Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Games of 2011, Part 3

With numbers 5-3 on my list, I tackle three very different kinds of games, not only in their genre and presentation, but in the way I could think about them.  One game really resonates with me, one game left me feeling like a neglectful friend for the majority of this year, and the final one left me feeling like I needed to defend it, which left me dumbfounded at the fact that I felt as much, since I expected it to fair quite a bit better in the collective of the internet.  So, for various reasons, these three games are quite a bit more personal for me, which is why I felt the need to group them together as such.  Not that any of the other games on the list aren't personal in some way, but...well, you know what I mean.

5. Catherine

Oh boy, Catherine.  I wrestled for about an hour last night when I was writing up the previous post about how to explain this one.  In all honesty, if I hadn't split the numbers like I did for the reasons I did, the fact that I just couldn't think of anything would've caused a split regardless.  In the end, I figure all I can do here is be honest since, well, what's going to happen?  Not a lot besides me looking dumb for posturing so much, really.  Though I'm sure it's at least a little obvious why I'm mincing words so much with this one, as it's quite a bit personal.

The core of Catherine's story, very obviously, is relationships - not only the one between two people -in- a relationship, but the relationship between men and women in general, the relationship between friends, and the ways all they can get a bit muddled between themselves.  Anyone who cast even a cursory glance towards Catherine could see that, and I'm trying to make sure I don't spoil anything for anyone here.  By extension of that core value, Catherine also revolves around how relationships can sometimes go bad which is something that can resonate with you if you're in a relationship that isn't going so hot.  I'm sure I don't have to explain any more than that, but at the same time, I should clear up that I can't draw many more parallels than the most basic one I mentioned which is likely a good distinction to make for anyone who knows how the story goes.

Aside from the story is, obviously, the gameplay, which at first sounded like something one would have to just stomach through to get into the real meat and potatoes of the game.  The oddity of that statement is not lost on me, however that really seemed to be how it was billed.  That was all to my surprise when the gameplay of Catherine proved to look interesting, complex, challenging and, best of all, fun, which I still think is a feat worth nothing less than absolute surprise whenever it comes up.  It almost seems like it would be either too simple to be fun or would end up too difficult to be fun, yet it (from what I saw) manages to mostly be right in the middle - challenging, but not overly so, meaning it actually manages to be fun, or at least looks like it.  Trying to think of ways I would go about getting up was fun at least!

4. LittleBigPlanet 2

Despite my constant use of European box art, I am American.  Figured I should say that at some point.
LittleBigPlanet is a series that is very near and dear to me, as anyone who has read this blog should know, so the sheer excitement I had for LittleBigPlanet 2 was nothing short of sky-high levels.  And when I got it, it was glorious, everything filled to the brim with charm and fun, and at the time it wasn't just me enjoying that but on several occasions, my younger nephews who absolutely loved the game as much as I did.  The inclusion of the ability to make little movies and such provided no end of laughs for them since a lot of people took to doing little clip-shows akin to Robot Chicken with quite a few of them being actually funny.  It surprised me too, honestly, much as the quality of a lot of LittleBigPlanet 2 levels did, custom or not.  What also surprised me was how I treated the game which was, in a word, poor.

Maybe it was due to my inability to really devote time to making levels, or maybe it was due to the fact that I had a lot of games that I needed to play (and still do), but after I was 'done' with LittleBigPlanet 2, I moved on to other things, saying "I'll come back to it, I'll come back to it", though I never did.  For what it's worth, I still fully intend to get back into the game, but I'm not quite sure how well that'll go; I still have a mountain of unplayed games after all, and LittleBigPlanet Vita will allow me to have my LittleBigPlanet fix anywhere, worry-free (Since blah, blah, PS3 paranoia, blah blah) without sacrificing quality as far as I can tell.  I'm not sure just how much of LBP2 the Vita version will actually be able to hold, but I would suggest that it's "a lot", and hopefully am proven correct because LittleBigPlanet 2 offered quite a lot of fun among other things.

Still, while I was playing LittleBigPlanet 2, I can attest to always displaying something along the lines of 'giddiness', since that's just how charming the game was.  Every new addition to the game was fantastic and contributed a lot to the experience overall, since for every smart usage MM implemented in the base levels, creators in the LBP community found about five more, ensuring that the 'smart' levels in the user-created territory were just that, if not brilliant.  And it's pretty much for that reason that LittleBigPlanet 2 can manage to be viable at various stages in its life, as all it takes is a community interested in making levels.  As far as I know, there is still a community there, which perpetuates yet other communities to exist, which keeps the game new and interesting in ways that even MediaMolecule couldn't have figured on.  So maybe that's why I feel secure in knowing that the game will still be there when I get to it, even if that's going to be quite a ways down the road.

3. Uncharted 3:  Drake's Deception

Depending on where you look on the internet, opinion of Uncharted 3 seems to range from between "Game is definitely worthy of the Uncharted pedigree" to "Game is not as good as Uncharted 2 which means it's instantly bad" and everything in between.  I have spent quite a lot of time, possibly too much time, trying to justify just why I am in the former camp above, as I very, very honestly found very little wrong with the game.  There were a couple things I didn't care for (similar to Uncharted 2, Uncharted 3 doesn't devote enough screentime to certain characters), but the common complaints never got to me, leaving just an extremely polished cinematic game, just as Uncharted 2 was before it.  And it's for all those reasons that I find it difficult to retread the statements I've made in the past

On Crushing (which is one of the ultimate tests of any game, how well it plays on hardest difficulty), every battle in Uncharted 3 is an intense, calculating conquest and not a simple firefight.  Taking stock of what you're against, deciding when the best time to pop out and fire is, making sure you're utilizing all your moves properly (including the steel fist) and figuring out the best place to get to and how during every fight requires thought and precision and the game happily offers you both, but only if you know when and how to take it.  It's a harsh teacher that I think many were not prepared for, but it's a fair one despite the willingness several people would like to display in calling the enemies "Bullet Sponges".  Any veteran of Uncharted the first (and by proxy the second, but less so there) knows that you aim for the head unless you're running up on them to finish them off with a mighty punch.  Aside from that, the locals are gorgeous, the acting is never dull, and the charm of the characters still hasn't worn off...for me at least.

I decided this year that instead of saving number one for it's own post, that I'm going to put my top two picks together in a single post.  This is mostly because I honestly, literally sat for half an hour or so trying to figure out just which game deserved the number one slot which I think suggests that they both did.  Still, only one game can win and in the end, I did have to pick that game, but for any reason, and at any other time, they could be almost interchangeable as my favorite game of the year, which is what I suggest personal Game of the Year lists are for.  So I think it's only fair that I talk about both games at the same time to really show that off, that they're both deserving of that high praise.  Because there is going to be a whole lot of praising going on, I can assure you of that.


  1. <--- doesn't say anything. Except this.

  2. I have been meaning to say at some point that, while we disagree on Uncharted 3 (I imagine that's what you're not saying anything about) I totally respect your opinion on it since I know you actually put a lot of thought into it and such. I've just been trying to think of a way to express that without coming off as pretentious or condescending or something. Especially since my opinion of the game oftentimes comes off as "If you don't like it, you're wrong" which, obviously, isn't what I -mean- to put out there. It's all just opinions after all, which can't be objectively right or wrong.

    But yeah, just wanted to put that out there since I never said anything to the last comment or two you had about it, simply because I was trying to not come off as a jerk.