5 January 2011

My Games Of The Year Award Show - by Josh Bycer

      Posted 01/01/11 08:03:00 pm  

Welcome to my annual award show where I honor some of my favorite games of the year. We unfortunately didn't have the budget for musical numbers or body painted women but we'll just have to make do.

Like previous years the award show has been completely sold out, only games that I have played will be considered for an award. For those expecting a mention of the latest Call of Duty game or World of Warcraft expansion that last statement is all you're going to get. If you wish to complain about this please send a copy of your game and a generous bribe and your game may be considered for next year's award show.

Last year I started honoring games with bronze, silver and gold awards (with the most hideous looking trophies). We have ten games getting awards, five getting bronze awards, four getting silver and one lucky game going home with the gold. As a multi platform gamer the award show does not discriminate against console vs. pc, or console vs. handheld. The only platforms that will not be receiving any award mentions are mobile phone games and social games which goes back to my "only games I played will be considered" statement.

This has been a really tough list to put together for several reasons. First I played a lot of games this year and I still have a backlog of over thirty games to go. When I finally had my list narrow down I counted at least fifteen games which my expert mathematical skills tell me doesn't equal ten. There are still plenty of games which for all I know could have made the list but because they are somewhere in my backlog we won't know until sometime later.

Second is my fatal weakness of having no sense of time when it comes to years. For every game on my list I had to double check them to make sure they were actually released in 2010 (curse you Assassin's Creed 2).

And the Bronze winners are:

1. Super Mario Galaxy 2(Wii): A second helping of plat-forming greatness for the Wii doesn't hurt. While SMG 2 won't win awards for masterful storytelling, it does make the list for excellent game-play. When it comes to creating game-play that both novices and experts can enjoy Nintendo is one of the best as SMG 2 allows both kinds of players to progress in the game thanks to in game hints and going for the coveted 100% completion.

2. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (Multiplatform): A last minute entry if there ever was one as I started playing this last week and couldn't stop. What Left 4 Dead did for co-op games for a group of gamers, Guardian of Light does it for two players. A fantastic combination of puzzle solving and plat-forming wonderfully balanced for both single and co-op made this a blast to play. Not only that but this was the first game featuring Lara Croft that I actually enjoyed so extra kudos there.

3. Recettear: An item shop's tale (PC): A surprising mix of action RPGs with economy management made Reccetear a surprised pick for me this year. Granted the game did have some obtuse mechanics but the constant draw of raising my merchant level kept me going.

4. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey (NDS): By hardcore gamer law I am legally required to name at least one game published or developed by Atlus on my best of list lest I lost my membership to the club. SMT Strange Journey is the latest game in the main branch of SMT titles with the last game being Nocturne for the PS2. Strange Journey was a challenging game which did a lot to smooth out the difficulty curves of previous SMT titles while still delivering the complexity the franchise is known for.

5. Supreme Commander 2: (Multi Platform) Another game that came out of left field on to this list especially how I did not enjoy the first SC all that much. SC2's strategic view has forever spoiled me for future RTS titles and the skirmish AI may be one of the best I've seen in any RTS. SC 2 is great for having a team vs. AI fight with your friends.

And the silver winners are:

Just Cause 2 (Multi Platform): A perfect example of how to do open world games right, allowing the player to go crazy and comb every inch of the world for crazy stunts to pull; another game that knows how to keep the player progressing in the world with constant rewards and explosions. While it's not the most mentally challenging game on the list it is a great game to play when you need to relax.

Etrian Odyssey 3 (NDS): EO 3 once again provides a fresh take on old school CRPGS, featuring brand new classes that allow a variety of party combinations. The challenge level is high with this one and is one of those titles that requires the player to delve deep into the mechanics to succeed.

Pinball FX2 (360): With the lack of arcades in my area I thought that pinball would be dead to me but with Pinball FX 2 I have a more then capable replacement. Featuring well designed tables each with their own challenges and subtleties keeps things from getting stale. Xbox live integration with my friend's list offering that never ending challenge to reach the top and has also been the cause of the dramatic increase of my friend's list on XBL.

Alpha Protocol (multi platform): A flawed gem if there ever was one, AP turned out to be one of my favorite RPGs this year. The interactions with the various characters and their response to you gave the game a very personalized touch. While AP was far from perfect, the positives outweighed the flaws for this game. More RPGs need to take notes from AP branching paths and morality.

And like all award shows let's have an intermission before we reveal the winner. Here are the games that came close but didn't make it on to the list.

Honorable mentions go to:

Bayonetta (Multi Platform): Of the action titles released this year Bayonetta was one of the best, a crazy stylish game that made no sense whatsoever. While the combat system was the best I've seen this year it wasn't enough to upset my top three action games and why it did not get any awards.

Super Meat Boy (Multi Platform): An ode to the time when controller throwing was warranted. SMB was a 2d plat-former gauntlet of challenge. Even though it didn't get an award doesn't mean that SMB was bad, it's just that I enjoyed my top ten lists more and it pushed SMB out of the running.

Sam and Max: Season three (Multi Platform): Telltale once again hit it out of the park with the latest Sam and Max season. Featuring a story so crazy it could only star a talking dog and rabbity thing. Where else can curses, clones and a mystical puppet can all come together and make perfect sense.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent (PC): Horror titles it feels like are coming few and far between. Amnesia building upon the craziness of the Penumbra series delivered with great puzzle solving and excellent atmosphere. I can't wait to see what terrors Frictional will deliver next.

Alan Wake (360): Alan wake was going to get an award but the last minute arrival of Lara Croft to the list bumped it down here. I found this to be a great start to hopefully a successful series and can't wait to see where the story goes next.

Stalker: Call of Pripiyat (PC): As a huge fan of the original Stalker it pains me to say that I started playing this today and I wanted to get this list done before the New Year. Given how much I loved Stalker S.O.C I have to mention it on my list.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PsP): One of the few times where slimmed down and fleshed out can both be used to describe a game. The mission structure works for Peace Walker allowing the designers to get more creative with Snake's objectives than in previous titles. With the inclusion of developing Snake's base gives players that hook of unlocking a new piece of equipment to use in the field.

Din's Curse (PC): Another indie PC game that falls into the same category as Gratuitous Space Battles for me as a game that would have scored higher on my list most likely if I spent more time with it. That's not to say that Din's Curse is a bad game but I just didn't give it a lot of time. Give Diablo a randomize world and a sense of urgency is a simple explanation of what makes Din's Curse an interesting RPG.

And the winner this year is:

MineCraft (PC)

At this point I know most people are debating if we can name Minecraft as best game of 2010 or if it reserves the spot for 2011. Still I'm counting it for this year as it was when the game technically went on sale. An ambitious project bringing back that old school feel of letting the player do what they want. Even with the open ended nature of the game it still allows gamers to give a personal touch to the game. You can't help but feel some pride after spending several in game day’s worth of time putting together your own house/cabin/castle/whatever and seeing the finished project.

What amazes me about Minecraft and where I have to shovel so much praise to Notch is that he was able to create a game that got the draw of open ended design so right compared to the big name companies who only managed to scratch the surface.

And that wraps things up for 2010 happy New Year everyone and I'll talk to you later.

Josh.

    Comments
Mihai Cozma
3 Jan 2011 at 6:00 am PST

No comments:

Post a Comment