We've all been waiting for it. *all giddy* I wanna see what this anonymous guy on the Internet thinks about all my favourite games this year! Omfg, you think he'll agree? Or, like, disagree? I fuckin' hope not! His opinion is so important to me! SERIOUSLY! (What I imagine a sixteen-year-old girl talking about my blog were say). I won't dilly-dally any further; folks, here's part two!
For the April - June period, there was a change in video game release dates. Usually, the top tier games (also known as AAA superficially) are released in the three months before Christmas (you're gonna have to wait until after Christmas for my thoughts on this year's lineup, so please read it!). But now, most notably the VGAs GOTY (LOL, most notably; that award show is a joke), some quality games were shipped in the middle of the year. This is a trend that's been happening for a while now, but for some reason people only took notice of it this year. This trend is no more apparent in 2010 than next spring, when more notable games are released (Portal 2, fuck yes!). (Half of this paragraph is in brackets, I just realized).
Just to backtrack a bit: another good friend of mine (not the one that has his heart chopped up into little pieces by Cryptic) informed me I forgot to talk about the very first release of this year. I'll admit, I did. But for good reason. Bayonetta was something special: a badass chick with kickass moves giving everyone nerd-gasms everywhere. It was one of the major games I didn't play last year. I saw people play it, but really only for a short time, so my opinion would be shortsighted. If you guys want it enough, I guess I could do a better review on the 5th to celebrate the anniversary of the game.
Back on track now: Another last-long series released a game this year to mixed reaction. Some thought, and I'm included in this group, that one of the main mechanics was almost eradicated: stealth. Others like the confronting style the game took on and celebrated it by beating the game in less than five hours. Of course, Splinter Cell has always been a stealth-oriented franchise. (My first game on 360 was Double Agent and I wasn't a big fan). With such a divergence from the core gameplay and basically putting an emphasis on confronting CQC, this didn't feel like a Splinter Cell game. Sure it started Sam Fisher shooting guys in their faces and slapping women (like all real men do, obviously), but supplement another main character in and this is could have been a separate release. I'm a big fan of Ubisoft and their work but Conviction felt like too much of a change from what fans have come to expect. The game itself isn't bad - it's certainly better than Double Agent - but the short length made it not worthy of being priced at $60. I was pleasantly surprised with the co-op mode however. It was fun and really tried your brain. The game is probably a lot cheaper now so go pick it up if you haven't yet - it'll get you through the holidays.
The next game is another example of how different video game cultures are. The Monster Hunter franchise is relatively unknown in the West, maybe a small fanbase, but over in Japan, this game sells on par with Pokemon. This game is really good. If it's not one of Capcom's best releases, I don't know what should be considered. Basically, this game is an action RPG with online capabilities to that of an MMO. It can be played in single-player but you won't get the full experience unless played with friends, and this fact may deter some people. Every monster in the game behaves differently and knowing your stance, when to attack, when to avoid, and pretty much everything else about the behaviour of the monster is imperative to killing it. Monster Hunter Tri has a massive learning curve and not casual in the slightest. You will lose yourself to this game - which is definitely not a bad thing. It's a shame Tri is a victim of cultural differences, but this game could have had the ability to give the Wii top-selling console this year.
Dead to Rights: Retribution had a storied release. Millions of people gathered across stores globally to get this game. I'm playing it in my mind as I write this. I don't know what in the hell Namco Bandai was thinking in commissioning another game in this series. Retribution is further proving that Namco Bandai really is in trouble if they don't come with a new idea. My opinion on this game was mixed - some firefights were fun and challenging and others were a breeze. It was also fun to see the dog tear people to shreds. But a word to Namco: please be done with this franchise. The sales of Retribution should tell you that people don't care for DtR anymore.
Deadly Premonition wasn't the only PS2 game released this year on current-gen consoles. This game was nierly there but failed miserably. Yes, the game was set up for a terrible pun. We had some fun with it on our podcast (belowradarpodcast.podbean.com). Yay shameless plugs! But seriously, this game did have potential. The story was one of the better ones this year (even better than FFXIII, that's gotta' sting), the characters were colourful and interesting, but ultimately it fell into the trap commonly used in RPGs: fetch quests and A LOT of them. Get this, grab that, kill this many of these things; I'm surprised Cavia had such difficulty with this. Drakengard, an older release from them, I actually enjoyed. A missed opportunity here.
The year saw a huge change in a drawn-out monopolized genre. Tony Hawk dominated the skateboarding video game scene with no quality challengers. (Shaun White, I'm sorry, but stick to snowboarding please). Then EA saw the decline of this one great franchise and decided to compete, with great success. Skate took the open-world concept and made it it's own. Tony Hawk Shred, on the other hand, was a miserable failure. Probably one of the biggest flops in video gaming history. The game sold 3000 copies and Activision gave it no support except for one spot at a gaming show a few months ago. The winner here is clearly Skate 3 and I commend them for keeping the hardcore gameplay, and not falling into the trap of motion control. Skate is one of the few times I will praise EA for a business decision.
An icy planet with multiple factions vying for control. This situation lead to a good game. That planet now is all melted and these same factions vying for control. This situation lead to a bad game. How does that work? Do reviewers or Capcom love the winter that much? Lost Planet was a great game. Contrary to what other people said with the gameplay, I actually thought it suited the game well. The grittiness of the war along with the beautiful graphics lead to a great package. But its sequel, a game I was looking forward to, disappointed me and everyone else that played it. The engine remained the same with updated graphics; the game looked awesome. Especially that sequence on top of the train. But an annoying interface, odd design issues and the inclusion of co-op ruined the game. Co-op is usually a good thing, and when a game is meant for co-op it's even better. But Lost Planet 2 focused SO MUCH on co-op that it was absurdly impossible or really, really difficult to get through it on single player. The game was made to be played with friends, but Capcom, you can't alienate your audience who prefers to play games solo.
For this next paragraph I'm gonna do something bold. Talk about two games in one breath. Go! In May, two racing games were released: Blur and Spilt/Second. One was a current-gen Mario Kart, and the other had a lot of explosions. Explosions everywhere. And debris, don't forget about the debris. The main mechanic of Split/Second was that the gameplay emphasized the use of "powerplays", traps used to cause MASSIVE EXPLOSIONS that hampered other racers. The premise was solid: a reality television show with a fake audience watching something spectacular. Split/Second is a great game. But the longevity of it I question. The game was meant to be fast-paced and surprising, but the limited number of races lead players to know what traps were where, and avoid accordingly. Blur, on the other tire, was the most unpredictable racing game I have ever played. Players used "shunts" (yes, really, shunts) and other power-ups to muster their way through a large variety of tracks, from the desert to the famous Hollywood sign. In a second, you could go from first-to-last and the difficulty was eased according to position. Blur was the better of the two, but purely based on the unpredictability; both games are completely different and it may have been wrong for me to compare them, but fuck it. Go get both, or at least one, if you haven't yet. You'll be thanking me later.
One of the better 360 exclusives, Alan Wake had everything going for it: a beautiful, serene setting with a WTF storyline and minor hype. Gamers had waited five grueling years for this game and they weren't disappointed. Alan Wake's best friend in the game was light, and apparently the West Coast doesn't have enough of it. At night things got scary as "the Taken" came after you - these imitating possessed citizens. There's not much I can say without spoiling it, so I'll be brief. The game is the best psychological thriller released this year, hands down. If you love thermoses, this game will give you a wet dream seven times over.
Redemption seemed to be theme this year in gaming. I've already torn apart one game with the title, but this other game I can't. Red Dead is just too good. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this game. It is perfect. I'll make a separate blog post as to why I love Red Dead because this post would get too long.
The Wii had a great year this year, but it was overshadowed by the other consoles. The best game for the console was released this year, arguably, and that was Super Mario Galaxy 2. I played a lot of this game, and no two levels are the same. There is so much diversity in the levels and the game is really fun. Anyone who hasn't played this that is reading this blog post is doing themselves an injustice. SMG2 has sold 5.1 million copies and for good reason.
The next game was the only case where I couldn't finish a game because the game was too broken. I rented Alpha Protocol and didn't know what to expect. And somehow I still felt disappointed. You play as a guy named Michael Thorton who works for a secret government agency called Alpha Protocol. The one redeemable aspect of this game is the conversation system. Every single time the game lets you make a decision, the ramifications of that are deep throughout the game. For example, there's a person you can enrage early on and if you come to fight them later, they can make a fatal mistake. There are so many variables that each experience will be completely different (even more than Mass Effect, and that is a remarkable thing to accomplish). If it wasn't for the shooting mechanics being broken, this game would have been one of the better ones this year.
Two more games I promise. Giant mechs have always had a place in my heart, and battling people around the world with said mechs made me jump with glee. War for Cybertron is not a bad game; it is probably the best Transformers game ever made. The game is pretty straightforward - you can play as both Decepticons and Autobots engaged in a civil war over their home planet. Megatron discovers an element that he believes can bring Cybertron to a state of "peace". WfC included a very addicting in-depth multiplayer (too bad it was laggy as shit and impossible to play). I don't know if they've fix the mode yet, but if they have, hopefully people are still playing it.
And lastly, and certainly least, is a game my fellow podcast-mates seemed to enjoy too much. The store my one friend bought it at actually didn't have it in stock until later that day. This rather interesting title sees the player killing innocent bears because the bear you play as is a psychopath. And you rack up points in the process. Nothing could go wrong with that! With awkward controls, no storyline to speak of, and cheesy puns galore, Naughty Bear is one of the worst releases of the year, if not the worst.
There you have it folks. After three hours of writing and two coffee breaks, I am now done. I don't know if I'll be able to get the next one done until after Christmas as I have a bunch of plans, but I'll try my best. Thanks for reading and see you guys Boxing Day! (Go look for deals on Sunday after you read my blog post of course).