Thursday, January 13, 2011

Games of the year - sort of.

I just wanted to do a quick writeup of some of my favorite "you probably didn't know existed or did but wasn't sure if you should play them" games of the year. So I'm not going to cover obvious picks like Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2, Stacraft 2 or whatever...

1- Super Meat Boy:

I really wasn't keeping tabs on this game until someone linked me to a review of the game. At its core SMB is an amazingly challenging platformer (basically jumping game like mario or sonic) but it's also blessed by some amazing production values, a fantastic sense of humor and a huge wink to old gaming nerds like us with references to everything from old 2600 games. It also includes gobs of hidden characters and levels including some fantastically challenging "warp zones". You basically spend the entire game beating each level one by one. You get a special rank for beating each level under a certain amount of time (par) and you can also compare those times with other player's (for instance on the PC version I can compare my final times to people in my friend's list). Many levels also include a bandage that you must collect with additional bandages progressively unlocking different levels and characters.
It's probably the most fun I've had with a game in a long long time and the most fun I've had just dying repeatedly.

2- Limbo:

The review kind of covers it but basically this game is creepy as fuck. Like really creepy. There are moments that are visually simple but convey such a sense of dread you have half a min to just turn it off and play something more cheerful. The art design is impeccable, the music is exactly right and the whole game is fantastic. I just wish some of the puzzles weren't as lame.

3- Civilization V:

Part of me wants to hate this game because I feel like they oversimplified the core gameplay but at the same time I can also appreciate how this has streamlined a lot of the elements into a game that might be more mass market but it seems that overall they dropped the micromanaging aspects of it and made the game more tactical than strategic. The combat is especially improved with the addition of the hex system and removing the stack of doom mechanics that were so pervasive in previous editions has really been a change for the better. While I'm not a fan of the music selection the graphics are absolutely fantastic. If you want a super deep and complex Civ game then get beyond the sword but if you want something a bit more manageable with a heavier emphasis on combat then this is the Civ for you.

4- Amnesia The Dark Descent:

I won't get too much into this because I don't want to spoil the game too much and I just started playing it but it is by far the creepiest game I've ever played. Even Silent Hill, which creeped and depressed the fuck out of me, doesn't compare and as much as I liked Dead Space yeah this is more fucked up.

5- Scott Pilgrim vs The World:

The game is basically River City Ransom meets Scott Pilgrim - if you know RCR then you're probably already hooked but if not it's basically a beat 'em up game similar to Double Dragon / Turtles in Time but with RPG elements. You buy equipment, you eat food to heal up and you gain experience as you go along. The levels follow the movie's story as closely as it can and tend to be fairly varied, as are the enemies. The graphics are willingly retro, which is great, and the music was composed by famed bit-tunes virtuosos. The only bad thing I can say about this game is that not having an online mode is a total failure on Capcom's part. Still, it's a pretty amazing game.
Also for you plastation owners you actually should have seen a Castle Crasher's release on PSN this year. That's also totally worth checking out if you like beat 'em ups. For my money it's hard to recommend one over the other though CC has some really inventive levels and boss fights.

Honorable mentions:

Monkey Island 2 HD edition
Tales of Monkey Island
Sam n Max season 3
Super Street Fighter IV
Rock Band 3
Mega Man 10


Karl Hungus said...

Wicked reviews, Mr. Craw. I'm fucking dying to play Limbo and have been for a while except that it's not available on the PSN. That game looks fun as hell.

Master of the Craw said...

I'm surprised Limbo isn't on PSN... oh well, I can always bring my 360 over some time.

Barbarosa said...

Limbo, Civ V and Scott Pilgrim are making my thumbs water.

+ Nice thoughtful reviews, sir.

Master of the Craw said...

then it's decided, if someone is willing to put up their living room this weekend I can shlep my Xbox around for it.

Dementor said...

I thought game nights were being boycotted.

Master of the Craw said...

I wasn't privy to this.