The best (and worst) of the year – Jay Krieger
It may come as a surprise, but we absolutely love games here at Citizen Game. Old games, bad games, big games, whatever. We love to play them and we love to talk about them. Right now everyone else is trying to sort out and definitively list the “best” games of the year, to compile them into Top Ten’s and Best Of’s. We don’t do that because we don’t really care which game was best this year. We only remember the games we love and the ones that have broken our hearts. So, to that end, Citizen Game will be presenting its Best Loved Games and biggest disappointment of 2012 in a series in the run up to Christmas, with staffers taking a moment to reflect on what made their favourite games of the year so special to them. We encourage you to do the same in the comments.
Best Loved games
I was simply floored by Tribes the first time I played it at Pax East this year. Yes, I’d heard of Tribes before. And yes, I’d seen my friends play the original back in grade school, but, I’d never had a chance to sit down and experience it for myself. Now that I have, I’m confident in saying that It was the most enjoyable first person multiplayer shooter I played all year.
The free to play jetpack infused shooter was unlike any shooter I’d ever played before. Sure there is a standard assortment of weapons and the game modes are your standard fare of capture this or defend that. But there’s no other multiplayer experience that has you switching between hovering with your jetpack, power sliding down hills, all while trying to shoot straight. Trust me, it’s harder than you’d think-and more importantly fun.
This was a game that took time to get used to. The shooting at its core was fundamentally the same to other modern shooters, but having to take down hovering enemies, relying more so on blast radius of your guns and all while managing your base defenses proved to be a surprising multiplayer addiction and also the most fun I had online this year.
Max Payne 3
In its most stylized and ambitious endeavor yet, Max Payne 3 provides players with a tighter plot that delves deeper into the psyche of Max, as well as providing a more colorful palate of environments. Max’s periodic monologues and his overall dialogue made me more invested in Max’s struggle and while the story does falter towards the end, it was more memorable than the previous two games. The acid trip stylization of cut scenes gave a darker tone to the game overall and it helps to differentiate itself from the style and aesthetics of the originals. The game play hasn’t changed at all, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s something timeless about diving head first into a hail of gun fire, twin Uzi’s blaring, all in glorious slow motion. While the gameplay is familiar, the new vast array of environments provides a breath of fresh air from the games classic claustrophobic environments that amounted to little more than dark alleys and office buildings.
Max’s journey is also accompanied by one of the best soundtracks of the year, as the Miami Vice styled disco, funk, and techno ambiance help fuel your pill popping trigger finger. Overall, I found Max Payne 3 to be a slick drug fueled action packed ride that, in my opinion, is best entry in the series.
The Walking Dead
It’s difficult to discuss this game without giving broad and generalized statements about the type of game it is. Because once you actually sit down and play it, you’ll be glad how little you’ve been told about it. I’ll admit I wanted to wait for all of the episodes of Telltale’s latest Walking Dead game before purchasing it. I’d rather play through the season in one go, much like I’d rather watch a TV series over the course of a weekend, instead of months tediously awaiting the next. I also went into this game with no knowledge of the plot or characters, and I would recommend this to anyone considering approaching this title. As a result of my media blackout, when I actually got around to playing it, this game knocked me on my ass. I wasn’t ready for the difficult but also emotionally filled decisions I would have to make. I wasn’t ready to decided peoples fate. And I certainly wasn’t ready to enjoy an adventure game as much as I did. This is more of an interactive story than a game, and typically, I would find fault with that. But the writing and choices you must make show that action doesn’t need to be the focus to tell a compelling story with characters that you will actually come to care about.
If there’s one single player game you play this year, make sure it’s The Walking Dead.
I was ecstatic when this game came out. I was so excited for its release I convinced my roommates to pick up Diablo II and we played for two months before Diablo III was released. But once it Diablo III released it became apparent this wasn’t the Diablo we’d all come to love and cherish. Characters would unlock abilities based on level, thus negating the classic rpg mechanic of allocating skill points and attribute points. Now characters would level and unlock the same abilities and it was up to players to customize their character based on a variety of skills that everyone had access to. Thus my level 25 Priest had the same exact abilities as everyone else’s. This changed the mindset and dynamic of your character as they’re defined by their gear instead of abilities, as finding of rare gear seemed the only distinguishable thing about our character.
The market place also ruined the “high” of sorts that goes into hunting rare items, as those found on the market place were more powerful and readably available. Also, the amount of rare gear that enemies dropped felt significantly lower and almost as if the developers wanted to give players an incentive to visit the market place frequently.
The games normal difficulty is also far too easy, even for newcomers. Diablo has always been about challenge. While there are certainly more burtal games out there, the franchise has always relished in its ability to throw an ever increasing number of foes at you, but in Diablo III these foes don’t amount to much (in the early two difficulties). To add insult to injury, you cannot start a new character on a more difficult setting, as you’re forced to play through normal difficulty before tackling one of the games other settings, of which you cannot access some of the higher level items unless you’re playing these difficulties.
My expectations were so high for Diablo III, and after everyone’s excitement that another Diablo III title had been released, I started to find flaws with this less than perfect addition to the franchise. Diablo III isn’t a bad game; I still managed to enjoy it to a certain degree. I expected this game to be my game of the year and it ended up falling shockingly short of that mark.