(PLEASE NOTE: Since this post was written and posted, I have revised my Game of the Year list to include titles that I hadn’t played prior to writing it. My thoughts expressed on each title remain the same but you can find the true list here.)
Christmas is but a few days away, food and alcohol will be consumed until you’ve turned green and are about to projectile vomit, and the time for merriment and joy is upon us. To coincide with that, this post concludes the small series in which I ran through all the games I purchased this year and put them into order of preference.
The previous two posts focused on the bottom ten of the list whereas this one will include my choices for top five games of the year. Your thoughts on my opinions expressed within are highly welcome.
5 – Hitman Absolution
Agent 47 is back, deadlier and more lethal than ever before. Nobody is safe from being strangled, shot, pushed off balconies, poisoned, blown up, sliced with an axe or generally just being brutally slaughtered. And even though Absolution has its faults and is easily not the best Hitman title in the series, it’s a damn fine game that makes murdering defenceless characters a scarily enjoyable experience.
It’s clear that Absolution wasn’t meant to be a direct successor to Blood Money and that’s a good thing after six years away from the scene. However, its increased concentration on linear levels and simple five minute missions weren’t what I was expecting, or hoping for. Hitman is at its best when it’s taking place in huge, open levels with unprecedented freedom in completing the objectives. Absolution had those, but unfortunately they were in the minority.
Regardless, Hitman Absolution is a well-designed, polished title that’s highly enjoyable to play and with the excellent Contracts mode, has many, many hours of gameplay to experience where disposing of your targets in the cruellest and most vicious of fashions will become second-nature to you. Now, get back to poisoning that sushi.
4 – Assassin’s Creed 3
Is Assassin’s Creed 3 a perfect game? No. Is it the best in the series? No. Is its reinvigorated formula and gameplay style still wonderfully fun to play? Absolutely. Assassin’s Creed 3, despite its catalog of problems and bugs, is a terrific title that even though didn’t deliver on the extreme heights I had set of it, still managed to stand out amongst the crowd.
After the good-but-mostly-average Revelations that was released last year. Assassin’s Creed 3 had a lot riding on its back. It was the first numbered sequel in the series since 2009, it promised a definitive end to the current Desmond story arc and a completely new setting, protagonist and location. With so many changes afoot, Assassin’s Creed 3 was a pivotal point in the franchise and even though it stuttered at several intervals. it was still a great game.
On top of a decent singleplayer experience, Assassin’s Creed 3’s multiplayer was also a decent offering to boot. Not much has changed in the multiplayer department, but the true power in AC’s multiplayer is how addictive and compelling it is. Of course, when you play with imbeciles who don’t understand the concept of stealth and tactical play, it becomes a complete chore, but when you’re with players who play the game that way it’s supposed to be played, many hours can be wasted stabbing folk until your eyes begin to bleed.
Ubisoft intended on Assassin’s Creed 3 being the next big step in the franchise and that it ultimately was. The response to the game was mixed from the moment it arrived but for me, even with its problems, it still remained impressive.
3 – Black Ops 2
A Call of Duty title in my top three games of the year? What is this madness I hear you say. I have mentioned previously that Black Ops 2 has its fair share of problems, and some of them are huge ones, but even though it occasionally frustrates me to the point of nausea, or makes me wonder how such issues made it into the game, it’s still great fun to play.
Black Ops 2’s placement in my top three list is solely because of the multiplayer element. The singleplayer, as much as it was an improvement over the first Black Ops title, was mostly mediocre and tedious, and the zombie mode is just not of any interest to me. On days when I just want to sit back, shoot some folk and gain some XP with as minimal taxation to my brain as possible, Call of Duty games are my go-to points and Black Ops 2 is no exception to that rule.
Yes, the multiplayer is flawed. It lags often, some of the scorestreaks are ridiculously overpowered, some of the weapons are as useful as firing poker chips at the enemy and a few of the maps demonstrate extremely poor level design. Fortunately, the good matches are more frequent than the bad and it’s those matches that keep me playing.
There seems to be a common belief among a large portion of people nowadays that if you like Call of Duty, you’re not a ‘proper gamer’ or something along those lines. I disagree. Black Ops 2 is not the most impressive title in the world but I can play it for endless hours and still not get bored which, for me, is rare. Many try to replicate the success of Call of Duty but few can actually match it. I hated Modern Warfare 3 last year but Black Ops 2 has ticked a lot of the right boxes this time around.
2 – Borderlands 2
2009’s Borderlands was a unique, terrific and wonderfully enjoyable title and quite how Gearbox were supposed to improve on that was beyond me. But three years later, they did just that with Borderlands 2. The scale was bigger, the story was improved, the co-op system was perfected and above all, that sense of addictive enjoyment that was present in the first title was there again, only amplified considerably.
One of the main things that contributes to Borderlands being what it is has to be the scale of things. The size of the map areas you can play in, the sheer number of weapons that can be picked up, the vast co-op system that makes everything playable with three other players, the way in which the game changes depending on which class you play as and vice versa. There isn’t anything else like it available.
To say I had many hours of unadulterated amusement from Borderlands 2 would be an understatement. The main story was something of a hit-and-miss inclusion in the first game but it was significantly improved for the second. Also, the co-op just worked superbly. Joining games was as effortless as it needed to be, sharing loot you collected with others was seamless and it really felt like you were all in it together as opposed to being together but being every man for himself.
Gearbox did a fantastic job with Borderlands 2 and I would’ve had no issue labelling it my game of the year were it not for one other. It’s not just impressive how they improved on the first title but how they managed to do that while adding so much more on top to make it truly unrivalled. If they continue on their stride for Borderlands 3, they’ll be onto something gold.
1 – Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition
Xbox Live Arcade
So here we are. My favourite game from the year gone by. It was difficult choosing between Borderlands 2 and this because both have given me countless hours of pure enjoyment but it really had to be this one. It’s charming, it’s addictive, it’s lethal for your productivity and it’s Minecraft.
It’s no secret that Minecraft is far superior on the PC but I’m not a PC gamer and thus that’s irrelevant to me. On the Xbox 360, however, it’s still nothing short of fabulous. You also get the added benefits of split-screen multiplayer and a seamless 8 player online multiplayer that lets you build and destroy with friends. To put it simply: there really isn’t anything like Minecraft.
To some, seeing Minecraft so high up on this list would be bizarre because it has no story, no objectives and you do nothing on it except place square blocks on top of each other until you’ve built something. However, for me, the way in which it gives you the complete freedom to build what you want, where you want and with who you want is incredibly appealing.
If I was basing this list purely on the amount of hours I’ve spent on the game, Minecraft would win again. It’s easier than you might think to sit down intending on simply building a house and then coming off the Xbox six hours later with a house, farm, underground ravine and a flaming lava tower at your disposal. The unfiltered freedom draws you in and refuses to let you go, and even when you think you’ve done all you can on your world, you can just start from fresh with a completely different one.
As I’ve mentioned numerous times already, I play games to have fun. Sometimes that enjoyment becomes hindered by too much competition, or pesky bugs that ruin the experience. With Minecraft, however, I found myself having more fun than I had experienced for many years with a videogame. And for that, labelling it my Game of the Year was an easy decision.
And that, folks, is the end of that for another year! I would love to hear what you think of my choices described in this post and the previous two, so hit that comment box below!
Also, on a side-note, this will be the last blog post I will make until well after Christmas as I intend to do nothing more than eat, sleep, play games, watch TV and then feel sick after doing all of the above. In the event I do not return here in the next few days, I want to wish everybody reading this a very Merry Christmas!