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Top 10 Games of 2012

2012 will probably go down as a year of disappointment for me. Looking back at my most anticipated games of the year, only half of them made my best of 2012 list. Between delays on games like BioShock Infinite and DmC, to games just not living up my expectations such as Xenoblade Chronicles and Ninja Gaiden 3, there was much to be disappointed with this year. Despite all the disappointment of the year, there was still a lot of good to come out of 2012. I got my PS Vita system which is my new favorite handheld and also got a new PC to finally get into all the great games it has to offer. Here were the 10 (11) games that impressed me the most this year:

Honorable Mention: Persona 4 Golden

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I don't normally give out an Honorable Mention, but this is a special circumstance. Persona 4 on the PS2 is my second favorite game of all time behind only Final Fantasy X. Persona 4 Golden is bigger and better with more events, 2 new social links, new personae, updated graphics, and various gameplay tweaks such as the ability to choose which skills are inherited through fusion. Being an improved version of one of my all time favorite games, this would have easily won my GOTY and I felt it wasn't fair to all the other great games I've played. I still felt it worth mentioning how great this game is though with so much new content. For anyone with a Vita or just a lover of JRPGs, P4G is an absolute must play.

10. Binary Domain

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I picked up this little gem recently during Steam's Winter Sale. Right off the bat you're thrown into combat situations with robots, and this don't let up. This game features set piece after set piece and nails almost every one of them. Destructible limbs add depth to your strategy of defeating the relentless stream of robots and works out great. Boss battles are big and challenging to further add to the top notch action. There's also a very solid story led by some pretty good characters. A trst system adds depth to story, as a high or low level of trust can alter some aspects of the story. Binary Domain is easily one of the most underrated games of 2012 and is definitely worth checking out.

9. The Darkness II

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The Darkness is easily one of the most underrated games of this generation. It featured a rich story and solid gameplay and never got the due respect it deserved. Jackie Estacado returns in The Darkness II, and things are just as good this time around. The main draw of this game is obviously the story, and while I didn't think it was quite as good as the first game, it was still very good. Jackie's internal monologues during loading screens are as good as ever, and the overarching story will test both Jackie's morals and his psyche. The gameplay is where this game makes it's biggest improvement over the original game. Quad-wielding demon arms and guns is extremely satisfying and there are some cool Darkness abilities at your disposal too. A shame that the game was so short, but it was still a very worthy followup to the first game.

8. Tales of Graces

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Tales of Vesperia is one of my favorite JRPGs this gen, and Tales of Graces manages to improve on the gameplay in almost every way. Combat has been revamped and is better than ever. Titles now have meaning as a way to learn new skills. The crafting system has been improved, and the Eleth mixer adds more depth to both crafting and combat. The story plays HEAVILY on the theme of friendship, and while it wasn't terrible, I didn't think it lived up to ToV. A lot of the characters are bland, but there are some truly great ones like the quirky Pascal, and the often over-serious-to-the-point-of-being-hilarious Hubert. There are tons of sidequests to get into and an entire prologue chapter to keep things rolling after you've finished the main story arc. The story won't blow you away, but the gameplay is as good as ever to make it a worthwhile game for Tales fans and JRPG fans alike.

7. Assassin's Creed III

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This is one of my biggest disappointment of 2012. When this game was first announced and the trailer was shown off, I was almost pissing my pants with excitement over how good it looked. After getting my hands on it though, it hasn't lived up to that feeling I got. Gameplay is mostly fluid, and climbing through trees was a fun addition to the parkour elements, but there were still some issues with Connor leaping off trees or buildings. Combat was beefed up a bit from previous games, but still not a strong aspect. Naval missions seemed like a cool concept, but the execution left much to be desired. Story was decent, but didn't live up the previous games. It didn't help that Haytham was a far more interesting character than the bland star, Connor. The ending was also a total mess. I don't have enough time to type out all the things I found wrong with it so I'll leave it at that. Assassin's Creed III does a lot of things well, but for everything it did well, there was something holding it back. Despite all the disappointment, Assassin's Creed III is still a very good game and is still worthy of my number 7 spot.

6. Final Fantasy XIII-2

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Lightning returns in the followup to my 2010 GOTY. FFXIII was a heavily criticized game, and the fact that it got a sequel was a bit of a head scratcher for most. Admittedly I was a bit skeptical myself, but it turned out to still be a good game. The story centers around newcomer Noel, and Lightning's sister Serah traveling through time in search of Lightning and a way to stop the end of days. Noel and Serah are far less interesting characters than those of FFXIII, but the villain Caius is easily one of the best and most developed in all of Final Fantasy. Seeing how different locations changed over the course of hundreds of years was very cool and the time travel was actually very well done. The addition of monsters to party was a cool mechanic, but I would have preferred a developed character to fill that role. FFXIII-2 addressed a lot of the complaints with the first game like linearity, lack of towns, and lack of true sidequests so the gameplay experience is better on the whole. The story wasn't quite as good as the first game and this one is a fairly short game, but with tons of side content there's plenty of reason to go back to it and experience all this great game has to offer.

5. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

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Kingdom Hearts has always been one of my favorite series. The fusion of Disney, Final Fantasy, and original characters has worked out so well in the past, and KH 3D delivers as well. There's new worlds that are a first for the Kingdom Hearts series so it was good to have fresh new locations to explore. Combat has been fine tuned with the Command Deck and rush attacks and is easily the best in the series. The addition of Dreameater pets as party members was a cool idea, and combo attacks help add even more depth to the already great combat. Boss battles are fantastic, although so of them can be infuriatingly difficult. The story alternates between Riku and Sora which I found to be an excellent way of pacing, although I didn't like that the game forced you to "drop" to the other character in the middle of a level if the gauge expired. While the overarching story can get a bit convoluted at times, it was still very well done and made KH 3D into one of the finest entries in the series to date.

4. The Walking Dead

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Few games have ever tugged at my emotions the way The Walking Dead did. You play as Lee, an escaped convict in the middle of a zombie apocalypse looking to find a way to survive. Throughout the 5 episodes Lee interacts with other characters and your decisions can affect who lives or dies, or how characters react towards you. There are some absolutely gut-wrenching decisions to make that really challenge your own morals. There are so many fantastic characters you encounter throughout the game, but the real star is Clementine. This little girl has changed how I look at video game characters. Lee is forced to look after her after he encounters her all alone in her treehouse with nobody to take care of her. You quickly grow attached to her, and I found that every decision I was making was trying to do what's best for her. It brought out this fatherly instinct in me I didn't even know I had. The bond between Lee and Clementine is one of the most powerful feelings I've ever had playing a video game, and the ending was almost enough to make me cry. The gameplay will probably turn off most people, as it's a point and click adventure game made in a day and age where shooters and over the top action games reign supreme. If the gameplay doesn't completely turn you away, The Walking Dead is an absolute must experience.

3. Far Cry 3

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Far Cry 3 was a game that didn't catch my attention until E3 this year. I had next to no knowledge about it, but I liked what I saw so I gave the game a chance and don't regret it. Far Cry 3 takes place on 2 huge islands and they are a joy to explore. There's radio towers akin to the viewpoints from Assassin's Creed. There is plenty of various wildlife to hunt or plantlife to harvest for crafting various syringes, wallets, bags, holsters, etc.. There are a ton of sidequests and collectables to find to give you even more reason to spend your time wandering around the island. I often found myself abandoning the story just to explore. Sadly enough, the story is where Far Cry falls flat and why it wasn't ranked higher. It wasn't completely terrible, but it was entirely too up and down to really make it all that memorable either. The main character Jason Brody is a whiny little b*tch, for lack of a better term. His voice is cringeworthy and dialogue just as bad. His friends that you have to rescue are very bland characters and I had no attachment to any of them. The first villain you encounter is Vaas, who is one of the most well written and well acted villains in any game I have ever played. The other main antagonist Hoyt was fairly bland at first, but as you get farther he turns out to be a decent enough villain too. Things really died down at the start of the second island, but after a few missions they pick back up and game finishes on a good note. With heavy focus on action and exploring, and a few great characters far Cry is easily of the best games of 2012.

2. Mass Effect 3

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Let me get this out of the way first. Yes the ending to Mass Effect 3 was probably my single biggest disappointment of 2012. There was no true sense of closure, and it made so many of the tough decisions you make through the 3 games to be entirely inconsequential. The need to play MP to raise your military strength to get the best ending was a cheap way to get people to play it, but I will admit that it was surprisingly fun so it made the grind a little more enjoyable. The extended cut did help alleviate some of the disappointment, but it still left a bit of a biter taste. Despite the disappointment with the ending, Mass Effect 3 was still a very good game. Gameplay has been fine tuned taking the best aspect of the first 2 games and meshing them together for the most cohesive experience to date. ME3 also features some of the most gutwrenching decisions and heartfelt moments in the series. The events on Tuchanka and Rannoch are possibly my 2 favorite parts of the entire series. It's a shame that the ending couldn't deliver in a more satisfying way, otherwise Mass Effect 3 would have easily been my GOTY.

1. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

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I went back and forth on whether I wanted to include this here or not. I don't normally include remakes or ports, but this game was far too good to ignore. I never played the PC version in 2011, so my first experience with it wasn't until the Xbox 360 port in 2012. Being that this was my first experience with the game, and that it was an enhanced port as opposed to a 1:1 port I felt like it was worth including. Ever since seeing the first Witcher game, I've always wanted to play it. I had heard so many great things about it but never had the PC to run it. There was a console port in the works, but sadly that was canned. Then The Witcher 2 was released and again, I was left without a means to play it until the 360 version was finally announced and released. After hearing so many great things about it, I would definitely say this lives up to all the hype. Combat is fast paced and fun plenty of spells to cast, traps to set, and ranged and melee weapons to use. Looting is very addictive, which is good because crafting and alchemy play an important role. Character customization is very well fleshed out too. The story is very well written and led along by a very good cast of characters, including the main man Geralt of Rivia. There are 2 distinct story paths to follow, and everything comes to a head near the end of the game. I chose to take Iorveth's path and have no regrets. There were some great quests and Iorveth is a total badass. With 2 sides of the story, minigames, sidequests and other various choices to make throughout, it leaves a lot of replayablilty and gives plenty of reason to re-experience this incredible game, and my 2012 GOTY.

PS Vita Impressions

Let me start out by saying that, yes, I know it's been a few months since I last blogged and, yes, I haven't really been keeping up with other's blogs the way I used to either. I used to always check up on everyone else's blogs when I did my own, but since I stopped doing my monthly blogs I always forget to check so if I've missed out on some your blogs, I apologize. I'll try and get back to checking but we'll see.

With that out of the way, the reason I'm writing this blog is that I recently bought a PS Vita and figured I'd give my impressions and comparisons to the Nintendo 3DS to hopefully help out any prospective buyers. Here was my blog about my initial impressions on the 3DS. To be honest, after playing around with the Vita for a few days it has actually changed my opinion on the 3DS a bit. I still love the 3DS, but I'm finding the Vita to be more to my liking. Note: this about the system itself, and NOT the games. Each person has their own personal taste in games and I can't say which system has better games for each person so I'm not even gonna comment on that aspect.

First thing about the Vita is the system design. I am absolutely in love with it. I bought the white AC III: Liberation bundle and system looks freaking sexy in white. The size of the system is much bigger than the 3DS and fits in my hands more comfortably, which is saying a lot since I have small hands. The back grips are a nice resting place for my middle finger and feel comfortable, but I probably wouldn't even notice if they were gone. They've moved the volume and power buttons to the top of the system and I really like the placement. The face buttons are clicky like the 3DS which as I've stated, I love as it leads to less accidental button presses. The buttons are probably half the size of the PSP face buttons, but I actually like the smaller size better. The Start and Select buttons are a little small for my taste but not that bad. The D-pad is on a rocker now (kinda like the 3DS) as opposed to individual buttons like on the PSP, and again, is noticeably smaller but that's not a bad thing either. The biggest draw on the design of the Vita, and what separates it from the rest of the handhelds, is the dual sticks. Gone is the incredibly uncomfortable 'nub' of the PSP, and in it's place are 2 full-fledged analog sticks. The stick placement is perfect and the sticks are comfortable to use and incredibly responsive. The overall design of the system is nearly flawless, with my only gripe being that the game card slot can be a little touch to open at times.

Then we get to the technology. The Vita features a beautiful 5" OLED display which is bright and vibrant. I've been playing AC III: Liberation and tried out a few demos like Uncharted: GA and Gravity Rush and the graphics are amazing for a handheld. Uncharted looks almost as good as Drake's Fortune did on PS3, which says a lot about how good this thing looks. A huge step up from the PSP and considerably better than the 3DS as well. Next is the UI, and Sony nailed this as well. I had been skeptical of it in the past after seeing screens, but after actually using it myself I find I really enjoy it. Much of the UI is done via touch controls, which I didn't care for at first (and even turned on the option to use buttons), but now I'm in love with. Pressing the PS button takes you back to the home screen where you can switch between apps or close down apps. This functions similar to the 3DS, except that you don't have to close other apps to launch a new one. You can have multiple apps open and by simply pressing the PS button, it pauses the current app and allows you to seamlessly switch just by swiping and pressing continue with the app resuming just the way you left it. Very intuitive and something I would like to see become the standard in the future. The system also features dual cameras, a built-in mic, and a gryscope like the 3DS. These are features I haven't used in the 3DS and don't see myself using them with the Vita either. I tried using the gyroscope for aiming in the Uncharted demo and quickly switched it to aiming with the stick, and I have no use for the cameras or mic either. The last feature of the Vita is the rear touch panel. The only experience I have with it is using it to pickpocket in AC Liberation, and it feels unresponsive at times. Seems like an unnecessary feature to me, but something that does have potential if used right. Guess I'll have to see how other games use it. The Vita also allows you to sign into your same PSN account from PS3 to carry over your friends, trophies, and any downloads you have. This is something Nintendo really needs to get working on.

Closing impressions, this is the handheld I have been waiting for. Sony touted the PS Vita as a console experience in your hands and they delivered. As much as I love my 3DS, the PS Vita outshines it in every area in my opinion. With a nearly flawless design, intuitive UI, and beautfil graphics the Vita is definitely a system I will be using for a long time to come. If you're on the fence about getting one or trying to choose between the 3DS and the Vita (just based on hardware alone), I say go for the Vita because in the end you'll find it to be worth it.

Footnote: An additional thing to note for prospective buyers, the Vita does require a memory card for game saves and downloading games. These things are ridiculously overpriced, but luckily my bundle came with a 4GB card. My suggestion would be if you are interested in the system to try and find a bundle that includes one to at least get you started. The AC III: Liberation bundle and CoD Black Ops: Declassified bundle both include their respective games and a 4GB memory card for the same price as the system by itself so both are great deals.

Goodbye Nintendo Wii :(

Well this is it for my Nintendo Wii. After over 4 years of ownership, I finally traded it in today. I've had a few great moments with it, but not near enough to warrant keeping it any longer than I have. Xenoblade Chronicles was the last hope for the system and it just did not live up to my expectations so time to cut my losses and get rid of it. For the vast majority of time I've had it it's just been collecting dust. In that 4 years, I've only purchased a grand total of 11 games (not including Wii Sports) which is just abysmal for a home console. Of those 11 games, I've only managed to finish 2. That's right. TWO. SMG and Okami. The rest were left unfinished not because they were bad games, but the system itself made it hard for me to enjoy some of these games. Whether it be control issues, poor graphics, or just that feeling of "I'd much rather be playing my XBOX or PS3", I've just not been able to get the same enjoyment out of it that I have from other systems. Here's all the games I had for it:

  • Super Mario Galaxy
  • Okami
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2
  • Super Paper Mario
  • Resident Evil 4
  • No More Heroes
  • Muramasa: The Demon Blade
  • New Super Mario Bros.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
  • Red Steel

Not a bad lineup of games at all. Some great ones in there in fact, but the limitations of the hardware and the gimmicky controls really brought the system down. It really is a shame too. I've traded in my fair share of systems before, but this is the first time I've ever traded in a system just for the simple fact that I didn't like it. Every other trade in was only so that I could get (or already owned) something better. Past traded ins include:

  • Nintendo 64- traded in for PS2
  • PS2- traded in because I own a BC PS3
  • Xbox 360 Pro- traded in for my Gears 3 Xbox 360 Slim
  • DS Lite- traded in for 3DS
  • PSP 3000- traded in for credit towards a Vita

As much as the system turned out to be a bust for me though, I'll still miss it. Its going to be weird not seeing that little white box sitting on the shelf anymore. This also means that I will no longer own every current generation system (I'll be purchasing my Vita when P4G comes out). I have extreme reservations about the Wii U as well so when the next generation is in full effect, I'll likely be without a Nintendo console during that time as well. I've grown up playing every Nintendo system since the NES so it saddens me that Nintendo has strayed so far. Here's to hoping in the future Nintendo can get back to their roots and make a system for their hardcore fans who have been there with them from the start.

Top 10 Most Anticipated of 2012

Following my Top 10 Games of 2011, is my Top 10 Most Anticipated games of 2012. It was interesteing to see how much my list of most anticipated games changed over the course of the year. There were a few surprise games that came out of nowhere to make it on my GOTY list, and few other games that were anticipated but didn't live up to my expectations and recieved lower than anticipated spots on my list, or didn't makie it all. I'm back with a new list for this year and I'm curious to see how well these games will fair this year. This list is only games that are confirmed for a 2012 release in North America, so here goes.

10. Uncharted: Golden Abyss

Even though Uncharted 3 was a bit of a disappointment, it was still a great game so I can't help but be excited for the next entry in the Uncharted series. If there's one game that will make me buy a Vita at launch, this is it.

9. The Darkness II

The Darkness was one of the surprise games of this gen for me. A friend got it for me as a bithday present and after playing it I was glad he did. The story was heartfelt and action packed. The game had a great atmosphere, and while the WWI sections weren't entirely to my liking, I still really enjoyed the game so I'm looking forward to seeing where the story goes from there.

8. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

The Kingdom Hearts series is one of my all time favorites. The fusion of the 2 universes seemed weird at first, but things just work. I've been waiting for a proper sequel to Kingdom Hearts II since the moment I finished it, and while I'm not sure if Kingdom Hearts 3D is exactly what I'm waiting for (which is probably why this isn't higher), I'm still excited to see the next chapter in the series.

7. Tales of Graces f

Tales of Vesperia was my first experience with the series, and it certainly left a good impression on me so I'm excited to try another entry in the series. Tales of Veperia is easily one of the best JRPGs this gen so I expect great things from Tales of Graces.

6. DmC

Devil May Cry is my favorite action series so naturally the next installment is going to be highly anticipated for me. This game would easily be top 5 (basically just switched with my current number 5 :P ) but I'm still unsure of the changes they're making so unfortunately it dropped a bit. I'm one of the many that feel that the new look Dante isn't good, and I'm still unsure of how well Ninja Theory is going to do with the game. That being said, I'm hoping they can deliver a game on par with the originals and hopefully live up to expectations set by the series in the past.

5. Ninja Gaiden III

Ninja Gaiden in my second favorite action series so Ninja Gaiden III is obviously also going to be highly anticipated as well. The action looks be as bloody and over the top as ever so I'm really looking forward to the next chapter in Ryu's saga.

4. Xenoblade Chronicles

Since this game's release in Japan and Europe, it has been getting tons of praise. Some have even called it the best JRPG this gen. The Xenosaga trilogy is one of my all time favorites so while Xenoblade isn't connected to that universe at all, Monolith Soft has already proven to me that they can deliver an incredible story so I'm thoroughly excited to get my hands on this game. This game is the lone reason I have yet to sell my Wii.

3. Final Fantasy XIII-2

I seem to be one of the few who absolutely loved Final Fantasy XIII. Enough so that it took my GOTY for 2010. I'm really excited for the sequel since I loved the characters and universe. Everything I've seen for it looks to be as good or better than FFXIII so I can't wait to see where the story goes.

2. Mass Effect 3

The Mass Effect series is my favorite WRPG series. Mass Effect 3 made number 3 on my list for 2011 most anticipated before I had even played ME2, and due the delays the game has now been pushed back to a 2012 relase so here it is again making the list. Now that I've had time to play through both games, the characters and story have completely sucked me in and I love how the choices have real consequences across succeeding games. I'm a bit wary of the addition of MP to Mass Effect, but as long the core team focuses on delivering the best SP experience they possibly can I'm confident Mass Effect 3 will be the conclusion the series deserves.

1. BioShock Infinite

The original BioShock (along with its sequel BioShock 2) is one of my favorite games this gen. BioShock Infinite is back in the hands of the developers of the orignal game, and everything that has been shown so far looks absolutely incredible. Since its announcement in 2010, this game instatly became my most anticipated title and everything I've seen since then has only hightened my anticipation. The story and atmosphere of the first game is one of my favorites of all time, so I'm as excited as can be to see what they can do with a different setting. Its probably way too early to really tell, but if BioShock Infinite comes anywhere close to my lofty expectations (which I have faith it will), I have no doubt in my mind that this will be my GOTY for 2012.

Top 10 of 2011

I'd like to start by wishing everyone a Happy New Year. To kick off the new year, I'd like to list my top 10 games of 2011. There were some great games released there, and a lot of good suprises. I don't think 2011 was quite as good as 2010 for me, but there were still plenty of games that caught my interest and I had some fun playing them. Looking back at my list of most anticipated games for the year, its amazing how many games have changed from that list. And so without further ado, he's my list of my top 10 games of 2011.

10. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

What was my most anticipated game of the year, turned out to only be number 10 on my list. Is it a product of disappointment, or were there just that many good games in the year? Probably a little of both, but nonetheless, Uncharted 3 was still one of the best games I played this year. Uncharted 3 retains the same over-the-top cinematic sequences and witty dialogue from its predecessors. There were some great set pieces and the Arabian desert was a nice change of scenery from the jungles of Uncarted: Drake's Fortune and the snowy mountains of Uncharted 2. I do think the story was a bit lacking though. it started out decent enough, had a really good middle portion, but fizzled out at the end and left more to be desired. I personally don't feel like it lived up to the high expections set by Uncharted 2, but Uncharted 3 was still a great game in its own right and well deserving of the number 10 spot on my list.

9. Catherine

Its no surprise that the thing I enjoyed most about Catherine was the story and characters. Coming from the Persona team, I'd expect nothing less than a stellar story and memorable characters and they delivered. Unfortunately, the gameplay held Catherine back from being higher on my list. Not to say that the gameplay was bad. In fact I actually really enjoyed the way the game played. It was something new from what you're used to seeing and it was actually good fun. What turned me off was the unwavering difficulty. Even on Normal I found myself retrying puzzles over and over again. At first I really liked the challenge, but after a while it does get to a point where its extremely frustrating because you just want to move on with the story. In the end though, the fantastic story and characters made it all worth it and that is Catherine is number 9 on my list.

8. Gears of War 3


The Gears of War series comes to a close with Gears of War 3. Its been a long journey and one that I've thoroughly enjoyed. This is where my list really takes off as these top 8 games were extremely hard to order because they were all great games. Its a testament to how good they were that Gears 3 is only 8th on my list since I absolutely loved it. The games closes out the story nicely. Some heartfelt moments for each character really help you feel for them. Gameplay remains solid and is still great fun. The arsenal of weapons is largely the same from Gears 2 so I would have liked to see more variety, but the few new weapons they did add (such as the Digger) were fun to use. Multiplayer is the biggest improvement made from Gears 2 to Gears 3. Epic has taken some big steps from Gears 2 to make a solid and smooth online game that's a blast to play. Unfotunately, due to the number of games that came out at the time I didn't have much time to delve into Beast or Horde mode and have largely stopped playing the competetive MP too but I definitely plan on getting back to the game soon. A great way to close out the Gears trilogy.

7. inFamous 2


inFamous 2 is the sequel to one of my favorite PS3 games, inFamous. Cole McGrath returns sporting a new look and a new voice actor in a new setting, New Marais. New Marais is modeled after New Orleans, Louisiana and they capture the look and feel perfectly. The city is fun to explore and leads to some new methods of travel such as the trolley lines or vertical launch poles. The core gameplay is laregly the same. A superhero with lightning powers that can choose to either aid the people or make them fear him. The karma system gets a boost for this game though with karma specific story missions (as opposed to just a simple good or evil choice at the end of a mission) and a new character that ties into each karma side. The firewielding Nix accompanies you on evil missions and the icewielding Kuo accompanies you on good missions. I loved the attitude that Nix has and really made her an enjoyable character in those missions. The overall story wasn't quite as good as the first game but the new characters still made it enjoyable. The meat of the game is the powers though, and its also the biggest improvement. Standard powers such as the bolts or grenades return, but with a revamped upgrading system that makes each power feel different through each upgrade. The addition of Ionic powers is also welcome and they're a lot of fun to use. Based on karma there's also additional powers of fire and ice that are fun to use too. inFamous 2 improved on the original game in almost every way and that is why inFamous 2 takes the number 7 spot on my list.

6. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword


The Legend of Zelda is one of the longest running series in gaming, and for good reason. Nintendo always delivers an immersive and endearing experience through each game and Skyward Sword is no different. You really feel for the characters through all the bad things that unfold. Skyward Sword offers a different art direction from previous games, halfway between Twilight Princess and Wind Waker, and I think they nailed it. Gameplay is a big change from previous games (I played TP on Gamecube so i'm not sure how similar it is to the Wii version) and it was pretty hit or miss with me. I like the improved swordplay as it feels like you're really wielding a sword and shooting the slingshot is fun, but controlling the bird and rolling bombs felt awkward to me. Your sidekick in this game, Fi, is quite possibly even more annoying than Navi from OoT, which is saying a lot. The locations are vibrant and unique like you'd expect from a Zelda game, but there does seem to be a bit too much backtracking. I'd have preferred more new locations to explore. I still have yet to finish the game so I can't fully comment on the story, but I've enjoyed what I've played so far. Its a shame that the control issues held this back from being higher on my list but number 6 is no small feat.

5. Assassin's Creed: Revelations


The Assassin's Creed series is becoming a perennial favorite of mine, have taken the number 1 (ACII in 2009) and number 2 (Brotherhood in 2010) spot on my lists the last 2 years so its no surprise Revelations cracks my top 5. Revelations closes out the story of Ezio and offers a bit more insight into the story of Altaïr after the first game. Desmond is absent for most of the game which isn't a bad thing since the Desmond sequences are TERRIBLE. The core gameplay is largely unchanged from ACII or Brotherhood but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The game is still a lot of fun to play, and Constantinople is a nice change of scenery from the Italian cities of the previous 2 games. This also leads to some refreshing new characters that differ from what you've seen in previous games. To be honest, the game is one that can be skipped over since it doesn't really further the story of Desmond much aside from the ending, but the bottom line is that the game is still fun and that's why it gets the number 5 spot on my list.

4. Portal 2


This game was a huge suprise for me. I had never played the original Portal so I had no interest in the sequel, but after seeing all the praise Portal 2 was getting I decided to go ahead and play the first game to see if I would like the second. After playing it I immediately bought the second game and am glad I did. Portal 2 features the same hilarious dialogue and puzzle solving, but improves on it. Wheatley is hands down the best new character of 2011 and is a great compliment to GLaDOS. The gels are a great addition to the puzzle solving as well. You really have to think how to use them and its a lot of fun playing around with the different kinds. The game provides a richer narative and more details on the history of Aperture Science and I really enjoyed it. The game also has co-op which I have yet to get into, but there's plenty of reason to come back to it once you're finished the great SP campaign and that's why Portal 2 gets my number 4 spot.

3. Batman: Arkham City


Batman Arkham Asylum was one of the biggest surprises of 2009. Developers have been trying for years to create a great superhero game, Rocksteady seems to have found the formula. Arkham City had a tall order to live up to those high expectations set by the first game, and they managed to not only meet those, but surpass them. Arkham City improves on Arkham Asylum in almost every way imaginable. Improved combat, improved Riddler Challenges, improved setting, improved sidequests, more variety. Pretty much everything. The new villains and their interactions are great for the story, and Arkham City is a lot of fun to explore. There's also Catwoman sections that offer a great change of pace from the normal Batman play. Catwoman is fast and fluid and she's a lot of fun to control. With all the new Riddler challenges and tons of great sidequests, Batman Arkham City is a game you'll be playing long after you've finished the main story and that's why it gets my number 3 spot.

2. Deus Ex: Human Revolution


This game came out of nowhere. Easily the biggest surprise of the year for me. I had no interest in the game at all but after seeing people talk about it I decided to give it a shot and loved it. The futuristic cyberpunk setting was something new for me and I found myslef completely awed by the environments. The game has a great story and some great characters to move it along. The ending was a bit of a letdown, but overall I loved the story. There's also has some great sidequests and the characters that go along with that too. It allows you to play the way you want to and it was refreshing to have so much control over which abilities you have to play the way you wanted. I played the game stealthy and I think that's where Deus Ex shines the most. The limited health makes combat tough so its feels much more rewarding to play stealthhy. It feels so satisfying to work your way through undetected taking out guards as you go. The boss fights were probably the weakest area of the game, but the rest of the game is flat out fun to play and that's why it gets my number 2 spot.

1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim


One game stood above and beyond the rest, and that was Skyrim. Featuring an engrossing story and open world, you'll find yourself getting lost for hours on end with the dearth of content Skyrim offers. Aside from the lengthy main quest, there are plenty of quests for the different guilds in the game, and other sidequests for various NPCs. There's tons of dungeons to explore and go looting. There are over 300 locations to discover so you'll always have something new to do. Combat is also fun with tons of different way to play. Sword and shield, two-handed weapons, bow and arrow, magic, or any combination of those. The Shouts are powerful and really impact the game. There's nice enemy variety and fighting dragons is fun. I can't remember the last time a game sucked me in this much and with an unrivaled amount of content Skyrim is a game I'll be playing for quite some time trying to unlock all the secrets and lore it has to offer so that is why Skyrim gets the nod for my Game of the Year.

Now Playing: December 2011

Long time no blog. I've been extremely busy the last few months, and when I'm not busy I'm lazy so I haven't been keeping up to date with my blogs (or anyone else's for that matter so I apologize). It gets tiresome writing them every month so I honestly doubt that I would have continued to do them monthly anyway. I think I'm going to do bimonthly blogs starting with this one. So onto the games.

PS3

  • Nothing

360

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Last: Diplomatic Immunity

Next: A Cornered Rat

Wii

  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Last: Earth Temple

Next: Lanayru Desert

3DS

  • Nothing

PSP

  • Nothing

Games Purchased Last 4 Months

Batman Arkham City

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Catherine

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Gears of War 3

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Games Started Last 4 Months

Batman Arkham City

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Catherine

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Gears of War 3

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Games Finished Last 4 Months

Batman Arkham City

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Catherine

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Gears of War 3

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

I'll start with the games I had on my last blog. My replay of Batman AA I just never finished because I wanted to play new games instead, and same goes for OoT 3D. I had already played the game tons of times so I wanted to focus on all new games. I'm sure I'll get back to them eventually. For the games I'm currently playing, I've put a decent amout of hours into Skyrim already and I'm nowhere close to finishing. There is a huge amount of stuff to do, and while I listed the story missions for my progress, I've been working on lots of sidequests too so who knows when I'll finish. Zelda has tons of stuff too. I've finished the first 2 dungeons and I'm about to head to the area before the 3rd, but I've also been doing exploring and sidequests in that too so my progress is a little slowed. Both games are incredible though.

As for the rest of the games I played these last few months, I guess I'll just give brief impressions on each. Batman AC expanded on what made Batman AA great and delivered a game that topped its predecessor in pretty much every way. I 'rented' CoD4 from GameStop and played the campaign for the story to get ready for MW3 and really enjoyed it. I also restarted the MW2 campaign and this time I actually finished it and enjoyed it more this time around because I actually cared about the characters. The MW3 campaign was a nice end to the trilogy (although a bit disappointing), and the MP isn't broken like MW2 so overall I really enjoy the game. Catherine has a great story and characters like you'd expect from Atlus, but my God the puzzles in this game are unnecessarily hard. Deus Ex was a huge surprise to me and I absolutely loved it, from story to characters to atmosphere to gameplay, the game was awesome. Gears 3 topped Gears 1 and 2 in pretty much every way and was a very fitting end for the trilogy. Uncharted 3 was a good game, but I don't feel like it lived up to Uncharted 2 so I found the game a bit disappointing overall.

Overall nothing to complain about these last few months. I've played a lot of great games and have 2 more on my plate right now, plus I'm hoping to get Assassin's Creed Revelations and Saints Row the Third before the year is out so I've got plenty to keep me busy for quite some time.

New Gears of War 3 Xbox 360

This blog is a bit late as I've been busy this week so I haven't had the time, but I'm finally getting around to it now. On Monday at Midnight I picked up my new Gears of War 3 bundle. I've been anticipating this since it was first announced and I was glad to finally get my hands on it. I had traded in my old 360 along with some games and acessories and preordered it about a week before release so I could pick it up at midnight. The midnight launch was my second (the first being FFXIII) and was much more crowded. Instead of being first in line I was like 30th :P As soon as I got home I ripped it open, turned it on, transfered my data from my old HDD, got some food, and got crackin on Gears 3. So far I'm loving it.

The campaign has been very good so far. I'm about halfway through Act V so I should have it finished by tomorrow. Characters seem to have even more emotion than previous games in the series, and there's moments taken out to really highlight each character. The ever changing band of characters really is nice change of pace too, with a few new characters even thrown in. Gameplay is awesome as always, but what else would you expect from a Gears game? I have yet to get into Beast mode or Horde 2.0, but just based on what I played of the MP in the beta, the MP is something I'll be playing for quite some time. There's also an Arcade mode of the Campaign, which you can play onine co-op and compete for high scores. With tons of modes and fun MP, this is a game I'll be playing long after I finish the campaign.

Now after that mini review, here's the whole point of this blog, the system itself. I absolutely love it. The blood red color, Gears of War branding, and COG logo really fit the series well. The controller also features the same color and logo as the system and looks just as awesome. It also has the new transforming d-pad which is a huge improvement. Right out of the box doing the system setup I could tell the difference in the d-pad when entering text, and as I got the play the game it feels more natural for switching weapons than the old d-pad. I like it much better. There's also custom sounds when pressing (well touching since the Xbox 360 S now has touch sensitive buttons) the power button and eject button. They sound fit to represent Gears and are a nice addition. About my only complaint is that the sound for powering the system on/off is only played when actually using the power button and not when using the controller, which is what I use probably 95% of the time to power the system. A small gripe but one that I can live with since the rest of the system is great. Its also great to finally have a decent sized HDD, going from my original 20GB HDD to this beefy 320GB HDD. I can finally download more arcade games, DLC, and demos that I've passed on due to not having the space. Also allows for installing games for smoother operation. All in all very happy with this purchase. Now to end this blog with some pictures.

Now Playing: August 2011

PS3

  • Batman: Arkham Asylum

Last: Rescued the doctors

Next: Track down Gordon's killer

360

  • Nothing

Wii

  • Nothing

3DS

  • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Last: Shadow Temple

Next: Spirit Temple

PSP

  • Nothing

Games Purchased Last Month

inFamous 2

Games Started Last Month

inFamous 2

Games Finished Last Month

inFamous

inFamous 2

I finished up my replay of inFamous early on in the month so I was able to get to inFamous 2 pretty early. Played through the entire game which was pretty awesome. That took a majority of the early going of the month so I didn't manage to finish Zelda OoT, but I did finish 4 of the 5 temples so all that's left is the Spirit Temple and Ganon's Castle. I barely made any progress on Outland as the other 2 games took up pretty much all my time, but I'm hoping to get back to it. I also started a replay of Batman AA to get ready for Arkham City. Other than that things are kinda dead right now. I'm picking up Catherine in 2 weeks and after that I'm probably not getting another new game until Gears 3. I think I'm gonna use the time to replay older games (namely Uncharted 1 and 2 and Gears 1 and 2) and get ready for all the sequels coming out this fall.

Now Playing: July 2011

PS3

  • inFamous

Last: Vengeance

Next: Against the World

  • Outland

Last: Underworld: Crypt of the Ancients

Next: Underworld: The Buried Empire

360

  • Nothing

Wii

  • Nothing

3DS

  • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Last: Temple of Time

Next: Kakariko Village

PSP

  • Nothing

Games Purchased Last Month

Killzone Liberation

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Nintendo 3DS System

Outland

Super Stardust HD

Wipeout HD

Games Started Last Month

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Outland


Games Finished Last Month

Portal 2

Well Looks like June was the month that did get me back into gaming like I used to. Funny thing is I didn't even get inFamous 2 :lol: Although inFamous 2 did have some hand in it. 2 days before infamous 2 came out I randomly decided to replay the first inFamous so I've been working on that most of the month. I should have that finished by the end of the week and then I'll finally pick up inFamous 2. I also managed to finish up Portal 2 finally which was great. Can't wait to get into the co-op. As noted in my previous blog, I finally picked up my 3DS and got Ocarina of Time 3D to go with it. I finished gathering all 3 Spiritual Stpnes and just became and adult. Once I go to Kakariko Village then its onto the Forest Temple. Love this game.

I bought Outland off PSN which is an awesome game so far. Its a platformer from Ubisoft which focuses on shifting between Light and Dark elements. There are platforms which can only be accessed while in a certain form, and enemies that can only be defeated while in a certain form. Its a really cool concept and the game has a great art direction. Really reccomend it. $10 well spent.

As for the rest of the games i "purchased", those were my free games from the PSN Welcome Back preogram. I played a bit of Super Stardust and realized I suck at it :P I also played 1 race in Wipeout which was fun. I'll look to get into playing through the campaign at some point. I haven't started Killzone yet because I want to play the original first, and then play through the rest of the series in order.

It felt good to be back gaming on a regular basis so I hope this continues. There's a big lack of games between now and September (Gears 3) so hopefully I can find enough to keep me occupied :P

Nintendo 3DS Impressions

Well I finally picked up my 3DS today. I had planned on getting one at launch, but due to the extremely thin launch lineup I decided to hold off until I found a game worthwhile to buy the system. That game is Zelda: Ocarina of Time. OoT is the game that really got me into video games in the first place. I've played the game probably a dozen or more times and it never gets old. I haven't played it since I traded in my N64 for my PS2 over 10 years ago, so when I heard they were remaking it for the 3DS I knew that was going to be the game to get. I've only played far enough to visit Hyrle Castle and get Zelda's Lullaby, but I can already feel the nostalgia and I've thoroughly enjoyed what I've played so far. The game does hold up incredibly well (the updated graphics help this cause), as it well should being regarded by many as the greatest game of all time. Can't wait to continue playing and relive my childhood.

Now onto my impressions of the actual hardware. The design is nice. Its very slick and smooth and feels comfortable in your hands. Seems to be a little bit bigger than my DS Lite, but nothing too big. The buttons are very clicky which I like as well. Leads to less accidental button presses. The shoulder buttons are raised, which I'm not a big fan of but I guess I'll get used to it. The circle pad is extremely responsive and works great. Being able to use it for DS games is a huge plus (Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days) too. Really comfortable to use too. I also like that the power button is on the inside of the system too. I don't know how many times I accidentally flipped the power switch on my DS Lite and turned the system off my mistake. I'm not a big fan of the placement of the Start, Select, and Home buttons though. It feels awkward for me to press them. Probably my biggest gripe with the design is the extendable stylus. Great idea in principle, but its pretty annoying to have to extend the thing every time I want to use it. If there was a way to store it inside the system with it fully extended it'd be fine. Overall I really like the design of the system though.

Next is the technology, and so far the 3DS has been hit or miss for me. The graphical improvement is certainly nice, and the interface is easy to use. By using the Home button you can suspend whatever game or application you're using and get back to the Home screen to change applications or even takes notes on the game you're playing which I thought was cool. I haven't tried out the cameras or music, and probably never will. I'm not really big on pictures and if I really need music, I'll listen to my iPod. I did try out the AR cards and wasn't impressed. Its a cool concept I guess, but having to keep walking circles around the card to change the view is annoying, not fun. The internet browser is surprisingly good. It loaded the pages fast and looked clear when zoomed in.

The biggest draw of the 3DS is of course the glasses free 3D. While I think the effect is really cool, I'm not sure how practical it is. I found myself turning it on and off as I was playing Zelda and trying out the various applications. Its hard to find that sweet spot where everything really pops out and doesn't look blurry. Once you do find it, you can't move the system around or you lose it and have to look for it again. There's also a bit of eye strain involved too, probably due to your eyes having to adjust. Fast movements in-game also seem to throw off the effect. I don't seem to have the same problems with viewing 3D on a TV or movie with glasses so I'm not sure if this a product of system, or your eyes having to make up for the lack of glasses. I can definitely see myself using the 3D, but it seems to be better in small bursts, like using it for cutscenes versus actual gameplay. Maybe as my eyes get used to it I'll be able to view it more, but for now I honestly see myself gaming in 2D much more than 3D.

Its still too early to say if I'm happy with my purchase, but with time I'm sure I'll grow to like the system. The software lineup looks much better going foward than what's been released so far so hopefully I'll find some more games and get more used to the 3D to make the system a worthwhile purchase.

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