Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Games of 2009 - The Lookback

Specifically, Tingler's lookback, for despite being in China and having no legal access to this blog I've still managed more posts in the last couple of months than all my companeros combined. I do invite them to have a look see and do their own lookbacks on the year... but for now this is mine, all mine! Bwahahahaa!

My main focus is
this post here that I did at the beginning of the year - my Most Wanted games of 2009. Let's see how my choices all held up here at the end, and which games I missed that I found myself more drawn to (and yes, I realise it'll still be 2009 for the next few weeks, but I somehow doubt there'll be any games released in the next couple of weeks that'll sway me!):

My Most Wanted 2009...

Batman: Arkham Asylum - ahh, this one I got right at least. There was the possibility it could be a linear and dull action/adventure, but instead was a highly polished labour of love. It got Batman spot on, and for that it instantly becomes my game of the year. Even the little things impressed me, like saving in the middle of a hard boss fight - how many games do that? Loved it.
Wolfenstein - conversely, probably my biggest disappointment of the year. Not terrible, but a decidedly average and poorly designed FPS that shamed the name Wolfenstein. There wasn't even a fucking chaingun - how can you have a Wolf game without a chaingun?! The final boss sucked ass too, and don't get me started on the needs-an-Xbox-pad multiplayer.

Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures - sadly overshadowed by Tales of Monkey Island, both in terms of public perception and in Telltale's mind. The Xbox releases disappeared, the final episode was a rushed buggy mess with a terrible finale, and the whole thing just wasn't as funny as the source material. It looked and felt perfect at least, and episode 3 (Muzzled!) was almost great, but I doubt it'll be back for a second season.

Fatal Frame IV/Project Zero IV - a shame this, the only game on my list not to make it out at all. It could've been the scariest game this year despite being on Wii, instead it seems to have been forgotten. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories should've taken its place... although I can't play that yet where I am now!

Ghostbusters - I was correct, nothing stopped me from enjoying this game, not even the European release becoming exclusive to Sony until last month. A quick PC import that turned out was ridiculously lacking multiplayer, not to mention the repetitiveness of the combat, did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm. I enjoyed it, but doubt I'll play it again for a while. Got a two-page review out of it for Zone though, so it wasn't all bad!

Brütal Legend - I thought it was impossible for me not to like a Tim Schafer game, but here it is. Word of mouth, for the first time in Schafer's gaming catalogue, turned against him, as the demo and all EA's marketing forgot to mention one thing - that the majority of Brütal Legend was a strategy game. It looked like a hack-n-slasher with some cool vehicles, and sounded like a Guitar Hero imitator. Understandably, people were not impressed. When you have to do a huge blog post to explain exactly how to play your game, you haven't done your job as a game designer.

Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings - you know how I said how getting Batman spot-on in game form instantly made Arkham Asylum my game of the year? Well, if Staff of Kings had done that with Indiana Jones it would've beaten it. It didn't. I knew, honestly, as soon as LucasArts made it Wii-only that it would be crap. It was being made by A2M for starters, the studio reknowned for only making shit licensed games. They even forgot Indy's satchel. If they couldn't even be bothered to look at a picture of Indiana Jones before they shipped their game, then they obviously couldn't give a shit.

FEAR2: Project Origin - may not have been as good as the (PC ONLY) original, but I still enjoyed it. It just wasn't as scary, and too easy, at least until the (PC ONLY) patch came out. The Mech bits were a bit wasted too. The Reborn mission pack, despite being a bit short for the price, was excellent, and returned the superb Paxton Fettel to the series. I'm eager to play the next one already.

... And the ones I missed

Dragon Age: Origins - A very close contender for game of the year, I just simply didn't expect it to come out in 2009 and be so great. It's not Baldur's Gate III and that dodgy Day One DLC and confusing multiple Special Editions have tarnished it a bit, but it's still a damn fine game. It was so good I even considered writing a post on it until I forgot. D'oh.

Left 4 Dead 2 - no one expected this and the fan hate (from me included) is still palpable. It was a great game finally, but Valve have obviously abandoned the original now without giving it anywhere near the updates it deserved.

Tales of Monkey Island/Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition - I knew about these before they were announced, but like many others I'd written them off as fan-wishing rumours. Monkey Island 5 being licenced to ex-LucasArts guys Telltale? LucasArts themselves, who had just fucked Indiana Jones again and fired all their staff, making a special edition of the original game? Not likely! Then both turned out to be true, and I almost spontaneously exploded.

Call of Juarez: Bound In Blood - hadn't played the original so wasn't particularly looking forward to this, then Dave recommended it, I loved it and the sequel immediately went on my wish list. Was far more of a straight FPS game, but still very enjoyable.

Cryostasis - more of a first-person horror adventure game than a shooter, it ties up plenty of scares, a cool Quantum Leap narrative device and a brilliant warmth-as-health mechanic. A great game from an unknown developer.

Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena - again, I hadn't played the original, so hadn't considered this before. Luckily I loved Starbreeze's previous game (the sadly console-only The Darkness) and so was eager to get this, and I wasn't disappointed. I even picked up and enjoyed the movie! That surprised me more.

I'll be back for a Most Wanted 2010 post at some point soon, but I'm quite happy with the way 2009 went. Fortunately a hell of a lot of games were delayed to early next year, so I have a lot to talk about... if no money to buy them all!

- Chris Capel

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


Left 4 Dead may have become strangely prophetic.

Get those safe rooms and random piles of miscellaneous ammo ready.

- Chris Capel