Friday, January 31, 2014

My Games of 2013, The Games that Weren't My Games

2013 was packed with quality games and while I only made a list of twenty (only, ha) I played a few more games than that and had my interest on others still, all of which got left off my GotY consideration for one reason or another.  As I've done in the past, this last post is to show off the games that didn't make it on my list proper and offer reasons (or, in some cases excuses) as to why they just didn't grab me since I -want- to talk about them in some fashion, but without playing them or without really enjoying them, it makes it a little hard.  A few of the games will make more sense as to that disconnect, so hopefully that'll help clear things up.  Regardless, this one's going to be a little meaty because there were a lot of pass-overs this last year.

Assassin's Creed IV:  Black Flag

I didn't play Assassin's Creed 4 last year for the same reason that I never played any of the previous Assassin's Creed games on the year they were released (save for maybe the original) - I just wait until they're on sale for $20/30 or in "Cheap Christmas Gift idea" range.  It's not that I don't like the Assassin's Creed games, as honestly I have a fondness for them, but rather I walk away from each and every one of them wanting.  Wanting what, I'm not sure of as it's certainly not more, but the games just seem to lack a certain something that I can't quite pin down and that's what keeps me from enjoying them anywhere near as much as the vast majority of others seem to.
With AC4 being hailed as "the most fun one yet" and whatnot, it was certainly alluring, however, especially with the knowledge that it was pretty good on PS4.  I still don't have one, of course, but it would undoubtedly be a good get and perhaps when I -do- pick up 4 it will indeed be on PS4.  Still, the knowledge that I would have to power though 3 first (and yes, I -would- have to, I'm one of those people) is daunting and certainly keeps me at bay, especially since Ubisoft has never released a 'Complete' version of 3 as I assumed they would.  Which is...very annoying, as the Tyranny of King Washington was something I was -really- interested in, but I'm certainly not going to throw down for it separately.  Still, there's no real rush and AC4 will always be there when I'm ready, which I daresay I can look forward to.

Saint's Row 4

This one....this one is almost painful, really.  Saint's Row is a series I have always respected, but have never gotten into because of the lack of ability to play the first one and yes I understand that's silly, shut up, not to mention the...lack of attention the port of Saint's Row 2 saw.  So I always sort of figured that when/if I ever got a 360 I'd dig into the series there since I could do a straight-shot, but that has become less and less appealing as time wears on.  And it became -especially- unappetizing as I realized more and more that I really, really want to play Saint's Row IV.  So really, I think a trip through Stilwater and Steelport are in my near future (as I own 2 and have 3 as a downloadable title...which means I'll just buy the disk anyway because I can't download it) in preparation for IV, because I really want to play another superhero game and I've heard nothing but good things for IV.

Tales of Xillia

This was another case of "I want to play the game before it (in this case, Tales of Graces F) before I dig into it" and that has gone about as well as every other instance of this particular problem.  I.E. Not very.  I've heard the mechanics in Xillia are much better than Graces, which would be my excuse for that particular line of thinking, but I've also been urged to eschew Graces for Xillia for the short-term pleasure of it.  I might just do it, too, because it's not like there's even a hint of over-arching story between the two games, and thus, I'm clear to jump into Xillia if and when I want to.  But throwing a long, sprawling RPG into my PS3 at this point is a dangerous prospect with Lightning Returns on the horizon, which I imagine will handle that duty quite well.  Or at least I'm hoping as much because I want to like Lightning Returns.  Still, Xillia is something that will get played sooner or later, especially since I -believe- the male protagonist punches things and, well, you all know my stance on -that-.

Bioshock Infinite

While just about every other game has a fairly complex reason behind why I didn't play it this year, Bioshock Infinite is fairly simple.  In all honesty, I don't know that I -will- play Bioshock Infinite, despite it being Game of the Year in the eyes of many and an awesome game in its own right (even if not GotY) in many more.  The issue here is that that's the same thing everyone said about the original Bioshock, and I couldn't stand that game.  There was simply some things in the mechanical and technical design of the game that I thought were seriously under-thought and poorly executed and if the story hadn't been what it was or the core of the gameplay hadn't been as interesting, it probably would've been pointed out and panned.  More to the point, I don't think Irrational Games has evolved -beyond- that design from what I've heard, and I'm really not interested in a game where "Hard" means "The sliders went left and right" in terms of health, damage and resource consumption.  Maybe I'm wrong on that and maybe I'll find out some day.  But last year offered none of those days.

Ni no Kuni:  Wrath of the White Witch

Ni no Kuni, like Tales of Xillia, had the problem of being a big, sprawling RPG at a time when I didn't have the time to go through a big, sprawling RPG.  (Also known as 'all the time')  I picked it up the first time I managed to see it because I (incorrectly) assumed it would become a rare item in short order, but I do believe I've seen it in stores almost every single time I've been to one since, so that wasn't a worry that I had to make.  Regardless, who would've expected that one?  I think my line of reasoning was perfectly thought out.
I've heard good things about the game, of course, and it's definitely something that I want to get into, it's just the matter of being able to do so.  I also believe that I want to get a bigger TV than the one I currently have to be able to fully appreciate the beauty that the game is prepared to offer me.  Because if nothing else, it -does- have that, and my dinky little TV that I've had for years probably isn't going to cut it.

DmC:  Devil May Cry

I sort of fell out of Devil May Cry with 4, having never actually tried it, so when the new one was announced in the way that it was, I felt fairly safe in continuing to stay away from the series.  I then continued to safely ignore it all the way until it was released and found out that it was actually really good and it was like a punch to the gut.  'Son of a bitch!' I said.  'Now I'm going to have to consider DMC 4 again!'  Or I can do the smart thing, ignore 4 and go right to DmC because 1) It's a reboot anyway and 2) It's a game that I really want to play.  It's the game I want to play because it seems like it's very, very fluid and fast and I want to get into that sort of game more and more ever since my dip into REVENGEANCE which is really my -best- exposure, I think.  I play a lot of action games, of course, but I've skipped a lot of the 'important' ones (like Bayonetta, something that will be remedied -eventually-) and the ones I do play, I don't feel like I ever take the time to try and master them, but merely do well enough to get by.  That's something of a skill that I want to get into, and DmC seems a good place to start.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

This one.....this is the one that hurts.  I -own- Far Cry 3:  Blood Dragon.  I downloaded it and everything.  I can play it whenever I want and I don't remember, but I might have had downloaded even before voting.  But I just didn't play it.  I still -haven't- played it.  And I don't really know why.  Blood Dragon seems like it's a game that was explicitly made -for- me, because I loved Far Cry 3's mechanics and I love crazy, batshit absurd things and that is precisely what Blood Dragon is.  Like, to a T.  Blood Dragon is is Far Cry 3 grew a gigantic mouth and ate the entire 80s and a neon factory and goddamnit, I would be all about that.  I think the only reasonable explanation is that I'm waiting for a good break between two games that I have to play to play this since I'll need to take my time with it.  Hopefully if I finish with Lightning Returns before the Stick of Truth comes out...but I doubt that very much.

The Legend of Zelda:  A Link Between Worlds

As a forewarning, the rest of this post is all 3DS games and I guess that's kind of a good thing and a bad thing for the system in a sense.  Good that I considered so many games and bad that I never got around to them or, in the case of three of them, I just didn't really care for them.  However, The Legend of Zelda:  A Link Between Worlds was the former case, so there is that.  When the game was announced as a direct sequel to A Link to the Past, I was skeptical as hell because LttP is my favorite Zelda game of all of them and I wasn't about to accept anything less than its grandeur.  If you listen to the reviews, they'll tell you that it managed to match those peaks, but I'm still unconvinced because I just don't like the looks of it.  Or something.  I haven't pinned it down, but I look at the game and just feel something off with it, feel like there's something contained within it that I simply will not enjoy.  I'll find out someday, of course, because it's a Zelda game and if I don't buy a goddamn Zelda game when I have a 3DS, what else am I going to get?  Regardless, I'm still wary and I don't think that will be abated until I've managed to put time into it for myself.

Hometown Story

I'm sure the faithful readers of the blog noticed the hype-filled lead-up to Hometown Story's release in which I assumed I was pretty much the -only- person excited for its release and simply couldn't wait to get my hands on it because I expected a wonderful experience akin to Harvest Moon.  I'm sure they also noticed that Hometown Story released and I said not a word about it following that event.  That is because Hometown Story is probably my Disappointment of 2013, right up there with the whole of God of War: Ascension and the actual gameplay design of The Last of Us.  I was just expecting...something from Hometown Story and I did not get it.  It's flat, it's lifeless and it's utterly without charm because of those previous two descriptors.  I wanted a game that didn't handhold you at all (like Harvest Moon) but was incredibly deep and rewarding in spite of that, and found something that was just incredibly shallow and under-thought.  Is it possible that I simply didn't delve into it enough?  Possible - I played it for a little while and just -nothing- was happening, so I stopped - but I highly doubt it.  It just....feels like a proof-of-concept or a beta or something, and I really, really wanted more than that, which is highly unfortunate.

Shin Megami Tensei IV

Shin Megami Tensei IV is the other game that I simply didn't get around to in one fashion or another last year.  I bought it Day One - got the limited edition with the art/strategy book and everything - but it's sat lingering in my game drawer with the rest of my meager 3DS collection since the day I bought it and I've only briefly considered pulling it out and having a whack at it.  The SMT games are...a bit intimidating to attempt because of the reputation the series has in being rather unforgiving and difficult and though IV appears to be the least challenging thus far, it's still noted as being punishing at the start which is precisely what makes it a difficult thing to get into.  Not to mention, my 3DS was more or less monopolized with Animal Crossing, Rune Factory 4 and Senran Kagura Burst, pushing out even Harvest Moon:  A New Beginning and the last 'proper' 3DS game that I've yet to get to included in this list.  SMT IV will get some play time of course, but like every other game in this list (well, most of them) it's all just a matter of -when- because I am unfortunately not made of time.

Fire Emblem:  Awakening

Ask just about anyone with at 3DS and they will likely tell you that Fire Emblem:  Awakening is a must-have title for the platform.  By all accounts, the game is apparently one of the best ones that the 3DS library has to offer.  I didn't see it.  I wanted very desperately to like Fire Emblem:  Awakening, to enjoy it whole-heartedly because it's a Strategy game and I just don't have enough good ones of those in my life.  Final Fantasy Tactics cannot tide me over forever.  I just...didn't, though.  I played battle after battle and found it more demoralizing than anything else - even playing on the easy mode where there's no perma-death, I'm simply confounded as to how you're expected to -survive- maps with all your characters intact, and I certainly understand that you're not given new units easily, so it merely appears as a game of diminishing returns to me.  I get that it's -not-, but I simply cannot corroborate that with what I actually played.

SteamWorld Dig

At first, I was simply convinced that SteamWorld Dig was a game that I just didn't get, much like I didn't get Machinarium.  However, as it went on and on, I feel like I understand the game, I understand what it's about....I just didn't care for it.  SteamWorld Dig, in my viewing, is basically just Terraria with a bigger focus on exploration and no building aspect to it at all.  A big part of the game is dig, dig, digging your way down to get valuable materials and the like, but all you get for your efforts are coins that you use to purchase you can more easily gather materials.  There's also dungeons to be conquered that give you more abilities to facilitate your collection of materials and it all just sort of builds towards you discovering some sort of secret at the lowest, deepest depths of the area.  It's almost paint-by-numbers but with an interesting concept of being able to mine just about anything, and while it plays smoothly and doesn't necessarily frustrate, it just is sort of...there.  I don't understand the amount of people enamored with it, nor do I think it's something I -can- comprehend.  The best I can say is that I didn't hate it, really.

And with that comes the end of 2013's installment of the Game of the Year posts.  Thanks for sticking around through all of them!  2013 was an absolute embarrassment of riches when it came to games if the fact that I still had 12 games to talk about -after- my top twenty, and that was after cutting a few from this post that didn't really have a lot of content to their breakdowns.  It's insane when you stop and think about it, and it's only going to be worse for 2014 thanks to the PS4 coming out.  But it's definitely not a bad problem to have in so many ways.

just so many games, what the hell

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