Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Best of 2012 - January to March.

Okay - I missed a few.

I don't feel as if I've committed some great sin by not playing NeverDead or Binary Domain, but I do wish I'd had the time and money to throw down with Asura's Wrath, Kingdoms of Amalur and the new Silent Hill - even if Asura's Wrath's gameplay was shallow, Amalur's mythos was half-baked and Downpour turned out to be yet another not-quite-there Silent Hill.

One of the problems with being an independent, self-financed blogger is that - while I am, to a degree, attempting to provide a service - this blog is more than anything a chronicling of my gaming experience, and thus reflects only games I want to play.  Specifically, the games I'm prepared to prioritize over others.

If there turns out to be time (and money) in the spring and summer months to attend to some of these omissions, I certainly will.  That said, six excellent titles dropped in the past three months that I can say, without hesitation, are worthy of our gaming dollars and more importantly, time.

So far, these are the games of the year - in no particular order.

Gorgeous, tactical and liquid-smooth, Shank 2 is everything a sequel should be.  It improves on its predecessor in every way, and elevates the franchise from a respectable try to a defining entry in its genre.  If you've been hungry for a brawler this year, you need to play Shank 2.

SSX perfected its formula years ago, and fans were afraid it wouldn't survive the transition to HD consoles unscathed.  I'm thrilled to report that SSX retains the razor-sharp controls of its heritage, and adds an absolutely genius passive online component to the mix so the player is always connected, and never waiting for a race to start.  Not every addition, here, is a winner - but SSX in HD is an infinite improvement over that SSX game you weren't playing.

A definitive art-house game, Journey is an artistically impressive, emotionally bracing stroll through some of the most gorgeous art direction and music this side of Vanillaware.  It can be breezily digested in an afternoon or mercilessly explored, with a litany of secrets to discover for the committed gamer - but it's always a beautiful experience.

This totally counts.  I don't care that the Vita version is a port of last year's PS3/360 title - it's new to me, and so it's in the running for GotY 2012, in the same way BioShock would be on PS3 in 2008.

How to put this... how to put it... let's see... something succinct, and lacking hyperbole... Ah - of course.

Rayman: Origins is the most purely pleasurable experience I've had with a 2D platformer in over twenty years.

Dig that.

Yes, I liked the ending.  No, I don't think they should change it, and yes, I agree with Chamberlain - but let's try to sidestep that minefield.  Let's ignore what we do or don't think of the ending.

Mass Effect 3 is a gigantic, explosive, high-powered, high-production value, high-concept monster of an action-RPG that actually gets the action part right.  It is the slickest, most streamlined RPG I've ever played, and packs a phenomenally impressive arsenal of emotional highs and lows.

To be honest, right now, I'm leaning towards ME3 as my current GotY.

I was very skeptical of Golden Abyss prior to release.  I didn't imagine for a moment that Sony Bend (of Syphon Filter fame) had the narrative or artistic chops required to create a game that lived up to the Uncharted name, but they nailed it.

Golden Abyss, in one fell swoop, legitimizes the existence of the PlayStation Vita, establishes that console-style gaming can work beautifully on a handheld, and actually one-ups the latest PS3 Uncharted title in terms of narrative.  It's a jaw-dropper.

* * *

And that's Janu-febru-arch 2012!  Coming up next month, I Am Alive and Prototype 2.  ...and maybe Closure - we'll see.  

1 comment:

  1. so i finished me3 again. . .and I'm much more at peace with what happened. Actually, I'm fine with it now.

    I'm still of the mind that they only had time to finish one and a half endings and had to shove it out the door, but that's just my way of rationalizing my feelings about it. It's an OK ending.

    But on to the community reaction. . . eighty thousand dollars.

    that was freakin' amazing now matter what side of the fence you sit on. Child's play is a rock solid charity and i don't care WHY they got the money. It's in good hands now regardless.

    PS: I quite liked my time in Amalur, just don't expect the moon from it.

    Enjoy your sunday Chance.