With the electronic three finally coming to it's sad but inevitable end, I figured I would sputter out my belligerent ramblings as to what I thought was awesome. Each of the big three had some great things to offer this year. Grades seem like a nice, however inflexible, way to give my thoughts on how each company did individually, while also pointing out what my highlights of each were.
Nintendo First off, holy shit. I had no expectations coming into this year for Nintendo, they had disappointed me continually in years past and I had no reason to hope for otherwise. There was one focus in this conference, games. Nintendo pulled out a handful of awesome looking titles for the Wii to excite the hardcore. Then the 3DS came out, and it worked. Not only did it work well, but there was a massive amount of games announced for it. Once again proving that software drives hardware, Nintendo knocked me out with all of the awesome 3DS demos and first party Wii games.
GRADE: A Three Highlights: #1) 3DS (Including the shit ton of games announced for it.)
#2) Kirby and DK
#3) The legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Expected, but still awesome.)
Sony While Sony seemed to lack a bit of direction or focus in particular areas, I still throughly enjoyed what they had to show. I do feel there conference would have been more well received had they kept infamous 2, LBP2 and killzone 3 secret, but thats just me. I appreciate that they didn't dwell on move or 3D for two long, and really tried to cycle through a lot of games in a short period of time. All of the aforementioned games looked awesome, couple those with a new twisted metal and I am quite the happy camper as far as Sony goes. However, I would have liked to have seen what insomniac/naughty dog are working on as well as the last guardian.
GRADE: B Three Highlights: #1) Twisted Metal
#2) LittleBigPlanet 2
#3) Killzone 3
Microsoft If I hadn't known any better, I would have thought I was watching last years Nintendo conference. While kinect seemed to work decently well, it just didn't seem to have the software that would peak my interest. Halo Reach looks fun, but just feels a bit dated at this point. Gears 3 was easily the highlight of the show for me, as it showed a real conscientious effort to change things within the franchise to make it feel fresh. Overall, I felt they focused way too much on the casual market, that of which I don't think this will reach, and almost completely ignored their best consumer.
GRADE: C Three Highlights: #1) Gears of War 3
#2) Halo: Reach
#3) Codename: Kingdom (It was hard to find a third thing that was interesting)
Exciting Multiplatform Games #1) Dead Space 2
#2) Portal 2
#3) Mortal Kombat
This year's E3 was great for gamers; Nintendo came out throwing hay-makers to reassert their foot in the core gaming realm, Sony had a few uppercuts to throw in while also missing a few punches, and then Microsoft, well they seemed to lack direction and got their neck broken like Hillary Swank in Million Dollar Baby. But at the end of the day, all of the stellar multiplatform titles gave all of us something to be happy about.
Getting around to this blog has been very tough for me personally. For one, my 18th birthday was on the 29th and then the holiday madness took over and I had no time to spare. Time constraints haven't been my real problem though; I have been tossing and turning over my GOTY choices for this year. So many great games graced our consoles this year, but these five stood above everything else. This is the first year in which not only the top one, but even the top ten was a thing of uncertainty.
Honorable mentions definitely go out to Burnout: Paradise, Fallout 3, Bioshock, Yakuza 2 and Braid. These games were all amazing in their own respects and did certain things very well, but to be a game of the year contender, a game must put all of the important aspects and mesh them into a cohesive package that does many things well.
#5- Devil May Cry 4 Devil May Cry 4 has definitely fallen of everyone's radar. I have not seen it on any goty awards; not even a mention has come about for our good friend Nero. Hell, you are probably wondering what the thought process behind choosing this game was. DMC4 was easily the best playing hack-n-slash I have ever played. It trumped Ninja Gaiden on so many levels for me. The option to play on an easier difficulty alone felt like a great change for the series. I’m all for challenge, but not for controller-shattering and seizure-inducing difficulty. The main thing I can remember from DMC4 is that it is just plain fun. This is the backbone of a video game that most people seem to overlook. Yes I will concede to the fact that the story is very cheesy and Japanese-esque, but Devil May Cry does everything so well that the story becomes less of a vocal point. As Media Molecule says" fun will overcome" and never is it more true than with Devil May Cry 4.
#4- No More Heroes Suda 51 has outdone himself once again. Following the trend of other Japanese developers such as the legendary Hideo Kojima, Suda took his wonderfully creative style and westernized the gameplay conventions to make it much more accessible on our side of the world. No More Heroes is fucking weird, nuff said. The story is probably the most creative, albeit nonsensical, of this entire generation. Playing this game is amazingly fun with the WiiMote, the simplistic controls only add to the quirky vibe this game oozes with. However, one thing doesn't make No More Heroes great; it’s a culmination of all of its wonderful concepts brought together with such precise presentation. From its stunning visual style to its surprisingly solid voice acting, No more Heroes delivers on all facets. This game is purely outrages, unpredictable yet a completely satisfying experience; definitely the best wii game thus far and one of the best games this year, to be sure.
#3- LittleBigPlanet LittleBigPlanet is a game changer. This game is here not because of what it is, but rather the potential that it represents. The proliferation of community inspired games was brought about by a Sackboy, and a new generation has been sparked in which the people drive the game rather than the developer. Along with the community created content, LittleBig has already seen tremendous developer support. In its early stages, it was for a cumbersome and somewhat broken online set up; mostly due to Media Molecules servers being raped on day one with over four hundred thousand players logging on. I can not fault them for this as it seems were in the age in which online games will not work initially. This is a sad thing to see, but the technology just hasn’t caught up quickly enough to accommodate such an initial pressure upon our servers. LBP has also seen a tremendous amount of DLC packs in the first couple of months. Such reliable developer support gives me high hopes for this title. Sony may have found its "Mario" in Sackboy, maybe not. The difference in whether LittleBigPlanet becomes a staple franchise for Sony or it becomes another great game that no one plays lies within its community. User-generated content is what can propel LBP into a new plateau for gaming. Whether or not still remains to be seen.
Never before in my life has a game resonated with me so clearly, due to its eerily realistic characters, stunning voice acting and carefully-crafted story. Grand Theft Auto does so many things well, from its wonderful scripted events, those of which you can approach in a thousand different ways, to its open world chaos, GTA IV tries to please everyone and does so rather well. This is where I believe Rockstar faltered in their design, in that, they had a singular story-driven focus with liberty city, and the ability to drive around running over hookers, going to strip clubs and just taking your friends out for burgers and bowling seems to deter from this vision. I love the toned-down aspects of GTA IV as the story is one of the best in a video game to date, but it is harder for me to believe in Niko Bellic's struggles when I see him do some of the most erroneous and inexplicable things. This is probably where I drift apart from other people’s opinion in that the essence of what GTA once was is now its biggest fault. Please don’t misconstrue this, Grand Theft Auto IV is an amazing game, definitely one of my favorite games of all time; Niko Bellic is easily may favorite new character and one of the most eloquently and realistically presented characters in a long time. However, I do believe their are a few snags that keep it from being the best game of the year.
#1- Metal Gear Solid 4 I will start by saying that I have been paying Metal Gear Solid since the original, so this game probably means more to me than most. Some will tell you that cut scenes distract from the experience and that 90% is a movie. This simply is not true and the visual flair only adds to the depth of this game. Every loose end, every missing character, anything that has left us scratching our heads, has been answered in MGS4, and in doing so it has raised the bar for story telling across any medium.
Words can not describe what a masterpiece Metal Gear Solid 4 is. You simply have to experience this game for yourself. It is not often that a video game blends cinematic flair, eloquent story telling and superb gameplay into one package. Many great games thrive on the latter while few find a way to excel in all categories. Metal Gear Solid 4 not only meets all of these expectations, it obliterates them without hesitation. Metal Gear Solid 4 is the greatest game I have ever played, period. It is sad to see such a legendary hero as snake go but he could not have asked for a better send off. Goodbye old friend, I salute you.
So there it is, my games of the year. This year had so many amazing games; widdling a list down to five was almost unbearable as I felt I was leaving such great games behind. Now that this is over I can actually write about something important like why xbox is better than ps3 or why resident evil 5 is racist.
It’s quite remarkable that Dead Space found a way to astound me one minute and then frustrate me to the point of insanity the next. Over and over I was drawn to opposite ends of my emotional spectrum with this game. Most of this is self inflicted however; the life of a trophy whore can indeed be a frustrating one.
Four, it is the number of times I played through Dead Space; four is also the number of times I died on the final boss while playing on impossible. Four is the number of days I spent completing the game to 100%. When I began playing Dead Space, I didn't really know what to think, with the press discursively tossing it aside with average reviews due to its "generality", I did not have high hopes. For once, being proved wrong was a welcome contradiction. The first play through was nothing short of an incredible thrill ride; Dead Space is reminiscent of so many great titles from years past. The massive boss battles definitely had a Zelda-esque sent about them. The visuals are nothing less than stunning, and on par with elite franchises such as Bioshock or Call of Duty. While the gameplay system can be considered a cut-and-dry copy of Gears of War or Uncharted, there is something to be said for its innovative limb dismemberment mechanic that it employs as a staple for the franchise. The sound quality of a game is a department that can be often overlooked by reviewers, but not in this game, Dead Space has some of the best atmospheric sound of any game I have ever played. Sound truly adds another layer of depth to this astounding package. There may only be replay value for trophy whores like myself in Dead Space, and some might call it linear, but these minor inconveniences never deter from the amazing experience that Dead Space is.
My hat goes off to EA's Redwood studio, for taking such a bold risk in making this game and for delivering on its promise so flawlessly. Damn, I did it again. Another impromptu review, personally, I think all reviews should be conducted in such a manner as this, as to give the reader an honest opinion, rather than handing out a tangible score (stars, numbers, or grades). When a score is given, gamers today tend to skip right to the bottom of a review and once they see the score, there mind has been already made up. Is it fair that a score should make or break a game? The job of a reviewer is to give their opinion on a certain subject, not to influence the readers purchase (gamespot). I plan on elaborating upon this idea in my next blog post tomorrow but these are my thoughts for now.
Mind you, this is just my opinion, which is truly nothing more than the incoherent ramblings of a nerd who thinks he’s more enlightened than he really is.
One last tangent before I leave. Christmas was amazing, being the gear-head/nerd that I am, I received some awesome stuff. On the car side of things I received a brand new tool kit equipped with everything I will need when I move out this summer. On the games side, I was overwhelmed with awesome gifts. I received Bioshock for Ps3, which I have still yet to play and the story hasn't been ruined either(win). Along with that I got GH:World Tour, Resident Evil Degeneration and Hulk on Blu Ray. To top it all off, an awesome set of studio headphones for my gaming pleasure.