So this is quite simple, everyone is doing a Top list of 2012, even people who don’t work in the industry or want to, if you play games in a big way, you have a top list of the year. That’s not what this is about, I’m trying to make this one a little different. I’m giving you the list of the games that impacted me this year, from January 1st 2012 to December 31st 2012. If it came out in 2012 but I didn’t play it until 2013, then it doesn’t make it in (sorry, Walking Dead). So…shall we get started?
A game I should love, but don’t – Tokyo Jungle
I played it. I enjoyed it. I don’t resent any of the time I spent playing or enjoying it, however this game just didn’t gel with me. To say it’s bad is entirely inaccurate, it might actually have been one of the better games of the year. However, there are some issues with I have with it. First of all the lengthy process you must go through to unlock any of the animals you’d actually like to play the game as. While I understand that by playing as a Pomeranian and then unlocking a cat to go on to unlock more animals until you are terrorizing the animal kingdom as a Utah-Raptor is seen as a feature to give the game re-playability, I felt like I was playing an awful lot just to unlock the cat and by then I was feeling close to tears as I realized it will be a completely different year by the time I’ve finally unlocked anything cooler than a common house pet.
The game itself plays rather well and is put together beautifully -although with funding from one of the leading hardware distributors I feel like this game could have been much better, in terms of it’s graphics and actual game play depth.
I am hoping the minor success and all-round good write-up the game received that Sony give it another bash with a sequel or re-make and attempt to change some of the core fundamentals and make the gameplay not so constantly ‘samey’ -fighting a lion and fighting a cat has no variation beyond more health and damage dealt. I feel like ever there was a game that could benefit from squad tactics it would be a game about packs of animals hunting and killing other packs of animals.
A game I should hate, but don’t – Call of Duty Black Ops II
Well, anyone who is writing about games this year will probably, in some regard, mention Black Ops 2. It’s almost guaranteed. It seems the world will never tire of the simple-minded pleasure that comes from Call of Duty, and while I absolutely despise this game, I utterly adore it as well…I think.
You see, there aren’t many games that I buy, knowing I’ll not enjoy most of the time I play it. In fact, the list is one game long every year, it’s just Call of Duty. I play, I rage, I quit. I’m absolutely awful at these games; the multiplayer, zombies, hell I’m not even playing the campaign on Veteran. To put it into perspective for you, the last Black Ops I prestiged twice in 18 months and in a fit of boredom a friend and I started taking shots each at his house on my account. In two and a half weeks I prestiged three more times, my score per minute jumped up one hundred and ninety-something points and my Kill/Death ratio stepped up about 1.88. I’m so bad at the game that me and my friend accidentally made my average stats shoot up ten-fold, mainly my friend’s effort actually (props to you, Lee).
Where am I going with this? Simple, I’m bad at the game, I switch to aggression very easily when not getting what I want and I cannot stand bullshit (especially bullshit deaths like dying from a concussion grenade -it’s meant to concuss). Yet I waited in line at midnight for this and I’ll do it for the next one. I’ll turn it on an hour every night, die many times, kill very little, help my team in no way what so ever, shout the house down in anger and go to bed…only to do the same the next night. Technically this should qualify it for my Game of the Year, but, it doesn’t.
My One Hit Wonder – Playstation All Stars
Ahhhhhhh!! Why aren’t you my Game of the Year!? Well, that’s quite easy really. No Solid Snake, Crash Bandicoot, Croc, Gex or many other great characters that should’ve been there. I don’t hate Sly Racoon, I’m just not familar with the series in all honesty, so I don’t say this with malice, but how in the name of gaming justice did he make it into a game for, as the title explains, All Stars from Playstation games, and Crash, Gex and Solid Snake never made it in!? Solid Snake, fair enough because of Super Smash Bros., but Crash is a classic and Gex was a secret agent lizard who went into TV’s and became characters in them to take down villains and…I DON’T HAVE TO EXPLAIN MYSELF! SONY HAS TO DO THE EXPLAINING!!
My Guilty Pleasure – Skylanders Giants
Okay, it is worth noting that I don’t have this game, but we have a display set up in my work. It’s satisfying, it reminds me of Spyro the Dragon (duh) and if there is one way to make me love something it’s through nostalgia. I’m impressed with the overall look of the game, the gameplay is simple but it’s not boring, it’s accessible for adults and kids making a game a young boy can play with his Dad that isn’t FIFA and his Mum that isn’t bowling on the Wii.
The characters are designed well, as are the figurines needed to play them. There is a whole host of great voice over cast as well that’s actually astounding to see, like Troy Baker (Arkham City’s Two Face/Harvey Dent), Elizabeth Daily (Power Puff Girls Buttercup), Chris Cox (Multiple voices in American Dad and Family Guy, as well as Arkham City & Asylum and Dragonage), Patrick Warburton (who has been in more big things than I care to list) and on-screen legend and internet sensation, George Takei (Google him, kids).
My Slow Burner – Pokemon Black 2
I can honestly say I’ve barely gave Pokemon a chance this year. While I still stand beside my beliefs that this is one of the best game series of all time, and certainly the most prominent in my life as a ‘Gamer’ and as an ex-child, I feel that far too much time has passed for me not to have seen a full-sized, HD, home console addition to the series.
This isn’t to say that Pokemon Black 2 is bad, it’s pretty enjoyable, I have enjoyed taking advantage of having two DS’s in my house simultaneously and three Pokemon games of the same generation, I have through this came up with a fairly optimal team to get me through the league with (Houndoom, Venusaur, Crobat, Scyther, Rhyhorn and Seadra, as it stands…before you ask). However I just can’t invest the same time that I did in all the previous titles of the series because I just feel like I’m repeating the same steps over and over again. My fear is that the main Pokemon will become like Mario and just be the same game for 20 or so years and then start doing something different. I’m hoping with the WiiU I might be proven wrong and finally see that Pokégame I crave so badly.
My ‘Nearly GotY’ Game – One Piece: Pirate Warriors
Wait, what!? Only nearly!? How could this be!? Well, why I do absolutely adore One Piece and went from thinking it may be one of the worst anime I’d heard of to thinking it may be my favourite anime of all time, I really don’t think the game does it justice.
Of course, I don’t see it as a bad title, it was nearly my Game of the Year. There are just a few issues with it. Firstly the stories depth wasn’t even scratched, I also felt like there was large sections of dialogue missing as they seemed to sometimes be talking about things that I knew and understood as a follower of the anime but had no idea of it’s connection to current happenings in the game. My next problem was not going with individual members of the straw hats for each of the biggest fights -there was a few moments were it would switch to separate characters for big fights, but not regularly enough for my liking. Finally, cutting out Thriller Bark and Skypeia. I know they’ll probably be DLC eventually, but I’ve already paid £40 for you to cut out most of the story, only to add in two pretty large, pretty important story arcs at a later date for extra money no doubt.
However, having said all that, there were many redeeming features like Koei developing the game -I’d never considered if a One Piece game was made who would develop it, but after seeing the results it’s clear it could’ve only been Koei to do it justice -the high-paced combat and beating dozens of men to a pulp simultaneously is the very essence of a Koei game. Another important plus is getting the original voice actors to do their own respective characters, many series lack that which ruins the immersion for fans. The score was fantastic, really gave the game the perfect One Piece feel. The different devil fruit abilities were pretty much expertly handled, it’s difficult territory to step into because of all the different abilities and how they change and impact any fight.
This being said, with the Manga being at least two years from completition (according to Oda) then it could be that the game was just testing the water for Koei to get a feel for the series themselves, to see how they could handle the project. Once the Manga finishes we may see a full redo of the game, from start to finish, with everything missing from the original title included in this one, following the story from the very beginning to the very end. If it happens, then it will be my Game of the Year, assuming it doesn’t clash with my full 3D, HD, home console Pokégame.
My Game of the Year – Dragon’s Dogma
This may actually come as a surprise to anyone reading this who knows me personally. Quite simply because I gave up on it. Without spoiling the story for those yet (convinced) to play, there is a part in the game were the difficulty is amped up a bit, it came legitimately out of nowhere to the point where I couldn’t have prepared for it under the assumption that it would’ve happened. Because of this my character was vastly overwhelmed. As a result I started a new game to be better prepared, however with only one possible save file (what is this, the GameBoy Colour!?) I had to lose my precious game. After that I started to lose interest, the game could literally do nothing for me, I’d experienced it all.
Occasionally I’d go back to it, picking the controller up, finding some new DLC up (armour, weapons, extra side quests) and it would breathe new life into the game, but only briefly. it seemed a lost cause for a game I was so amped for.
However, late 2012 Capcom announced their new DLC, a full on new area to explore, new enemies to fight and armour/weapons to collect. It just shot through me, I found myself playing it again, I’m doing things I had done in my original save but I wasn’t bored, I was excited, like it was some unheard of part of the game. That’s when things got…new.
I had been to all the locations, done a large portion of the main game, killed every notable thing worth killing and restarted and it wasn’t until I truly invested in that restarted game that I realized I had done absolutely nothing. I had been to most of the notable locations, but not all, I skipped the sheer joy of the available side quests; while many are fetch quests, escort quests and the like, there is the joyous group of quests related to defeating certain enemies, which is bog-standard enough for RPGs. However it’s the absolute thrill of hunting certain types of enemies at night, never quite sure where they are and then POOF, you splash in a river, your lantern goes out and all you have is the dim reflection of an unidentified hostiles eyes…or eye if it’s a cyclops, however if there is only one eye reflecting light that would suggest cyclops straight away, removing the ‘unidentified’ part somewhat.
What’s more, with the inclusion of a ‘Hard mode’ and ‘Speedrun Mode’ the game has these new challenges, The game basically says: “you’re too good now? Put it on hard and we’ll see how you fair with this.” I’ve still yet to try Speedrun, but hard has presented it’s own challenges, even to a character with relatively high stats, and this is only fighting the basic enemies found at the start of the game ( I entered NG+). I also don’t doubt that Capcom will add an extreme difficulty, if fans demand it.
Speaking of NG+, my restart gave me something I never got the first time, to complete the story, that’s when I saw it as my Game of the Year, and when I decided I had to do NG+, this marvelous twist, this ‘oh no they didn’t’ feeling gave me a chill. Simple story telling, beautifully handled. My true hope for Dragon’s Dogma is not a sequel, but enough DLC to drown a grown man. I don’t think the game would sit well with a sequel, perhaps a spiritual successor, but no direct sequel. However, DLC would be sublime, there is so much hinted about the world outside of Gransys (the country the game takes place in) that they could explore neighbouring kingdoms, dive into detail of friction between rival nations, burrow into heavy detail and turmoil in different factions through-out Gransys and it’s surrounding countries.
There are some issues with this Persian rug of course. Some fraying edges, threading coming loose and little red wine stains too, that ruin its elegantly woven beauty. NPC dialogue is disjointed to the point were many characters sound exactly like what they really are, people paid to stand in empty rooms talking into audio equipment, equipment clips through capes and mantles (it’s not game ruining, it’s just always bothered me in games) and a few other niggly bits. However, I put it to Capcom, don’t weave a new rug, but restore this one, clean up the stain, repair the frays and fix the threading. create an RPG I could lose my life to and not just a year…do it.
My ‘Worst of the Year’ – Mass Effect 3
I am going to go through hell for this, the weather reports have come in and a storm of shit is quickly approaching. But here we are, my Worst of the Year. I just…I simply can’t invest in it. I figure maybe it’s because I haven’t played through 1 or 2, however I played a bit of 2 and lost interest because I never played 1 and I point blank refuse to invest in an XBox to play a game I might not like on the slim chance I will like it so that I can potentially like two direct sequels. I borrowed it from someone to give it a go, I couldn’t do it. I simply couldn’t bare it, the crazy thing is I love Space Adventure. This should be my Game of the Year, simply by premise alone. I’ve even observed large portions of the story, researched the series quite a bit, determined to invest myself in it and it was at that point that this game has excellent plot, characters, story-telling ability, setting. It’s got spaceships and lasers and aliens and apocalypse if this was a film I’d be doing dirty things while thinking about it and as a game I simply find myself trying to addict myself to it and that’s not good, my body simply rejects it, and now I think I know why. Mass Effect 3, hell, even Mass Effect as a whole series, to gaming, is a vegetable. Veg, is good for you, you should definitely have veg. However, veg is not for everyone. Some people despise vegetables, some eat nothing but salads. Something like a few different types of veg, and I’m there. Vegetables are quite nice, but this Mass Effect, olive, celery…thing, it gives me a dizzy stomache. everyone wants me eating it, and I try to addict myself to it but quite simply, I can’t…ever. It’s disgusting.
[Written by contributor Dan Connor]