Biggest Disappointment of 2013

April 11, 2014

2013 was awash with disappointments for many. Even titles that weren’t absolute failures still left a little something to be desired, whether that be a smoother online launch or a more consistent gameplay experience (non-coincidentally, that’s my miniature-review of GTA V). Then there are the titles that every gamer thought they knew what to expect, assured by the continuing development (or lack thereof) of previous series entries that 2013’s rendition would surely match that same level of production value and cheap amusement. There really is only one series I could be talking about right now so let’s controversially get on to it. The biggest disappointment of 2013 is:

Call of Duty: Ghosts

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Call of Duty has always been fun. Some renditions have used a moderately enticing plot or interesting characters to enhance the experience but realistically the only reason to play any CoD that has ever existed is for the dumb fun of it all. As a one-man mute legend you kick the butts of foreigners and care very little for any ramifications. Fun. The development team behind Ghosts seems to have taken the universal call for series innovation as an invitation to break the mould of enjoyable, operational and logically-unchallenging CoD fun and create a greatly underwhelming experience ripe with poor decisions, predictability and ill-chosen parallels to greater stories that helps to taint the entire 10 hours that could possibly be milked from two discs with a bad taste that remains, even into 2014.

No one ever promised CoD: Ghosts would be any good, but there was some expectation amongst most that it would at least provide some brainless, cathartic enjoyment, as CoD has always done in the past. That this promise was broken and what was delivered to my TV set proved to be boring from start to finish and even beyond is what makes this the biggest disappointment of 2013. Be proud, Infinity Ward, Raven Software, and Certain Affinity, for developing a title even one of your dearest defenders despises. Of course, congrats to Activision aswell. Admirable work.


Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

March 18, 2014

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The word Castlevania exists almost separate from the video game industry today – it represents one of those seriously long-lasting series that has been consistently produced for almost thirty years now; yet Microsoft Word still fails to recognise it as an acceptable word, the bastard. As the 35th instalment to the franchise, Lords of Shadow 2’s worth of carrying such a huge name from the past onward through modern gaming is questionable, coming from a first-time-Castelvania-player yet many-time-reviewer. Standalone or part of a huge series, C:LOS2 is a fantastically fun experience, even if it leaves far too much to be desired for in the realms of creative writing and level design.

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Best Narrative of 2013

March 12, 2014

A beautiful story and intriguing characters are optional extras in the video game industry that represent huge challenges to a development team as well as assets to the player experience. Making the effort to write an original script and present it artistically doesn’t always translate to a better product, and, if tackled at a bad angle, can work against the title, ending in a sprawled mess of confusion. When a team gets this right it only suits that they are suitably respected, even if that is from a person with qualifications parallel to those of a desk chair.

Nick’s introductions are so much better than mine.

The winner of Best Narrative of 2013 is:

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Best New IP of 2013

March 11, 2014

The award for Best New IP of 2013 goes to:

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Best Laugh of 2013

March 10, 2014

Awarding the Best Laugh of the Year is a delicate business, with humour in video games a bit of a tricky thing to nail just right – if the jokes are too obvious it’ll come off as obnoxious and cheap, too subtle and they’ll be overlooked altogether. Do you target sly, sophisticated humour or go for cheap gags? There have been fantastic games that do both, and I’m a little embarrassed that this year’s winner is a form of the latter. It’s still fucking hilarious though.

The award for Best Laugh of 2013 goes to:

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The Novelist

March 7, 2014

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With games such as The Stanley Parable, Gone Home and Dear Esther finding their way into mainstream gaming, a new genre has begun to emerge. Some argue that perhaps interactive story would be a better label than ‘game’ for these titles, while others file them under the broad adventure game heading. Whatever you wish to call them, they have a new member among their ranks: Orthogonal Games’ The Novelist, a tale about a family living by the coast and the hardships they must overcome to keep their relationship in one piece.

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Titanfall Beta

March 3, 2014

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The beta for Titanfall appeared a couple of weeks ago, and accompanying this upcoming addition to the well-flooded online FPS market are high hopes for Respawn Entertainment to initiate the much-needed ground-breaking innovation to the market. For that reason, the beta was a bit of a big deal; a pre-release taste test could have easily dissuaded some from making a full-price purchase if it underperformed. It is fortunate then that the beta proved to be the most entertaining first-person experience of recent years. Let’s just hope that entertainment may fester for longer than a weekend.

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Edna & Harvey: The Breakout

December 30, 2013

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It may surprise you to learn that during the rare moments when I’m not gaming and/or getting deeply emotionally invested in the lives of fictional characters, I’m a psychology student. Apart from leading to many “hilarious” jokes about me psychoanalysing my friends one day, my interest in psychology means that when I saw that Daedalic’s 2011 title Edna & Harvey: The Breakout was set in an asylum, I was cautiously optimistic. It’s not often that mental illness plays a role in games (explicitly, anyway), and when it does it’s usually used as an offensive way of explaining why a bunch of goons are flailing wildly at your face, so I hoped that this might be a fun change that I could really get behind. When I actually started playing, however, I became a little glad that the optimism had only been cautious.

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Call of Duty: Ghosts

December 16, 2013

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If you’d have talked to me a month ago, I would’ve passionately defended gaming’s whipping boy Call of Duty. While the series seemed to trip up a bit with Black Ops and Modern Warfare 3, last year’s sequel to the former by Treyarch was a true return to form, both in the incredibly popular multiplayer game mode and the once-popular-now-oft-forgotten single-player campaign. Additionally, a couple of years ago, I would have condemned Treyarch in favour of the all-powerful Infinity Ward, the company behind some of the greatest PC games of all time.

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Pro Evolution Soccer 2014

November 29, 2013

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Matt’s note: I tried something that most review sites didn’t do for PES, and that is give the review to someone who’s not much of a football fan. So much so that’s he’s calling it “soccer”. Pleb. I wanted to see how much fun it’d be for a non-football fan and, of course, I played it myself to see how it’d be for a serious fan and long-time football gamer. For that reason, I’m going to write a paragraph or two of my own thoughts as a hardcore football fan with my own score, and then average the scores out for a fair analysis of the game.

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