Alright kids, it’s the final weeks of 2010 and while we’re way past the point in the holiday season where any sane publisher would bother releasing anything, I’m sure that’s not stopped someone like Capcom or Square from--
Okay we are not talking about this week’s games.
Instead since we’re near the end of the year I thought it'd be interesting to take a look back on the year that was in gaming, the regrettable purchases we all made, and the stupid, stupid things I said that I wish I could take back but will leave in here anyway because it's easy content. And subce next week’s slate of games looks like this:
We’re going to make this a two-parter.
Two Thousand and Ten started off with what may as well be the best non-holiday month of gaming ever. I mean, just look at this lineup:
*Mass Effect 2
*No More Heroes 2
*Army of One: 40th Day
*MAG (Just kidding. No one ever cared about MAG.)
*Tatsunoko vs Capcom
*and Windy x Windham, a little-known DS fighter based on the similarly little kown Legend of the Unemployed Ninja, who is herself a hot anime lesbian chick.
Even if you’re strictly a Nintendo-or-bust kind of gamer, there’s at least two games released in January that are part of your permanent collection; and chances are if you’re reading this then you own at least four of these games. Two of them-- Bayonetta and Mass Effect 2-- are legit GOTY contenders and indeed these very two games wound up Nitrobeard co-GOTY.
Of course not even in the month that brought us this
did everything go perfectly. Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond was released, pretty much confirming what we all feared true about Vicious Cycle software and Dark Void was so bad Keiji Inafune left Capcom 10 months later. Okay so those two may be completely unrelated events, but man was that game awful.
Most Regrettable Thing I Said During the Month: (re: Darksiders)
Which is too bad, as Darksiders might not suck– Or at the very least, it’ll suck quantfiiably less than Dante’s Inferno, yet at the same time it’s destined to drop to $20 inside of two months and shoved into that bottom Gamestop shelf where the clerks just stack games with the spines facing out alongside between Brutal Legend and X-Blades. Not that I’m saying you should buy this game– I mean god no, Bayonetta comes out this week– But it’s a solid “hey I got twenty bucks left on this gift card” choice.
Which was, of course, complete horseshit. I wound up buying that thing for $40, and while I don’t regret that decision it’s also something that’s going to be far more well-regarded than it actually deserves, especially come this time next year when the inevitable sequel is released. It wasn’t so much that Darksiders was bad; it’s just doesn’t do anything at all remarkable with the whole “Dark Zelda” theme. It gives out way too many gameplay mehanics, most of which are only used for the level they’re introduced in, and by the time you collect all your powers and feel truly empowered the game is over.
Between Heavy Rain, Deadly Premonition and Dante’s Inferno, February will be remembered as The Month That Tried Too Hard. We hadn’t seen as much overwrought pretentious bullshit since the music video for Bring Me To Life was released and the world became aware of Amy Lee’s boobs.
Not that February was a total loss. Wii owners at least got Data East Arcade Classics, a disc full of games with which I’m still seething with envy that are not present in some way on XBLA or PSN, and Chime was released, an oustanding rhythm/puzzle game hybrid you should probably be playing right now instead of reading this. Also at some point during the month the DS game World Cup of Pool compelled me to post this:
which I assure you all was not some sort of perverse attempt to land google searches for Shanelle Loraine to my site.
Please marry me, Shanelle Loraine.
Most Regrettable Thing I Said During the Month: (re: Bioshock 2)
I’ve already made my disgust for this game clear– simply put, it doesn’t need to exist, it shouldn’t exist, the original game is the very last thing you want to make a franchise out of and it’s all a horrible example of how videogame publishers continue to Miss The Point.
And after y’know... playing the game, I’ve come to peace with Bioshock 2. Okay yes, it probably didn’t need to be made. But then neither do nine out of every ten games you see lined up at Gamestop; it’s not like 2k Marin should be demonized for picking up where Ken Levine left off and getting paid in the process. Yeah, the story doesn’t quite live up to Bioshock 1’s standards, but the final fourth of Bioshock 1 didn’t exactly do that either, and this story is at least better than everything that happens in Bioshock 1 after The Twist. And it’s even a good videogame, even if “being a good videogame” isn’t exactly what Bioshock is supposed to be about. There are some moments to Bioshock 2 that are very human, very touching, and I don’t regret going back to Rapture a second time.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, Bioshock Infinite is going to be the game we were all wanting instead; but we can’t really blame 2k Marin for trying.
Although March gave us a number of standout titles-- the excellent Just Cause 2 and Metro 2033 spring to mind-- It will mostly be remembered for a trimuverate of disappointment.
God of War 3 was promised by David Jaffe to “look like a painting come to life” and to be an epic conclusion to Kratos’ bloody rampage through Greek mythology. Instead it turned out to be as rote as a very rote thing can be; and was mostly notable for the sheer number of gods that Kratos manages to dispatch without hardly any effort at all. GoW3 added nothing of note to the series in terms of gameplay or refinement; something that was all the more noticeable when compared to Bayonetta and even Darksiders. Even the final battle with Zeus was uninspired and anti-climatic; punctuated with an awkward, hard-to-enjoy 2.5d brawler segment and a finale that allowed you to to wale on Zeus’s skull until you got bored and wanderd off to do something better.
Final Fantasy 13 apologists can finally throw in the towel. Yoichi Wada is now openly apologizing for allowing horrible Final Fantasy games to be made and that the situation is so bad they’re going to have to rebrand everything.
Fuck you, Game Room.
Most Regrettable Thing I Said During the Month: (re: Dragon Age Origins: Awakening)
Bioware seems to be taking the best of all worlds approach with Dragon Age Origins, releasing sporadic DLC packs that keeps the game fresh at retail and still providing big hefty expansion packs larger than most full single-player action games. This approach would also seem to reveal a glimpse into how developers are gaming the current economy.
If only. Turns out this may be the last worthwhile thing Bioware is going to do with the Dragon Age franchise in general: Since the release of Awakening we’ve learned that Dragon Age 2 will only have on playable main character with one backstory; that most of the RPG battle elements have been eliminated and that it’s been deemed that enemy stats are too confusing for gamers to be trusted with, so those are gone too. What we’re going to be left with is Dynasy Warriors with an excellent dialog system.
I’m not sure if you can say any standout titles were released in April, although Super Street Fighter IV shipped, which is either awesome because you love Street Fighter and Capcom, or awful because you think Capcom never should be put themselves in a situation where this update had to be released on disc instead of DLC. Also Neir was released-- if you can’t quite remember what Neir was, it’s the super depressing Cavia action JRPG that gave us this:
...there’s a guy demon living somewhere in there, which either horrifies you or intrigues you, depending on which end of the Kinsey Scale your sexuality resides on. I won’t judge. Actually April was a rather outstanding month for downloadable titles, Capcom’s befuddling misunderstanding of the nature of DLC aside. Both Afterburner Climax and Final Fight: Double Impact were relased, both of which should reside on your 360 or PlayStation 3 hard drives as we speak. Also Nintendo tried and failed to make people care about Monster Hunter in America; although they probably could have tried harder.
Most Regrettable Thing I Said During the Month: (re: Splinter Cell Conviction)
All this said, there’s not a whole lot of games left that do what Splinter Cell Conviction does. We haven’t seen a new Thief game in roughly forever, Metal Gear Solid is less about stealth these days and more about Hideo Kojima’s insane action movie plots, and Assassin’s Creed isn’t so much a stealth game as it is about parkour and swordfighting. So Conviction might not only wind up the best stealth game of the year, but barring some sort of Street Fighter IV-like revival of the genre, may very well be the best stealth game of this console generation.
I don’t understand why I keep forgetting that Arkham Asylum had an outstanding stealth element bundled into it’s 3d medroidvania brawling and is easily the best stealth game on an HD console. Or maybe it’s not, as there’s no way I’m actually going to spend money on Conviction. But at any rate between the Assassin’s Creed series and Arkham Asylum/City, it’s not actually a bad generation for stealth games; it’s just that developers have stopped making stealth only games in favor of making stealth an element you can partake in instead of killing everyone on the level. Which is kinda the exact opposite tact the end of Conviction takes when stealth becomes wholly useless and you’re forced to gun down every living thing in Washington DC.
May was another outstanding month for games, as both my other game of the year, Red Dead Redemption was released as well as Alan Wake, which itself is winding up on more than a few GOTY lists. It was also a good month for unintended hilarity as the wonderfully broken Alpha Protocol proceeded to scare the living shit out of everyone who was looking forward to Fallout: New Vegas later in the year. 3d Dot Game Heros was sort of great, and even Wii owners found something to be excited about in Trauma Team Wii. And also something something Mario Galaxy 2 something.
It wasn’t a good month for Bizarre Ceations however, as their otherwise decent Mario-kart-but-with-BMWs racer Blur was released in the same three month span that gave us the far flashier Split/Second and PS3 darling ModNation Racers. In between the failures of Blur and Blood Stone, Activision would openly discuss the necessity of shutting down or selling off the developer before the end of the year.
Most Regrettable Thing I Said During the Month: (re: Alan Wake)
Okay so sour grapes aside– after all, its probably not fair to judge a game based on what was promised instead of what’s presented– Alan Wake has a lot going for it, even if Brad himself said that the combat wears out it’s welcome and it’s entirely possible to finish inside a weekend. Reviews almost universally praise the storytelling elements and the writing, and the atmosphere is frankly incredible. So it looks like it’s one of those games that really needs to be experienced, if not exactly for the gameplay itself. And that’s fine; 360 fanboys need an answer to Heavy Rain. While I look forward to playing Alan Wake there’s no way I’m going to do so for sixty bucks.
As per my premise for Wallet Abuse, I was being entirely too harsh on a game I had yet to actually play. Alan Wake is a genuinely a great, inventive game, and I would not have been disappointed to have spent full MSRP on it when it first came out. I dunno what sort of insane gaming god Brad Shoemaker is when he’s not filming Quicklooks or Endurance Runs, but to took me a solid two weeks of gaming to get through Alan Wake and the free DLC story that comes with every new purchase. Also it was rather ignorant of me to compare Alan Wake to Heavy Rain-- aside from for the tenuous relationship they may have in general atmosphere, Alan Wake is an actual videogame and not an overwrought FMV on a quick time event crank.
Instead of talking about the games you absolutely under no circumstance should be buying between now and New Year’s, I try to explain why I didn’t update for like two months.