Games I Played in 2014
Backlog Completed Continuing
Games I Beat in 2014I just did a blog like this a few weeks ago for games I finished in 2013. I decided I'd do a running blog this year chronicling all the games I played, along with the dates I completed them, platform, and how long I spent on each game. I'll also type up a little mini summary/review, and grade the game on a 1-10 basis (note: I use 1-10 as short form for percentage, making it akin to a classroom grade scale; 90+ is an A, 80-89 a B, 70-79 a C, 60-69 a D, and lower than that's an F. That means a lot of the scale is reserved for a failing grade - look at it like the 0-30% range is typically reserved for games that have varying amounts of severe issues like game breaking bugs, etc, that make the game unplayable, while 31-59% are typically games that perform fine, but are just frustrating, boring, poorly done, etc.) Also, I will split this into two sections. The first section will include all games I played for the first time, while the second will include replays. Here we go:
1. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2/9, PC, 123 hours) - I'm a huge Elder Scrolls fan, and this game didn't disappoint. Getting lost in the world of Tamriel is such an easy thing to do, and this game has a whole lot to get lost in. Not only are there the typical guilds (Fighter's Guild, Mage's Guild, Thieve's Guild, and an assassin guild - in Morrowind, it's the Morag Tong, not he Dark Brotherhood), but then there's ALSO the Imperial Legion, Imperial Cult, different houses (sort of a political guild), the East Empire Company, the Tribunal Temple, vampire clans...it's insane. Plus there's the Tamriel Rebuilt mod, which adds in a landmass nearly the size of the base map, adding in additional quests. I probably could've spent another 123 hours and still had more to do. Out of Oblivion, Skyrim, and Morrowind, I'd say Morrowind easily has the best Main Questline, as well. The only knock for me really is the outdated graphics and mechanics, but if you can look past that, Morrowind is well worth your time. Likely to be one of my top games of the year when 2014 is over...can't wait til Skywind is done to play a 2nd time in the Skyrim engine. If you haven't played Morrowind yet, do yourself a favor and download the sound and graphics overhaul, install it, and boot it up.
2. Bastion (2/13, PC, 10 hours) - Most everybody has heard of this game by now. It's definitely very good, and I enjoyed it, although I can't help but think at the same time it's a bit overrated by now. The story telling approach is well known, and that combined with the artistic style makes for a pretty unique experience. The game's length is just right, as well, because although the gameplay is initially enjoyable, there isn't much depth. There are some modes outside of the story where you fight hordes of enemies. I did all the modes, which was fine at first, but I wound up regretting. The length of the story is great for the game mechanics, but adding in the horde modes makes the game feel as if it drags a bit. Probably not a game I would see myself replaying anytime soon, although well worth whatever it was I paid for it (probably got it in a bundle at some point).
3. Guacamelee (2/15, PC, 10 hours) - Guacamelee is a Metroid-vania style game, needing certain powerups to access different levels. Overall a pretty good game. Short and sweet, doesn't overstay its welcome. Simple, beat em' up style combat, but is fun, and with new moves unlocked throughout the game, has enough depth to not get tiresome. One complaint I have is that some of the platforming sections get a bit tedious and annoying, but not to an extent where it ruins the game, by any means. There are plenty of hidden powerups to collect, and you can continue playing after you beat the game to do so. There is also a "hidden" level with lots of challenge maps, typically a variety of platforming and combat. I thoroughly enjoyed the game overall.
4. Max Payne 1 (2/20, PC, 9 hours) - I wasn't expecting much out of Max Payne going into it. FPS games are really hit or miss for me - I really enjoy some, but they aren't my favorite genre. Add into it that Max Payne is 12 or 13 years old by now, and I was expecting a game I was going to really have to force myself through. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find myself very much enjoying the game. The big mechanic in the game - bullet time - is a blast to play with, especially the shoot dodge function. The graphics are shockingly good for a game so old - I didn't even bother looking for a graphics mod. And the length of the game is just long enough where it's not too short, but doesn't drag on, either. There is a huge amount of weapons to play with, most of which are pretty useful. Additionally, there's not a single part of the game or any level that I felt was a nuisance - the game was very well balanced and enjoyable from start to finish. The only reason I played the game was because I threw up five games and asked for a vote on what to play next in the Steam forums...now I'm glad I did, as I'll be sure to play the other two games in the series, likely before the year is over. Max Payne is a great game, and one that holds up very well even after all these years.
5. Condemned: Criminal Origins (2/22, PC, 8 hours) - I was really disappointed by this game. The whole thing was a pain to get through. I think there's something about Monolith's games I just don't like - I also hated F.E.A.R. Condemned's atmosphere is very similar, almost identical - the dark hallways, the "flashes," etc - it didn't do much for me in F.E.A.R., and it didn't do anything for me in Condemned. There was just nothing about this game I really liked, for the most part. The combat was boring and repetitive, the controls were ridiculously clunky, the level design was unimaginative (and repetitive - nearly every level was find a door you need an axe to get through, trudge through the level to find an axe, come back to the door and chop down the door to get through it), you couldn't hold more than one weapon at a time, the "investigation" bits were really just a pain in the ass, it was easy to get lost while backtracking since all the environments look the same and it's dark, you couldn't jump, the story didn't really make sense...blech. After starting the year with four straight really good to great games, I hit my first clunker. The thing that was REALLY dumb was the basis for the story. You're investigating with a few fellow cops, and you're on your own for a bit when you're incapacitated briefly, and a serial killer steals your gun. The killer then murders the other two cops. So you're "framed" for murdering them. Instead of simply explaining what happened, you go on the run to hunt down the killer yourself. Apparently there's just no way the FBI would believe you, you MUST have killed the cops since they were killed with your weapon. Case closed. And apparently they forget how to do DNA/fingerprint testing, which would prove your innocence right away. Oh, then in the end, you wind up being cleared anyway. This game sucked. I'm giving it a 4/10, which doesn't really reflect my enjoyment, but although the game was terrible, it was pretty much bug free, and I'm sure I would've thought slightly better of it had I played it when it was released (2005). Then again...Morrowind and Max Payne, two of the games I played this year, were released years before Condemned, and didn't have all these issues.
6. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (2/25, PC, 6.5 hours) - This game was a very fun, well done twin-stick shooter. The story was a bit lame, but I didn't expect much out of what was clearly going to be a very arcadey gaming experience. The game had a high amount of customization options for a a short twin-stick game, in the form of weapons, "artifacts," and costumes. The only weapons you got automatically were the pistol, bomb, and a spear; the rest had to be unlocked. A good amount of weapons were found lying in the wide open, so hard to miss, but some were unlocked by completing certain challenges (for example, collect all the red skulls in a level, complete a level under a certain time, etc). Similarly, artifacts could be attained via challenges, Artifacts were powerups which would customize Lara - two artifacts would change her stats (giving a bonus to one of weapons, speed, defense, and bomb; some artifacts would positively affect an attribute while negatively impacting another, while some would positively impact several attributes), while the third would impact stats attained during a powerup period. These periods are attained by shooting enemies a certain amount of times. After attained, depending on what artifact was equipped, Lara would gain certain attributes (a "scattershot," a more powerful bomb, regenerating ammo/health, etc). The powerup time would end once Lara was hit. Another aspect of the game, similar to Tomb Raider games, were puzzles. Many of the ones in the main game were relatively easy - there was hardly ever a time where I had no clue what to do. However, there were also "challenge rooms (these would usually contain an artifact)," which typically had the more difficult puzzles in them. Typically the puzzles in these rooms were just enough to make me think for a few minutes, but still were nothing too difficult. All in all, LCGoL is a pretty good game, for what it is. Nothing remarkable, but a very satisfying game.
7. Thirty Flights of Loving/Gravity Bone (2/27, PC, 40 minutes) - Very...mehhh. There's not a whole lot to say about this game. The only reason to play, really, is the story. Gravity Bone has an actual bit of a gameplay element to it, and I found more interesting than TFoL. Just so-so, overall.
8. God of War 1 (3/2, PS3, 9.5 hours) - Good game, the classic hack n' slash action game. God of War is a game that's famously well known, and has been aped by a huge amount of games since. Quick paced combat highlighted by use of combos and magical abilities, yada yada yada, and annoying platform sections. While the game overall is very solid, the platform sections are a pain in the ass, and really hurt the game's pacing. In particular is a section where Kratos must climb some rotating pillars with spikes sticking out of them...the first one was annoying enough, then there were still two more sections like it immediately after. It wasn't fun, and it wasn't a "good" type of challenge - it was just annoying. There were several other sections like this where the game got in its own way with platforming, but it didn't happen often. All in all, a solid classic that still holds up today.
9. Bleed (3/5, PC, 1.5 hours) - Very short indie game. Pretty thoroughly enjoyable, if lacking depth. The controls are a bit weird at first to get used to, but fun once you get the hang of it. Playing w/an Xbox controller, right trigger controls jumping, left trigger controls bullet time capabilities, and the the right analog stick controls shooting. The game is a mix of combat and platforming. It's also pretty damn difficult; I started on normal and got sick of dying so I knocked it down to easy, which was enough challenge without being frustrating. A fun, simple game that you can knock out in less than two hours. I wouldn't recommend buying it individually due to the length of the game, but if you get it in a bundle, more than worth a play.
10. 10,000,000 (3/9, PC, 8 hours) - Pretty awesome match 3 game.You match a variety of tiles as your character runs through a dungeon, and the goal is to get 10,000,000 points in a run to earn your character's freedom. Different tiles have different effects as you match them. Keys unlock doors and chests, staffs and swords attack enemies, wood and stone gather materials, shields give you...shields, and chests give you a chance to spawn an item for your inventory (spell orbs, clubs, keys, scrolls, etc). The room your character is in has a variety of rooms to upgrade various things. One room you can use to upgrade your charcter's defense, another the shielding you can use, another the offensive effectiveness of your staff and sword, etc. Overall, the game is pretty great for a match three, although toward the end it gets a bit dull. Fun though, and having gotten it for a buck, well worth it.
11. Dark Souls 2 (3/30, Xbox 360, 74 hours) - The follow up to From Software's breakout hit doesn't disappoint. It's pretty much more of the same - essentially identical combat mechanics, vague plot, difficult game. The game appears to be much larger; whether or not that's actually true, I'm not sure, but that's the impression I got. The 74 hours it took me to beat it, btw, was with me exploring virtually everything the game had to offer in one playthrough. Overall the game was fantastic, although there were a few disappointments. The biggest step back, to me, was the world. One of the things I loved about the first Dark Souls was how the world ran into itself - the watch tower that led from dark root basin to undead burg, kicking the ladder down from undead parish to burg, etc. Dark SOuls 2 approaches the levels a lot like Demon's Souls does. It's just not as well done as Dark Souls 1 is, from that perspective. The second step back is that I just didn't find as many secrets that blew my mind like I did in Dark Souls 1. There was nothing akin to finding the return to undead asylum, or the painted world of ariamis, or the ash hollow. Still, the basic formula of a Souls game is there, and it's overall done very well. My GOTY, thus far.
Edit: As opposed to NG+ in Dark Souls, which simply made the enemies hit harder and take more damage, Dark Souls 2 actually mixes things up. New enemies are introduced, including a lot of red phantoms. Boss fights are mixed up at times with enemies added into the boss fight or the boss gaining a move. NG+, from what I've seen, is much harder than it was in Dark Souls 1. I actually found NG+ in Dark Souls 1 to be a piece of cake with all my equipment carrying over. NG+ in DS2 has been a challenge from what I've played so far.
12. Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea, Episodes 1 + 2 (4/5, PC, 7 hours) - Pretty good DLC overall, sees you return to Rapture. Episode 1 is pretty meh - the gameplay is more of the same from Bioshock Infinite with a plot that doesn't really give you much to grab onto, as well as being pretty short. However, it's really more of a setup for Episode 2 than something that should be judged on its own. In episode 2, you play as Elizabeth. The gameplay is somewhat fresh for the Bioshock series; it's pretty heavily stealth oriented. I've never played Dishonored, but the gameplay in this is how I imagine Dishonored is, to an extent. Plot wise, Episode 2 ties Rapture and Colombia together quite heavily, as well as tying Bioshock Infinite directly into Bioshock 1. If you haven't played any of the Bioshock series and plan on doing so, I'd play Bioshock 1 before Infinite. I had mixed feelings about the ultimate plot of the DLC, as I saw the ending coming pretty far ahead of the end. All in all, however, it was a good piece of DLC, and well worth playing.
13. Far Cry 3 (4/18, PC, 25 hours) - Very good overall FPS. Great graphics, fun gunplay, fun stealth system. I did have a few complaints, though, that prevented it from being a truly great fps, in my mind. First off...the island is massive, and filled with things to do. However, when exploring the island and engaging in side quests, the side quests get extremely repetitive. Take over an outpost...34 different times. Assassinate an enemy leader with a knife...24 or so times. Race to drop off supplies...19 times. Help out some of the locals, which, as far as I know, is always "find three of so and so type of item..." 16 or so times. The main story quests are typically pretty well done and thought out, but the same can't really be said of the vast majority of the side missions. It kind of defeats the purpose of having such a large and well detailed map when it's quests are filled with cut and paste. Secondly, the story...meh. Apparently it's supposed to be a commentary on video game/hollywood tropes or something, but even then...meh. One of the most annoying and least enjoyable to play as protagonists I can think of. That's about all for criticisms, but it's enough to bump the potential "A" grade FC3 could've gotten to a mid to low "B."
14. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (4/27, PC, 11 hours) - I wanted to like this game...but it was just too flawed. I'm sure when it came out it was perceived as a pretty good game, but it hasn't aged well. The controls are somewhat clunky, the sound is terrible (sometimes the voices are really loud, sometimes you can barely hear what the characters are saying), there are like, 3 or 4 enemy models in the entire game, the gimmick in the game (ability to turn back time) is decidedly "meh..." it's just not really fun for a first time player in 2014. Most damning, however, is the horrible camera. It zooms in and out and the most inopportune times, often your view is outright obstructed. This gets really frustrating in combat. The combat is in and of itself a pain in the ass. It's very boring, as basically all you'll ever do is either jump over an enemy or wall jump toward one, depending on the enemy type, in order to knock them to the ground so you can finish them off. Which would be somewhat okay if it weren't for the fact that every enemy encounter is a drawn out affair, serving only to attempt to break up platforming sections. Identical enemy after enemy spawns, and you'll have to defeat at least 25 enemies each combat section, at least it felt like. The platforming and puzzle sections are alright, although the camera can make these a bit of a chore at times, as well. The camera often contributes to you falling to your death in platforming, as you can only manipulate it on your own so much, and at times you can't change it up enough to see where you're actually supposed to jump to next. Luckily, the gimmick of the game allows you to turn back time so you can try again...at least until the end section. The endgame is unbelievably aggravating, as the ability to turn back time is taken away from you during some of the most drawn out platforming sections in the whole game, and if you fall, you start all over. All in all, this game was hugely disappointing.
15. RAGE (5/12, PC, 14 hours) - I wasn't sure what to expect heading into this game, as I had heard mixed opinions regarding it. Overall, though, it's very much worth buying at the five dollar price tag it's routinely found at on sale. It's just an all around fun shooter, although far from being anything mind blowing. The gameplay is more than fun enough, and the graphics are still gorgeous for a game that released in 2011. There are two major criticisms that really hold the game back, however. Number one was the enemy variety. Every enemy you fight is essentially some type of human, which is fine, I guess, although it means there isn't the variety you see in a lot of games on the market. What makes it worse, however, is that there are only four types of enemies subsets (if I remember correctly): mutants, gearheads, the authority, and jackals. Probably over fifty percent of the enemies you fight are mutants. You only fight gearheads in two or three missions. The authority you fight fairly often. You fight jackals in one mission. Each subset has about 90% of its enemies looking identical, with a random big baddie thrown in...it's just not very interesting. The second criticism is the story. Plenty of shooters, and video games in general, for that matter, have terrible stories. But no matter how terrible, most stories you know what happens at the end. In RAGE, you complete the final mission, and the game just stops. I have no idea what happened. Maybe I should've known, maybe if I had paid attention to the plot more, I could've figured it out, but it just seemed so abrupt. Who knows. Also, I recommend picking up the dlc, The Scorchers. It's fun, and when on sale, extremely cheap for the amount of time you get out of it. All in all, although RAGE certainly has its flaws, it's worth buying.
16. Alan Wake (5/16, PC, 13 hours) - This game is very hit and miss. The story does a good job of ripping off Stephen King (not meant as an insult - it's clearly what the game was going for), and is one of the more interesting horror game stories out there. The atmosphere is well done. But outside of that, it gets a bit ugly. The gameplay is absolutely horrid - it's unbelievably repetitive. In the game, all the enemies are possessed by a "darkness," which renders them invincible until it's expunged, which you do by shining light on them. It's a relatively interesting concept, but one that gets insanely old after doing so for the 500th time. The controls are clunky, the game is made of essentially running in a straight line from set piece to set piece, upon reaching each one you fight a wave of baddies. It just gets very dull. Looking back on it, the game is split into six "episodes." I think the game may have stood up better if instead of powering through it in a few days, I had played a single episode every three or four days, taking my time and fully digesting the story. The way I played it, by the end I just wanted it to be over. Alan Wake certainly had some strengths and some interesting ideas, but it had some horrible weaknesses and poor execution, as well.
17. Dust: An Elysian Tail (5/26, PC, 8 hours) - This game is an alright metroidvania hack n' slash...at least, it seems like it from what I played. I ran into some bug where the room I was in kept repeating over and over and I couldn't progress...it was really weird. I looked up walkthroughs to make sure it was part of the game, and couldn't find any mention of it. Also couldn't find any mention of anybody else running into this problem. I have no idea wtf to do, so I just uninstalled it. Pissed I wasted so much time on this, was about 45% of the way through the game, or so, and was doing every sidequest when this random crap happened.
18. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (6/7, PC, 27 hours) - I have mixed feelings on this. For as great as people say the story is...I just don't find it all that interesting. There are all these different forces clashing for power, but there are so many (S'coiatel, Temerians, Aedirn, the sorceresses, etc) and in a video game, there isn't enough time spent with these characters to really make me care about most of them, meaning the political story isn't quite as grabbing as it is in something like Game of Thrones. This game really also seemed to not really have much to do with the overall plot of the Witcher 1, which I felt had a more interesting story. Considering the Witcher 3 looks to focus on the WIld Hunt, I can't help but feel that overall, the Witcher 2 is a bunch of filler in the end. The gameplay, while vastly improved over the first Witcher game, still isn't anything special. The Witcher 2 is so close to being a great game, but falls short on all fronts, imho, making it simply above average.
19. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (6/18, PC, 27 hours) - The fact that the game is fairly well done Star Wars alone makes it worth playing. However, the gameplay, which is pretty much identical to that of Dragon Age Origins, has never really been my cup of tea. I also think Bioware's storytelling has been perpetually overrated...every Bioware game I've ever played, outside of Mass Effect, has had a story that didn't really hold my interest all that much. The peak of the story here comes about half-way through the game, then it's just kind of a slog until the end. There were also some aspects of the game that could occasionally make it very frustrating. For one, your squadmates get in the way nonstop. For two, the difficulty jumps get pretty frustrating. Combine this with sometimes running into a tough enemy/boss nearly without warning, and you may lose large chunks of progress at times. Also, the final level is just a brutal slog through enemy after enemy after enemy after enemy...it gets tedious. There's nothing wrong with the game, and if you either love Star Wars or love the style of Dragon Age 1 I highly recommend it...but at this point, I don't think the game is really anything special, either.
20. Marlow Briggs and The Mask of Time (6/20, PC, 6 Hours) - A game in the mold of God of War type gameplay. A pretty stupid story (which seems like what they were going for), but fun enough gameplay to keep you interested. They do a good job mixing up the gameplay, with platforming, combat, and even small shmup type sections. Worth a play, for the right price.
21. Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (6/21, PC, 6.5 hours) - I was really looking forward to this, as I loved the first Max Payne. This was a bit of a letdown. The gameplay is pretty much the same, but the game just didn't feel as fun. I didn't like the levels as much, the story wasn't as interesting, and some of the things you had to do (especially the running between platforms to cover Payne as you play as Mona, and the mission where you have to escort Vinnie) are just a pain in the ass. Still, though, I did enjoy the game overall. Just not really as good as the first one at all.
22. Sleeping Dogs (6/27, PC, 22 hours) - Sleeping Dogs is a pretty good sandbox game. It has fairly good combat and a world with plenty to do. The problem with it is that for all it does well, there are games out there that do it much better. It has free-running, which Assassin's Creed does about 20 times better. Its combat is primarily based around the free flow combat seen in the Arkham Batman series; the Arkham series does this combat much better. And its story...a lot of games do story better. There's nothing wrong with the story, it's just nothing special. Sleeping Dogs also suffers what many sandbox games suffer from in that the things to do get old relatively quickly. There are a number of different side missions (racing, beating up street gangs in order to perform drug busts, stealing cars, collecting debts), but after doing one of them 5-10 times you lose the desire to do more. Considering how cheap you can get Sleeping Dogs for when it's on sale, it's worth a buy. I would not recommend getting the dlc until you play the game, though. By the time I was through I was definitely done. The game is enjoyable enough, but it's not one I feel the need to play again, and there was enough to do that I don't think it's necessary to buy anymore additional missions.
23. Escape Goat (6/28, PC, 3 hours) - Escape Goat is a puzzle platformer, and is relatively simple in concept, but fresh and interesting. It's very short, which is fine, as puzzle platformers that drag too long really kill my interest...I'd much rather have a short, great game than a longer mediocre one. At the end of the game, though, a new play mode is unlocked with levels of "brutal difficulty." I had had enough by the end of the game, so I didn't bother booting up the new mode. Escape Goat's main campaign did a great job of being challenging without being frustrating - there were a few levels where I was stumped for a short period of time, until suddenly it clicked and I felt stupid for not realizing what to do sooner. I definitely recommend Escape Goat, and with such a small price (I think the MSRP is $5 and the game has been in bundles before) it's worth trying out.
24. Rayman Legends (7/3, PC, 25 hours) - Rayman Legends is a platformer game that's oozing with charm. It's addicting and challenging (if you let it be). If your goal is simply to beat the game, Rayman is a pretty easy platformer. However, if you want to beat every level in the game, or gather all the collectibles, etc, you can expect to spend a fair amount of time on it. The action is fun, the music is good, the game looks great...Rayman Legends is easily the best platformer I've played in a long time. If not for Dark Souls 2, this would be my favorite game so far that I've played this year...I highly recommend it.
25. Sam and Max Season 1: Sam and Max Save the World (7/4, PC, 12 hours) - Sam and Max Save the World is an episodic adventure game by Telltale. The episodic release format is very well done. While each episode has its self-contained plot and problems to solve, the six episodes have an over-arching plot that has all the episodes connected. I like the way it's done, because adventure games aren't really necessarily one of my favorite genres, so once I've played an episode (each one is about 2 hours), it's nice to take a break. Additionally, since the game isn't really plot heavy (the plot is, while concrete, very simple), you can play an episode, go a long time without playing another, and then pick up the next and not skip a beat. As a result, I actually beat this season over the span of several months. As for the gameplay, it's typical adventure game style point and click with puzzle solving. What's nice about it is that the majority of the puzzles aren't way out of left field, like they can get with many adventure games. The writing and dialogue are well done, and much of it is childishly humorous, but in a good way. Although adventure games aren't my forte, I did enjoy Sam and Max, overall.
26. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (7/4, PC, 3 hours) - Brothers is a game that has been lauded with many accolades. It was emotional, and has an interesting, if frustrating, control scheme...but I wouldn't really call it "fun." It's okay, but that's about it...I suppose I can see the appeal for some people, but I didn't see it as anything special.
27. Tomb Raider 2013 (7/5, PC, 12 hours) - Tomb Raider is a decent game, although the ridiculous excess of cutscenes can get annoying, as well as the fact that the final bossfight is a qte (there are a lot of qte type events in the game). The action is fun enough, but for a game called Tomb Raider there aren't very many tombs to raid. I couldn't have found more than 8 or 9, and each tomb has essentially a single puzzle and then you're done, they can be completed in about 5 minutes or less. The other main gripe I have is the skill trees. My gripe is that they are essentially useless. One of the skills is that by using survival vision you can see animals for "food." You don't eat food in the game. The only reason to kill animals is for XP...which you don't really need anymore of since the only thing to use XP for is your skill trees, which aren't worth anything. There were a few useful skills, like one that makes you climb faster, but it'd be nice if they made more useful skills, like ones that increase damage or something. I get that it's not an RPG, but what's the point of even having skill trees if they suck? All in all, I did enjoy my time with Tomb Raider, there just isn't anything that set it apart from any other decent action-adventure game.
28. A Wolf Among Us (7/12, PC, 10 hours) - A Wolf Among Us is great. In comparison with The Walking Dead, it's based less around character development and more around the atmosphere, setting, and plot. I enjoyed it a good bit more than The Walking Dead, which I personally was somewhat ambivalent toward. I'm hoping Telltale does a season two of AWAU, which I would gladly buy.
29. Thief Gold (7/17, PC, 28 hours) - This game is fantastic, an absolute masterpiece. I finished it in just a few days - I couldn't stop playing. Thief is essentially the progenitor of the stealth genre, and a must play for anybody who enjoys such a game. With an interesting difficulty system (additional mission objectives ar tacked on in some cases, amount of gold that must be stolen will increase in some missions, etc), a "light gem" which tells you just how noticeable you are, not simply "visible or not," great overall level design, and a variety of missions that are nearly always interesting and exciting, I loved playing Thief. The only thing that keeps it down in my book is that several levels (Escape! and The Lost City, namely) are either extremely frustrating or just lackluster. Overall, though, it's just great. Thief Gold may be my game of the year thus far - which i pretty impressive for a game released in 1998.
30. God of War 2 (7/19, PS3, 12 hours) - A good hack n' slash that makes considerable improvement upon GoW1. The action was essentially the same, but I felt the level design was much better, and there weren't as many platforming bits that frustrated as much as there were in the first game. This type of game isn't really my type of thing, as it tends to be overly mindless, but I still enjoyed it.
31. Painkiller: Black Edition (7/24, PC, 19 hours) - Painkiller is an FPS in the form of FPS games of old - the "shoot everything that moves" fast paced, chaotic type. It does it very well, with pretty good level design, a variety of enemies, and graphics that, while dated at this point, aren't bad for a game released so long ago. The story is nothing special, but whatever. Black Edition also comes with the expansion, "Battle Out of Hell," which adds a good 4-6 hours of gameplay to the game. There are several issues I do have with the game. The pacing can be a bit off - I found myself at times being challenged by a level and then breezing through the next one. Another issue is there are a few bugs. One, in particular, was especially annoying. In Painkiller, you have to kill a certain amount of enemies (typically all) in the section before the doors open up for the next section. In one level, the doors didn't open. I ran around the level for about 20 minutes looking for an enemy I missed before just starting the level over (all my saves in the level were somehow bugged as well). Outside of these issues, I can wholly recommend Painkiller for some mindless shooting fun.
32. Legend of Grimrock (7/29, PC, 21 hours) - Legend of Grimrock is an excellent callback to old dungeon crawlers, with a fun environment to explore and an oddly addicting combat system. Nearly all of the puzzles are more than reasonable, although some of the latter ones get extremely challenging. There are tons of secrets to find, and if you're devoted to finding them, a ton of playtime can get added on. One drawback to this is that much of the most powerful equipment in the game is found through secrets, and if you miss enough the game can get pretty difficult. All in all, Legend of Grimrock is a solid game that I an recommend whole heartedly.
33. Amnesia: The Dark Descent (7/31, PC, 7.5 hours) - Amnesia is a game that is very atmospheric and has constant tension. There were times in the game I was genuinely somewhat scared, which is really amplified by the fact that you can't do any damage to the monster. When you hear it coming, you genuinely jump, as you are really placed in the protagonist's shoes. For this fact alone (a horror game that actually scares), the game is more than worth playing. There are some hiccups, though. The game is basically an adventure game, as it's built around exploration and solving puzzles. Most of the puzzles aren't that difficult at all, only just enough to make you think for a few minutes. Some of the more difficult ones tend to break the atmosphere, as it becomes less about being wrapped up in the game and more about "okay, I need to figure out what to do now." As a result, a few sections seem to stagnate a bit. All in all, Amnesia is more than worth a playthrough.
34. Castle Crashers (8/2, PC, 5.5 hours) - I don't see why this game is so popular. It's...alright...I guess. The combat is pretty unsatisfying, I pretty much spent the whole game just using the same combo over and over and over again. So I spent five hours just pressing the same button over and over...which I guess is why even though it's such a short game it took me about a month to beat it, as I couldn't really stand to play it any longer than half an hour or an hour at a time. I could see it being entertaining if you're playing with a few friends or something and you've all been drinking all night, but as a solo game it just doesn't hold up. Even as a multiplayer game, there are just so many other things I'd rather play. It's serviceable enough, though, and there's nothing glaringly wrong with it (no glitches, terribly frustrating parts, etc), it's just nothing great, either.
35. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (8/9, Nintendo Wii, 25 hours) - A very fun well done platformer. There's a wide variety of challenge, from the laughably easy to some levels (especially the "special" world you unlock when you beat the game) which are pretty difficult. An easy game to recommend.
36. The Typing of the Dead: Overkill (8/9, PC, 2.5 hours) - A fun, silly zombie typing game. A good bit more fun than I expected it to be - the game went by very fast (granted, it's pretty short), although I wish I had some of the dlc. A lot of the phrases started to repeat after a short while.
37. Gone Home (9/12, PC, 1.5 hours) - An interesting concept and cool way of getting to know a story, but the problem for me was I didn't find the story very interesting...not much more to say about the game.
38. Dishonored Complete Edition (9/17, PC, 25 hours) - A pretty good stealth game. Very much as if Thief met Bioshock. I loved how there are a number of ways to get through a level, and with the powers and equipment, you can approach the game as either a deadly assassin who engages in open combat from time to time, or a silent skulker. The level design is pretty great, and the blink ability allows for a pretty intricate vertical design. The story is nothing special, but you are given different choices as to how you deal with your targets (lethal vs non-lethal) which allegedly have a large impact on the game. My biggest complaint, however, is that every now and then the stealth doesn't work too well. There were a few times where I'd be sneaking and a guard that was nowhere near me suddenly detected me and ran down a floor. This was pretty rare, though. I also played through the story DLC, which is essentially more of the same, and well worth playing. I also dallied in the Dunwall City Trials, which isn't bad, but by the time I was done with the main story and the DLC story I didn't feel the need to engage in it too much. I plan on playing through the game again later on to make different choices than I did the first time around. All in all, I really enjoyed Dishonored, although it didn't resonate with me quite as much as Thief (which was obviously Dishonored's main influence) did when I played it earlier this year.
39. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams (9/21, PC, 7.5 hours) - Giana Sisters is a platformer that doesn't live up to its potential. It looks good and handles alright, but it also has some glaring issues. There isn't much variety in enemy design or level aesthetics, so it feels like you're playing one long level that runs together. The game would've been better served with a larger amount of shorter "worlds" with increased diversity. The game can get extremely frustrating at times, as well. Compared with a game like Super Meat Boy, which is difficult and somewhat frustrating, it doesn't provide the same level of satisfaction. This is perhaps because Super Meat Boy's levels are short, providing a small burst of extreme challenge, where the player an memorize the level, getting down muscle memory and developing tactics. In Giana Sisters, the levels can be so long that it's discouraging. Obstacles and enemies will sometimes appear without much notice, leading to increased frustration. Lastly, although the soundtrack isn't bad, good lord would it benefit from some more songs. By the end of the first couple of levels the soundtrack was grating on me significantly - the same couple songs repeat over and over, and they all have a similar feel, and run into each other, making it seem as if you're just listening to one never ending song. I would strongly recommend muting the music and turning on your own while playing. Honestly, unless you absolutely love platformers, I don't really recommend this game. It has some charm to it, but the issues really take away from the final product.
40. Risen (9/28, PC, 29 hours) - Risen is simply a competent RPG. It's mildly interesting, but lacks the extra polish to make it shine. Everything it does, another game does much better. The exploration of the world is not nearly as interesting or immersive as a game like the Elder Srolls series. The music is somewhat middling, which takes away from the sense of epic adventure found in other RPG titles. The combat is similar to that of The Witcher 1, although there are more intricate combos that make it potentially more interesting. However, the loose auto lock on mechanism can be extremely aggravating, leading the fickle combat. The variety of enemies is lacking - there may be 10-15 different monsters in the game, but after the first act or so, the vast majority that you face are a particular one. The story itself is relatively cliche and uninteresting, although not terrible. The graphics are quite good for a relatively low budget 2009 game, although the animations (particularly during conversation) are at times absurd and will bring you out of the game. There are times where you'll have no clue what to do while in a dungeon. The dungeons are mainly combat focused, but there are also "puzzles focused around the spells in Risen. The "puzzles" really come down to you just having no idea what to do, and there's some lever in the distance you didn't see that you have to use telekinesis on, or a hole that you have to morph into a snail to get through (during one dungeon, I needed to obtain an object that I could see through a gate - the hole I had to get through was hidden behind rubble. It was so obscurely hidden that I had been searching for 5-10 minutes for a lever or a hole to proceed, until finally consulting a walkthrough). All in all, this is a game I recommend to RPG enthusiasts who are looking for something to plug the gap. It's not a particularly bad game, but it's not a very good one either. It's a bit of a shame. With a little more polish and attention to detail Risen could've been much better.
41. Puzzle Agent (9/30, PC, 4 hours) - Do you like solving puzzles and a quirky environment? Then you'll love Puzzle Agent. The game has a variety of puzzles, ranging from laughably easy to extremely difficult and thought provoking. The story is interesting in an odd way, and the ending is surprisingly creepy. I definitely recommend the game to anybody who enjoys puzzle games.
42. Dark Souls 2 DLC (10/10, Xbox 360, 18 hours) - Finished the Lost Crowns trilogy of dlc. The dlc was excellent. The level design was much better than in the DS2 base game, and added plenty of items, and each dlc introduced mechanics and themes that are unique to the souls series. Very, very well done.
43. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (10/12, Xbox 360, 16 hours) - The first half of Castlevania is absolutely superb. If you've ever played a Metroidvania type game, this is one of the best examples you can find. Somewhat challenging, but rarely frustrating, a wide variety of enemies, weapons, and items, and interesting ways to access doors/blocked off areas. However, the second half (the inverted castle), is decidedly mediocre, imho. By the time you reach the inverted castle, you have all the abilities, so there isn't any blocked off areas. It's just an open castle where you decide which way to go first. The inverted castle is significantly harder than the first half of the game, to the point where it can get frustrating. In fact, I was amazed at the difficulty spike. Toward the end of the first half, I was breezing through the game, then I was getting my ass handed to me routinely in the inverted castle. Additionally, there are enemies in the inverted castle that are just a pain (especially the Jack O'Bones that sit atop higher ledges, throwing bones that knock you down repeatedly). For whatever reason the designers made many of the platforms in the inverted castle just out of reach of a double jump, meaning frequent annoying bat transformations are abound. All in all the game is great, but if the same quality of the first half was present in the second, it would've been absolutely superb.
44. Outlast (10/31, Xbox 360, 5.5 hours) - Outlast is a pretty good, fairly scary survival horror game. It's certainly worth a play, but I won't replay it anytime soon. The main issue with Outlast is that it can get very frustrating at times. There is no way to fight enemies, which is fine, but the issue becomes that the enemies can at times very much hinder your progression. You'll run or hide from them, but they have (at least I thought so) a way of showing back up close to the rooms you need to go to in order to progress, instead of randomly wandering through the level. Because of this, I gave up somewhat on stealthing my way through, instead at times just running toward the enemy, looping around and getting back to the room, trying to make the necessary progress I needed to before the enemy caught up to me. There are some unavoidable, scripted chase sequences which can become even more frustrating, as these instances are neither scary, nor rewarding from a gameplay perspective. Instead you just die a number of times until you figure out what you need to do to progress. Certainly a good game, but it has its flaws.
45. God of War III (11/17, PS3, 9 hours) - I thought this was the best of the God of War trilogy, mainly because of the improved puzzles and the fact that it doesnt get in its way as much as the previous ones. Everything else is pretty much identical to the last entries.
46. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (11/23, PC, 9 hours) - Blood Dragon carries over the gameplay of FC3, but places it into a much more humorous environment. It's a much shorter game (I did all the side missions and found all the collectibles in 9 hours) than FC3, which is fine. I still think the overall gameplay, while fun, is somewhat lacking. Similarly to FC3, while I enjoyed myself, I don't plan on replaying this anytime soon, if ever. I also ran into a multitude of bugs in the game, including one which caused me to have to replay a segment. The controls can at times be unresponsive (I was using a gamepad), which was frustrating (I would at times click the "change weapon" button, and nothing would happen, etc). Overall, Blood Dragon isn't a bad game at all, and I recommend it to anybody who likes shooters. I just don't think it's anything amazing either.
47. Dead Space 2 (12/3, PC, 10 hours) - Dead Space 2 mostly succeeds as a FPS, but completely fails as a horror game. The game's approach is to throw jump scare after jump scare after you, and by the time you play the game for an hour you're completely conditioned to it. Not to mention that AFTER a jump scare, the room typically fills with waves of enemies. While the game's gameplay is pretty good (gunplay is fun and responsive), it has its issues as well. The largest issue is that the game often doesn't feel fair. When a room fills with enemies, you're typically trapped in a small box of a room. It's very easy to be focused on killing three enemies that are running toward you simultaneously only to be bum rushed by another two. In the last 30 minutes or so, the game decides to throw in an unkillable enemy that regenerates. This was supposed to be scary, I think, as it follows you throughout the level and pops out of vents. It might've actually worked, except in addition to this enemy you're utterly surrounded by other enemies as well, so it just becomes a nuisance. The game also has QTEs, although EVERY SINGLE ONE is just "mash the 'a' button." The story is hard to follow due to the fact that the voice acting is way too quiet. There were many times where a character started talking and I had no idea what they were saying because they were completely overshadowed by music and sound effects. The fact that the gunplay is fun and the game, despite not being scary, has a creepy atmosphere, means that the beginning of the game is great, but then once the game's flaws become apparent it really begins to feel like the game is dragging (which is bad for such a short game). If it weren't for the atmosphere and gunplay this game would be a disaster, which is too bad, because with a few modifications it could've been much better.
48. Thief 2 (12/12, PC, 23 hours) - Although Thief 2 was good, I was also pretty disappointed by it. I vastly preferred Thief 1. Interestingly, one of the things in Thief 1 that annoyed me was the undead enemies and monsters in it, but I ended up missing them in this game. The robots that replaced these enemies I found to be more annoying. Additionally, although Thief 1 had a few bad levels, Thief 2 had some absolute duds. The end of the game was a sludge to get through. I guess the game was rushed, because the last 3-4 missions or so are pretty bad. The second and third to last missions are in the same exact area, and are pretty boring. The last mission is a super long one packed with robots, and is just really tedious. It's a shame it couldn't keep up the momentum found in the first half of the game.
49. Jazzpunk (12/13, PC, 1.5 hours) - Jazzpunk is a pretty good game for when it lasts. It's a comedy adventure game where the majority of the game is actually in the exploration of the locales. Simply playing through the story you can probably finish it in about half an hour, but there is a ton of things to discover, and is worth doing for the comedic payoff. Jazzpunk is a rare game that actually makes its comedy mostly work. The game however, is essentially solely focused on comedy. The "puzzles" are incredibly easy, and the game itself is incredibly short. I'm sure you can stretch it out to about 2.5-3 hours if you really search everything (I was surprised that I had only unlocked 7/24 achievements by the end of the game, as I was somewhat thorough in my playthrough). While I recommend Jazzpunk, try getting it cheap, via a trade, or wait for a bundle. I wouldn't pay more than about 2.50, tops, given the brevity of the game.
50. Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (12/27, Wii U, 31 hours) - Zelda games are based around exploration, puzzles, and relatively simplistic combat. The overall execution of gameplay themes, in addition to the supplement of fantastic art and musical directions within the games, makes the series one of the most beloved in all of gaming, producing some of the all time greatest games. Wind Waker is another great game. The highs of the game include the most unique art style of the series, a great soundtrack (including one of my favorite songs in a Zelda game, the one played at Dragon Roost), good dungeons, and some of the most intricate and responsive combat in the series. Sailing through the world is fun, with a large number of optional islands to explore in order to obtain upgrades. The game does have flaws, but not many. Namely, there is a bit of a shortage of dungeons in comparison with other Zelda games. Ganon's tower is not quite as fun as other entries, and is even somewhat unimaginative (the first floor of the tower you have to fight four bosses previously encountered in dungeons) and aggravating (Puppet Ganon is just a pain). Besides these complaints, there isn't much wrong with the game. The Wii U upgrade adds well to the experience. Besides the graphical upgrade, the gamepad is utilized to make for a much more seamless experience while managing inventory. The inventory and map are constantly on display on the gamepad, so you no longer have to pause to swap items or look at your map. A "fast sail" was also added to the game that you can win at the auction house. This makes the boat go much faster, in addition to automatically swapping the wind so that it's behind the boat. This changes make for a much more fluid experience. It's hard to say exactly where this game ranks in the Zelda series, but it's high up there.
51. Bulletstorm (12/29, PC, 9 hours) - Bulletstorm is an over the top shooter, with plenty of action and essentially non-stop combat. It's somewhat in between the old school style circle-strafe kill everything fps approach, and the modern day cover based shooting. The gimmick in the game is that the way you purchase ammo and gun upgrades is through your points that you score through killing enemies. Often in games you'll find a gun you like and stay with it throughout the game. In Bulletstorm, you're rewarded for killing enemies in a variety of ways. The first time you "unlock" a unique way of killing an enemy you get a substantial bonus. The harder/more unique ways of killing enemies give more points (for example, kicking an enemy in a giant cactus gives 100 points) while easier/ traditional ways of killing give less (a standard kill gives 10, a headshot gives 25). Each gun you get comes w/its own kill challenges for point bonuses. This encourages the player to keep the gunplay fresh by attempting different challenges and using different guns. This mechanic is pretty unique, and is a major plus for Bulletstorm. The game does have its issues, however. There are some technical issues, as the game crashed on me 4 or 5 time over the course of my playthrough. Additionally, there were times where the game would glitch and the trigger to get further in the game would not initiate, causing me to have to play through certain sequences more than once. The character would also occasionally get "stuck," and you'd be wiggling the joystick on the gamepad for a few seconds before he moved. The story isn't horrible, but I do find it odd that for a game as ludicrous in both gameplay and dialogue (there is a substantial amount of dick jokes, etc. One quote from the game is "prepare to lick the salty taint of doom") that they decided to focus on the story as much as they did. The first half hour of the game or so is all cutscenes, for the most part. Outside of these issues, the game is very fun. It's not a classic, by any means, but a fun way to waste some time.
52. Nightsky (12/29, PC, 3 hours) - Nightsky is an ambient puzzle platformer. It has relatively weak gameplay, as while it has a variety of mechanics that can give it variety, the puzzles themselves are at times poorly designed and the controls a bit wonky. The strength of the game, however, comes not from the gameplay itself, but the atmosphere, The music and art give it an extremely relaxing feel. Nightsky is a relatively solid experience, but nothing special.
53. Little Inferno (12/30, PC, 3.5 hours) - Little Inferno is...interesting. The game mechanics are pretty poor, but oddly addicting. All you do is buy things and burn them, and the "puzzles" in the game are trying to figure out different burning combos based on what they're called. I don't really recommend Little Inferno, although I wouldn't call it horrible.
1. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition (5/7, PC, 36 hours) - Anybody who frequents the Steam thread on CAG knows how I feel about this game. Dark Souls 1 is probably my favorite game of all time. The combat is awesome, the level design is great, the interconnected, load screen free world is incredibly immersive and fantastic. The lore is very interesting, and if you find a secret covenant in the game it leads you to see that there is more going on in the world and with the story than first meets the eye. Dark Souls is fantastic, and I whole-heartedly recommend it.
2. Borderlands 2 (7/11, PC, 31 hours), (11/16, PC, 172 hrs) - The Borderlands games are great. They're just pure, stupid fun. I played BL2 last year, and came away a bit underwhelmed. Having loved BL1 and played it to death, I think I may have expected too much from BL2. It's definitely very good, although I still need to play through a second playthrough to get into Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode and all. I'm a bit burnt out from Borderlands, though, as I played through the game in less than a week. I'll play another game or two before coming back to continue my character. EDIT: I came back to BL2 in October to play True/Ultimate Vault Hunter Modes. I got completely addicted. I played basically nonstop for about a month. Upping my grade for the game from an 8.75 to a 9.5.
3. Skyrim (9/11, PC, 170 hours) - Such an addicting game. I love Bethesda's open world games. Exploring and getting lost in them is always such a pleasure, and Skyrim is not different. This is the third time I've played Skyrim, but this is by far my most extensive playthrough. I cleared likely near 95% of the dungeons, got all the achievements, and I'd be surprised if I missed a quest. I also downloaded and completed a variety of quest mods (Falskaar and Wyrmstooth are great - both comparable in size and scope to Dragonborn). While Skyrim vastly improves on gameplay mechanics versus its predecessors, there are some significant steps down. The biggest, imho, is the quality of the quests themselves. While Oblivion had some absolutely fantastic quests (the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild questlines were superb), Skyrim has mostly unimaginative fetch quests. A large majority boil down to: enter dungeon, kill draugr, retrieve x, return to quest giver. I did enjoy the return of Dwemer ruins, which were absent in Oblivion. My biggest complaint is that Skyrim is a much more shallow experience: it lacks the complexity of Morrowind and the intricate quests of Oblivion. The guilds, in particular, were extremely underwhelming. All in all, though, Skyrim's strengths are enough to greatly outweigh its deficits.
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