The Year So Far

September 6, 2012


My desire to one day be a professional game journalist is tempered by the fact that, well, sometimes there just ain’t very much to write about.  And I’m trying to figure out how to maintain a semi-regular content stream here without it simply being a diary of what I’ve been playing.  (And let me tell you, this current release lull that we’re in – the cocktease of Sleeping Dogs and Darksiders 2 coming out on the same day, followed by a month of nothingness until Borderlands 2 – is not helping.  Indeed, I finished Sleeping Dogs over Labor Day weekend and now I find myself doing a New Game+ of Darksiders 2, because why the hell not.)

I’ve toyed with the idea of updating this blog more frequently with links to other articles I find interesting, but Patrick Klepek already does that quite well with his weekly “Worth Reading” column, and in any event reblogging is a lot easier on Tumblr than it is on WordPress.

I’ve similarly toyed with the idea of a “What I Would Have Said” column, wherein I respond to certain topics of interest in various game-focused podcasts.  (Indeed, I still might do that – this week’s Giant Bombcast features a brief digression from Jeff (who never, ever, ever goes off on tangents) (j/k) about game reviews and their relevance/purpose in today’s game media, and I (as a consumer) have certain things I’d like to say about that.)

[I’m also very much wanting to talk about the new Xbox360 dashboard, which I received access to a few weeks ago (along with half the world, probably), but I don’t know if talking about it here violates an NDA.  I will say this, though – even before the update, everything moves so.  goddamned.  slow.  And they’ve made it too hard to find the stuff I want.]

Here’s the thing, though.  Most of the time, I do this blog in my down time at work; this down time is infrequently spaced and full of constant interruption – I started this post around 3 hours ago – so it’s hard to really buckle down and focus and write something engaging and interesting.

So,  since my time to blog here is so limited anyway, and since I’m wanting to talk about something even though my brain is whirring in a million different directions which makes talking about something of actual substance an exercise in futility, I’m going to take the easy way out and simply do a preemptive Best Games of 2012: So Far column.  Because, well, let’s face it – the rest of the year looks pretty bleak, and it’s highly probable that there will be few substantive changes between the list I make today and the list I make in December.  Seriously – check out my Fall Preview column from July – as far as this console generation goes, this holiday season has got to be one of the saddest.   (Like I said there – I have high hopes for Borderlands 2 and for Burnout Paradise 2  Need for Speed Most Wanted, I expect the Firaxis XCOM game to be great (and I expect that I’ll play it exactly once, on the easiest difficulty setting, before being too intimidated by it), and I’d like to think that Dishonored will live up to its hype.   I don’t really know what to expect out of Resident Evil 6 – I’m one of the few people I know who will admit to liking Resident Evil 5, and I’m definitely one of the only people on the planet who thought that RE4 was incredibly overrated, so I’m clearly not the target demographic.  I have less than high hopes for Assassin’s Creed 3, though I’ll play it; I don’t really care about Halo 4, though I’ll most likely play that as well; CODBLOPS 2 and Far Cry 3 are things I’ll rent if I’m bored.)

So, then.  My Top 10 of 2012 so far- not counting iOS stuff, although iOS has been more miss than hit lately, too – looks something like this:

  1.  Mass Effect 3
  2.  Darksiders 2
  3.  Journey
  4.  Fez
  5.  Trials Evolution
  6.  The Walking Dead
  7.  Max Payne 3
  8.  Diablo 3
  9.  Sleeping Dogs
  10.  Spec Ops: The Line

First off – I’d be surprised to see Sleeping Dogs and Spec Ops still on this list at the end of the year, frankly.  I enjoyed those games quite a bit, and was pleased to see that they had ambition and effort and weren’t just cookie-cutter experiences, but I don’t know that I’d call them capital-G Great.

Secondly – I’m also not entirely sure that ME3 will stay in the top spot; I just don’t know what I’d put there.  I didn’t hate the ending the way other people did, but my problems with that game weren’t really about the ending anyway.  I don’t know if Darksiders 2 will remain that high, either; right now it’s up there because I’m still enjoying the hell out of it after playing the hell out of it for 30 hours or so.  I don’t know that I can put Journey in the top spot, because while I found it exhilarating and intoxicating during my time with it, it didn’t really stay in my bloodstream for very long after I finished it (though that sand surfing sequence is something special).  Honestly, the game I spent the most time with in terms of raw hours is probably Diablo 3, and I’m at the point right now where I don’t even want to think about that game anymore.

If anything, I might move Max Payne 3 up a few slots.  I’ve been replaying it on the PC during this lull period, and there’s a certain quality about it that I find really intoxicating.  I’ve been finding that I’m playing it better on the PC (even though I’m still using a 360 controller) – I’m using the slow-mo and the jump dodge a lot more, and killing dudes in that spectacular way still feels fucking incredible.   Max 3 got a bit of a bad rap, and I guess I can understand why, but it’s struck a chord in me – similar to the way L.A. Noire did, in spite of all its flaws.  (Maybe I’m too much of a Rockstar fanboy to be truly objective, though.)

What about you guys?  What am I missing?  What did I forget?  What else should I play before the year runs out?

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