At this point and time, it has been more than a week since 2013 became a reality. The apocalypse was a no-show, and the future still took place. A lot of good games came out last year that I really enjoyed, but I did not play enough games that came out this year to make a top 10 list because I was playing other games in general that had caught my fancy. Games like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, League of Legends, Fruit Ninja... the list goes on. BUT! I did happen to play a couple games that came out this year that I really liked. Without further ado, let's get cracking.
Are strategy games fun? Personally, I would say that actively playing RTS games, building units and ordering them to kill dudes isn't fun, but the part where you win most certainly is. So what makes XCOM: Enemy Unknown any different or any more entertaining than most RTS/strategy games?
The freeflowing, yet turn based combat and being able to control a squad of (hopefully personalized) soldiers to fight ALIENS on homeworld Earth defies any other game's sense of fun I've seen yet. It's a unique feeling, being able to customize one of your own soldiers to your exact liking, and then to have him die on the battlefield, because you FUCKED UP moving him behind that bench that seemed like good cover at the time before those fucking Mutons showed up. Well, either that, or the Random Number Generator decided that a Muton's 30% chance to hit was enough to reduce that soldier from 10 to 0 health in one hit. It really is incredible, the sense of stress and enjoyment you feel while playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown. You realize that your mortality is all too real, and that any wrong move can wipe your dudes out in an instant. It's a roller coaster of a ride, and damn if I like to think that I feel control of it every so often.
And when you're not getting wrecked by alien forces out on the battlefield, you're back at HQ (which for me, was in North America) researching that dead alien's insides, upgrading your guns, and selling all those weird "alien surgeries" to the Gray Market. God knows what use those guys have for it. And when you aren't doing that shit, you're talking to the Council, a group of silhouetted dudes in business suits who represent their countries that monitor the decisions you make as the leader of the XCOM initiative. I personally love the Council spokesperson's voice as he says: "CO-MANDERR, WE TRUST THAT YOU WILL BE DISCREET ABOUT THIS MATTER".
You had me at "Fire Emblem with guns and aliens". What's not to love?
I feel that Telltale's latest "adventure game" defies any sense of the normal adventure game to be consider an adventure game. Adventure game.
I say this because of its mainly cinematic feel. Aside from the small action sequences that take place with you accomplishing life threatening feats, and making tough decisions, The Walking Dead feels mostly like an interactive movie. And honestly, I feel like this is the next step that adventure games should take in their evolution. 2-D walking planes and puzzles have run their course. It's time for something innovative.
Enough opinions. Time for why I liked this game so much. Time for further opinions.
Perhaps this wasn't as much as an interactive movie as much as say... Asura's Wrath was. But who's to say that's worse for the game? Some have complained about the action sequences in certain episodes of this series, but at the end of the day, these sequences establish the line between this being a video game and this being an interactive movie. So is that worse for the material itself? I would say no. I would say that these sequences (for example, let's say the part where Lee has the shotgun in Episode 4) added to the stress you felt when trying to survive through the zombie apocalypse. Trying to get the cursor right on lots of zombies to shoot them one after another ended up creating a stressful environment. And in my opinion, I felt that worked for the game's mood.
Regardless, this was still the greatest story telling experience of 2012. The Walking Dead's narrative is told through the recent misadventures of one Lee Everett, a man trying to stick it out in the zombie apocalypse. Lee has to make due with the skin of his teeth, with the friends he discovers, and the decisions he has to make in order to keep Clementine safe. It is very much true that your decisions influence the game's future. As I played, I realized how my decisions were more along the lines of "trying to stay alive", rather than "picking my friend's side" or something similar along those lines. I'm probably a bad friend to have in a zombie apocalypse.
This game is also the best Swing Pushing Simulator of 2012. That's worth something in it's own merit.
Come now, people. I created a blog post about this in my own time. The idea that this couldn't be #1 on my list would be completely false.
It's just... it's just so good. The fast as hell reactions, the proper zone of mind you need to be in to play, the intensely disturbing atmosphere created out of thin air, the best video game soundtrack of the year... It's just all too good to not rate as my favorite game of 2012.
It requires you to not fuck up, and in order to not fuck up in some levels, you may have to try them over and over again a dozen times or more. But man, when you don't fuck up, when you throw the pipe at the dude and then smash the back of his skull in against the carpet... It's a tremendous sense of relief and accomplishment rivaling that of only XCOM. But the difference between this game and XCOM is that the results aren't randomly generated. It's all you, all the time. You are the one to react in the blink of an eye, to make the decision to go loud in a room to take all the mobsters out. XCOM isn't all you, there is chance to it. Hotline Miami IS. And that's why it is pure unadulterated magic carnage.
That's why Hotline Miami is the best game of 2012 for me. Every reason why you succeeded in every single level of that game is because you did every thing yourself manually. By the blood, sweat, and the rage induced adrenalin pumping through your body, you took out every single Russian mobster in Miami. And damn, if it didn't feel like the most incredible, twisted, depraved thing you've ever done.
What's left then? Where do we go from here? Did somebody say... Hotline Miami 2?