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SpookyJack Blog

Game of the Year 2012

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2012 was a very mediocre year. Too many remakes, remasters, sequels & prequels. There was some fun to be had though...

~ DISCLAIMER ~

Same as last year, out of principle, I deduct points for the following

(a) featured cut content sold as overpriced DLC
(b) featured on-disc Unlockable Content labeled as Downloadable Content
(c) extortion pass (season/online)

You can agree or disagree with me all you want, fact of the matter is: those things are seriously getting on my nerves. I HATE spending my money on an incomplete product only to find out later that some of its contents are being held back for ransom. You are free to do with your money (or your parents') as you please but I do not support this anti-gamer nonsense, plain & simple.

~ END OF DISCLAIMER ~

Onwards!

THE GOOD

Good games aren't perfect but they leave a long lasting impression and will most likely be played frequently in the years to come.


- Batman: Arkham City GOTY Edition (x360)
NOTE: I have yet to finish the game.

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This game is nothing short of spectacular and improves on its predecessor in almost every imaginable way. I'm really at a loss for words when it comes to describing the sheer awesomeness of Arkham City. It oozes atmosphere like no other Batman game before it...
As trivial it may seem to some; the mini-puzzles that were developed for the Riddler trophies were a big plus for me!

- Doom 3 BFG Edition (x360)

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I used to play the xbox original for hours on end. To me, this was the perfect blend of horror and first-person shooting. What we have here is a complete package with smooth RAGE-like controls, solid 60fps, two add-ons (one previously unreleased) and the XBLA version of both DOOM 1 & 2!

Yes, the core game is very dated but sometimes old-school hits the spot like nothing else.

- Mortal Kombat: Komplete Edition (x360)

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The last time I played a Mortal Kombat game was back when MK4 - renamed MKGold - was released on the Sega Dreamcast. Yeah, 10+ years ago... After that, I simply lost interest. And the silly subtitles of the next entries would only further help me steer clear of the series for a long, long time.
And here comes the Komplete Edition of a reboot of the original trilogy in its 2.5D glory and a nice'n'campy Story Mode. The amount of content in here is insane and the gameplay is dreamlike.

- Spec Ops: The Line (x360)

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Possibly one of the most mature stories ever told in any modern shooter. I can't even remember the last time I felt guilt after eliminating enemies in a shooter. Come to think of it, I don't think I ever have...

THE AVERAGE

Average games aren't bad. They just tried their best but something went wrong along the way and they've missed their target.


-
Birds of Steel (x360) (a), (b)

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At first, I was impressed with what Birds of Steel had to offer and the fact that a lot of love went into the development of this game only made it more appealing. The detail of the aircrafts is absolutely jaw-dropping...
Then came the short and unmemorable single player which, admittedly, is ballsy enough to let us attack Pearl Harbor as Japanese pilots. But clearly, the focus lies on multiplayer, which I found boring and monotonous.

Warning: several multiplayer maps and planes are unlockable with overpriced 128kb unlock keys. They can shove those where the sun doesn't shine. This is the first and last time I buy a Gaijin Entertainment game.

-
Killzone HD (ps3)
NOTE: The version I played was part of Killzone Trilogy box set, not the digital version.

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I will make no secret of it: I hated the original Killzone on PS2. I thought it was a lousy and pathetic shooter that was just about lacking in every department. However, my love for the series grew stronger because of the strategic approach Guerrilla Games took with Killzone: Liberation for the PSP and the spectacular action of Killzone 2 & 3 on PS3. So I was willing to give the remaster of the original a chance. I'm glad I did because it's a lot more playable and I enjoyed it so much I actually got a Platinum trophy for it.
Then why did I put it in the 'Average' category? Because the problems of the PS2 version are still present; stupid enemy A.I., atrocious voice-acting, no BGM during gameplay makes the combat feel boring...

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Project Zero 2: Wii Edition

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... or how to criple an otherwise fantastic survival horror experience with downright broken controls and an immersion-breaking on-screen map that can't be switched off. What a shame.

-
Silent Hill: Downpour (x360)

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Off all the post-2004 Silent Hill spin-offs this is easily the most ambitious one but ultimately still a very bad game.
Quite a few times during my first playthrough I realized that many scenarios in Downpour feel too videogamey. I mean that, at certain points, the game makes it quite obvious to the player that he's playing a video game and this goes against everything Silent Hill stands for. Or used to stand for...

One a more positive note: the definite highlights of Downpour are the open-world approach with some fairly interesting side-quests and Daniel Licht's score!

-
Slender (PC)
NOTE: This is a free indie game.

(Sorry, couldn't find a screen)

A dark forest, a flashlight and a faceless stalker. Slender is able to generate fear at the most basic level: the fear of being alone, vulnerable and watched.

THE BAD


Bad games just want your money and give you the finger right afterwards. They possess no redeeming qualities and their sole reason of existance is to painfully remind you how much of a fool you were to pay for them.

- Fallout: New Vegas - Ultimate Edition (x360)

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Let me get this straight: this is a fantastic game. I enjoyed the story so much that it truly pains me to have to put this game in this category but let me explain.
This is an Ultimate Edition with all DLC add-ons included on a separate disc but they couldn't be bothered to have included the 16mb patch I had to download off of xbox live upon inserting the main disc? And even with the patch installed not a single session went smoothly!
In total, I lost 12 hours of progress because of five corrupted saves, frequent freezes and a nasty glitch that made ALL NPC's turn hostile for no science damn reason. The 160 hours I spent in New Vegas' gigantic post-apocalyptic world getting 100% completion was an absolute nightmare. This is a gaming experience I would never want to sit through again. Ever.

Fallout: New Vegas is a fantastic game and it's technical mess. Shame on the publisher/developer.

THE GOTY

- Lucius (PC)

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Possibly the most original concept for a video game in years. Murder residents of a mansion as the son of Satan and avoid suspicion? Yes please!

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Closing comments & final thoughts
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There were two other games I really wanted to play this year but couldn't. One was originally a retail game: I Am Alive. But the geniuses at Ubisoft thought it was a sound plan for it to go digital-only - which is something I do not support, unless it's indie - so any chance of me playing this has pretty much gone out the window. Actually, there's still hope, a PC version exists but I have yet to find out what type of malicious DRM systems are included.

The second game I wanted to experience was Assassin's Creed III: Liberation. I've never played an Assassin's Creed game before (yes, I know, you can kill me later ;) ) but the main character & setting of Liberation appealed to me so much that I even started saving up for a Vita. But I quickly abandonned that plan because honestly, I think the Vita is not worth the money, certainly not for one game... (Ok, two games. Gravity Rush caught my eye as well...)

Anyway, as I've said in my opening comment; 2012 was a mediocre year. Of all the years I've been gaming, never have I felt so alienated by the industry. Every purchase comes with a catch and every catch is a fist to the face. I'm sick of it.

I've been contemplating a lot of things this year. I even considered calling it quits. But I've made a decision which will hopefully be the correct one.

I'm done with consoles and I'm switching over to PC. There are simply too many horror games I'm missing out on and I need to catch up as soon as humanly possible. I have spent almost the entire year reading up on the advantages of PC gaming and I consider myself enlightened. I have since built my rig which, as of now, is 85% completed. I'm expecting the fans tomorrow and Windows 7 Home should arrive soon as well. I will probably post a picture soon when it is done :)

Anyways! There's a lot to look forward to next year. Lots of horror, lots of action and a few new IP's!

(january) - Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs (PC)
(15 february) -
Dark
(26 february) -
Bioshock: Infinite
(march) -
Deadly Premonition - Director's Cut (ps3)
(march) -
Metro: Last Light
(may) -
Remember Me
(Q3) -
Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee - New 'N' Tasty
(tba) -
The Last Guardian (ps3)
(tba) -
Project Zwei
(tba) -
République (PC)
(tba) -
Sacrilegium (PC)
(tba) -
Watch Dogs


That's all folks! :) Drop a comment below if you like, enjoy the holidays and I wish you all the best for 2013!


PS: Incidentally, last year I wished for a few things. Among them was the death of tacked-on multiplayer modes. Well, much to my delight Bioshock: Infinite & Metro: Last Light are shipping without a multiplayer component. This is fantastic news!

Come what may - The Games of 2012

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2011 was a pretty good year in terms of quality titles, wouldn't you agree? I had quite a lot of fun with 'Alice: Madness Returns' (x360), 'Dead Space 2' (x360), 'Gray Matter' (x360), 'Killzone 3' (ps3), 'L.A. Noire - The Complete Edition' (ps3), three arcade games: 'Outland', 'Stacking' and 'Skydrift'. And finally, of course, my personal Game of the Year: Portal 2 (x360).

Now, let's see what 2012 has to offer me?

- AMY (xbla, psn)



I realize that true survival horror is as good as dead but I really want, no... I need a decent survival horror fix! Shooting mutated space-monsters and zombies is fun, for a while, but it's filler. Filler due to a lack of creativity within the genre.
Sadly, the first review for AMY isn't exacltly what I wanted to read... A 4.7/10 with the following verdict: 'An imaginative concept and some strong design are undone by a game that's gruelling in all the wrong ways'. Ouch...

But hey, as usual, I'll make up my own mind after giving the trial version a go.

- Bioshock: Infinite (x360)



Bioshock. The game that convinced me to rush my arse to a gamestore back in 2007 and buy the new xbox 360 elite on launch together with the Collector's Edition of the game. I still play it very often.
Here comes the true sequel - not the spin-off - and it looks fantastic! With a story that reminds me of Beauty and the Beast and the unique setting in which it takes place... Phenomenal.

- Kane & Lynch 3



No official announcement has been made but I'm sure it's coming. I just hope it's the final chapter of the series. I love these characters but the developers can't seem to grasp their true potential... The first game had a great story but wasn't all that fun to play, the sequel was a lot more playable and the visuals were insane! But the story was utter garbage... If they can't get it right with a third game then I think it's time for these dead men to retire.

- The Last Guardian (ps3)



This game has been on my wishlist for years now. But with the recent news that director Fumito Ueda has left Sony, I fear the worst...

- Metro: Last Light (x360)



Metro: 2033 was a flawed but extremely atmospheric survival horror game with FPS elements. I was very disappointed by how it turned out. I eventually read the book and decided to give the game another chance after buying the Ranger Pack - which I'm honestly not too proud of since it's essentially a live update held back for ransom - and it grew on me. The pack fixes and improves a bunch of issues but, at it's core, there's still the messy AI and shoddy hit-detection. Still, it's a game that has to be played in a certain way. Very methodical.
As far as the sequel is concerned: they're not following the story of the second book but instead a side-story that expands on Artyom's character (the protagonist). On top of that, a multiplayer was confirmed and, judging from a gameplay demo, the single player campaign seems to be more action-oriented. Sigh... This has spin-off and sellout written all over it but I'm still giving it the benefit of doubt. Something inside me is aching to return to the underground tunnels of post-apocalyptic Russia...

----

What about you, my fellow gamers? What are you looking forward to?

Game of the Year 2011

by on

A fine year it was for gaming, despite the lack of decent survival horror titles.

NOTE: Out of principle, I deduct points for the following

(a) featured cut content sold as overpriced DLC

(b) featured on-disc ULC labeled as DLC

(c) extortion pass (season/online)

You can agree or disagree with me all you want, fact of the matter is: those things are seriously getting on my nerves. I HATE spending my money on an incomplete product only to find out later that some of its contents are being held back for ransom. You are free to do with your money (or your parents') as you please but I do not support this anti-gamer nonsense, plain & simple.

Now, let's get on with it! :)

THE GOOD

Good games aren't perfect but they leave a long lasting impression and will most likely be played frequently in the years to come.

- Alice: Madness Returns (x360), (b) & (c)



I honestly hesitated to place this one under the 'average' category but the pure single player old-school combat & platforming, gorgeous art-design and soundtrack cannot be overlooked. Unfortunately neither can some graphical and camera issues which got in the way of my enjoyment. In all honestly, I'm a bit disappointed. This could've used a bit more polish. Actually, a lot more polish. Still, it's a very good game if one can look past its many (mostly graphical) flaws. Nostalgia may be clouding my judgment but I truly miss games like this.

Sadly, Madness Returns is guilty of (b) & (c) although, honestly, the pass here doesn't bother me that much... One gets a complete game that was a pc exclusive for ten years up until now. The controls are balls but still... A full free game. The only reason I could be against this is that not everyone has their console hooked up to the internet so those that haven't, couldn't enjoy their bonus game.
On the other hand, the extra costumes that are locked away on the disc are bollocks. How about earning those through playing the game?


- Biohazard Revival Selection: Code Veronica (ps3)


"A relic from a bygone era", says the Eurogamer review. Maybe, but one that still stands head and shoulders above all other pathetic attempts at survival horror this gen.
I must stress however that only die hard RE/survival horror fans will enjoy this remaster because they surely will appreciate the new shadow & lighting effects and the 16: 9 widescreen ratio.

- ICO & Shadow of the Colossus HD (ps3)

Technically not new games either, it was a pleasure to revisit both masterpieces in all their HD glory. When a game with beautiful imagery and clever use of music (and silence) manage to shut a player up and grab his/her full attention, one knows something special is going on. Calling ICO & Shadow of the Colossus works of art is not a pretentious overstatement but a fact that cannot be debunked.
However, what keeps it from being my GOTY is the constant texture pop-in and landscape pop-up in Shadow of the Colossus. For a last-gen HD remaster, this is quite simply unforgivable.

NOTE: The collection is my second runner-up for Game of the Year.

- L.A. Noire – The Complete Edition (ps3)



comments coming soon

- Outland (xbla)



Craftmanship is the best way to describe Outland. This whole game is practically a maze with numerous challenges and hazards one must overcome. The boss fights are simply epic!
It is possible to play with a friend though only on Live (maybe through system link as well, I'm not sure) for some fun challenge rooms.
The soundtrack by Ari Pulkkinen greatly contributes to the game's already impressive atmosphere with a delicate but masterful balance between orchestral, etnical & oriental influences.

All of this for the fair price of 800MSP, there is practically no reason not to buy this wonderful game. Unless it's absolutely not your cup of tea...

NOTE: Outland is my third runner-up for Game of the Year.

- Stacking (xbla), (a)

Being a huge fan of Psychonauts and Tim Schafer I was looking forward to this title since it was first announced.

Unique. I can't think of any other word to best describe Stacking and that is a rare characterization to come by in today's overly generic and homoerotic shooter-infested game industry. The fact that this game encourages you to look for multiple solutions for a puzzle is its greatest asset.

Regarding (a): the full game costs 1200MSP, that's 300 per chapter, the DLC is priced at 400. I'll wait for a Deal of the Week.

- SkyDrift (xbla), (a) & (b)



I was, and still am, a huge Wipeout fan and after I played Crimson Skies on the original xbox I went on my computer and started a text document where I wrote down all sorts of ideas to, hopefully, one day create an arcade racing game with propeller planes.

Out of nowhere comes SkyDrift to smash my plans but hell, it was taking too long and I don't have the money to develop such a game anyways.


Regarding (a) & (b): they demand an extra 560MSP total for two unlock keys that will give you access to three planes and multiplayer-only content that are locked away inside your initial download. For shame.

THE AVERAGE

Average games aren't bad. They just tried their best but something went wrong along the way and they've missed their target.

- Dead Space 2 (x360), (a), (b) & (c)



A decent gory shooter with production values going through the roof but not scary in the least. You will look at this game and find yourself saying: the graphics are amazing! And they truly are. Animations, shadow, lighting and fire effects are very well done.
The final chapters were just ridiculously hard. Hard Core mode, though a good addition, is infuriating at times. Limiting the amount of saves definitely had some old-school value (RE, SH) but was unfair since the game itself is quite long.

Regarding (a), (b) & (c): the Severed (literally) DLC brings nothing of importance to the Dead Space universe. Tacked-on multiplayer required online-pass. In-game rooms are locked for those that didn't get the worthless Ignition arcade title.

- Gray Matter (x360)



Pretty decent PC port of this fantastic point & click game. Brilliant story, excellent puzzles, enchanting soundtrack and pretty decent voice-acting. The very last part of the game was a bit nonsensical though... If one has to option to choose between the 360 and pc version, I'd definitely recommend the pc version instead.

- Killzone 3 (ps3)



Killzone 3 is a fun ride while it lasts. Eventhough I don't give a crap about the story and the overal theme, I was highly entertained the first time playing through the campaign. It might be a fun experience when a second player joins the fight for some co-op action. But when a single player campaign feels as if it was an afterthought, I find it really hard to care about what's going on.
Then I got my hands on the multiplayer and, science damn it, is it fun! If I need a quick shooter fix, I know what game to play.

- L.A. Noire (x360), (b) & (c)

comments coming soon.

THE BAD


Bad games just want your money and give you the finger right afterwards. They possess no redeeming qualities and their sole reason of existance is to painfully remind you how much of a fool you were to pay for them.

- Biohazard Revival Selection: Biohazard 4 (ps3)



A simple upscale for the most popular (but ultimately the second-worst) Resident Evil game, and a lazy one at that.

THE WORST

These abominations go one step further than bad games. They will tarnish your collection with their very presence, eventually exhibiting signs of decay if they're not readily and properly disposed of.

- F.E.A.R. 3 (x360), (c)

Terrible. Atrocious. Abysmal. Screw this game, to the bottomless pits of oblivion. Why? Let me kindly redirect you to my review.

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And now, without further ado. My fellow gamers, I give you...

THE GOTY

- Portal 2 (x360)


Lovely characters, perfect voice-acting, smart level-design, flawless gameplay and brilliant single & co-op campaigns. What more could you ask for? Free DLC? You got it!

Though online co-op was perfectly executed, I had more fun playing the co-op missions in splitscreen with a friend. It's literally been years and years since I've had this much fun playing a two-player game with a friend sitting on the couch next to mine. I paid full price, got a full game, Valve was kind enough to add some extra value and I fully enjoyed it.

The way I see it, Portal 2 is the very definition of a perfect game. Thank you, Valve, for a gaming experience that will never be forgotten.


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Closing comments
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I (intentionally) missed out on the following: Batman: Arkham City, Gears of War 3, RAGE, Uncharted 3. I'll get them used or in GOTY edition.

As for next year, I'm looking forward to: AMY, Bioshock: Infinite, Kane & Lynch 3, The Last Guardian, Metro: Last Light.

And I sincerely hope to see:

- a full and proper Silent Hill remake by Team Silent

- the death of DLC, on-disc ULC & extortion passes

- the death of tacked-on multiplayer modes


That's all folks! :) Enjoy the holidays and I wish you all the best for 2012!

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