Sunday, January 27, 2013

My Games of 2012, Part 2

Tonight's group of games is where things started to get a little dicey and where the surprises really started.  If there's any section of my list where I imagine the games could be shuffled about and still be representative of my overall opinion, this could probably be it since I like all these a sense, but at the very least, I liked them all -more- than the previous group, if only just a little in the case of a couple of them.  Again, that's all that really matters for this kind of list in the end, but still, I do feel a little wonky with the places some of these have ended up.  Oh well, it's not like I won't make it painfully obvious which of those are the ones.  Still, enough stalling, let's just get to the numbers and get this one knocked out.

15.  Retro City Rampage

I'll admit, when I played Retro City Rampage the first time, I spent hours just enjoying the hell out of it and loving it for what it was, or rather, what it was trying to be.  I told myself, told you folks that it was just too awesome for words, because I simply couldn't find the appropriate ones.  Admittedly in the months since I played it, my opinion has simmered quite a bit, thanks in no small part to the absolute awful final boss/section and the rather tedious and annoying task of mopping up the last collectibles in the game that, in all honesty, are really hard to find.  Not to mention a certain trophy that has all sorts of hidden flags that are -not- what it says on the tin, turning a rather simple matter into something entirely different, much harder to accomplish, which borders on "Why should I even bother?" territory.  Ultimately, that sort of thing just gets in the way of my fun, detours it and unfortunately just takes the rest of the game down with it.

Not that it isn't a really wonderful little game, if only for the nine billion references to gaming and pop culture, classic and modern, that have been packed into it.  It's just that, yes, the fun does eventually run out when there's nothing else to do because, ultimately, the city that Retro City Rampage takes place in is built on references.  Once you've seen them, they become less "Oh wow, that's awesome" and just blend into the scenery, which leaves it to be simply a place that you navigate on the way to your next objective.  Hence, when there's -not- a next objective..there's little reason for you to make one for yourself.  To its credit, it's very much like classic games in that sense, which, I mean, the game was definitely going for a classic game feel.  You can only conquer those worlds once and then do it again and again if you wish, but there's no incentive to remain once you've planted your flag, so to speak.

14.  Ragnarok Odyssey

I admit, when I first saw Ragnarok Odyssey, I wasn't expressly seeing it for what it was, and was instead looking at it like it was something else that I wanted.  What I -want- is another Phantasy Star Portable experience, but Sega has been a little too busy with the doing jack shit in America thing to comply.  At first glance, RO seemed like it would fill that need quite capably - after all, it's about entering zones, taking down mobs and getting loot, what's the difference, right?  Well, unfortunately the difference is there in a way that I can't quantify and while I ended up liking Ragnarok Odyssey for what it was, it just wasn't what I wanted in the end.  It doesn't help that the difficulty turns from an uphill climb to a sheer cliff-face in the latter chapters which is what ultimately put me off the game, but really, there was just a little more to it than that.

Part of RO's charm, and yet part of its short-comings is the way it handles your character and the specific customization of it.  You can buy new outfits, you can change the hair style and this and that after the fact and eventually, you can even change jobs.  You don't -have- to start a new character to find out what a Cleric is like - just switch to the Cleric Job and go do a couple missions, bam, Cleric experience garnered.  If anything, though, that more or less highlights the fact that you -don't- really have that much to say in exactly what your character can be, because your character is flexible enough to be anything decently.  It all boils down to your playstyle in a sense, which is admirable, but again that just sort of negates the replayability and such of the game since if you don't like being a Mage, there's no -reason- to because you will not get better at it.  

It's nothing like other games where you spend hours playing one style because it's what your character needs, then switching to another character so you can see what it's like on the other side of things.  That individuality might seem unimportant, but ultimately it's one of the factors that brought me down on the game.  Of course, that only brought me down after playing into it for eight or so chapters, spending hours on extraneous missions and just straight-up going back to older bosses and murdering the shit out of them only to prove that I could.  Which is to say there's some definite fun to be had with the game - I had it - and it's well worth a look if you're into the type of thing it's offering.  Still, I'm hoping for something more and I'll openly applaud the first damn company that gives me the Phantasy Star Portable experience because I friggin' need it.

13.  Persona 4 Arena

I am not a fighting game person, despite my love for punching dudes in video games.  The allure is that, in most cases, you are exponentially more badass than the dude whom you are punching and that gap in skill allows you to skillfully display that.  Which is fun.  And every now and then, you get that opponent that is -as- badass as you and it's a challenge, but at the same time, it's fun because you're getting to put your badassery to the test.  It's a welcome change in pace every now and then.  Nothing to be repeated over and over, however.  To me, that's what fighting games are - going against an equal with the goal of punching them a whole bunch.  In these occasions, I find my skills lacking more often than not and I don't really find it all that fun to 'train' within the confines of fighting games to then get better at it when I could just pop in Yakuza and suplex a guy across a steel divider and just enjoy that.

Still, I allow myself the occasional dalliance outside of my comfort zone here and there if the draw is right and fresh off my Persona 4 Golden playthrough, I was admittedly looking towards Persona 4 Arena, if only because I am told it is at least somewhat canon and, well, I really dug P4's canon.  Then the stars aligned and the price dropped to $20 the day before I was going to head into GameStop and they just happened to have a copy.  It was providence, pure and simple, so who am I to argue?  Perhaps thankfully, I went in with the same expectations as any fighting game and as such, I wasn't disappointed with my brief dips into it here and there.  It is definitely interesting from all sides, and it is also definitely entertaining, even if it is a fighting game to the core.  Perhaps because it has the lovely Arc System Works people behind it who excel at making wonderful looking fighting games, which this is no slouch at either.

I haven't played P4A a whole lot, but I've played it enough to appreciate it for what it is, I believe and I will certainly be dipping back into it sooner rather than later.  I like it, I honestly do, but I would like it a whole lot more if I knew just what in the blue hell I was doing.  I played through all 67 or however many tutorials there were (which, admittedly were single things like a single tutorial about crouching, a single tutorial about blocking, etc.) and all that information just went in one ear and out the other.  When I am put down in a match with a (computer) enemy (hahaha, noooooo, no online for me, no thanks) I just do things and eventually I win, but it's not skillfully, it's not with mastery of the system, it's just because I hit a lot of buttons that did a lot of stuff.  I hope to figure it out as I play, but I guess if that'll carry me through everyone's story modes, I'll take it.

12.  LittleBigPlanet Karting

Much like fighting games, I just don't do racing games a whole lot, but I did have to make an exception for LittleBigPlanet Karting for the simple fact that it's friggin' LittleBigPlanet Karting.  My opinion of it hasn't changed much since I last talked about it, but that is to say I haven't really played it much since the last time I talked about it.  I've been thinking about it, but I just haven't yet gotten behind the cardboard steering wheel once more, namely because I've been scrambling to put my playtime into other games so that I could judge them as well.  I still say that, for as weird and out-of-sorts as the mash-up of LittleBigPlanet and a Kart Racer is, it's also a perfect fit in a sense because, well, that is the strength of LittleBigPlanet.  It's meant to be anything and everything you could want it to be, which is why the other iterations of the series have been so popular, or at least so striking with a certain group of people.

In the end, however, I think LittleBigPlanet Karting is a good enough idea to be good, but probably not a good enough idea to substantiate an entire game.  I've only been to two different planets in the story, but if previous games are any indicator, there will only be about five or six in total, so I've seen quite a bit already.  If, perhaps, Karting was simply a level choice for a grander, larger LittleBigPlanet game, that would have been the best course of action, though I understand the scope for that is quite large, almost absurdly so.  So what we're left with is a good idea that goes on a little too long, even if it does take every opportunity to give you ideas that it's not just a racing game.  In all reality, it's -not- just a racing game, but it is, of course, -mostly- one, which does not differentiate itself enough.  Still, it's charming and it's fun enough and I should say I'm better at driving games than fighting games, so I'm not quite as hard pressed to find my own enjoyment with them.  Not much, though.

11.  Assassin's Creed 3:  Liberation

You would think that, after just reviewing it recently, I would be sick of talking about AssLib by now.  You would also be right in that.  It hasn't even been a full week since I posted that up and I've even been playing it -still-, trying to mop up the miscellany because the Platinum trophy is behind a wall of tedium, not one of impossibility, so I want to get it and be done with it, that I might return to the world of Persona 4 or some other Vita game, just so I am not playing Assassin's Creed 3:  Liberation anymore.  So, if you will allow me to be so lazy, allow me to take an except from the review to leave you with here:
Assassin's Creed 3:  Liberation is not a perfect game, much like no Assassin's Creed game is a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination.  The upside is that Liberation is just as flawed as the previous titles, not more, which means if you enjoyed them, you will probably have quite a bit of fun with this.  The story itself is fairly short and not terribly involved with the rest of the overarching story, but in many ways, that's probably a good thing all told.  The draw here is pretty simple - more Assassin's Creed, but wherever you could want to play it at, and that's a very good thing since it does work much the same as the previous titles.  If you're looking for something Action-y to throw into your Vita for a while, AssLib is a fine choice that likely won't leave you feeling disappointed.
So there's that.  Nothing but the Top 10 left and already you've seen some games that might've just been heavy hitters for my list, or might've been considered so, given how much I've talked (or haven't talked) about them.  Still, if you've been keeping up with Kupowered, you'll probably be able to figure out which games are still yet to be revealed, and I'm sure you can understand that it was goddamn hard to actually rank the games that are remaining.  So yes, it's all uphill from here and it's going to be rough going to actually explain my reasoning for why some of the games are where they are.  That is a problem for another night, however, likely tomorrow night.  For tonight, I just have some music and some writing (elsewhere) on my mind.

No comments:

Post a Comment