2013 GOTY List

WARNING-This list has major spoilers for MGS Rising, GTA 5, The Last of Us, and Bioshock Infinite.

10. Splinter Cell: Blacklist

I'm one of the few who really enjoyed Splinter Cell Conviction, and Blacklist achieves an ideal medium between old and new Splinter Cell.. Everything I loved about Conviction is still in Blacklist, but it also has the gadgets from the other games in the series. The gadgets add a lot of variety because they give you a wide range of options in how you can tackle a scenario. This is the first Splinter Cell where I actually feel like I can tackle a scenario in multiple ways and each way is viable strategy. That alone makes Blacklist my favorite Splinter Cell.

9. Dead Space 3

Yes, Dead Space 3 is a disappointment coming from Dead Space 2. And out of all the games on my 2013 list, Dead Space 3 has the most problems. It regularly recycles environments, has a disappointing story, and it just feels uneven as a whole. But holy shit, does it have some fantastic gameplay.

The combat feels just as good as it did in Dead Space 2, and it has a new layer of customization that gives you almost complete control over your weaponry. I loved experimenting with weapons and, mind you this is a compliment, you would feel like you were almost breaking the game by making a particular powerful weapon. By the end of the game, I had a sniper rifle/rocket launcher that shot acid covered bullet/rockets and an assault rifle that fired so fast that the actual game sound couldn't keep up with it. I haven’t experienced a game that had this level of customization since maybe Banjo Kazooie:Nuts & Bolts. The new customization elements almost completely overshadow DS 3's faults, and they also made it one of my favorite games this year.

8. Metro: Last Light

I was not expecting to enjoy Metro: Last Light half as much as I ultimately did. Metro 2033 was very flawed but unique game, and I thought Last Light would be a slightly more polished sequel that would run into similar problems. To my surprise, it's the closest thing to a new Half Life we have gotten in years.

It's hard to pinpoint the exact reason why Last Light reminds me of Half Life 2 so much. Most likely, it comes from how every encounter, in both games, feels unique from the rest. It's a game that excels at storytelling but not exactly in a narrative sense. For example, it's exactly like Half Life 2 in the sense that when talking to others about these games you almost never talk about the narrative. You instead describe scenarios such as the spider bug section of Last Light or the Ravenholm sequence in Half Life 2.

The narrative is fine for what it is, but the focus always seems to be on immersing you in this world, and making you feel like you are this actual character. The only time it falters in that respect, is in the stealth sections where it seems like almost everyone went blind once the bombs fell. In these sections, if you're in a slightly shady area, you can do almost anything. Whether that is knock out the guy who is right next to them, or even kill the guy who they are talking to. To be fair, I'm glad they didn't go with the near omniscient AI of Metro 2033.

Since 2008, shooters have seemed like they are trying to emulate three particular games, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Crysis, or Bioshock. I've never played a shooter that felt like it was trying to nail what made Half Life 2 great though. But the fact that Last Light was reminiscent of Half Life 2 to me at all, is the greatest compliment I can give it.

7. Gone Home

Since it's announcement, I have been eagerly awaiting Gone Home. One of my favorite aspects of Bioshock (my favorite game of all time), was how it thrusts you into a decrepit city and it was up to you to figure out what happened to it. That is basically Gone Home's premise. You enter a house that seems like whoever lived there left in a hurry, and it's up to you to figure out what exactly happened.

Very few games trust that the player will try to piece together the information that's given to them, and Gone Home does that exceptionally well. Most of the notes you find are out of order and it's up to you to compile them into a time line of events so that you can fully understand the story. The main story of Gone Home isn't particularly unique but the way in which it's told is. My favorite element of Gone Home is that it doesn't need to put it's characters into extreme situations to evoke emotion out of the player, almost every game on this list suffers from that. The developers know that stories in games can be infinitely more relate-able, not to mention just as interesting, if they revolve around everyday choices and the consequences they bring.

6. DOTA 2

DOTA 2 is easily the most complex multiplayer game I've ever played, but it's also the most rewarding. I've only played around a 100 hours so far (yes I said “only 100 hours”) so I can't say more than what's already been said by others. With over 100 heroes, every match feels different and in turn you learn something new. It's one of the few games I would describe as timeless, and just writing about it now makes me want to play another match.

5. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is completely and utterly dumb, in the best possible way. Everything from the story to the gameplay is absolutely absurd, and I loved it from beginning to end. I want Platinum to write every MGS game from now on. They know how dumb the story in the MGS series has gotten, and they revel in it in a way I can't see Kojima doing anytime soon. I mean the final boss is an American senator who is almost entirely made of nanomachines. He also says things like “Don't fuck with this senator!” and “Nanomachines son!”. If there was an Senator Armstrong action figure with those catch phrases, I would buy it in an instant.

As great as the story is in Revengeance, it wouldn’t be anywhere near this list if it's game play wasn't up to snuff. It fixes some problems I've had with character action games of late and it doesn't get mired in hundreds of move sets like Bayonetta does. I've always hated having to block in character action games. It always feels like I'm taking the easy way out, but the parrying system in Revengeance fixes that. You have to block every individual hit instead of just holding a block button until the enemy stops attacking. It takes time to master and blocking a string of attacks from one of the many bosses is insanely satisfying.

Revengeance has some of , if not, the best boss fights of any game I've played. That's mostly because of the soundtrack. Don't get me wrong, Revengeance's combat system is fantastic but the music amplifies the boss fights to an almost insurmountable degree. The soundtrack brought me back to the PS2 and Dreamcast era, when it wasn't uncommon for a game to have a ridiculous soundtrack. They were terrible if you listened to them outside the game, but they really did add a lot to the game. If you took a look at all of Revengeance's elements separately, whether it was the gameplay, story, or soundtrack, it wouldn't seem mind blowing. But, the way in which all of it's elements work together make it the best character action game I've ever played.

4. Saints Row 4

Speaking of dumb games, Saints Row 4 manages to somehow be even dumber than Revengeance. After Saint's Row 3, I thought Voliton had maybe wrote themselves into a corner for the future of the franchise, because there seemed to be no way it could get crazier. I was wrong. Obviously, the next step for the sequel was to add superpowers and make your character the president of the United States.

My main problem with Saint's Row The Third was the unsatisfying shooting, and with the addition of superpowers it allows you to avoid it whenever possible. They add a lot of variety to the combat, and that's something that the Saint's Row series has been missing for a while now. As fun as the combat super power's are, the new traversal powers are even better. Even after completing Saint's Row 4, I will jump back in on occasion just to have some more fun sprinting and jumping through the city. I've never really done that with a Saint's Row game.

This is the most confident Saint's Row yet, not only gameplay wise but also in the story department. Volition makes writing likeable characters and snappy dialogue seem effortless. It's a lot less hit or miss than Saint's Row The Third was, and by the end I grew to enjoy every single character. I hope this isn't the last we see of these characters but even if it is I absolutely can't see what Volition will do next.

3. Grand Theft Auto 5

GTA 5 is the culmination of all of the progress Rockstar has made over the previous generation. It has the shooting of Max Payne 3, the wilderness and random missions of Red Dead, and the special abilities and the feel of Midnight Club: LA's driving. None of it's parts are equal to or better than the game in which they're aping, but together they make GTA 5 one of the best open world games of the generation.

The GTA series may very well be my favorite game series of all time. Each game is radically different from the last, whether graphically or mechanically. In that respect, GTA 5 slightly disappointed me. It doesn't feel like it has it's own identity compared to the rest of the series, and that's because it feels like a combination of GTA 4 and San Andreas. This combination works out wonderfully, but anytime a new game play mechanic was introduced I couldn't help but think about how this was already in a previous game in the series. The introduction of the multiple protagonists was a nice change of pace, but it didn't impact the actual gameplay very much. Don't get me wrong though, I love GTA 5.

It's the best playing GTA by a mile. The shooting is not quite to the level of Rockstar's other efforts yet, but it's still the best of any other open world game. And now that a GTA game finally has competent shooting, the missions improve drastically as a result. It has the best missions of the series by far, due to it having the crazier San Andreas type missions while also having the shooting mechanics to back them up. The missions at some points get even crazier than GTA: SA's missions. I mean in one mission you steal a plane, and fly it into the back of a cargo plane. YOU THEN PROCEED TO DRIVE A JEEP OUT OF THE BACK OF THE CARGO PLANE AND PARACHUTE DOWN TO THE GROUND! That would be pretty cool in a cutscene, but almost all of that sequence is done in actual gameplay.

On a story level, GTA 5 learns from previous iterations but it runs into some of the same problems. It starts off with promise, the dynamic between Trevor and Michael is interesting, but it wraps up a little too nicely. The conflict between these characters should have never ended “nicely”, because they're both completely crazy. They're also the most interesting protagonists, if not characters, to be in a GTA game. They're both psychopaths, and the story doesn't treat them as anything but. At first, Trevor seems like any other “ordinary” psychopath you would see in any other GTA game, but the longer the game goes on the more you in turn start to enjoy his crazy antics. That is until a turn towards the second half ,where you remember that you really shouldn't be rooting for him at all. By the end of the game, He actually ends up being a complex character. Michael is similar, but he's in denial as to how messed up and self centered he truly is. They're both some of the most interesting characters I've seen in a game all year. The writers just don't know what to do with them, and the story suffers as a result.

Even with all of the issues I had with GTA 5, it's still one of the best games I've played all year and it's definitely going to be my go-to open world game for just fucking around in from now on.

2. The Last of Us

The Last of Us is a fantastic game. It's not the second coming, but it is easily the most well rounded game I've played all year. The gameplay actually ended up being my favorite aspect of it, and that's saying a lot considering the story is fantastic. It somehow nails the feeling of being weak, while still having competent and fun combat. When I first saw gameplay of The Last of Us at E3 2012, I thought the combat encounter looked amazing but I couldn't see every encounter being that dynamic. None of the encounters are as dynamic as that presentation was, but they are closer than to it than I thought it would be. I could play through most of the human encounters in the Pittsburgh chapter over and over because they almost always play out different.

Looking at the response it got online, the Last of Us' story didn't have anywhere near as big of an impact on me as it did others. The story is great, and I think it is the closest a game has gotten to matching the level of quality that's set in a great movie. It's the first game I can think of that that has amazing voice acting, spectacular animation, and great writing to back it up. Most story focused games will have one of those facets and skimp out on the others. But at the end of the day, it's another post apocalyptic zombie story. It's maybe my favorite post apocalyptic zombie story, but I could guess what was going to happen at almost every single story beat. The ending is the only time it strays from the norm.

Joel's dark turn at the end was earned, and I love how Naughty Dog didn't give you a choice in that last chapter. I love how it messes with player expectations after the winter chapter. You've seen enough stories about a parent and son/daughter going on a journey and the parent usually dies along the way, and it's up to the son or daughter to finish the journey. One of the most notable games released last year even had a story like that. Signs start to point towards that happening in TLOU the closer you get to the end, due to certain lines of dialogue and the giraffe moment. You as a viewer most likely love these characters, and in turn will do anything to save them from their fate. Surprisingly the writers give you that, but at the expense of countless innocent lives and a cure for the infection.

When Joel was carrying Ellie through the hospital at the end, I was disappointed in him. I've never been disappointed with a character before, because most games now a days want you to love their characters and are afraid of alienating you from the character you are actively playing as. You rarely see ballsy decisions like that in AAA games, and I'm grateful that one best and biggest developers out there went down that route. Although, I didn't love every aspect of the ending.

The issue I have with it is that it ends with Ellie starting to realize that Joel is not completely telling the truth regarding the fireflies, but she decides to stay with him regardless and then it cuts to black. The decision she makes is important, but there is almost no sense of finality to the game in my opinion. Are we supposed to think that they will happily live ever after at Tommy's dam until they eventually die, or that she will somehow find out the lengths to which Joel went to rescue her and in turn leave him? It follows the direction that most shows use to end a season. They finish the conflict, but that solution has ramifications that continue to affect the rest of the series. The writers have come out and said that they're not sure if they want to end Joel and Ellie's story there or if they want to make a sequel. Even if Naughty Dog makes a sequel about these characters, I feel that I will most likely look back at this ending as unsatisfying. I don't have a problem with stories that end on the main character making a huge choice, some of my favorite movies even end this way (Gone Baby Gone), but you need to give the viewer a sense of where the story will go next. All in all, even though I had problems with the ending they're only a small blemish on one of the best games I've played in years.

1. Bioshock Infinite

This is the first time I've ever not been able to think of a clear frontrunner for my game of the year. I was almost constantly flip flopping between this and The Last of Us as my GOTY. I eventually settled on The Last of Us after getting sucked back in for a brief stint about a week ago. But then I started to think about which game had more of an impact on me, and which game I will remember more 5 years from now. That's when I came to the conclusion that Bioshock Infinite is the best game I've played all year.

I can see why someone would enjoy The Last of Us more than Infinite. TLOU is a more well rounded game. It maintains a very high level of quality throughout, and almost every storyline is somehow related to the themes of the overall plot. Not to mention, that there is just more going on in the gameplay of TLOU compared to Infinite. But Infinite's highs are higher than anything in TLOU.

The beginning and ending sections of Infinite might be my favorite beginning and ending to any game I've ever played. It's no secret that Infinite had a long and troubled development period. You can see examples of that in the game, but if Levine had said he spent most of that time perfecting the ending, I probably would have believed him. I know a lot of people have problems with the way Infinite ended, but it worked so well for me. Maybe it's because I had the “twist” spoiled for me before playing, but I was able to follow every single story beat in those last scenes and I enjoyed every single second of it. I love how the “twist” isn't about the shock value, it's about how it affects the characters and how having it all revealed has/will impact Elizabeth.

Her transformation across the game is drastic and I feel that it's earned. She starts off as a damsel in distress, but by the end she transforms into someone who is only propelled by vengeance and who will do anything to get it. She even threatens Booker's life at one point when he threatens to stop her from going through with it. That's not even the end of her transformation either. Once she destroys the siphon, she basically becomes a god and almost entirely emotionless as a result. I can't even remember the last game I played where a character changed so much from beginning to end, let alone one that felt earned.

Infinite's main plot is fascinating to me and it's my favorite story in a game this year, but the secondary storylines have some issues. Ghost mom is dumb, there's no doubt about that, and the Chen Lin storyline in the middle is too confusing to even follow. Infinite's uneven plot is another reason why I was leaning towards TLOU as my GOTY. TLOU's main plot is also fantastic and it's side stories, while completely predictable, usually leave an impact on you especially the storyline in Winter. But I enjoyed the beginning and ending of infinite more than any section in TLOU.

I'll admit that TLOU has better gameplay than Infinite. I'd take it's human combat encounters over any “regular” combat encounter in Infinite. That's not to say that Infinite doesn't have satisfying gameplay, but the best sections of TLOU use the same gameplay mechanics as the rest of the game while Infinite's best sections don't. The sky rails are the best part of Infinite's combat, but they're few and far between. Off the top of my head there are maybe 4 or 5 notable ones out of the whole game. When not in those sections, that gameplay is still solid. The shooting feels great and the vigors let you tackle encounters in some interesting ways. But they seem almost conventional compared to any combat encounter that involve a skyrail. The skyrail allows you to always be mobile, in a way that is unlike any other FPS I’ve played before. Encounters that include a skyrail, are designed in a way that you are almost always able to jump to a one no matter where you're at. That gives you the option to always run away from an enemy or flank them.

The skyrails and vigors allow you to decide how to initiate a combat situation and they give you a wide choice of options on how to handle that situation after it starts. Here's an example of that, when I was playing the Emporia chapter I ran into some firemen and a bunch of soldiers. After jumping to higher ground via a grappling point, I proceeded to drag the firemen to me with undertow so that I wasn't in the other enemy's sight line. I started to shoot the firemen, but then I remembered that they explode when close to death. So instead of shooting them, I pushed them off the building using undertow and the drop ended up killing them. From then on, I kept repeating that strategy until everyone was dead. I can't think of any other game I've played this year that let me do anything as cool as that.

Ultimately, this has been a fantastic year for games and the fact that I couldn't decide what my GOTY was is a testament to that. But the reason why Infinite is is at the top of this list is because it managed to somehow not disappoint me, even though it is the sequel to my favorite game of all time. Mind you, there are elements of Infinite that are disappointing compared to the original. I wish the game was less linear and that the levels were designed to be more like the original for one, but it had a world and atmosphere that was unlike any other game I've played, and it's story will stick with me for a while. Not to mention that, it's the most fun I've had with a FPS all year. As I've mentioned here there are aspects of Infinite I find disappointing, but when I look back at this year no game was as memorable or thrilling as Infinite was.

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2012 GOTY List

10. Forza Horizon

My two favorite racing games this generation are Dirt 2 and Burnout Paradise, and Forza Horizon combines the best aspects of both of them. It has the style of Dirt 2 and the open world of Burnout Paradise. Although, Forza doesn't quite reach the levels set by those games, it's still one of the best racing games I've ever played. It's the only free roam racing game where I have fun just driving around the open world. I only wish it had as much content as Burnout Paradise and was as immersive as Dirt 2.

9.The Darkness 2

The Darkness 2 is some of the most fun I've gotten out of a first person shooter in a long time, let alone this year. It's different from most shooters because it gives you a large amount of options during combat rather than before. During combat scenarios I was constantly thinking about what to do next. And with the addition of the “quad-wielding” mechanic, I could do everything from using a car door as a shield or beat somebody up with my tentacles while shooting at the guy behind them. Although, the story doesn't reach the bar set by the original it still has a better story than most other games.

8. XCOM Enemy Unknown

I did not expect to get hooked to XCOM. Turn based strategy games have never grabbed me but I understood why people enjoy them. I was addicted to XCOM the week it came out though. For example, Walking Dead episode 3 came out the same week of XCOM and I was enjoying what I was playing of it but I was just thinking about XCOM the whole time (which is pretty crazy considering how important the 3 episode of Walking Dead was). Other than Dark Souls it's the only game that had me excited to play it while also making me scared to play it. But by the end of the game I was just scared. The glitches ended up souring my enjoyment of the game though; I had way too many sectopods spawn on top of me during my playthrough.'

7. Syndicate

The only reason Syndicate is on my GOTY list is because of its coop mode. That's not to say it's singleplayer is bad but it has what might be my favorite coop mode of this generation. Syndicate fixes my major problem with coop games and that's the over reliance on punishing the players until they work together. Syndicate's solution is to make teamwork as easy and intuitive as possible. Healing people in Syndicate is as easy as looking at someone (as long as they were in eyesight) and holding a button. That same button is used for every ability tied to the “breach” mechanic so as long as you know the basic mechanics of the game, you can easily heal your teammates. Due to that feature, it's the only coop game where I can have just as much fun playing with random people as my friends. It also doesn't hurt that the shooting and breach powers are fantastic.

6. Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2 improves upon the original in some smart ways but most importantly it has even crazier loot. That's all that really matters right? In all seriousness, I spent more time with Borderlands 2 than just about any other game this year. And it's not a huge step up from Borderlands but I loved the 80 or so hours I played of it.

5. The Walking Dead

If you would have asked me if Walking Dead was my game of the year right after I finished the first 2 episodes, I probably would have said yes. But after episode 3 I decided to see what would happen if I had made different decisions, and I was disappointed to learn that most of the choices don't change the storyline at all. For example, at one point you have a choice to put a women out of her misery or use her as a distraction so you can find more supplies. And no matter what zombies will still attack you when you look for supplies. Although, you do have a chance to get all the supplies if you leave her to get eaten by the zombies. The problem is nothing changes whether or not you left her to die or killed her. I was hoping story lines would diverge at least a little (I didn't have a problem with how the major choice from episode one affected the storyline for example) by the end of the game but there is only two different endings. Heavy Rain had tons of variety in it's endings and I'm hoping with The Walking Dead's success Telltale can achieve that variety with season two. It may seem like I didn't enjoy The Walking Dead all that much but I absolutely loved it and it has the best writing/story of any game I played this year.

4. Assassins Creed 3

I've always enjoyed the Assassins Creed games but they never clicked with me like they did other people. Which was mainly due to the fact that I never enjoyed the gameplay all that much. No matter whether I was platforming or in combat I always felt like I was either holding one button or just timing a button press. That's not to say that Assassins Creed 3 fixes that but it improves upon the foundation of those games in some smart ways. My favorite addition being how the muskets effect combat. I loved being able to use a guy as a human shield, and nothing beats nonchalantly picking up a musket and shooting the last guy in a combat encounter.

The biggest improvement from the old AC games to AC3 had to be the story though. I loved the story in AC3 and the main reason why is Haytham Kenway. He's such a great character and although I liked Connor more than most other people, Haytham is the reason why that story is so good. It's not only due to how good of a character he is but it's also because (SPOILERS!!!!) you spend 5 or so hours playing as him before even knowing he is the antagonist and Connor's dad . This adds a personal element that has sorely been missing in the other AC games. The story does falter a bit at the end but it still is one of my favorite stories of the year.

3. Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 is the definition of a power fantasy. In every encounter I felt like I was unstoppable even though I died quite a bit throughout my playthrough. No matter what I was doing I felt like I was in complete control of my character, which is truly impressive considering what the game allows you to do. It's one of the few games that makes the stealth feel just as satisfying as the gunplay, due to the addition of the new stealth takedowns. Other than the story, the only fault I can find with Far Cry 3 is there's not enough incentives to finish all of the side content. By the time I got to the second island I had most things unlocked interest in the game waned. It also could have been due to the second half of the game being less interesting than the first half. But if the second half had just as many unlocks as the first, the game probably wouldn't have left such a sour taste in my mouth by the end. From an actual gameplay standpoint though it was some of the most fun I've had in any game this year.

2. Mass Effect 3

I should start off by saying I've always been more invested in the characters of the Mass Effect games rather than the overall story. That's why I didn't come from Mass Effect 3 disappointed. I haven't ever been more emotionally invested in a game than I was in ME 3. It's the only game I can think of where by the end I was sad that this was the last time I was going to see it's characters. I'm not afraid to admit that some games have made me cry but Mass Effect 3 is the only game that has made me do it more than once. Not to mention, it has the best gameplay out of the whole series. If Bioware hadn't dropped the ball with the side content, ME 3 would have easily been my game of the year.

1. Max Payne 3

Max Payne 3 might be my favorite third person shooter of all time. I can't think of one other third person shooter that feels as good as MP 3. That's mostly due to the Euphoria engine and every firefight felt different because of it. It's one of the only shooters where I got better the more I played, not because of upgrades but because there was depth to the combat. My only complaint with it is the unskippable cutscenes, but in retrospect that didn't bother me very much at all considering I played through the game 5 or 6 times. It doesn't hurt that it also has a fantastic multiplayer and a great story. The greatest compliment I can give MP 3 is that it's the only game I've played this year that will most likely be just as enjoyable in a couple of years, as it is now.

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Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Gameplay

I'm one of the few people who actually enjoyed The Outfit, because it was one of the first 360 games to focus on destruction and it had some original ideas in it that games are still using today. The Outfit was a change of pace for Relic because they were known for their highly acclaimed real time strategy games( Dawn of War and Company of Heroes) and it was their first action game. The Outfit was met with mediocre reviews and since then Relic has gone back to developing real time strategy games exclusively, until Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. Although I enjoyed The Outfit, the prospect of Relic develop another action game didn't interest me. I still should have given Relic the benefit of the doubt since they did develop my favorite RTS, Company of Heroes. Even though Space Marine kept looking better and better it still wasn't getting me interested. That was until this combat system trailer finally made the game look fun and showed off some features that define it from other 3rd-person action adventure games. The combination of melee and shooting looks promising and hopefully each aspect is as well developed as the other. I'm surprised that everything seems to be coming together nicely with it and it's already looking a lot more polished than I thought it would be at it's release. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is set to release on Sep. 6, 2011.

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Dead Island Gameplay

 

 I was not expecting Dead Island to remind me of Borderlands after watching that cinematic trailer that was released a while ago but surprisingly I'm more excited than I was before. From the footage shown it looks like it will have Dead Rising's weapon building not to mention it's zombies, Far Cry's environment, and Borderland's RPG mechanics and CO-OP. Techland is going for a more "realistic" approach to combating zombies by limiting firearms and focusing on melee weapons. The melee combat looks better than what I was expecting but that's not saying much, and I"m not sure if the combat could hold my attention until the end. They're saying its going to be a 20-30 hour experience and I don't think enemy variety could keep me interested in the combat until the end. The open world and RPG mechanics could easily take the focus off the combat so I'm not too worried. I liked Techland's past games (Call of Juarez series) and I'm looking forward to seeing more footage at E3.
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My impressions of Brink so far

Out of all of the games that were released last week Brink got the most attention, but not because of rave reviews instead its from the low reviews it has been getting. Brink wasn't a highly anticipated game in most circles but there was still a size-able contingent of people eagerly awaiting its release. I was leaning more towards the latter. Splash Damage had a good track record and I was hoping that they could bring a Team Fortress type of multi-player shooter to consoles while still supporting it after it's release (the opposite of how valve handled TF2 on consoles). They succeeded in bringing that type of experience to consoles but its too soon to say whether Splash Damage will support it more than Valve did with Team Fortress 2 on consoles.

So far I'm enjoying Brink more so than some reviewers but not by much more. Some reviewers didn't find the shooting to be fun, but the shooting felt

good to me once I found a good combination of weapons and attachments. The main problem I had with the shooting was the lack of variety that came from all of the classes having the same weapons. For a shooter to be popular and stick around it has to have a factor that changes up the shooting once and a while, for example Battlefield has vehicles and Call of duty has kill streaks, Brink doesn't include anything like that except the different body types.

The game includes three different body types-- light, medium (default), and heavy. The Light body type can wall jump but has less health than the other body types which makes the wall jump useless in combat, while the Heavy Body type is slower and can use heavy weapons. None of that changes the game-play drastically considering the game only includes 5 different heavy weapons and they all feel the same with the exception of the Grenade Launcher, because its the only one in the game. The simple act of shooting still felt good compared to other shooters I've played recently (Homefront) I just wish they took some cues from Team Fortress and made every class have it's own unique weapons instead of sharing the arsenal across all classes.

It seems like every time I find something enjoyable in Brink something else comes up and changes that. For example I like the art style of the game a lot and the idea of customizing your character/weapon really excited me, but as soon as I started playing I noticed that your allies are coated in a blue aura and your enemies are coated in a red aura. That aura covers up the characters to the point where all enemies and allies look the same no matter how different they look in the customization screen. The game is also a first person shooter so you have no way to look at your custom character in the match. Problems like that really killed my excitement over time and if that wasn't enough, Brink also has problems that no online focused game should have.

Its been a week since Brink's release and the lag is still unbearable. I don't understand how you can release an online focused game without making sure the net code is good, there is no excuse for it. Splash Damage could have at least had a beta to test out their net code because Quake Wars even had a beta before it's release. They're an experienced developer with online shooters I don't see how this is even a problem for them, even the PC version is getting lag from what I've read. The lag got on my nerves so much that I just finished up the campaign with bots, which was in retrospect probably harder than fighting the lag. Even the design choices make me wonder what they were thinking while developing Brink.

The design choice that confused me the most was that the only way you could unlock weapons/attachments was to finish all 12 of the challenges in the challenge mode. After I heard that the first thing I did was the challenges and by the time I was done I had unlocked all of the weapons/attachments. Then I did whatever anyone else would do I found the best
Blood mask
weapon, or what I was hoping to be the best weapon since there is no way to directly compare weapons, and picked the attachments that improved my stats the most. I completely the bypassed the other weapons and the whole time I was just thinking about how Splash Damage thought this would be a good idea. Not to mention that nowhere in the game does it tell you the only way to unlock weapons and attachments is to beat the challenges, because of that most people now are using the best assault rifle or the worst assault rifle depending on how much they read about the game. Decisions like that make me wonder what Splash Damage was thinking or maybe if it was rushed , although it was in development over 2 years. If I had to guess I'd say it was rushed considering there is only 8 maps and the single-player content is exactly the same as the multi-player content.

Brink has some interesting ideas and features but I wish they were in a better game, because the issues it has far outweigh the features i enjoyed. The interesting features like the customization and the S.M.A.R.T system seem wasted here and I hope more games in the future use them in much better ways. 
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Red Faction: Armageddon Demo Impressions

One of the major complaints with Red Faction: Guerrilla was the repetitive nature that came from its open world elements. Volition addressed this issue in the sequel, Red Faction: Armageddon, by removing the open world entirely and by going with a linear story focused experience while still including the destructible environments of the past Red Faction games.

The more I read about Armageddon the less I was getting excited for it because it seemed as if they were taking more things out of Guerrilla instead of adding or improving things. For example, recently Volition announced that Armageddon wouldn't have any competitive multi-player but would only include a horde type of mode called infestation. The competitive multi-player in Guerrilla ended up being really fun while still differentiating itself from other online third person shooters thanks to it's destructible environments and "backpacks". I was still cautiously optimistic for Armageddon because whether it reached my expectations I had after Guerrilla or not I still knew it had a really good chance of still being a good game considering Volition's track record of late.


After playing the demo for Armageddon I'm more optimistic for the full product than I was before but now I'm also worried about some issues I didn't even think about. The destruction in the demo is limited compared to Guerrilla's open areas but the destruction is just as impressive in Armageddon as it was in Guerrilla. For example when a section of a pipe falls from the ceiling in Armageddon it has just as much of an impact as when a two-story building crumbles to the ground in Guerrilla, due to the sound and visual effects they have added since then. Also In the demo there seems to be a much higher focus on destruction based weapons, 3 out of the 4 weapons you get are used more for destroying the environment (Magnet Gun, Singularity Cannon, Charge Launcher) rather than just killing enemies. The shooting doesn't end up suffering from that focus either, I can only speak for the assault rifle but it felt fine and had a good kick to it.

Destruction has been the big feature in all Red Faction games but Guerrilla suffered from it towards the end due to the repetitiveness that came from destroying the same looking building over and over. Armageddon fixes that issue with the addition of the Nano Forge and the Magnet Gun.

You can guess how a Magnet Gun would work and you would probably be right. It lets you stick one dart on a structure/enemy then stick another dart on another structure/enemy and whichever the first dart was attached to goes flying towards the second dart. As you can imagine this lets you send a wall flying at a enemy or an enemy at a wall and it increases the amount of destruction you can pull off while also giving you more ways to tackle a combat situation. It reminded me of Psi-Ops, an old Xbox/PS2 game, in which you could throw people around with telekinesis but the Magnet Gun lets you throw the environment at the enemies and it ends up being just as fun. With all of the destruction the Magnet Gun can cause the Nano Forge (A feature only available in Guerilla's competitive multi-player) is needed to repair any stairwell, ladder, etc. you accidentally destroyed to progress ahead.

Guerrilla only had a few structures in it that were complex most were the same two-story or one-story building but with the inclusion of the Nano Forge in Armageddon Volition can build complex environments that can be torn apart completely since you can repair them whenever you want. It also gives you the option to infinitely destroy things unlike Guerrilla where once you destroy something it stays that way throughout the rest of the game. I enjoyed the feeling of having no repercussions for the destruction in Armageddon where in Guerrilla most of the time I was thinking about how to make this building blow up in the best way possible since I could only blow it up it once.

Armageddon also has vehicles in it such as Mechs and Aircraft which is a change from Guerrilla's focus on off road vehicles. Mechs seem to have a bigger part in Armageddon since they now are more mobile and powerful than the few construction mechs in Guerrilla. The high point of the combat portion of the demo had to be the mech section towards the end which also brings up one of my worries for the full game.

The mech portion was the only part in the demo where I felt the enemies were actually a threat and that's not to say the mech felt underpowered, the enemies in that section actually seemed like they were swarming and trying to kill me unlike the earlier portions of the demo in which they would just hang on the cave walls and spit acid at me. Their A.I. wasn't very smart either for example I came across enemies getting stuck behind obstructions multiple times. It seemed as if the demo takes place early in the campaign so hopefully later on the aliens get harder and switch up their tactics, but if they stay the same in the full game it will hurt the combat portions. 

My main issue with the demo that hopefully will be fixed in the full game is that the alien enemies in the game aren't much fun to fight. They just go splat when getting hit against a wall with the Magnet Gun and the same happens when they get hit with any object. When fighting human enemies in Guerrilla they would react in multiple ways when getting knocked through a building or being blown up and it made the destruction look even cooler when that happened, but with the alien enemies in Armageddon they just explode instead of having actual physics attached to them. The aliens might end up being a small portion of the combat in the full game but judging from the footage Volition has shown they seem prevalent throughout the campaign.

I'm still looking forward to Armageddon's release because I still enjoyed the demo and the destruction is still just as fun as it was in Guerrilla. The alien stuff they added in doesn't drag the game down much but I hope they at least improve upon the potential of the aliens in the full release. If anything the demo made me look forward to the Ruin mode (Watch the video above) the most and hopefully the game has a tolerable storyline while still being lengthy since Volition took out the competitive multi-player modes.
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I'm Back

I just finished my first semester of college and I'm staying at home this summer. I want to start writing more to get ready for my classes next semester and this is a great place to post any game related things I write about. I'm going to stick with the same format I had before in the blog but I'm hoping to get a lot more reviews written over the summer over new games like L.A. Noire to some older titles such as Bioshock. Hopefully I get more people reading than when I was posting before (I'm surprised anyone even read my old posts considering they were full of grammatical errors and just a huge wall of text) and thanks to whoever reads my blog from now on. See you Duders later.

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Quick Note

Just Cause 2 looks awesome and that new 10 minute walk-through just sold me on it. I'm really glad they improved the shooting from the first.
I'll post more stuff of my favorite games and things of E3 throughout the week

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New Modern Warfare 2 Trailer and Most Anticapated Games Of E3 09

  


What a bad ass trailer it gets me even more pumped for E3 and hopefully they announce some multiplayer details there.

Since I am on the subject of E3, my top 5 games I am most looking forward to in no particular order are
1.Modern Warfare 2- No suprise here this is propaply on everyone's most anticapated E3 lists but these new videos coming out for it are really suprising me with new gameplay mechanics AKA. SNOWMOBILES

2.Red Dead Redemption- I really enjoyed Red Dead Revolver I wasn't a huge fan of the story though but this one looks to fix that with a more grittier storyline and also it seems alot like GTA 4 in the wild west

  

3.Alan Wake- I have been a big fan of Remedy's previous work and this looks like a different direction for them so I am looking forward to seeing how they handle it and the story oriented focus puts it into my favorite genre of games already


  

4.Brutal Legend-The games premise alone gets me pumped for the game but also if you add in the fact Tim Schafer is making it, I'm in.



  


5.Max Payne 3- I kind of just threw this choice in here because I love the Max Payne series and they haven't really released anything major about the game



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Honorable Mentions
Halo 3 ODST
Battlefield Bad Company 2
Prototype
Mass Effect 2
Alpha Protocol
Battlefield 1943
Call of Juarez Bound in Blood
New GTA 4 DLC
Section 8
Borderlands
Dark Void
Just Cause 2
Bioshock 2
Assasins Creed 2
APB

I left out alot of other major releases like Uncharted 2, God of War 3, and MAG because I still haven't got the chance to buy a PS3 but those games look really good and I hope sony cuts down the pric of the PS3 then amybe I could afford one.




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Whats Up

I haven't made a blog post in a long while but I have had some spare time lately so I'll try to post more.

The next thing I will be playing though is GTA 4's DLC "The Lost and Damned" and its looking good.

  



They couldn't have picked a better song either


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