Friday, 30 December 2011

My gaming in 2011

Well, another year is about to fade away and of course the world supposedly ends in 2012. Let's hope it doesn't happen because I have a nasty backlog to get through now :P. It didn't start out like that. However, once I re-discovered Steam, their massive sales and the indie bundles, I went crazy - especially in July when I bought around 14 games in their Summer Camp sale. Some I haven't even started yet.

In a bit, I'll list some of games on my "to play" list and reasons why I haven't started or continued them. First of all, I better tackle the games I've been into this year...

Xenoblade Chronicles - Wii
Anyone following me on Twitter knows I absolutely fell in love with this game. After the mild disappointment of Final Fantasy XIII last year, I wasn't sure where the next JRPG masterpiece was going to come from. Then (thanks mainly to Operation Rainfall and NoA's refusal to discuss the game's localisation in US), I caught my first look at Xenoblade Chronicles. I pre-ordered it - ironically because I wanted to get a copy before it became one of those rare titles that I'd never find again.

(Note: There is a lot more than just running in this game ;). I'd show the full trailer but that alone is full of spoilers in it's own right. If you're just looking at the game and don't care for spoilers, you can find the full trailer here)

The game arrived and I was glued in from start to finish. So much to do, breathtaking scenery, loads of twists and turns and a fantastic soundtrack. I loved every second that I played of the game and I just want to be able to play it again when I forget what happened. That's unlikely though as it'll probably stick with me for some time. Essentially, this was my game of the year.

BONUS! A few links for some of my favourite songs from the game :)

Battle music
Unfinished Battle - used only once :(
Boss Music
Gaur Plains
The title theme (give it time :))

Portal 2 - PS3 (also on 360)
Portal - Cake - Puzzles. I loved Portal when I had a chance to play it on the PC and Portal 2 was just as good. Some great new mechanics and attempts to shake the game up. Loads of cracking dialogue in between some real head-scratchers. I'd buy the 3rd game if it ever came out but I think everyone else just wants Half-Life 3 now, right?

Ico/Shadow of the Colossus HD - PS3
The games were brilliant enough of the PS2 but when given the lick of paint for their HD remasters (or in the case of SotC - fix the frame rate), they looked stunning. Ico certainly benefited from the treatment. SotC was nice too, but something wasn't quite right with it. Regardless, it felt good to return to the games after so long. Let's just hope The Last Guardian can follow their colossal footsteps.

Stacking - PS3 (also on 360)
I didn't get to play this until near the end of the year but it was a fantastic game and certainly unique. The idea of using Russian dolls to solve puzzles gave the game charm and humour in spades. Just solving the puzzles in different ways was good fun - not to mention the amount of fun one can have by punching other dolls with a nice right hook.

Beat Hazard Ultra - PC/PS3
So good, I bought it twice. This twin-stick shooter uses your music (or music from online Radio - or it's own music) to generate waves of monsters primed to shoot you down. It's a great game and well worth looking at if you are a fan of the genre.

Other games worth mentioning:
  • Aquaria (PC/iPad) - a superb looking game set underwater and to some great music
  • Dissidia duodecim Final Fantasy (PSP) - well, I suppose if you liked the previous game...
  • LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3) - A great sequel to the original game, now allowing you to create really complex levels - or even games.
  • OMG-Z (PSP/PS3) - A fantastic little game where you have limited bullets to fire at zombies to spark off a chain reaction of acid, explosions and friendly fire. Fantastic game, though a little on the short side.
  • Child of Eden (PS3/360) - A great looking game and a great experience.
So, that backlog...

Some of the notable games that are on my "to play" list - and my excuses...
  • Aquaria - I loved what I played but I got lost and haven't been back since
  • Valkyria Chronicles - There isn't one. I just can't get into the mood to play it for some unknown reason
  • Persona 3 Portable - Blame Dissidia duodecim and it's "consecutive days played" count for this...
  • Corpse Party - Err, the first ending scared me enough. Want to get back to it though!
  • Chantelise - I haven't got a clue why I've not started on this yet. It's supposed to be right up my alley!
  • Trails in the Sky - Gave it to my sister while I played Persona 2: Innocent Sin. Sadly, another 2 victims of the Dissidia duodecim curse.
  • The 3rd Birthday - See other PSP games...
  • Bastion - Had trouble on the first playthrough before failing to get past the title screen
  • All the Indie Bundle games - ARGH!
...and with that, I'll conclude that this year has been great in terms of finding new games. Not so great for my backlog. Looking forward to next year - and more games that I'll struggle to find time for. Have a great new year and see you in 2012!

What I've been playing - 19th to 30th December 2011

Christmas has been and gone and now I'm relaxed enough (finished work early \o/) to sort through what I've been up to since my last post.

I finally got to purchase Laughing Jackal's latest PSN mini, Orbit and their previous release, Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. The former has been played a lot (more below), the latter hasn't been touched at all.

The Steam sales have also arrived but mercifully, I've managed to stave off my cravings. Except to purchase The Binding of Isaac - which everyone has been harping on about.

Christmas arrived and left me with Child of Eden (another game I've been playing a lot this week) and Professor Layton's latest game (which won't be played until I start/finish the previous game).

Dissidia 012 duodecim Final Fantasy
Just a few more characters to max out. Here's a video of one of the recent battles I had against the computer. Enjoy (me being rubbish)!

A PSN mini from UK based developers, Laughing Jackal. This game sees you and your scientific colleague roam the planets of the solar system to explore every nook and cranny of the world. The aim is to fly around the planets (side-scroller style), in search of relics and money to upgrade your ship. Once you've flown around the planet once, you move on to the next planet and the game basically repeats this for each planet, getting larger as you go along.

Quite an addictive game and the characters do have some great lines (and the obvious Uranus jokes). Not as brilliant as OMG-Z (a chain-attack strategy game with zombies) but well worth a look and costs £2.49.

Child of Eden
This is a musical shooter where the aim is to save Project Lumi from a virus attack as the project nears completion - which would eventually reproduce a human in the world of Eden (where the much appreciated game, Rez takes place). The game uses either motion controls (i.e Kinect or in my case, PS Move) or the standard controller to give you 5 beautiful levels of on-rails shooting action. The way it works is that you lock on to enemies with your reticule and then unleash the bullets in quick succession. Firing the maximum number of bullets in time to the music nets you extra points and your score is tallied up at the end.

It's quite an experience with Move. After some fiddly calibration, the game plays brilliantly and in Trance mode (i.e. another controller in your hand - vibrating to the music) it's even better. I'd love to try this out with Kinect at some point, just to compare it with the PS3 version. I've completed the game but there's a lot to do (killing all the enemies, picking up every item or just achieving a perfect game) and it will take a few goes before I can start eating away at those trophies.

Other news
There's the cancellation of The Last Guardian that turned out to be a mistake (phew!) and Playstation Vita selling well in the first 2 days in Japan - before collapsing. A collapse that has led many a forum to cry "DOOM!"

Keep an eye out on the blog for my personal look at 2011.