By ragbag 1 Comments
It's that time of the year, where everyone goes crazy for lists!
Before we get started, let me get a few notable games that missed the cut due to me not playing them or completing them yet. Far Cry 3, which I actually just started today. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, Binary Domain, Spec Ops The Line I have yet to complete. Assassins Creed 3, even though there is a lot of controversy surrounding this title, I still want to give it a shot. Fez, I unfortunately bought this and then it got put on the back burner.
So, without further adieu, here's another one for you to digest!
I had heard of Trials HD in passing over the years, playing the demo only a few times as it came bundled on a hard drive I purchased. When Trials Evolution came out early this year, I thought, I'll give this a shot. Trials Evolution is a great mix of challenge, craziness, and plain fun. Sure, you'll probably pull some hairs out when you reach levels near the end of the game, but the feeling you achieve after conquering of those levels, is glorious. Couple this with an amazing track editor and community sharing, gives you one of the better downloadable titles of the year. What other motorcycle game do you know can also be a first person shooter or a platformer if it wants?
Rock Band Blitz
My friends know me as a Rock Band fanatic. With over 1000 songs in my Rock Band library, you could say I enjoy those games. Rock Band Blitz is developer Harmonix going back to the days of Frequency and Amplitude. Thus, no plastic instruments, just you and your controller. Blitz was genuine breath of fresh air in a dieing and burnt out genre. This game can be challenging at times, having to manage five separate instrument tracks can cause you to be overwhelmed, but Harmonix pulls off the gameplay so, so well. For someone like me who has a ton of DLC for the Rock Band franchise, this breathes new life into all those songs you've acquired over the years and can help you rediscover songs you'd forgotten. This should be a definitive download if you're at all a fan of rhythm games or the Rock Band franchise.
Alan Wake's American Nightmare
Back in 2010 when I played Alan Wake for the first time, I was blown away. I loved the atmosphere, the story, the production values, the way it was structured like a television series. Last year I was able to go through and play the DLC for Alan Wake to finally complete the story and my love for that game increased. American Nightmare is more Alan Wake set in the television series Alan Wake wrote in his early career, Night Springs. What you get here, is a homage to The Twilight Zone, and hearing from people who love that show, a great one at that. The antagonist introduced in this game, Mr. Scratch, a doppelganger of Alan Wake, is a fantastic character in this game. The horde mode introduced into this game, is not one of my favorite things about this game, but I understand why they'd include it. After completing American Nightmare, I'm still left with the yearning for more from this franchise. Here's hoping the wait for the next Alan Wake sequel is not a long one.
Persona 4 Arena
I love Persona 4. You'll see that later on in this list, but this is genuinely one of my favorite games. When Persona 4 Arena came out this summer however, I'd never actually played Persona 4. I'd watched the Giant Bomb Endurance Run and knew the entire story from top to bottom, the characters, and basically most of the facets of the game. Before Arena, I did play Persona 3. So going into Arena, I was extremely hyped for more Persona. The fighting game portion I was slightly worried about since I'm only a casual fighting game fan at best, but Arc System Works does a fine job with that portion of the game. This game touts a 30-40 hour story mode which is about 70% visual novel and 30% fighting. With the story portions being crafted by Atlus themselves, I was absolutely fine by that. I got my fill of more Persona, mixing both Persona 3 and Persona 4, and came out enjoying the actual gameplay of this as well. This set me up for Persona 4 Golden later in the year, which we will get to soon.
I am a huge racing fan. I've been this way ever since I was little kid. I've also dumped a lot of time into Forza Motorsports 2 and 4. To say I was skeptical when I saw this game announced at E3 2011, would be an understatement. I am glad I was wrong about this game. Forza Horizon mixed the crisp graphics and gameplay of the original Forza series and mixes it with an open world that leaves you yearning to drive and explore. The atmosphere of being at this giant festival of cars and music really works. You actually feel like you're experiencing that with how well the game sets up the area of Colorado you drive around in and with the soundtrack. If the hardcore simulation of the core Forza games turn you off, give Horizon a shot, and more than likely, you won't be disappointed.
XCOM Enemy Unknown
Let me preface this by saying, I am no good at strategy games. Nor have I ever played the original XCOM games. Which makes this game being on here or me even playing it seem kind of strange. The thing with XCOM Enemy Unknown is that it made the strategy game fun to play for me. Every battle is tense, with you and your squad looking to rid the world of those darn aliens. The almost simplified nature of how they made this is I believe what makes this game work so well. You're not worrying about fifteen different things, it's just here's your squad, go forth and kill the aliens. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to pay a visit to the memorial to pay tribute to members of my squad that had fallen in battle.
If you read the history of Sleeping Dogs and its development, this is a game that should never have made it to store shelves. I'm thankful that it did. One of the things that I believe benefited Sleeping Dogs was coming out during the lull period of games in the summer. That gave this game a chance to shine where if it'd been released at another time, it could've gotten lost in the shuffle. Running around virtual Hong Kong is a blast, and it looks amazing to boot as well. The combat might not be an original concept with the Batman Arkham games using that very well, but Sleeping Dogs pulls it off rather well making for a fun time when in combat. With a well acted and great story, if you ended up missing playing Sleeping Dogs, find a way to play this.
Mass Effect 3
The Mass Effect series might be one of my favorite things about this current generation of consoles. To say though, that Mass Effect 3 isn't marred without controversy would be a bold flat out lie. I will admit, some of the choices involving DLC with this game, specifically From Ashes and Leviathan seem rather absurd and the ending controversy is almost an insane thing to have happen. I played this game at launch and just had a fantastic time going through the story of Commander Shepard's war with the Reapers. It wasn't til after I finished Mass Effect 3 that I noticed the controversy start and explode. I never had an issue with how the game ended. Looking back, I can see why and understand the issues people had with the original ending of Mass Effect 3. It doesn't change the experience I had with it, which was a fantastic one. I'm looking forward to going through it again once all the DLC has been released to see how if that changes my perception of the game or not
Persona 4 Golden
As stated earlier, I love Persona 4. So I went out and bought a PlayStation Vita just to play this game specifically. That is a decision I do not regret at all. Persona 4 Golden takes the original Persona 4 and doesn't just up res the graphics and make the game widescreen and call it a day. It adds about 10-15 hours of new gameplay that is an absolute blast to play. As this being my first time actually playing through Persona 4, it was an amazing experience. I am currently on my second play through of the game, and not once have I felt like I'm wasting my time at all. I am still thoroughly enjoying this game, 90 hours later. The new content from New Years Day up through Valentine's Day really adds to the game seamlessly and gives you what you want if you're playing this game, more Persona goodness. And man, that Valentine's Day can sure make you feel like a huge scumbag, right? Go play this game now!
The Walking Dead
With all my gushing about Persona 4, it's almost crazy that it's not my game of the year. But, The Walking Dead came out this year. The Walking Dead is a game that I feel I never should've ever liked. An adventure game and a licensed game? Once I played episode one, all of that changed. I instantly felt like this was going to be something special, and with every single episode afterward, felt reaffirmed in that. The relationship between Lee and Clementime could easily go down as one of the best in a long time in video games. This game made me feel more emotions than any game has in a long, long time. The long wait in between each episode almost was a positive when playing this when it originally came out. Having to wait made the joy of getting to play an episode greater and also gave you some time to digest everything you'd just seen in that 4-5 hours of an episode. I feel sorry in a way for people who are playing this now, without getting to experience the wait between episode. It's almost like the puzzle solving with Fez earlier this year with how everyone during that time playing that game came together to uncover the secrets in that game. I highly recommend you play The Walking Dead, but don't play them all at once. Space out the time between each episode and just enjoy the story.