Monday, January 05, 2009

2008 Analysis

Well sorry for not posting in ages, been busy with Christmas and other stuff.

2008 has ended, and despite a fantastic 2007, it was good game wise. Normally, (normal in that I think I did it last year) I would comment on Gamespot's Game of the Year award. However, this year, they were shockingly poor. Neither Fable 2 or Gears of War 2 made the Best of Xbox 360, let alone Game of the Year. This wouldn't be bad, if there were 10 clearly amazing games, but NHL? It wasn't just these shortlists that were off. For example, Fable 2 was not even listed in the funniest game. Sure, I maybe a bit of a Fable fanboy, but everyone found it funny. But it was in best sequel. What, that makes no sense either. Best Sequel should go to a game which had either a really poor preuel, or took everything good from the first one and crafted it in to something new. Fable 2, while good, did some things less well than Fable 1.

Gears wasn't on best Technical graphics, nor Fable on artistic, Super Smash Bros didn't win best Wii game. All in all, I was highly disappointed in the whole thing. This was worsened by the fact that the comments section wasn't working, I couldn't vote and the whole thing was taking forever to load.

Instead, as I don't play enough game to do my own set of awards, I am going to briefly discuss some of the big, controversial and important releases of the year.


The brain child of Will Wright was highly hyped, but the press received it with a collective shrug. For me it had two key floors. Firstly, the Space age was hugely frustrating and none of the modes slotted together. I have already published a huge rant about the space stage in my review, but the other comment I have only mentioned in passing. Excluding the space stage, each mode was weak, simple and could be found on the internet. The bit that was meant to be different was that you played them all. But there was no continuity, no consequences. Other than choosing whether to play the Simon Says peace game or a simple power of numbers RTS game, your decisions had little impact.

The game was not without redeeming features (not least the hugely impressive editors), and perhaps minus the hype it would have been good. However, I guess I was expecting something a little more thought out from Will Wright.

Read all my coverage of Spore...

Super Smash Bros Brawl

I will get round to reviewing this game at some point. On the one hand, it is that same addictive, easy to pick up, impossible to master game play that is impossible to resist. But, on the other hand, the game feels constantly lazy. There is no IR support for the menus (instead you use a cursor controlled by the joy-stick!!), the online is not only lacking in functionality, but is also constantly laggy (and consequently, no one plays it). In true Nintendo style, there has been no apology, no explanation and no resolution. I could go on for hours about the features missing from the online, but it really doesn't matter, if it had just worked, it would be good.

Ok, so they failed to take advantage of the Wii, they failed to make a decent online, but at least the standard modes are good. Well, yes. But the characters aren't balanced. So, what exactly did they do in the years they had to develop it. A great game, an even greater disappointment.

Read all my Brawl coverage


You may be surprised to see this title, I haven't bought it, don't worry. However, this is the only strategy game to come up with a WORKING control scheme for an RTS on console. While everyone's breath is held for Halo Wars, EndWar did what I have been trying to said needs to be done. And no, I am not talking about voice commands (no pun intended)

This game did three things which made it work on the console. Firstly, it simplified everything. There is only one resource and you don't have to manage its collection (it builds up), there are only 7 or 8 different units fitting a simple Rock, Paper, Scissors thing.

Second, it has come up with a logical way of controlling the units (even without voice, issuing commands is as easy as on a PC) and thirdly, it made the whole experience much bigger. Now before you go accusing me of saying that console games need to be dumbed down, it isn't because of the market. It is simply you sit much further from the screen. On a PC, I can read size 10 fonts, size 20 on a console can be tricky. By making the experience big and visceral, it was easy to play and above all fun.

Yes the voice commands do help, but it was not the only noteworthy feature in the game.

Read my first impressions...

Fable 2

I will be writing about this game for years to come. What can I say? I game with so many flaws, I'm sorry, but it did. Flaws that Peter Molyenux himself admits in an interview (which I have lost the link to, some of it was on Xbox Live at one point as well) But through all this, the game delivered a stunning experience. It is the first game to make me feel something other than, "Woo, I did it". Sure, the co-op was terrible, the game was easy and the world no where near as big as Oblivion. But it is bigger than you think, I bet half of you never went to the cave in Rookridge where you had to swim round the river. I am constantly finding new areas. I will be writing more about this game and what I want from the DLC (which I will sell all my beliefs and probably end up getting!)

Gear of War 2

Horde is an incredible stroke of genius with near endless re-playability (I would like to see anyone do wave 50 on insane, and then anyone do that ON THEIR OWN) The campaigns story is not very satisfactory. At the start, the Locust were nearly defeated and then they weren't, and judging that there is a Gears 3 planned, the end is the same. At the start, Dom had lost his wife, everyone thought she was dead, now she's dead. At the start, humanity was on its last legs, at the end, well you get the idea. The campaign was fun none the less, and co-op is a blast.

The online started off terrible. It could take an hour to find one game. It does appear to be fixed now, and is almost as fast as Halo. It still has annoying timers before you can't quit, you can't party up and the ranking system isn't very rewarding (there are only 5 ranks, so you hardly ever go up, except after you win your first game) However, it is as intense as ever and the new game types work really well. All the weapons are balanced and the game manages to stride the fine line of non-frustrating-but-tense very well.

Read my first impressions...

Fallout 3

I haven't got this game (but I will be getting it soon) but I have heard quite a bit about it. Apparently the start is really bad, but fast forward three hours and suddenly everyone is raving about it. It sounds like Bethesda as done something fantastic with this. They took what was good with Oblivon (large expansive map with near-infinite things to do) but put some character in to it. I am really looking forward to find the parts for the rail gun which pins people to walls, all of the toys and explore the wasteland. I will be writting about this more on Tuesday next week (that's when I am getting it, after my exams)

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriot

Once again, not played on this, but DAMN I wan't too. Sure it sounds stuck up, excessive and redicuolous. But I think that if you have made what some people call one of the greatest series of all time, you are entitled to do that. The mix of genres sounds impressive, but a game where enough love to create 1 and a half hour cut scenes has gone in, I want a part of. Unfortunatley, this is not quite enough to justify selling my house for a PS3. Not that that is true anymore, they are actually reasonably priced - if it had the range of games that the 360 does.

Little Big Planet

But it is getting close (to me getting a PS3). Although this game got kind of average reviews (considering hype) from the press, I really want to play this. Maybe it is my love of making things, particuarly games, or maybe because it is a platformer with a physics engine, I don't know, but there is something about this game which I find irrestible. The MGS (Metal Gear Solid) LBP (Little Big Planet) pack nicely consolidates all that is good about the PS3


Home ceartainly shouldn't be included in this package from what I have heard. Immature pre-pubecent teens seem to make up the numbers, crowding ANY female arvatar and performing acts which I shan't go in to here (youtube Home if you are interested, I am sure there are quite a few videos) Other than that, just sounds a bit boring and depressing. Probably shouldn't have invested quite so much time in this one Sony...

Call of Duty: World at War

Well, I played the beta, enjoyed it and then remembered why I never got Call of Duty 4; I find it too frustrating. Where Gears gets the balance right (almost), this game goes way in to the frustrating side. It doesn't matter how good you are, sometimes, someone will just randomly creep up behind you and head shot you. The fact that a CoD is now coming out every year probably isn't a good thing for the series - I doubt even Infinity Ward can create a compelling campaign every two years that is any longer than 5 hours. On the plus side, it is the first time (that I can recall) where a video game achives that level continued demand, equalling sports games which are conveniently based on an ever changing list of players. I'll hold of judement to, err, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 2? Well, there never was a CoD 5...

Stay tuned for what I am looking forward to in 2009.

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