The lights are on
This year had no shortage of amazing games that I knew I
would love and put countless hours into. However, there were also a few games I
never thought I'd even play, which turned out to be among my favorites.
Dead IslandWhen I first heard of Dead Island, I was instantly
intrigued. An open-world survival/horror format is exactly what I had been
waiting for in a zombie game. When I got the chance to sit in on a demo of the
game nearly a year before it came out, I went into the meeting with high hopes.
Those hopes were quickly dashed when the developer revealed
the combat was melee-focused. Suddenly, none of the other interesting-sounding
aspects of the game mattered to me. A zombie apocalypse where you're stuck
using oars and broomsticks to kill zombies? Lame. Add to that a rough demo (it
was still an early build of the game), and I walked away thinking the title had
potential, but it wasn't really on my radar anymore.
Eight months later I played some Dead Island co-op with Tim
while he was working on his review and was blown away by what the game had
evolved into. The detailed environments were massive and encouraged
exploration, and the melee combat that I had scoffed at was visceral, nuanced,
and supremely satisfying.
Best of all, zombies are once again formidable foes, which
make them as scary as they are deadly. Stumble into a lone undead corpse, and
you're probably okay, but if there's more than a few, you'd better run for your
life. In most zombie games the undead are weapon fodder, but Dead Island
reintroduces players to the "survival" side of survival horror.
Dead Island wasn't a perfect game by any means, but it's
probably my favorite zombie game of all time. In a way, I'm glad it fell off of
my radar so that I could go into it without any real expectations. For better
or worse, the same wouldn't be true for a Dead Island sequel – which is
something I'm praying Techland is working on.
Dark SoulsWhen I first heard about Demon's Souls, I thought it sounded
stupid. Some people feel the need to play punishingly hard games in an attempt
prove their worth as gamers, but not me. Long ago I stopped butting my head up
against games that are too difficult – if I struggle with a game to the point
where I'm more frustrated than entertained by it, I either turn the difficulty
down or stop playing. In contrast, the community that formed around Demon's
Souls sounded downright masochistic. I didn't think twice about skipping it.
Dark Souls was also on my list of games to not give a crap
about, but it had one intriguing twist that its predecessor lacked: it was
open-world. It also came out a month before Skyrim, and I was craving a
large-scale RPG to sink my teeth into. So, I took a chance on a game I would
have otherwise never played. I'm extremely glad I did, though I wasn't at
At first I hated Dark Souls. The notorious difficulty lived
up to its reputation, and the perfect storm of death penalties (you lose your
progress, souls – which serve as your currency and XP, and all of your enemies respawn) abruptly ended my first
night of play in a flurry of obscenities.
But the next day I wanted to play more. Returning to the
game, I triumphed over the previous night's obstacle (that stupid bridge
monster), only to have my will crushed and night ruined again by another
overpowered foe (that stupid armored boar). The game wasn't just difficult – the core structure felt totally broken.
And yet like Bill Murray in Groundhog's Day, I awoke the following day destined to do it all
over again. But by that point something had clicked. I was playing the game
differently (more cautiously and deliberately than any other action game), I
had conquered a small section of Dark Souls' world, and I was no longer put off
by the challenge, but enthralled by it. I still think the soul system breaks
the game somewhat, but my enjoyment of Dark Souls now vastly outweighs my
frustration with it, and I look forward to (and slightly dread) spending many
more hours in From Software's creative and memorable world.
Email the author Jeff Marchiafava, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.
Ratchet & Clank All 4 One. I didn't know if a semi-dungeon crawler/platforming/shooter hybrid version of one of my favorite series would be little more than a kid/party game with little actual challenge and fun, I mean I only bought it to play with friends. I enjoyed it and my friends did as well.
Skrim actually was a shock to me, I really didn't like TES because I didn't really get into them, but when I rented Skyrim it was awesome, and I can't wait to get it.
For me it was definitely Dark Souls. Being an xbox 360 owner I hadn't even heard of Demon Souls so it was a pleasant surprise to play a game like that. Saw a review on it, I also was waiting for Skyrim, thought I'd give it a go and absolutely loved it.
Definitely RAGE, I had no hope cause it is a post apocalyptic game and I've been growing tired of those. Also the whole "you survived in a vault" thing and come out to a decimated world where people barely get by and there are bandits everywhere sounds almost like a Fallout 3 rip off.
BUT I've really enjoyed it, only put about 15 hours into it because BF3 and Skyrim are top on my play list right now but hoping to get further into this game.
Also glad to hear you like 2K12 Jeff, I have 2K11 and it was my first basketball game since 2001 and I love it! I'm on the Cavaliers, so trust me buddy we aren't making the playoffs no matter how many times I drop 20+ a game. Also we are 28.5 back from 1st and like 15 back from the last spot to make playoffs. Not gonna happen with a month left and Tracy McGrady on my team throwing up a shot everytime he touches the ball. -_-
Yep, 2K12 is a good game, but 2K really needs to release a patch for the PC version since there are some very weird bugs. And they really need to fix the AI, since they're still pretty dumb. I might try out Dead Island eventually though.
I agree on Driver: SF, but the other games sucked.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Warhammer 40K: Space Marine were originally on my DILLIGAF list, but then I ended up renting them out of boredom and loved every second of both. Still been meaning to get my hands on Dead Island, but I've been wanting it since the original teaser.
Rage and Bulletstorm.
I was excited for both but when Bulletstorm kicked its marketing into high gear I lost interest, completely (those annoying fisheye lens dev diaries they had, f**k those were bad), but I bought it for $30 on a whim and it was still the Epic Editon so I figured at least I'd have the Gears beta. I ended up loving the game, yeah the language was silly but I felt the character had a genuine journey by the time the game was over and the shooting is easily some of the best this year.
Rage on the other hand, I was pumped for - right up until 30 minutes in when I realized it was just Borderlands, with less features. For three-hours I played through a pretty poor game but then I reached The Dead City and it just clicked for me. For the next 12 hours I had a total blast playing the game and I can't believe I almost gave up in the beginning. Honestly, it's as if id added the initial part of the campaign in after the rest of it was finished.
That's it? I feel like there was a lot more this year...on that note though, Dead Island was a surprise disappointment. I was expecting much more from the title in terms of unique gameplay, instead all I got was a Dead Rising RPG set on an island. I realize it is slightly deeper, but not enough to keep me engaged when I've already played Borderlands and am still playing New Vegas.
Dark Souls definitely could have been a GOTY nominee, more so than some of the other titles up for election.
For me it was more about finally getting back into online multiplayer instead of certain games (as a law school student I only really have time to play the big games I've been looking forward to and very little time for anything else unfortunately). I took a long hiatus after SOCOM 3. This year I decided (for reasons I still don't know) to check out the multiplayer for Uncharted 2 and then of course 3 when it came out and realized how much I used to love multiplayer. I'll probably start giving multiplayer modes a chance from now on.
I remember I actually bought Dark Souls with the intention of hating it -- I wanted to show the Dark Souls fanboys that being a hard game doesn't make it a good game.
Over 150 hours later, and Dark Souls is easily my GotY.
I just got dark souls and Dead Island for christmas, so far they both seem like fun, although I'm gonna have to sink some more time into Dark souls to understand all the gameplay.
Hydrophia: Prophecy is a game that surprised me at how much I enjoyed it. I hope they make a sequel with obvious improvements.
Dark Souls is awesome! Dark Souls and Demon's Souls are my two of my favorite games! Demon's Souls took a very long time to platinum, finished Dark Souls in about a week and a half.
Seriously, if I see any more comments like, "I'm an Xbox owner, so I never heard of Demon Souls," then these fanbots should get a REAL job, grow a pair, suck it up, and buy a PS3. Live life and be a gamer. A three console household isn't that difficult to maintain these days.
And after 140+ hours on Skyrim, Dark Souls is still GOTY. Skyrim is a close 2nd.
I thought this was going to be games that most people didn't pay attention to, not just you. A LOT OF PEOPLE purchased just about every game you've mentioned. Dead Island shipped 1-2 million copies in week 1. NBA 2k12 sold like crazy. Dark Souls was kind of a big seller, too. Driver didn't, but that's because it doesn't have a large appeal. All said, I was hoping for some niche games that barely anyone gave a crap about, but ended up being really good (Amnesia comes to mind - GI's review pretty much put it on the map).
DARK SOULS is my GOTY maybe my favorite game of all time. The game that was overlooked the most was TOPSPIN 4. Im not even a tennis fan and to be honest the game had a hard learning curve for me at the beginning, but once i figured out the controls and player position on the court i became extremely addicted. In fact this was the only other game that tore me away from DARK SOULS.
I really want Driver San Francisco and Saints Row
The game I enjoyed way more than I thought I would this year is Valkyria Chronicles (I know, I'm late to the party). Don't get me wrong, I bought the game knowing that I would at least like it, but I didn't think I would come to LOVE it. The story, characters and most of all the tactical gameplay just drew me in and I became hooked on the game. I have yet to finish it, but look forward to seeing how it ends and also plan to get Valkyria Chronicles II when funds allow.