Games

My Game of the Year (Part 2)

So, continuing on from the last part of this post, these are games 10-6 on my list!

10 – CRYSIS 2 (XBOX 360)

Crysis 2 is a well rounded package on the whole, with a good storyline and a multiplayer that you can play for hours before getting bored. It’s unique mix of gunplay with armor abilities, such as the invisibility, make for a different experience that only just stops it from being ‘another FPS’, but it still doesn’t stand out from the crowd in the genre that it chooses to be a part of.

Firstly, the singleplayer is good. Brilliant? No, but it’s definitely worth playing through. I never played the first game so I cannot comment on how it compares to that, but on its own, it is decent enough. Unlike most other FPS games out there (I’m looking at you Call of Duty), Crysis 2 chooses to have a singleplayer that can easily take you over ten hours to complete. For all its other faults, I really have to commend Crytek for creating a lengthy campaign, instead of just saying ‘well everyone else doesn’t do long ones so we won’t bother’. Having an FPS with a decent length campaign is something of a rarity these days.

In regards to the actual story, it is good enough to capture the interest of most people, although it does drag on towards the end. Like I said, I applaud Crytek for making it more than three hours long, but for the last three or so hours, I was wishing it to end sooner rather than later. At the beginning, however, it is utterly engrossing and the magnificent graphics and realization of a destroyed New York City makes the experience even more enthralling. It’s just a pity that the awe that these things initially create don’t continue throughout the campaign.

The multiplayer portion of Crysis 2 is a bit of a mixed bag; it certainly plays a lot like Call of Duty (as seems to be the norm these days) but the armor abilities manage to take it ever so slightly away from being another CoD imitator. However, it is not unique enough or interesting enough to keep the average player going for months and months. It’s not terrible by any definition of the word, but it almost feels like it was included purely to make the package more robust. If there is to be a Crysis 3 (which is more than certain), I would sincerely hope that Crytek tries to move as far away from the Call of Duty style of play as possible and create something unique to them. If I want to play something like CoD, I will play the game itself.

It sounds like I’m being overly negative about the multiplayer purely because it clearly tries to bring in some of the CoD fans, but I am simply of the opinion that a game like Crysis should have a multiplayer that is like no other. Regardless, the meaty campaign makes this game more than worthy of a top ten position.

9 – DEAD SPACE 2 (XBOX 360)

Dead Space 2 is a wonderful game. Not only does it take most of the best parts of the first game, but it refines them and includes more to go on top. It is more than deserving of a top ten position, but there are several elements that drag it down.

The bulk of the game comes from the singleplayer campaign. Dead Space is a franchise known for its excessive use of gore and repulsive creatures that will try to maul you around every corner. Make no mistake, this is not a game for the kiddywinks. Quite frankly, I found the game to be less ‘scary’ and more of a game that is simply excellent at making you jump out of your seat. Monsters will regularly burst out at you during quiet intervals, when you least expect it, which constantly puts you on edge even when there is no action abound. Pair this with the fantastic, eerie soundtrack and a well written story and you have a campaign that I really don’t have a lot to be negative about. My biggest problem is that I didn’t find it that long. Yes, I spent 11 hours playing through it but that still did not seem like a long time to me. Perhaps I was simply so impressed by it that I begrudged it ever having to end, or maybe I was hoodwinked into thinking it would be longer because it had two discs. I don’t know, but from what there is, it is a fantastic game with heaps of tension to be experienced.

The biggest disappointment from Dead Space 2 is the multiplayer. The presence of such a thing is incredibly strange as it is, as Dead Space has never felt like the sort of game to benefit from an online multiplayer mode, but there you go. To be blunt, it is horrendous. There is absolutely nothing there that is interesting enough to keep you playing (even the ability to play as the Necromorphs), and the entire experience is frustrating, clumsy and a complete waste of time. If you are going to include a multiplayer in a game, it would be preferential to make it even remotely interesting. A co-op mode would’ve been good, but competitive multiplayer? Disaster.

To conclude, Dead Space 2 is a very good game – when you play on your own. The singleplayer is fantastic and I can’t wait for the third title, but the multiplayer takes the award for being my least favorite this year. It’s awkward, un-necessary and drags the game down as far as I’m concerned.

8 – SUPER MARIO 3D LAND (3DS)

First off, it is important to note that I have only played 42 minutes of this game and I wasn’t even supposed to do that (it’s a christmas present!). Therefore, the game could very well be even better than what I found it to be, but my opinion on it is going to be tainted given the short length of time I’ve spent on it. I almost didn’t bother putting it in.

Anyway, Super Mario 3D Land is the title that the 3DS has been crying out for since it was released. No Nintendo console can be complete without the world’s most famous plumber on it. SM3DL combines the 2D and 3D worlds of Mario in such a sublime way that they feel perfectly in tune with each other. The graphics are fantastic (especially the deep, sometimes necessary, 3D effects) and the gameplay is absolutely top of the range. I don’t really have a bad thing to say about it (due to the lack of time spent on it), although I am hoping that there are a lot of worlds to play through. If it turns out to be short, I will be very disappointed.

The fact that I consider this game to be worthy of a top ten position after less than an hour playing it is testament to how good it really is. After spending more time on it, I will most likely consider it to be even better. The 3DS has been calling out for a title that will make people want to buy it, and Super Mario 3D Land is just that.

7 – MARIO KART 7 (3DS)

Just like above, Mario Kart 7 is a game that will bring in more sales for the 3DS. Not only that, it is an absolutely great game that anybody can enjoy, regardless of age or preferred style of play, and I would go as far as to say it’s possibly the best MK game in recent times. It’s not perfect, however, but it does a lot more things right than it does wrong.

The gameplay is largely indifferent to previous iterations in the popular franchise. You simply drive around a track collecting items to attack your opponents and give you the advantage. MK never gets these elements wrong and this time around is no different. The tracks are great, the new items are good and the game just feels like a well developed entrant in the series. Also, it utilizes the 3D effect of the 3DS perfectly and proves that the device is more than capable of providing fun, yet graphically impressive, games.

The inclusion of an online multiplayer really propels the game into ‘must buy’ territory. It’s one thing to race against bots, but it’s a completely different experience to race against real people. Tactics are switched up, the challenge becomes that much more difficult and the game itself benefits from it. There are connection issues that plague the game and I was frequently paired with opponents from the opposite end of the globe, but there is little lag or cheating that would make the game unenjoyable.

Mario Kart 7 is a fantastic, fun and addictive game to play. It offers everything that you would want from a Mario Kart title and then some to keep you coming back. It feels like it was designed for short burst sessions in mind, and it just works. The wait for a new MK title has been long, but the payoff makes it worthwhile.

6 – LA NOIRE (XBOX 360)

If there was ever a game to divide opinion more than LA Noire, I would love to hear what it was. LA Noire was a much-anticipated, much-hyped game and it split opinion everywhere you looked. You either loved it or you hated it. I sit firmly in the middle as for the vast amount of things that it did wrong, it had some fantastic ideas and concepts to make it worthy of the position it’s in.

LA Noire is a large game. It can easily take you over 20-25 hours to complete, and that is something that I will applaud first and foremost. The main story, however, is largely un-interesting and the game suffers from having a main character that is so smug and obnoxious that you want to put your first through his abdomen. The facial animation technology is amazing, but it makes Cole Phelps that much more insufferable. Also, the cases that you will be working on vary from the sleep-inducing to the fantastic. In other words, it’s an inconsistent game in that one minute it can be excellent, and the next it can be completely dull and dry.

Where LA Noire shines is in the concept of the game. For me, playing as a detective and solving crimes, finding clues and interrogating suspects is the perfect design for a video-game. Then you throw in the amazing facial animation technology (which I was so impressed by) and you have a great concept with great technology behind it. It was what I was looking forward to the most with this game, and for the most part, it delivers on both counts.

Unfortunately, LA Noire rapidly becomes repetitive, dreary and a chore to play. I see it like this: the first 40% of the game is fantastic. It’s new, fresh and compelling to play. Then it starts to become repetitive, though still enjoyable, for the next 30% of the game. The last 30% of the game is a drag and I couldn’t wait for it to finish. Your hand is held so much throughout this game that it takes away from the immersion. Even with the hints turned off, I still felt like the game was holding my hand to each clue and every conversation choice during the interrogations. I imagine that real detectives don’t enjoy the same leisure, so I don’t want it either.

Like I said before, LA Noire is as close to marmite as a game is going to get. The concept and the idea behind it are great, and they are the main reasons it’s number six on this list, but the execution is flawed and detrimental to the whole package. I don’t know if there will ever be an LA Noire 2, but I sincerely hope that the mistakes made in this game are rectified if there is. There is an amazing game waiting to be unleashed, but LA Noire isn’t it.

Before I finish with this post, I would like to say that with Christmas next week, my activity on this blog is not going to be that frequent as it would normally be. I will post the last part of my Game of the Year next week, but normal activity will probably not resume until after the New Year. Also, once again, I am very grateful for anyone who reads my blog. 🙂

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