December 31, 2011
In remembrance of 2011, I thought I’d compile a list of what I thought were the ten best games I played this year. Considering that I don’t play a ton of recent releases, a lot of this list will be older games. As anyone who reads this blog will note, that’s in line with what I actually play. Rather than ranking these games, I’ll simply alphabetize the list.
Animal Crossing: City Folk – This game is up there with Skyrim in the amount of time I devote to it. It’s awfully familiar to previous games in the series but I still find it as addictive as ever. I also had fun getting my friend into it and playing with him.
Batman: Arkham City - What a game! I loved Arkham Asylum and this game upped the ante in so many ways. Such a large environment with so much to do!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Although I haven’t played a ton of this yet, I’ve already enjoyed it a great deal.
Final Fantasy XII – I can’t imagine I’ll ever like a Japanese RPG more than I like this game. Square Enix took everything to a whole other level with this game.
Gears of War 3 - The best in the series. The best playing, the most expansive content-wise, the best in every regard.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - This series holds a soft spot in my heart and this game did so many things right that made the similar format feel fresh.
Mass Effect 2 – I had so much fun discussing this game with others, more importantly though, I had so much fun playing this. The gameplay was much improved over the first game and even though there were a lot of things taken out, the options I had were still astounding.
Mansion of Hidden Souls – An unusual pick for sure but this game turned my friend and I onto an unfamiliar genre and we’ve had a lot of fun solving puzzles in similar games since playing this.
Vanquish - Platinum Games took the usually slow moving military third-person shooter and blended it with Japanese quirks. A fantastical futuristic setting, a story with some ridiculous moments, a lot of great set pieces, and super fun and fast-paced gameplay.
You Don’t Know Jack – A stellar mulitplayer game that received a ton of rotation at my house. A great value.
November 20, 2011
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword came out today and I’ve sunk a couple hours into that. It’s been all setup so far, but I’m heading to my first dungeon in my next session. There’s much more of a human element so far, but there generally is in the first settlement. The setting of a floating island reminds me of The Wind Waker, hopefully there is similar exploration. I like the art style, other have described it as painterly. One thing I’m struck by is the way things look from afar; the objects and colors meld together and create a splotchy look, like a watercolor painting.
The coasting I did leading up to Skyward Sword’s release resulted in me finding all 440 of the Riddler trophies, challenges, etc. in Batman: Arkham City. I’ll be taking a break from that now. I also played Gears of War 3′s versus mode a little bit.
I’ll be focusing on Skyward Sword for a week or two so I probably won’t have much to talk about, plus I’m coming into finals week in school so I need to focus on that too, but I will write a first impressions article about Skyward Sword once I’ve sunk more time into it and hopefully another article or two as well. Oh! My friend and I made great progress in Juggernaut last week and it’s so fucking weird. Can’t wait to play more of that.
November 6, 2011
I played a fair deal of Batman: Arkham City last week and I finally posted my review of it. Like last week, I hardly touched Front Mission so basically done with it at the moment. I just don’t have enough time!
There are still a few more big releases slated for the remainder of the year, but the only one I’ll get right away will be The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. I’ll pick it up when it releases on November 20. I am interested in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim so I might pick that up after I complete Skyward Sword.
It was fun to get caught in the new release whirlwind this year. Even though I only picked up Gears of War 3 and Arkham City, I I feel like I’ve participated in way more conversations at work and allowed myself to get caught up in the moment. There’s been so many stellar titles released this year that I want to go back and play, but there’s so little time.
Lastly, what’s up with the earthquakes in Oklahoma? I actually live a mile or two away from this place and was lucky enough to have taken a tour. I learned a good deal about earthquakes and that they do happen in Oklahoma, but the two that happened over the weekend are the first I’ve actually felt. It was so surreal.
November 1, 2011
Batman: Arkham City is the follow-up to one of 2009s most popular and critically acclaimed games: Batman: Arkham Asylum. The combat is nearly identical to Arkham Asylum’s while the environment is many times larger. Throw in a captivating story with a ton of post-game content, and I think 2011 is going to be a repeat of 2009.
Batman: Arkham City’s combat is mostly unchanged from Batman: Arkham Asylum. It revolves around Batman pummeling bad guys with his fists and gadgets and doing it exceptionally well. He leaps from goon to goon, even when they’re incredibly far apart and the blows he delivers are impactful, especially the final hit when dealing with a group of hoodlums. I didn’t make good use of every option available to Batman, but I really, really liked the melee combat. I’ve heard it called the best melee combat in video games and I’d have to agree.
The fights get tougher when different enemy types are introduced. There are a few larger than normal enemies that take a whooping and there are a few that require special tactics such as attacking from behind, but Batman’s biggest threat, aside from a few bosses, are enemies with guns. In a way, Arkham City has two modes of combat. The first is the all-out melee combat where I took on any comers, while the second revolved around stealth.
If I didn’t act stealthily around bad guys with guns and they noticed me, it was basically game over. Batman can take a walloping from run-of-the-mill bad guys, but guns shred him up. When I encountered a group of well equipped thugs, I took them out quietly, and this was as fun as tackling a large group. As I took more enemies out, they would freak out, giving me direct feedback on how I was doing. What I liked most about this sort of combat however was my forced reliance on my environment and gadgets. If I didn’t take these two aspects into consideration, thugs with guns would be much tougher.
After the events of Arkham Asylum, Gotham City is still fed up with the villains that plague them. Through a curious chain of events, the most crime-ridden area of Gotham City is condemned and turned into Arkham City, a massive jail essentially. Dr. Hugo Strange is a key figure and as one might guess, up to something sinister.
Strange captures Bruce Wayne as he’s criticizing Arkham City and announcing his bid to run for mayor of Gotham City. Unfortunate for Strange, Batman is now inside Arkham City, but he’s not alone. Catwoman plays a large role in the game, but it’s strange how she is implemented. The ability to play as Catwoman is really a piece of downloadable content and included with any new copy of Batman: Arkham City. But everyone else will miss out unless they buy the DLC. Not infuriating, but whatever.
Her story is woven into the game at four points, and at natural breaks in Batman’s story. Her plot intertwines with Batman’s and I generally liked the break from Batman. She plays very similar to Batman, but she doesn’t have the same gadgets. She doesn’t have a lot of them either; only three compared to Batman’s dozen. Her fights were predominately just that, fights; I rarely took enemies out stealthily as her.
Batman and Catwoman meet many familiar and not so familiar villains from Batman lore. Batman has run-ins with a few major players like The Penguin and Mister Freeze, but The Joker is his main foe. What happens is very peculiar though. For most of the game, they are seeking the same thing and they operate as frenemies, but the way their relationship eventually plays out is intense.
I was really captivated by Arkham City’s story. Every time I’d finish a story thread, something interesting would happen and make me want to continue. Unlike a lot of games, I rarely wanted to stop playing it, and when I wasn’t busy with the story, I had a fairly large open world environment to explore.
Scattered about Arkham City were hundreds of riddles and trophies The Riddler left behind; literally hundreds, nearly five hundred in total. I almost feel like it’s too many, but then again, I’ve spent as much time with the game after I beat it as I did to beat it. Most of his items are trophies and these require clever uses of Batman’s gadgets. There are also riddles which require me to take a picture of something, but I had a hard time with these considering the large environment. His items would be tagged on the map after beating up certain thugs and this was very welcome.
When not going after Hugo Strange, The Joker, or The Riddler, I had a decent amount of side quests to tackle. These were mostly tasked to Batman by his enemies, which seemed odd. I mean Batman had incentives to undertake them, but if I simply told you Batman was assisting Bane without elaborating, you’d probably be confused. In the same vein, Batman never kills his enemies, which in some circumstances, is frustrating. I understand he doesn’t want to take a life, but locking someone up in a simple cage seems shortsighted.
Besides the standard game mode (in which I could fully explore Arkham City post-game and tidy things up as Batman or Catwoman) I could undertake the Riddler’s Revenge mode. This mode contained a lot of maps where I was tasked with beating up groups of thugs and getting ranked on how well I did, or taking a group of thugs out silently, and in a few specific ways. There is a lot of stuff to do in this game!
Batman: Arkham City is an improvement over Batman: Arkham Asylum. The combat system has changed little in two years, but it’s still so great. I really liked the story and was surprised by a few things that happened; I’ll definitely remember the ending. My biggest takeaway from Batman: Arkham City is the amount of content it contains. I’ve spent a lot of time with the game these past two weeks, and it’s one of the only games I’ve ever completed and then jumped right back into… for another dozen or so hours. Having strayed from many of this year’s new releases I can’t say with authority, but I believe Batman: Arkham City is one of the year’s best games. Batman: Arkham City was developed by London based Rocksteady Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and soon the PC. I played the Xbox 360 version.
October 30, 2011
Still no Batman: Arkham City review, but it’s coming! My time was mostly devoted to school last week. I finished up a month long assignment dealing with the different accounting cycles a business goes through and it was a doozy. The day before it was due I worked on it no less than six hours, plus another three the day it was due and considering all the work I’d done on it prior to then, I probably spent thirty hours completing it. It got done.
I played a good deal more of Arkham City. I ‘m nearly finished with the side quests but I still have a lot of Riddler related stuff to do. Add in the challenge rooms and I still have a bunch to do.
I did get a little time in with Front Mission but not enough to mention it, other than saying I played it of course. That’s everything I suppose. Now’s a good time to finish my Arkham City review.
October 29, 2011
When I was bored at work earlier today I realized my only obligation on Halloween this year is school, and that’s only until noon. Seeing how I live in a rural area and I don’t get trick-or-treaters, I’ll have the rest of the evening to myself, and probably some friends. Naturally, I began concocting a list of Halloween related games I could potentially play.
The first on my list, and one I will definitely play is Batman: Arkham City. Primarily because Calender Man hinted that I should visit him on Halloween, but also because dressing up as a superhero is commonplace on Halloween.
Bloodrayne. Maybe it’s time to revisit Bloodrayne: Betrayal.
Castlevania. I’ll probably have nothing better to do on Halloween so I might as well play a game in this great series and slay Dracula.
Condemned: Criminal Origins. A really good game.
Costume Quest. I actually don’t have this, but it’s onlya download away. This role-playing game came out last October and features a group of children trick-or treating. A solid title from the well-regarded studio Double Fine Productions.
Dracula Unleashed. Or perhaps any other “spooky” game on the Sega CD like Night Trap, Mansion of the Hidden Souls, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. I’ve always wanted to play this game and this is the perfect excuse to pick it up.
Fester’s Quest. This NES game has players controlling Uncle Fester from the TV show The Addams Family. Scary indeed.
Geist. This poor GameCube first-person shooter might just be at the right place at the right time this Halloween.
Grabbed by the Ghoulies. More ghosts?
Illbleed. This Dreamcast game seems really strange.
Juggernaut. Speaking of strange, this PlayStation adventure game is off the charts.
Left 4 Dead. What list of Halloween related video games would be complete without Left 4 Dead, or any other game featuring zombies.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. Playing the full-motion video Sega CD game would remind of my youth in the 1990s, and it’d be the perfect excuse to write about one of my favorite Sega CD games.
Overblood. This Resident Evil clone has a soft spot in my heart, just like another spooky PlayStation video game: Space Griffon VF-9.
Resident Evil. Any game from this survival-horror series would be right at home on Halloween.
Shadowgate. A spooky point-and-click adventure game perhaps?
The Simpsons: Night of the Living Treehouse of Horror. I received this poor Game Boy Color platformer for my birthday one year and never progressed far in it.
The Thing. I did just see the new movie.
TimeSplitters: Future Perfect. One of my favorite levels from this game was a horror themed mansion.
Alone in the Dark
Dead Head Fred
Friday the 13th
House of the Dead
The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie’s Revenge/The Pumpkin King
Zombies Ate My Neighbors
Anyone else planning something similar? What titles did I forget about?
October 23, 2011
Man is Batman: Arkham City good. I plan on writing a review this week but the contents are pretty much going to be “man is Batman: Arkhamy City good”. Besides my limited work obligations during the week and my limited schoolwork thanks to fall break, I dedicated whatever time I had to Arkham City, and I completed it last week, but I’m going to play through it again thanks to the new game plus feature. Besides that, there are so many Riddler-related items I have left to track down and I plan on completing 100% of the game. Lastly, there is a mode dedicated to challenge rooms (fighting dudes and stealthily taking out dudes) that I haven’t sunk a ton of time into yet.
Along with the demos I wrote about, Batman: Arkham City was pretty much it. I played a little bit more of Front Mission but that just got overshadowed this week.
October 18, 2011
I didn’t necessarily play a ton of new games in 2009, but Batman: Arkham Asylum was my favorite game that year. The beat ‘em combat was unlike anything I’d ever experienced in a video game. As Batman I took on large groups of enemies, and once I learned the ins and outs of the deep combat system, I was able to rack up incredible combos and effortlessly take out thugs. There was so much more to the gameplay than just the combat though; exploration was such a major feature too. Witnessing so many of Batman’s enemies firsthand was interesting and my knowledge of the lore was enhanced because of Rocksteady Studios’ attention to detail. Needless to say I was pumped for the sequel.
Batman: Arkham City just came out, like yesterday, and I wanted to recap my experience with the first few hours. The biggest difference I’ve noticed so far is the environment. Last time we saw Batman, he was confined to Arkham Asylum and the island it resided on. This was a large environment, but for the most part, everything was connected via hallways. This time around, Batman has all of Arkham City to explore; it’s many times larger than the previous environment and feels much more open.
I’m beginning to get acquainted with the city and am increasingly able to know where I am via landmarks and important buildings. I’m traversing much of the city in the “canopy” by grappling to rooftops and gliding around. For every new story beat, I’m given an indicator of where I need to go, and the game lets progress the story at my own pace. I’ve encountered many sidequests so far and I don’t think I can walk for more than thirty seconds before finding something to do. I’ve been splitting my time between advancing the story and partaking in sidequests, and I’m just baffled by the amount of stuff to do.
But what’s up with Arkham City what is it and why isn’t that game taking place in Gotham City? Well, when Arkham Asylum closed down, Gotham City still needed a place to put criminals and super villains, and Dr. Hugo Strange obliged. He’s behind the development of Arkham City, where ne’er do wells run rampant. Circumstances see that Batman winds up inside and yada, yada, yada. We all know Batman is going to do what Batman knows best, kick butt and put a stop to whatever madness is going on, and probably only temporarily. The story has introduced me to a handful of well known and lesser known enemies in the four hours I’ve played so far, and kicking butt is still challenging and rewarding.
The combat is identical to the previous game, I’m not sure I’ve even encountered any additional methods of attacking yet, but I’m sure that’ll come with time. That just means the combat is easy to learn and difficult to master like it previously was, and I’ve found I’m a little rusty, but then again I’ve already gotten a 40-hit combo. I still gain levels for kicking butt, completing quests, and finding secrets, and I still have a boatload of options to level up. That’s something I really like about Batman: Arkham City; there is a ton of additional stuff for me to do, and I feel it’s worth my time because the rewards have a direct effect on gameplay.
Honestly, Batman: Arkham City has exceeded my expectations in the four or so hours I’ve played of it. The story is captivating so far, but it’s really the gameplay that’s drawing me in. Fighting enemies and wanting to excel is challenging and fun. There’s so much to do too; I feel a little overwhelmed with the possibilities I have, progress the story, accomplish any number of sidequests, etc. but so far I’m blown away by Batman: Arkham City.