Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My Games of 2013, Not the Top 5

Where my 'bottom' ten games of the list were somewhat strewn about in places that they perhaps shouldn't have been in, the list gets much, much better and more tightly formed and considered beyond that point.  Indeed, even though my tenth through sixth picks might raise a few eyebrows, I'm more than willing to back up my exact reasoning for their placements, whereas my 18th pick might've beaten out my 20th because "Eh, I liked it a little more, I guess".  That's...not exactly ironclad or anything approaching that quality, and while I don't really owe anything to anyone in regards to this, well, I kind of want to do it proper-like, yeah?  With that said, let's just get right into it, shall we?  This first step is a doozy.

10.  The Last of Us

Frequent readers of this blog know that I'm not particularly one to play the "This game is so popular, but in all reality, it sucks" game, especially because I'm not beholden to page views or anything of that sort.  I don't have nerd cred to accrue, nor do I care at being a 'hipster' or anything like that.  I just want to enjoy things and when I don't, I just find it incredibly frustrating because I'm fairly open - I'll enjoy your mechanically terrible game if it makes me giggle here and there or does something that makes my eyes go wide for one reason or another.  (Alpha Protocol springs to mind here)  I never expected that I would have to make these justifications when it game to Naughty Dog's latest game, the newest attempt at pushing the Cinematic Game envelope with The Last of Us.  But here we are.

I can sum up the whole of my problems with The Last of Us with a single word:  Clickers.  I understand Clickers.  I understand their implementation, their necessity and their nature.  I get why they're in the game, since blah blah blah, stealth survival, blah blah, sense of vulnerability.  I just loathe them because they suck every ounce of fun to be had in the game out.  There's honestly really no justifying "Fuck You" enemies in games unless those games are twitch-based and allow a nigh-instant restart, along the lines of Hotline Miami.  That I can eventually buy upgrades to make my death a mere inevitability to a Clicker rather than a guarantee offers little to assuage the frustration that they cause by merely existing, and especially existing in tandem with enemies that I can, and oftentimes had to, defeat with brute force.  Enemies that had the Oblivion gene in which one spotting me meant the horde itself was after me.  Including the Clickers.

The Last of Us, with that frustration in mind, simply didn't feel all that well designed in the gameplay portion of it.  Invariably, encounters were designed around Clickers being the thing to give you pause, and it's what they're good at.  However, being the proverbial elephant in the room that will fucking trample you when an Infected on the other side of a wall from it spots you because you're not a stealth master essentially says "Stealth or die" and without some -really good- stealth abilities, you're going to die more often than not and it just doesn't feel as fair as other games, even Naughty Dog's Uncharted series.  People complain about the 'Bullet Sponge' enemies, but proper implementation of Cover-switching, Headshots and Iron Fist assaults will get you through every encounter easily.  Clickers do not really offer the same amount of leeway that even a pair of shotgunners in Uncharted would.  At the end of the day, it's that sort of thing that prevented me from really lauding The Last of Us to a higher position, and it's honestly just a damn shame since the rest of it was outstanding.

9.  Senran Kagura Burst

Okay, look.  I know what you're thinking and stop it.  As I mentioned at some previous point in time, Senran Kagura Burst is actually fun and that never stopped being true for the entire time that I played it.  Despite that and despite what I said about The Last of Us, I'm sure many will consider it blasphemy that it ranked above the game.  I get that.  I'm not sorry, nor am I making a statement, nor am I trying to get that silly nerd cred or anything.  I had fun with Senran Kagura Burst and it had a surprisingly good story for what it was, and it was just a joy to play.  So obviously when contrasted to The Last of Us, which was a chore to play, despite an absolutely stellar presentation and story, then it should be a little easier to see why SKB got where it got.  It's definitely worth a play if you enjoy fast-paced action games and I cannot stress that enough.

8.  Ys:  Memories of Celceta

Memories of Celceta was my first experience ever with an Ys game, and it was about as positive of one as it could've been all-told.  It's yet another game that I haven't actually finished yet, but what I played of it was enormously engrossing and definitely the type of thing I could see myself powering through to -finish- in that I may very well be doing a "Platinum Get" post for it sometime in the future.  If I ever get the time to properly go back into it and such because all of the games.  Regardless of if I do or not, I will at least beat it and I will probably have to tear myself away from it for other games that will no doubt be begging to be played.  Danganronpa's on the horizon after all and I'm sure I'll put more than a few hours into that.  Of course, they're very different games, and the fast-paced action-RPG combat of Ys -is- definitely alluring when I'm in the mood for it.  Despite not being very combo-heavy or such, the combat -does- encourage you to incorporate a certain amount of flair which works out by simply making it that much more enjoyable.  So much so that you won't even mind fighting things over and over again while you're stumbling about lost in the forest.  Not that I know personally or anything!

7.  Grand Theft Auto V

In a word, Grand Theft Auto V was simply surprising.  The multi-character aspect to it was surprising.  The improved, revamped multiplayer was surprising.  (As was the complete lack of ability to support it for a good month after it launched)  The much, much better story than IV and its sub-stories boasted was surprising.  And I think the amount of time I put into it was surprising as well - because it wasn't that much comparatively speaking.  I played Grand Theft Auto IV until I knew the city like the back of my hand.  And then I played The Lost and Damned and started The Ballad of Gay Tony.  I played Sleeping Dogs for hours after Platinuming it, not even counting Nightmare in North Point.  Grand Theft Auto V, however, basically had me for the main story, some of the side missions and then I was out.  The intention has always been there to go back, perhaps attempt the MP even though it sounds like something I would not enjoy and clean up a little more, but I've not felt that same tug to do it.

However, I think that's mostly in large part to me being more or less satisfied with exactly as much of the game I consumed, which is something that says more in meaning than I can say in actual words unfortunately.  Driving around as Trevor and being reprehensible then switching to Franklin and messing around in a more dignified manner before changing to Michael and treating him as a Real Estate Tycoon didn't get old.  Hell, just -switching- to the characters was an experience, since I always wondered just what transition I'd get, with Trevor's oftentimes being the most enjoyable and the ones to look forward to.  I just think I was gunplay'd out at the time and admittedly GTA V's isn't too terribly exciting, which is why I sort of fell out.  Regardless, Rockstar certainly knows how to pack a lot of fun into their games and GTA V was certainly no exception to that.

6.  Dynasty Warriors 8

This one can't come as a shock to anyone who's a faithful reader here.  "Unashamed enjoyment" is pretty much the descriptor for all of KOEI's Warriors games because the formula just does not get old for me.  I cut up swaths of mooks, I get a little half-history lesson while I do it (which lets me look it up and get the -real- history later) and that is all something that I quite enjoy.  Dynasty Warriors 8 offers a few improvements over 7 assuredly and while it didn't quite blow me away like 7 did, it would've been hard to imagine it doing so.  7 was such a departure, such an advancement from 5 (since we're not counting 6, given it went well outside the 'formula') that it's rather astounding and 8 was less a tremendous step forward and more of a refinement on an already solid base.

Its refinements were rather great, however - every character having their own unique weapon moveset finally blew my mind when I realized it and I still find it a little hard to believe.  Also the re-inclusion of Free Mode helped, though the absolute robust...ness of it makes trophy hunting a bit daunting since one has to finish every stage once or twice...and I think every -iteration- of said stage.  So you'll be playing them quite a bit.  Still, the solid mechanics make it easy to do so, and I'm definitely looking forward to getting the Complete Edition with Xtreme Legends on my Vita, where I'll absolutely have all the time to power through it all.

Not too much longer to go now.  The next post will highlight numbers 5, 4 and 3, while the last post will be the Runner-Up and my top pick of last year.  And...then I'll do the Games That Weren't My Games, but all in all, it's gone much more smoothly than last year, I think.  I quite like the new format, at least.  Much easier if nothing else, and I don't think I go on too much about any of the games, but rather say what needs to be said about them, so that's a plus.  Still, I have a year until next time to find out some other ways to tweak it until I'm absolutely positive it's how I'm going to roll!

I really wish people would stop looking at me like that when I said I liked Senran Kagura Burst

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