2012: As Pacifist as Possible

I feel like starting these blogs with "Hey guys, it's been a while" might become a little redundant as I only seem to write here in 12-18 month intervals; but it's that time of year when we're all compelled to write lists and retrospectives and there's been something on my mind toward the end of 2012 that I want to get down - this is probably more personal than the title may imply, so I understand if no-one wants to read it! So here is sort of a retrospective of my 2012, tied together by pretentious thoughts about stuff. Yey!

Basically, I kinda want to stop killing things.

Hardly an original thought to have at the moment, I know, but it's been on my mind since the end of Summer. I'm cutting meat out of my diet, letting the spiders in my house just do their thing, and I'm finder it harder and harder to justify the amount of killing we are asked to take part in (and enjoy) in video games. This won't be about the wider implications of violence in games as I have no authority on that subject, nor will it approach recent events in America for similar reasons - it's entirely personal but I hope it's interesting to someone.

I'm not really a competitive person in day-to-day life, I kind of abhor competitiveness, and if I ever suspect those feelings mustering up inside me I do what I can to get rid of them. It's a feeling/emotion I think that we should work to reject, despite the disastrous effect if would have on the marketplace. It's also probably going to result in an inability to find work if I ever leave academia because the idea of having to present yourself as better than others, or aiming to be so, just makes me a bit sad. Let's all just get along, yeh? (Commie bastard!) So this year I've been kind of struggling to reconcile this aim to stop killing things, the understanding of myself as not-competitive, and my love of video games - here goes!

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Despite my self-proclaimed anti-competitiveness I devote most of my free time to a medium in which brutally erasing competitors and becoming the best are ubiquitous goals - and I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it. But it has become only a specific type of game in which I still enjoy this kind of violence, in which competitive feelings aren't necessary, in which killing is either avoidable or totally justified and meaningful. These are games which present a situation where these actions are necessary for completing wider goals not associated with killing. These don't need to be narrative heavy games, just games in which violent acts are appropriate responses within the overarching context.

I'm going to be rather predictable here and say that games like Call of Duty, Medal of Honour, Army of Two/Gears of War, and Uncharted are the antithesis to this because while the killing in these situations is justified - here's a gun, here are the bad guys you need to shoot, shoot them - the killing is the be-all-and-end-all of the narrative, everything else is superfluous, or at least, appears to me to be a secondary consideration. For the most part, the physical action employed by the player in these games doesn't inherently relate to killing, it's all about reflexes, agility and precision - the same skill sets needed to play, say, a virtual Coconut Shy set on an unstable ship. Obviously there has to be a other considerations taken into account, otherwise Fraser's Coconut Shy 2012 would have beaten Telltale to all those GOTY awards, but it needn't be the focus of all our actions.

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The games which have meant most to me this year have been those in which killing, though available, is not required and is justified by narrative or situational context. The easiest example of this I can think of is one of my favourite games of all time, which appears in this blog because I bought the HD collection in November; Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Which, it turns out guys, is pretty great. In simplified terms, Snake Eater puts the player on the outer limits of a hostile, dangerous, and unknown jungle. They must get to the heart of this jungle to complete their mission. If you choose to kill enemy soldiers, it feels justified because of the sheer hostility of the environment - you are on your own and you must do all you can to survive, if that means killing, it's something you'll have to deal with.

But it's not necessary.

Nor does it feel like you are competing to "be the best" in Snake Eater, any sense of competition is one linked to simply surviving, and if you're encouraged to "become" anything it's...the jungle. But, more to the point, perhaps the greatest joy I got from gaming in 2012 was from completing this beloved game from my teenage years without killing anyone. It made me feel like a better player than I had before, it proved a far more exciting playthrough than any of my previous attempts and it felt like a much healthier experience (and made The Sorrow's fight much easier!). I had a similar response to Mark of the Ninja on a no kills playthrough and I'm hopeful for a similar experience with Hitman when I get round to buying it. One of my greatest disappointments this year came from Far Cry 3 which began with all the promise of a Snake Eater style survival story but devolved into indulgent violence despite what the lead writer may contest.

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A couple of years ago Demon's Souls made me more patient when playing games and reignited my faith in the potential to put weight on the act of murder. Dark Souls continued this trend for me in 2012 by managing to contain all the justification for violence found in Snake Eater without the dependence on narrative. Dark Souls takes place in such a scary world, populated by such powerful and terrifying enemies, that killing feels like the only appropriate response. It would be illogical to attempt survival in its world as a pacifist. And, because of its nature as necessary violence in response to a hostile world, it feels more justifiable than the glorified murder in other contemporary action games. The Souls franchise never affords you the luxury of gratuitous killing: if you get complacent, you will die. It strikes me as an extension of the core of Minecraft and its emphasis on survival, over prowess.

I returned to Minecraft earlier this year with the release of their Hardcore mode which creates a world on the hardest difficulty setting and borrows the Roguelike concept of perma-death. Despite being fairly played out by this point, some of my most memorable experiences this year came from cowering in a hut on my "Omicron Persei 9" hardcore map. Violence would have been the solution, had I the balls to leave my shelter.

2012 was a year, then, in which I tried to delve into those games which discourage the pursuit to "be the best", wrapped up in all its violent glory. I suppose I followed the general trend in the industry that was happening anyway, exemplified by the popularity of The Walking Dead games in all of this Game of the Year business. (I'm only halfway through episode 4 so no spoilers please!!) The main thing I've taken from the game so far, aside from the immense weight placed upon death and the decisions leading up to it, is that there is no way to "be the best" - no way to beat the competition and get everything right. Killing someone in The Walking Dead creates as many problems as it solves, if not more, and it's something that more developers should follow up on.

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Death need not be the centrepiece on the video games table, yet it often seems to be. And I would be lying if I said my time with violent shooters/action games was over - I'll be buying GTA5 for sure, and I spent a not insignificant amount of time on the multiplayer in Max Payne 3 and Uncharted 3 this year - but it's telling that those games I remember most fondly are those which discouraged pulling the trigger, brandishing a sword, or dropping a salt lick, unless absolutely necessary. To The Moon, a game based completely around an extended period of death and dying and all the emotional implications therein, hit me hardest. I went in expecting a generic, twee indie game, and came out a little teary eyed, reminded of the richness, variety, and potential for death in video games.

I look forward to 2013, when I hope more games will discard death as a means to beat competitors and embrace it as a meaningful and diverse centre point for emotional, intellectual, and perhaps enjoyable interactions.



I've been off the blogging scene for a few weeks (work piling up, Playstation breaking). So I thought I'd just do a blog of what's been going on, because, you know, I'm an egotistical twenty-something.  


  • New PS3 - I spent a while this week weighing up my options after the terrible YLOD incident. This afternoon I bought a new 160gb model from Amazon UK. £196 for the console and a Dual Shock 3 (yus, rumble!) with free trigger attachments for the L2 and R2 (xboxing my playstation yo) which I'm interested to try. Also had Dead Space 2 Limited Edition for £15 if bought with the new system, and as I was looking for this anyway, thought why not. £213 hit to my wallet overall. Here's to 4 weeks of soup!
  • I'm jumping on the Dead Island band-wagon. Well, lets say I'm jumping on the potential of Dead Island bandwagon. If they keep the depressing desperation of the launch trailer I'm on board, but if it turns out to just be an atmospheric trailer (a la Gears of War) that bares little resemblance to the final product, I'll be pretty disappointed. Dead Rising on a beach may sound fun, but there's too much promise in that trailer. DON'T LET ME DOWN.
  • If your computer crashes whilst playing Minecraft it may delete your save. There goes my floating wooden castle in the sky! At least during those long 40 hours I also had Star Trek: The Next Generation on, so it wasn't entirely a total waste of my time!


  • Flat is being painted against our will. THANKS LANDLORD.
  • Essays due next week are hurting my head.
  • Off home next weekend for free food and girlfriend seeing.
  • Wheat Crunchies are fucking awesome. I'm crisping like it's 1997.
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  •  After contributing a Wolf Parade track to this thread, I followed a link to No Children by The Mountain Goats. I am now listening to a lot of The Mountain Goats, and you should too!
  • Yi Yi by Edward Yang is still perhaps the best film ever made.
  • I enjoy this webcomic more than any webcomic ever in the webcomic history of webcomics. Also webcomics;

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On that note, if anyone has any suitably depressing webcomics, hit me up! 


Not with a bang...

But with a small yellow light. 
Today I came here to write a blog.
A blog about my dislike of moral choices, and my distain at inFamous 2's use of these choices.
But then, my beloved Playstation 3 of 3 years, 3 fun-filled just-out-of-warranty-dammit-Sony years,


I am not in the right mind to compose my thoughts and write a witty ode to my favourite mechanical box, but I needed to LET IT OUT. 

As I see it now, here are my options;

  • Wait until I'm back at my parent's house and use the DIY tools to take it apart and heatgun that sucker. Only problems being I'm terrible at that kind of thing and I'd never even heard of a heatgun until 2 hours ago.  
  • Send it off to Sony for repair but it's 2 years out of warranty and I doubt it's worth whatever they're charging.
  • Buy a new, slimmer, hopefully more reliable console. Amazon currently sell a 160G model for £196 (that's a whole 120g more than my current/previous one). Tempting. Can probably transfer saves later in the day too.
You guys got any suggestions? 
I'm thinking of just buying a newer model. Word on the street seems to say the home-fix option only lasts a couple of months at best. 
Hope everyone else is having more gaming fun than I this evening, 

Minor differences causing Major problems.

It's been a couple of weeks since I last put something up on t'Bomb. I put this down to unexplainable EXHAUSTION and this freakin' raising-questions-about-my-sexuality-though-not-really Robot;

                                                                                                                              Omgee that's siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick

Over the Christmas break I began Persona 4 with a friend but didn't bring it back to uni with me (kinda a co-op thing, yeh?), and I've honestly never craved a game so much. So I quenched that thirst the only way I knew how;  

I only went and bought Persona 3:FES

I was immediately struck with a strange sense of alienating familiarity. The graphics, the gameplay, and most notably, the music are almost identical to Persona 4. Almost. Let's go with the soundtrack for now.  
For every situation in both Persona 3 and 4 there is a musical accompaniment. Whether it's the brass sounds of the generic "light hearted walking around music", the eerie piano of the "soon-to-be-revealed creepy plot twist", or perhaps the "Japanese-female-vocalist singing a mash of  seemingly  English words", both games share the same motifs. Only they're not the same.  So it feels like isolated events from the two games are merging into one when I play them, but for some reason I'm always expecting the other piece of music, or the other character to accompany them.  Has anyone had this strangely-disturbing experience? 
"Shut up you're talking nonsense"
I'd like to say this is an example of lazy game design, rehashing previous properties to make the production of a sequel easier. But it's just so darn good I can't even try to complain. If I did, well, I'd be wrong.

(To distract you from my inane ramblings, lets look at this banger;)

 Evokers > Card Smashing,   AMIRITE?
 Evokers > Card Smashing,   AMIRITE?


Onwards to opinions that aren't BS!

The other day I was discussing this eerie similarity with one of my friends who directed me toward this article by the antichrist of Giant Bomb, Leigh Alexander. I, for one, was struck by how perceptive her comments are regarding your interactions with the characters who populate the world around you. She has opened my eyes fellow Bombers!   

(Still, stay off the Bombcast)

 I think she's spot on when she differentiates between Persona 3 and 4 as two games with oddly oppositional themes; the latter consists of you learning to "embrace and accept" your different selves, whilst the former has you trying not to piss everyone off; appeasing them by wearing your "multiple selves" like masks.  This is the reason why I can't enjoy Persona 3 as much as I have done 4. Whilst I think the story of 3 is superb*, (the constant threat of the Tartaraus and the Full Moon bosses accompanied by the unravelling mysteries of the event 10 years ago has me utterly hooked), I'm yet to reach the same levels of enjoyment that I've reached frequently in 4. Well that makes me sound like a pervert but lets ignore that. Today I may have discovered what prevents me from this PLEASURE:
I hate everyone in the game. 
Maybe not everyone (I'm looking at you fighting dog/sexy robot), and maybe not "hate". But the majority of the cast are cynical, whiny, egocentric mannequins attached to two dimensional self-doubt story-lines. I don't care if your knee is buggered, nor if you're worried about work, nor if you can't talk to boys, nor if your parents are getting a divorce. Honestly I don't know what it is but everyone just needs to calm the fuck down.  


I'd really appreciate some help here, because when it comes to Persona 4, I do care if you're worried about inheriting the inn, I do care if you're secretly gay, and I do care if you can't handle fame or the way you're seen by the opposite sex. Honestly, I think this boils down to what Leigh Alexander discusses. The theme of learning to accept the parts of your character you're uncomfortable with, rather than complaining about it till somebody makes you feel better, just makes Persona 4 a more enjoyable experience.  
(*I'm not finished yet so please don't kill me if the story turns out to be utter balls.)   

What do you reckon?

Am I just talking bollocks?
 I've tried to avoid talking about the game-play here because I think each game is different enough to warrant praise on its own merit, but I can't really understand this business about the different relationships with the characters.   I'm kind of intrigued to know if what Leigh Alexander discusses and what I'm currently feeling are objective truths about the quality of the two games, or whether, on a personal level, I just don't relate to Persona 3's characters as well as those in its follow up.

Presents Playthrough #1: The Godfather Part 2

Today marked the beginning of the post-Christmas playthrough festival. Opening line up; 

This blog will look at, perhaps the most disputed of those titles, The Godfather Part 2, and I'll turn to the others tomorrow and the day after, and so on and so forth.

I bloody love The Godfather Part 2.

(I don't bloody love having to write "Part 2" after it each time but we'll let that pass.)
When I was 15, a niave teenager in the prime of my youth, I asked my tall, slightly unbalanced friend if he could try and buy a PS2 copy of The Godfather for me. We chose WHSmith's on the off chance that the clerks would be unfamiliar with certificate rules and would overlook my friend's 3 year disadvantage when it came to the whole being 18 thing. Luckily they did, and I spent about 6 months taking over businesses for the Corleone family and ignoring homework. I actually hold a special place in my heart for this game, I remember setting up an exercise bike in the loft (total bitch to carry up the stairs), and in an attempt to lose weight I would play whilst cycling and listening to Panic At The Disco's first album in its entirety.
Pretty cool teenager, no?
Some would say the first Godfather game was lacking, some would go further and say it was a bastardisation of a much loved franchise. I would disagree.

The Godfather is a great game.

Ok the graphics aren't great and neither is the driving, but lets get some things straightened out;
  1. The gameplay is hella fun.
  2. The atmosphere is nailed to a surprisingly engaging degree.
  3. This is an open world game that actually has things to do it. Many things in fact, if we ignore that each one was a minor variant (at best) on the one before it.
  4. They worked a character and missions round the story in a respectful manner which seemed believable whilst never betraying the source material.
Ok, we should probably get something else straightened out as well;
It's been a while since I played The Godfather and it could be absolute bollocks.
So with that admission out the way, lets get onto Part 2.

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First Impressions

OH MY LORD IS THIS GAME VIOLENT. Seriously, check this out
Honestly the first thing that struck me, and the one thing I'm thinking of now is how fucking brutal this game is. Rather annoyingly Redwood Shores/Visceral Games felt it necessary to change what used to be the "grab" button into the terrifying "execute" one. Many a pensioner has come to their end through my inability to comprehend this control change.
All in all this game, so far at least, is just an extension of the first game. Head to rival business, intimidate store owner, take over racket. Repeat until you own EVERYTHING EVER. The gameplay is still satisfying and fun, and taking over business rarely gets tiresome because of this. I can, however, see reasoning behind the problems levelled against the game; 

  • Little to no respect, or even interest, is granted to the source material.
  • Character models and voice acting are pretty poor.
  • Graphically this game is a bit of a shambles considering GTA4 came out 2 years before it.
  • The complexity of the Don's View mode is clunky and overwhelming in such a way that it all just unravels leaving a confused mess.
At my current point in the game I'm finding it hard to discover any story at all. It seems the story was sacrificed in favour of a more fleshed out racketeering simulator. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Missions that were previously optional extras now seem to be the guiding impulse to the game's narrative, making the rest of the world feel a little empty.
To anyone who has played this game, does the story become more prominent as the game progresses? Or does property ownership and circuit preservation remain as the main part of the game? 
Here's something I'm struggling to reconcile in my mind;

Why does Saints Row 2 get so much more love than this game?

 I think I may have just answered my own question.
 I think I may have just answered my own question.

I'm not saying this to provoke attack, or to be edgy, but I honestly can't fathom why there is so much love and appreciation for Saints Row, whilst The Godfather gets slated at every opportunity.  
Graphically, neither of them deserve too much praise to be honest.  But simply in terms of gamplay I much prefer The Godfather. Saints Row 2 has always felt like a pc port to me; the fluidity of the cross-hair movement seems rather built-for-mouse-control, and the hand-to-hand combat feels too weightless and flimsy. At least The Godfather has an aiming system that feels more intuitive (its no Uncharted, or Gears or anything) and great combat complete with disturbingly tactile executions.
I'm not saying that Saints Row is terrible and The Godfather is a masterpiece, but there's been such a gap in the response to these games that I can't get my head around.
I suppose I'm gonna have to throw this one out to the floor. 
What's with the Saints Row love guys? Give the mob-boss underdog a chance. Please?

Initial Thoughts on Heavy Rain and Quick-Time Events

Heavy Rain's still relevant, yeh?
And quick time events, yeh?
Anyway, despite the considerable praise it gained in early press releases, I could never get excited about Heavy Rain when it was first shown. I was (/kinda still am) one of those anti- quick time events gamers. Hopefully not because it was a bandwagon that was fun to jump on, but because I had worthwhile reasons for it. On the very simplest of ideas, I dislike QTEs for two main reasons;   

  • I appreciate that QTEs allow for more cinematic and awe inspiring set pieces because they don't tie the character down to the same systems as the rest of the gameplay. BUT, I never end up looking at what's going on because I'm too busy looking at which buttons to press. A minor problem maybe, but I'd rather have standard action I can see than amazing action I can't. Obligatory obvious example;

  • Secondly it's merely from a frustration based standpoint. I'll head to Resi 4 for this example. Enjoying a cutscene after some fun gameplay, put the controller down for a swig of whatever I'm drinking, or just to rest my fingers and BAM. QTE missed, cutscene over, watch it again now. I'm thinking most notably of the punishing Krauser knife fight scene.

(Also freedom to figure out how to play a game is a pretty nice sensation really.)

Previously avoiding Heavy Rain for those reasons, I approached today with some trepidation. My friend recently got a copy of it and we're gonna play through it together (literally, as I shall come to later). Here's my 2 cents;

  • I'm surprised at how this game manages to squash those previously held assumptions I just mentioned. (I mean, if I let the second one get to me this time it would be entirely down to my own laziness). The QTE syle gameplay actually reinforces the movements on screen in a way that feels fluid and interactive rather than distracting and simplified.

  • However,  if one of the aims of the QTE is for immersion, removing the complexity and distraction of gameplay and allowing for more awesome information to be received (something I disagree with but let's run with it), then I think Heavy Rain fails immensely. Immersion seems to be Heavy Rain's key aim; if it's shaving your character, changing a nappy, or drinking orange juice instead of progressing the narrative. Heavy Rain wants you to become fully immersed in the characters and plot by letting you carry out every mundane aspect of their experience. Only it doesn't. The QTE gameplay only allows you to do a very restricted set of things it wants you to, and when coupled with the clumsy ( Skate-like) 3 person control system, I just end up feeling restricted and often distracted from what's going on.


And that's a shame, because so far Heavy Rain's greatest asset is the story. I'm not sure about how much of the plot I've had a hand in creating so far, the game is certainly good at covering its tracks. But I have to say I am struck with how mature, depressing and just plain creepy the plot and setting is. The first 2-3 hours are pretty unrelenting. I'll go no further to avoid spoilers.

Biggest surprise so far.

Heavy Rain works as an enjoyable (/friendship breaking) co-op experience.My friend and I are currently playing the Move edition, but we're one “ nunchuck” short of the complete set. This being so, one of us controls the character through space with the Dual-Shock whilst the other uses the Move controller for the QTE prompts. This actually works pretty well! It means blame can't be placed on any one person when we completely fanny up the story!

I'm looking forward to getting back into this depressing-as-hell world tonight, but I have to say that's almost entirely for the story.  I hope at some point tonight I will "get" the gameplay and everything will be awesome, because at the moment, anything that is potentially innovative about Heavy Rain is merely getting in the way of my enjoyment.

Other First Impressions

  • Graphics are stunning apart from mouths. Mouths are creepy.
  • Similarly creepy, but intentionally this time, is the soundtrack/score. Props to whoever did this.
  • The Move controls have glitched a couple of times when opening boxes, forcing a restart and a switch back to Dual Shock control.

Anyone got any non-spoiler related things I should know about Heavy Rain before getting further?

Back to uni and SIFTEO CUBE THINGS

I'm off to Uni again today for the (close-to) final straight of my undergraduate degree, BOOM. That probably means less retrospective blogs and more "So I found this game for £5, here are my first impressions as I'm unlikely to finish it.". Christmas games I got/bought and intend to play in the coming weeks;

  • Lego Harry Potter
  • Ghost Recon 2
  • Fight Night Round 3
  • Demon's Souls
  • World At War/Modern Warfare
  •  The Godfather pt2
Thoughts before playing; The Godfather 2 is going to disappoint me.  
Thoughts after briefly playing;  Demon's Souls is hard. 


I presume you guys have seen these things that are currently doing the rounds on Kotaku etc. What do you think of them? 
I mean, we're not talking about a potential Starcraft 2 port or anything, but I think these things could be fun in a kind of "dinner-party-20-questions-ball" kinda way.  
I don't think there's anything particularly exciting on display in this clip other than the connectivity to the computer and obviously the interconnectivity between the cubes themselves. They do just strike me as yet another piece of hardware that may be awesome for menu navigation and quirky apps. I think this video, (again from a Kotaku forum) just makes that point perfectly; 
I mean, I'm hardly going to be able to launch my hip hop career* using  this software as a mixing desk, but the motion control for the tempo and volume settings seems like a pretty cool use of the technology to me. 
It depends on how much these are going to cost, but if these were modestly priced I think they would be quite fun to have around. But like I said I'm thinking mainly for parents at dinner parties...... or for one dinner party......... before they get put away/broken for good. 
What are your thoughts on these bad boys?

*not actually happening.  

My 2010 Top 12. (Because I like to be different)

First and foremost, as with all my blogs, new games take a back seat in favour of financial stability, or something there abouts. This is a list of the top games I played this year that may/may not be 2010 releases. I'll keep the descriptions short, it's not like you guys have read enough of these lists yet or anything. LETS GO; 

12. Bioshock 2

I wanted to make this a list of 10 games, I really did. But I just had to include Bioshock 2. Like most console people, the first Bioshock is one of my favourite games of recent years, I still crave Rapture, even though my actual returns don't last long.
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I felt like I had to put this game here. I remember playing it and being pleasantly surprised by how these non-Levine people managed to make a sequel to Bioshock that wasn't massively terrible, and to be honest, that was actually pretty damn good. There were gameplay improvements as well as a surprisingly interesting story, and top of that, they managed to make another 10-15 hours in Rapture engrossing. I never let myself fall into the "oh this is just Rapture again, BORING". And even when I nearly did, the story picked up to a really quite exciting climax. 
It's a shame that the memory of this game has already become so sour. The future of Bioshock 2 seems rather grim. Everybody, prepare a space on your shelf next to Devil May Cry 2.

11. Ratchet and Clank: A Crack In Time

My other honourable why-this-can't-be-a-top-10-list mention!

The first Ratchet and Clank is hands down one of my favourite games of all time. It reignited my love for the platformer genre after a brief lapse in my early teenage years. But ever since that first game there has always been someting getting in the way of future iterations and my much sought after attention. This is perhaps due to the heavy focus on gunplay ever since the second game; too many guns, not enough jumping. When you play A Crack in Time it does feel a bit like you're just going through the motions, but the inclusion of the Clank puzzle sections, and the sheer beauty of the game's visuals make this the best Ratchet and Clank game since it began!

10. Minecraft


 Stolen from Kotaku because..........well.......it's incredible
 Stolen from Kotaku because..........well.......it's incredible

I mean, what more can I say about Minecraft that hasn't been said by the countless other people?  October saw me watch 40+ hourse of "X" playing his own game on youtube before I finally took the plunge in November. It's since proved a perfect accompaniment to music/audiobooks.You don't know "The Catcher In The Rye" until you've heard somebody read it whilst you incessantly dig and dig and dig.
Hell, to keep it Whiskey Media related, I'm just gonna say this.

9. Broken Sword 2 : The Smoking Mirror

 My relatively recent love for adventure games isn't something I've kept hidden from this massive bomb, and so it may be unsurprising that Broken Sword 2 makes my list.

 Take THAT Crysis!
 Take THAT Crysis!
Building on everything that made the first game great, Broken Sword 2 is engaging, hilarious, frustrating and at times, annoyingly difficult. Hey, it's an adventure game.  After my mp3 player died earlier in the year, this game has saved me from many a train journey. If offensively terrible accents, murder mysteries, globe trotting and Mayan dwarves are your thing, hit this up! Or just get it anway.
I'll give you a head start. (Hint: I think it's cheaper on eBay)

8. InFamous

 I have a bit of an odd relationship with InFamous: I played it right till the end, twice, to get the Platinum, I spent hours of my summer sniping enemies whilst jumping and completing all the rest of those bloody skill challenges. But in all honesty, I couldn't tell you that I enjoyed it. I just felt compelled to play it. My current excitement levels for InFamous 2 are at about 1 on a scale of 1 to Maybe-When-It's-Cheap-and-Second-Hand. 

 Ok, so that is pretty cool.
 Ok, so that is pretty cool.
The characters were bland when not annoying and the art-style did nothing for me. But amidst the world, the powers and the atmosphere, there was something in InFamous that had me playing right till the very possible end. It undoubtedly deserves a mention on this list, but not without some trepidation.

7. Ico

Lets get this out of the way, it took me till 2010 (and a generous girlfriend) to finally play Ico. I put this down to its obscene prices and obscure retail locations. But lets get past that. Ico, as if you didn't know, is fucking amazing. It was everything the hype suggested it would be, nothing more, nothing less. Everything about the game is beautiful, except, at times, the gameplay.

No Caption Provided

Much like Team Ico's second effort, Shadow of The Colossus, the only thing holding Ico back is the occasionally frustrating and broken gameplay. If it's Yorda's lack of intelligence, or getting stuck on bits of the environment. There are just little bits in the gameplay that hold this back from being a perfect game.
What I would like to say, on perhaps a more pretentious level, is that, when taken as part of a whole with Shadow of the Colossus, those gameplay mishaps can be forgiven. Team Ico have put together two beautiful halves of a whole game; the puzzles and the bosses. Needless to say I'm hella excited for (hopefully) next year's offering.

6. Soul Calibur 2 and Resident Evil 4

For reasons of which you are all probably sick of by now.

5. Batman: Arkham Asylum

 In 2009, whilst everyone was raving about this game, I was blisfully unaware, spending my days on Lake Ontario surrounded in heaps of work. Then came the summer of 2010, and a preowned copy of Arkham Asylum for £12. I was left unimpressed by the heavy controls in the demo, and I couldn't shake Batman's videogame track record from my mind. But after hours, and hours, of enjoyment, superb graphics, memorable voice acting, gadgets that are actually useful and don't just get left behind once you unlock some kind of headshot ability, and above all, the ability to play as Batman, I can't not put this on my list.
I'm not sure if you guys knew this, but you play as BATMAN. See;

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Ignoring the Gears of War influenced hand-on-ear sections, and remembering the challenge rooms, Batman: Arkham Asylum was my pleasant surprise for 2010.


4. Super Mario Galaxy 2

 When returning home for Christmas after my first semester at Uni I was met by a copy of Super Mario Galaxy. As someone who never owned a N64, nor Gamecube, 3D Mario outside of a friend's house was unfamiliar territory (preparing to get flamed).  But dammit was that a good game. Collecting all 242 starts was the most fun I'd had on the Wii, or even the most fun I'd had on a console that year. So naturally when I came into some late birthday dollar-dollar (/Great British Pounds) in the Summer of 2010, I bought the sequel.

The Dinosaur who saved the Sequel.
The Dinosaur who saved the Sequel.

My problem with SMG2 is that the magic was almost lost. It's the same reason why Bioshock 2 didn't make it higher on this list. The nature of the sequel, and the inherent lack of impact it contains, at times made me just feel like I did playing InFamous: just going through the motions. Luckily the inclusion of Yoshi, the brain-bafflingly intelligent level design, tasty art style and music ( and the rest of it) kept me coming back for more until again, all their stars are belong to me.
And remember that final level? Jesus Christ, thank God for Girlfriend Mode.

3. Yakuza 1-3

This isn't just the one Yakuza game, but it has to be all three. 
Imagine Shenmue meets Tekken Force in a Karaoke Bar and you're about half way to the experience that is the Yakuza franchise. Both 1 and 2 have superb, if not a little complicated, yakuza stories filled with memorable characters and locations. Whilst the third, takes things to a rather contradictory place that has you struggling to maintain an orphanage whilst brutally murdering the corrupt MAN(/Yakuza) who try to bring you down. These long and winding plots are broken up by countless side quests and street brawls. The combat is varied and challenging enough to keep you going till the end, but it's brawl-y nature makes for some repetition after the 20/30 hour mark.


 At times it can be a little difficult playing through Yakuza 1 and 2 in our current time, their age is quite an obstacle at times; long and frequent loading times to break up the same enviroments again, and again and again. But if you stick with it I promise you will enjoy these games. And if not, just get Yakuza 3 and slap people with fish heads in HD.

2. Red Dead Redemption

As one of the few people who holds Red Dead Revolver as one of their all time favourite games, Red Dead Redemption was one of the reasons I bought a ps3 back in 2008. That ambiguous Western trailer Rockstar put out at an old E3 was as much evidence I needed to take the £300 plunge. The only preordered game since my teenage years, Red Dead Redemption did not dissapoint.

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Just like everyone else, I was hit by RDR's perfection at around the 20 hour mark when I suddenly realised I'd been playing poker and hunting animals rather than doing missions and progressing the story. No other game has nailed the open world format as well as RDR. The simple fact that now, after over 200 hours of play and a prestiged multiplayer profile, all I want to do is get back to my PS3 and hunt some more bears says it all. Oh, and lets not forget the story, THE STORY. I won't ruin anything here but the last 3 hours, from the farm to the credits, is unparalleled. I'll use this space to apologise to all my friends who have had to sit through me showing them the final level, over and over again.
If you haven't played Red Dead Redemption yet; Go sell whatever you got for Christmas, and buy this game instead.

1. Persona 4

I'm sorry guys. I really am. I never wanted to become this guy. The Giant Bomb user who won't shut up about Persona 4 and puts it at the top of his list as if to look COOL and dedicated the cause.
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I am truly sorry.

But honestly what can I say. I bought this game fairly recently and haven't been able to put it down. Nor do I want to be able to put it down. As I mentioned previously, Persona 4 sums up my gaming-2010 perfectly. RPG's have never held my attention past a certain point, I've never been able to latch onto the characters and story in any meaningful way. But Persona 4 doesn't have any of the trappings of the stereotypical JRPG. It has down to earth, believable (and importantly, relatable) characters at its core and an intriguing story to pull you through the seemingly unlimited social interactions.
After watching the Endurance Run and playing the game for myself, I am truly awestruck at how a PS2 game can be loaded with so much stuff, and so much good stuff at that. From the often hilarious script, and even more hilarious dialogue options, to the insanely catchy soundtrack. The combat is measured but perfectly balanced and it never gets intimidating, even with the immense amount of stuff going on in the game. 
 (Credit to           TheSeductiveMoose)
 (Credit to TheSeductiveMoose)
If this game had only the Personas and their fusing system in it, it would still be incredible. If it only had the social interactions, it would be incredible. If it only had the murder mystery plot, it would be incredible. And if it only had the rich and diverse combat system, it would be incredible. 
But the fact it has all of these things blows my mind. This is truly a game that everyone should experience, and I shall be forever thankful to GiantBomb for introducing me to it!

Honourable Mentions

Assassin's Creed 2
Killzone 2
Burnout Paradise
Super Meat Boy 
Thanks for your reading time in 2010, 
In a bit!

My 2010: The Importance of Being Patient

I'm sitting here, like most of the users on this site I'd presume, with an unavoidable urge to write some kind of Game of the Year blog. I am afraid that if I did the same I would just be telling you all that Red Dead Redemption is awesome, Super Meat Boy is nails, and Minecraft destroys free time. So to avoid this boring mess I've decided to write about how I've personally changed as a gamer this year, and those games which formed the change. Let us begin:

2010 was the year I became patient.

 Now that sounds infinitely more arrogant than I would like it to be, but I can't for the life of me think of a better way of describing this. (The English language continues to baffle me, and I'm only in my 4th year of University...)  I'm nearly 22, and for the first 20 years of my life I was the gamer who rushed to the end. I used to love being the guy who could rent and finish a game, all within one or two nights. That guy was a dickhead. That was the guy who came home from Uni a week before his exams to lock himself in his room and play through GTA4 in 2 sittings, before returning to Uni the day after, barely seeing his family. That was also the guy who finished MGS4 start to finish in 1 day, skipping no cutscenes.
I don't like that guy anymore, and this year helped me abolish him for good.

So, Canada happened.

 I miss this more than anything.
 I miss this more than anything.

 As some of you may  know, I spent last year at the University of Toronto, where I had little to no free time and only gamecube, Soul Calibur 2 and Resi 4 to ease my academic pain. For 9 months we spent 3-5 hours a night on one of these games so that by the end of it, we had finished both to 100% completion and could play SC2 without too much trouble on the hardest difficulty setting. (Needless to say my SC skills have dropped significantly since this time) At times such a limited variety of games got a bit frustrating, but it never stopped us playing, and now, 8 months after laying a finger on either game I struggle to make any Top 10 lists that don't include them.  The year reminded me of what it was like being a young gamer with no money, forced to play one game for 6 months, and I would really like to think these games helped me regain some of that lost patience.

Perhaps more importantly, Trophies happened.

 I used to be one of those guys who would hate on the 360's Achievements system because "It makes people play games for the wrong reasons" and adds to the whole "Doing stuff so other people in internet land can see how cool you are". (Sure, there may even be some subconscious PS3 Fanboyism in there too). But 2010 was the year I "got" it. Something happened this year which made me bloody love Trophies, and I'd like to think that it wasn't one of those reasons mentioned above. In fact, I'm fairly sure the reason was Uncharted 2, the persistent bugger. After finishing the story and delving into the multiplayer I just wanted more out of the game, I wanted to spend more time with Drake in his sexy world, and so I did, shooting 500 people with every type of gun that I was told to, until I got the Platinum. Since that experience in January I've gone on to Platinum InFamous, Uncharted 2, and Ratchet and Clank: A Crack In Time.
 A familiar sight to any fellow masochists?
 A familiar sight to any fellow masochists?

I'd like to think I did this because these games deserved my undivided attention for longer than the main story would allow. (Those bloody blast shards make me potentially doubt this though.)

2010 was also the year I started playing games on Hard.

This is potentially an offshoot of the Trophy obsession, but this year I've tried to begin all my games on difficulty settings above "normal". Potentially inspired by Jeff's constant "THIS IS HOW YOU SHOULD PLAY HALO/GEARS/COD etc" and InFamous' "So after this mission you seem OK, wanna play on hard? (It means you don't have to play again for the Trophy? OK SURE!)". This has lead to some experiences I would never have had if playing on easier difficulty settings, the pride on finally finishing InFamous for example. But similarly it has lead to some FRUSTRATING AS HELL moments; I'm yet to finish, my recently-acquired, Modern Warfare (It's just some game I've heard about, I'd reccommend it) and Ninja Gaiden makes me curl up in a ball. But I'm hoping when I finally finish them, the sense of achievement will be MONUMENTAL. 

 Artist's rendition of my Ninja Gaiden skill level. *
 Artist's rendition of my Ninja Gaiden skill level. *

(*NB I may/may not have just googled "Baby Gamer" , I'm hoping i'm not gonna get sued/attacked by the parents. Also, that's a pretty cool Wii door no?)

Oh yeh, the RPG happened.

Due to my previously mentioned speed obsession I never managed to sit through an RPG as a kid. 
"Turn based combat? Fuck off. This is a VIDEO GAME, not Monopoly."
I'd like to think this has changed this year. And I put that down to Giant Bomb. (Can you see what's coming here?) 2010 was the year I finally got Persona 4. I'm yet to finish it as I've only had it 2 weeks but that still counts right? I'm 20 hours in and loving every minute of it. Never have I wanted to savour every minute of a gaming experience before, and never have I had as much fun as this. (CLAIM!) Similarly, this was the year I finally bought Final Fantasy 7, finished Valkyria Chronicles and played through Yakuza 1-3.  I appreciate that these last 2 aren't really RPGs and I'm sure by mentioning them in this section I've annoyed some geniune RPG fans,and I'm sorry, but they do act as an easy access point into the RPG world, especially for someone who finds that world rather intimidating.
 Ok maybe
 Ok maybe "Action-RPG" would have suited this section better.

There's something about long-ass RPG/Action RPG games you can't get with any other genre; an investment in both Characters and Actions which is unattainable in any other genre/medium.
Also, Japan is nuts.

2010 was the year I learnt to savour things.

Is that better than "patient"? I hope so. I think the most important development for me, personally, which I struggle to fully comprehend, is the new focus I have on harder games and the rewards I get from playing them. Whether those rewards are Trophies or personal satisfaction. The real reason this is so important to me is because it highlights something that has always been interesting to me, especially in my teenage years;
To what extent are the things we do dictated by how people will see us? 
(I hope this isn't getting too John Hughes for everyone)
I'd love to think that my new Trophy hunger is born out of an inherent need to test myself, to see whether or not I'm quite as good as my interest in gaming would suggest. But I can't quite abolish the idea that trophies are simply an extension of the "About Me" section of social networking sites. It's a place to show off how dedicated you are to your hobby. I'd love to know your thoughts on this because it's a pretty important issue for me. Is it possible to completely rid our concerns of "how-we-are-seen" yet still hunt for Trophies and Achievement points?
This blog is getting pretty long and pretentious, so I'll return in a bit with more of a concise list of my 2010 games. I'm betting it will be games from 2008/9 with a hint of Red Dead.
Thanks for reading this rather long blog!