SeeJay's 2012 - The Favorites, Disappointments and Surprises

With a day left to the new year I'll take the opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year and I hope your 2012 has been a good one. On my behalf it's been quite the eventful one when it comes to gaming, both in the career and as entertainment. Here's to hoping 2013 will be an eventful one, even though I currently don't have many games to look forward to at this point.

This list is based on the games I've played. If it's not in my full list, I've yet to play it. My full 2012 list can be found here.

It's also a remake of my previous list, after Dishonored slipped in to snag spot 7 after I finished it today. Was not fair to exclude it.

The Anticipated

So which games did I look forward to this year? I had a top ten list but the top five feels like the relevant ones.

  1. Mass Effect 3
  2. Assassins Creed 3
  3. Max Payne 3
  4. Syndicate
  5. Tomb Raider

Which game lived up best to the Anticipation?

Mass Effect 3 (6th) - We all have our opinions about the final game of the trilogy and I'm definitely one who have my fair share of said opinions. With that said, it was still a good ride. I just wish I waited until the DLC's were released to experience things like Brad did, because he makes plenty of valid points in his Top 10 video.

Plus I was a big follower of the femShep initiative, so the inclusion of a proper 'canon' version of Jane Shepard definitely made Mass Effect 3 an engaging ride all the way up to the release of the game.

Runner-Up: Assassin's Creed 3 (14th), Max Payne 3 (15th), Syndicate (16th), Tomb Raider (Not released in 2012)

The Disappointment

Assassin's Creed III - The funny part was that I thought I liked this game, and the things they show to you when opening the game definitely seemed appealing. The problem was just how nothing really felt coherent, no real goal and it suffered from a main character that just sounded bored.

Granted I loved the homestead stuff and the ship combat was both intense and some of the best I have ever seen, but when it does not really give you anything other than more money you were never given a sense of accomplishment.

Personally I'd rather see an Industrial Revolution's London for AC3 and that they made a Pirate game with the ship combat.

Runner-Up: Hitman Absolution, Max Payne 3

Place 10 - 8

10. FTL - Faster than Light - This game spoke to my inner geek and the idea of being a captain on a ship full of crew is always making me engaged.

09. Hotline Miami - It's quite simple, really. This game made me rage, but in good ways. It punished me for being bad and I cursed at myself before trying again.

08. Sleeping Dogs - This game provided a good mix of open world and the use of the Arkham Asylum combat style.

The Surprise

Journey (Who is that?) - This game struck me as almost insulting for a €12 price range for what was said to be a two hour game. That said, this game just grabbed me and never let me go until the end credits rolled. Though that was not even why it's my surprise of the year.

It was when I walked through the sand and suddenly spotted another traveler. I wondered if that was an AI, approached it cautiously in case it was hostile and tried to ping it. Then the traveler pinged back. "Is that another player?", I thought and pinged again. The traveler pinged back. Then we continued the Journey together and it was amazing, until the other traveler was thrown away by a dragon in the blizzard. I sat there, hidden, and pinged for a few minutes - all alone. It hit me on an emotional level I wasn't expecting. I lost a friend, and we had not exchanged a single word.

Well played Journey. Well played ThatGameCompany.

Runner Ups: Far Cry 3 (Did that tiger just clear an outpost for me?), Spec Ops: The Line (Did you just have me kill innocent people?)

Place 7 - 5

07. Dishonored - With solid gameplay mechanics, exploration elements and intriguing story it's definitely a memorable game.

06. Mass Effect 3 - Gripes or not, it was a good ride and I look forward to more Mass Effect in the future.

05. Spec Ops: The Line - This game showed that you can be gnarly and violent - while still having a deeper plot.

Favorite Music

XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Michael MacCann) - McCann's work is definitely shining through when you listen to the soundtrack. I was a big fan of his work on Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and you can hear hints of that in XCOM. The soundtrack makes it easy for you to recognize each situation depending on the music, and I can start remembering specific tales from the battlefield when I listen to it. Hearing the music when you were getting ready to deploy never got old.

That said; Journey deserves a very special mention for a beautiful soundtrack that is the first video game soundtrack nominated for a Grammy.

Runner -Up: Journey (Austin Wintory), Miami Hotline (M.O.O.N. and more)

Place 4 - 2

04. Far Cry 3 - This one came out of nowhere and provided a sandbox that kept me exploring to the fullest

03. XCOM: Enemy Unknown - What other game can you tell the tale of the Norweigan heavy panicking and shooting the Swedish Assaulter to death?

02. Journey - This game was short but damn it was quite the ride. Will always remember this game that took me by surprise and blew me away.

Favorite Character

Clementine - She managed to prove that a child don't have to be a source of frustration, or be there as a sole reason to create a situation you need to solve. (I'm looking at you, Jason) She will always have a place in my heart after hers an Lee's development together as two souls trying to survive on the zombie infested planet. She became both my conscience and moral compass in how I were to tackle certain moral choices, which I greatly appreciate.

She continued to surprise and never disappointed me.

Runner-Up: The Council(XCOM:Enemy Unknown), Vaas (Far Cry 3), Wei Shen (Sleeping Dogs)

SeeJay's Favorite of 2012

The Walking Dead - This game is not only my Game of the Year because it made me shed tears. Not man tears - actual tears. It's Game of the Year because it managed to prove several points this year, which I hope will continue into 2013.

1. Telltale proved they can redeem themselves - and then some - after a failure (Jurassic Park)

2. Episodic Games work well when you let players subscribe by buying a reasonable one time package

3. Gameplay can take second seat to a heavy story and still keep you engaged and involved

I'm really happy to see Telltale's rise to stardom with The Walking Dead. It's well deserved and I'm eager to play Season 2.

Runner-Up: Journey, XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Verdict

I'm surprised to say it, considering there were plenty of disappointments this year, but 2012 was:

Thank you for reading and Happy New Year

SeeJay

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Liara T'Soni - The Kotobukiya Figurine

So during Comic Con we got to see a concept image of Kotobukiya's interpretation of Liara T'Soni. Earlier today the first, unpainted, version of the figurine was showed by Bioware on their Facebook page. Personally I think her face is a bit too much baby face (though since it isn't painted, I'm not really one to judge) and her chest is slightly too... much. But on a whole, I think it's a pretty nice impression of her.

And here's the painted version.

Guess they kept the funbags. But the face looks surprisingly good.

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Classics in HD

I have, since a year back, been conducting a small project where I've revived the television series Thunderbirds with Swedish dub. After the series had its run, it  disappeared and never came back. Probably because it didn't get very high viewer ratings, but it certainly was something that got to me and nostalgics who could see beyond the fact that the acting characters were puppets. The never ending fires and explosions were a thing in its favor as well.

My first idea was to simply capture and upload the entire thing to Youtube. That proved to be somewhat unsuccessful though, given the video quality. So I went on to use the video from the English DVD box I bought some seven years back. This required me to rip the video, capture the audio from vhs tapes and then mix and sync together. Problem there is that the Swedish version had some scenes removed to fit the time slots during the Sundays. Safe to say, a lot of work is going into this project but it's fun!

 
I have recently started to upload episodes chronologically, since I've found other nostalgics with more episodes recorded. This have given me a chance to do some sound editing as well to eliminate static noise. Still pretty novice in this area but quality is improving!

Now to the big thing. HD in 720p and 16:9 widescreen. This adds a lot of detail and you can see a the smaller things the supermarionation team used to build settings, environments and vehicles. The downside with this is that it's published in widescreen, which means the top and bottom of the 4:3 clips are cropped in favor of the widescreen 16:9 format. I posted the first episode in the HD format for reference, though I don't intend to continue working on it since it's a lot tougher to sync the NTSC format with PAL format VHS tapes.

       
The real question that I'm trying to get to is which format one should accept? The HD version looks really sharp and the color spectrum is a lot bigger, though perhaps a bit colder. But then there's the cropping. I, for one, can accept the widescreen cropping since the HD detail adds so much to it, even if the strings become painfully obvious in HD. Though subscribers to me have vented the concern that it just looks too crisp and fancy in HD.

Should some old school movies and tv-shows just be best left alone and not getting a transfer to HD?
Have you seen any older movies benefiting from the HD format?
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April First - The Argh, The But, and the Also!

ARGH!

This April fools has been a surprisingly cruel one to me. Well there hasn't been anything bad aimed towards me personally but one of the video game sites here in Sweden, a site I read regularly, decided to pull a big prank on their readers. I don't know, maybe they hate having readers?  They have formed an HQ for the news around Battlefield 3 and most of the readers to FZ are Swedes and extra interested in what DICE is up to, they're naturally excited about anything they write about the game. That was until April fools, that is.
 
They posted a piece of news, basically saying that due to the better sales on the console version of Bad Company 2, DICE have been forced to re-prioritize and only use portions of DX11 instead of the previously full support. 
 
Sure it was an April fools scare and after calming down a bit I came to the conclusion that it couldn't be correct. But it just felt so to the point and they even quoted Karl Magnus Troedsson. Just felt like FZ gave the readers the middle finger. It's one thing to exaggerate news or lie about things coming to a game. But blatantly lying about something that many PC players are anxious about already. 
 
I guess all is fair in War and April but still... When actual news hit on April 1, it sure as hell ain't easy taking anything seriously.   

BUT!

One of the funnier ones, though, was Prisjakt's prank. Prisjakt is a site that list you all Swedish retailers and when you search for a product it'll show you the cheapest one. Well for April 1, Prisjakt decided to add Piratebay to the list when you searched for PC games and Movies. All for 0:-, of course. I found that prank to be hilarious.  

  Big range of products. Fast delivery. Plz seed!
Here's a few more pranks I found funny:  
So I certainly had  a lot of good laughs from this year's April Fools and I hope you guys did too!
 

Also!

I got done with a video I've been working on:   
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EMP

A discussion I heard between two people yesterday regarding a nuclear blast:
 
 Guy 1: "and then it discharges an Electro Magnetic Pulse. A so called EMP!"
 
Guy 2: "Ah I see. And what does EMP stand for?"
 
Guy 1 again: "It stands for... uhm... uuuhm.." 

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The weekly Youtube

It seems I go about and find some strange gems in the ever growing Youtube database. So instead of wasting blog space with one video here and there I figured I'm going to post up a few Youtube videos I found extra amusing the past week. Don't really care how old the videos are but more when I found them.
 
And hey, maybe even do a new one next week!
 

Ponycraft 2

So what do you get when you mix My Little Pony with Starcraft 2? Something surprisingly epic, and I can't even figure out why. Guess most credit goes to the creator for finding such suiting equivalents to the Starcraft 2 release trailer. Or maybe a punch in the face for digging through an entire season of My Little Pony?
  
  

8-bit Mass Effect Galaxy Map

  This is a testament of how good music can be if it sounds almost even better in ear numbing 8-bit tunes.

 
  

Windows: Upgrading through every version

  Quite fascinating to see what kind of things remain despite going through every iteration of the Windows OS through the simple upgrading. If anything; it brings nostalgia to what I used to have on my PC back in the day.

  

I'm a dwarf

Yeah this one is rather silly but I couldn't help myself. No one digs a hole like Simon.
  
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Lair of the Shadow Broker - The verdict

So I grabbed the latest DLC, which had a certain.. personal attachment as to how I played ME1 and reacted in ME2.   

Since this is Mass Effect and things may vary depending on decisions, I'll list what led me to the points in my play through (without revealing plot points).

  • Finished ME1 with Liara as Shepard's love interest
  • Shepard's the complete boyscout with full paragon from ME1
  • Remained loyal to her throughout the ME2 campaign
  • Also here full Paragon
  • Loaded the DLC from my finished ME2 play through so the campaign is over when visiting her
  • Each crew member is present
  • Shepard is close to max level
 

 Mass Effect: Redemption

Story

 The story continues the hints you received from the first encounter with Liara on Illium, where she's on a quest to act revenge on the Shadow Broker. Little was explained until this DLC though it managed to fill in enough gaps to give answers to people that hasn't read Mass Effect Redemption, while giving the ones that did quite a lot of good ties back to it. It manages to wrap up the questions and disappointments I experienced from my original play through and that pleased me a lot.
 

 
 

Visuals

 Bioware manage to create quite the awesome set pieces as a DLC and there's quite the breathtaking battle scenes on top of a ship cruising through a lightning storm. I was genuinely pleased with the eye candy. Not to mention Liara's updated character model.
 

Combat

 Little new here though there's a chase scene that gave quite a ride even if the control was limited to steering left and right, some interesting boss battles and the final showdown didn't let me down.
 

Dialogue / Characters

Liara T'Soni
As usual, your regular companions do nothing but blurt some line in a cut scene but reside to being mute mercs at your side. That take me a bit out of the immersion since I've built my crew and taken them through hell and back (yes, all of them). Though this DLC gave a flow and presence to Liara that most of that was forgotten when they were united under gun fire.  The rather cold and distant asari you met in ME2 was replaced with a calm, methodical and much more mature Liara.  
 
The choices from previous save files become apparent here as well since there are multiple occasions where characters remind you of the choices your Shepard's made in ME1, and even ME2.
 
Other characters you bump into is another SPECTRE and even Feron from ME Redemption make an appearance
 
 Without revealing plots or spoilers - The Shadow Broker is awesome in my opinion 

Conclusion

 I was really pleased with this DLC though admittedly that's from my Shepard being emotionally involved with Liara. I could sit with a small smile to my lips as I went through the story parts, waiting for the points in which things got more personal. 
 
To summarize, if you had any interest in Liara and the story behind Shepard's recovery, this is the best DLC of the ones for ME2. I don't need a new gun or a new party member. I need this; a DLC where the story gets first priority and ties in what's missing from the original games. A job well done in my book.
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Vanquish Demo - The Impressions

Figured I might post up a short summary of what I got from playing the demo.
 

Visuals

The effects and art style is overall very good and I enjoyed the explosions combined with various energy effects from mecs and the tech when it over heats and so on. I particularly loved how the weapons morph from one base model, made it feel like a "plausible" reason as to why he doesn't run around with guns strapped to his back.
 

Sound

No complaints really on the sound department. Then again I sat with a headphone over my right ear and talking to a friend over Skype while playing so it wasn't as if I listened too much. The voice acting made my nose cringe at the beginning, feeling a weird over stereo type macho man thing, though it grew on me more and more as they encountered new enemies.
 

Gameplay

Having played more or less any cover based shooter this side of the decade, it wasn't very hard to get into the game. It was on the other hand a bit messy trying to adjust to the button binds and what the character would do. The A-button being an evade is pretty natural but that it doesn't double as a cover button made it a bit tricky to adjust having to hit X to get in cover and jump over it after you've performed a sick power slide, punch and attempt to cover combo.
 
Though I never felt it hindered my ability to constantly be on the move and find new approach angles to each enemy. Being so mobile made it easier to get around and experiment with different weapons and moves. Knowing their previous game though, I'm wondering if this is all mr power suit will be able to do or if he'll pull out more interesting moves.
 

Overall

I liked it. Felt like a jacked up Gears of War and the difference in pace make it stand out enough for me to be very curious about the finished product.
Being a fan of Bayonetta I feel rather confident in a first day buy for this game.
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Mortal Kombat Movie?


 
Probably not... But oh my fucking God this video tickles me in every right way it's possible to! Mortal Kombat getting the Batman Begins treatment and to really push the envelope in terms of Mature content? The video alone is enough to make me excited and secretly praying that this is an actual movie project. Bit strange to see a main character receiving a fatality so soon but still!
 
If this is to be "just" a promotional video for the next game; I suppose I could live with that too, with the hopes that they really push the envelope in terms of the pure violence that Mortal Kombat became so known for in a time where such violence was unheard of. Still keeping my fingers crossed for a "Seven" meets "Batman Begins".
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