My Favorite Games of 2014

January 1, 2015

Let’s be honest, 2014 lacked a large amount of great games. There were quite a few good ones and possibly just as many “ok” ones but this wasn’t the strongest year for straight up hits. With that said, I feel like 2014 had a lot more diversity than most years.

10. Destiny

Love, hate it, but can’t stop playing it. I have an odd relationship with this game. On one side the grind of it becomes borderline unbearable after level 20, but it is still some of the most fun I had playing coop this year. Destiny should have been more than the sum of its parts but at the end of the day, the sum of its parts is all this game has.

9. Wolfenstein: The New Order


I expected nothing from this game and it gave me a fun 1st person shooter with an interesting cinematography, simple yet profoundly human narration brought to us by B.J. Blazkowicz, and a few neat set pieces. This game really put this series back on the map in a big way.

8. South Park: Stick of Truth


This game is just as hilarious as the TV show and some bits are even funnier since they are interactive. If you are a fan of the show, I find little reason here that would make you dislike this game. It’s a solid (if not a little bit simple) RPG that nails what a South Park game could be.

7. inFamous: Second Son


Being a huge fan of the series, I was satisfied with the game…to point. Simply put, it felt way too short. If you played straight through, you can beat the game in 6 hours, and the side content isn’t all that interesting and very basic. It’s a bit of a shame that they built this beautiful world but they didn’t give you a ton of stuff to do in it. Still, the graphics, presentation, story, and combat still had me enjoying myself.

6. The Walking Dead: Season 2


You can’t quite capture lightning in a bottle twice. With that said, I still found S2 of this series to be well done despite it not being as great as the most excellent S1. It put Clementine in some precarious positions that never feel you quite she gets away from without losing a little bit of herself and some of the decisions you make are difficult and life changing to the character…in my playthrough at least.

5. Octodad: Dadliest Catch


Octodaaaaaaad, nobody suspects a thiiiing! There’s just something about this Chicken Boo simulator that I absolutely loved. They found a way to make the mechanics work in a way where they aren’t frustrating and the story is really charming. Looking forward to going back and playing the free DLC!

4. Mario Kart 8


Before this, I hadn’t played an MK game since the first in the series on SNES. This game is pure joy and fun pressed on a disc. The original amount of content felt a little lacking to me, but with the added tracks and characters that the DLC brings, it makes this a much easier choice for me to put in my top 5.

3. Sunset Overdrive


Insomniac needed this game more than Bioware needed DAI. After the disappointing Fuse, this game is a breath of fresh air with its funny dialog, kinetic traversal system, and excellent boss fights.

2. Dragon Age: Inquisition


This game is long….like Xenoblade Chronicles/Persona/Skyrim long. 50 hours in, this game is a return to form for Bioware in a time where they really needed a win. This feels like the Mass Effect 2 of this franchise. Although they made the combat more accessible, it still is fun and isn’t as brain dead as the combat in DA2.

1. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor


The nemesis system in this game really made it stand out. It made you feel like the enemies you made were unique to you whether they were or not. It feels like this game didn’t have a lot of expectations from folks coming it but really helped make this year just that much more fun.

 

Honorable Mention

10 spots just isn’t enough to highlight some of my favorite games of this past year.  Alien Isolation, TitanFall, and The Last of Us: Left Behind, this nod’s for you!\\

 

I Really Liked It Despite Itself

These are games that I enjoyed despite the games having problems that others might not be able to overlook.  Even games with flaws deserved a little attention!

Murdered: Soul Suspect-  It’s an adventure game that’s trying hard to be a 3rd person character action game.  I had a good time playing this with my wife.  I liked the gimmick of being a ghost and although the detective stuff was at times a bit too simple, it was fun.  The story it told was decent too.

Halo: Master Chief Collection-  We are talking strictly single player here.  Having all four single player campaigns running at 1080p/60fps is really nice.  Too bad they completely botched any of the network functionality.

 

I Coulda Been a Contender!

These are games that are all quality, but I just didn’t get to play enough of them to give it their due. Super Smash Bros Wii U, Bayonetta 2

Super Smash Bros. Wii U-  Got this one for Christmas so I haven’t played a whole lot.  It’s a ton of fun though, and I’m looking forward to digging even deeper into it.

Bayonetta 2-   I only played through half of Bayonetta 1 on Xbox 360 so I decided to replay the entire thing on Wii U.  It was a lot of fun….can’t wait to play part 2!

Tales from the Borderlands– I’m a big fan of both Tell Tale’s games and the Borderlands series so this seems like a no brainer.  Too many games, not enough time to actually play them.

 

Most Disappointing Game of The Year (Brought to you by Prototype)

To clarify, this isn’t “worst game” necessarily, just one that I was really disappointed with.

Assassin’s Creed Unity-  Destiny came close to taking this one but at the end of the day, at least I was able to actually play that game at launch.  Ubisoft just patched the game to the point where I (theoretically) can play the coop now, one of the game’s biggest selling points, but I got so used to waiting until it was patched that I’ll have to give myself a pep talk in order to add it back to my rotation.  The AC series is one of my favorites and I can’t help but feel like Ubisoft did the fans dirty with this one.  I’m hoping the series can bounce back.  This will be the last AC game that I buy sight unseen.  


My Favorite Games of 2013

January 1, 2014

2013 has been considered one of the weaker years in releases.  I suppose that’s what happens when a console generation lasts well past what it was probably supposed to.  Still, plenty of highly enjoyable games came out.  Despite the lack of big releases, indie games like Stanley Parable, Gone Home, State of Decay, Rogue Legacy and Gun Point, have me feeling less qualified to put a list up than most years.  Despite there being less AAA games out than usual, there are still plenty of games left for me to play from 2013.

10. Tearaway

“This game is charming as fuck.” pretty much sums it up for me, but there’s a lot more going on with Tearaway. Lovely art style, genuinely clever gameplay mechanics based around Vita’s functionality, and simple to do arts and crafts that directly affect the environment, it’s hard not to have a smile on your face while playing this game.

9. Super Mario 3D World

Just when I’m out, they pull me back in! Nintendo really brings it with this installment. It has a lot of things I loved from other Mario games (Princess Peach can float!), and adds much needed creativity to Mario. The worst thing I can say about this game is that I find the way Mario meows annoying.

8. Tomb Raider

This scratches that Uncharted itch for me. I enjoyed Tomb Raider despite it being a huge departure from the original series that I loved. I’m really hoping the sequel has more tombs to raid. Those were my favorite bits in this game and there simply wasn’t enough of them.

7. BioShock Infinite

It’s a fine shooter, but the game’s story is really what makes this game special for me. I really enjoyed the twisted Disney princess setup used to introduce Elizabeth and enjoyed Booker’s relationship with her quite a bit.

6. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Brothers tells an affecting story with visuals, voice inflection, and music, despite the characters speaking gibberish. There’s no real combat to speak of here, just environmental puzzles, exploration, and platforming. One of the few games where the mechanics of the game directly ties into its narrative. One of my surprise games of 2013.

5. Saints Row IV

If you liked SR3, it’s mathematically impossible for you not to like this one. Think Saint’s Row 3 mixed with Crackdown. The comedy is still there too, totally worth picking up.

4. Metro: Last Light

Although I enjoyed Bioshock Infinite mainly for its story, Metro Last Light strikes a good balance between enjoyable gameplay mechanics and a engaging narrative. Although the game’s more interesting survival mechanics (finding gas masks, using bullets as currency as well as ammunition) takes a back seat in the sequel compared to Metro 2033, this game’s level design, story telling techniques, and satisfying shooting mechanics made it one of my favorite shooters in a very long time.

3. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Black Flag totally took me by surprise. Assassin’s Creed III’s ending left a bad taste in my mouth but this game was good all the way through. Not only did it feed my compulsion to want to collect everything in these types of games by giving you some cool extras for doing it (like shanties for your crew to sing, and treasure maps, weapons, and costumes to unlock) but the naval combat stuff has been tweaked and made a bit more full scale compared to the previous game. Oh yea, it also helps that the game looks gorgeous on next gen consoles. It even had a companion app that was well done and added quite a bit to the game. This didn’t feel like it was rushed out to make a deadline. Its polished and full of content.

2. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

This ended up being one of my favorite JRPG’s in a very long time. Not only did this help me understand why so many people like Pokemon, but it used one of my favorite animation studios Studio Ghibli to do it. I have to go back to this and do the post game activities at some point. It’s flippin’ tidy, it is!

1. The Last of Us

Poignant, well written, honest storytelling. That’s what I took away the most from this game. Being a huge stealth fan, the gameplay really spoke to me. There were entire fight sequences I avoided by using stealth. When forced to confront enemies, I felt I had the necessary tools to have a fighting chance. I loved the honesty and audacity the game’s final moments had. There are very few games that use your own life experiences to help shape how you feel about a game’s ending but I felt that TLOU did exactly that. I think those of us that have children can empathize with some of the choices Joel had to make, but very few of us would be willing to make the same choices. At the end of the day, this game isn’t about being the hero that saves the day, it’s about being human and all of what that entails…both good and bad.

 

 

Honorable Mention

10 spots just isn’t enough to highlight some of my favorite games of this past year.  Games like GTA V, Ducktales Remastered, Batman: Arkham Origins, DmC, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, and Guacamelee were among my favorites.

 

 

I Really Liked It Despite Itself

These are games that I enjoyed despite the games having problems that others might not be able to overlook.  Even games with flaws deserved a little attention!

Deadpool-  I enjoyed this game a lot more than I expected to.  The gameplay is mostly brain dead despite there being some fun aspects to the combat and shooting.  More than anything this game cracked me up.  There were a lot of bad jokes, but for every bad joke or two there was one that was genuinely funny.

Remember Me- The art direction, graphical fidelity, voice acting, and general atmosphere of this game was great.  The gameplay however was too simple.  The edit combos together to create buffs for your character was an interesting mechanic but it wasn’t fully fleshed out.  The platforming was also fairly disappointing and reminded me a lot of Enslaved where you were simply given too much direction as to where to go next.  I also found the ending to fall very flat.  You are left thinking, “That’s it?  THAT’S why all of the things in this game happened?”.

Beyond: Two Souls-  Although the story is hit and miss, there were a few moments that were genuinely well done.  The graphics in this game are among the best of this past generation.  The problem here is that the quality of the story is uneven and the although ending doesn’t fail as hard as Heavy Rain, it does stumble a bit.  I still enjoyed my time with the game despite those flaws.

 

 

I Coulda Been a Contender!

These are games that are all quality, but I just didn’t get to play enough of them to give it their due.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes-  What I did play was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to going back.  Love all the Marvel fan service.

Legend of Zelda Wind Waker HD-   This will be one of the games I go back to first once the next gen drought hits me (which will be soon).

 

 

Most Disappointing Game of The Year (Brought to you by Prototype)

To clarify, this isn’t “worst game” necessarily, just one that I was really disappointed with.  Only criteria that I have for this is that it has to be a game I beat so I could properly judge the game in its entirety.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance-  I can’t deny that I had fun with this game, but I was surprised by how quickly that fun wore out.  It took me about 8 hours to beat this game and it felt like it wore out its welcome 5-6 hours in.  Fun gameplay mechanics that just weren’t fun enough to carry an entire game.  


My 2010 Game of the Year Awards

January 3, 2011

Best Xbox 360 Game

Honorable Mention: Alan Wake

Mass Effect 2 took almost every negative from Mass Effect 1 and turned it into a positive. Bioware created a fully realized sci fi universe here that’s as deep and interesting as any universe before it.

Best PS3 Game


Honorable Mention: Heavy Rain

God of War III sports one of the most amazing openings to any game I’ve played. Although the ending left fans polarized, the brutal gameplay, visual fidelity, and cool boss battles make this one of my favorites from last year.

Best Downloadable Game


Honorable Mention: Shank

This was a tough choice for me because to be honest, I didn’t play a whole lot of downloadable games, but Guardian of Light’s fun coop really helped it edge it out over Shank.

Best Wii Game


Honorable Mention: Donkey Kong Country Returns

This was a toss up for me.  You can pretty much flip a coin as to which game was my favorite.  Ultimately, it’s amazing what Super Mario Galaxy 2 does in a 3D space, so that nudges it over Donkey Kong Country.  Between SMG2, Kirby, and DK, 2010 was an awesome year for Nintendo platformers and I couldn’t be happier about that.

Best PSP Game

Honorable Mention: God of War: Ghost of Sparta

Easily the best PSP MGS game to date, Peace Walker looked and played more like a full blown console release than a limited portable game.

Best DS Game

Adjectives, that’s all you need to know.  Super Scribblenauts also added an actual face button control scheme and more of a puzzle oriented gameplay structure.  All of these improvements basically took away most complaints gamers had about the first game.

2010 Game of the Year


Honorable Mention: Mass Effect 2

It was hard to choose between ME2 and RDR, but ultimate I chose RDR because it went from a game I only got because I was talked into it (for the multiplayer), to being one of the best experiences I had with a game last year. The characters, gameplay, and awesome ending really set it apart from most games of 2010.

Other fun choices:

Best Graphics: God of War 3
Best Artistic Design: Kirby’s Epic Yarn
Best Action Game: Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
Best Fighting Game: Super Street Fighter IV
Best Adventure Game: Back To The Future Episode 1
Best Music Game: Rockband 3
Best Platforming Game: Donkey Kong Country Returns
Best Racing Game: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
Best RPG: Fallout: New Vegas
Best Shooter: N/A
Best Sports: NBA 2K11
Best Score: Red Dead Redemption
Best Voice Acting: Mass Effect 2
Best Story: Red Dead Redemption
Best Online Multiplayer Game: NHL 11


Disney Epic Mickey Impressions

November 30, 2010



I’ve been playing the game and thought to post some of my impressions.  Keep in mind that these impressions are based on one hour of play time.

Graphics: I really dig the art style that they went with here. It has a Tim Burton-like quality I wasn’t really expecting.  More than anything I really like Epic Mickey’s unconventional color palette. Junction Point went with colors that you wouldn’t typically expect in a game starring Mickey Mouse.  The use of purples and neon blues and greens really add to the darker-than-usual-for-a-Disney game atmosphere.

Sound: Really digging the music. There is some of it that sounds vintage Disney and other bits of it that sound original. I’m enjoying most of it so far, but I’m really early to judge for sure.

One thing I’m really disappointed with is the lack of voice acting. It would have been awesome to hear Mickey Mouse actually voice his lines during the cutscenes! They are pretty damn cool and would have added a lot to it IMO, especially considering that the subtitles go pretty fast, guaranteeing that my 8 year old son might not be able to keep up with it. All you get is Rare like sounds that emote what they are feeling.

Gameplay: I can definitely see where the complaints about the camera are coming from. I’m honestly not having a REALLY hard time with the camera, but I really wish that they would have gone the route of Metroid Prime Trilogy and had the camera pan around as you aimed the reticule around the edges of the screen. I find myself doing this instinctively at times and it would have helped with aiming the camera up and down since it’s a little on the uncomfortable side to reach and press up and down on the Wii Remote’s D-pad (which acts like an analog stick).  Using the D-pad as an analog stick does take a little getting used to.

Centering the camera makes up for some of the issues of using the D-pad to turn the camera.  I’ve always thought that Super Mario Sunshine and Kingdom Hearts had the worst camera implementation in these types of games and Epic Mickey hasn’t reached those depths of frustration yet.  More than anything, looking up and down is what becomes a bit of a chore as I’m getting accustomed to things.

Now that the camera woes are out of the way, I have to say that I really dig the gameplay thus far and I’m just scratching the surface. The jump mechanic feels good to me which is vital in an action/platformer and the Paint vs. Thinner mechanic is simple to use and fun. So far so good.  You have quests that you can do as well as collectibles that you can obtain.  Seems like there are some pretty cool extras that range from collectible pins that can be acquired by exploring areas using the Paint/Thinner mechanic, E-Tickets (not sure what these are for yet but they are the equivalent to collecting coins in Mario thus far) and film reels that seem to unlock animated shorts (I unlocked Mickey and the Beanstalk but haven’t checked to see if it’s the actual animated short or not).

I also did one of the side scrolling levels which was super simple, but fun. It helps to break up the pace of the game and it was really cool to see a 2D level themed after one of Mickey’s cartoon shorts.

Overall: I’m having a lot of fun with it, but I’m way too early to say anything definitively one way or another. I can say though that the game is a lot of fun so far and I’m looking forward to playing more.


The 10 Minute Review: One Prime Down, Two To Go

August 29, 2010

So I beat Metroid Prime Yesterday.  I had originally bought the game when it came out years ago on the Game Cube.  Although I really enjoyed the game for its feeling of isolation and ambiance, I only played it for a few hours before I forgot about it.  I was a bit turned off by the awkward controls and lack of a strafing option.

Apparently Nintendo heard my complaints and released Metroid Prime Trilogy.  MPT contains all three games in the “Prime” series and reworked the controls of Metroid Prime 1 and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes to take advantage of the Wii Remote Ala Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for the Wii.  With so many complaints of games shoehorning in Wii Remote controls into games, MPT is the exception to the rule.

The controls work great for the original game and although it does make the game a little easier because of it, it’s a welcome addition.  Progressive Scan, true widescreen support, and a ton of extras round out the new features.

As for the game itself, I had a lot of fun with it.  Admittedly, collecting all of the artifacts got really tedious towards the end, and so did the enemies respawning when you left a room, but it was still a great game.  You can see where Metroid Prime was an inspiration to games such as Bioshock (using methods other than cutscenes to tell backstory. Ex. audio diaries in Bioshock compared to scanning in Metroid Prime), Batman: Arkham Asylum (level structure and feeling of isolation), and Dead Space ( a little of both).

The story was pretty weak seeing as there barely was one, but what was there was pretty good.  Metroid has never been the type of game you play for the story anyway, so I suppose no harm no foul.

In case you were wondering, yes…I was scratching my Metroid itch playing Prime in preperation for the release of Metroid: Other M.  I suppose I wanted some perspective before I played that game.  I’m sure I’ll be posting Metroid: Other M impressions come Tuesday.


My 2009 Game of the Year Awards

January 4, 2010

Best Xbox 360 Game


Honorable Mention: Halo 3: ODST

Best PS3 Game

Honorable Mention: inFAMOUS

Best Wii Game


Honorable Mention: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

Best PSP Game

Best DS Game (by default)

2009 Game of the Year

Honorable Mention: Uncharted 2

I went back in forth between this and Uncharted 2. Ultimately, Batman surprised the crap out of me while I expected good things from Uncharted 2. Rocksteady Studios really raised the bar for what licensed games should be. This all coming from a studio who for all intents and purposes had never made a “good” game.

Other fun choices:

Best Graphics: Uncharted 2
Best Artistic Design: Brütal Legend
Best Action Game: Assassin’s Creed 2
Best Fighting Game: Street Fighter IV
Best Adventure Game: Secret of Monkey Island
Best Music Game: Beatles Rockband
Best Platforming Game: New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Best RPG: Dragon Age: Origins
Best Shooter: Halo 3: ODST
Best Sports: Madden X
Best Score: Halo 3: ODST
Best Voice Acting: Uncharted 2
Best Story: Dragon Age: Origins
Best Online Multiplayer Game: COD: Modern Warfare 2


Welcome to Ready, Set, Game!

January 16, 2009

Ready, Set, Game is the name of the video game blog I created….er today!  I can’t promise you that I will update this as much as other blog-type of sites like Kotaku or Joystiq but at least you get the personal touch of “the little guy”;  someone that doesn’t have to compete with the bigger gaming conglomerates because I’m simply doing this because I love the video game industry.

Think of me as the Dunder-Mifflin of gaming!

I will also post other personal blog entries as well as other media (comics, TV, movies, news that I care about, etc.) just to keep things spicy.  Enjoy and feel free to comment…any constructive criticism is encouraged!

Just to give you a little bit of background, I’m 29 years old and have been playing games since I was 7 years old.  I own all three current generation consoles.  In a previous life, I did a stint being the EIC of a now defunct gaming website called GamerWeb.com as the Editor-in-Chief of the SonyWeb section along with a few freelance jobs here are there afterwards.   As far as what I do as a profession, I’ve been a Firefighter for nearly five years now and have a son and a beautiful wife.  Hope you enjoy your time on my little slice of internet.