Recalling my Gaming in 2012

This year for me was another hard year for gaming since my current day jobs workflow significantly increased and opening my own business added another busy schedule reducing much of my gaming time to usually only 1 day for real gaming. When I say real gaming I mean spending several hours really getting to understand and play the new titles aside from just the usual short play I usually do after work before I sleep to play a few games of Battlefield 3 online. At least I managed to get to play enough games to name 10 of my best for this year. so here it is my 2012 Games of the Year list.

1. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition

The expansion found in the "Prepare to Die Edition" which drew me back in to dying again and again. The new bosses were a very welcome challenge to an already challenging game and the tweaks to re-balance the in-game items made it responsible for eating alot of my time this year and the release of the expansion made this game my most played console game again this year.

2. Mark of the Ninja

It's been quite a while since I've played a 2D adventure game which these days seems to me as just games that are played in handhelds and while waiting in line, but this game changed it back like when I had to play Ninja Gaiden seriously back in NES. Its been a very long time since I took 2D platform and action games seriously and I have alot to thank this game for reminding me that 2D games still can be just as fun like before.

3. Journey

This game is another strong statement that video games can also be just as powerful as movies in displaying art concepts. The game's presentation is just impressive that I also cannot help but look in awe. It's multiplayer also stands out since like in a real journey you may encounter random people that just simply pop out of nowhere and decide on your own if you want to play it cooperatively or not.

4. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Ahh yes I remember the countless hours I've spent playing Final Fantasy Tactics due to its intricate turn based mechanics and character development. This game rejuvenates that exact nostalgia. What made this game even better was the fact the sci-fi element was done so well that the makers of the Civilization franchise clearly knows how to make their craft truly memorable.

5. Dragon's Dogma

To me the combat system found here should have been what Dragon Age has. The game's combat system alone drew me in to play countless hours and not to mention also getting a stab at the game's hilarious twist. No RPG has done a better battle system especially fighting the big creatures than this game.

6. Sleeping Dogs

This game brought me the nostalgia of playing Shenmue back when I was still in college despite the massive difference in atmosphere. Its story which was highly inspired from Alan Mak's Infernal Affairs, draws players to experience infiltrating the triads ranks which for me made the experience interesting as it gave (though not entirely sure if accurate) a slight insight of their culture and such.

7. Asura's Wrath

The presentation of this game drew me in alongside its epic soundtrack. What made this game actually fun was the fact I had an audience while playing this since the game was presented like you're watching a drama with its intermission cuts. Aside from its fantastic presentation, the game also reminded me of my childhood joys back when I watched Dragonball Z as a kid since it had alot of those ridiculously epic moments like defeating an opponent EVEN LARGER THEN THE PLANET YOU'RE STANDING IN. Damn its truly epic!

8. Syndicate

When I heard that the old game I used to play was going to be revived, I was at 1st skeptical if it will turn out good given the fact that the 1st person action genre is over-saturated, and how they will translate such into something that separate itself from so many shooters already available. Regardless I gave this game a try then surprisingly got hooked in a different way with its new sci-fi aesthetics and awesome soundtrack. Oh did I mention this game was responsible for introducing me to Skrillex(though not really a fan). Atleast I owe it to this game for knowing who is the electronic musician party nuts everywhere keep raving about.

9. Mass Effect 3

Despite the massive online nerd rage over the game's ending, I simply cannot forget how many hours I've invested into this being the fact that the game was just so damn fun till the end. It's multiplayer had a good touch to it also being a coop wave stand off as well.

10. Borderlands 2

An alternative single player shooter that sucked me in. I found the initial advertisement of a "BAZILLION GUNS" not to be an actual exaggeration since yes there are really a "BAZILLION GUNS" in the game. The Coop play was really fun with friends and killing the main antagonist was pretty satisfying.

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Recalling my Gaming in 2011

Alot has happened this year since I got a new job (which pretty much is now full-time) and due to that reduced my gaming significantly by the day. Fortunately I was able to play enough games to root out 10 of the new title that made rush to the store just to get my hands on. So without further ado here is my list for 2011.

Best of 2011

VanderSEXXX: Best of 2011

1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

One of the amazing things that captivated into this game was the fact that I was able to play the entire game in 3rd person due to the fact that they have fixed nearly every visual aspect including the character animation which now didn't look funny as compared to its predecessors. I also found myself always stopping at some locations in the game gazing at the beautifully crafted landscape which made me wish i was really in there (save the Dragons invading of course). Truly immersive and unforgettable not to mention the vast improvements to the side-quests which were not quite repetitive anymore which kept me going.

2. Dead Space 2

Like the 1st title which got me by surprise, it continues its legacy by making another impressive follow up with a longer and heavier single player experience that even threw in new challenges like the hardest mode in which it only allows you to save 3 times in the game which really stepped up the horror experience. Even friends just watching me play this was highly entertained if not frightened. Regardless of its multiplayer while it may have it strengths is not on par with its singleplayer quality, the year started right having this as my 1st purchase of the year with a very big smile on my face.

3. Dark Souls

If many of you guys played Demon Souls before but still crave for more of the challenge then look no further. The same developers now delivered a follow up which they promised to be harder and bigger and yes they did fulfill that promise. This game is the reason that my PS3 woke from its long slumber and grinding in hours and hours play just get through the next challenge. Along with its already intricate combat system the game also extends on its unique multiplayer system of coop and PvP in which joining a Faction allows a bit more interactions with other players seeking aid or abandoning the faction results in a crime that actually gives online players to hunt you down. This to me may be the closest competitor to Skyrim if not for its ridiculous difficulty level which definitely is not friendly to casual gamers (which also sadly makes it a drawback for most players).

4. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

I have vivid memories of playing the 1st Witcher since but actually got immersed much more with the 2nd title due to the fact that nearly all the flaws of the 1st title was undone (i.e thebar brawls mini games and such). An enhanced engine as well as tweaks to its combat system and item upgrade system also refines the game in numerous ways which makes the fantasy world more immersive than its predecessor. Think of this as a game with the same level of production quality as Bioware's games but having a far more mature theme that really caters to the mature audience as certain in-game content is apparently not suitable for the young-ins. And I need not say why. *Laughs*

5. Portal 2

To me being a fan of the Ricky Gervais Shows actually made a good selling point for this game when I learned Stephen Merchant was in it, and not only was his voice over spot-on but even his in-game character Wheatley was just as great as the already unforgettable Glados from the 1st title. The level designs are incredibly brilliant for a puzzle game where as I almost felt like taking some sort of academic exam while playing the game which was both fun and exhilarating.

6. Shadows of the Damned

What got my attention about this game is the fact my unending curiosity that if the original maker of Resident Evil fused with the original Music and sound composer of Silent alongside the creator of No More Heroes worked on a title. The result, a not so frightening, partly cheesy storyline, but having an incredibly unique approach to game-play mechanics as well as characters goes to one hell of a trip and yes I enjoyed every second of the goofy in-game dialogues (and names if I may add i.e. Garcia Hotspur's gun called the "Boner" which upgrades into the "Hot Boner" LOL) as well as the odd level designs which makes the game worth remembering. Now I wish I had retired spirit like Johnson by my side as its cool to have a companion that can turn to any gadget you need.

7. Battlefield 3

The definitive competitive online shooter returns with an improved engine that coveted much attention both from gamers and media audiences with its new Frostbite 2 engine, which features an enhanced environmental destruction system, & refined lighting. Another landmark is the return of the long awaited Jets absent from previous Battlefield franchises. This by far is the only shooter I have invested on and my enjoyed is reinforced even more since the release of its expansion Back to Karkand which gave me back fond memories back when I was still immersed greatly with Battlefield 2 in 2005.

8. L.A. Noire

Never before was a cop game this good especially when its pretty challenging to nail suspects you look closely into whether he/she is lying or not. While the interrogation system may be pretty obvious at some point not to mention replaying it has limited replay value, the drama that exist within this game is just downright impressive in multiple levels. This is the best Rockstar published game I have played by far and it will definitely be a game I wont forget in many years to come.

9. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Nintendo (almost like Pixar in video games) has not lost its magic over the years despite numerous titles of nearly the same formula has already been released. This particular Zelda title even gave me the same satisfaction when I played Ocarina of Time which was a decade ago on N64. This game also shows that the Wii still has a few more tricks to offer prior to the release of its next generation form. The only real challenge now I guess left for Nintendo is if Link will ever talk and actually say words aside from just shout and express himself while swinging weapons and jumping through obstacles but then again, I guess him also being kinda mute is what most of the fans would want to maintain.

10. Warhammer 40000: Space Marine

I've never felt smashing through an Ork horde with a Thunder Hammer would be so satisfying. Being a fan of the table top (which actually means yes i have the table top minatures) easily drew into this when it released and yes while the campaign may not have an intriguing storyline, its combat system of just smashing through the hordes of enemies is just fun and satisfying. I'm looking forward to more Warhammer action in the future and hopefully yes its will be canon to the Horus Heresy. (wishful thinking).

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Recalling my Gaming in 2010

More than half of 2010 was a year where I got to have a tremendous amount of time playing games due to the weak and stable pool of clients in my freelance career as an illustrator, which allowed me to play as much as I can. Thankfully I still had savings to keep up and purchase a decent amount of games to also finally put my PS3 out of the closet after some time. So without further ado I present my 10 personal best games in 2010. 

Best of 2010

VanderSEXXX: Best of 2010

1. Vanquish

In January 11, 2005 Shinji Mikami created his masterpiece with Resident Evil 4 which became the biggest influence of the decade in 3rd person shooters. So many games soon adopted Resident Evil 4's 3rd person format and became the standard of today's 3rd person shooters. Today in 2010 he returns to create another masterpiece by refining his shooter concept once again by adding an even more stylish feature which now makes me wish I could do such when playing other 3rd person shooters from now on. Games like these are great reasons to have a console.

2. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Hearing about another Castlevania game in 3D neither excited me nor made me ignore it until I finally saw the E3 trailer in 2009. It literally surprised me and raised my hopes for 2010 to come immediately as I also learned of Hideo Kojima's involvement with its development. Though I was disappointed with how Metal Gear Solid 4 turned out to be, I could not simply turn a blind eye to this title as its trailer was just downright epic along with famous icons like Patrick Stewart and such lending their talents to create a new face to the franchise. Then when I finally got my hands to it, It truly is a worthy addition to the Castlevania franchise and it being the 1st 3D Castlevania finally worth playing after several horrid attempts to modernize the franchise. Oh and I must mention I played this during Halloween so I guess it was an epic way to celebrate it with bashing lycanthropes and vampires.

3. Battlefield: Bad Company 2

By far it is the best competitive online shooter I have played this year and its enjoyable even after several months from its release. The gameplay is so intense especially having a good sound setup with its vastly superior sound design where the acoustics of gunshots are incredibly realistic which raised my standard for military shooters. Reinforced even more with its recent release of its multiplayer expansion "Vietnam" puts such an outstanding standard that should be a role model for modern online wargames.

4. Super Street Fighter IV

The last time I ever laid my hands on this franchise was back in 1999 when Alpha 3 released. I never went for the sudden craze for 3rd Strike probably due to the lack of really interesting characters in the roster. Then finally came the return with Street Fighter 4 but somehow fell short with a mix of incredibly unbalanced characters which almost marred my image of Capcom's ability to take back the fighting game throne. Then came this shortly after. Somehow I can never understand why this one was a day one purchase despite me not liking its vanilla version and I have no regrets making the purchase as now my old love for the franchise since 1999 has finally rejuvinated. This year also marks the return of my enthusiasm for fighting games.

5. Fallout: New Vegas

Bethesda has done the right thing giving the IP back to the original creators that made the Fallout franchise what it is now. New Vegas simply is better overall in following up the legacy of the developers at Obsidian who originally worked on Fallout 2 in 1998 and created nothing short of a masterpiece despite the numerous bugs found in the game. But hey I don't remember a Fallout game being bug free even during its humble beginnings. The story of the game as well as it's quest design is just as superb and exhilarating like the 1st 2 Fallout classics and I am hoping that Bethesda employs Obsidian again from now on in handling all projects related to Fallout. Man I can't count how many days I lost sleep because of this game.

6. Mass Effect 2

This game started the year great with its incredible storytelling features putting the flow of drama directly at the hands of the player. And you know what thats what makes RPG's really fun, Right when you see extravagant ways on how you change the flow of the stories based on every choice and action you make. Even more rewarding if you have played through the 1st game as it personalizes the experience of literally making the story your very own.

7. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat

The 1st release captivated me with such awe of the grim atmosphere of the zone. Though like it's predecessor it possessed several bugs that render some parts of the game impossible to finish, the overall game design and survival challenge the game offered placed me on such an immersive experience of life within the Zone easily making me look past all the game's flaws.

8. Bayonetta

This game alone is proof that Japan still has the skills to make innovative games, and redefine the definition of fun and stylish action games. The beautifully crafted cinematics as well as the overall game design is just superb. I couldn't imagine such even if I tried so it definitely holds a unique presentation as well which started the year well. It's only real flaw is its short game length only lasting about 7-8 hours of play.

9. Sid Meier's Civilization V

Make no mistake. I'm in no way a fan of strategy games. But this game however somehow gets my attention to the extent I found myself always saying "just one more turn" meaning I was always curious to see what happens next in the next phase. Before I knew it, I didn't even notice how many hours have already past actually playing this game. It definitely sucks you in once you begin to understand the game.

10. Red Dead Redemption

My recent experience with Rockstar Game titles almost made me skip this entirely until a friend of mine traded with me. Much to my surprise unlike the GTA series it actually offered a unique experience of an open world action game set in the wild west alongside a story worth following which was not a feature I experienced in the past Rockstar titles. The game is definitely worth a mention for this year as it consumed atleast a week or more of my time playing this.

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