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Game of the Year

 

            Hello, bloggers and gamers of Game Informer!  Christmas and the New Year are fast approaching, in just enough time for me to see that I have none to waste.  My plan was to post more blogs than I have before the New Year.  But alas, with great laziness comes no responsibility...well, except for one thing.  I still want to share my vote for the Game of the Year.  So, without further ado, let's get started.

            This year has been pretty special for me.  I got to play many more of the games from this year than in previous years, thus giving me a very good foundation to make a decision on my favorite from this year.  Note: my vote on the Game of the Year is my opinion, but this opinion will be based mostly on the game's quality.  If you do not agree, it was probably because I didn't play the game.  I said that I played more games from this year than in previous years.  That's still not a whole lot.

            My decision will have three main parts.  First and foremost, the game's quality must be top-notch.  This has to be the best, most well-made game of this year.  Second, I must love the game.  I can't vote for a best game if I don't like it.  Third, and the least important, the game has to be highly praised by the gaming community.  This is not an issue, considering my candidates.

            When I started getting my contenders for this year's Game of the Year together, I realized something.  Great games or not, this year has been pretty disappointing.  It seems that we're getting more and more continuing series and less new ideas.  Also, with the next generation's games in nearly everyone's minds, the gaming community seemed to continually be looking to the future, not the present.  All in all, based on what I played, I came up with three big contenders.  This is based, again, on what I have played.  The contenders are The Last of Us, Grand Theft Auto V, and Bioshock Infinite.  I will now write about all three of these games' strengths and weaknesses in order for you, as the reader, to better understand my verdict.

The Last of Us

            The Last of Us has gotten a lot of praise for being a masterpiece in the cinematic storytelling that's beloved by the modern gaming community.  And honestly, who didn't see this coming?  For the same reasons, Naughty Dog's Uncharted series got Game of the Year awards, votes for Best PS3 Game, and plenty of Best of the Generation votes.  No wonder a game of the same type got the same praise.

            But let's face it.  No one loves The Last of Us for its gameplay.  It's biggest strength in its storyline.  But here is where its biggest weakness lies.  The Last of Us is an all-around solid game.  Everything in it works like it's supposed to, which is another strength.  But its gameplay is not only nothing new, but it contains the overdone mechanics that we've all seen this generation.  There are a few quirks, like the clickers and the tiny bits of stealth thrown in.  The multiplayer is also a plus, deviating from the long line of instant-kill and killstreaks to health bars and a real emphasis on survival.

            This, however, doesn't cover the huge emphasis on storytelling that's in The Last of Us.  I loved the game, but this emphasis overwhelmed the gameplay completely.  The storyline is the only really memorable thing about the game.

Strengths:

  1. Fantastic Storyline
  2. All-around solid game
  3. Good multiplayer

Weaknesses:

  1. Underwhelming gameplay
  2. Only the storyline is memorable

Grand Theft Auto V

            The Grand Theft Auto series has long since been a part of the list of long-running series that just keep continuing.  It's spanned three gaming generations, delivering great video games the entire time.  Not only has the series kept its original innovative personality, but Grand Theft Auto has also grown with every game, becoming not only bigger but better.  Grand Theft Auto V goes beyond this by not only being the culmination of the series itself, but also the culmination of everything they've ever done.  Taking hints from Max Payne 3 and Midnight Club 3: Los Angeles, both the shooting and the driving have been significantly improved.

            In its history, Grand Theft Auto has also taken another trait.  The series has gradually built a reputation for being a satire of modern society.  It dives straight into the values of Americans, money and entertainment, without a flinch.  This has followed it to Grand Theft Auto V, where the game is filled with satire at every turn.

            A definite strength in Grand Theft Auto V is that it's the best at what it does.  Grand Theft Auto is known for having the most detail and content packed into its worlds, and the fifth game doesn't disappoint.  Here, however, is where I see one of its weaknesses.  Grand Theft Auto V has this huge, detailed world, and there are plenty of things to do.  But these mini-games are not only meaningless, but they don't really fit into the characters' personalities.  There was a lot of potential in Trevor.  He's a meth dealer.  How about making a fully manageable meth empire centered on Trevor?  I also felt as if some of the hobbies and mini-games in the game could've been switched with others.  If I'm a meth dealer with anger issues, I don't want to play tennis or golf.  And I definitely don't want to do yoga.  I just felt as if Grand Theft Auto V hasn't reached its full potential.

            Another huge strength is the game's technical performance.  Other than one particularly annoying bug that was fixed, there are very few consistent bugs in Grand Theft Auto V.  Among these are hilarious ones like the invisible car, clone characters, and floating sharks, all of which have shown on numerous YouTube videos.  The great thing about Grand Theft Auto V's world is that it's nearly perfect technically.  This is a rarity in open-world games.

            One weakness, however, is the game's storyline.  I'll go so far as to say it's decent and has good missions.  Other than this, the storyline has a few inconsistencies and the characters...awful and unforgivable is an understatement for these guys.  They simply have no real motivation other than greed.  That doesn't make them likeable.

            Grand Theft Auto V's biggest weakness, by far, comes in the form of Grand Theft Auto Online.  Plagued with a disastrous opening week, Grand Theft Auto Online's first impression got a legion of complaining fans.  Luckily, most of the biggest issues have been fixed, but promised content like heists is still not being added.  To make it worse, random bugs are still being reported.  I heard about one player who somehow lost millions of dollars in vehicles.  I understand that this is Rockstar's most ambitious attempt at a multiplayer mode, but for now, at the end of this year, it just hasn't delivered yet.

Strengths:

  1. Huge, detailed world that's packed with content
  2. Improvement over every game in the series
  3. Satire, satire, satire
  4. Performs beautifully

Weaknesses:

  1. Game hasn't reached its full potential
  2. Underwhelming storyline
  3. Grand Theft Auto Online

Bioshock Infinite

            The Bioshock series is known for three things: its great storylines (except for the second one), its great gameplay, and its great atmosphere.  It almost seemed sinful when Irrational Games announced that Bioshock Infinite would take to the skies.  I was afraid from the beginning that the third game wouldn't mix well with the other two.  I'm glad to say that I was wrong.

            Instead, Bioshock Infinite stands out as the best game of the series (to me anyway).  With an improvement to the gameplay, including some new twists, a new, majestic atmosphere, and a mind-blowing storyline, it's no wonder that Bioshock Infinite is a contender for Game of the Year.

            Unlike The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto V, Bioshock Infinite has both a fantastic storyline and great gameplay.  Battles are epic, the enemies are fierce, and the sun-drenched world in which we witness Booker Dewitt's story is amazing.  The game's religion is secretive and scary.  The darker side of Colombia is mysterious but oddly exciting.  The roller coaster of emotions mixed with the "epic-ness" of it all just begins to sum up my love for the game.

            But what are its strengths and weaknesses?  Its strengths could be stated like this: mind-blowing storyline, fantastic gameplay, awe-inspiring atmosphere, and depth.  I described three of these already.  The depth comes in the game's themes and the feelings you, as the player, develop for Elizabeth.  The story puts you in the shoes of Booker Dewitt and makes you not only help her but want to.  His and hers relationship is beautiful, a testament to games' abilities to not only convey human nature and emotion, but to make you feel them.  This game is a true standout in storytelling, much like The Last of Us.  Unlike The Last of Us, however, you've all the other great elements to go with it.

            As to its weaknesses, I honestly couldn't find any.  The game works like it should.  There are no real flaws that I saw.  Bioshock Infinite is one of the few games that I could say is nearly perfect in every way.

Strengths:

  1. Mind-blowing storyline
  2. Fantastic gameplay
  3. Awe-inspiring atmosphere
  4. Immense depth

The Verdict

            When I originally decided on my three contenders, I thought to myself, "Which will I choose?  This is so hard!"  But, to be honest, the decision wasn't difficult in the end.  It's sad that two of these contenders, even though I wouldn't consider them Game of the Year material, are so many people's votes.  Only one, to me, stands out as the Game of the Year.

Bioshock Infinite

            This was the only game out of the three that I saw as nearly perfect in every way.  Second place would be Grand Theft Auto V for its technical performance and fantastic world.  The Last of Us comes in last because of its only standout quality, the storyline.

            I hope you all enjoyed reading this.  I'm planning big projects for next year.  Comment on whatever you want.  Merry Christmas, God bless, and as always, thanks for reading!

 

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