Game of the year 2013

A Slight change to the format this year. Previously, this category only involved games that were released in the calendar year in question, instead I am changing it to games I was introduced to during the past year as some of the games played over the last year should get recognition.

It was also helped by my only playing seven games that came out in 2013, this was the year that I finally got a PS3 and so I have a whole juicy library to catch up on.

5. Far Cry 3 – PC – 2012
Far Cry 3 was the game that I sunk the most time into this year. I loved the exploration of the island and while the story didn’t really hold my attention, the gameplay was great and made for a fantastic experience. I had less fun on the PS3 version due to annoying controller glitches that reared their ugly heads during combat and often led to my demise.

4. Bioshock Infinite – PC – 2013
The most beautiful game I have ever played and I really enjoyed the storyline, the combat just felt tagged on and ruined the experience for me.

3. Xcom Enemy Unknown – PS3 – 2012
This is second only to Far Cry in the number of hours I have sunk into it and I suspect it will eventually eclipse the Ubisoft game over time. The ability to create my friends as an alien killing super team and then have them wiped out just after the point in the storyline I got to in the previous playthrough always  gets me reloading and beginning again. The turn based controls work wonderfully with a controller and the experience is superbly put together.

2. Splinter Cell Blacklist – Xbox 360 – 2013
Purists can keep bleating about how this and the preceding Conviction are not real Splinter Cell games. While that may be true, I don’t care, this is much more fun. I love being able to sneak through levels unseen but at the same time, I love that the game allows you options if you do get spotted. Or if you are in a bad mood, you have the chance just to go in guns blazing without dying immediately.

1. Grand Theft Auto V – PS3 – 2013
Considering the size of the game space it is impressive how good GTA5 looks. The gameplay is tight and the driving controls are sooo much better than GTA4. The story may be poor and often trying too hard to be controversial, but I have such a good time just driving around exploring the island that I can ignore it. Rockstar have taken great elements from their other games of the past few years and created a masterpiece. They have created my game of the year for the second year in a row.

 

Past winners:

2012 – Max Payne
2011 – Portal 2
2010 – Mass Effect 2
2009 – Colin McRae: Dirt 2
2008 – Mass Effect
2007 – Super Mario Galaxy

Game of the Year 2012

While it was a great year for movies in 2012 it seemed to be a fairly lackluster year for games. I am also finding myself with gradually less time to play the big releases when they came out. It seemed to be a year when small games could shine though. In a year when I played just 12 new games the bottom of my top 10 may not exude quality but the top games were all ones I have greatly enjoyed.

10. Worms Revolution – PC

9. Catherine – XBOX360

8. Fez – XBOX360

7. Mark of the Ninja – PC

6. Mass Effect 3 – XBOX360
The first two Mass Effect games were my Games of the Year and the first game was my game of the last decade. Mass Effect 3 was therefore a bit of a letdown. It wasn’t just the terrible ending, it just felt dull compared the supreme second entry. The series went further away from its RPG roots as the series progressed and ended up mainly as a Shooter. This diluted what made the series interesting in the first place.

5. Thomas Was Alone – PC
A nice little Indie game that makes you care about little blocks with its charming narrative and fun puzzle gameplay

4. Trials Evolution – XBOX360
I loved Trials 2, the only problem was that it was single player, Trials Evolution added an exciting multiplayer that had my friends and I chuckling away. The user made multiplayer tracks just added to a great experience.

3. Spec Ops the Line – PC
A great narrative makes some for some occasionally iffy shooter mechanics, you want to keep playing to find out what happens next.

2. F1 2012 – PC
The third time is a charm for Codemasters’ F1 series, the first game was good because it was the first entry for years. The second didn’t really hold my interest as it largely fixed the bugs from the first game while confusing with an odd menu system. The third game does away with the menus altogether and seeks to just get you racing quicker. The controls take a little getting used to but once you do they feel pretty tight. I am enjoying this game.

1. Max Payne – PC
After LA Noire lost me with its narrative and repetitive gameplay Max Payne did a great job of building my trust in Rockstar again. The controls are tight and exciting, the narrative is interesting and keeps you playing and the bullet time effects are great fun. All that plus it is a great game to look at and has a lot to offer. It is my game of 2012.

image from Rockstargames.com

Games of 2011

I feel like I missed out, the biggest two games Skyrim and Skyward Sword I have yet to play. In fact I only played 9 games that came out in 2011.

5. Dirt 3 – Xbox 360
Dirt 3 removed the few bad parts of Dirt 2 and introduced some great tracks and racing. The return of split screen gaming was fantastic and the multiplayer added a lot of value. Its just a shame they had to shoe horn in gymkhana nonsense.

4. F1 2011 – Xbox 360
This years game may be slightly buggy but this is a much more playable game than the first one and is actually enjoyable to play with friends. As above Codemasters saw the sense and added split screen multiplayer.

3. Batman Arkham City – Xbox 360
The first Arkham game was fantastic, I loved everything about it. The new game was very good but still felt disappointing. The new environment was not generally as good and the boss battles were not so strong. It was still a great game though.

2. Dark Souls – Xbox 360
I will be honest, I am not a long way through this tricky game but I can tell that it is fantastic and despite being very hard I have had fun with it so far.

1. Portal 2 – Xbox 360
A great game, the story is great and the gameplay is still very very enjoyable. It is rare for a game to make you laugh but this has humour in spades. Valve does it again.

Wii Frustrations

The Nintendo Wii in March became just the second system ever to die on me. The first death was entirely my fault as I tried to escape GCSE revision to play PS2 games. Having had the power lead confiscated I decided to plug the power lead from my printer into it. It fitted, what could possibly go wrong? Well it fried the PS2 and surprisingly I still passed my science GCSE despite forgetting about amps, volts and wattage.

The Wii, however, died likely from age. It suffered from a problem faced by many a disc spinner with either its laser giving out or it losing the will to spin wii discs. It still played gamecube games just fine but thats not helpful when you are enjoying De Blob 2. I was annoyed but the Xbox gets most of the play time these days and it was after all a launch console. A replacement was needed though.

Having decided that the prices for a new console were just too high I started looking at the used ones available. Of course if the price cut by Nintendo dropping the price to £100 had happened a couple of weeks earlier I may have thought differently. Game had a pretty good deal whereby you get a used wii for £70 with a controller. With this as my benchmark I hit avforums and ebay to see if I could better that. After a couple of days searching I bid on an ebay Wii which came with the console, two wiimotes and two nunchuks along with two games in Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles (going for £10 on amazon used) and New Super Mario Bros. I
figured that this at marginally less price than the game offer was a great deal and so bid on it and managed to pick it up.

On the payment screen I noticed that the address was wrong (ie old address) and so I clicked change and gave my new address. I then repeated the payment process with the new address and thought nothing of it. 5 days later I was getting a little worried as there was still no sign of my lovely new console. I emailed the seller and he quickly got back to me with a tracking number. Turns out the package spent three days in Cornwall where he is before heading north and eventually finding its way to Kent on Wednesday night.

On Thursday afternoon I checked the site again and found that delivery had allegedly been refused. I then went, checked again and saw that Ebay had given the old address despite my changing it. I called Interparcel who were handling the delivery and changed the address. They said I would get it tomorrow. Friday came around and again I had a negative answer "courier could not gain access to property". I figured fair enough as Beth was out. I called the Interparcel who told me that HDNL were delivering my parcel for me. I asked them to tell them I wanted to collect the parcel from their depot. Interparcel then told me that HDNL do not allow pickups.

Deciding that this was a load of rubbish I told the lady that they did and it was mentioned when I phoned yesterday that it was possible to do so. The lady changed her mind and said it was fine and HDNL would call me. I have had experiences with HDNL before and none of them have been positive. Amazingly though HDNL did actually call me that evening and gave me their address and opening hours.

The next day (Saturday) I headed off to pick up my parcel at 9am. On receiving it I found that the request for a change of address had not been done on my Thursday afternoon call so the Friday attempt had gone back to my old address again. This led to more cursing about HDNL and now Interparcel. Still at least I had it now and it only took 6 days for it to get from Cornwall into my arms… or 10 since my original order.

On getting home I was eager to open the box and get set up. I did not realise that I was about to get my second round of frustrations. These I shall number:

1) You cannot copy Wiiware or Virtual Console games between consoles. This to me is maddening. I have spent at least £60 on game purchases from the Wii shop channel and now they are not allowing me to move them. Sure DRM makes sense on consoles but this is ridiculous. On my Xbox360 my purchases are tied to my online account so if I move my profile I get access to my games. Why is this so hard for Nintendo? Now I have to keep my old wii around and plug it in every time I fancy playing one of my downloaded games.

2) Copying game saves to an SD card takes time and is a pain in the backside. It needs to be done one by one and then even more annoyingly Super Smash Bros Brawl saves cannot be copied. No reason is displayed it just saves 'save cannot be copied'. FU Nintendo I want my Smash Bros save. The reason apparently is because it has online functionality. I think anyone who has tried the Smash Bros online functionality would dispute that and why should that make a difference (except Nintendo have screwed everything up with friend codes).

3) Copying games from an SD card is even more time consuming and tedious. To copy a game from an SD card the console needs to have seen the game before. This meant a process of putting game disc in, entering the menu, going to the sd card, copying, restarting the wii, removing the disc, repeat 15 times till all games are done. Is save game piracy really something Nintendo needed to plan against?

This all smacks of a company either thinking their hardware is unbreakable or sticking two fingers up to their customers. The experience will certainly make me think twice before even considering a future purchase of a nintendo system, though the 6 month periods with no games and poor online functionality had already made me wonder.

Other companies that don't come out blameless then are ebay for letting me change the address and then not bothering to recognise it (though I accept I should have checked the receipt after the payment went through). Interparcel and HDNL also get the naughty stick for conspiring to make sure I didn't get my package in a timely fashion by ignoring the change of address request I put through and then also lying to me about the possibility of my collecting the package from the depot.

Now that this rant is off my chest I can look at the positives, the wii is here, I have put the wii shop out of view and am not hooking the wii up to my network. I have my save games and miis and I can now play wii games. Overall I still think I got a better deal than if I had gone through game but it came with a lot of frustration.

It also leaves me with the following controversial statement – man I wish Royal Mail handled all deliveries in this country (and never striked)…