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!
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.
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.
Didn’t focus on anything in particular last week, just coasting until The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword comes out. My friend and I played through the co-op adventure in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception and that was a mixed bag. I’m not too familiar with the series but from what my friend said, the co-op adventure was a blend of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Uncharted 3. It consisted of five levels, each taking about half an hour so it wasn’t a major time investment. It felt tacked on though. There wasn’t much of a story so besides just gaming with my friend, I didn’t feel much incentive to play it. We also put a fair amount of time into Juggernaut.
My girlfriend and I also began playing Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles; my first impressions of it are here. What took up the brunt of my time this week was Gears of War 2. I heard from someone that it was 20x experience in the multiplayer so I decided to jump into that for a bit, and I wound up going after a few achievements. I really should be playing Gears of War 3…
That’s basically it. I’ll find something to write about this week but I’m just coasting until Skyward Sword comes out.
Played a ton of games on Halloween, pretty much everything in this article. My friend and I focused much of our attention on Fester’s Quest and Juggernaut; both very good games to play on Halloween.
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.
Gears of War 3. The final game in the trilogy has been out for a few weeks now and it’s fantastic. It was developed by Epic Games and published by Microsoft Studios on September 20, 2011. The final game in the trilogy brings closure, has an astounding amount of content, and retains the solid gameplay that the series is known for.
Being the third game in a trilogy, Gears of War 3 was scheduled to close the series, and there is closure! I played the co-op campaign with my friend over a few days. We tried to stick to completing one act a day, but after completing the fourth act we decided to go ahead and complete the fifth and final act. They varied in length, but they were all about two hours, which was excellent for the way we played the game.
Set a year or two after Gears of War 2, the campaign revolved around Marcus Fenix finding his father who was previously thought dead. His father probably has a way to destroy the locust and lambent that are plaguing Sera, hopefully saving humanity. But, Marcus and crew have to figure out where he is and how to get there. Their path takes Marcus and his allies through a lot of locales, but as has been the case with the previous games, most are destroyed cities. There were a few memorable environments that broke with tradition however, and for the first time in the series, I felt like there was a broader color palette in the game; rather than a muddle of grays.
Mentioning memorable environments reminds me of a memorable moment in the game. About halfway through the campaign, there was a very serious moment that affects the rest of the game. It was especially serious having played through the entire trilogy and developing a sort of affection for the series. This moment was tonally very different from the usual bro-like mentality of the series and it was handled phenomenally.
So Marcus and crew go through memorable (and sometimes different) environments and there is a special moment about halfway through the game, but what about the ending? Well I found it satisfying. I’ve heard people complain about unanswered questions and I honestly wonder what they’re referring to. That doesn’t mean I can’t gin up some questions because I can, but if I wanted to know the answers to my questions, perhaps they could be answered in the Gears of War books, I don’t know. I do know that the Gears of War trilogy revolved around Marcus Fenix attempting to save humanity, and in that regard, Gears of War 3 brings definitive closure.
After completing the campaign, my friend and I have focused our attention to horde mode. Originating in Gears of War 2, I didn’t play much of it back then, but I do know things have changed. The basic premise is the same: enemies attack in waves and the players try to survive as long as possible and rack up points for kills. We could also install traps that would damage enemies, decoys to distract them, and many other helpful tools.
Besides just racking up points, money is now an issue in horde mode. Those traps, decoys, and other miscellaneous helpful tools cost money, which is received for fulfilling special tasks, by killing enemies, and at the end of each wave. As my friend and I played we each had our own favorite tools to purchase. I liked spike strips and traps that would damage and slow down our enemies while he loved installing turrets. All of these tools were divided into categories that would level up and allow us access to better tools, cheaper tools, whatever.
Besides the inclusion of money and the tools that brought along, horde mode now features a boss wave every tenth wave. The bosses were randomly picked and they were much tougher than the standard enemies. We saw many different boss waves as we continually died on wave 30. We preferred fighting against the Brumak because he was so large and slow, but we rarely saw him. We went up against a small Corpser often, as well as a few lambent Berserkers, our least favorite. It wasn’t just the bosses we’d have to fight on these waves though; there’d be plenty of small and medium tier enemies too that could prove troublesome if we didn’t manage them.
There is a new mode similar to horde mode called beast mode. We haven’t played this yet, but from the descriptions I’ve heard it sounds like a cross between horde mode and the multiplayer from Left 4 Dead. Instead of playing as the humans, in beast mode players play as the locust and the lambent. There are only 12 waves in beast mode (compared with the 50 in horde mode) so I don’t imagine it’s structured in the exact same way. I assume we get to pick who we play as because there are many types of different enemies.
Now onto the versus mode. While I personally like the series for the campaign (co-op specifically) a lot of people pick the game up just for the multiplayer and this time around it’s sucked me in more than it has in the past. There is a good selection of modes and maps in the multiplayer as well as the ability to play locally with a friend or bots. A lot of the modes are common to third-person and first-person action games; team deathmatch, king of the hill as well as other familiar modes are present so it’s easy to jump in, with practice at least. I feel like there’s a relatively high learning curve in the multiplayer, but playing locally is good practice.
That’s basically versus in a nutshell. I’m really not all that into versus multiplayer myself, but I’ve had a bunch of fun with the game. It’s definitely way better with people you know. My friend and I have played a bunch of the local multiplayer. We stick to team deathmatch and load it full of bots on the highest difficulty, although they’re still really dumb, sometimes allowing the opposite team to heal themselves. But we have found it to be very competitive between the two of us; keeping track of matches, and games, and the overall sets; it’s very entertaining.
As far as the gameplay is concerned, Gears of War 3 is simply more Gears of War. There are minor differences and refinements but it’s more of the same and that’s just want I wanted. The shooting was solid and the weapons feel much more unique than they ever have. The campaign was lengthy and satisfying, and I didn’t even mention competing for scores and playing with mutators in arcade mode or the four-player co-op! The multiplayer modes are plentiful with a variety or competitive and co-operative options, and the number of unlockables and achievements will keep people busy for a very long time. Gears of War 3 is a fantastic action game.
Just a few demo impressions last week. Besides playing those I also got a chance to check out the Battlefield 3 beta. I honestly didn’t play it that long so I didn’t get a good enough impression of the game, but it seems like a good first-person shooter. All that was available was one mode on one map in the game’s multiplayer. It was fast-moving and I liked that you could spawn on teammates as well as the effect flashlights and lasers had on my vision, but like I said, I didn’t play it long enough to write anything about it other than this.
My friend and I completed Gears of War 3 last week. I was satisfied with the game’s ending and can’t believe I’ve completed the trilogy, although I’m sure they’ll make more eventually. Hopefully I’ll be able to write a review for it this week, but I fear I’ll be at a loss for free time. But here’s a preview: Gears of War 3 is more Gears of War, but it’s as solid, if not actually a little better, than it ever was.
I’ve also stuck with Front Mission. I’m a few more stages into the game so I haven’t really progressed that much since last week, but it’s starting to give me more options, like what I can buy.
Hopefully I’ll post a Gears of War 3 review this week, but no promises.
Pretty varied week last week. I wrote two reviews of old games (Soul Blazer and Jigsaw Madness) and one preview of a soon to be released game (Ace Combat: Assault Horizon). I also added two pages: reviews and first impressions. They compile all of my articles that fall into those two categories so it’s pretty handy.
Last week I picked up Gears of War 3 and I’ve played that in the little free time I had. My friend and I have completed two acts in the campaign thus far. There are five acts in total so we’re almost halfway done. We also played a bunch of the versus mode and also a lot of the Horde mode (for the unfamiliar, a survival mode). It’s more Gears for sure, but that’s a very good thing. I’m surprised by the amount of content in the game, it’ll keep people busy for a long time.
I also randomly started Front Mission on the DS yesterday. I’ve had it for a while (a couple of years) and have always meant to play it. I’m not so sure I’ll complete though; I like strategy-RPGs in concept, but at some point, they require too much trial and error for me.
Hopefully I’ll be able to write about some demos this week. I have a few downloaded, it’s just a matter of finding the time to check them out and write about them. During the school year, school always takes precedent. That’s been going well too. I took the first test in my Principles of Finance class and got an A so I’m ecstatic about that. In my Accounting Information Systems class we began a month long project and I just finished reading a 90 page instructions booklet yesterday, I’m not so ecstatic about that.
Anyways, I’ll be playing a lot of Gears of War 3 this week, probably a dab of Front Mission, and hopefully some demos.