January 28, 2015

D.J.’s top games of 2014

D.J.'s top games of 2014

If I were to start predicting my game of the year lists in January of that year, I think I’d usually be able to get at least one or two games correct. There’s often a notable game from a favorite developer or series that seems like a safe bet—sure things like Monster Hunter, Metal Gear, or anything by Yasumi Matsuno. Had I guessed at 2014’s list I would have struck out completely, which is disappointing because it means some of the games I was most looking forward to ended up falling short of my expectations. On the other hand, so many fun and surprising games appeared last year that I had no trouble filling the empty spaces.

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order)

Titanfall

Existing somewhere between Call of Duty and Unreal Tournament, Titanfall is one of the freshest first-person shooters I’ve played in years. The giant Titan mech suits, sort of a democratized version of other games’ killstreaks and vehicles, may be the feature attraction, but I found the parkour-inspired, out-of-mech movement system to be the real star. I quickly reached a point where I’d only climb into my Titan if I really had to—it was too much fun running on walls or discovering a new aerial route to the next objective.
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January 15, 2014

D.J.’s top games of 2013

D.J.'s top games in 2013

For me, 2013 was a year full of surprises, whether that meant discovering quirky games that hadn’t been on my radar, or realizing that the way I approached and enjoyed games had changed. It was a year when I tried to escape the constant stream of flashy new releases in favor of richer, less transient experiences. It was a year where I finally decided I had lost patience (for the most part) for overhyped, triple-A blockbusters that are too often just a different coat of paint on last year’s model. It was a year about learning how to play in new ways, learning how to die, and learning how to sew pants! These are my most unforgettable games from that year.

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order)

BIT.TRIP Presents… Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien

Emerging out of the original BIT.TRIP Runner on the Wii, Runner2 is firmly on my list of best sequels of all time. The solid running/jumping/kicking gameplay is back and expanded to make each stage (and, in turn, the intertwined soundtrack) a complete delight. While the original tended to be pretty unforgiving, Runner2 provides plenty of ways to tailor the game to your level, whether it’s a straightforward easy/hard setting, taking a more difficult route, or just opting to squeeze in fewer bonus-inducing dances—but why would you want to do that?
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January 15, 2014

Randy’s Top 10 Games of 2013

If there’s a common thread that runs through my favorite games of 2013, it’s that the traditional “console gaming” experience just didn’t cut it for me in 2013: a full half of my list is made up of portable games and two of the others are, at this time, available only on a PC. There’s only one console exclusive, no next-gen games, and not a single Xbox or Wii U game to be found. Based on this, I’m left to conclude that my favorite releases of 2014 will only be playable on a Texas Instruments graphing calculator or, God forbid, the OUYA.

Without further ado, here’s my list:

10GH10. Gone Home
My heart swells every time I think back upon my time with Gone Home: with zero on-screen characters, developers The Fullbright Company somehow managed to create an exploration-based game about music, family, youth, and perhaps most surprisingly, love. It all worked, too, in a way that these themes almost never work in video games. I was moved by how real the Greenbriar family felt to me as I wandered around their home; in a lot of ways, they reminded me of my family. Gone Home is, to me, an accomplishment simply because of how rare and intimate that kind of experience still is in gaming.
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March 8, 2013

D.J.’s top 5 Rock Band DLC songs

Rock Band

As we covered in Episode 90, Rock Band may be over, but the massive music libraries we’ve built over the last six years are here to stay. I thought I’d share a list of my favorite songs to play–which was actually turned out to be quite difficult since my original PS3 died late last year and I still haven’t gotten around to redownloading all my songs onto the new one. But anyway, these are some of my personal picks for whenever I feel like picking up that plastic guitar.

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January 15, 2013

D.J.’s Top Games in 2012

Soulcalibur V

#5: Soulcalibur V

It’s been an auspicious year for fighting games–can you imagine the reaction just a few years ago if someone predicted that in one year, we’d see new iterations of nearly every major fighting franchise? That’s exactly what happened in 2012, and I’ve got to give credit to the latest in my favorite fighting series: Soulcalibur. Despite some skepticism over new gameplay mechanics and a dramatically different character roster, SCV emerged as one of the series’ strongest entries and even appeared to gain back some respect from the arcade circuit. Best of all: No Star Wars characters in sight.

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January 14, 2013

Randy’s Top 10 Games of 2012

10. Deadlight
The folks at Xbox Live usually horde some of their best downloadable titles for their Summer of Arcade campaign. The headliner of 2012’s line-up for me was easily Deadlight, a 2D puzzle-platformer from Spanish developer Tequilaworks. Combining a visual style heavily influenced by LIMBO and gameplay elements reminiscent of Shadow Complex, you play as a survivor of the zombie apocalypse trying to navigate your way through the decimated remains of Seattle. Filled with challenging environmental puzzles and intense “run or die” moments, Deadlight brought a fresh perspective to the zombie survival genre.

 

9. Journey
What can be said about Journey that hasn’t been said already? It’s a game but it’s not. It features multiplayer but you can’t play it with your friends. It’s surprisingly moving, occasionally frightening, and very, very strange. Most importantly, Journey is an experiment in gaming that succeeds primarily because of the fearlessness of developer thatgamecompany.

 

8. Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack
The jury’s still out on Sony’s Playstation Vita but most owners agree that its gaming line-up was a bit slight in early 2012. Mutant Blobs Attack was an early Vita release but it remains one of the most fun and original experiences on the system. You play as a one-eyed blob who rolls along absorbing pieces of the environment and growing in size until, eventually, terrorizing the populace and attracting the attention of the military. It’s one of the most laugh-out-loud funny games of the year, filled with 1950’s B-movie tropes and a roster of evolving powers that allow your blob to dominate Earth.
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April 20, 2012

Four games under 20 dollars

Today is 4/20, so I thought it would be fitting to present you with a list of 4 games that can be had for under $20. This idea came to me naturually and I totally didn’t borrow it from anywhere else. I’ve intentionally stuck to disc-based console games that have dropped in price over time, as downloadable titles are typically less than $20 in the first place. All four of these are excellent games that I had a wonderful time with, each for different reasons, and they all offer a pretty decent chunk of content at a low price.

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February 20, 2012

D.J.’s Top PSP Games*

Fig. A: PlayStation Portable

*which are not named Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

The fancy, new PlayStation Vita might be launching this week, but we’re still looking back at a few of our favorite PlayStation Portable games, as we got into in Episode 41. Here’s my list!

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January 14, 2012

Paul’s Top 5 Games of 2011 (video)

Not much to say here, check out my video of my favourite games of 2011!

January 10, 2012

Matt’s Top Ten Games of 2011

There were some really, really great games in 2011. Here are a bunch of my favorites, followed by others that I also liked, just not quite as much as these top ten.

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

I want to be mad at Ubisoft for annualizing Assassin’s Creed and simply tweaking and enhancing the previous game, but it’s hard to get upset when I like the core game and its storyline so much. Revelations is, for all intents and purposes, more of the same. They’ve added a couple of things like bombs and the tower defense-style ‘den defense’, but really you’re mainly getting a new city to scamper around in and the continuation of the modern-day saga of Desmond. As the title implies, things are revealed, so if you’re a fan of the series you should definitely get caught up and play this latest iteration through to the end.

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January 9, 2012

D.J.’s Top Games in 2011

9 Persons, 9 Hours, 9 Doors

#5: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors

Although this actually came out towards the end of 2010, 999 struck such a chord with me that I’m happy to feature it alongside the best games I played this year. I haven’t played many visual novels (the closest maybe being Hotel Dusk: Room 215), but I loved that the game took its time building up an elaborate mystery which, despite the many unexpected twists, all seemed to make sense in the end. The ways the creator managed to incorporate genre tropes and even the DS format into the story and gameplay were nothing short of genius and had me scrambling to play the game over so I could experience it again from a new perspective. It’s like The Prestige of video games—the deception is right under your nose the entire time, but you’d never in a million years suspect it.

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January 6, 2012

Randy’s Top 14 Games of 2011

Why 14? There were just so many games that I enjoyed in 2011 that the standard 10-item list couldn’t contain them all.

14. Gears of War 3
I like the Gears series in a way that surprises even me sometimes. This installment brings some of the best new elements to Delta Squad’s seemingly never-ending war against the Locust, including refined shooting and cover systems, smarter enemies and a longer, more complex story line. It’s easy to dismiss Gears of War for simply providing more meat for the meatheads (which it definitely does), but I’ve always felt that there’s way more going on here: Gears 3 has a sense of finality and depth that’s hard to find in most games, let alone one about hulking soldiers mowing down hordes of alien foes.

13. L.A. Noire
We certainly did our fair share of complaining about L.A. Noire here at Video Game Hangover but it still stands out as one of my favorite gaming experiences of the year. The investigations and characters at the heart of the game are utterly unique, as is its 1940s Hollywood setting. Try to overlook the frustrating interrogations, strangely empty game world, or oddly-anticlimactic pacing and you’ll find something truly uncommon being attempted here. I can only hope that the inevitable L.A. Noire 2 addresses these foibles and delivers the game that this aspired to be.
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December 16, 2011

All I Want for Xmas: D.J. recommends…

HO HO HO, I’m here to “WRAP UP” our gamer gift lists for this year. Some of these are things I mentioned when we all discussed our lists in Episode 33, but there’s some new stuff as well, so read on!

Games for Non-Gamers

Portal 2

Trying to get someone into gaming? Valve’s Portal 2 might be the key. It introduces a lengthy co-op mode with hours of the series’s trademark puzzles and wry humor. For new gamers, the first-person controls might be a bit of a shock, but reassure your non-gamer recipient that they can ease into them at their own pace, since there won’t be mobs of angry teenage boys shooting at them over Xbox Live.

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December 13, 2011

All I Want for Xmas: Matt’s list

EXCLUSIVE! I wasn’t even on VGH33, so MY list of gift ideas for “obsessive gamers and pop-culture geeks” is ALL NEW CONTENT.  Now that I’ve pumped you up with an unnecessarily high level of hype, let’s get to the list. Should any of these great gifts pique your interest, just follow the links to find out more.

Uncharted: The Fourth Labyrinth ($10-$15)
Books are a form of entertainment that are printed on paper. You simply open the cover and begin reading the words that are printed on the page. Pretty radical concept, I know. Don’t worry though, you can ease into books by reading ones that are based on games! Some of my favorite games are the ones that (I think) have a strong narrative, so it makes sense that they’d be prime candidates for novelization. I don’t know much about the Uncharted book or the author, but I love the story in the games, so why not? If Uncharted isn’t quite your cup of tea, I’ve also heard good things about Dead Space: Martyr and Bioshock: Rapture.

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December 12, 2011

All I want for Xmas: Paul’s List

Hey hey everyone! It’s time for my list of awesome stuff to get me your special loved ones for Christmas! Instead of attaching images of the products themselves, I decided to let YOU dear reader know exactly how I would react if you bought me each item. Let us commence!


5. Movies/TV: Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Bluray set ($50 USD): I’m a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, so when the release date for the totally expected Extended Blu-rays was announced I circled the date on my Calender.  Of course once I saw the MSRP of the set, I proceeded to burn my calendar with some lighter fluid and matches. Thankfully, the price of the set has come down to a reasonable $50 and will even ship for free from Amazon. So who is going to do a back to back to back Lotr marathon this year? I sure am! Fly, you fools (to amazon.com to buy it)!

Lord of The Rings Reaction

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December 9, 2011

All I Want for Xmas: Randy’s List

As promised on VGH33, here is my expanded list of gift ideas for the “obsessive gamers and pop-culture geeks” on your shopping list.  Each is Linked to a site where you can find out more about the items and, in most cases, even buy them.

5. Alien Vault: The Definitive Story of Making the Film ($21)
This hardbound-and-slipcovered book traces the original Alien movie from concept to pop-culture phenomenon.  There’s a ton of never-before-seen material inside, including Ridley Scott’s storyboards, H.R. Giger’s alien concept art, and Polaroids taken on the set.  Nearly every sci-fi/horror hybrid over the last 30 years has borrowed elements from Alien; this gorgeous (and surprisingly cheap book) promises to show where it all began.

4. PlayStation Wireless Stereo Headset ($99)
Earlier this year, Sony introduced it’s own entry into the high-end gaming headset market and it’s been earning positive reviews ever since.  It syncs up easily with your PS3 and provides 10+ hours of battery life with Dolby 7.1-quality sound.  It includes a built in mic for multiplayer gaming but is also a great buy for folks who like to watch noisy action movies on Blu-ray.

3. Atari Arcade iPad Controller ($60 plus the cost of an iPad)
Atari’s Greatest Hits app ($10)
This is, essentially, a glorified dock for your iPad.  The reason I included it here, though, is because it’s got a joystick and 4 clicky arcade buttons built in.  Add the Atari’s Greatest Hits app and you’ve got access to 100 classic video games like Missile Command, Asteroids, Centipede, Tempest, etc.  The downside?  The controller only works with this one app, at least for now.  If you’re shopping for a retro-gaming connoisseur, though, (and they already have an iPad) this would make an awesome gift.

2. CD Box Sets:
U2’s “Achtung Baby” Uber Edition ($440)
Smashing Pumpkins’ “Gish” and “Siamese Dream” ($25 each)
The Smiths’ “Complete” ($65)
Music is probably one of the only things in the world that I obsess over as much as gaming, which makes these new box sets from three of my favorite 80’s and 90’s band must-haves.  U2’s set is ridiculous: it includes 6 CDs, 4 DVDs, 2 LPs, 5 7-inch singles, and a reproduction of Bono’s famous “Fly” sunglasses.  The Pumpkins’ sets are more modestly priced and includes additional discs of outtakes, demos, and even some re-recorded B-sides.  The Smiths’ set doesn’t provide much that’s new to hardcore fans but the packaging is brilliant: each album is reproduced on vinyl-style slipcovers with original artwork.  Put it in your ears!

1. Nook Tablet ($250)
Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline ($12)
Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter”  by Tom Bissell ($12)
All Your Base are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Video Games Conquered Pop Culture”  by Harold Goldberg ($12)
Some very cool new books about gaming culture have come out this year and these three are definitely among the most interesting and creative.  To take it one step further, I’d recommend reading them on Barnes and Noble’s new Nook Tablet, their rival to Amazon’s Kindle Fire and, in my experience, the superior product.  The new Nook features a gorgeous 7″ HD screen, a super-fast dual-core processor, as well as Pandora, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and B&N’s massive e-book library.  Gamers will also appreciate access to games via the Android Market.  Plus, it’s a really sexy little device!

Stay tuned throughout next week for gift ideas from everyone on the Video Game Hangover Team.  Happy Holidays!

January 17, 2011

D.J.’s top games in 2010

Splinter Cell: Conviction

#5: Splinter Cell: Conviction

I’ve admittedly played very little Splinter Cell prior to Conviction, but it was still easy to see how much of a departure this game was from the rest of the series. Instead of the calm government operative he was in the earlier games, Conviction’s Sam Fisher is a free agent calling his own shots, and it has a huge impact on the gameplay. Everything feels very organic and on-the-fly, and without your support team chattering in your ear all the time, there’s a great sense that you’re really on your own. The main storyline is short, but it moves along so briskly that I had a hard time putting the controller down, expecting another shocking twist to be around the next corner. Also noteworthy is the multiplayer co-op campaign, which serves as a prequel to the main story and has one of the most memorable finales ever.

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January 17, 2011

Randy’s Top 10 of 2010

10.  Singularity
A game that was released in late June and then, it seems, somewhat quickly forgotten about.  Singularity is an FPS in the BioShock vein, combining shooting mechanics with powers (in this case, a time-altering mechanic) that increase in intensity as the game progresses.  As an American marine who’s helicopter crashes on a mysterious island, you inadvertently cause a time singularity that results in a future world where the US is under Russian rule.  It’s flawed, but it’s fast-paced and has enough unique stuff going on to keep it interesting.

9. Picross 3D
This puzzler for the DS kept me coming back.  Breaking blocks to reveal the shape hidden inside sounds like kid’s stuff, but the challenges actually became quite nefarious as the game progressed.  There’s tons of stuff to do on this cart, including hundreds of puzzles, the ability to create and share your own challenges, and new downloadable grids each week.  Addictive and insanely fun.
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January 17, 2011

Paul’s Top Ten of 2010

#10 (barely…) Fable III (Note: this really should be the #1 worst game of 2010, why is it on my top 10? -Paul)

Dear Peter,

You make good games!!! So stop promising us that you’ll change the world with your projects! That way, a solid title like Fable III won’t be labeled a disappointment in some random blog post on the internet. Your team knows how to create charming worlds, with interesting gameplay mechanics, but can’t seem to grasp the technical side of game development. : ( I hope your feelings aren’t hurt and we can still meet for tea and crumpets some day.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Sandhu

P.S. Those are my initials! : – )

P.P.S. Please make sure you release your titles without game breaking glitches. It is kind of embarrassing when people have to restart their game because of clipping issues. When I say restart, I don’t mean reboot their console, I mean RESTART their entire game/save. That’s so 1996….
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