29 December, 2012

This Year in Gaming - 2012

When asked what my Game of the Year is, it's never an easy decision. As someone who games for the majority of their day, I go through a lot of games, borrowed or owned. It's not often a game is played regularly through the year. One plays a game, plays the hell out of it if I like it, then moves on to different games. I guess the first thing to do is to take a look at the games which have come out this year.

I'll start with the Vita, for no real reason. It came out in December of 2011 in Japan, but 2012 everywhere else. I only recently got it as a gift from an old friend of mine and I was amazed and thrilled to get it. I have three actual games for the Vita, though I guess five if you count two free ones I got through the PSN+. The hard copy games I have are Lego Batman 2, Persona 4 Golden, and Zero Hour: Virtue's Last Reward. The two I got on PSN+ are Gravity Rush & Uncharted: Golden Abyss.

Uncharted I didn't really like too much... it seemed weird to move and take action, but I haven't played it a lot to really form anything other than a first impressions.

Gravity Rush is really amazing, but I just haven't had the time to dedicate to it. I really want to play more of it though.

Lego Batman 2 is all right at best. I used to be a huge Lego fan, but after a few games it just got really old. It came with the Vita though so for a bit it was the only Vita specific game I had.

Persona 4 Golden is fucking amazing. I want to do a review for it in a few weeks so I'll leave it at 'fucking amazing' for now.

Virtue's Last Reward is incredible as well... it's the sequel to 999 and just blows me away. I haven't beaten it completely yet, but will do a review for it as well when the time comes.

The second most recent game machine I got was a 3DS back in May for my birthday. On an amusing note, I decided to conduct a small experiment on how long it would take my nephew to realise I had a 3DS without me mentioning it at all. He's usually pretty observant so it amused me to conduct this. It wasn't NOVEMBER that he realised the DS sitting on my couch was actually a 3DS. Anyway, I actually don't have a lot of 3DS games despite the length of time I've had this hand-held. My 3DS games are Resident Evil: Revelations, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, and Tales of the Abyss. There are some games on my DsiXL that I would have liked to put on my 3DS, but the DS's require you to use an internet connection setting that my router doesn't allow so... I can't really xfer them. I'll start by saying that I very rarely use the 3D function because it hurts my eyes a lot. I mean a lot. After maybe 10 minutes I get a headache and it's not long before migraine city starts sparkling around my room. That being said, all my thoughts are regarding a non 3D view of the game.

Tales of the Abyss is a great port. Everything looks awesome and the story is fine as ever. It's been ages since I last played this game and I really love playing it again. The additions they've made and controls they've added really shine.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a terrible addiction to me. Mixing rhythm games and Final Fantasy is a drug on par with the most addictive. Also, the graphics are so cute!

The two Resident Evil games haven't got much play from me because the controls anger me greatly. It's very hard to play a RE game on a hand-held, but I love the series and am determined to get through them. The story for Revelations intrigues me and I want to find out how it ends!

Now that the handhelds have had their glory time, I'll mix up the rest of 2012's consoles and we'll start off at the top with Final Fantasy13-2. It came out, here, in Feb and I did a review for it. I did review Final Fantasy 13, albeit the 360 version, and didn't have the most positive things to say about it... it was a lot of small things that kind of brought it down. I have recently started it again on the PS3 and my view of it is a little better, but this is about Final Fantasy 13-2, though I will leave this short as my views on it can be read in my review.

Feb also brought us Kingdoms of Amalaur: Reckoning. I tried to like this game, I really did, but it is just awful. I can't stand it. I really, really hate this game. From the voice acting to the graphics to the HUD to the quests. It's like an MMO that failed to be an MMO (I know it was slated to be an MMO in fact) and failed again trying to be a single player game. It's empty, lifeless, and feels like a watered down Skyrim in every way. I know people who adore the game, but I really just fucking hate it.

Dear Esther I will include because it is a game in a technical sense. It's a story that takes you through a puzzle of mazes in an intriguing and sombre fashion. The story is sad and finds you feeling sorry for everyone in the end. I had to play it twice to get the whole story because I missed a few things. The graphics are lovely and the music is spectacular and haunting.

Mass Effect 3. Well this game sure had it's share of controversy, but fuck that, seriously. I really enjoyed the endings provided and the expanded ones were even better. The graphics were solid and fantastic, the music was extraordinary, and the story was just great. I enjoyed playing Mass Effect 3 so much and the DLC was even more awesome. I haven't got the Omega DLC yet as it's holiday time and money is tight, but I will definitely get it and play it for sure. There's no question. I loved Mass Effect 3 and it's definitely a contender for my game of the year.

Another contender for GOTY is Journey. A PSN game that came out with March and blew me away. Hands down is has the best and most beautiful graphics of any PSN game I've seen and maybe of any game, period, I've seen. Music as well.. I couldn't believe how spectacular this game was, but coming from the same guys who made flOw and Flower... it can only get better from there.

Silent Hill: Downpour was my first platinum trophy and well deserved. I did a review of this game, but a review can hardly relay what an amazing experience this was. I'll leave this short as all my views on it can be read in the review.

Tales of Graces F came out in August here, much behind it's US release which was March. Regardless, this game blew me away. The last Tales game we got was Tales of Vesperia, which was my first 1,000 gamer-score game on the 360 back in the day. Graces F did not fail to live up to amazement. I've not yet platinum'd the game yet, but I felt I had to take a break as I have save files adding up to 500+ hours in it and I was starting to perform artes in my sleep. The graphics are wonderful, the music is solid and addictive, and the story is really quite amazing. It caught me by surprise in more than one place.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City came out earlier this year, but I only got it in Nov, I think. It's a great game, but a great game that I need t go through in small portions. I enjoy it, but I don't enjoy it for hours at a time and that's fine. A game doesn't have to entertain me for six hours at a time to be a good game. The graphics are quite good, the game-play it really nice, especially with friends, and the music is RE typical... not amazing omg, but not terrible. It's all right, but I will, more often than not, turn it off in favour of my own music.

The Silent Hill HD collection came out this year and a friend got it for me, and it's more than not, pretty great. There were a lot of issues when it first came out, but I didn't go through them as I didn't have the game at the time. The glitches and lag and bugs have been mostly fixed and it's not terrible. They changed a lot of the voices and such, but I don't really care. I have no special place for the original voice acting and I think the new voices are good. Not a ghastly port, but they could have give it some more time and did better.

Blacklight: Retribution is a game I was very much in to for about two weeks. After that I just... didn't want to play really. The graphics were nice, the progression and levelling up were all right and the matches weren't too bad, but it was just mediocre on all fronts and eventually just bored me.

Devil May Cry HD is amaaaaaaazing. As it's a compilation and HD re-release of the first three games (Special Edition version of the 3rd) it can't have my game of the year slot, but if I included re-releases then it would get the award hands down. Graphics: improvements and amazement. Audio: Fabulous. Story: Awesome as ever. I really loved this HD collection.

I spent so much time waiting for Xenoblade Chronicles to come out that I was almost in tears when I received it in the post. It was so good for a little while, despite the horrible, horrible graphics and almost intolerable voice acting. The story was intriguing and the combat was almost perfect. The side quests and missions were fantastic and the weapons and upgrade system was addictive. I spent so much time in the game until I just couldn't do it any more. I hated looking at the game because the graphics were just trash. I hated listening to the voice acting because it was so put on. I stopped playing it and eventually traded it in for another game and I really don't find myself yearning for it at all. I am so sad it came out on such a shitty graphic system.

The Witcher 2 was released on the 360 earlier too and it was pretty great. I'd got it on the PC, previously, and didn't really like it. At the time my PC couldn't run it too well so I had issues, but on the 360 it was really great. I enjoyed the graphics, music, and the voice acting was great... really the best thing about it was the voice acting. I went though one of two story-lines and always meant to go through the other, but after I beat it, finishing all the side quests I could, I didn't really want to go through it again. Eventually, it took the trade in route.

Diablo III also came out this year and I really enjoyed that game for a while. After Hell mode, though, it just gets too hard and looses it's fun. Things that hard just aren't appealing to me... I like a challenge, but I don't like beating my head on an unbreakable wall. The graphics are really great, the audio was nicely done, and the story was pretty cool. I might just pop back in there to start up a new character some time soon

Ys Origin is a great game, but the controls are a little wonky. I might try to hook up my xbox controller and see how it goes. It's full of cute sprites, 16 bit musics, and a story of Ys that I haven't played yet. 

Penny Arcade Adventures 3 also went a different route this time by giving us sprites and bitty music, but it was fantastic. It was a great direction they took and the writing was superb as usual.

I was more disappointed in The Secret World than I was happy about it. I loved playing it, but the graphics had all kinds of problems and it really just ruined the experience. The levelling system was great and the stories were really quite fantastic. I even recorded some Youtube videos for questing... I really enjoyed the game until the graphics just began crashing me so much. I heard its gone F2P now, but I also hear the graphics issues aren't sorted. How sad.

The Last Story is definitely my most disappointing game of the year. I waited so long and had such high hopes for this game and then I got it and it was just so terrible. Everything about it was terrible. There isn't one good thing I have to say about the game. I was just so crushed... all that waiting for such a good prospect of a game came crashing down. Such a let down.

Black Mesa was finally released this year and I love it! Technically it's a re-release so no GOTY for it, but omg it it so good! They did such an amazing job of this remake that it's almost like a new game and all the super achievements are just wonderful.

Borderlands 2 is also a contender for my GOTY. I'm going to do a review of it so I won't go into too much detail about it here, but oh man it's wonderful in every way.

When Torchlight II was in beta, I did a review of it, and I gotta say that it only got better. A review is in the works for this too so I won't say a lot regarding it, but I love this game and keep meaning to get back to it.

Resident Evil 6 grabbed a platinum for me and is also a contender for GOTY. This game is amazingly good in all ways. It caught so much flack, but fuck them. This game is amazing in every way. Music, graphics, story, game-play, combat, exploration... even the Mercenaries section was amazing and I don't usually play the Mercenaries. Will be doing a review soon for it.

Dishonored has yet to be finished by me, but I've made it a good distance through. It's such a bizarrely wonderful game. Graphics, audio, and story are all wonderful and some choices in the game make me really think that I am a terrible person lol. It's great when a game can make me question my own morals. Game-play is fabulous as well. I look forward to finishing this game.

Halo 4 came out towards the end of the year and though I haven't personally beaten it yet, but I have played a good deal of it and I've watched my nephew, niece, and sister play shit tonnes of it over here. It's a great game. The story is captivating and I love the graphical improvements. The combat is greatly improved as well, but I hate that they moved the melee again... I wouldn't say it's game of the year, especially since I've not felt compelled to beat it myself, but it's a beautiful and intriguing game with a story that is fantastic.

Man, I know I've missed something, but I can't think of it right now. So let's see what my categories are and what I've chosen:

Best Music: Journey
Runners Up: Dishonored, Silent Hill: Book of Memories/Silent Hill: Downpour
Note: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy would be the winner, but it had no original music, only music from other games, so there was no new and original tunes

Best Graphics: Final Fantasy 13-2
Runners Up: Borderlands 2, Journey
Note: There were so many good graphical games this year, it was hard to choose.

Best Combat: Borderlands 2
Runners Up: Silent Hill: Downpour, Resident Evil 6
Note: This was also hard to choose as I loved the combat in ME3 and H4 a lot as well.

Best Story: Silent Hill: Downpour
Runners Up: Mass Effect 3, Halo 4
Note: A lot of good stories this year, just because one isn't listed, doesn't mean it wasn't good. I just liked some others better.

Best Overall Gameplay: Tales of Graces F
Runners Up: Final Fantasy 13-2, Borderlands 2
Note: It's hard to find a game that has a great mesh of combat and movement for me as my hands are so twitchy from nerve damage.

Best Re-Release: Persona 4 Golden
Runner's Up: Devil May Cry HD Collection, Tales of the Abyss
Note: Although there was a lot of things added to Persona 4 Golden, it is still a re-release of the game, just with some additions.

Biggest Disappointment: The Last Story
Runners Up: Xenoblade Chronicles, The Secret World
Note: TSW was such a disappointment because of all the graphical issues which made it almost impossible for me to play or enjoy.

Worst Game: Kingdoms of Amalaur: Reckoning
Runner's Up: The Last Story, Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Note: Actually not a lot of truly bad games this year... not that I played at least.

Game of the Year: Borderlands 2
Runners Up: Resident Evil 6, Silent Hill: Downpour

And there you have it. Borderlands 2 was the best game, for me, this year. I enjoyed a lot of games and had a great time gaming this year and all my decisions are purely based on my own opinions. Silent Hill: Downpour became one of my all time favourite games this year, taking the place of Silent Hill: Homecoming at number 10, but it wasn't the very best of the year. It was a great year for gaming and there are still games from this year that I haven't yet played. I hope to play them and more in the upcoming year. 

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