Thanksgiving Day has come and gone by but that doesn’t mean that one should reserve giving thanks to just that day. After all, the spirit of thanks should be given year round! In light of this, and as the year ends, it’s only fitting that I take a moment to give thanks and appreciation to the wonderful world of gaming for what it has provided this year. Nitpicking the little details - and sometimes big ones - is good and all but it’s nice to mix it up and do the complete opposite and praise games for what they do. Rather than having one large overarching theme, I’d like to dedicate this time to praise multiple games and developers that released a game that did something awesome. Now... who wants some glory?!
Noel Kreiss in Final Fantasy XIII-2 is one awesome dude. He’s a down-to-earth guy who thinks things in a realistic fashion but also tries to cope with the idealistic vision in his heart. When you see the turmoil that goes on inside of him, along with his tragic history you begin to feel some sort of sympathy for him. Square-Enix did an excellent job creating a protagonist that’s not profound or anything new. Rather the intricate and emotional plot points that are revealed in the latter half of the game shed some light that the company has the ability to create truly compelling characters. In more ways than one, Noel is a blessing to all of those who wanted a narrative arc truly worth caring about in a JRPG. Here’s to you Noel - even if you’re life sort of sucks.
Asura’s Wrath is probably the most ridiculous, outrageous, and bombastically crazy game I’ve ever played since... hmm... actually, nothing comes to mind. The gameplay style was refreshing due to how it constantly shifted what you did and the narrative was interesting to say the least. Using odd visual styles of the various deities, these characters almost felt like paintings come to life. Add to that the constant rage that Asura exemplifies, you got one heck of a thrill-ride. I almost wish Asura’s Wrath never ended just because of how insanely amusing the game was. If I remember anything in the game world of how something can be so outlandishly balls to the walls, it would be this game. Crazy isn’t always bad. Sometimes it’s good. Ridiculously good.
Tales of Graces f is one game that I thought would never come stateside. Ever since I played the game when it originally launched on the Wii, I instantly fell in love with its awesome combat system. While the story isn’t something outstanding, it does a good job in trying to portray its theme of protecting friends. After Tales of Vesperia, I wondered if the next Tales game would get locazlied. I’m thankful that Namco Bandai released Tales of Graces f this year and will be releasing Tales of Xillia next year. Here’s to hopefully Tales of Xillia 2 in 2014! Of course, I’ll have it finished in Japanese by then.
Mass Effect 3 has a special place in my heart because of my conflicted feelings for it. While the beginning and ending don’t stand out as something particularly amazing, the rest of the game is truly outstanding. Mass Effect 3 portrays the destruction of civilizations unfolding right before your very eyes and masterfully ties that to the various crewmembers that travel alongside you. It’s an emotional event, one that never gets tiresome to see fellow companions struggle as their own people are ripped away from the face of the galaxy. Even the humorous Garrus can be depressed in such harsh times and that is in and of itself an accomplishment.
For some reason I never enjoyed Darksiders very much. The combat felt slow and janky, the dungeons didn’t intrigue me all that much, and the narrative premise never piqued my interest. Despite all of these problems that I had, Darksiders II gripped me instantly. The protagonist Death looked super cool, the combat felt something like Devil May Cry, and the dungeons were a thrill to blast through. The game didn’t excel in everything it did nor did it do something new and entirely unique. Rather, it took elements of various games and made it into a cohesive and compelling package. It’s a rarity in this day and age to see a developer succeed such a feat and for that Darksiders II is a the jack-of-all-trades game for me. Truly a joy to play.
Destroying enemies, soaring through the air, running faster than any car in the world would make anyone feel like a super badass. That’s exactly how I felt in Prototype 2. Although the game felt an almost exact copy of the first game, it was still refreshing to know that I can destroy whatever I want and do whatever I want without much trouble. New powers and weapons made killing things even feel better. Prototype 2 is like a stress relief toy. After a hard day of work you just want to relax and just blow stuff up. This game is just that.
Guild Wars 2 isn’t just a good game. It’s a freaking awesome game. It’s one of the best MMORPGs I’ve ever played and after going through Tyria and the grand adventures it offers, it’s hard for me to pick up another MMORPG and say something similar or better for it. The combat is engaging and constantly made me aware of how, when, and where to attack forcing me to understand my strengths and weaknesses. The questing system was thrown out the window with Dynamic Events making each area one large theme park, a never-ending joyride. Top this off with the constant support the game has been receiving with its monthly updates and events and it’s hard to journey off to other lands when you’ve got Tyria. Seriously. It’s that good.
There are so many other games I played throughout this year but it’s impossible for me to go through every single one of them individually. However, by playing these games and just having the opportunity to have thought provoking conversations with my friends is a grand joy. I think it’s oftentimes easy to complain and discount the many gems that lie inside a game. When you think about it though, don’t you complain because you love something? Games are just that awesome. Here’s to this week: celebrating awesome stuff that developers do and anti-nitpicking.