alpha99 / Member

Forum Posts Following Followers
380 126 156

alpha99 Blog

Now Loading In-Depth #49: Darksiders #2

Darksiders is a tough game to call, It obviously has elements of Zelda, God of War and even Metroid but I'm not sure it does any of the elements particularly well. The God of War like combat is button mashy and has an awkward dash-slide for a dodge move which paralyzes you at the end of it and blocking is only allowed when standing still which causes the combat to lack fluidity. The Zelda like dungeons are hampered by long tedious block pushing and switch puzzles and a large amount of dreaded backtracking around the maps. The Metroid elements are probably the best as if you have a good memory you can find lots of goodies hidden behind obstacles you couldn't deal with previously. That being said Darksiders does have good variety to its gameplay with those three elements and even some 3rd person shooting sections tossed in as well.

The story and setting are pretty neat with the areas taking place in the ruins of human civilization which means a lot of modern buildings all destroyed from the apocalypse. As I was informed by hart704 there was a second set of those BS challenge rooms... I can't believe these things are so important to the main progress of the game... as in: you can't progress in the game unless you can clear these simple but tricky combat challenges. I really don't know what they where thinking with them and I'd suck to be stopped dead in your tracks because you couldn't clear an asinine challenge room.

I think that is about it for today's impressions and I will admit the game grew on me a little bit in the last session. I just cleared the second major boss and just got to the third major area and will probably tackle that later today (Feb 2) after I get some sleep. I will talk to you in a couple of days most likely as we approach a couple of milestones: the 50th edition of NLID (next) and the 700th post in Now Loading history (only 3 to go). Talk to you later. Loading Complete!

Month-In-Review: January 2012

Welcome to Now Loading's Month-In-Review for January 2012. It's time to take a look back at the month on the blog and it was a pretty good month with the 2011 Wrap Ups and even a few NLID Editions to round things out. Here we go.

JANUARY 1, 2012
I started off the 2011 Wrap Ups as usual with the My Games of... article which covered games that I picked up from the first half of the year.

JANUARY 3, 2012
I finished off the list of My Games of 2011.

JANUARY 5, 2012
I took a look back at Mass Effect 2 and all its DLC in the second annual Finished Article Revisit.

JANUARY 7, 2012
I gave a preview of Now Loading In-Depth Season 2. Listing some of the possible games for the upcoming 2012 run of NLID.

JANUARY 10, 2012
I cover the whole year of 2011 on the blog with the 2011 Blog Retrospective.

JANUARY 12, 2012
I shared the list of nominees for the various categories in my 2011 Best and Worst Awards.

JANUARY 14, 2012
I announced the winners of my 2011 Best and Worst Awards. Saints Row: The Third was most disappointing and Portal 2 was awarded Game of the Year.

JANUARY 16, 2012
(NLID #46) Now Loading In-Depth (NLID) returned for season 2 and started off with Alan Wake, a neat game with cool atmosphere.

JANUARY 20, 2012
(NLID #47) I had wrote up more detailed final thoughts on Alan Wake but an HTML error caused GameSpot to basically erase all the post on the preview screen.

JANUARY 26, 2012
(NLID #48) It was time to start the next game on NLID, Darksiders. I gave my impressions of a game that is a bit too button mashy for my liking and I really haven't spent that much time with it since I wrote the impressions.

That's January 2012 in a nut-shell. It was a pretty good month, mostly because of the 2011 Wrap Ups... I would have liked to get in a few more NLID entries but I got a cold for a few days, then got fairly busy and to top it off I really am not feeling Darksiders. I'll do better in February and hopefully reach 700 posts pretty quickly, I think I only have about 4 or so to go before I get there. That about covers it; I am going to go have a long session with Darksiders and actually make some progress with it. Talk to you soon. Here's to a great February! Loading Complete!

Now Loading In-Depth #48: Darksiders #1

Sorry it has been awhile, I've been pretty busy this week and did not get in what I felt was a enough playtime with Darksiders to warrant an update. I have since played about an hour and a half and I think that's good enough for some initial impressions. Let's start with this, I have a confession to make... I don't really like button mashy action games, games like God of War, Bayonetta, No More Heroes and others like it love to lock you in rooms and make you fight hoards of fodder enemies to wrack up some kind of arbitrary combo count until they let you out. Sometimes they might even through in one (or *gasp* two) of their mighty intermediate enemies and you might have to even dodge occasionally. The only other enemy type they have is the boss monsters which usually end in some kind of QTE section. Now don't get me wrong I am being a bit facetious here and I am not denying that they are good games... all I am saying is I have never been a fan of button mashy games, even back in the old days with beat 'em ups.

With that said, I am having the same issue with Darksiders right now... it seriously locked me in a rectangular room to fight enemies that couldn't hit me if they tried for over a minute, something like four or five waves of these things... what purpose did that serve? So, what, I could get some more souls or orbs or money or some useless thing so I can "buy" a stupid combo I will never use? Also don't get me started on those forced challenge rooms in the segment just before that, I almost considered quitting outright when I saw that ****. Good thing they where easy or that would have been it. Let's just say it hasn't made a very good impression on me so far. I heard it has Zelda like dungeon structure maybe that can save it, but we will have to see because so far I am not very impressed.

I think covers my thoughts so far. I will try to update again as soon as possible, probably on Saturday if I can so look forward to NLID #49 then. I will talk to you later. Loading Complete!

Now Loading In-Depth #47: Alan Wake #2 (Final) + Next Game

This was going to be way longer and more detailed, but, GameSpot's outdated and glitchy blog editor decided to eat the last attempt at writing this post... it is lost. I am still not feeling that well from getting sick on Wednesday so I am just going to have to summarize my final thoughts on Alan Wake.

- Fun Combat and using the flashlight to burn away the protective shields of enemies is also cool, but on Normal is too easy and lowers the tension of an atmospheric game.

- Large open forest setting is a cool location and with the added benefit of fewer loading times.

- The story is neat, a bit predicable in spots, but it does well to get you in to the world.

- Twitchy controls when trying to make fine adjustments leads to falling and being unable to hit the...

- picky proximity sensitive triggers which are activated by the B button. I had a hard time not pressing the usual A button.

- Too easy combat makes the triggered fights and roundabout level design a bit on the tedious side.

- Vehicles control like crap and sound like crap... therefore: are Crap.

I think that about summarizes what I had written before and with that said I enjoyed Alan Wake quite a bit despite not being really sure I was. I know that makes no sense, but I must have enjoyed it as I completed it in just a few days and did not get frustrated with it. Anyway, it sucks I had to breakdown the post like that but every one who has ever used Glitchspot knows it is bound to happen to you at some point unfortunately I wasn't thinking straight with all this snot in my head and forgot to copy and paste my post into a notepad file before posting or hitting preview like I always do.

As for the next game it is going to be Darksiders. Another one of those 2010 games that I missed out on because I just didn't get around to them during that bum year that I had. I look forward to playing it and sharing my thoughts on it with you which will probably happen in NLID #48 on Sunday. That's it from me today. I will talk to you soon. Loading Complete! (again)

Now Loading In-Depth #46: Season 2 Intro + Alan Wake #1

Welcome back to Now Loading In-Depth! I am ready to begin Season 2 of the series and because it has been nearly 3 months since the last edition I'm going to go over how this series works for old and new alike. Now Loading In-Depth (NLID) is a gameplay series where I play games of my choosing and do frequent impressions and/or progress updates for you about them. Any game released 2011 or back is available for me to play and as you may have read in the Season 2 preview there are many categories of games to tackle. And that's that, I just play games and update you on them every two or three days until they are complete and then move on to another game that I will announce in the FINAL update for the previous game. It's now to get on with the real deal of NLID gameplay impressions for the latest NLID game 2010's Alan Wake.

This first update for Alan Wake might be a bit of a short one, not because I didn't play very much, I am actually halfway through the game just starting Episode 4.... nope, it's just that I don't know how I feel about the game. It's not scary, it's not really psychological... I am almost always armed with a weapon and once you remove the shield of darkness surrounding the enemies they die in a few shots from the weakest weapon. It is kind of fun blasting "The Taken" *coughzombiescough* and watching the burn up to ashes... I don't know, I rarely get this kind of experience from a game. The story isn't really doing anything for me either and the all the Manuscript pages you pick do is spoil upcoming events or surprises that could have scared you... I know its supposed to be all oooooh what is written on the pages is coming true but it is more like, sigh, now I know a guy with a chainsaw is coming up in the next section.

Another detaching element is terrible lip syncing, not because it's all dubbed Asian movie styIe but because the mouths are simply just animated badly. I do kind of enjoy the forest setting and as I said the shooting isn't too bad... I just don't get Alan Wake yet, I am missing something that will stop me from feeling so neutral about it. Part of me kind of likes it, part of me thinks it's boring, lame and not scary and a third part just doesn't get it at all. I hate it when this happens as it is hard to describe and not usually very interesting... but that is half the fun of NLID seeing if my feelings about the game change and we'll see soon if I can snap out of my funk with Alan Wake.

Since I am so confused I will talk about the gameplay just a bit. Most of the gameplay takes place in the dark, usually in a forest and you walk along the path until the shadowy Taken appear. This starts a battle mode of sorts and you have to take them all out before proceeding onward; I tried running away but you can only sprint for so long and they are faster than you. To defeat them or anything covered in darkness you have to point your trusty flashlight at it until a circle of light closes and flashes, this means their shield is down and you can shoot them with your gun. You have a few different guns, a revolver (default weapon), two types of shotguns (double barrel and pump action) and a hunting rifle. Your arsenal is pretty large as you can carry the revolver, a flare gun (works like a grenade launcher but with light), a set of regular flares for creating a zone of safety, a set of flashbangs which act as your grenades and either the shotgun or the hunting rifle. Its best to take the weapons they give you in each area because you'll find the most ammo for that gun and a lot of time you will lose your weapons during scenes or after the episode is complete so there is no point holding on to your favorite gun. Speaking of episodes each "act" is sort of like a TV episode where each new episode starts with a "previously on Alan Wake..." summary. So far that is all there is to the gameplay: walk down dark forest trails shoot enemies when they appear and get to the end its pretty simple.

It's time to close out this edition of NLID. I can't see Alan Wake taking more than two updates to complete so I will most likely have the final update on it by Wednesday. In NLID news I think I am going to wait until after Final Fantasy XIII-2 is out before I start Final Fantasy 13 again, since I am most likely going to pick XIII-2 up and hopefully that will give me more incentive to complete a game that I am not really a fan of. I think that about covers it for this edition of NLID I will talk to you again in a day or two. Later. Loading Complete!

2011 Wrap Ups: Now Loading's Best + Worst 2011: Winners

PLEASE READ FIRST: Now Loading's Best + Worst of 2011 is based on ONLY titles that I have played extensively for systems that I own. That is why there is no PS3 category / Games in these nominees. Thanks for understanding and enjoy the Nominees!

I've gathered up 16 categories for all the games I've played in 2011 to compete in; from the "highly coveted" 2011 Game of the Year, to best character(s), to best game mechanic, to terrible load/wait times, to most disappointing, they are all here. Today I will be revealing the WINNERS of all the categories.

2011 WORST AWARDS WINNERS – INTRO
These games are given the descriptor of worst, with that said, please keep in mind not all these games are bad, in fact, some of these games might be really great, but sometimes there are just things that don't work out. Things like bad design choices, bad product placement, underwhelming features or just flat out horrible games. Also some of these games have received these awards due to my negligence or just because I didn't end up liking them. Also take note that some of these categories / nominees are more "for fun" than others.

Word of Mouth Award
This award is given to the game which has received good review scores and/or good word of mouth, but when I ended up buying it, I found out it wasn't for me or I simply just didn't like what I played. This award is open to all games purchased in 2011.


WINNER: L.A. Noire - (X360, 2011)
L.A. Noire is the winner simply because it does NOT deserve all the positive word of mouth and excellent high scoring reviews it gets. Sometimes this award can go to a game that does deserve its positive word of mouth but turned out it just was not for me. That just isn't the case for LA Noire it gets praised for its excellent story, great voice acting and surreal facial animations, but that is not enough to drive a videogame and LA Noire's lame gun fights, stupid clue hunts and quiz like interrogations fail to bring the required gameplay.

Runners Up:
Dead Island (X360, 2011), Dark Souls (X360, 2011)



Worst Splurge Buy
There are times when you have money burning a hole in your pocket and you just have to spend it. It could be on a bad game, a game that isn't right for you or even a game you don't really need, but that money has to go before your pants catch fire. These are the games that I bought in 2011 that wished I hadn't seen during that particular day, if you know what I mean.


WINNER: Crackdown 2 - (X360, 2010)
Crackdown 2 takes the award simply because there is no need to own this game, at least the other two nominees were unique in concept, Crackdown 2 is the same game that was released back in 2007 except the city is a bit trashed and there are zombies; that's seriously it. If you don't own the first game then you just have a barely average open world 3rd person shooter not worth playing. Don't buy this, that's all there really is to say.

Runners Up: Bangai-O Spirits (DS, 2008), Splinter Cell: Conviction (X360, 2010)



Play or Not to Play?
These nominees have the dubious distinction of being titles that I bought in 2011 but never got into, never even played or played for only a really short time. This seems to happen far too often for me.


WINNER: Okamiden - (DS, 2011)
This year this award maybe should have been called "hand-held game that I bought but didn't feel like playing on said hand-held"... but that's a mouthful so Play or Not to Play? will work. Okamiden wins the award just because out of the three it is the one I actually wanted to play the most. Instead I got another 3-D game controlled by a d-pad, annoying FORCED AI partners that you have to utilize to clear dungeons and bosses (important AI partners in single player games are a serious pet peeve of mine), gimmicky boss fights and on top of that it is on hand-held and I hardly ever play my hand-held systems (I have a serious history of buying hand-helds and games and never playing them) and you have a disappointment that I put off playing.

Runners Up: Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker (DS, 2007), Dragon Quest IV: Realms of Revelation (DS, 2011)



Patience Is a Virtua (Longest Game Wait Time Award)
Loading times... Wait times... Ever since games began to use optical disc technology this has be a common fact of gaming. There might also be a few game mechanics that make you wait. These are the worst culprits of this from titles released in 2011.


WINNER: Bastion - (XBLA, 2011)
I only have experience with the Xbox 360 version of Bastion but when your loading times make the game feel a bit unpolished it really hurts. There isn't one loading screen that is less than 15 seconds with the longer loads nearing the 30 second mark. It's a fairly large blemish on a really excellent little game.

Runners Up: Back to the Future: The Game (WII, 2011), Deus Ex: Human Revolution (X360, 2011)



Worst Game Mechanic
You need good ideas to make a good game and while some ideas sound good on paper, these particular ideas should have stayed on the paper, then got tossed into the fire. What I am saying is that these mechanics actually made their respective games less enjoyable. These are the worst game mechanics of the 2011 released titles.


WINNER: Dead Island's Weapon Breaking - (X360, 2011)
While weapon / armor breaking and degradation could probably win Worst Game Mechanic every single year as it is in the same territory as Escort Missions, Forced Stealth Sections and Block Pushing Puzzles... no one honestly likes it. Dead Island takes this design taboo and makes it so prevalent that you need to carry even crappy white level loot just so you don't run out of weapons after a serious fight against a hoard or tough enemy. Add in the fact, this mechanic makes rare and powerful weapons of questionable use because it is cheaper to maintain and upgrade a crappy white drop than it is to try to keep your purple in good quality. DUMB, ANNOYING and most importantly NO FUN.

Now the Nominees: Bejeweled 3 - Quest Mode Missions + Randomness, L.A. Noire - Interrogations



Most Disappointing Now Loading In-Depth Game of 2011
Not every game I choose to play on NLID will be a winner, in fact, some of them might just be not-so-good games to begin with. This award goes to the NLID game in 2011 that bummed me out the most after COMPLETING it.


WINNER: Secret of Mana - (SNES, 1993)
Sure, BioShock is a crappy game and Majora's Mask's time gimmick didn't do anything for me... but finally taking the time to play a game that you've been hearing nothing but great things about since you were 12 years-old and then finding out almost 19 years later that it is one of the most overrated games in the history of gaming could not bum one out more. Shoddy hit detection that can't register simultaneous hits, a grindy magic system, clunky over done menus, stupid AI partners, non-exsistant story, zero exploration... I could go on, but I will just say this, one of the worst games on the SNES.

Runners Up: BioShock (X360, 2007) (NLID #24 - #26), The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64, 2000) (NLID #3 - #7)



Most Disappointing of 2011
Since I don't intentionally play bad games this award goes to the game that just didn't meet whatever expectations that I had for it. Whether if that was because of poor gameplay, because it was a rehash or just because I couldn't get in to it like I hoped I would. This is award is only open to games published in 2011.


WINNER: Saints Row: The Thrid - (X360)
This is a strange one. It's pretty ironic to have enjoyed your most disappointing game of the year so much. I won't lie to you, Saints Row 3 is a really fun game with some cool missions, some hilarious moments... but it just doesn't work for me. Saints Row 1 and 2 were parodies set somewhat in reality with silly humor but with some occasionally gritty storylines and interesting characters that you loved or you hated. Saints Row 3 puts the Saints in to a parody of a parody and loses all the character and story had built in the first two games. They start the game by killing off the best character 10 minutes in and ditch everything else for telephone conversations to begin missions for the rest of the game. Then of course there is the fact that this game just lacks many of the features that Saints Row 2 helped build up with less clothes customization and fewer missions and activities that almost all of which lost their introductions which gave them context. I'd say Saints Row: The Third was rushed but it was development for 3 years instead of 2 like the bigger and better Saints Row 2. Saints Row: The Third is a soul-less oversimplified game that non-Saints Row fans go on about because they can laugh at sex jokes and blow stuff up.

Runners Up: Shift 2 Unleashed (X360, 2011), L.A. Noire (X360, 2011)



2011 BEST AWARDS WINNERS – INTRO
These games are given the title of best in their cIass, there is nothing better than these games or aspects of these games. You can't go wrong with any of them; in fact you should play them all.

Best Downloadable Game (WiiWare/XBLA)
This award is given out to the best downloadable game game that I played this year. Open to ONLY 2011 released Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) or WiiWare titles.


WINNER: Torchlight - (XBLA)
This was probably the closest award this year. Both Torchlight and Bastion were pretty much tied. I decided to go with Torchlight because it just has more hours of gameplay than Bastion's 3 or 4 hours. Plus, Torchlight is the game I thought Bastion was going to be so it gave me the gameplay I wanted. Of course Bastion trumps it in story, mood and setting. Downloadable games like these two keep getting better every year and soon they might just blow me away enough to put them up for Game of the Year honors one of these days. NOTE: The XBLA version of Torchlight was released in March 2011, whereas the PC download version was released in 2009 with a retail release in 2010.

Runners Up: Bastion (XBLA, 2011), Bejeweled 3 (X360, 2011)



Best Character in 2011
This award goes to my personal favorite hero/heroine or main character(s) from any game I played in the year of 2011.


WINNER: Wheatley - (Portal 2, 2011)
As you can see Wheatley isn't much to look at which is why his voice actor Stephen Merchant is the real winner of this award. He just plays this dopey character so well and as I said brings him to life hilariously. As noted previously talking too much about Wheatley's role in Portal 2 would be major spoilers.

Runners Up: The Kid (Bastion, 2011), Sam Gideon (Vanquish, 2010)



Best Surprise in 2011
This award is given to a game purchased in 2011 (any year published) that surprised me that it was so good or turned out that was even better than I thought it was going to be.


WINNER: Half-Life 2 - (X360, 2007)
What better a surprise than to find out you owned a really great game this whole time and all you needed to do was to play it for more than 3 hours!? That's what happened with me and Half-Life 2 the first time I tried to play it I didn't really like what I played around 3 hours in, lots of running away and piloting an air boat. If I just would have played a bit longer I would have discovered the GRAVITY GUN, a CIassic shotgun and some great pacing and really well designed levels. Not to mention some great characters and story. SURPRISE!

Runners Up: Two Worlds II (X360, 2010), Enslaved: Journey to the West (X360, 2010)



Best Game Mechanic
Awarded to those game design ideas that REALLY worked out. These ideas worked to perfection and added just that much more to their respective games. This category is open to ONLY 2011 releases.


WINNER: Dragon Language Shouts - (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, X360)
FUS-RO-DAH! *watches dumb bandit fly off a mountain* Actually my favorite is IIZ-SLEN-NUS which turns your enemies into living Popsicles. The shouts provide a nice middle ground between straight up magic and simple techniques, giving your warrior or thief a little trick up their sleeve.

Runners Up: Batman Arkham City - Grapple Boost Gliding, Portal 2 - Gels



Best 2010 Game Played In 2011
You can only play one game at a time and often you fall behind the release curve. This Award goes to the best 2010 game that I played during the calendar year of 2011.


WINNER: Vanquish - (X360, 2010)
There isn't too much that is needed to be said as to why I chose Vanquish as my best 2010 game played in 2011. It is a great fast paced third person shooter that excels in all areas, gameplay, characters, level design and art design. With that said, I will leave you with this... if I had played it in 2010, it would have been my Game of the Year.

Runners Up: Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii, 2010), Enslaved: Journey to the West (X360, 2010)



Best Nintendo Wii Game Played in 2011
The poor old Nintendo Wii is showing its age and with lack of releases this is the award that goes to the best Wii game that I played in 2011.


WINNER: Super Paper Mario - (2007)
None of the Paper Mario series games have let me down and Super Paper Mario is no exception. Fun platforming gameplay, quirky characters and a neat world flipping gimmick make for a fun departure from the first two game's RPG mechanics.

Runners Up: Donkey Kong Country Retruns (Wii, 2010), The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (WII, 2011)



Best Xbox 360
This is the award that goes to the best 2011 published Xbox 360 game.


WINNER: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
There wasn't a single game that I played more on my Xbox 360 than Skyrim. I have spent over 120 hours with my first character and will probably spend 100 more before I am done. My first 100 hours was done without even barely touching the main questline which is still one of the most impressive things about Bethesda's games. The more in your face combat and the fun Dragon Shouts add just enough to complete the package.

Runners Up: Portal 2, Batman Arkham City



Favorite Now Loading In-Depth Game of 2011
This game is my personal favorite NLID game that I COMPLETED in 2011.


WINNER: Resident Evil 4 - (Gamecube, 2005) (NLID #40 - #42)
I loved Vanquish, adored Half-Life 2, but Resident Evil 4 had me on the edge of my seat trying to survive its intense and challenging gameplay for only the second ever time since I completed it back in 2005. This was another of the close awards where I had trouble choosing and all three games are worth playing and deserved of the award.

Runners Up: Vanquish (X360, 2011) (NLID #36 - #37), Half-Life 2 (X360, 2007) (NLID #16 - #18)



Game of the Year 2010
This is the big one, the Game of the Year. Of course it goes to my PERSONAL FAVORITE game that I played that was published in the calendar year of 2011, not necessarily the best overall.


WINNER: Portal 2 - (X360, 2011)
As the description for this award says: it goes to my PERSONAL FAVORITE of the year, not the best overall. That's why Skyrim won X360 and Portal 2 is my Game of the Year for 2011. I really enjoyed Portal 2's great puzzles which are expertly designed with neat training puzzle that train you on a puzzle element so you can employ it later on more difficult puzzles. This keeps you in the head of the puzzle designer almost insuring that you won't get stuck for too long. That's not say of course the puzzles are easy, but it eliminates one of the frustrations of puzzle games where you just have no clue how to win because no one explained it to you. This is all wrapped up with some great humor and great characters that will have you laughing out loud when you aren't straining your brain on the puzzles. As an added bonus there is a really fun 2 player co-op mode where you need to not only have cooperation but good communication and timing to get through the tricky puzzles. Congratulations to Portal 2, Now Loading's Game of the Year for 2011!

Runners Up: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (X360), Batman Arkham City (X360)



Thank you for reading all about the winners of my 2011 Best + Worst Awards, I'm sure you probably guessed some, but were you surprised by any of my choices? Also thank you for joining me for my 2011 Wrap Ups Super Special and I will do all again next year. With that coming to a close I will talk to you next on Monday, January 16th when Now Loading In-Depth returns for Season 2! Happy New Year! Loading Complete!

2011 Wrap Ups: Now Loading's Best + Worst 2011: Nominees

PLEASE READ FIRST: Now Loading's Best + Worst of 2011 is based on ONLY titles that I have played extensively for systems that I own. That is why there is no PS3 category / Games in these nominees. Thanks for understanding and enjoy the Nominees!

I've gathered up 16 categories for all the games I've played in 2011 to compete in; from the "highly coveted" 2011 Game of the Year, to best character(s), to best game mechanic, to terrible load/wait times, to most disappointing, they are all here. Today I will be revealing the nominees and explaining all the categories. Obviously the games come in 2 flavors: Best and Worst, first we'll take a look at the worst categories and then of course the best ones. Each category requires a few nominees, one of which one will come out with the award

2011 WORST AWARDS NOMINEES – INTRO
These games are given the descriptor of worst, with that said, please keep in mind not all these games are bad, in fact, some of these games might be really great, but sometimes there are just things that don't work out. Things like bad design choices, bad product placement, underwhelming features or just flat out horrible games. Also some of these games have received these awards due to my negligence or just because I didn't end up liking them. Also take note that some of these categories / nominees are more "for fun" than others.

Word of Mouth Award
This award is given to the game which has received good review scores and/or good word of mouth, but when I ended up buying it, I found out it wasn't for me or I simply just didn't like what I played. This award is open to all games purchased in 2011.

Now the Nominees:
Dead Island (X360, 2011)
Dead Island is a game with so much potential and it deserves any positive word it might get, but unfortunately for myself the obscene amount of weapon degradation and the fact it is more of multi-player game killed it for me.

Dark Souls (X360, 2011)
Dark Souls also derserves all of the positive praise that it gets. The thing is, it's a difficult game and I don't really have the patients and rather not get frustrated attempting something 20 or more times to get it right.

L.A. Noire (X360, 2011)
L.A. Noire on the other hand does not deserve most of the positive word of mouth that it gets. Sure it has a cool story and the acting and facial animation are on another level, but the action gameplay is boringly simplified and the other gameplay amounts to Easter egg hunts and multiple choice quizzes.

Worst Splurge Buy
There are times when you have money burning a hole in your pocket and you just have to spend it. It could be on a bad game, a game that isn't right for you or even a game you don't really need, but that money has to go before your pants catch fire. These are the games that I bought in 2011 that wished I hadn't seen during that particular day, if you know what I mean.

Now the Nominees:
Bangai-O Spirits (DS, 2008)
Bangai-O Spirits looked like a cool game, but this "missle-hell" level based shooter does a horrible job at preparing you for even the first levels of the game. So what happens is you get blasted in a matter of seconds and you have no clue what to do to avoid it.

Splinter Cell: Conviction (360, 2010)
Finally it looked like there might be a Splinter Cell game that I could enjoy so when I saw Conviction for like $20 I picked it up. While it is slightly (I MEAN SLIGHTLY) less about stealth, running and gunning is not really an option either. It's still mostly a stealth game and they are mostly not for me.

Crackdown 2 (X360, 2010)
Even after the horrible demo version pretty much proved this game was going to suck, I still picked it up for $20 when I saw it... I figured, what the hell. My demo impressions where correct and I failed miserably with this pick-up.

Play or Not to Play?
These nominees have the dubious distinction of being titles that I bought in 2011 but never got into, never even played or played for only a really short time. This seems to happen far too often for me.

Now The Nominees:
Okamiden (DS, 2011)
I didn't spend the time with the sequel to Okami because of annoying touch screen controls, an annoying partner character that you have to order to do things and just the fact it is on the DS and that I should never play portable games.

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker (DS, 2007)
Another lengthy DS game that I will never spend enough time with because I don't really like playing games on hand-helds. It seems like a cool game but as I said...

Dragon Quest IV: Realms of Revelation (DS, 2011)
A serious commitment would be required to play through this 60 hour RPG and I will not put my neck through that kind of strain to complete it on a hand-held.

Patience Is a Virtua (Longest Game Wait Time Award)
Loading times... Wait times... Ever since games began to use optical disc technology this has be a common fact of gaming. There might also be a few game mechanics that make you wait. These are the worst culprits of this from titles released in 2011.

Now the Nominees
Back to the Future: The Game (WII, 2011)
In this port of Back to the Future for the Wii the loading times between scenes are almost 20 seconds and when you hit a piece of key dialog or use the correct item the loading pauses of 5 seconds will make you wish you had a time machine DeLorean to get back all the time you lost to loading screens.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (X360, 2011) - Title Screen Load
This is slightly special case. The time between the title screen appearing and the time you are allowed to actually press start must be 20 seconds or more. I thought the game had frozen the first time I played.

Bastion (XBLA, 2011)
This interesting hack and slash 2-D action game with seemingly simple graphics is hampered by load times that last in to the 20+ second range and that really ruins the experience.

Worst Game Mechanic
You need good ideas to make a good game and while some ideas sound good on paper, these particular ideas should have stayed on the paper, then got tossed into the fire. What I am saying is that these mechanics actually made their respective games less enjoyable. These are the worst game mechanics of the 2011 released titles.

Now the Nominees:
Bejeweled 3 - Quest Mode Missions + Randomness
Bejeweled 3 has some cool new game modes including the Quest Mode with neat little challenges for you to complete... the problem is almost all of Quest Mode is affected by the random element of Bejeweled's puzzles. Because of this most of the time completing challenges is just a matter of luck more than skill.

Dead Island - Constant Weapon Breaking / Repairing
Dead Island's most MAJOR flaw is the constant weapon breaking. Most weapons have 30 or less uses before they "break" and become useless for damage. You then have to repair them by paying money at a workbench (yup, you pay the actual work bench), the rarer the weapon the more it costs to fix, making rare (and powerful) weapons too much of a monetary risk to use.

L.A. Noire - Interrogations
Interrogations in LA Norie amount to multiple choice quizzes that make sure you were paying attention to the clues and the overly subtle twitch that the person being questioned made. If you push the questioning the wrong way there is no going back and your witness or suspect will just refuse to talk to you about that topic EVER again because didn't answer the arbitrary quiz correctly.

Most Disappointing Now Loading In-Depth Game of 2011
Not every game I choose to play on NLID will be a winner, in fact, some of them might just be not-so-good games to begin with. This award goes to the NLID game in 2011 that bummed me out the most after COMPLETING it.

Now the Nominees:
Secret of Mana (SNES, 1993) (NLID #27 - #30)
I finally took the time after 18 years to finally play the "legendary" Secret of Mana to completion only to find out that this is one of the worst action games on the SNES. It has crappy hit detection, grindy magic system, horrible menus... probably the only good thing is the music

BioShock (X360, 2007) (NLID #24 - #26)
This is one of the most over-rated games of the current generation. A terrible blend of first person shooter and role playing game neither hold up. Add in an arbitrary "morality" system where you are either a saint or the epitome of evil and you have disappointing game.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64, 2000) (NLID #3 - #7)
It's hard to totally fault Majora's Mask but the 3 day time limit and repeating those 3 days over and over is not a fun mechanic to have in an exploration game. Plus the constant switching of masks in a menu will have you thinking switching boots in Ocarina was nothing.

Most Disappointing of 2011
Since I don't intentionally play bad games this award goes to the game that just didn't meet whatever expectations that I had for it. Whether if that was because of poor gameplay, because it was a rehash or just because I couldn't get in to it like I hoped I would. This is award is only open to games published in 2011.

Now the Nominees:
Shift 2 Unleashed (X360, 2011)
A racing game where your car behaves differently on every single corner ruining the feel of the entire game. It's not uncommon to lose control of your car on STRAIGHTAWAYS and start bouncing from wall to wall. Add in an overly aggressive presentation that dwells on the fact auto racing is dangerous and you got the complete package of disappointing.

L.A. Noire (X360, 2011)
I'm glad this is the last time I will have to write anything about LA Noire. Crappy action gameplay which asks you if you want to skip it if you fail more than three times, clue hunts that are equal to the Easter egg hunts of your childhood and interrogations which are multiple choice quizzes which test to see if you were paying attention. Do I need to say more?

Saints Row: The Third (X360, 2011)
Saints Row 3 is a really fun game that forgot about its fans, you know, the ones that actually ENJOYED the first two Saints Row games for what they were: fun open world crime games with a sense of humor. Instead they made a game with the Saints Row name that takes things too far over the top and only lives only by its below stupid sex jokes and potty humor. Less customization + fewer good characters + less story + fewer missions + a crappy soundtrack x killing off Johnny Gat = A Huge Disappointment.

2011 BEST AWARDS NOMINEES – INTRO
These games are given the title of best in their cIass, there is nothing better than these games or aspects of these games. You can't go wrong with any of them; in fact you should play them all. What makes them great you ask? All you have to is just play them; it should be readily apparent right away.

Best Downloadable Game (WiiWare/XBLA)
This award is given out to the best downloadable game game that I played this year. Open to ONLY 2011 released Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) or WiiWare titles.

Now the Nominees:
Bastion (XBLA, 2011)
Bastion has a really interesting story and a neat way of telling through "live" narration. The other gameplay aspects are pretty fun too with cool weapons and a neat counter blocking mechanic.

Bejeweled 3 (X360, 2011)Bejeweled 3 is another solid release from PopCap games and with some cool new modes added to the game. It remains as simple and as addictive as ever.

Torchlight (XBLA, 2011)
Torchlight is very fun and pretty simple dungeon crawler where you kill hoards of monsters in search of loot drops. With 3 character cIasses and over 30 hours of gameplay there is tons to do as well.

Best Character in 2011
This award goes to my personal favorite hero/heroine or main character(s) from any game I played in the year of 2011.

Now the Nominees
The Kid (Bastion, 2011)
The Kid has no speaking part but plays a huge role in an interesting story and besides he swings a hammer as big as he is and takes no prisoners.

Wheatley (Portal 2, 2011)
To talk too much about Wheatley's roll in Portal 2 would be spoiling a lot, but this quirky personality sphere is completely made by his voice actor: Stephen Merchant.

Sam Gideon (Vanquish, 2010)
Sam is a bad-ass. Enough Said.

Best Surprise in 2011
This award is given to a game purchased in 2011 (any year published) that surprised me that it was so good or turned out that was even better than I thought it was going to be.

Now the Nominees
Half-Life 2 (X360, 2007)
Half-Life 2 was a surprise because I didn't really like the game at first and it then proceeded to blow me away enough to say: "I wished I had played this sooner."

Two Worlds II (X360, 2010)
Two Worlds II surprised me not because it was mind-blowingly excellent but because it wasn't nearly as awful as everyone else seems to think.

Enslaved: Journey to the West (X360, 2010)
In third different kind of surprise Enslaved took my initial first impression of an escort mission and surprised me with fun combat, cool puzzles and an interesting story and characters.

Best Game Mechanic
Awarded to those game design ideas that REALLY worked out. These ideas worked to perfection and added just that much more to their respective games. This category is open to ONLY 2011 releases.

Now the Nominees:
Batman Arkham City - Grapple Boost Gliding
The coolest way to travel if you are Batman. Just latch on to nearby grapple point with your hook and double tap to get a speed boost and release. You'll be gliding around all of Arkham City without ever having to land.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragon Language Shouts
FUS-RO-DAH! Actually my favorite is IIZ-SLEN-NUS which turns your enemies into living pop-cicles. These shouts provide a nice middle ground between straight up magic and simple techniques, giving your warrior or thief a little trick up their sleeve.

Portal 2 - Gels
All three of the gels work to make for some really cool puzzles as you not only have to utilize the gels to get to the exits but you have to figure out how to use the portals to also get the gels on the surfaces you need them on in the first place.

Best 2010 Game Played In 2011
You can only play one game at a time and often you fall behind the release curve. This Award goes to the best 2010 game that I played during the calendar year of 2011.

Now the Nominees:
Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii, 2010)
Donkey Kong Country Returns is enjoyable for its ****c gameplay which both challenges and frustrates at the same time.

Enslaved: Journey to the West (X360, 2010)
I enjoyed Enslaved more for its story than its gameplay, but fun puzzle maps mixed with some fun platforming section made for a cool amount variety.

Vanquish (X360, 2010)
I enjoyed the fun and fast paced action that Vanquish provides and the fact it manages to do it with some rediculous ****and bad-assery.

Best Nintendo Wii Game Played in 2011
The poor old Nintendo Wii is showing its age and with lack of releases this is the award that goes to the best Wii game that I played in 2011.

Now the Nominees:
Donkey Kong Country Retruns (Wii, 2010)
A fun game that pulls of the DKC gameplay off pretty well and challenges your modern gaming skills with old school difficulty.

Super Paper Mario (Wii, 2007)
A fun departure from the RPG based Paper Mario games with fun platforming and a neat 2-D to 3-D flipping mechanic which allows for some fun puzzles.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (WII, 2011)
This game has quite a few troubles especially with the sluggish and tiring Wii remote swinging but does deliver the familiar Zelda formula well enough to get by.

Best Xbox 360
This is the award that goes to the best 2011 published Xbox 360 game.

Now the Nominees:
Portal 2
Portal 2 is a great sequel, take what was great about the first game, which was witty humor and mind-bending puzzles and up the ante with trickier puzzles, a co-op mode and even more hilarious humor.

Batman Arkham City
Batman: Arkham City keeps the smooth fighting engine, tons of cool Batman gadgets and adds in a bigger playable area, more villains and really cool story.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Who can argue with 100s of hours of gameplay in a beautiful world that is begging to be explored? No one really and if you add in Dragon battles and a really cool shout system you get even more out of it.

Favorite Now Loading In-Depth Game of 2011
This game is my personal favorite NLID game that I COMPLETED in 2011.

Now the Nominees:
Vanquish (X360, 2011) (NLID #36 - #37)
It's not very often the game lives up to the hype. I heard lots of good things about Vanquish and every one of them was completely true.

Half-Life 2 (X360, 2007) (NLID #16 - #18)
When I first started playing Half-Life 2 I wondered what was so great about this game. Then its stellar pacing, cool story and fun action made me wonder why I hadn't just played this sooner.

Resident Evil 4 (GCN, 2005) (NLID #40 - #42)
This is just flat out a great game and I loved every moment of only my second playthrough since I completed the game the first time way back in 2005.

Game of the Year 2010
This is the big one, the Game of the Year. Of course it goes to my PERSONAL FAVORITE game that I played that was published in the calendar year of 2011, not necessarily the best overall.

Now the Nominees:
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (X360)
100's of hours of gameplay without doing more than 3 quests into the main quest line, 100's of locations to explore and beautiful graphics to absorb you in to the world so you never want to leave.

Batman Arkham City (X360)
Batman: Arkham City could probably hold its own if all it was just a thug beating up simulator thanks to the amazingly smooth combat engine. But if you add in a great cast of villains and a cool open area to use your gadgets in you have a being Batman simulator.

Portal 2 (X360)
Portal 2 is a beautifully structured game with incredible design and planning. Breaking you into each puzzle so you don get stuck and rounding that out a fun 2 player co-op mode and some of the best humor in videogames is a winning formula.

Those are the nominees for my 2011 Best + Worst Awards and on January 14th, 2012 I will reveal the winners. Some of the categories may seem pretty obvious, but I think you may be surprised at a few of the winners once they are revealed to you. The 2011Wrap Ups feature concludes January 14th with the Winners of my 2011 Best + Worst Awards! Loading Complete!

2011 Wrap Ups: Now Loading: The Blog in 2011 Retrospective

Welcome to Now Loading: The Blog in 2011 Retrospective, where I will recap all the posts of the entire year. 2011 was a renaissance of sorts for Now Loading as I changed the format of how I deliver content with Now Loading In-Depth. This article ran for 45 editions in 2011 surpassing all of 2010 with just that series. There where a few slow spots but I managed to put up 95 posts in 2011. It probably could have been even more but because of my team's NHL Playoff run and then getting sick for about 3 weeks in late October causing posting to slow to a crawl, if it wasn't for those things I could have easily passed the 700 post mark in 2011. That's why 2012 is going to be so exciting with NLID coming back full swing next week. With all that said it's time to look back at the great year of 2011.

JANUARY 2011 - 12 posts
January started off the same way it has for the last 6 years with the winners of my Best + Worst Awards. Metroid Other M was Most Disappointing of 2010 and Mass Effect 2 won Game of the Year honors. It was followed by another yearly staple The Last Remnants of 2010 post where I cover everything that was interrupted by the 2010 Wrap Ups special including introducing you to Now Loading Retro In-Depth. Next up was a finished article for Bothers in Arms: Hell's Highway, a fun, but slow paced shooter. After a bit of a delay because I was fiddling with the Archive Website I caught up by posting a bunch of impressions of games in a Now Loading Update. The next day I posted an ANGER filled finished article covering Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii. Soon after I posted a finished article for Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit which is just a Burnout game in Need For Speed clothing which is why it is so good; this post also had a small update where I apologized a bit for the harshness of that DKC Returns article. Next in a serious string of finished articles I covered Bayonetta a game was apparently so AWESOME that it broke my brain... actually I just didn't feel I could give it due justice because while I enjoyed it greatly I mostly just button mashed my way through. After playing through a game with a detailed fighting system that I couldn't grasp along came the next finished article covering Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands with a battle system where you press down on the D-Pad to kill rooms of enemies in a split second. It finally happened again, a game so frustrating, so anger inducing, so intelligence insulting that I brought back the GAMER'S RANT! In Gamer's Rant #13 I listed the top 5 stupidest design problems of Metroid Other M. After two really slow years (2009, 2010) I finally hit the 600 post mark! To celebrate that I decided to take a look back at all of the Gamer's Rants and write retrospective comments about their topics. After all that complaining I wrote the finished Article on Metroid Other M an okay game with a few too many experimental gameplay mechanics. I haven't ever posted links to Month-In-Reviews in this article over the years, but I will because Month-In-Review January 2011 was the first in 2 years.

FEBRUARY 2011 - 10 Posts
February was about to start off a brand new series that would change the blog for the good, but first I had to share my new thoughts after finally taking the time to finish The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for only second time in 4 years. It was finally time! Now Loading Retro In-Depth #1 hit the Blog covering Black and it's various nagging issues. The next day in NLRID #2 I had finally completed Black and came away with the same feelings a decent game with too many small issues to be great. I continued on with NLRID #3 which covered my history and first feelings on black-sheep Zelda title Majora's Mask. I continued a few days later with NLRID #4: Majora's Mask #2 where I talked about saving the game and my initial feelings on the time traveling aspects. NLRID #5: Majora's Mask #3 is where the three day time limit gimmick really started to get to me and made me not want to play. NLRID #6: Majora's Mask #4 didn't even contain a proper update on my progress through the game just a comparison to what the time limit would be like in other games of its type. I complete Majora's Mask in NLRID #7: Majora's Mask Final + Next Game, it's a good Zelda game ruined by the frustrating 3 day time limit; the next game was Banjo-Tooie. I gave my introduction to the Banjo-Kazooie series and gave my first thoughts on playing Banjo-Tooie again in NLRID #8: Banjo-Tooie #1.

MARCH 2011 - 10 Posts
NLRID continued to dominate the blog with NLRID #9: Banjo-Tooie #2 where I list a walkthrough for just ONE SINGLE jiggy in Tooie. Too complex for the type of game it is. In NLRID #10: Banjo-Tooie #3 I have to give up on Tooie as it is just too boring to enjoy; I announce the next game as Neotopia 2 on TG16. In a slight break from all the NLRID action I pause for a moment to give my Impressions on Torchlight (XBLA), a great version of the game which at the time of that writing had bad frame-rate problems. In-Depth returned with NLRID #11: Neotopia II #1 where I introduce you to my history with the two games in the series. A few days later I was ready to update you again with NLRID #12: Neotopia II #2 covering some of the small issues caused by old-school game design such as bombing every wall of dungeon. The next day, Neotopia II was completed in NLRID #13: Neotopia II Final + Next Game in which I talked about the ending of the game hinting at Neotopia III which never came out; the next NLRID game was Skies of Arcadia: Legends. Which I begin discussion on in NLRID #14: Skies of Arcadia Legends #1. In NLRID #15: Skies of Arcadia Legends #2 I give more of my history with the game explain the ship battles element of the game. In a quick Now Loading Update I give super quick impressions of Okamiden and Shift 2 Unleashed.

APRIL 2011 - 5 Posts
April saw a huge drop off of posts because of the NHL Playoffs and with your team playing a game every other day its hard to focus on update the blog. Right off the bat to start the month I posted a special feature covering my anticipated games of 2011. 20 days later, 29 days later for an actual NLRID update I finally update with Now Loading In-Depth #16: Half-Life 2. Yup, I dropped the Retro aspect of the series to allow for more game variety and choice. I also gave luke-warm impressions of Half-Life 2. Next up was the first Finished Article in a while covering the highly enjoyable and brain teasing Portal 2. Lastly I dropped one more NLID update before April was out with NLID #17: Half-Life 2 #2 in which I find the game growing on me, a lot.

MAY 2011 - 9 Posts
May started Now Loading back on the right track with 9 posts starting with NLID #18: Half-Life 2 Final + Next Game in which I praise HL2 and get ready to move on to its episodes as the next game. A couple of days later I had finished both Half-Life 2 Episodes and shared my praise filled thoughts on them in NLID #19: Half-Life 2 Episode 1 and 2 Final + Next Game which also announce the next game as Paper Mario (N64). In NLID #20: Paper Mario #1 I discussed how playing a previous game in the series after playing the better Thousand-Year Door was going to tough as not to compare them. In NLID #21: Paper Mario #2 I discussed the bane of the Paper Mario series BACKTRACKING. NLID #22: Paper Mario #3 was just a short one covering the chapter structure of the game and my "fear" that final boss would be unbalanced like in TTYD. Oh boy, the start of the L.A. Noire saga of posts. I gave my Impressions of the game which didn't bode well for the future with repetitive cases and stupid multiple choice quiz like interrogations. Something made me snap and I rattled off 2 back to back Gamer's Rants, in #14 I continued to complain about the game's crappy mechanics and in #15 I complain about all the people who like LA Noire and deal with its problems because of the good story.

JUNE 2011 - 4 Posts
This month was really messed up by the NHL Playoffs as my team made the finals for the first time in 17 years so most of my focus was on that. I started the month of with NLID #23: Paper Mario Final + Next Game where I gave my final thoughts on a fun game and announced I would be trying a Dreamcast game next. The following Now Loading Update started off serious because I needed to defend the real Canucks fans and Vancouverites from unwarranted blame for a bunch of dumb drunks and anarchists trashing the city after the Canucks lost in the Final. I then talked about a play through of Mass Effect 2 that I finished with all the DLC missions. NLID #24: BioShock #1 was delayed because, first that Dreamcast game didn't work out and second the game that I had picked as a back-up turned out to be total garbage. So I picked a game that was less than total garbage BioShock.

JULY 2011 - 7 Posts
July was an average month for Now Loading and it started off with NLID #25: BioShock #2 where I talked more about XBL Indie game Total Miner than I did about poopy BioShock. I think this one line sums up NLID #26: BioShock Final + Next Game: God *bleepin'* damn! BioShock is ****ing terrible. The next game was turned out to also be a terrible choice: Secret of Mana (SNES). But first I had to give you an impressions article on Two Worlds II a decent open world ****RPG. I then posted a Now Loading Update about how I was inspired to write a 7th anniversary special after thinking back about the fact I had completed Final Fantasy X (and X-2) going on 6 years ago. Right after I began what would become a month long rough ride of regret with NLID #27: Secret of Mana #1 a game that has people blinded with nostalgia goggles. NLID #28: Secret of Mana #2 soon followed and it is where I finally got a taste of how clunky and busted Secret of Mana, the so called "cl.assic" is.

AUGUST 2011 - 6 Posts
August was taken over by me working endlessly on the 7th Anniversary Special an almost 9 page essay on the history of the blog. A Now Loading Update covering the recent announcement of Borderlands 2 which had me excited . Another Now Loading Update followed simply telling you about my progress with the epic 7th Anniversary article. Followed by yet another Now Loading Update which was also the 650th post this little update was still all about the 7th Anniversary Article which was now going to a be a three parter. Finally a break from the 7th Anniversary article and NLID #29: Secret of Mana #3 hits the blog and again SoM has me wondering: "why the hell do people like this game?". The month ended off with another Now Loading Update as I failed in completing Secret of Mana before my deadline to get Month-In-Review in.

SEPTEMBER 2011 - 17 Posts
September was the pinnacle of my blogging this year with 17 posts alone and it also featured the LONGEST post I have ever written in the 7th Anniversary Article. But first I had to get something off my chest and off my plate NLID #30: Secret of Mana Final + Next Game, I had finally done it after hours of clunky boring gameplay and a lame story I had finally finished Secret of Mana... it sucks; the next game would be Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. After all that hard work in August to get this epic article completed it was finally time for me to share it with you guys, Part 1 covering 2004-2005 hit on the anniversary date of September 3rd and Part 2 (2006-2007) and Part 3 (2008 - Current) on back to back days. I still can't believe it has been over 7 years that I have been doing this... amazing! NLID #31: Paper Mario: TTYD #1 was late because of the anniversary so I had already gotten pretty far into the game in just one update, but I did get to talk about BACKTRACKING. In NLID #32: TTYD Final + Next Game I had already finished my 30 hours with TTYD thanks to the anniversary break; the next game was Super Paper Mario. The next day I was ready to post my first thoughts of the different Paper Mario game in NLID #33: Super Paper Mario #1. I talk about SPM's over use of strange sequences and codes in NLID #34: Super Paper Mario #2. In NLID #35: Super Paper Mario Final + Next Game I had finished SPM, a fun little tangent in the Paper Mario games; the next game was a secret, but it was one of the best games I would play on NLID. That game would be revealed as Vanquish in NLID #36: Vanquish #1 which had me blown away after simply playing through the first act of the game. in between all the Vanquishing I took the time to quickly update you on my first impressions of Dead Island, a game I really wanted to love but couldn't because of too many issues, especially weapon breaking + repairing. The next day I had completed the amazing Vanquish and discussed the very few issues I did have with it in NLID #37: Vanquish Final + Next Game; the next game was Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Continuing the busy month was NLID #38: Enslaved #1 in which I explain Enslaved's interesting strategy elements and its interesting combat hampered by a cruddy camera. The next day I had finished Enslaved and discussed how I really enjoyed the gameplay and the story + characters in NLID #39: Enslaved Final + Next Game; the next game was Resident Evil 4. I started Resident Evil 4 HD and tried explain some of the benefits that I discovered about in NLID #40: Resident Evil 4. After coming off a little "pro-HD" in the previous edition of NLID I had to start NLID #41: Resident Evil #2 with an explanation, but followed that with some actual info about RE4.

OCTOBER 2011 - 9 Posts
October was an okay month, I don't think I accomplished all that much, I started lots of things but just didn't really get anything done. Though, oddly, it started off with me putting the finishing touches on Resident Evil 4 in NLID #42: Resident Evil 4 Final + Next Game; the next game was a stupid call that I probably should have waited on. While I was trying to decided what the next game was going to be I picked up Dark Souls and wrote a tiny Now Loading Update on it. I finally had decided to make the call and called upon Final Fantasy XIII in NLID #43: FF13 #1 which allowed NLID to surpass all of 2010 in posts and I told my previous thoughts on FF13. I actually put in some playtime with FF13 in NLID #44: FF13 #2 where I mostly talk about the waste of disc space that FF13; I really think that it's over 17GB size could have been avoided. I then got in a pretty pointless Now Loading Update where I mentioned Dark Souls for a second and that was basically it. In NLID #45: FF13 #3, the last NLID for 2011 I talked about FF13's battle system as if I was some kind of expert even though I only had 8 hours of experience with it. This where things started to go a bit down hill for me... I posted my impressions of Batman: Arkham City and then proceeded to get sick for about 3 weeks. In a Now Loading Update I talked about being sick and what I was going to do with NLID which was in jeopardy of being put on hiatus until 2012.

November 2011 - 3 Posts
The illness that I got wrecked me for the first two weeks of November and then I had to move to a new house so all that caused me to not be able post until 17 days in to November. The first post, a Now Loading Update, covered all about being sick and quick impressions of MW3, Skyrim and Saints Row 3. In the second post, another Now Loading Update, I talked about how Saints Row 3 was disappointing me on many levels.

DECEMBER 2011 - 3 Posts
December was set to be a big month as usual with the end of year stuff but for various reasons I decided to push those back into January so I really only updated twice. December started with a Finished Article on Saints Row: The Third where I explained why I both liked Saints Row 3 and found it very disappointing. In the last Now Loading Update of 2011 I explained in full my reasons for delaying the 2011 Wrap Ups special. Lastly I posted the schedule of event for the 2011 Wrap Ups to end December.

I was so happy to get a nice new fresh start with blogging this year, I really enjoy the Now Loading In-Depth method of updating it keeps me with things to write about and it keeps me playing games all year. As you may have read in the NLID Season 2 preview I taking NLID full force! My goals for 2012 will be to reach Post 700 (probably by the end of January) and Post 800 and surpass the record of 150 posts in one year which was set back in 2006. That was my 2011 in blogging, join me on January 11th for the Nominees for my 2011 Best + Worst Awards. Loading Complete!

2011 Wrap Ups: Now Loading In-Depth Season 2 Preview

Welcome to the first ever Now Loading In-Depth Season preview! Now Loading In-Depth was a huge success in 2011 that when it returns here in 2012 starting January 16th I have some really cool stuff planned for it. We're talking more fresh unplayed games, more backlog titles, more full-on retro games, more personal favorites, new challenge games and even events dedicated to entire game series or themed groups of games. In this preview we will look at some of the games that will be featured in these categories so you can look forward to the upcoming "season 2" of NLID!

Unplayed Games
These are games that I pick up from years past (2011 or back) that I have yet to start. My impressions will be fresh and will change as I advance through each game. Titles in the category include: Darksiders, Alpha Protocol, Alone In The Dark and whatever I may pick up during the year.

Backlog Titles
These are games that I started playing and then lost interest, didn't end up liking or even just got ignored for newer games, these include: Dead Space, Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, Fallout: New Vegas, Dragon Age Origins and more.

Retro
These are games that fit the retro criteria, I'd say probably PS1 / N64 / Dreamcast era and back and I will also include remakes of retro games in here as well such as the DS remakes of the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games. These games include: Final Fantasy IV (DS), The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Phantasy Star IV, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VII, Resident Evil 2 (PS1) and more.

Personal Favorites
These games include... my personal favorites; games that I may have even covered previously on the blog but want to go through them again. The coverage for these will be retrospective in nature as I share my thoughts on why I love these games so much. These games include: The Legend of Dragoon, Final Fantasy VIII, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Okami, Donkey Kong Country, Super Metroid and more.

Challenge Games
These are for when I really want to test my mettle, not only with challenging gameplay but also my ability to focus mind and body to take on some of my toughest nemesis games which have gone un-finished in years. This category also will contain games previously set on hiatus during previous NLID attempts. These games include: Final Fantasy XIII (read final paragraph), The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Sonic The Hedgehog 2006, Skies of Arcadia Legends, Monster Hunter 3 Tri, FarCry 2, Lost Odyssey and more!

Series / Theme Events
These are for long running series or a theme of games that I want to focus all my energy on. Giving the NLID treatment to every game in the series or in a theme (i.e. Retro RPG Month). These include: The Legend of Zelda on Gameboy, The Namco Tales Series Event, Metroid Prime Series Event, Resident Evil Series Event, Retro RPG Month and more!

So there you have it! I have tons of stuff planned for Now Loading In-Depth this year and I can't to play games, games and more games and then sharing my thoughts with you as I go along. If you are wondering about the current NLID game Final Fantasy XIII that I was forced to put on hiatus during the busy game release season that will be returning after I get one game under my belt. So on January 16th, I will be starting a new game and once I get it finished I will be ready to go back to FF13. Check back to Now Loading on January 9th for the Blog Year in Review Retrospective. See you then. Loading Complete!

2011 Wrap Ups: Finished Article Revisit: Mass Effect 2

Welcome to the second annual Finished Article Revisit where I take a look back at last year's winner of my Game of the Year Award and its Downloadable Content (DLC) add-ons. Last year's winner was Mass Effect 2 and it had 2 character DLCs and 5 mission DLCs. It's best to start at the beginning with Vanilla Mass Effect 2.

Vanilla Mass Effect 2
Vanilla Mass Effect 2 is the version of Mass Effect 2 without any add-ons. I really enjoyed Mass Effect 2 over the first game as I didn't really think the over abundance of skill trees and crap affecting my aiming made the main gameplay aspect, shooting dudes, all that great. Mass Effect 2 changes that to make the game play more like the third person shooter that it resembles... I mean I am COMMANDER Shepard you'd think I'd be able to shoot straight by default, right? Also among the streamlining was removing the planet exploring aspect of the first game instead in Mass Effect 2 you just head down to new shooting levels. Seeing some of your choices from the first game play out in Mass Effect 2 was also a very cool experience. While I will say that I enjoyed the streamlining in spots, they went too far in some cases, instead of ditching the vehicle based planet exploring they could have tried to improve it and they also removed all the cool gun mods and other loot to take out inventory management. The other negatives include the boring as all hell planet scanning and probing mini-game and the fact the story starts with the LAME resurrection of Shepard and then moves way too fast without any time to get to know your shipmates and/or other characters. Mass Effect 2 will last you about 30 - 60 hours depending how many side missions you take on. Overall another fun adventure with Shepard and crew.

Zaeed and Kasumi Character Add-Ons
I am stacking these two together because they are very similar in execution. You get a message to meet these characters at a certain location and they join you immediately. You then go on a mission with them and they are loyal to your cause. Both missions are fairly short but each have a cool new weapon to scan and add to your arsenal. Zaeed's mission is pretty much action as he is out for revenge and Kasumi's mission has more dialog as you try to talk your way in to a sealed vault. The only problem with these characters is you cannot pursue relationships with them and they don't have too much to say outside of missions... though they are fully integrated into all the main story and side missions. Zaeed you get for free when you download your online pass and Kasumi is a $7 paid add-on... both are worth getting as they are good characters in battle.

Normandy Crash-Site DLC
This is small free add-on where you take Shepard solo down to the crash-site of the Normandy. You place a hero's statue, find a few data-pads, collect dog-tags of the dead and collect a few resources from the site and then it is over. It's a pretty atmospheric little add-on that I think is worth playing for that alone.

Firewalker DLC
This is one of the lamer DLC add-ons for Mass Effect 2 even though it is free. You take this vehicle the Hammerhead and fly it around a few levels scanning for stuff. It's not really that interesting, but for free I guess it'd be worth it for the achievements.

Overlord Mission DLC
Overlord is a pretty cool little story worth checking out for the shock value alone as you uncover the secret of this rogue AI. This one will set you back about $7, but as I said it's worth it.

Lair of the Shadow Broker Mission DLC
This is a great set of missions with a great storyline as you get to fight along side Liara T'Soni again as she tries to uncover the secret of the Shadow Broker. It's almost worth the $7 bucks just to hear Shepard's quip about Omni-Gel. If you are going to get one, get this one.

Arrival Mission DLC
This is the mission that ties Mass Effect 2 to the beginning of Mass Effect 3 where Shepard is on trial for the thing he does in this DLC. This another solo Shepard mission and really isn't worth the $7 except for the completionist who wants to play all the missions.

Overall Mass Effect 2's DLC did much better than Mass Effect 1's two mediocre add-ons. Apparently some of these missions will carry over to Mass Effect 3 if you have completed them so if you want to control all the choices yourself you might want to check these out. It'll be interesting to see how all of the choices finally play out in Mass Effect 3 in a couple of months. I think that covers everything I want to say about Mass Effect 2 so come back on January 7th to get a preview of what Now Loading In-Depth Season 2 has in store. Later. Loading Complete!