What's That Coming Over The Hill? Another GOTY list

Is it a monster? Is it a monster? No, it's my Top 10!

I'll cut straight to the point....

Number 10: L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire, It was the CSI game I never got.

It was the setting that did it, the city, the music, the sounds, the characters, all supremely done. The fantastic cast gave appropriately fantastic performances, it really does sell you on the world. The story was very Noire, I would say almost to a fault, as it actually turned a couple of my friends off of playing it (they didn't like the way the story was structured, something that came up a bit during the GOTY deliberations) but to a noire fan like myself it was golden.

So, why #10 and not higher up?

As much as I liked the story and the very noire tropes it employs, I do have to say some of the jumps forward in time, particularly after the Homicide Desk, are jarring and left far to many questions left unanswered, but more importantly left me feeling like I'd almost been robbed of some vital story. Unlike some I kinda liked the ending, the actual conclusion I mean, not the flame-throwers, that's something that I didn't so much like.

At the end of the day, it was little things that would eventually bug me, the ones mentioned above, and the interrogation system, the sudden, inexplicable and completely uncalled for tonal shifts Phelps goes through being a major issue I had.

Number 09: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: HR is not Deus Ex.

This is what I was telling myself before playing it for the first time. I did this to avoid being disappointed if I got my expectations too high, expecting the same level of freedom the original gave you. I went through a rollercoaster of emotions related to this game, it started off fine, I loved the style, it had a pretty strong opening, the first time you got to kick some arse was incredible and I loved reading the background e-mails / e-books I was finding. But then came the first boss fight, oh Boss Fights, why do you suck so? I felt cheated by the first boss battle, the complete lack of choice on how to take him down, (do I use the pistol or machine pistol??) I was trying to go for a No Kills / No Alarms run for the added challenged, I get to the fight, and find it's impossible to take him down non-lethally (I understand the bosses don't get counted towards those statistics, which makes it even worse, they knew beforehand people might be worried about it, but they didn't add at least 1 non-lethal takedown for them)

Once past the disappointment that was these encounters, I find that the rest of the game is a blast, particularly as a stealth character (I just can't imagine playing it any other way) The visual style is cool and sneaking up to someone in a crowded room, cloaked, and stabbing them in the back with a giant blade that come out of your arm, never gets old.

Number 08: SpaceChem

Wait What!? A small independent puzzle game, in my GOTY list?

It's more likely than you think, (there was actually almost 2 in my final list). SpaceChem is a puzzle game which involves the binding or unbinding of molecules into their component parts, for reassembly somewhere else, or shipment as the individual atoms. If you don't own this game, and you like a challenge, go to Steam right now and buy it, the satisfaction of completing a puzzle is like nothing I've felt from a game before, the sense of accomplishment when you figure something out and the sense of wonder (and elation) as you see that little machine you just built go about it's business and performs all the tasks you'd want it to, is something no other game this year can match.

The game also gets crazy crazy tough later on, for an example of some of the machines you'd be building in SpaceChem, watch this.

Number 07: DiRT 3

The original DiRT took me by surprise at just how good it was, how white-knuckled some of the rally events can get, the sense of speed, as you are barrelling down a very narrow forest path, whizzing by hundreds of trees, anyone of which might be where you car ends up if you lose concentration.

DiRT 2 surprised me in a different way, the new preference on circuit races and the Xtreme! rally type events, completely put me off, oh sure the rally was still there, and better than ever, but the other stuff I didn't care for, the circuit stuff was my least favourite of the race types in the original game.

Enter DiRT 3, this is better than DiRT 2 in pretty much every way, a renewed focus on point-to-point rally and the addition of Gymkhana makes this one of the best rally games ever (IMO obviously) the game looks gorgeous, the cars handle great, the interface is clean and easier to use than the one from DiRT 2, and most of the Xtreme! stuff had gone, and what was left was a game that unfortunately, in my view, still stands under the shadow of the original (which had more variation in tracks, something this game severely lacks, and race types)

It's still a fantastic game, I had tons of fun online which is something I tend not to do in other racing games, I do wish they would take out rewinding though, you lose all tension if you know you can hit a button to make all the bad go away.

Number 06: Pokemon Black & White

I'm a bit of a Pokemon fan, so much so I imported a copy of Pokemon Black from Japan, so I wouldn't have to wait the 6-7 months for the UK release, so technically, for me, this is a 2010 release, (I still haven't finished my English copy of White yet).

I don't really have much to say, it's like other Pokemon games, except in a new region, with 154 new Pokemon (some of which, like Trubbish, are a bit crap I'll be honest). It plays the same, there are minor changes to the game that will effect only the Meta-Game, which from what I've heard is thriving since it's release. The addition of a fully fledged Matchmaking system brings the series to Future that is 2004.

But aside all that, of course I had fun playing it, it's a Pokemon game, I will say though, I do like the direction the story goes in, apart from having some late-teens as the protagonists (rather than the regular 10 year olds) and the very morally ambiguous storyline surrounding Team Plasma, and you get a weirdly more grown up version of Pokemon, not that that changes much tbh, but Ninjas do make an appearance.

Number 05: Portal 2

SPAAAAAAAAAACCCEEEE!!!

I can't really add anything that hasn't already been said elsewhere.

Yeah the writing in here is the best, props to Valve, you've gone done it again.

"Portal 2 is F**king Incredible" - SerHulse

Number 04: Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine

For The Emperor!

I played WH40K back when I was 14-15, I gave it up after spending a lot of money, I have since rekindled my love of the fiction of this universe, I'm now knee deep in the Horus Heresy series, and I've just started playing Dawn of War 2 after getting it for cheap on Steam.

So, I am the perfect person to buy this game Day One, no questions asked, gimme gimme gimme. Well no. I first saw this game a little while before release and thought it was the most bland, ordinary looking Gears of War knock off this side the Imperial Palace. So I didn't pick it up, I ignored it, and for that I am truly sorry, I see the error of my ways, I should have trusted Relic considering the great things I heard about DoW.

The game is anything but bland, it's crazy, it's bloody and it is very very good at recreating the universe of 40K, it was my biggest surprise for sure.

The multiplayer is pretty rocking too, having the ability to customise my Chaos Marine character in the colours of my long lost Chaos Warband was probably the best thing they could have added.

Number 03: Forza Motorsport 4

Forza Motorsport 4 The Real Driving Simulator.

Almost everything, this is what I like about Forza 4, the 1 thing I don't like? The Career modes AI, it's all over the place.

With those negativities out of the way, lets focus on the Good. The game looks incredible, I propose the "Autovista" mode be renamed "Car Porn", at least they would be honest about it. The driving feels much better, the sense of speed in much improved, the AI in general is improved, the community stuff is much better, the addition of Car Clubs. [GB] Represent!

The rivals mode is another cool addition, yes it is very iterative on the previous game, but Forza 3 was already a master-class in Simulation Racing I almost don't blame them, maybe if GT5 posed a bigger threat they would have worked harder.

Number 02: Yakuza 4

The Yakuza franchise remains my favourite PS3 exclusive, and for good reason, it's fun, crazily Japanese, has outstanding writing and storytelling and revels in it's, sometimes, blatant absurdity.

e.g. A main character finds out that the Hit he did on a rival Yakuza family that got him a life sentence, was a set up, the bullets in his gun were switched to rubber slugs, enough to knock a man unconscious. After finding that out, you then discover that the person who set you up, then went in and killed everyone anyway, WITH HIS OWN GUN. Why? why not let the hitman kill them for you? you are setting him up for a fall anyway, god.

This and much more awaits. It is my favourite PS3 game ever, yes ever.

Number 01: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

  • Name: "Okan-Za"
  • I am a: "Argonian" seeking a: "Companion"
  • Bio: "I am a Master Level Magic user, specialising in raising the dead and setting fire to things, I carry around the wedding ring of the Emperors' dead daughter, and like to dress up as the Emperor (whom I also killed (he wanted it, who am I to say no to helping a frail old man)) In my spare time I enjoy fighting Dragons with my fists (the way MEN fight) though I have been known to frequent the Bards College, oh I'm also a Werewolf"
  • What I'm Looking For: As an avid collector of Cheese Wheels, I would like someone with big pockets to carry them around, wherever I go.
  • Where can you find me?: I'll find you......I always do.

This and much more awaits! It's one of my favourite things since Oblivion!

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Whew! that was long winded wasn't it? I appreciate you taking the time to read this, if you think I'm a fool, or want to take me to task on one or more of my list feel free!

- Dan.

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My Childhood Is Almost Complete

Back in the long forgotten days of 2000 I got my N64 for Christmas, it was the Pikachu version and I got with it a few games: Pokemon Stadium, Pokemon Snap and Taz Express.

Stadium was my favourite, and while I did play plenty of Goldeneye, Perfect Dark and other truly great N64 games, it remains my most favoured one of the lot, though I'll admit probably just out of sheer nostalgia. I was, and still am, a big Pokemon fan, and after having my mind blown at the ability to play Red/Blue/Yellow on the big screen in the living room through Stadium, it was re-blown by how awesome Gold/Silver were when I got them a couple of months later.

So you can imagine what I was like when I saw Pokemon Stadium 2 on the shelf one day when I was out shopping with my mum, I begged and I begged to get it, I promised I would never ask for anything again for at least a month, seeing I could play my new favourite games (G/S/C) on my screen in the same way as R/B/Y was enough for me to know I must have it.

But it was too expensive, £55 I seem to remember was the price, I understand why my mum was reluctant to shell out the money, we've never lived in poverty by any means, but that was a lot of money for us at the time to just be throwing away on 1 game, so I didn't get it, and as the years went by I stopped seeing it in stores and forgot about it.

Then last month, whilst clearing out various cupboards, I re-found my N64 and all my games, and that rekindled my need to have the one game that I never got, that I always wanted, so on 4th December, I bought it (£36), fitting really, that was my 20th Birthday, I feel like I have finally closed the book on that chapter of my life.

It sounds weird and incredibly nerdy I know, but it felt important to me.

I plan to not play it until Christmas Day, I'm already on the hunt for my copies of Gold and Silver, hopefully their batteries haven't run out!

Thanks for reading my first blog, I've never been much of a story teller, so I apologise if this isn't the most riveting thing you've read. Also please let me know if I'm just being stupidly weird, I'd also love to here any similar stories from you guys, if you have them.

- Dan

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