Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2012 Round up and looking towards the new year

2012 has been and gone. Seriously, at times the year went really quickly...I had a pretty busy university schedule at times. 
Throughout the year I've been tracking my gaming collection and the progress I've been making through the backlog over at the backloggery in an effort to manage the games I buy and play through them efficiently.

So I'll talk a little bit about the games that I played through and why I enjoyed them or didn't, as the case may be, I'll also talk a little about the games that came out that I've really wanted to play, missed out on and whether or not I'll hope to get round to them this year if I have time. Then I'll finish off this (more than likely massive) blog post by talking a bit about the upcoming games from 2013 that I'll be looking forward to. Before I start, happy new year everyone! I hope you all had good holidays so far and enjoyed yourselves! Ok, lets get to it.

2012 Aim: 20 / 1 / 1
2012 Stats: 20 / 0 / 0 = FAIL (but not by too much, just my laziness for 100%ing games that let me down a little bit)
The 2012 aim I set out before the year started was based upon my game completion from the previous couple of years, but I took into account that I was getting less and less free time, and set it at 20, an amount I thought I could make, and threw in a couple of completions if I had the time...I always like the idea of 100%ing games on paper, but when it comes down to it...I feel I'd much rather like to crack on and play through another game for the story. Final Fantasy IV: Complete Collection is the one I've been struggling with, because of the incredibly rare secret summons that drop from certain enemies with about a 0.4% chance.. There are 4 of them.. Anyway, I'm quite happy with the amount of games I got through, and in fact, there is a good variety of genres there. Not just RPGs, which I play most of the time.

Tales of the Abyss (3DS)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PS3)
Dodonpachi Resurrection (360)
Rage (360)
Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation (DS)
Alice: Madness Returns (PS3)
Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 (Steam)
Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes (DS)
Dungeons of Dredmor (Steam)
Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3)
Akai Katana (360)
The Binding of Isaac (Steam)
Dark Souls (PS3)
Lollipop Chainsaw (PS3)
Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light (DS)
Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales (DS)
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (3DS)
Cthulhu Saves The World (Steam)
LIMBO (Steam)
Crimson Shroud (3DS)

Ok, so to remind you (and those of you not on the backlog site) of what these random symbols mean;
means the game is finished (Beat) up till the credits (not 100% completed.)
indicates that the game is 100% completed, ie all sidequests, items and unlocks essentially.
is a Master Run, and is some kind of challenge you impose upon yourself to make the game harder, some examples might be a Nuzlocke run in Pokemon Emerald, speed run in Dark Souls, or a low level playthrough in Final Fantasy VIII.

5 of my favourite games I played in 2012

Ok, so bear in mind, due to the fact I have such a large backlog of games, and have a pretty busy schedule with work and university, I didn't get around to playing a lot of the big games that released this year. Some games, like Mass Effect 3, Deus Ex Human Revolution and The Last Story had to be put on my 'to play' list...Hopefully I'll get around to them  some time soon. Anyway, as a result of the way I played through games this year, it meant I played a lot of the games that are smaller in length that others, and some cheap indie games on Steam that could be played in bite size chunks (Binding of Isaac being one.) So this set of games listed above is what I actually managed to play. Standing out from those games are some really big, well received games, and a lot of games that got slightly middle of the road reviews. Here are some of my favourite experiences from 2012.

Dark Souls was one I'd had in my backlog for a while, and finally got around to it. Its an insanely difficult game, and took me a long time to get past the first couple roadblocks. Even the first enemies at the Firelink Shrine will kick your ass when you first encounter them. Working past there slowly, you'll eventually get to the Undead Burg. The boss there always gave me problems at the start. But this game is just like its predecessor-it gives you an amazing feeling when you learn the patterns of the enemies, gear up well enough and get past them. Some might say that I played Dark Souls wrongly for my first playthrough, as I sometimes would arrange a co-op play session with a friend to get past some of the areas. In a way, this detracts from the way Dark Souls should be experienced. But I still had a lot of fun with this ridiculously difficult game (even despite the stupid buggy issues for teaming up with and summoning friends.) This is a game that must be experienced, and is one of my favourite titles that I played in 2012. For newcomers, go for the Prepare to Die edition so you can get some added if this game needs any more content. It took me about 90 hrs to work through the majority of the areas and to see the credits rolling. With it's beautiful art style, atmospheric world and music score, this game is hard to find fault with.

Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes is originally a DS game, which has been 'HDified' and ported to the downloadable services of the PSN and Xbox Live store. It is a mix of a puzzle, strategy and RPG that works surprisingly well together. The battles involve your troops arranged directly opposite to your opponents units, and it employs a 'match 3' mechanic where if you have 3 of one type of unit ie. archers adjacent to one another, they 'activate' and queue their attack (or defense if horizontal, where they turn into a wall to block the opponent from coming across into your screen.) Which brings me onto the other point, the dual screen set up of a DS is perfect for this game, and I think would lead me to recommend the DS version over the console versions. Add to this the newly reworked sprites on the HD version, which I think look worse than the DS ones.

The game is the perfect length for this style of game, with a handful of well written story driven chapters based on different factions, characters, and a lot of overlapping, which leads to interesting conversations between the characters. This is a game that went really under people's radars, and got seriously overlooked as a result. Its maybe down to the fact that it has the Might and Magic franchise attached to it, I'm not sure...but critically, it reviewed really well. Definitely deserves a look if you are looking for some solid, unique RPGs on your DS.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was one of the biggest releases to come out in 2011, and I played through it once I had time last Christmas, so ended up finishing it near the start of 2012. It was so much of a jump up from Oblivion, and other similar games like Fallout 3, I was amazed. Saying that, there were a lot of bugs that people were reporting, especially on the PS3 version...and as a PS3 player, I'm still waiting on the DLC that has since been released on the 360 and PC versions. However, its still a must play, this game. The optimum way to play would definitely be on the PC, as you will have the modding options there. I can't really add much more to this than has already been said by this point, but a lot of people have said its among the best RPGs they have played. If you can ignore the bugs and glitches, this one will not disappoint. I just hope that I will go back to it one day, as I only played through the main quest and some of the guild quests. There is still so much to do in this game. Fus Ro Dah!

The Binding of Isaac was one I eventually picked up in a sale after watching a lot of Twitch TV streamers playing it, the awesome MANvsGAME being one of them. Although this game is so cheap it really doesn't need to be on sale. Its one of the best value games I've played on Steam, with almost unlimited replayability value, and a ridiculous amount of content for what you pay. I've clocked around 75 hours in this game, which plays out like a roguelike zelda style action RPG of some kind. I'm not too sure if I'm describing that correctly, but it plays in a way where precision controls and gathering powerups and weapons are key. Get a good combination of weapons and items and it will make it very amusing to play. Ipecac..seriously, the guys who made that weapon are awesome XD Definitely check this game out on steam. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy is a very interesting title. It will probably end up being one of the most overlooked titles in the Final Fantasy franchise as it is probably quite an average rhythm game, but as a fan service game to Final Fantasy fans, it is so much more interesting. It has a vast amount of songs, and these come in their original versions, complete with FMV or some footage from the games in the background of some songs. A huge (and a tad overpriced) selection of DLC songs means you'll probably be able to find some of your favourite themes from the series somewhere. A great amount of unlockables are hidden away in the game, and these will keep the completionists (and those pretty much go hand in hand with being Final Fantasy gamers I've noticed) happy for around 80+ hours from the look of things. Myself, I played through until I saw the credits (they roll pretty early on when you get a certain amount of Rhythmia points) and did some of the optional stuff like the Dark Notes. They are really fun when you do them co-op and start unlocking shards which go towards unlocking characters. Add in some watered down RPG elements and to me, well you have a pretty solid game. Now Square Enix. Release something like Dragon Quest: Operascore. Seriously...the names of SE games are approaching the insane. Although with other companies doing the same (Pokemon X & Y?!) it might be the thing to do...

7 games I wish I'd played that came out in 2012

So like I said earlier, I was nowhere near able to play as many games as I wanted to last year. Important things took a priority, and I'll talk a little about some of the games that I missed out on here. I got quite the inspiration to write this section from Chic Pixel's post of games they missed out on. Check that blog out when you can.
I'll be rating the following titles with a 5 point scale of how much I want to check each game out, 1 being lowest on my list of games to get to next, and 5 being games I really want to check out as soon as I can.

Mass Effect 3 
Rating: 3/5 
Mass Effect 3 has kind of been ruined for me in some ways. I decided I'd wait a while after release to get it for a cheaper price. I don't know why though, because its a really high quality series, and I really wanted to see how the story ended. I was left with a sour taste for the series though, following my failing to get the N7 edition of Mass Effect 2 easily. So I finally picked this one up after Christmas this year for £15. So after waiting so long, all I've heard about the game is the hate for the game's ending. Its remained unspoiled per se, but after hearing so much negative press, the game is probably going to disappoint me. Saying that, I might play it offline so I can get the original retail ending. None of this DLC or update malarky... We will finish the fight in 2013 though, as I've heard other than the ending its pretty solid overall. I really want to do another entire run through of the series from scratch now that I have all of them.

The Last Story
Rating: 4/5
The length of this game is on one hand appealing to me-its a shorter RPG experience clocking in at between 15-25 hours from what I've heard. These kind of games are much more likely to get played by me on my current university schedule. I'll need to plug in the Wii though... On the other hand, I can never imagine how shorter RPGs will build up characters and story to such an effective level. That part makes me skeptical. The staff behind this game are the incredibly talented Mistwalker. They don't have the best track record for games, but Lost Odyssey was amazing I thought, and I've only heard good things about this Operation Rainfall title, which is a very forward thinking take on the action RPG.

Rating: 3/5
I always seem to like the idea of Sting RPGs on paper but actually getting round to playing them is somewhat of a challenge to me it seems..I think I like to buy them and then just stare at the pretty box art on my shelf... So far I have Yggdra Union GBA (Complete), Knights in the Nightmare DS (Complete) and Riviera PSP (Complete, ok...pretty much all of my games are complete). None of them have been played past the first 10 minutes...Oh wait! I have actually finished Riviera. I suppose that I should buy Gungnir, but its another import, which racks up the price significantly. And from what I've heard, this one doesn't measure up to the other titles such as Yggdra Union and Knights. I'm a huge fan of strategy RPGs though... I'm on a bit of a kick for srpgs currently, and playing through Fire Emblem at the moment. Damn that game is hard.

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Rating: 2/5

I saw a friend playing this one time in university, and the pokemon style mechanics looked really interesting. I always like monster recruitment in games like Dragon Quest, and this game looks to have some very well designed monsters (more than likely better than the pokemon from generation 5) Anyway, I'm not the biggest Kingdom Hearts games. The PS1 games (1 and 2) were good for the most part (pretentious storyline, stupid villians, characters and overuse of terms like Shadow, Heart, Darkness aside) but when it comes to the spin off games like Birth By Sleep, 358/2 Days, Re: Coded etc, they seem really average to me. I liked BBS, but I've only heard terrible things about the other ones. Kingdom Hearts fans are a crazy bunch...they are the  kind who will blindly eat up any shovelware that is released...Anyway *Sigh* I suppose I will need to check this one out this year if I find myself needing another 3DS title. Then again, there are so many good 3DS games coming out...
Pokemon Black 2
Rating: 2.5/5 

I think I will play this game this year, hopefully before October however....I was really surprised to see the announcement for the next generation already.. There was no 3rd in the series...where is my Pokemon Grey, seriously! Really though...I wasn't a fan of Pokemon Black. The new pokemon straight up sucked, and even though you could eventually work through your other titles trading things across, I didn't have the motivation to do that with Pokemon Black. The sequels have better mixtures of old and new from what I've heard, but this is still a hit or miss one for me. Pokemon titles never seem to drop in price, and I might be kept away from this as a result. I hate to miss out on Pokemon games though, and going back to them after newer versions have released never seemed like a good idea to me. Might just have to bite the bullet and pick this one up early this year.
Rating: 2/5

I really don't know why this isn't higher up on my list of things to get to next. Its nominated and winning all kinds of awards, including a Grammy. I just need to get around to playing it. I get the feeling that I'll need to be in the right mindset for it looks a really arty kind of game where it'll be different each time you play it. I'm kind of burnt out on games at the moment, and don't want to play it a time like that. Its a cheap title on PSN, and it'll wait, I reckon.
Tales of Graces f
Rating: 4.5/5

When I have a bit of time, I'll be wanting to play this. I was looking forward to it for ages, and picked up the Day 1 edition that Namco Bandai put out in pretty much all retailers. When it finally came time for release, I didn't have the time to play it, and I'll hopefully get a chance to play it this year. I have quite a lot of the Tales games in my backlog. Tales of Symphonia was one I borrowed from a friend, got about 20 or so hours in and got stuck. So I handed it back to him and eventually picked up my own copy so I could one day finish it. Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, Tales of Vesperia and a couple others are games I one day need to get around to... I played the demo of Tales of Graces f when it released in Japan and the battle system is ridiculous. It is so amazing to watch, and I really want to play it on my bigger TV back home, as opposed to the 20" HD monitor I have with me at university, but I really just want to play this game whatever way I can.

Some games I'm looking forward to in 2013

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
I've had this one preordered since August over at Amazon, and I seriously hope they don't fuck up my order like they did with the Amano artbook boxset. Seriously, that nearly put me off Amazon for good. If you don't know how many copies you will get, don't offer unlimited fucking copies to people preordering. Goddamnit. Anyway, back on track...The Wizards Edition is an amazing looking set for this game, and I just hope that the game doesn't disappoint. I heard it didn't sell particularly well in Japan, and I don't know why exactly..The demo was a fun little experience. Really nice visuals for one thing. Check out my impressions of the demo HERE. The game has been pushed back 1 week to the 1st of February.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
I've put in close to 1000 hours to the Monster Hunter series across 3 games (MHFU, MHP3 and MH3) and its one of the most addictive and fun co-op series I've played. I'll be getting this one at least on the 3DS, perhaps the Wii U as well if I end up getting one this year. Depending on price drops, we'll see. Its quiet a niche series at this point, and I really don't want to see the title bomb at release. For those of you who don't know what the series is like, its an action game (some might call it an RPG, not really me though) where it is quest based, and those quests involve you hunting large monsters, and using the items you carve from them to create weapons and armour. There is no levelling up per se, but you yourself will get better at using the weapons, reading monsters attacks and 'tells'. If you don't go in expecting deep story, and if you don't mind a bit of grinding for materials, you may well enjoy these games. Can be really fun with friends (Aside: playing with randoms online is nowhere near as satisfying.)

Fire Emblem Awakening

I'm a bit new to the Fire Emblem series, only just playing through Fire Emblem on the GBA at the moment, but I can see why it has so many fans behind it. Its an infuriating, but really rewarding game so far, and from what I've seen of Fire Emblem Awakening, this looks a really interesting title.

Pokemon X and Y

The newly announced Pokemon X and Y definitely look like a step up from their predecessors Pokemon Black and White. A lot of people have been waiting for the first 3DS pokemon titles (well, real Pokemon titles) to see how many 3DS's will fly off the shelves, and they will be coming out October 2013. Check out the really polished looking X and Y:


Retr0gamer said...

Apparently Last Story does an excellent job of building its characters. I wouldn't be worried about the length, two of my favourite RPGs Panzer Dragoon Saga and Mother 3 clock in at around the 20 hour mark and they have better character building than nearly all 40+ hour RPGs I've played.

Berserk_Alucard said...

Thanks for the comment =)
Yeah, I recently played through Crimson Shroud, a very short RPG coming in at about 10 or so hours, but it built up a really nice world and trio of characters.

The Last Story is definitely one of the games I want to get around to playing...I got all 3 of the Operation Rainfall titles at the PAL launch and haven't played any yet D: