felt like I was breaking the story if I went with the characters who were assholes and the fact that there's nothing interesting to do outside of the story.
Enslaved (5/5): A game that immediately interested me in its atmosphere. There are not many characters in the game but they do a fantastic job at fleshing out the three main characters. The story is solid (the ending is a mindfuck for sure but I really liked it). The combat was a good mix of brawler/AC with some surprises in between.
Darksiders (5/5): This game is a badass version of Zelda but way more interesting. The mythos (setting, enemies, story, weapons, etc.) that Virgil Games has crafted for Darksiders does a great job of keeping the campaign interesting (especially when acquiring the horse). Puzzles can be frustrating at times but that gripe rarely occurs.
Stranglehold (5/5): A fun game that perfectly blended a movie like quality into an action game. I enjoyed the skill shots and narrative though I would've liked the game to have done a better job in displaying the shootable obstacles.
Tomb Raider Legend (5/5): A great game that still plays very well after all these years. My only complaint is that the game can be finicky at times when trying to jump and grab certain ledges.
Mercenaries 2 (3/5): When I think of Mercs 2, I think of a breast implant because like a fake breast, Mercs 2 is a big game that's full of gelatinous, stiff, and repetitive filler. That's not to say that the game doesn't have its moments, but the gameplay is so focused on repetitive objectives (capturing zones) that when a unique mission came along, I already felt burned out. I liked the supply drops and faction system (I just blew up your HQ but 1/5 of my total money will make you forget that ever happened). I also have a gripe with EA because my xbox would completely freeze every time that I booted the game on xbox live (I can't access the multiplayer or extras). Ugh... this game had great potential but Pandemic took the easy way out. I love breasts but this game is a flat chested failure that has its moments.
Red Faction Armageddon (5/5): I know that many people loved RFG but it was a game that I could not stand (I did not want to have to deal with numerous side missions and an ok combat system that lacked interest). This game though, made the shooting immensely satisfying while delivering a closed-in & fun experience. The story was well done, the weapons were varied and unique (MR TOOTS), and the horde and ruin modes were enjoyable. It was the fastest game for me to get an S Rank in (5 days... not including games that were extremely easy to S Rank) and I don't regret any of it.
Ms Splosion Man (5/5): Oh Twisted Pixel... you are the reason why I still buy arcade games. I know that many people were bitching about the difficulty of this game and the fact that not every objective is clearly shown and therefore requires multiple restarts in that one area, but Splosion Man had those same traits (though make no mistake, this game is way harder than Splosion Man). I enjoyed the hell out of this game (for the record: the only time I had trouble seeing the crazy/humorous main character was in boss fight #2). From Star Road, to the ton of extras, to the always amazing FMV, Ms Splosion Man delivers a package that excels on every level (the retro feel given to the last boss of the game was one of many standout moments).
GRAW (1/5): I just came back to this pile of garbage tonight (I have played three missions but used cheats to end this game once and for all). This game is visually ok but fucking terrible in almost every other field. The AI is fucking horrible, the gameplay is meh, and the missions are bland. In short, this is the worst Xbox 360 game that I have ever played and anyone who gave the game rave reviews were bribed very well to promote such shit.
Here's my top four upcoming games of 2011:
GEARS OF WAR 3: My favorite multiplayer game of all time, the Gears series has always been awesome. From the superb characters, to the great campaigns, to the badass weapons, to the crazy addictive horde mode and memorable maps, I have always been a fan of the series and am more than ready to finish the trilogy.
BATMAN ARKHAM CITY: Nothing screams nostalgia more than Batman Arkham City. I have been a batman fan for a long time, and Arkham Asylum gave me an experience that blew me away. Rocksteady has already proven that they know the character and the mythos in and out, and this installment is looking to be even more ground breaking than its predecessor.
SAINTS ROW THE THIRD: Saints Row was one of my first Xbox 360 games. I enjoyed the story but I felt that it focused too much on respect. Saints Row 2 did a way better job on the respect meter while turning up the crank on insanity, gameplay, customization, taunts and story. Saints Row the Third not only looks 300% crazier, but it looks fantastic (3 years of development time definitely payed off). It's doing what GTA and Saints Row 1 lacked: making the game fun whether the player is playing the story or not (SR2 had some side craziness to be had but SR3 blows it out of the water).
As for this year, there have been many disappointments. Call of Juarez the cartel was a fucking joke (I really enjoyed that E3 trailer but the game was garbage with a capital G), Battlefield 3 (EA and its Origin bullshit is pushing me far away from this and besides, I've always preferred CoD over Battlefield) and Rage (a game that led to me getting criticized because I said that it looked like Borderlands. I don't give a shit how long that this game has been in development, Borderlands came out of the gate first and raised the bar.