Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Games of 2011, The Games That Weren't My Games

Much like last year, there were several games that, while noteworthy, I simply didn't get into playing them for one reason or another.  Some because I didn't want to, some because I didn't get to, and some because I just didn't have the funds to justify getting it.  Luckily(?) this year I didn't really have any games that I just didn't get around to playing by some miraculous glut of purchases, so that's honestly one less section that I have to put in, however there's really only two sections that the games for this year to fit into for me.

No Ability


I actually keep forgetting about Terraria in every fashion for a multitude of reasons.  It's a PC-Exclusive game that will most likely remain that way, it seems like it's either completely entrenching one moment or completely off-putting another, and I actually own it, technically, but I can't play it because my PC is terrible and has no shaders to speak of in the graphic cards or something.  I know, really authorative on PC gaming specs, right?  Anyways, I got myself a Steam Profile a ways back as almost a cruel joke for myself since I'm not fooling anybody; I can't run shit on this machine.  And shortly after that, I was handed a copy of Terraria and it was going to be fun times because I mean, look at Terraria, it doesn't need -shit- to run, right?  Wrong.  It needs more than I have, which means it's....well, completely untouchable to me for now.

It's unfortunate as, like I said, at times Terraria looks like the kind of game I personally would sink -hours- of my life into when in the right mood, as, despite the lack of 3D space to work with, Terraria compensates by having a lot of 'fluff' items to decorate with.  Dummies that you can put full suits of armor on for display, statues, varied pieces of furniture, etc. the possibilities are already numerous and growing more and more with every update.  It's out-paced Minecraft in that department by quite a bit already and has the added benefit of, well, being more of a game than Minecraft unfortunately.  While I'm not one to needlessly compare the games, as the internet seems wont to do, there are striking similarities and in brutal honesty, Terraria is a more realized game and feels like it's actually past release.  It has actual NPCs rather than placeholders, actual boss fights, plural, rather than only one, and definite 'post-game' content that shapes the world around your character and their designs.

However at the same time as the above, there is only so much that you can do with a single plane of input.  (Well, two as there's a background layer for walls)  You can make things that look kind of neat, you can make overly elaborate towers and tall buildings to compensate for the single plane and....that's about it.  There's not really the expansive feel that you get with 3D terrain.  I mean just look at this video of a series called "Medieval Minecrafting" in which one DurandalofAegis proceeds to make a gigantic castle in Minecraft.  There's a real feel of scale that I really don't think you can recreate in a solely 2D environment.  Maybe I'll get proven wrong, and there is obviously merit alone to Terraria itself, merit that I would've loved to explore personally, but I just couldn't.

Star Wars:  The Old Republic

Another PC offering (as will likely all the 'no ability' games be), The Old Republic and the upcoming Phantasy Star Online 2 caused me to really really consider my position on MMOs because they are both games that I would really like to play.  I'm just not sure -how much- though, as I wouldn't want to pay for the privilege of playing the game I bought with other monies, and that's really a stance I'm not planning on wavering on.  We'll see if that stands when I actually have a computer that could play either game, as I suspect I might buckle under the weight of being able to play something with my Li'l Sis (TOR) or being able to play a PSO game online for the first time after missing out all those years ago on Dreamcast.  All venues that I would consider listening to suggest that TOR is actually something to keep an eye on and to play and, most importantly, enjoy, but I am not really the best judge of these things.  Still, after great enjoyment with the Knights of the Old Republic games, it would be nice to give TOR the ol' college try.


Still.  Goddamnit.

No Hurry

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

While it may be considered blasphemy in some places, I don't think Skyrim would have placed very high on my GotY list even if I had played it.  Regardless, I didn't and the reasoning is quite simple:  There's no need to buy Bethesda games at launch.  I have made this point again and again and will continue to make it until it proves to be mis-truth.  The games are generally riddled with bugs that may or may not render some future additions completely untouchable if not just generally hamper your experience, and they will invariably always get some form of expansion packs that are then bundled in when the game goes "Game of the Year Edition" the following year.  And all the reasons to play it, the expansive maps, the stories, but main and side, and the actual experience of the gameplay?  Those will all still be there when you pick up the game a year down the line at a discount with content that people had to shell out half the games value to get additionally.

Regardless, I find it hard to be anything more than a little charmed with the openness and such of Bethesda worlds that so entrench others.  I have fond memories of Morrowind and Oblivion, but they're only of dicking around which you could generally do in most games.  While the specifics might be exclusive to these games, the general vibe is not, nor can it be, so it' not something to really tout.  For instance, the most fun I had with Morrowind was getting it on PC, using the glitch that let you make spells that would permanently buff your stats to make a super dude and then going around and assassinating the guards of the land with shurikens until 1) I died or 2) the game crashed.  Similarly in Oblivion, I had a lot of fun just killing people to throw them into rivers and the like and specifically causing trouble in the district of the Imperial City where the Thieves Guild meets for initiation; hopping up on those rooftops and taunting guards and civilians that happen to be annoyed at you while they just stare at you in impotent rage, it's a pretty good feeling.  Yet not feelings specifically found only in Bethesda games.

Portal 2

I hate to do it, but I gotta be that guy.  I didn't really care for Portal which is no doubt partly caused by the overexposure I and the rest of the internet was subjected to after its massive success.  I gave it a try, played until I couldn't, which meant I didn't beat it, and just couldn't be bothered to care.  Even when I saw the rest of the game via two different Let's Plays I couldn't care.  I realize that's just my own personal thing here and no representative of popular opinion or of even an opinion that you should have, but I can't really lie about it.  And as far as I can tell, Portal 2 promised from day one to be more of the same but bigger and 'better', so I basically just had to write it off to a later date.  I'll give it a try just like the first Portal and since the internet hasn't exploded with memes from the game, hopefully I'll be able to enjoy it a bit more.

Batman:  Arkham City

Much like Portal 2 being more of the same of Portal 1, Arkham City had been described as more of the same of Asylum but, again bigger and 'better' which...just isn't very appealing to me.  I didn't dislike Arkham Asylum, but when I beat it I was very much done with it.  I had done the bulk of the side stuff already, so when the game dumped me back into it after the final boss fight, I could only walk around for a little bit before I shrugged and moved on.  I can't tell what it is, but Arkham Asylum was just one of those games that, while I was playing it, it was awesome and I couldn't get enough until I was finished, and then when I was finished, I just couldn't be bothered to have anything more to do with it, as I said.  It wasn't like the combat wasn't great - it was.  It wasn't like the characters, the acting weren't wonderful and nostalgic - they were.  It just was not a game made with replayability in mind to me, which is a bit rough considering one of the two(?) trophies I had left was to play the game through again on hard.

Like the rest of them, I'll play Arkham City one day.  That day is just undetermined and very much in the future.

And finally one last game that wasn't my game of the year and I'm going to give it its own section.

Don't Hate Me, Chance

Dark Souls

I assure you there is a very, very simple reason for why I didn't play Dark Souls this year, nor will I for a while yet:  I haven't played Demon's Souls yet.  I know I was talking about starting that up months ago, going so far as to even plan out my character far in advance, but I just haven't gotten around to it.  Other games take priority over one that's going to stab me repeatedly in the throat while I am learning its ways, I'm afraid, and me being weird as I am, I can't let myself play the sequel before the original even if they have nothing to do with one another.  It's just not a thing I can do, and I would suggest that I suffer for that as others might suggest as well.  While I am assured that Dark Souls is a very good game, I have only been able to muster a wary eye towards it, wanting to know of its ways, yet not wanting to be spoiled on too much of it.  I want just that right amount of preparedness for when I step into its world that I might learn the hard knocks without suffering the easy ones as well.

While there's a few other games that could make this list, these are pretty much the note-worthy games here.  There's really no ill will towards any of them, just not any particularly high level of excitement, either.  And if we know one thing about me it's that that's what I crave:  games that excite me.  Whether it be for the concept alone (Lollipop Chainsaw) or the promise of something I already like, but refined (Like, every sequel this past year that I played), I have to feel something for the game before I want to exchange currency to hold it in my hands.  It'll be a dark day indeed if I lose that feeling, but I really, really doubt that day will ever come, which is something to be quite thankful for.

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