With the disappointments neatly displayed, it’s time to look at the highlights of the year.There was a lot more than ten, but I didn’t want to go on and on, so I’ve only listed 10, with the honourable mentions going at the bottom. Remember these are my opinions – some of these may be on your biggest disappointments, some of them you may think are down right crap – doesn’t matter. So without further gilding the lily and in no particular order, I give you…
Blades of Time (PC)
It was easy for a lot of people to overlook Blades of Time, just as they had done with X-Blades a few years ago. This semi-sequel gives up the anime looks for a more realistic approach and does a pretty good job of it too. It’s definetly a B list title, but it’s professionaly put together and has a number of original ideas. Foremost of these is the ability to rewind time and create recorded clones of yourself. It’s a system reminicent of Ratchet and Clanks best adventure on the PS3 – A Crack in Time, but here it’s used to augment combat rather than just used as a puzzle device. Certain enemies require thier armour to be broken by being wailed on by loads of clones – others need to be held down by your clones while you dispatch them.
Mass effect 3 (PS3)
While it’s not perfect, and not quite as good as Mass Effect 2, ME3 was a great experience. A climactic end to a fantastic trilogy – the extended endings did it justice (even if I don’t agree that you should be allowed to pick your end – they should be automatically decided by your alignment!) the only things that truly mar the experience are Shepards reactions to losing and the descrution of the Asari homeworld. Wheras usually Shepeard serves as a mouthpiece for player decisions and actions, here she decideds to tell the player how she’s feeling – and I don’t agree with it. The other thing is the sub-par DLC that’s been offered. Nothing close to the brilliance of Lair of the Shadow Broker, these DLC’s are short asides that have little to no impact. That being said, the Multi-player and its method of free DLC was outstanding. A great game mode and one I played for a long time after launch.
Legend of Grimrock (PC)
How could I not fall in love with this. It’s Eye of the Beholder! Well essentially anyway. The graphics have been updated to look more like Skyrim, but the gameplay is exactly like the dungeon crawling RPGs of old. It was a real delight to delve into the prison of Grimrock and experience puzzles the like of which have either vanished entirely or been heavily simplified in more recent RPG’s.
Lollipop Chainsaw (PS3)
I went into this with low expectations. I was tired of zombies and the main character seemed too exploitative. I came out delighted. Suda 51’s brand of wacky humour keeps things moving along well. The characters are likeable and the gameplay – while not brilliant – is good enough to keep the game fun throughout. I enjoyed this way more than I should have and even though I platinum’d it – I am so tempted to play it again.
Spec Ops: The Line (PC)
What can I say about Spec Ops? It was fantastic. The combat may not have been the best, but it provided an adequate vehicle for the game to deliver its story. While there were comparisons to Apocalypse Now, this takes a different approach to the source for that movie – Joseph Konrad’s Heart of Darkness. It’s a game everyone should play at least once – rent it if you must – but play it and be moved.
Dead or Alive 5 (PS3)
I can’t explain why I was looking forward to Dead or Alive 5 so much. No, not just boobies. I hadn’t bought a Dead or Alive game since the first one on PSOne – but something about this one looked great. I got it and I was not disjointedness The graphics are great, but most importantly the gameplay is accessible and stupidly hard to master. I still can’t finish the game on anything higher than Normal mode, but it’s damn fun trying. I’m certainly looking forward to this on Vita, so I can practice more often!
Halo 4 (X360)
Holy crap does Halo 4 look good. Much like Gears of War 3 it amazes me how much the X360 is capable of. 343 delivered a game that is every much the worthy sequel to Bungee’s series. The single player campaign looks better than ever and provides a story that is coherent and interesting. Something Bungee has really struggled to do since Halo 1 (Halo Reach did a fairly good job too). The multiplayer is as good as ever and although the 4 player splitscreen seems to have suffered from the graphics upgrade, the Spartan Ops co-op is a great idea and is damn fun to play through with friends.
Far Cry 3 (PC)
It did’t take much to convince me that Far Cry 3 was going to be brilliant. I played it at Eurogamer, set a field on fire, killed a dog and knew I wanted it. The game was brilliant. Taking game elements from Assassin’s Creed 2 (towers, mission structure), the cinematic brilliance of Uncharted and the open exploration of Skyrim – Far Cry 3 delivered a fantastic experience. The story was quite interesting even if it didn’t quite achieve the depth that the writer intended and just came across as racist, it felt like it was drawing from the same kind of pulp fiction that Uncharted drew from.
Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom (PSP)
While it may be an otome game, Hakuoki was great fun. Persona really shows how popular the visual novel form can be be in the west, but Aksys were still taking a massive chance publishing a game aimed at girls, on the PSP in the US. It did fairly well in terms of commercial success and provided a good story with great characterisation and plenty of replay value. Certainly not a game for everyone, but I enjoyed the hell out of it 🙂
It may have only lasted two hours, but journey was an unforgettable experience. The trek across the deserts, the water caverns, the icy wastes was visually stunning stuff – just as the final push up the mountain through the blizzard was an emotional trial. The Demons’ Souls style co-op also adds a great feeling of companionship as you both huddle together in the snows, trying to share your meagre power. Like Spec-Ops, you have to play this.
Gianna Sisters – Remake of a cult mario bros. rip-off. It looks amazing and has some great music.
Persona 4 Golden – Persona 4 was easily one of the best PS2 games, this makes it even better! It’s a shame they didn’t add a female main character, but lead man Narukami is a lot better than the Persona 3 protagonist anyway.
Borderlands 2 – 4 player mayhem. Great fun! What need more be said?
Dishonored – A good sneaking game…well that’s how I played it! Not quite as deep as it should have been, but it was quite striking nonetheless.
Assassin’s Creed 2: Revelations – I was playing this late, as its technically a game from 2011, but I really enjoyed seeing the end of Ezio’s journey.
Diablo 3 – This was a disappointment for many, but for me it was a thouroughly fun ARPG. I found it waay to hard on the upper difficulties, but it was fun while it lasted.