At nearly 40 hours of play time, I managed to wrap up Fallout: New Vegas last night. In some ways, despite completing the story, I utterly failed the game. This was supposed to be a different RPG for me. I'm always the good guy, or at the very least the well-meaning jerk. While my characters in these games may flash a mean streak on occassion (like the time I assaulted the film crew in Mass Effect) I'm nonetheless a force for the overall greater good.
I was going to finally be the bad guy this time. And I managed to do that... for a while. I was a real salty dog in those first few hours! Stealing from people, killin' fools who looked at me funny, dragging the bodies of my fallen enemies into heavily trafficked areas to send a message to people. (Wow, that last one sounds really weird in retrospect. Maybe I shouldn't have said that.) I was so good at being bad! But then the game went on and I found myself gradually moving farther and farther to the good end of the spectrum with every small decision I made. Eventually I finished the game with a karma level of something roughly along the lines of "Great Shimmering Beacon of Hope And Cuddles." This was not my intention.
My crippling faults aside, New Vegas was a lot of fun. I waited several months to play it in hopes that the game would be patched up, and I seemed to have made the right decision. I really only encountered two bugs, and they were both within the final five hours of the game. At one point, I fell inside a giant rock and couldn't get out, and a bit later on the screen froze when I was smashing a half-dozen or so Brotherhood of Steel paladins with my giant hammer of death. The whole game was definitely rough around the edges from start to finish, but it certainly wasn't anywhere nearly as buggy as I was expecting.
The only real drawback with New Vegas is that finishing it up has only served to build up my anticipation for Skyrim that much more. Everything I've read about it thus far has me super excited, and after a pair of games set in the Fallout universe, I'm ready for something a little bit more lush and lively in my next sprawling Bethesda RPG. Is it November 11th yet?
It's that time again, folks. Just as I did back in 2009 and 2008, here is my incredibly imprecise and unscientific top 10 list of games from the past year. The only ones I'm really set on are the top three; everything past that could shuffle around depending on how I feel on a particular day. So let's just call this my favorite games of 2010 for Monday, January 3 at 9:54am.
10. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
Enslaved suffered from awkward movement issues and a camera best described as jaunty, but it was a beautifully crafted game set in a landscape both gorgeous and heartbreaking, and the nuanced characters were a real treat to spend time with.
9. Fallout: New Vegas
I decided to wait a couple months for this game to get patched up, and all signs point to a smart decision--New Vegas is an engrossing adventure set in a world where it's a blast to simply wander around and allow yourself to get lost in the atmosphere.
8. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Assassin's Creed II was my favorite game of 2009, and when they announced a sequel was coming out just one year later, I was worried. Clearly I was wrong, because even though Brotherhood isn't as special as its predecessor, it's still a terrific game that bears the series' quality standards quite well.
7. Dragon Quest IX
I'm a dyed in the wool Dragon Quest fan, so it's pretty much a guarantee you'll see the series make my list any year a new DQ is released. But don't let that detract you from Dragon Quest IX, because what Level 5 has done here with the fabulous loot system and story sequencing really adds new life to the series.
6. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
I was a little disappointed that DICE scaled back the sense of humor in the story campaign, but this game's stellar multiplayer more than made up for it. I was addicted to this game in a pretty fierce way when it came out back in March, going from class to class as I maxed out each upgrade tree. But in my heart of hearts, I'll always be a sniper.
5. Heavy Rain
When I set out to put this list together, I wasn't expecting to rank Heavy Rain so high. But the more I looked back on my experience with this game, the more memorable it was. It's not a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a very special one--and a game that I loved.
4. Halo: Reach
I was a huge fan of the new direction Bungie took with ODST's choose-your-own-adventure campaign, so I wasn't sure what to make of a return to a more traditional structure when Reach was first announced. What a fool I was.
3. Alan Wake
Alan Wake is a real testament to just how far atmosphere and novel storytelling can get you when the gameplay itself is nothing to write home about. Dark and gloomy in all the right ways, Alan Wake's wilderness was a terrifying place to spend time in. But you add to that a story that unfolds in non-chronological fashion with an out-of-order manuscript page system, and what you've got is a game that toys with you, almost taunting you with its glimpses at what lies around the next corner. Love, love, love it.
2. Red Dead Redemption
As you can tell from my experience with Fallout: New Vegas, I love a game where you can just wander around and get lost in. Red Dead was certainly that, but it was also a terrific story about a man who simply wants to be a better human being than he's been in the past. Also, bears.
1. Mass Effect 2
I'm beginning to sound a bit like a broken record, so at this point you've probably picked up on just how much I love a game that nails story and atmosphere. As far as I'm concerned, no one did it better this year than BioWare. From the explosive intro to the final charge against the Reapers, Mass Effect 2 was my favorite game of the year by a fairly sizable margin. The only real knock against it is the way BioWare slimmed down those RPG elements we diehard gamers know and love. But you know what? Look at that iPhone or Android device in your pocket. Think of how many devices you had to carry around 10 years ago that your current phone can do in one tiny package. Now think of how things will look a couple hundred years into the future. You're not going to be running around picking up loot, coins, and other bits and bobs as you would in a fantasy RPG. The future is streamlined. The future is ruthlessly efficient. But it still has hamsters in it.
The Best of the Rest:
Vanquish, Dance Central, Dead Rising 2, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Limbo, God of War III, Just Cause 2, Super Meat Boy.
Games I Will Probably Love But Just Haven't Played Yet:
Mafia II, StarCraft II, Rock Band 3, DJ Hero 2, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future. Amnesia, Valkyria Chronicles II, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.
Crackdown 2. I loved the first game so much. I just wasn't expecting them to ship it again in 2010.
Most Anticipated Game of 2011:
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. But before that was announced, it was The Last Guardian.
Favorite iPhone Game of 2010:
Personal favorite game has to be Angry Birds, but objective best game of the year is easily Trainyard.
Favorite Movie of 2010:
Inception. No surprises here!
Favorite Album of 2010:
High Violet by The National.
...and that just about does it. Phew! Thanks for reading!
This blog is a part of the scavenger hunt.
Share a couple of items on your Christmas wishlist this year.
Items on my Christmas wishlist this year include a new Canon DSLR and socks. That's pretty much it.
What games will you play during the holidays?
I plan to play Fallout: New Vegas and the new Professor Layton game.
What are the kinds of food or drinks you must have during the holidays?
During the holidays I love having eggnog, eggnog-flavored ice cream, eggnog-flavored cookies, and other foods with an element of nog to them. Except burritos. That would be weird. (UPDATE: OR WOULD IT???)
ORNAMENT HUNT ANSWER - CLUE 25
Today's my last day in the office before I take off for a nice, long, two-week holiday break. It'll be a glorious celebration of sleeping in, wearing pajamas well into the afternoon, and drinking egg nog to the point of a near-fatal coma. Really looking forward to it.
But perhaps most exciting of all is being able to catch up on the games I didn't get around to playing this year. I'll be without my consoles for the first week of the break, so I'm thinking that I'll be catching up on Civilization V on my laptop, as well as the newest Professor Layton on my DS.
Then I'll be back home from traveling for that second week, where I'll be jumping headfirst into Fallout New Vegas on my 360. I've vowed to play as an evil character, which is a first for me because I always play as a shining beacon of virtue in games like these. Wish me luck! I don't know how long I can stand being a Grade-A, irredeemable jerkface.
So what are you guys doing/playing over the holidays?
After shooting the episode of Now Playing that went up today, I can say that I am officially super-pumped for Killzone 3. More specifically, I am super-pumped to make this type of melee kill a ROUTINE OCCURRENCE:
Magical. Just... magical.
As a previews editor, 99.9% of the words I write for GameSpot are about upcoming, unreleased games. But when the holiday season rolls around and the release schedule balloons to ridiculous proportions, I get to help out the reviews team with some good old-fashioned critical analysis of completed games. So that's why this week, you may have spotted my name on GameSpot's review of James Bond 007: Blood Stone. Verdict: I liked it!
Being able to write reviews and stamp a score on them is a nice change of pace from writing previews, but I think my favorite part is taking screenshots to embed into the article itself. The types of screens you wind up with when you take them yourself instead of using publisher-supplied screens have the potential to be utterly hilarious. So without further ado, here are some of the screens that didn't make it into my Blood Stone review.
The first one I call, "Bond Takes a Break From Killing For a Nice, Warm Hug"
This next screen... I have no idea why I took it. But apparently, I did. Why did I decide that THIS of all things needed to be captured for posterity? This is why I should not be allowed to take screenshots. I call it "Turkish Man With Mustache"
And finally, here is a series of screens I took of some of nature's most majestic animals. I call it "WHALES!"
I should probably mention this is only about 20% of the whale screenshots I took. Yep.
I know my blog has been pretty dead over the last couple months, so now I'm giving you the chance to catch up with me live and in person! Assuming your concept of "live" and "in person" means communicating via Xbox headset. The age we live in, right?
So! If you want to take part in some awesome Halo: Reach action with myself and Chris Watters tomorrow night, head on over to our Community Blog to get the details of how it'll all go down.
See you tomorrow!
Luckily, I avoided deportation. But clearly I was close.
Today is my last day in the office before flying off to Gamescom. It's been a rush of trying to figure out all the things in my desk that I need to bring. Let's see where I am right now:
Can of chicken soup? No.
Business cards? Yep.
Mexican wrestling mask? No.
Promotional copy of Dead Space novel? Sure, why not.
Unopened copy of "Golden Balls" for the Nintendo DS? Not likely.
Dragon Quest slime? Maybe for good luck.
Second of what turns out to be two Mexican wrestling masks? Oh god why do I have this.
Dental floss? I guess.
Boxing kangaroo pen? YES.
Is that a third Mexican wrestling mask? WHAT.
OH IT'S JUST A T-SHIRT. Thank God.
When I get back from Germany, I need to clean out my desk.