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! :)
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.
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.
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.
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.
And now, without further ado. My fellow gamers, I give you...
- 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.
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!