Oh, what a surprisingly great year this has been for gaming. From refreshing new IPs to great AAA titles, it looks like it's another victorious year for Synergistic Novels (video games). That being said, however, there were noticeable smoldering rocks that were ejected from Mount Fail.
5. Alan Wake
: Alan Wake
is in no way a bad game, in fact I rather hope Remedy makes a sequel. In no way, shape, or form, however, is this game worth over 9 years of game development. You can see the terrific skeleton structure of a great game, it's just that the muscles are slightly deformed. Blatantly annoying side characters, highly questionable decisions in terms of making the game 'scary', and repetitious combat kept this title from being an absolute purchase. Also, Remedy, we get it, you like Stephen King. Go talk about somebody else, now.
4. God of War 3
: Kratos' final, and violent, endeavor in Greek mythology comes to a close with breathtaking visuals, outstanding audio work in all respects, and gameplay so awesome you would think that Hephaestus himself crafted the game. So why does the third installment in the "God of War" trilogy fail? Simple: the story lacks. The first game was the epitome of a terrific Greek tragedy - a man who's brought down not by monsters or Gods, but by his own guilt. God of War II
set up a conflict (unsatisfactorily) between the Titans and Gods which promised to be resolved in the third. Unfortunately, without the creative direction of David Jaffe, the third act falls apart as hard as The Matrix Revolutions
. Kratos is reduced to a caricature of his former self who conflicts with the game's slapped together themes of 'forgiveness' and 'hope' (which I find hard to believe given that the bastard has killed more people than the Bubonic plague). Unlike the first game, there's nothing redeeming about his character and his sudden care for Pandora feels like an afterthought. God of War
was an original and groundbreaking game that brought together terrific presentation, amazing gameplay, and an instant classic of a story. Too bad it couldn't stick the landing.
3. Medal of Honor
: Over time, movies have developed a sense of tasteful respect as opposed to black-and-white war films where the good guys were the ones that didn't have 'funny accents' (even classics like A Bridge Too Far
, (Tora, Tora, Tora
), and The Great Escape
portray the antagonists closer to Indiana Jones villains than actual human beings). In short, it takes time for this sense of holistic respect to be developed. I had hopes that EA's Medal of Honor
would take a more somber and serious tone in terms of telling a war story. Yeah
...that didn't happen. Medal of Honor
has you slaughter countless throngs of enemies in a virtual shooting gallery. I don't mind it in military fantasy games like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
since realism is never really taken into the equation, but it's downright saddening how many resources the developers had at their hands to create a truly engaging storytelling experience, but I guess that would have bored the frat boys who pre-ordered the game. Failed story aside, it's a mediocre game at best. Gameplay was passable, if bland, and the best parts of the presentation crumbled under poorly construed characters and a cliche-ridden plot.* I find it hard to believe that there were actually military personal giving instructions to the developers to make the game seem more authentic when the whole plot feels like something out of a Tony Scott film.
2. Motion Controls: While I never had much faith in the SONY's HD remake of the Wiimote, I held out hope, albeit only a sliver, for the Kinect. Microsoft was at least attempting to take a risk with new technology and create a different gameplay experience. Even though the Kinect is selling extremely well, both the Move and the Kinect ultimately fail because all they offer is a splattering of minigames. Though a good majority of the games available for Wii are slapped together shovelware games, at least the system shipped out with Trauma Center
and Twilight Princess
. I have yet to see a game, or a game announced, for either motion controller to get me excited to use that peripheral piece of technology.
1. (Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley
): I gave the guys at Twisted rope. A LOT of rope. And they hung me with it. While the team of writers is obviously aiming towards creating some of the most entertaining animated characters since the Warner Bros. cartoons of the 40's, the same dedication isn't found in the gameplay department of this game. With The Maw
and 'Splosion Man
, the company's track record just seemed to get better with age; however, it is with a heavy heart that I cannot indulge in a 'aging wine' metaphor. The melee fighting feels unresponsive and the shooting segments are repetitious. While the different levels look interesting at first, they're just the same structures with a different coat of paint. There's only about three enemy types in the game and even then they aren't cycled frequently enough to make you think you're actually getting variety in combat. I am furious at myself for wasting my time and money on this game. Avoid at all cost - screw this game. Double "Fuck you" points for recycling an ENTIRE boss fight from 'Splosion Man
So, those are my big disappointments of this year. What were yours? Oh, while I'm also thinking about it, come on over to the Bloody Thumbs Podcast
group page to hear more insight on video games with myself and Splinter47. Throw in your two cents about video games and have your voice heard. And come on! Is there any other group on the site with someone as sexy as this:
I didn't think so...
* For those of you who objected to Medal of Honor
for having a fictional representation of the Taliban in a story, where the fuck were you when The Hurt Locker