This took a couple of weeks of on/off thinking about and it doesn’t necessarily contain games released this year!
Grand Theft Auto V
The first time I played this I was really taken back. The opening mission was fine, but the real moment for me was just when the game opens up after the second opening mission. I was just driving around, a song I liked came on the radio and I just drove around getting lost. I ended up at the dam and was amazed at the sun setting over the city on the horizon. At that point I realised that “next gen” has a lot to compete against, and wasn’t entirely necessary. (that was until 60 hours later and you can see the cracks forming – long load times, occasional popup, framerate plummets, unresponsive menus)
What I think of the most is how they’re going to top it. Will we retain the protagonist system of 5? Will we get kind-of-sequels (like 3, VC, SA. 4 and its expansion packs)? Will Online be spun off into it’s own thing? IT REALLY SHOULD.
I’ve mentioned before but GTAV, and Online, is the digital embodiment of making every aspect fun. Apart from swimming. Not even Rockstar can make that fun.
Team Fortress 2
Still simple. Still enjoyable. There were some nerfs to my fave class and weapons this year. That pushed me to play better. Now I can launch myself across rooms on 2 sticky grenades instead of the 3 I used to use. Success!
Super Mario World
This holds a strange appeal to me in that I love it to bits, I play it every year to completion, but I can never remember the details. I don’t know where a single Star Road door is off by heart, or the way out of the woods bit. I do remember that cool “stock room” level in the Donut Plains ghost house. Of course.
The Last of Us
I was really enjoying this until I randomly stopped playing. The graphics were so good at one point that I thought it was a live action cutscene (it’s near the start, one of the first post-apocalpyse photos of a building and the sky above it). I’ll get back to it one day.
Pokemon X and Y
Loads of depth, loads of new features. It’s like a proper reboot.
Game I were pumped for but didn’t like that much;
At first it wowwed me with it’s gorgeous post-processing, architecture and simplicity. By the end of the game I didn’t feel like I had travelled enough and the game didn’t evolve much. The final boss fight out of nowhere wasn’t enjoyable, and the attempts to create a deep background through the use of racism didn’t work out for me. The Vox Populi was just thrown in there and moved a couple of pieces around but ultimately just hinting at stronger, more mature story elements and lack of exploration in that really let it down.
Saints Row 4
A good but overpriced game. The first 15 hours were fun and exciting, but everything beyond that point became stale. Not helped by the fact that it’s just a full-priced, reskinned Saints Row 3 with new voice work. The lack of threat to the player is a big turn off, I never died in that game and the antagonists never put up a challenge and the sheer amount of DLC makes me wish I had waited for the complete edition. The intro missions were phenomenal, mind you. But the lack of longevity, replayability, variety and rehashing the same location puts me in the penthouse suite of Disappointment Hotel.
Didn’t have the same appeal as Origins. Murphy ruined it, and the confusing map screen made navigating a chore.
I feel there’s a responsibility to mention indie games here too. Whilst there have indeed been some gems out this year, all games from “pure” indie to AAA have been overshadowed by my recent addiction to GTA Online. (I say pure indie, because Rockstar as both the developer and publisher of GTA technically classes it as indie).