2012 was a friggin' big year in gaming, because even as I perused the list of games to add to my own, I must've ticked off three or four games at least that I -could- own, that I -could- have played, that I sort of -wanted- to own and play, but there was just no damn time for it. This last week and a half, I played over five of the games that ended up making my list and that's not because I was -waiting- to play them or anything, simply that it was opportune to do so. I could swing playing them now and be able to give them a fair shake. Granted, I did stray here and there last year playing games that I -couldn't- vote for (namely Final Fantasy XIII and Demon's Souls) but there were reasons for those (for the former, so I could appropriately judge FFXIII-2, and the latter because it's goddamn Demon's Souls) and most of these games that I played just recently weren't in my possession prior to December anyway. Still, I'm stalling now, so I'm going to jump right in this. As I have twenty games in my list, it's going to require quite a few posts, but I don't want to straggle them out too much. This first post will have my bottom five, and perhaps tomorrow I'll cover a good portion of the next bit of it over a single post or maybe two. Just to get them out there and get this done and dusted.
20. Final Fantasy XIII-2
You're probably thinking, "Woah, hey Mogs, you hated Final Fantasy XIII-2! Why is it on your Games of the Year list?" And that is an entirely valid wonder to have. Because I kind of wondered myself on whether or not it would even show up. The only thing I had below it was MotorStorm RC (Because fuck that game, stupid goddamn drifting and grumble, grumble) and it would have been a simple matter to leave them -both- off my list, to only have 19 games to cover. That probably would've been the wisest course to take, really, but there is something important to Final Fantasy XIII-2, much as I am begrudging to admit it. Final Fantasy XIII-2 was Squeenix's attempt, a real honest attempt, to do all sorts of different things, to go wild after the wildly constrained Final Fantasy XIII, and to improve it. That they failed miserably, utterly and completely is its own condemnation, but I do have to hand it to them for at least -trying- instead of directly going to the next numbered Final Fantasy game that A) won't be out for like two or three years at -best- and B) will be all sorts of different itself, possibly in good ways, possibly in bad ways, but not very likely to have a lot in common with XIII.
Final Fantasy XIII was a good game mired in bad decisions and Final Fantasy XIII-2 was a bad game dragging down good ideas. They're victims of their own extreme natures, but that there was -something- good about XIII-2 is enough to qualify it for my list, even if it is the very bottom spot. There is also a very small (read: like huge) chance that the voice-work of Liam O'Brien and Laura Bailey in the same game did wonders for its playability when the actual game itself did not. While it may a bit silly that I would hold either of those in that high regard, in some ways, there is something to be said for production values and the things associated with that, as even the most fun game could be dragged down by less-than-quality voice-overs for the simple fact that you do still have to listen to those at some point, much as you have to play a mini-game at some point (for, let's face it, like most games) or have to really take a look at some of the texture quality at some point. It's all just to get a general opinion of a game and that is the name of the game here.
19. Resistance: Burning Skies
The fact that I played Resistance: Burning Skies, got the Platinum trophy in it and reviewed it, yet I don't really remember a whole lot about it is probably a good indicator of why it went so low on my list. At the end of the day, Burning Skies just wasn't a very memorable game one way or another. It was decent in quality, neither good nor bad and I think that that's almost worse than being bad since it just leaves it to get forgotten as you move on to other games that actually invoke something in you, whether it is positive or negative. It's only because I actually liked the game a little bit for not being bad that it topped FFXIII-2, for instance and otherwise it was just a game that existed, that I bought and played and then moved on from. Really, for as much as I like Resistance as a series, that's quite an unfortunate turn of events, but is not, in itself a condemnation of the game.
Burning Skies' only success, really was showing the world that First-Person games can be competently made and played on the Vita. Because of the way it controlled, with just a little more polish Burning Skies could have been a good game, one that you would speak of when not specifically asked about it, but doing that seemed a little bit out of Nihilistic Studios' abilities. It's very unfortunate that they then went on to be given the reigns to the Call of Duty game that was similarly tepidly received even though I'm assured that it controlled nicely as well. Still, people know that the ability is there, we just need somebody that will capitalize on it. Since Nihilistic is (thankfully) out of the way, having moved on to becoming a Mobile game studio, that leaves them out of the running to make anymore FPS games for anyone else that offers a quick buck. Regardless, Burning Skies was definitely not a need-to-play title, but I urge you, if you have the opportunity (perhaps if it is free for Playstation Plus), try it out and see that FPS games work on it, because Burning Skies will tell you that, even if it won't tell you much else.
18. Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!!!
Speaking of things free on Playstation Plus, for a little while there, Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!!! was one such title offered and I snapped it up, somewhat eager to see what the little title had to offer. I knew nothing about it other than it was a rather charming little platformer with a touch of puzzle elements and, well, that is pretty much what I got. Those impressions pretty much put everything on the tin and there's nothing at all wrong about that. It does make it a bit hard to say much else about the game since...well, there's not a whole lot of depth to it, really. Even the story, such as it is, is barely interspersed between chapters with no real dialogue, relying on some basic images to convey a basic story of the blob landing on the planet, getting bigger terrorizing everything and so on.
It's simplistic and that's most of its charm really - you navigate levels, eating whatever you can to make yourself bigger so that you can advance, and then you get to the end. The next level has you eating more things so you can get even bigger and so on. You start out as something that one might find on their desk and, in short order, are large enough to consider houses something to hop off of like stepping stones, chowing on cows for a snack and pulling in Helicopters for a good meal. The presentation doesn't necessarily do the scale justice, but it's done well enough that, if you think about it for a moment, it really sinks in. As it gets more and more complicated, however, as platformers and puzzlers tend to do, it becomes less and less fun, for me anyway, and for that reason, I didn't even bother finishing the second to last and last areas, since I just got overwhelmed with the puzzle elements and just found the levels to be a chore. Still, it was fun while it lasted, as they say.
17. Dynasty Warriors Next
If you're even a casual reader of Kupowered, you probably know that I was a man who enjoyed a good Warriors title. I say 'was', however, since KOEI, in their infinite wisdom, decided it was a good idea to stop making disk-based games solely for the PS3 and solely for the NA region. Yes, yes, there's that whole story about "Sony won't let us because blah blah blah", but it's a bunch of horseshit and I'll not hear anyone tell different. As such, Dynasty Warriors Next is probably the last Warriors game I'll be able to enjoy unless they release any new titles for the Vita since their download sizes will probably not be the 11 gig monstrosities that One Piece: Pirate Warriors, Warriors Orochi 3 and such have been. Next was not quite the best send-off for the series, either.
While it aspired to be Handheld Dynasty Warriors 7 in a way, it ultimately didn't live up to that specifically because the replayability is mired in a randomized, barebones attempt at an Empires game that doesn't even accomplish a good shake at that. Still, it -played- mostly like DW7 and that is a very, very good thing. Beyond that, it kept my interest for a long, long time, though not anywhere near the 78+ hours that would have been required for at least one of the trophies, which would put me that much closer to the Platinum for it, a task which I have fully acknowledged will never happen. Because I just am not about that. I don't have that kind of time. Clearly. All in all, however, I liked Next even if my opinion of KOEI and all things Warriors has changed dramatically since.
16. Sound Shapes
I had a lot of fun with Sound Shapes, and in my opinion it was a pretty neat little game, even if 'little' ended up being quite the descriptor. I'm not sure what gave me the impression, but I expected there to be full albums (which, admittedly would be three songs/stages) as DLC to accompany the post-release of the game and it was only a year later when the game got -anything-. It was not Album DLC either, but simply new tools to use for music in the creation tool which, while welcome, did nothing to extend the actual -game- itself. In all reality, that was Sound Shapes' biggest fault in that it just was entirely too short, especially for the build the game had going behind it. The online community reflected that in dying off fairly shortly, or perhaps that's just me being bitter because the level I created only got 4 plays and none of them were from anyone that reads this, I don't think. I even showed if off here, though that's only the visual side to it, not the audio, which I thought was pretty good!
Still, Sound Shapes was a fantastic little thing for what it was, and that's really what counts. The levels were fun and varied, the music was wonderful to listen to, and the package was fully there, even if it was a bit too easy outside of the challenge levels. If there had just been a little more to it - maybe a couple more albums, it would've rated much higher in public opinion, I think and it would've kept interest for a lot longer than it did. It's another case of "great while it lasted" and if only it had lasted a bit longer. If only. I could say it again and again, but the fact of the matter was that it just wasn't and still isn't. Maybe the community's put together something fantastic in the meantime, but I'm not sure and I probably won't be finding out since the 1 gig and change of space that Sound Shapes needs is being used up by something else that I'm actually playing.
So that was the bottom five games of my list. That...that was pretty much the easy part. It was everything after this where things pretty much got harder and harder to pick as it went along, and I ended up surprising myself quite a few times when faced with all the options I had. It wasn't like some years where I had x, y and z games that were -my- games, where the rest, I just enjoyed in some form. No, there were quite a few games that were -my- games, and it was hard putting them in order, though I think I did so in a satisfactory manner. Hopefully by the end of all this, I'll feel the same way, because man, I'm sure I can regret it and I fear that I might because of how close it was. Still, that's something we'll have to see about!