So, it’s that time of year again. The gaming release calendar has all but expired, the biggest and best games of 2011 are out there to buy and we can now enjoy them whilst looking forward to what 2012 has to offer (besides impending doom, of course). My Game of the Year list will consist of 15 games that I have purchased and played throughout this year. There will be some notable lack of appearances by certain games (such as Assassins Creed: Revelations) because I am only receiving them at christmas and cannot play them until then. I will either update my list after then to include these games if necessary, or add an entirely new post altogether. As it stands right now, this list is what I have played this year up until this point in time.
There are 15 games and I plan for each post to be fairly long in length so there will be three separate posts, each with five games leading up to the top. This post will focus on 15-10.
15 – LEGO STAR WARS 3: CLONE WARS (3DS)
As it stands, this game is not a bad game by any means. The reason I have placed it right at the bottom of this list isn’t really because it’s a poor game; It’s more a case of that, compared to other titles in my list, it doesn’t ‘feel’ like a game. It feels more like a series of mini-games.
You don’t get anything new from this game that you don’t get from any of the other Lego Star Wars titles. The premise is exactly the same as the previous two outings, only the difference is that you get to see those lego characters get dissembled in 3D. I can’t comment on how close the story in the game is to the TV show of the same name due to not being familiar with it, but if you buy this game expecting an engrossing, well written story, you may as well burn your cash. Lego games have never been about the story. Instead, they are about the extremely simple gameplay design. In that regard, it works fantastically.
Where Lego Star Wars 3 exceeds is in the simplistic nature of the gameplay. Those of you who are familiar with any Lego video-game will know exactly what to expect. These games are incredibly easy to pick up and play. So easy, that anybody could play them, regardless of age or skill. You have one button to attack, another to jump and that’s about all you need to know. It doesn’t matter if you’re poor at the game because you can die an infinite number of times and still come back a few seconds later to try again with no consequence whatsoever besides losing a few bricks. Whether you find any enjoyment from this game depends on what you expect from it; If you expect a challenging, lengthy story, you’ll hate it. If you expect a fun, easy to play game to have short sessions on, you’ll love it. I am in the middle.
As I said previously, it’s not a bad game by any means. The problem, is that it’s extremely short, so easy that it can sometimes be frustrating and although the 3D looks nice, there’s not a lot of it to experience compared to other games on the 3DS. Where it falls short in these aspects, it makes up for in its familiar, simple style of gameplay. Kids will love it. Adults might too, depending on what you’re looking for.
14 – HOMEFRONT (XBOX 360)
Homefront is a classic example of a game that was irrevocably ruined by the hype that came before it’s launch. We were told how the campaign story would be something special and how it had top writers working on it. It failed in nearly all aspects and it is easily worthy of such a low position on this list.
I’ll start with the campaign. Yes, it is something of an improvement over your average FPS campaign. Yes, it was enjoyable during certain moments. No, it is not worth playing through more than once. Why? IT’S TOO SHORT! The campaign of Homefront barely lasts over 4 hours on the medium difficulty. It does not matter how great of a story there is – I cannot become overly fond of, or ‘bond’, with a story that doesn’t even take me over the length of time it takes me to go shopping. I’m sure there are people who will say to turn the difficulty up and it will become longer, but all that achieves is making me spend the extra two hours getting pissed off everytime I get killed by the rubbish AI. The end result is that the campaign is still the measly four hours long it was before – I just artificially extended it by raising the difficulty. An extremely poor effort after all that hype.
Then we get on to the multiplayer. The Homefront MP feels like a blend of the elements of Call of Duty and Battlefield; the combat feels more towards the direction of Call of Duty, but the big maps, team based action and the inclusion of vehicles brings in a sense of Battlefield. For the first five or so hours, it works. After that, it fails. There are glitches all over the place, the opposing team can easily spawn camp you with various vehicles at their disposal and it seems that everybody and their aunt likes to lie down on a hill and snipe you at every given opportunity. Add to this the frankly boring maps and you have a game that lacks any substance or reason to keep playing. I’m sure there are people out there who adore the game, and that’s fine. Personally, there are far better games out there that I would rather play. I applaud them for trying to bridge the gap between the CoD/BF styles of play, but the rest of the issues drown out any merit received from that.
13 – STARFOX 64 3D (3DS)
“Do a barrel roll!” No, but seriously, Starfox 64 3D is a nice remake of the original. I never played it, but even I can see that they did a good job with bringing it in to the future and in 3D. The problem, and it’s probably an issue that’s more to do with me than the game, is that I see very little replay value.
It takes less than an hour to get from the start of the ‘campaign’ to the end. It sounds terrible, but there are multiple alternate routes to take you from the start to the finish. Each run through still takes very little time, but you at least get the fun of discovering these hidden routes and playing on planets that you did not experience before. Couple this with the addictive nature of collecting the gold rings and getting as many kills as possible, and you have a certain amount of replay value to be had. However, if you’re like me, you’ll play through the game around ten-twenty times (taking different routes each time) and you’ll start to get bored of doing it.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about this game is the lack of an online multiplayer mode. You can play a match with 3 other bots, or 3 other players sitting near you with their own 3DS’, but not online. It is extremely strange that an online multiplayer was not included as it feels like such a thing would be second nature to a game that plays like this. If you have three friends with their own 3DS’, you’re fine, but not everybody shares the same luxury.
Starfox 64 3D is a short, but fun, game that is let down completely by it’s lack of an online mode. Also, the fact that I paid full price for the game and have barely got over ten hours of play from it stings more than what it would have otherwise. It was my own fault for throwing my cash down so easily, and I won’t do it again in future.
12 – MORTAL KOMBAT (XBOX 360)
It’s been a while since a Mortal Kombat game was this good. However, there are two reasons why this game is so low down on my list. The first, is my unexplainable inability to play any fighting game for more than a week without getting bored. The second, is an awful attempt at an online mode. The game at heart, however, is probably the best MK game to appear in many years.
The gameplay is back to how it should be. The blood, gore and spine-ripping is all back in absolute glory. Limbs are getting removed left, right and centre and everything that made the MK franchise so unique and attractive is back. In my opinion, the gameplay is fluid, engaging and yet challenging at the same time. Many of your favorite characters are back, the story is acceptable enough for a fighting game and the entire package just feels like MK at its best. Of course, then we get to the online multiplayer…
I know that for a lot of people, having online multiplayer in any game is not that important. It is for me. Mortal Kombat is a good game but I get tired of fighting the same computer-controlled opponents and I want to play against real, human players who are sitting at their TVs just like I am. It’s never that easy in this game, unfortunately. For a start, getting into a match that doesn’t lag and will actually connect is something of a challenge in itself. I had many sessions where I spent over ten minutes continuously trying to connect to any game I could, only to fail each time. It may have improved since then, but I have no desire to see for myself. When you do get into a match, it’s 50/50 as to whether you will actually stand a chance. I played many online matches and when I got into a match with somebody who had quite clearly spent a small portion of their life on the game, I didn’t stand a chance. I don’t have the time to learn each special move for each character until they’re all second nature to me, but some people do. I’m not hating on these players, I’m just saying that that is how it was when I last played it. The game has been out for a while now so it’s unlikely that you’ll find many people online that don’t know every move to be learned.
Like I said, MK is a good game but my experiences with it were extremely frustrating to the point where I simply couldn’t be bothered to play it anymore, not even in single player. The SP portion of the game, however, is very well done. The MP portion is terrible. That’s a basic summary of it in my experience.
11 – MODERN WARFARE 3 (XBOX 360)
Oh where to start. When I wrote my review of this game, it was still fairly fresh in my head. The game had barely been out for a week, and I was playing it through rose-tinted goggles, under the impression that Infinity Ward had actually learned from their mistakes with MW2. I was very, very wrong.
The single player is short, action-packed fun – just what you expect from a Call of Duty game. Yes, it’s extremely flamboyant and regularly goes beyond the realm of realism, but it’s still enjoyable if you don’t take it too seriously. In that aspect, I don’t really have a lot of complaints. Spec-ops is also a very good part of the package, and it is certainly a reason to keep playing, but once again, the multiplayer is just not up to scratch.
I almost don’t know where to begin. The map selection is the worst in recent CoD history with some absolute stinkers in there (Interchange, anyone?), the killstreaks are still massive annoyances, camping is undertaken by nearly 80% of the entire community, the lag compensation is garbage, everything feels the same and so forth. I could write all night about how much of a step back the multiplayer is from Black Ops. Don’t think for one second that I consider BO to be a perfect game as it’s far from that, but the fact that I have already gone back to it says all that needs to be said about how I feel about MW3. It seems that Infinity Ward is incapable of learning from their past mistakes and simply continues to keep making them without a care in the world, so long as their games sell by the gazillion of course.
You may wonder why I’ve rated this game as 11/15 despite being so negative about it. Well, the campaign and spec-ops are the primary reasons as well as the fact that, despite it’s many faults, MW3 is still a better game than MW2. However, like I said in my review, being better than MW2 isn’t a massive achievement to cry home about as MW2 was as close to catastrophically abysmal as the CoD franchise is ever going to get. An 11/15 rating is as good a placement as I was going to give.
So, there is the first part of my post. The second part will obviously feature numbers 10-5. I do not know when I will be posting this but I will say that it will most likely be around this time next week, and the final part the week after. 🙂