I never met Ryan in person. I never sat with him in the car on his way home from a long day at Giant Bomb. He never confided in me any personal facts. I wasn't invited to his wedding.
Despite all this, I consider Ryan Davis to be a good friend. Someone just asked me why I was tearing up, and I simply replied, "a good friend of mine just passed away" without hesitation. I may not have ever "met" Ryan, but you can't listen to a man's voice, his laugh, his yells for more then a decade and not somehow be attached to him. I'm pretty sure the vast majority of this community feels the same way. The world is a little less funny, and a whole lot less bright on this day. Rest in peace my friend. My thoughts are with you, always.
So I finally compiled my list of the top ten games of 2012. Every game on this list I absolutely adored for one reason or another, but looking down it I realized most of them were not that well received, at least not in the Giantbomb community. Never the less, I thought it would make an interesting list.
2011's 2012 Game of the Year: Saint's Row The Third
I played a ton of Saint's Row the Third back in 2011. But I played even more of it in 2012. I love this game so deeply it barely makes sense. I mean, most open world games I find to be a hassle to play and just not fun (cough GTA cough.) Saint's Row though grabbed me and didn't let me go. I mean I can now count the open world games I love on two... maybe three fingers. This and Assassin's Creed.
Number 10: One Piece Pirate Warriors
Trust me, I usually don't give a rats ass for Dynasty Warrior type games. In fact I actively dislike them. They usually look graphically muddy and I just don't find them interesting to play. But take that concept and apply it to one of my favorite anime's ever with a faithful reproduction of the show's visuals and you've got me interested. This game was loads of fun to play. I even decided I wanted a physical copy of it and imported it from the UK. Was worth it.
Number 9: Dead or Alive 5
I also usually don't like 3D fighters in the vein of Tekken. I'm more of a 2D kind of guy, like Street Fighter 4 or Marvel vs Capcom 3. My main issue with games like Tekken is that the life bars are so short by default and there is very little X-Factor come back tension moments for me. What I like about DOA is the counter system which can help a good player come back in a spectacular way by countering hits over and over until victory. It has that 2D style tension in it. Plus, boobs.
Number 8: Persona 4 Arena
Man I love Persona 4. In fact I love the Persona series in general. A real unique style of RPG with some of the best characters around. So if you tell me that you're making a fighting game based on the those characters, all I have to say is bring it on. The fact that so much of the single played ended up being a canonical sequel to Persona 4 was just icing on the cake. A great way to continue telling the story of the characters we love, while working on Persona 5. Here's hoping that that game has as much style as this does.
Number 7: Lollipop Chainsaw
Those crazy people at grasshopper are... well, crazy. They make some of the funniest, weirdest games I've played this generation, so I was already looking forward to this game. The graphics were top notch in my opinion, at least artistically, and the story was goofy fun. Plus Michael Rosenbaum voiced a dangling head. A dangling severed head. Yes.
Number 6: Resident Evil 6
Almost everyone in the Giantbomb community hated this game. But I just couldn't see it. I played through the game expecting some real shitty stuff, but was pleasantly surprised at every corner. The graphics were pretty top notch and the set pieces were really epic. I would recommend this game to every one if only to play Leon's campaign which was my favorite. I loved Resident Evil 4, thought 5 was pretty good, but this game just blew it out of the water for me. It was so good, that it was all I played for a couple of weeks following it's release.
Number 5: The Walking Dead
Three zombie games, back to back. Who'da thunk? I really like the Walking Dead TV series, but I know that the comics are fairly different. However for as much as I enjoy the TV series, I thought to my self the source material must be pretty good then. So the Walking Dead based on the comics by Telltale sounded pretty awesome to me. Despite the hiccups the game had, it was an incredible journey filled with a lot of really tense moments. If this is how adventure games are going to be handled in the future, then I say bring them on.
Number 4: Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask
A real gentleman can solve a billion puzzles without breaking a sweat. Plus he wears a snazzy top hat. Professor Layton was the game that sold me on the DS and was pretty much the only reason I bought my 3DS. The game is as charming as ever with clever puzzles that take advantage of the 3D. Plus it's just good to have another adventure with good old Hershel. I'll be sad when the 6th and final game is released. I wonder if that Ace Attorney x Layton game will be any good though...
Number 3: Assassin's Creed 3
Again, another game released this year that seems to have gotten a lot of unwarranted hate. Sure there was some clunky stuff with the menus, and I beat the game without even knowing the assassination contracts were still in the game. But it was great looking, great playing and the story was pretty good. I think most people really disliked the ending because it seemed to them that it didn't resolve much. But the way you have to look at it, is that it's another cliff hanger like in Assassin's Creed 2. This is surely not the end, and it sets up something that could be way cooler; fighting the First Civilizations, while maybe trying to bring Desmond back?
Number 2: Mass Effect 3
Another game where the hubub about the ending really soured the experience of many. Not me though. I thought the ending was perfectly fine, even before extended cut. I mean, when people say your choices in previous games made little difference, I think they have to be crazy. All your choices led to resolving the problems of the Quarians and Geth, or the Genophage. As for the ending, I expected my Shepard to sacrifice himself anyway. I couldn't imagine him just solving this and going back to normal. The only misstep in this game in my opinion was not including From Ashes and Leviathan in the game proper. Seriously, how could you not have those in there...
Game of the Year: Persona 4 Golden
I had a really tough time deciding whether I wanted this, or Mass Effect 3 as my game of the year. Both were incredible games, and I felt a bit weird choosing a game that came out a few years back as my 2012 game. Ultimately though, the DLC missteps of Mass Effect 3, and the amazing additions to Persona 4 Golden made me choose it as my 2012 game of the year. All the new scenarios are so clever and full of fan service and all the tweaks to the game so smart that I felt like I was experiencing the game all over again for the first time. If you don't have a Vita yet, you should get one, if only for this game alone. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll bufu. Damnit Vinny.
EDIT: Changed the title of the blog because the title is getting more attention then the actual content of the blog. People like to point out that apparently I'm being more critical towards the reviews of RE6, as opposed to the entirety of the review system.
I'll preface this by saying that the following post is in no way intended to insult or degrade the Giant Bomb staff's reviews, or the individual opinions held by the staff in the reviews that will be cited. I highly respect Brad, Ryan, Vinny, Patrick, Alex and Jeff and this is more a discussion that I feel I need to have, partially straighten out my own thoughts on the topic of game reviews. Also, in case it isn't evident within the very next paragraph, I also defend Resident Evil 6 to a certain extent as I am enjoying my experience with it, and it is the thing that sparked the following train of thought.
I generally tend to agree with Brad's reviews. He ends up reviewing a lot of games that I really enjoy, and we've even played online with each other once in a while. That said, considering not just his review, but those of the greater internet at large, my brain is boggled at this hate. I just absolutely do not get it whatsoever. Granted I'm only on chapter 5 of Leon's campaign, [EDIT: Finished all four campaigns, and my opinions of all the things I mention below still hold true.] and it could take a huge nosedive in quality, but as it stands now, it's one of the most exhilarating games I've played so far this year.
The intro is fantastic, the puzzle solving bits at the cathedral are reminiscent of past Resident Evil games and generally the level design is top notch. Playing through the plane level, only to land a crashing plane, and then proceed to fighting the Nemesis like creature while emptying all my clips into it, was one of the most tense and thrilling moments I've experience this year. Sure you can say that a vast majority of the plane landing sequence was relegated to quick time events, but then again, almost every game does this. That doesn't nescarilly excuse that, but to pan this game as being such a horrible offender of this is strange. I can name at least 5 current games that do this exact thing that were reviewed favorably in recent past.
So the aforementioned are some of the things that I enjoyed, but how about we address some of the complaints? Are they valid points in my eyes? I increasingly seem to agree with Jeff that the current review system is flawed. I can't exactly pinpoint the issues, aside from the fact that when you have such a limited score based system, people can't help but draw comparisons to other games and say well this game got two stars and it was broken, so how is it that this amazing game also got two stars, or why is this a 95 when this other game is a 95.3. It's sort of a broken system where being too granular is stupid and being to general is exactly that, too general. For example the horrible Blackwater game reviewed by Alex got 1 star, while Resident Evil got 2 stars. Does that mean that Resident Evil is only marginally better then Blackwater? I maintain that that cannot be true in any universe. By saying this, I'm not comparing review scores. I'm pointing out that this is a consequence and failing of any current review system that relies on grading the game somehow. People will inevitably compare one game to another when both share some arbitrary number or symbol, in this case stars. However this is not a discussion that I have the solution too, as there are better men then I trying to solve it.
So then I'm going to move over to more specifics. Brad cites difficulties with the controls being unwieldy, however in my experience (and I realize that this me stating my opinion over his), they are better in absolutely every respect to Resident Evil 5. They maintain that sort of accuracy when shooting that RE5 had, but have evolved to allow far better mobility in action scenes. You may say, well RE5 came out x number of years ago, so if there hadn't been improvement that would have mad, and I agree with you. But there was improvement. Any difficulty coming from controlling the game, I think stems from peoples inability to use the tools provided to the player, namely the quick shot and the prone dive. I suspect that Brad hardly used either of these because when Jeff mentioned diving out of the way of leaping enemies in the quick look, Brad sounded befuddled that that was even a possibility.
A common complaint I heard against this game was the lack of instructions. Patrick stated in the RE6 quick look that he wasn't even aware that if you use a first aid spray near your partner, it heals both of you. This was a very basic rule that was established in prior entries and Resident Evil games have adhered to for the past couple of both non main entries, as well as RE5. So the game could be at fault for failing to tutorialize it to you, but when it has been a recurring gameplay element for the past couple of games, I don't think it's completely fair to fault the game. On a certain level, I guess the developer hopes you have picked up on this, and seeing as how Brad had almost S ranked RE5, I'm surprised he has done such a 180 on Resident Evil 6.
The next part of my discussion relies on you having seen the debate posted about Resident Evil 6 on Gametrailers between Marcus and Shane, posted below for your convenience:
In the video Marcus states that it is fine for this game be more action oriented, but that it shouldn't be called Resident Evil 6, but rather Resident Evil Stars of some side story. While I agree that by naming it Resident Evil 6 you set up certain expectations, I completely disagree that a main series entry in the game cannot evolve. Resident Evil is still a survival horror game, but perhaps the focus has shifted to be a bit more of an action thriller and I think that that is a perfectly valid step for it to go in. Does it have to be beholden to previous games, simply because it is called Resident Evil 6? It may not be what you wanted out of a new Resident Evil, but does that make it inherently bad?
Shane says that there has to be some consistency in reviewing, and that if you truly hate something like QTE's and that is one of the things that caused you to dislike Resident Evil 6, then that should be apparent in your future reviews. All games need to be docked, instead of the random pile on that Resident Evil seems to be enduring. I agree with this sentiment. I guess it just confuses me that Brad loved Resident Evil 5, but half of his complaints for RE6 were things that were present in that game as well. I would argue that the two games play identically and have very similar pacing and level structure. So the complete 180 baffles. me. Does this game deserve a 2? Who knows, and who cares? If you are enjoying the game that should be enough. It does make for an interesting debate on the role of games journalism and reviews however, and this case really helps accentuate the flaws of the game review and Metacritic systems.
So I just got my Persona 4 Arena Hori fight stick. It seems to be a great stick, with a fairly compact size and weight, and impressive button clickiness. However I realized that I'm having difficulties doing the shoryuken movements, specifically in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. For those wondering this stick is square gated. Do you guys have any tips to make it easier? Also should I start looking into making the stick octogated? If so is that a difficult process?
I've been hearing a lot of hoopla about women in the game industry in all forms, whether it be actual digital characters, or booth babes or whatever else, and I'm really tired of most peoples quotes with regards to how they are being treated. Not tired of the subject, but I'm tired of the stupid double standards where it's okay for a roided up male character to run around curb stomping other dudes, but if it's a girl then oh my god the world is ending because women can't possibly be hurt or killed in a video game without it being some sort of rape fantasy... I hold the unpopular opinion that majority of people don't really understand what it means to be a feminist or hold the ideal that women and men should be treated equal. In fact most of the time when people say they want equality, it's more like woman should get all the benefits a male is afforded (this is of course totally reasonable and something we should strive for) but none of the down sides.
I don't understand why ANY of the Tomb Raider stuff has been brought up at all. What makes Lara different then every other male character in any video game ever? I mean, the typical Lara Croft of old games was a pretty sexualized character, but in this new iteration, she's a more naturally proportioned younger looking character. So why is it so terrible that a girl "oh noes" is getting the shit beat out of her? I've heard people say she moans a lot. Perhaps more then Drake does when he gets beat up. But the thing is Lara in these new demos is also being subjected to a more cartoony brand of violence, perhaps due to the animations, and it's happening more rapidly... So obviously she would be moaning after sliding down a river smashing into a crashed airplane, falling out of said airplane, opening a parachute, crashing into a bunch of trees and then falling to the ground... WHY is she moaning...? WHY?
Another thing is the Hitman trailer... The first time I watched that, I was like "ow that's brutal" and perhaps in my own wierd sexist way thought, "I don't like seeing woman hit in that fashion (or any fashion for that matter)." I then began thinking, why do I not like that idea... I mean why is it acceptable to see the Gears of War dudes get curb stomped, or Issac from Dead Space get mutilated, but when it's girls... ASSASSIN girls mind you, it's suddenly the worst thing ever. But then I've been reading about the idea that that trailer was sort of a rape fantasy apparently because 47 is hitting sexy woman... WHAT? Where did that idea even come from? Who makes that sort of connection. Why is it taboo to show violence towards woman but violence towards men is completely accepted. Equality right guys? I mean I get it: On a personal level I have a deep distaste for violence against woman... But these are A. digital people, B. Assassins...
Next thing is booth babes. I understand that the distaste stems from the idea that gamer's think that companies put the booth babes there because we're all nerds apparently and they will attract us. It sucks that they have such low opinions of us and that should change. But aside from that I recall reading that someone (a female who said they were "fit") in the gaming press felt uncomfortable because she felt like she walked into a a strip club and was being compared? I could be mis-remembering the exact quote but regardless, why is the mere presence of woman such a weird taboo thing? If the booth babe is confident in her own looks and comfortable standing there as a model of sorts then why do others feel uncomfortable around them? There is some sort of underlying insecurity you should probably think about. The show is a giant spectacle akin to many other trade shows and car shows and what not... Yet no one complains when a booth babe stands next to a Ferrari...
The above argument probably makes more sense with regards to cosplayers. For example people have been complaining about people like Jessica Nigri and her being the spokesperson of the Lollipop Chainsaw game... Why is it so weird that she's wearing those sexy clothes if she feels comfortable in showing off the gifts god gave her? I mean it is representative of the character from the game.
The games industry hasn't grown a up single bit since the days of Final Fight where the female character of Poison was turned into a transvestite in order to have players not punch a woman. Because punching a transvestite is apparently more reasonable. I mean as long as it has a penis right?
Anyways I may be missing the point as to where the controversy is coming from and if I am please clarify, but to me it always seems like people say we want equality, except OH MY GOD SHE'S A LADY, SHE CAN'T BE SHOWN IN PAIN... That's voyeuristic apparently...
The Bomb Squad and the Giant Bomb forums have done it again. First Claude convinced me to buy a Wii, and now with all the talk of PC ports being better then the console versions have I was tempted to upgrade my PC from the older (but still decent) Q6600 rig that I had. I never thought I'd be a PC gamer, because generally I like to sit on my couch or bed and hold a controller in my hand. The solution it seems was to get a 25 foot (8.3m) long HDMI cable and hook it up straight to my TV and get a wireless dongle for my 360 controllers, which most games seem to support. Except for blasted Mass Effect... How hard could it be when you have console versions of the game out there?
However guys, playing on the PC is a thing of beauty. I'm absolutely in love. It has it's weird hiccups like freaking Steam not installing and not allowing me to install my retail disc copy of Skyrim (had to install in safe mode for some stupid reason) but overall it's great. Playing games with max settings with solid 60 FPS in true 1080P is amazing. For some games it's night and day between the console versions like the Witcher 2 even though the Witcher is passable I guess on 360.
Anyways, the games I've played since picking up my new system in the last month include:
Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning
The Witcher 2
Mass Effect Trilogy
Batman Arkham City
EDIT - Added:
Max Payne 3
Dragon Age Origins
Alice Madness Returns
Prince of Persia 2008
Picked up Amalur today... Maybe I should have done it sooner... Anyways all of the games look fantastic. Is there any other games that I'm missing out on by not playing on the PC? Anything that is just loads better then on its console counterpart? Also in case you guys are wondering my specs (which I posted in the rig thread, but might as well post here as well) are:
i7 2600 @3.4Ghz
So I hope you're happy bombers... You made me invest in a PC. What next a Lion? Actually... now that you mention it...
So if you're not aware, Kotobukiya is a Japanese figure creator, that does a variety of manga related statues. They also do western superheroes like Catwoman, Ms. Marvel, Phoenix and so on, but using an anime aesthetic. They also did Batman for the Batman Arkham City collectors edition statue. It was announced that they would be doing Liara T'soni, and when the first images were released there were a few complaints. Namely the size of her breasts.
The original sculpt had much larger breasts then Liara does, and after the complaints, the sculptor reduced them to look more natural. I got my hands on the figure pretty early and I did a review. I have to say it's actually pretty fantastic. Check out the video below and tell me what you guys think:
Edit: Added pictures of my collection as per request. I am indeed a nerd. Confirmed:
So I finished Journey a few days ago, and I have to say it was one of the most awesome experiences I have had in a while. I played through the whole game with one person, as we struggled against the winds and waters. The snow froze us as we walked. Slower... Slower... Movement slowed to a crawl. I would chirp and hear a faint chirp in response. Then we finally emerged in the end game sequence and I felt exhilarated. But then it happened...
My partner got separated from me as I was flying through the end game sequence. I was torn between finally being able to move again, and the thought that my partner whom I had played with through this whole Journey was gone. I felt happy at the sudden freedom, but broken from being separated. But then the greatest thing happened. My partner with whom I had separated was waiting for me at the top of the mountain. He could have gone forward and finished the game, but he waited for me. I chirped, he chirped in response, and then we walked through together.
It's weird how attached you can get to someone without ever even talking to them. It was one of the greatest moments I've had in recent memory with regards to gaming. It also made me think that it would have been a shame to experience this alone. Hopefully everyone played it online, because seeing my buddy waiting for me at the top was one of the happiest scenes ever in a game.
If you're going to comment, please actually read... What I say may be slightly different then what others have said, and this is just my way of venting. Reading "oh hey that thread again" by people who haven't even given the courtesy to read through is a tad annoying.
So after beating the game, I've been in a giant debate with myself as to what the endings mean. I love the endings because they are causing so much chaos which then breeds interesting theories. Reminds me of the Assassin's Creed endings... Anyways, on with it! (Make sure to check out the epic video below that might cause you to rethink the whole series.)
Possible Best Ending # 1 - Synthesis
So this is what most people are considering to be the best ending at this moment simply because you need the highest EMS and Paragon points to get. This is what I chose, and in all seriousness, I'm not sure if I chose correctly. This ending will ONLY considered the best ending if you disregard the Indoctrination Theory. This will only be canonical if everything on the Citadel actually occurred, in which case your Shepard sacrifices himself and synthetics and organics merge (which coincidentally causes your eyes to glow paragon blue, same as when you try to control them.)
I liked the idea of my Shepard dying to save the galaxy because I just couldn't bring myself to kill the newly allied Geth, or EDI of course. Again, if you want to disregard the Indoctrination Theory (which states that everything after Harbinger attacking is an illusion) then this works the best. Shepard dies, galaxy all live together.
Problems with this ending: Synthesis is essentially exactly what Saren wanted to do in Mass Effect, which makes me feel uncomfortable that your solutions ends by doing what Saren and even The Illusive Man wanted to do in 2.
Possible Best Ending # 2 - Destruction / Indoctrination Theory
First things first, watch this extremely well edited video (which some of you might have seen already) which sends chills down my spine:
So if you consider destruction the best ending, despite killing EDI (you dicks...) then I would say it's in your best interest to assume that the Indoctrination theory is correct. (Or that is how I see it.) Assuming you had over 5000 EMS everything falls so well in to place, even down to the very end where the two choice your presented are Paragon blue, and Renegade Red, except that Renegade is to follow Anderson and Paragon to follow the Illusive Man. That is their way of tricking you. By destroying the Reapers, you are going against the Reapers wishes and remaining in full control of your will so that ends up being Renegade and against the Reapers. If you try and control them, you become fully indoctrinated because you can't control something that is already controlling you...
The call backs to the first game also blow my mind. The description of indoctrination given by the Rachni Queen is EXACTLY what Shepard sees when he is having those "dreams." Shadowy figures wailing in sorrow, meant to break the will of the person and have them lose all hope.
Problems with this ending: If everything was an illusion after getting hit by Harbinger, then who opened the Citadel and blasted off the Crucible? If Shepard wakes up in London, that would mean that the Reapers can't have actually been destroyed because no one would have gone to open the Citadel. Unless Shepard opened the Citadel with his telepathy?
Also the Star Child said that Shepard was also half Synthetic, so even assuming that somehow the Citadel DID open and destroyed the Reapers, how would Shepard still be alive in the end when you see his chest rise?
I'll start off by posting what I think were the best games of the year, just so you guys get a sense of where I'm coming from:
Batman Arkham City
Assassin's Creed Revelations
Alice Madness Returns
Professor Layton and the Specters Flute
The Witcher 2
Gears of War 3
Zelda: Skyward Sword
Dead Space 2
I generally find all the back and forth between the different bomber a really hilarious affair, and although I don't always agree, I feel like the rationale behind their decisions are usually clearly put on display. This year however, I felt like the discussions were sort of useless, as people just dismissed games without and sufficient reasoning or completely ignored reasoning. Uncharted 3 wasn't on their list because Uncharted 2 was so good, and Uncharted 3 matched that...? Yet Gears was on the list because the second story wasn't that good, but the third bumped up the story bar? What kind of reasoning is that to dismiss one game and accept another?
But whatever, moving on, because you guys may say hey you are just biased 'cause you love Uncharted. Then lets talk about another duo, both of which are not even on my list. The final GOTY discussion; Jeff and Vinny ferociously defended St. Row the Third, Patrick jumped back and forth between who he defended, and Ryan, (who by the way had little reason to actually back Skyrim since he hasn't even played it) defended Skyrim. I mean, what kind of an argument on Ryan's part was St. Row the Third was so good, that I wanted to keep playing even after beating it? How is that a negative to be held against the game?
The main thing that bugged be about the final decision was that after nearly an hour of two of two member ferociously defending one game (St. Row the Third) the decision to award Skyrim the GOTY was just like "alright so what wins? Skyrim? All right cool." thereby invalidating all the arguing that happened before hand.
I personally do not care about the specifics of their list as I value their opinions and it differs so greatly from mine anyway. I'm just a bit bugged that after listening to nearly a four hour podcast their decision to award Skyrim was so random, considering how obvious it was that St. Row the Third was much more heavily defended.