Haven’t got time to preamble. Too many games to cover.
Remember when I said something like “maybe I’ll get to Red Dead Redemption in 2012!” ?? That still hasn’t happened! Oh all of those lols and such, et cetera as that guy from that Fallout game would say! What I learned– or continued to learn– above all else, in 2013, is that no one should try too hard to do things. For example, why bother saying you’ll try to eat seventeen bushels of broccoli in 2014? When you end up eating one bushel you’ll be ashamed of yourself. Instead, just buy some broccoli when you walk past it and your eyeballs and brain get together and say I guess that broccoli looks like some of the good eating times. Just do that. And heck, on your way out maybe you’ll grab a peach pie too. What does it matter? At the end of the year you’ll have purchased six quarts of broccolis, let four go rotten, and then eat a taco and buy some dumb games on Steam. Whatever, man.
The American holiday of Thanksgiving marks the start of shopping and gluttony, and also the Hollywood Oscar Season, when movies considered “Oscar-worthy” are released in theatres. The thinking is it keeps important films fresh in the minds of the nominating committee, whereas something that came out last spring is easily forgotten. The same happens with gaming, for different reasons, yet this year’s holiday was a very quiet time. Practically nothing of interest happened.
No, not even that.
It’s that time of year again. A time for quiet reflection. A time for looking ahead. A time for staying up super late and celebrating solar mechanics. Most importantly, though, it’s a time for reminding ourselves of some awesome games we played in the last 365 days – measured in the gaming world as “the time between the releases of Retro City Rampage and Dr. Luigi.”
Some years there are games that characterize my gaming experience. That sum up everything that was most memorable about that year in gaming. Other years, like this one, it’s hard to point at any one title or experience. This last year was, for me, more of a tidal shift. I’m a lot more of an indie player than I was twelve months ago (though that’s a highly relative thing). For probably the first year ever, the pinnacle of my gaming experience didn’t come (at least not definitely so) from a console release from a major publisher. That’s not to say I’m shelving my PS3 and swearing off the AAAs, but the reality of how much they’re losing their power really struck home for me personally, rather than just academically, in 2013.
I am proud to announce that as of 2013 I am finally a qualified games journalist. I got an Achievement that told me so, and that’s the recognition that I absolutely needed. As a fully qualified games journalist, I write Games of the Year articles… kind of like I did in previous years. Some things don’t change.
I’m glad we had the chance to do this, and frankly I wish it’d been reasonable (or realistic) to record a much longer, more organized conversation with such smart people about such a smart game as The Last of Us. As this longest console generation winds down, it seems reasonable to say that this game will be remembered as its crowning achievement, a Shadow of the Colossus for the PS3 era – and that’s two generations in a row wrapped up not with some great bro-shooter epic but with something melancholy, thoughtful, often heartbreaking, and deeply meaningful to those who played it. The Last of Us, from serial hitmaker Naughty Dog, is a game based on a lie. There are zomboids and bandits, there’s beating people to death with bricks, there’re set piece battles aplenty. But it started with the lie, it’s about the lie, and maybe in the end the lie is all that really matters.
Perhaps this should be “Tap vs. Ben,” or “Tap vs. Not-Tap,” since 47Games’ Ben Hoyt is not technically on the Tap-Repeatedly staff, but we don’t have a category for that and I wouldn’t want Ben to think we’re excluding him. He has, after all, contributed a Celebrity Guest Editorial for us, and we did recently do a fun podcast on the Mass Effect trilogy and Halo, er, quadrogy. The dude is an honorary staff member, and opened up some time to contribute slightly more than half a discussion of Microsoft’s May 21 Xbox One announcement – a lucky thing, since coverage of all the new consoles has been somewhat scarce around here. Now we have an honest to god game designer weighing in (one who’s shipped an Xbox 360 title or two). Suck it, IGN!
Point-and-click adventure games have been pronounced a “dead genre” time and time again.
And Phoenix Online Studios has a name synonymous with rebirth.
Phoenix’s first released game was The Silver Lining, the King’s Quest-inspired adventure that earned them both a loyal fanbase… and a cease and desist. In 2012, I started following their work on their first commercial episodic series: Cognition: an Erica Reed Thriller. In my review, I visited the ups and downs of the game’s first episode. The “ups” were enough to encourage me to give the second episode a try… and, at PAX this week, I got a chance to chat with Phoenix’s Katie Hallahan for some previews of the third. We also talked about some of Phoenix’s other upcoming projects in the adventure game world.
I’m going to start this feature off without any real spoilers, but if you like dark supernatural mysteries, it would be worth your time to check out the Cognition series before reading. The second episode in particular gets … amazingly gruesome, and I must say some late-game twists warmed my sociopathic heart.
With Bioshock Infinite only days away and the recent re-release of System Shock 2 on Good Old Games I figured now would be a good time to dredge up this article from the darkest depths of my drafts.
When I was writing my Games of 2011 there was one game I wanted to include but couldn’t because a) it was released in 2010 and I’d restricted myself to 2011 releases, and b) I’d already written most of this as a separate article. That game was Bioshock 2.
I picked it up on Steam for £3.49 during a summer sale and in truth I didn’t expect an awful lot from it because, while it had generally been well received, it apparently didn’t measure up to its much lauded predecessor — a game which I didn’t share such a glowing fondness for. Whatever expectations I had however, where blown out of the… uh, yeah, I’ll leave that pun in my head where it belongs.
2012 was a lot of things, as most years are. My colleagues have discussed most of these things quite entertainingly, and so I will spare you from further use of the words “Kickstarter,” “Greenlight,” “Entitlement” and so on. Except for right there, just then.
If you’re intensely plugged into the independent gaming scene then you probably consider 2012 a banner year for the continuing rise of the indie. I’m only slightly plugged into that scene, so I consider 2012 an okay year in which The Last Guardian still saw no light of day and increasingly slight hopes for a new Half-Life could be taken off life support with rumors buzzing that Valve intends to focus their energy on entering the console market.
However, those disappointments have been quelled almost wholly by my games of the year…