|Posted on January 1, 2010 at 6:37 PM|
The year in games.
I won't be so stupid as to actually claim I played every game this year, not nearly as many movies that I spent most of my time watching and reviewing, so in respects to that I can only go into games that I did play and my thoughts on them.
If there's anything I take from this past year is that licensed games aren't to simply be pushed aside. Sometimes you're in for a treat, and Ghostbusters The VIdeo Game and Batman Arkham Asylum are surely proof of that. Ghostbusters, while short and a tad tedious towards the end, is a must-play for any fan of the movies or television series. The writing is spectacular and the comedy hits most of its marks. It truly makes you feel like a ghostbuster. Arkham Asylum also makes you feel and embody the Dark Knight in a similar vein. The polish and depth of that game, however, exceeded everyone's expectations. The fighting is addicting if not therapeutic and overall art design, a cross between the gritty Frank Miller Dark Knight universe and the Animated Series, undoubtedly brings the world of Batman alive. Show stealers like Poison Ivy and certain Scarecrow sometimes outdo the Joker himself. Had it a more satisfying ending, I would go as so far to say its a masterpiece.
Speaking of near-masterpieces, I should make a short mention of Brutal Legend. Let me first say this is a wonderfully charming game and the love for all things Metal shines through. Like all of Shaffer's work, it's witty, funny and with a fine presentation. The gameplay might be a tad repetitive, ok a lot repetitive, but you still feel good doing it - as though you're bringing your world and army together. It's unfortunate that it needs only two things to be a great game rather than just a good one: a map screen while you play to show direction and a pause feature during the army battles (and a map there too to show enemy locations, so I guess that's three things). I'll get more into that in a future review, I'm certainly behind, but the game if far from horrible and only a few inches from being amazing.
Also, a good game that tries desperately hard to make you hate it is Dragon Age: Origins. The game is fantastic and has the depth and richness Bioware is known for. It truly is a spiritual successor to their Baulder's Gate titles. It is incredibly frustrating, however, and while they streamlined the micromanagement, it still has an aura of tediousness that can really turn you off sometimes. The missions also aren't nearly as interesting, the characters thankfully memorable and a story that, although it takes a while to get going, really brings out the world itself. Bioware doesn't make shit games, they never have. Dragon Age is going to be a great series if they can keep it up, although everyone and their mother will admit that Mass Effect, right now, if superior in every aspect. It's tries to be worse than it actually is.
In contrast, the game Infamous was nearly a good game, but instead teeters near mediocrity at every give chance. Sure, it got solid reviews and was even up for awards, but the game lacks something the games I've mentioned thus far have in spades: polish. It's a haphazard title with little inspiration to its world - a world full of glitches, a main character that can be fun to control one minute and utterly annoying the next, a story that wraps itself far too quickly and, overall, a game that should be double the length and ten times the refinement. It's games like Infamous that put the Grand Theft Auto series into perspective. IN those games, the worlds and characters feel alive and you always, always have something to do even if it's not your main mission. Infamous is pretty much a straight-shot, doing the same thing over and over again and the only really great portions being the ones that showed time and care were put into them (such as the Prison scenario). It's a solid game, but I'm glad I didn't pay full price for it.
A game I wouldn't have shelled any money out for, and I did not, is Modern Warfare 2. Look, if you're into online shooting this is the game to get. No doubt. But I'm not. I'm over that and really have no interest so I can only play the game as a single player...and it's obvious that's how the developers approached it as well. It's a multiplayer game with the optional single player scenario, not the other way around. It fails to live up to the original, with nary a single sequence remotely coming close to those in the first game, is often overly chaotic and annoying, has a story that makes little sense (although I applaud the presentation) and can be beaten in about a day. Playing Modern Warfare 2 just made me want to play the sniper mission in the first game again.
Alas, there is only one clear game of the year that I would've payed double for: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. I only have one complaint: the final world wasn't nearly elaborated on or utilized to a full potential. I won't spoil that, but if you played the game, you know what I'm talking about. You see a massive environment and you're pretty limited in what you can do and where you can go. There's no big structures to climb, it's mainly a series of roads and hallways until you get to the boss. But it's still all great fun and really sets the standard right now for how games can be played. The sequences are fantastic, the train rescue portion, being the highlight, the voicework fantastic and graphics the best so far this generation. Right now, this and Bioshock are my two favorite games this generation.
An alright year with still more to be played (Assasin's Creed II hopefully soon).