Thursday, May 30, 2013

Top 10 Kind-of-Last Gen Console Games

So, I very often knock on this generation of games for being one of the worst ever, being so COD-clone-centric, for doing a lot of bad and not much good for the industry as a whole. And while I stick by those claims, let's be positive for once. There are some great games that came out this generation, and I want to count down my ten favorite. Keep in mind that it's just games released on 360/PS3/Wii. I also don't own a PS3 or Wii so I haven't played games like Uncharted, Super Mario Galaxy, Heavy Rain, LittleBigPlanet, Red Steel, and the like. Though I plan to some day. Also, this is my FAVORITE. Not particularly the best. Skyrim is a marvelous creation, but I honestly got bored of it after about 20 hours. Anyway, list!

10. Portal 2 - Yeah, when I first played this I thought it'd easily make this list. Portal 2 doubles the already astounding humor that the first game has. It also adds new mechanics and a co-op portion. Unfortunately, I don't own Portal 2 so I've never had the full experience with it. The single player is good fun, but the original and sequel, as far as gameplay, is one of those games I have to be in the thinking mood for. This alone bumps it down a little as most of the others I can pick up at any time. I also feel like the puzzles themselves aren't done quite as well as they were in the original Portal. Some of them are great, but a lot are either insultingly easy or ridiculously hard, and there's no consistency in said difficulty. It just flies around aimlessly. I know it's much longer than the original, but this subtracts a lot from the overall experience. Also, when I rented it, I had no one to play it with, so I haven't tried the awesome-looking co-op, so as a personal experience, it gets no points for that. I love this game, but it's not consistently fun enough as a game to be any higher than it is. Also, Wheatley is the shit, a little moreso even than GLaDOS

9. Fable III - This is often considered the "Dark Horse" of the Fable franchise. I don't know how much this being my first in the series has to do with my fondness for it. I honestly haven't played the first game and while I own Fable II, I've been putting off playing it forever. I was a big fan of the world itself. It felt big without making you trudge for hours to get anywhere. I also enjoyed a lot of the characters, as well as the humor. There's some seriously hilarious dialogue in the game. It's very "British" and sometimes outright rips off Monty Python, which I'm totally alright with, especially when John Cleese is actually in the game. The voice-acting is also expert as some of the most prominent British actors of the last few decades lend their talents to the characters, including the aforementioned John Cleese, Stephen Fry, Naomie Harris,Bernard Hill, Simon Pegg, and even Ben Kingsley. Anyway, the story is honestly on the simple side, you're a hero destined to bring about a revolution in your downtrodden kingdom. It doesn't need to be complex though, as the game does a solid job of creating the desire to create change. Also, you can choose the kind of leader you become through many different means. The combat is fluid and the button scheme is well-done, but in larger battles, it does get repetitive. Overall, it's not the best action-RPG I've played, but it's very enjoyable with a lot of extra content to make it last a while after you purchase it. And you can get it new for under 12 bucks on Amazon now. So yeah, well worth the price of a Starbucks coffee or two.

8. Brutal Legend - You won't see this on many top tens, unfortunately. It's more of a personal-taste pick. I mean they all are, but this caters to a far more specific taste than i think any other on my list. This game combines three things I love: Tim Schafer, Pick of Destiny, and strategy games. Brutal Legend takes place in a sprawling, colorful half-fantasy, half-heavy metal world. As the Jack Black-voiced Eddie Riggs, You lead another rebellion, though this time against a supernaturally-powerful 80's Glam Metal reject played by Judas Priest lead singer, Rob Halford. You're aided by the likes of Lita Ford, Lemmy Kilimister, actually Halford-looking Rob Halford, and Ozzy Osbourne as well as other not rock stars to free the land from oppression, tyranny, and borderline extinction. All the actors do a good job and get some really funny dialogue courtesy of Shafer's legendary writing. The action is a mix of hack-and-slash and real-time strategy. In battles, you move troops and build forts with the goal of taking out the opponent's main hub. But you can also jump in as Eddie and tear through the opposition or do battle with the enemy leader for periods of time. There are also car-chase sequences and battles, as well as mini-games, making sure the game never gets old. Oh, and the soundtrack, so damn good. Some of the best and most under-appreciated artists in metal are represented, and I've found myself just driving around listening to the music.

7. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots - I honestly have only played this game once, and it was a few years ago, so I apologize if my representation isn't completely accurate. As I've stated, I never owned a PS3, but I rented this when I was visiting family for a couple weeks and powered through it while they were out of the house. Anyway, I think this game is just about on par with the first three games in the series. The gameplay is totally polished this time around, the environments look amazing, and are varied. The story, though even a bit more over-the-top than usual, is as epic and grand as ever. It's definitely very different at the same time. As opposed to the usual mid-war espionage, it's more of a post-war, well, espionage. You travel through war-torn and hostile environments. In certain areas, you're just another guy not wearing the right uniform. I think this helps balance the stealth-survival missions a bit more. It's a little more common that you'll have to whip out your gun and thankfully, the aiming is better than past games. The bosses are always the highlight of MGS and they go all out here. I think it's the most solid lineup since the original, and every one is a total mindfuck with a crazy backstory and a unique challenge in the fight itself. Overall, this one stands right with the first three games and is worth the admission at release, yet alone its current price.

6. Saints Row 2 - I love the Saints Row series. The first was a great change of pace from the GTA formula. Simplistic in story, fun, over-the-top action, and astounding humor. Saints Row 2 basically took everything that was great about the first game and made it better. The controls are better the story's better, the gameplay is even more fun, and it's bigger. To avoid spoilers, you're now in a position of power within the gang you joined in the first game. To regain control of the city, you'll do everything from shoot tanks with a rocket launcher from a helicopter, to gunfights with strippers, to participating in a demolition derby. All the characters are more fleshed out, both on your side and the others, making it more satisfying when you take them down. There are also many mini-games strewn about, such as ones involving rescuing hoes from their pimps and running in the street trying to get fucked up as badly as you can by as many vehicles as you can, just to sue the pricks. Overall, Saints Row 2 is one of the most fun experiences in gaming in a long time. I think Saints Row: The Third is great too, but it goes a bit heave on the ridiculous and doesn't strike quite the balance that this one does.

5. Batman: Arkham Asylum - Yep, Arkham ASYLUM, not City. You wanna know why? Well, I'll tell you why!! I haven't really played Arkham City yet. Yeah, it's still on my to-do list. Until then, I honestly can't say it's better. But that's ok, because I love this game. The atmosphere is absolutely perfect. The story is one of Batman's best, and every villain is executed well. Arkham does stealth magnificently, making it simple but not without effort, and non-essential, but beneficial and enjoyable enough to actually do, where a lot of stealth games make it so it's a lot easier to just gun everyone down. Not to mention how satisfying the stealth kills are. That being said however, there are times you have to fight, and luckily the fights are really enjoyable too. They're fast-paced brawls where Batman can leap from opponent to opponent, clearing a crowd in no time at all. It also features a solid, precision counter mechanic and free reign to escape and use bat-stuff against your opponents. The ending is, while fun, kind of stupid from the perspective of consistency within the story, but I don't make nearly as big a deal about it as most people do. It doesn't make the experience any less enjoyable. Also, I'd but Mark Hamill's Joker, especially in this game, against Heath Ledger's any day.

4. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings - Honestly, if I hadn't purchased this more recently and had more time with it, this game would probably be higher, maybe even pushing for number one. Which, if you know me, and you see my number one, you'll know is downright blasphemous. The story of not just your main character, but the world around him is rich and engrossing. The actual world is huge and beautiful, the battles are strategic yet fast and fluid, not to mention difficult as balls, and the voice-acting, dialogue, and musical score are epic, and the game is full of things to do, places to see, people to meet, and enemies to fight. The whole thing is almost perfectly-crafted. The only thing holding it back for me is the fact that I haven't seen half of what there is to see and I have fuller experiences with literally everything else on the list.

3. Grand Theft Auto IV - As much as I love the direction that Volition took the GTA experience in with Saints Row, as far as a full experience, Rockstar definitely made the bigger and better game. The main character, Nico's story is deep and full of turmoil, the city is huge and vibrant, as well as extremely reminiscent of New York City itself, at least from my limited knowledge. The controls are smoother, there's a lot more to do, the characters are more fleshed out, and I honestly think the humor that is there is made even better when contrasted with the often serious tone. The plot takes many twists and turns, and you could honestly play this game forever and never actually finish it. Also, sit down and watch some of the made-up shows they have. They're fucking amazing. It's little details like those that make GTA IV the standout, not just in its genre, but in the entire series for me.

2. Dragon Age: Origins - I absolutely adore BioWare. Pre-Dragon Age II, every RPG they made was pure gold. Baldur's Gate I and II, Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, the first Mass Effect, they were deities of Role-Playing Games. I honestly didn't play Origins until about a year and a half after it came out. I can honestly say that was a big mistake. I missed out on one of the best RPG's to come out in a long time, especially one of the best on consoles at least. Dragon Age takes place in a large, medieval-style world of mages, elves, , trolls, dwarves, trolls, dragons, and the many of the other tropes. That's about where the originality ends though. The game follows you and your group of companions as one of the last two surviving members of an organization charged with vanquishing an ancient evil that's threatening to rise again to conquer your country and eventually the world. The world is rich, the characters are unique and the dialogue and moral choices you can make keep the game interesting and new through multiple palythroughs, and the story goes a lot deeper than simply "kill the evil thing and win". Also, I believe this game is the smoothest transition of D&D rules to video games that I've ever seen.

1. Mass Effect 2 - Mass Effect is one of my favorite series' of all time. The only real debate I had for the number one spot was whether it'd be Mass Effect 1 or 2. As much as I love the first, Mass Effect 2 is honestly better in every way. It's bigger, the universe has more life to it, the characters are more fleshed out, you have a bigger cast, the stakes are higher, there are more side missions, higher stakes, and a lot of differences depending on what you did in the first game. All of this makes pretty much no playthrough exactly the same. Which is good, because you're insane if you only play this once. It's honestly the only game this year I played through more than twice, besides the first game. I've played through it about 5 1/2 times and I still love it. I'm still finding new story elements, and still having overall unique experiences. The entire trilogy is an absolute epic in storytelling, not just in gaming but in media as a whole. The entire universe is fleshed out, unique, with infinite possibilities. I'm definitely one of those that hates the ending to Mass Effect 3, but the trilogy as a whole is still more than worth investing your time into , multiple times, just for the journey itself. Mass Effect 2 is easily one of my favorite games of all time.

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