Happy Holidays everyone!
The Christmas break has allowed me to play a fair few games although only a couple made it to completion. The first game I finished was Alan Wake. It's a game that's interested me for a while as it's an 'adventure' not a platformer and didn't look to be straight up shooter so I thought it would be something different to the norm. My first impressions of the game were positive as I like the narrative style and the graphics were good but not outstanding. As I got into the game it soon became clear that this is a game that was made for the story with some decent game play to move it along. Unfortunately didn't really get engrossed in the story and was more interested in how the game played.
The combat was very unique as you cannot just directly shoot the enemies, you need to take them out with your torch first. When I first looked into the game I thought guns and ammo would be few and far between but this was far from the case. On normal you are given enough supplies to see you through to the end no trouble. I didn't fancy going back and playing it a second time to get a true survival experience. The use of lights and torches were great distractions from the usual run and gun game play and the locations used were also pretty spot on.
Whilst I breezed through the cutscenes and dialogue, I did get a good appreciation for what was a fairly novel storyline (get it 'novel', he's a writer...nevermind) without the need to read/listen to all the manuscripts and watch the TV shows etc. I did like what they were doing by creating a 'believable' world (for lack of a better term) that was pretty well rounded.
This was also one of the first games where I've bothered to play the DLC. I got it in one of the sales about a year or so ago and as I'd already bought the game, thought it would be worth spending the money at the time in the hope I liked the game. Whilst the two additional episodes didn't really add anything of massive benefit for me personally, I think I enjoyed them more than the main game. Although it used a few of the same locations, they were done differently enough for it not to matter. The addition of needing to shine your torch on words to turn them into items/distractions/lights etc was great as it ramped up the tension and added some strategy to some sections by making the player decide when to use them or whether to use them at all.
Overall I was pretty happy with the length of the game and it's too DLCs and gave the main game an 8.0 and then the two DLCs 8.0 and 8.5 respectively.
With the holiday season being spent at my parents it meant I was without my un-played games collection I have at my own place so I resorted to XBLA for my next game. Without a doubt it was always going to be The Walking Dead as I'd heard so many good things about and the discounted price was too good to pass up. The first episode was free so that was a no brainer. I paid full price for the second episode and the following day they were all 50% off so I got the remaining three for 200 points each. I ended up playing most of them in one sitting per episode as once you start it, it's very hard to wait for its conclusion!
I loved first episode just because it was the first and it felt so fresh for a game. Haven't watched the TV series it wasn't a particularly new concept (although to be fair the zombie genre isn't anyway) and I was already familiar with TWD's universe. It told the story from a fresh perspective though so that was great. Episode two was also pretty good although not my favourite storyline, however it ramped the 'tough decisions' up to the next level and that was when I was hooked. Episode three was my favourite by far. It was the most inventive and also didn't take its plot from either the show or the comics (that's my understanding anyway) and there were also a few wow moments that I just didn't see coming. I'm not putting any spoilers in here (well not on purpose) so you'll just have to play it if you don't know which scenes I mean! Episode four was my least favourite, it was seemingly longer than the others and everything in it was rushed too much for my liking. Episode five was the roundup and featured the least amount of actual game play, but it did a decent enough job of bringing it to a conclusion. I'm sure you'll all have your own opinions on the best episode but that's just the sign of a good game that caters to many people.
I'm still a bit torn on the idea of the point and click/minimal gameplay genre as I often prefer to ignore boring stories and just get to the action. TWD has a story so good though I often got annoyed when I actually had to do something as it generally meant the story stalled until you finished the fetch quest/mini puzzle and then picked up again once you'd done that. The art style of the game was excellent and will obviously have helped to keep the game flowing between cutscene and game play sections. I played through it as nice as I could be and saved pretty much everyone. Apocalypse TV shows and films really do annoy me that there are so few humans left and they are happily content to just kill each other. I'm sure given the situation there is a need to look after number one, but I'm fairly certain not so many people need to die.
My only real concern with the game is that the decision making often didn't really make enough of a difference to affect the outcome of the game. I suppose I expected too much but the game is actually quite linear and even when you make a decision, the same outcome often happened whichever option you went for. Whilst playing it through though, this is of little concern as every outcome was amazing to watch so it wasn't really noticeable. That's about all that was wrong with it and it's not a major enough concern to even hinder the game being one of my favourites of the year.
I gave the episodes varying scores between 7.5 and 8.5. Although I think it's an amazing game, there's still room to improve for season two and I'd find it hard to score a game higher than that with so little game play. Next up in my pile of un-played games is Red Dead Redemption which I'll most likely start tomorrow. Not a bad way to kick of the new year if it's as good as I've heard it is.
With it being the last day of 2012 I guess I could round up my best games of the year. I haven't actually played that many this year. Only in last few months have I really got back into gaming and that's mostly been clearing out my back catalogue of games I bought before I stopped playing games for ages. With that being said, the only game I actually played in 2012, that came out in 2012 was The Walking Dead so I guess that wins by default! Out of the games I played in 2012 that didn't come out in 2012, my top three by the rating I gave them would be 3. Too Human 2. Rage 1. The Saboteur. Although I thought The Saboteur was just perfect for me and would at least be in my top 5 in any year, as you can see I've not exactly had a stellar year! This year I plan to buy a lot more games closer to release and I'll also have got through the majority of my back catalogue out of the way so I can focus on the newer games.
Alan Wake, The Walking Dead, and Red Dead Redemption... all different game genres, but all tell a wonderful story in their own right.
For me, Red Dead Redemption still stands in my book as THE best game right now and I am sure you will have no problems enjoying every minute of it.
Have a wonderful 2013 because I know I will! :)
enjoyed reading your article, stumbled upon it at the same time i listened to this track. had to tell you.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHfvzD9JL4w ..going to give Rage another try! for me 2012 was the year Dark Souls hit me like a ton of bricks..cheers!
@dixienarco Haha, suppose that was fate then! Actually listened to the whole song. It's not my kinda music but it wasn't too bad.
Dark Souls looks pretty damn tough to beat and I don't think I have enough patience for that!
Nice article ...... the reason to leave ps eatin by dust that not always we have good games to play and according to this Guys if i like dead space, dmc, castlevania , dishonored and god of war .... What do u think or suggest game for me to play coz i wait only these games to play and really it took long time to release one of them ....
@dralutfi The Bioshock games are ace, I ranked them up there with Dead Space and have a similarly unique setting for a game like Dead Space. If you like DMC I'd suggest Bayonetta. I haven't played it personally but it rated very highly on this site.
Good article man, I agree the choices need to play a bigger impact. I won't really point any out but the fact that there was only really one ending sorta ticked me off.
@rktPYZQShWz That's what annoyed me as well. No matter what choices you make along the way you'll end up with the same result. Multiple endings for season 2 are a must for me. If each season tells a different story, it shouldn't be too hard for them to work that in.
@GamerOuTLaWz I'm not out to prove I'm the best gamer in the world so the difficulty I play on has no real meaning for me. I don't see the enjoyment of playing a game with less ammo and less health just to say I've completed it on hard. I'd rather spend my time shooting bad guys than running away but I've got no ammo left to kill them. That seems to be the major tactic for playing Alan Wake on Nightmare difficulty and that doesn't sound fun to me at all.
so far, the Walking Dead game is really making me think through my choices, more than most games - consequences really...wow.
@pokecharm It's great that a game can finally do that as consequences have really been lacking in the majority of games since multiple choice options became a 'thing'. One thing for the second season though, is for the choices to have a much bigger impact on how the story plays out. I'd love them to release a full disk release where they can have multiples storylines based on your choices. To keep the download sizes small I guess that they have to keep it fairly linear. Saying that I still applaud them for what they've shown can be done with XBLA as far as keeping people hooked on one series for the best part of a year.
thats too bad alan wakes story didnt hook u in too much. alan wake was the first game ever (even to this current day and been gaming for over 25 years) that kept me playing because of the story.
@Mr_Mark_Legion totally agree the only game in aslong as i can remember that hooked me on the story, it was that good that my miss' and mother both sat and watched me play it because it even engrossed them
@Mr_Mark_Legion On another day and maybe in another situation I think I'd have enjoyed it the way it was meant to be. As it was I think I was rushing it too much to get it finished to work on my massive backlog of games to savour the storyline. If it was the only game I had to play I'd have probably spent more time with it.
On a plus note for you though, I'm glad the game industry can still serve up surprises that you've not yet encountered!
TWD is an awesome game, but I was disappointed with the effect player choice actually had on the story. It's like, "here, you can save this person, but they're still going to die in the next episode no matter what you do". Other than that, it was one of my top games this year. They really need to iron out the glitches though.
@thereal-15-cent Yeah it makes no real difference unfortunately. Saving one person over another just means they are in the next scene rather than the other character and they end up serving the same person. The non-essential choices where a 'character will remember that' also have no tangible consequence. A character will take a slightly different tone with you but will generally provide the same outcome. Still, for a first go at an episodic, story driven game, I'd be pretty pleased if that's what I'd been able to create!
There are a few too many glitches and the game loads pretty slowly at times. Also there were a good few times where characters would say their first word twice and it would stay that way until the scene changed.
@Imperiusmax I got Alan Wake for next to nothing so it's worth looking out a copy. Just sold mine on eBay for £5 so you can't go wrong at that price. The Walking Dead is worth getting hold of however much they charge for it.
I'm currently on the 4th episode of The Walking Dead, really enjoying it so far. I'm normally not into these cutscene heavy games but this game is proving to be an exception.
@Vari3ty That's pretty much the same situation as I'm in with games. The story usually plays second fiddle to the game play so is usually is poor in comparison. When a game creates a story as well as TWD I'll play it however they want me to.
Great mini reviews. I like both Alan Wake (9.0/10) and The Walking Dead (9.5/10; only 6 of the 146 retail games I've rated achieved a score of 9.5), and apparently more so than you but that's probably because plot and story outweigh the importance of game-play for me. The Walking Dead in particular is one of my favourite 'experiences' of all time.
@whiteagle18 Thanks. Alan Wake would've got a higher score had the story sucked me in. I'm quite annoyed that I didn't let myself get drawn in as I think it would've been much better.
You're the complete opposite to me when it comes to what's important in a game but that's the magic of gaming! As I mentioned in my review, the only reason I didn't score it higher is because of the lack of game play. I suppose I could have reviewed it under the thinking that it's near perfection from a story driven game but I'd have begrudged rating it as highly as the GTA games considering how much more you can do in them. As an interactive TV show it's up there with the best that the TV can offer!
@Shogaan Thanks. Not sure if would go down as Game of the Year but it definitely goes down as story of the year!