The Games of 2012


It’s hard for me to decide how long this review is going to be before I get started on it. I feel like I didn’t play as many of the new games that came out this year just because of financial restraints. On the other hand, I also started using my Gamefly subscription more to fill in the gaps that I wasn’t willing to pay full price for. I’m also a little bit worried that I won’t have enough games to complete a bottom three, just because my precious time and money could not be wasted on untested, shitty games this year. Hopefully I’ll have plenty to talk about, but there’s only one way to find out…

JANUARY

FINAL FANTASY XIII-2

I fully intended to play this game; so much so that I actually purchased it and everything. The reason I never got started was because I still haven’t beaten FF13 yet. I started playing it when it originally came out, and then started from scratch again when this game came out, determined to finish a review of it and move onto the next game in the series. I have lost interest both times before actually finishing. One day, FF13-2… One day…

FEBRUARY

THE DARKNESS 2

I actually purchased this too … and still haven’t started playing it. I’VE BEEN BUSY!!

KINGDOMS OF AMALUR: RECKONING

AHA! A game I actually beat! And it was … thoroughly mediocre. There’re a whole lot of side missions, and a whole lot of dialogue to sit through, and all of that is written by some guy that nerdier people than myself know. I, however, don’t know him and don’t care to listen through novels worth of dialogue that is not that interesting in the first place. It’s a decent enough game, but certainly not worth a full purchase … unless you find it for $10 bucks like I did.

UNCHARTED: GOLDEN ABYSS

I was very excited about this game (as I am with all the Uncharted games), but I was not nearly as excited about the Playstation Vita at first. Eventually, I bought a Vita in the Assassin’s Creed Limited Edition bundle, and this game was the only game I was really concerned about getting. How was it? …I’ll let you know. I haven’t finished Assassin’s Creed yet. I’ve been told by my roommate that it’s really good though.

MARCH

MASS EFFECT 3

I am apparently a liar. I looked briefly at the 2011 reviews and saw that I said I would definitely be playing this game. Eh… not so much. Not because of the game, but because I seemingly completely forgot it existed.

APRIL

DISGAEA 3: ABSENCE OF DETENTION

I haven’t gotten this game yet, but I desperately want it. I have an unnatural obsession with this game series.

PROTOTYPE 2

A decent enough game. It’s a little repetitive, and I never was really able to muster more than an hour at a time, but it was solid fun. It also looked pretty good, and it was pretty easy achievements. It’s worth checking out if you can find a cheap enough copy.

MAY

SNIPER ELITE V2

I was pleasantly surprised by this game. I assume my friend Phil let me borrow the game because he expected such a thing, and he was right for once in his life. The story is simplistic and the graphics aren’t always what we’ve come to expect in this generation of gaming, but the satisfaction I gained from watching one of my shots go through someone’s skull in slow motion never dulled, even when it happened over and over again.

JUNE

LEGO BATMAN 2: DC SUPER HEROES

It’s another Lego game! …Take that for what it is. It’s good, and definitely right up a kid’s alley, but it’s not dissimilar from every other Lego game I’ve played in the past. Just this time, it’s Batman and other DC superheroes. Basic gameplay and basic story – and I was a little bummed that they made the characters talk when they’ve been so successful making the other games tell a story in an amusing way without it thus far – but there is some stupid, silly fun to be had in this game. And easy achievements! I’m sure it will be super cheap soon enough. You can give it a go when that happens.

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

My strange desire to play this game nagged at me for a long time. I had the strange desire because I’ve really liked some of the Spider-Man games in the past. It nagged at me because I wouldn’t buy it because it’s been a very long time since they’ve made one of the good ones. What did they do this time? They made another mediocre one, but one that had the free-roaming gameplay style that I wanted. Overall, I enjoyed playing the game enough because of the gameplay, but the story was really plain, and was also basically the not groundbreaking movie with more cross breeds. It’s okay, and probably worth a rental, but not much more.

SEPTEMBER

Quite a break here, right? It’s almost enough to make you think I had a life during this period. (Psst. I didn’t)

OCTOBER

JUST DANCE 4 and DANCE CENTRAL 3

If I had ever reviewed one of these games before, I would suggest that you take that review and change the music on it. Then add one to the number in the title.

ASSASSIN’S CREED III: LIBERATION

I’ve always loved Assassin’s Creed. But every handheld game (of course, I’m referring to the one other handheld one that I played) has been an utter disappointment. I have not completed this game, but it has blown my expectations for the handheld Assassin’s Creed games out of the water, while simultaneously not really being as good as any of the console games. It handles a lot like the Assassin’s Creed with the addition of the Vita’s second analog stick, but there’s not a whole lot going on in the story, and most of the missions involve changing Aveline’s costume and going to kill something. At least from what I’ve played so far, it’s not the greatest game, but it is a good game, and it’s the best Vita game I’ve played so far. It’s also the only one I’ve played so far.

NOVEMBER

CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS II

I’ve made it no secret that I’ve decided to boycott the Call of Duty games. They typically have next to nothing interesting going on in their single player campaign because they know that no one is really that interested in playing it. They tend to do a lot of good with their multiplayer, but that has bit me in the ass too. I bought the last two CoD games, and never really played Black Ops online. And I didn’t even open my copy of Modern Warfare 3. That caused me to decide to completely boycott this game. …That being said, I received the game as a Christmas present, and so I played it. The story is fairly solid, though not at all groundbreaking. They did make a few changes to the gameplay, and they all work well in favor of the game. It’s fun, though I’d say it’s a little easy for its own good. It’s also fun that they take it a bit into the future while also taking us back into the past, so we get to use some tried and true weapons and also use some futuristic weapons, some of which seem far fetched and others that seem realistic. I have not ventured into multiplayer yet, but I would say that what I’ve played of the game so far has made me not disappointed to own the game.

LEGO THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE VIDEO GAME

I haven’t played this game, but I assume you can take my review for Lego Batman 2 and exchange the word “Batman” with the word “Aragorn”.

HITMAN: ABSOLUTION

I look forward to playing this game … when I can find it for about $30.

THE WORST GAMES OF 2012

FIFTH WORST

Medal of Honor: Warfighter (2012)MEDAL OF HONOR: WARFIGHTER

When I rented this game, I wasn’t expecting much. With a name as bland as “Warfighter”, what should I expect? A mediocre game! DELIVERED! The story of the game was too long, it offered no appreciable innovations to the first person shooter genre, and the graphics were occasionally subpar. I’m sure they invested a good amount of their time into the multiplayer, but I invested none of mine into it. I just rented it to see if it was any good, then I beat it in a couple of days and sent it back, relatively unsatisfied. It’s not awful, but it’s probably only worth picking up if you can find it for about $10.

FOURTH WORST

Dishonored (2012)DISHONORED

This game disappointed me, but it also helped prove me right. People need to stop using hyperbole when talking about things with me. If you’re going to set this game up to me as mind-blowing – so much so that I’ll actually invest my monies into it – then it had damned well better be. It had better not be okay, and then just devolve into repetitively cutting throats. And the goddamned game better not try so hard to make me feel shitty for doing cutting those throats. You put it into the game! Maybe YOU’RE the bad person! Not me for realizing that the least frustrating way through a stealth game is to take the bad people out of the equation. Bad people can’t be bad anymore when their blood is no longer in their body.

THIRD WORST

TWISTED METAL

A pretty disappointing game that I probably shouldn’t have bothered expecting anything out of in the first place. This game was my own mistake because I put it on a Twisted Metal (2012)list for my birthday and it was gifted to me by my sister. I should have probably known better. My sister doesn’t game, so she wouldn’t know better. The game did remind me of a simpler time when all a game really needed was some goofy cars and explosions, but the problems of the game became more and more annoying over time. There were some frustratingly difficult parts in the game, and the game has no interest in telling you how to play it. And, to top that all off, you can probably knock it out in a few hours and then have no reason to play it. It has multiplayer, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. It had Twisted Metal Black to download along with the game, but that only really served to remind me that lots of games don’t age well. I can see some potential for this game to be entertaining when split-screened with your friends, but that does not justify its price.

RUNNER UP

Kinect Star Wars (2012)KINECT STAR WARS

I never got around to finishing this game, but I did play a good deal of it. I only bought the game because there was no other way to purchase the special edition R2D2 Xbox 360 without getting this game to come along with it. I even tried to trade in the game after I purchased the console, but the game wasn’t in Best Buy’s systems yet. So I decided to play it instead. The regular gameplay was fine enough, but a little repetitive. I did feel like I actually had full access to all of my midichlorians though. So what was the problem? This game shit all over my childhood! You seriously gonna have Han Solo dance in the carbonite chamber before he gets frozen? To a poorly parodied version of “I’m Riding Solo?” Fuck that shit! Those were not good times for old Han.

THE LOSER

SSX (2012)SSX

Oh that’s right, I DID want to kick a game in the nuts this year. That game was SSX. I only played this game because I remembered playing it when I was younger and really liking the simple fun of the series. I played this game and found that fun did not hold up anymore. There was no story and I got extremely bored of the gameplay in about a half hour since it was the same thing over and over, and that one thing was not even very fun. The game looks okay, but really has nothing else going for it.

THE BEST GAMES OF 2012

HONORABLE MENTION

The only game that almost made my top five for this year was Sniper Elite V2. It was a pretty fun game and surpassed any expectations I could’ve had for a game that I had never heard of that came out completely under my radar.

FIFTH BEST

Max Payne 3 (2012)MAX PAYNE 3

I had been a fan of the Max Payne series since its beginning, and I still enjoyed Max Payne 3, but it was a bit of a trudge in more than one part. Mainly, Max himself. Such a whiny bitch for someone that is killing hordes of his enemies like he was the Armageddon the Mayans were talking about. The story was good, but the dialogue suffered from Max Payne’s inescapable moroseness. So morose was he that it actually took away from my enjoyment of the extremely quality gameplay. I knew I would love that much, with all the jumping through windows and firing in slow motion. I just could’ve enjoyed it much more if Max would just shut the fuck up.

FOURTH BEST

Halo 4 (2012)HALO 4

I give this game extra credit for blowing my expectations for it out of the water. This was the first time the fate of Master Chief had been left in non-Bungie hands, and 343 tore it up. I’ve only played the campaign thus far, but I thought the story was really good, and even had a surprising bit of emotion to it near the end. Before that, it’s not much more than going from computer terminal to computer terminal, and I could resent that because it’s a version of my life with more guns and aliens. But the game looks GORGEOUS. Best looking Halo game so far by leaps and bounds. I bet the multiplayer is even good. Maybe I’ll give it a go.

THIRD BEST

Assassin's Creed 3 (2012)ASSASSIN’S CREED III

I’ve always loved Assassin’s Creed. Every console game thus far has been right up my alley. This one was as well … with a few notations. I loved the story and felt that it came a lot closer to home (as it physically came closer to home) by actually happening during a time period I would actually have any knowledge of. And I’ve always liked the way the Assassin’s Creed games play. Running over rooftops and stabbing necks with wrist blades is always good times. It’s like Dishonored if Dishonored didn’t punish you for playing the game the way it was designed. What did kind of punish me was how many glitches I encountered in the game. I ran into invisible walls, jumped onto walls instead of running in the direction I was trying to tell Connor to go, and on one occasion something in the game fired me up into the air, sending me crashing to my death. Still, the game was awesome when these things were not hindering my enjoyment.

RUNNER UP

Far Cry 3 (2012)FAR CRY 3

This was probably my most anticipated game of the holiday season, and it did not disappoint. All the Far Cry games are graphically fantastic, and this one held up its end of that. And you can also expect the landscapes in Far Cry to be huge, lush, colorful landscapes with tons of things to explore. The stories of the Far Cry games are typically unimpressive, but I actually liked the story of this game … mainly because there was one. And it was good too. I especially liked any parts of the story involving Vaas. My roommate did good by getting this game for me for Christmas.

THE WINNER

Borderlands 2 (2012)BORDERLANDS 2

When it came to the best game of this year, there were a few games it could be, but only one game it’s gots to be. I have already beaten this game as well as all the available DLC for it so far, and I’ve also played a good amount of time with all 5 character types available to me, but I still haven’t produced a review for the game because it’s so good that I have not yet decided that I’m over it. It is so good! The story is as fun as I’ve come to expect from my time with the first game, but they also actually put a few surprises and a few emotionally impactful moments. And on top of that, it’s an excellent first person shooter with RPG elements, and that is pretty much my two favorite game genres. This game is awesome. You need to buy it.

These are my opinions, but I would love to hear yours. Just like with the movies of 2012, I would love for you guys to leave me a comment telling me what your top and bottom 5 video games of 2012 were.

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people. Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense. Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated. You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter. Don’t forget to leave me some comments. Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Max Payne 3 (2012)


Put a Big Shit-Eating Grin on My Face While Watching These Bastards Take Turns Trying to Kill Me…

I remember being introduced to the game series that leads us to today’s game review shortly after it was released by a friend of mine who I now hate.  But my hatred for that particular person did not make me hate everything he brought into my life, and thus my love for the game continued.  I always found myself a little irritated with the typically depressing and morose story and atmosphere of the game, but it was the very first game to introduce gamers to the concept of “bullet time”, though movie goers had already experienced it a little in The Matrix.  But I wasn’t in control of Neo; I was in control of Max Payne.  And I always enjoyed the experience of diving backwards in slow motion, cleaning out the entire room of enemies as I slowly fell to the ground.  The sequel didn’t hurt my feelings at all, but the movie admittedly did (as best I can recall it).  When the game came out with yet another sequel, this time on current generation consoles, I was on board.  Now that we’re all up to date, let’s talk Max Payne 3, based on a character created by Sam Lake, written by Dan Houser, developed by Rockstar Vancouver, published by Rockstar Games, and including the voices of James McCaffrey, Julian Dean, Frank Rodriguez, Benedita Pereira, Robert Montano, Dillion Porter, Stephen Girasuolo, and Shirley Rumierk.

Nine years after the events of Max Payne 2, Max Payne (James McCaffrey) can typically found drinking away his body’s ability to feel things in a bar.  The son of a local mob boss comes in and starts trouble with Max, but he’s rescued by an old acquaintance from the academy named Raul Passos (Julian Dean).  But it’s only a brief respite as the son comes back, hits a female bar hopper in the face with his gun, and gets shot in the chest by Max.  Having just killed the son of a mob boss, Max is no longer safe in New Jersey, so he accompanies Passos to São Paulo to take a job protecting the wealthy Branco family, comprised of Rodrigo (Frank Rodriguez), his wife Fabiana (Benedita Pereira), Victor (Robert Montano), and Marcelo (Dillion Porter).  At a party, a street gang called the Comando Sombra breaks into the Branco’s house and attempt to kidnap Rodrigo, but Max (despite being cripplingly drunk) manages to save him.  Undeterred, the CS tries again at a nightclub Max and Passos are escorting Fabiana, Marcelo, and Fabiana’s sister Giovanna (Shirley Rumierk) to.  Giovanna and Marcelo get away, but Fabiana is abducted.  Max and Passos take it as their personal responsibility to retrieve her before it’s too late.

The story of the Max Payne games has always been one of my biggest issues, and there’s not a whole lot of change in this game.  The story itself is not bad here, but there’s something to the writing I got irritated with that I’ll get to in a bit.  The story itself is actually pretty good, including a good amount of twists and turns that keep it interesting for the bulk of the game.  I’d say an issue I started to take with the story was Max’s involvement in the first place.  We find out pretty quickly that Max was brought into the scenario to be a fall guy for the plot of the bad guys.  I understand why you’d want to pick a drunken gringo has-been with a history of violence to be your fall guy, but I think it’s time to start looking somewhere else when it turns out that one guy is a gundamned killing machine.  This plan is costing you way too much money on goons.  Alternatively, Max also made some shitty decisions that pissed me off.  There’s one point where he’s outside a room with about 4 people in it and an additional 3 he was trying to save, and he walks in there and yells freeze, then gets disarmed by someone behind the door he hadn’t seen.  This also gets someone killed.  And then it really pissed me off.  This dude is a fucking killing machine!  Was the writer aware of how many people I had slaughtered while jumping in slow motion through windows?  Why did he not do that here?  There are also a few more occasions where this killing machine gets disarmed and humiliated when he should have killed the shit out of the people.  The dialogue is the biggest issue I take with the game and the rest of the Max Payne games now that I mention it.  Max is such a fucking bummer!  Is he not aware of the fact that he’s a goddamned killing machine?  If I could jump through windows in slow motion and clear a room of 20 enemies, I would never be sad.  But Max is.  A LOT!  Every piece of dialogue in the movie is basically Max walking into a room of things that might generally make people happy and saying something to piss all over it with sadness.  He walks into a soccer arena and remarks, “A lot of trophies and game plans.  Been a long time since I had either.”  And you’re going to hear this kind of bummer-ism a lot.  Every time you pick something up or look at something, Max Payne will dump a pile of sadness on it.  He’ll do it sometimes to let you know where you’re supposed to go next, telling you which direction to go in the “center of the maze” even though there’s only one door in this “maze” that’s cracked open and obviously beckoning to you.  There was one time where I walked through an obvious door and Max said, “I opened the door to the next circle of this low rent Hell.”  Now you’re just narrating the things I just did and making them depressing!  How do you make walking through a door so damned sad?!

The biggest irritant I had with this game was in the look, but it’s again a specific thing in the look and not so much the look itself.  The game is third person and almost everything in the game looks fantastic.  The environments are often extravagant when you are in the early stages of the game, existing in the Branco’s company.  They all look great.  Then you go to a favela, where it also looks great, but captures the underprivileged look well.  The thing that annoyed me was – to show that Max was often having a hard time making it through things – the camera would constantly flash with different colors.  They made the great look of the game irritating!  Why would you do that?  I understand that the character we’re viewing these things through the eyes of is often inebriated, but I’m not.  Why should I be punished for someone else’s alcohol abuse problems?  This gimmick they had was well into my nerves by the end of the first level, but thankfully it lightens up by the end of the game as Max dries out.  I was also a little bit bummed out when Max’s look changed from his classic look in the game, but I understood the purpose in the story.  I figured it was no coincidence that Fabiana often looked like a big boobed version of Paris Hilton, but I was confused when her hair seemed to change color in the middle of the game.  She was a blonde, but she’s suddenly a brunette in parts of the game.  Was it dirty or something?  Had the game been going on so long that her natural hair color grew out?  I don’t know.

The gameplay is where this game really wins.  It’s a whole bucket full of awesome to be Max Payne, even though he’s trying to convince you that it’s not all the time.  It’s still a third-person shooter that relies heavily on slow motion to increase its awesomeness.  It remains largely unchanged from my dim recollection of the previous two games, adding only a new cover system that’s been made popular in games since Max Payne was around, and it works for the game very well.  For the bulk of the game, I didn’t find the bullet time as useful as I remembered it.  Max just wouldn’t stay airborne long enough for me to make short work of my enemies, and not always because I ended my bullet time jump – and lost serious style points – by jumping into a credenza or something, smashing into it and crumpling to the floor, humiliated.  But, when I got to thinking about it, I had played the original games on the PC, where it’s much easier to aim, so that may have been the perceived problem.  They also added a new thing that they called “Last Stand”, which gave you a second shot at life that worked very well … sometimes.  If you had been killed, time would slow down and give you the opportunity to kill the person who had put you down.  The irritation came when your gun was empty because you were, after all, just involved in a major shootout, and you could not reload during Last Stand.  Occasionally, the person that shot you was obscured by a wall, where he could apparently shoot you, but you could not shoot him.  So that was annoying.  The reloading problem was big for me because I was about two chapters from the end of the game before I even figured out that it was possible to reload in the game.  I confess that I downright refuse to read instruction manuals, and I often cannot be bothered to even check in the options for the controls.  That happened here, but I just figured I wasn’t able to reload because they didn’t mention it within the lengthy tutorials in the early stages of the game, just to make sure you know what to do.  You could’ve thrown that one in there.  I was also a fan of the checkpoint system they use in the game.  If you run into a big battle nearly dead and out of painkillers, you don’t need to worry about restarting the entire level.  If you die, you restart with full health.  If you keep dying, they restart you with full health and some painkillers.  And you just keep getting more as you die.  I appreciate that.

This is not a game to get for achievements, at least if you’re anything like me.  First, there’s a multiplayer component to this game that you will not find in this review because I probably will never play it.  I want Max Payne for its single player experience and I can’t be bothered with your tacked on multiplayer that people seem to think every game needs.  Some of the achievements require you to play that, and I won’t.  It also requires you to play the game on significant difficulties, and I had enough issues on Normal that I won’t bother with anything above Hard.  There’s also apparently a thing in the game called New York Minute that you would need to beat, and beat on Hard, if you want the two achievements for it.  New York Minute means you have a minute to get through each chapter, extending that by killing people, but if you die, you restart from the first chapter.  Fuck that.  You’re going to tell me I need to rush into battle to win, but then punish me for the inevitable outcome?  No thanks.  Besides those, it’s mostly just killing all the people in the room in one of the many locations that Max dives from something in slow motion.  I’m okay with those ones.

In the end, I thought Max Payne 3 was a fantastic game, but it was not without its annoyances.  The story was great, but Max himself did everything he could to bum me out all the way through.  The look was also great, but only when they allowed you to see it without randomly flashing the visuals in an irritating fashion every thirteen seconds.  But the gameplay I don’t have any big complaints about.  Every minor irritation is overridden when you become the slow motion embodiment of death and destruction.  This game is definitely worth playing, but I’d keep anything sharp out of your reach lest Max causes you to open up some wrists.  Max Payne 3 gets “You buy a product and you get what you pay for, and these chumps had paid for some angry gringo without the sensibilities to know right from wrong” out of “I’d killed more cops than cholesterol.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.