Here’s the list of games I played in 2010 placed in broad categories of my personal enjoyment. Due to Eve, a new house, and general busy-ness at work I’ve probably gamed the least this past year than any in recent memory. Also, there’s some 2009 games in here as Lockdown prevents me from playing holiday releases until the next year. Games are in no particular order.
The Great – My Favorites of the Year
- Batman – Arkham Asylum – The one game I played early in the year while home with Eve. Excellent fighting mechanics and really “got” what Batman is about. (X360)
- BioShock 2 – Great follow up to one of the best shooters of the decade. Still need to finish this one. (PC)
- Dawn of Discovery – Awesome city-builder. Great graphics and an interesting trade across the archipelago mechanic. (PC)
- Supreme Commander 2 – Best RTS this year. Moves forward and improves on SC1 in all the ways that Starcraft 2 didn’t. Excellent post-release support. (PC)
- Rock Band 3 – The pinnacle of music based games. Great improvements to the UI, the inclusion of Pro mode is very well done, and you can’t beat 2,000+ songs. I’ve spent 30 hours just on pro keyboards alone. (X360)
- Distant Worlds – Excellent AI viceroys make this real time 4x-ish game an interesting space empire ant farm. (PC)
- Pac-Man CE DX – Perfect marriage of sounds and graphics with enough gameplay twists to improve on Pac-Man CE. Best XBLA game this year. (X360)
- Civ V – Yes the tactical AI is questionable, yes there are significant changes from Civ IV. I don’t care, this is a great game with the best UI of any 4x I’ve played.
The Good – Worth My Time
- Tron: Evolution – Interesting story that ties in and gives you more background on the movie. Competent multi-player (lightcycles!). Could have used a little tightening on the gameplay. (x360)
- Shattered Horizon – Hardcore zero-g shooter. Beautiful and stark but the learning curve and the lack of variety on release were disappointing. (PC)
- Lead and Gold – Western shooter that is very good, but still a little empty and sparse. (PC)
- Lost Planet 2 – Many people were put off by how Japanese it is, but I loved the variety of the levels, the immense boss battles and all the pretty mechs. (X360)
- Tidalis – Big props for doing something besides the match-3 game, but I can’t get my brain wrapped around changing the path on the fly and got stuck half-way through. (PC)
- Mount and Blade: Warband – Great Medieval sandbox game hidden under a very slow start and obtuse UI. (PC)
The Meh – Don’t Bother
- Scott Pilgrim: The Game – I loves me some Paul Robertson, but this is just an old-school beat-em-up. (X360)
- Poker Night at the Inventory - Great dialog, love the characters, crappy poker game. (PC)
- Star Ruler – Sorry guys I see where you’re going and I’m glad you’re still working on it, but the game ain’t done. (PC)
I can’t remember the last time I purchased a boxed PC game from a retail store.* It’s just too easy to buy them from Steam online and get it downloaded directly to my PC. Twice a year, the other time being right before the new year, Steam puts on a big sale. It began today and goes through the 4th of July.
There’s some deals going on the whole time like all of Introversion’s games (Uplink, Darwinia, Defcon, Multiwinia) for $5 and daily deals for example in the next 13 hours and 40 minutes from this post you can buy Unreal Gold, Unreal Touranment 2004, Unreal 2, Unreal Tournament 3, and Unreal Tournament: GoTY for $13.60.
It is a time for me to go back and try out games I wasn’t willing to pay full price for, and the sale prices are a serious threat to my wallet, but so many games!
* I did get a few well appreciated boxed games as gifts last Christmas/Birthday, but I didn’t acquire them.
Here’s some thoughts on the games I’ve played in 2009 in executive-bullet-point style. Lists are in no particular order.
There’s some big games missing from this list. As you probably know my birthday is 12/24 and I have a reasonable amount of disposable income. So it’s around this time of year when all the holiday game releases come out that I’m banned from the store or else I ruin gift giving opportunities.
The Great - Highly recommended
- Warhammer 40k, Dawn of War II – Impressive twist on RTS conventions.
- Plants vs. Zombies – Tower defense with Popcap style. Fun casual game.
- Section 8 – Great take on class based multiplayer FPS. The next Tribes.
- Red Faction: Guerilla – One of my two most favorite games this year. Everything should blow up this good. Takes the crown of open world destruction from Mercenaries.
- Brutal Legend – Other favorite game. Don’t let Jack Black, Metal, or the RTS scare you. Great story, great gameplay. Try something different instead of Call of Duty 6 or Madden 10.
- Forza Motorsport 3 – If you’re a car nut, get this game. If you like Top Gear, get this game. If not, then get this game anyway and you will be.
- Sword of the Stars: Argos Naval Yard – My friends made the perfect send off for 3 years of expanding and tweaking a great game.
The Good - Not bad, worth your time
- Left for Dead 2 – New maps, new weapons, new special infected. $50 for something that could have been dribbled out through DLC.
- Shadow Complex – Metroidvania in 2009. If you like that kind of thing.
- Splosion Man – Silly puzzle platformer. Chuck Jones kinda style.
- The Beatles: Rock Band – Beautiful tribute to an amazing band. Refines the Rock Band experience even further.
- Torchlight – Methadone for WoW addicts, something to tide you over until Diablo III.
The Meh - Dissapointing, some redeeming qualities
- Puzzle Quest: Galatrix – None of the charm of the previous Puzzle Quest.
- Arma 2 – Massively ambitious, too bad it’s broken in many ways.
- Hearts of Iron III – See Arma 2.
- Empire: Total War – Big leap forward for the Total War series. Too bad the AI doesn’t know what to do with water among other problems.
No I’m not talking about crazy military people or low income housing. Since it’s me you should have guessed that Section 8 is the name for a video game. (Some gagdet would also have been an acceptable, but incorrect, answer.) I like all kinds of video games. About the only genres I don’t get into are sports and Japanese-RPGs. Probably the most popular genre is the First Person Shooter (FPS). Call of Duty and Halo are the two most well-known series in that genre.
As a mature genre (all the way back to DOOM and beyond 16 years ago) FPSs have a wide variety of subgenres. For me, I like a little strategy and thinking in my FPS and not so much of a reliance on reflexes. So Section 8′s gameplay is something I can really see interesting me.
Section 8 takes the standard team based and class based multiplayer subgenre and adds some new mechanics to streamline the experience. There’s perhaps to many to explain in detail so I’ll sum up:
- The role you play in battle is defined by your loadout. The combination of weapons, gear, and passive powerups makes for a wide variety of customization.
- Instead of spawning in to predetermined locations you “burn in” dropping onto most anywhere on the playing field from 15,000 feet up. Anti-air turrets block off areas, but it’s quite fun landing on the head of an enemy.
- Dynamic combat missions are semi-random missions that break away from the defend/attack the waypoints style.
- Deployable support allows you to set up defenses anywhere on the map.
- All players can move at vehicle speeds, which means no more camping the plane ala Battlefield.
If all that sounds interesting to you I’d recommend getting the demo from Xbox Live (no PC demo) or reading the interview on Tom Chick’s gaming blog. I prefer mouse and keyboard so I’m playing the PC not the X360 version. Perhaps I’ll see you online?
I spent the majority of my weekend and a good chunk of the end of the week working on home tech things.
- Ditched Time Warner Cable for ATT. Spent most of the day digging into the internal wiring of the house. Couldn’t find the drop for the phone line since I haven’t had a land line in over 6 years. Eventually figured out the wiring and connected. I’ve got a single gateway plugged into the phone line. The TV reciever/DVR is just a box connected over Ethernet to the gateway. 802.11g is built into the gateway so it takes the place of a wireless router as well. Xbox connects direct to the gateway and the rest of the house is on wireless.
- I’m very pleased with the Internet connection. I get ~10Mb/s downloads on speed test sites even in high traffic times. Streamed a movie in HD over the Netflix Xbox service with no changes in quality.
- Finally got some HD channels. My TiVo series 2 isn’t compatible with the service so I’m relying on the provided DVR. I’m gonna miss my TiVo.
- It was time to upgrade the wireless bridge in the office. D-Link has a nice 4 port bridge that can also act as an access point. Something wasn’t working right with DHCP over the bridge so I changed the two desktops to static IPs and everything is fine. Switched from WEP to WPA and was finally able to enable the Xbox as a media center extender.
- Cleaned out about 3 cubic feet of dust and grime from the PCs. My wife likes a clean desk so they go under, hoovering up all the fur and dirt. Wife’s PC had a cable blocking the fan for the video card. No wonder it was dying after less than a hour of use.
- I’d been getting disk errors on my secondardy 500GB drive for about a week. I noticed as I was testing after the cleaning that there’s a faint grinding noise coming from the drive. My drives are mounted vertically, moving that drive to horizontal stopped the noise.
- Went to Fry’s and bought a Seagate 1.5TB SATA drive for $120. That’s $0.08 per gigabyte! 7200rpm and a 30 meg cache so it’s got some throughput. Transferred all the data from the dying drive to the new one (about 300GB) and set up the same drive letter so no links are lost. Even with formatting I’ve got over a terabyte free.
To do list:
- Wife’s PC is still suffering the occasional hard lock. Nothing heat related and no traces in the event log. Virus scans and HijackThis come up empty.
- Bedroom TVs are still on Time Warner. Need to configure the gateway to push a TV signal over the co-ax connector. Cancel TWC before the next billing cycle if ATT keeps performing well.
- Shut down the TiVo and return the TWC reciever. In other words re-cable the living room entertainment center.
Wow, that’s pretty bad when the last two posts on this blog are the weekly Twitter summaries and only one tweet each. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say I’m just too lazy to type it up sometimes.
Anyway, I’m a sucker for the Warhammer universe. Add a little fatalism to your fantasy setting where the good guys are fascist and the bad guys will eat your soul. It got me to become that which has no life (i.e. joined an MMO) and the sci-fi Warhammer setting happens to be the best RTS out this year.
Warhammer didn’t start out with video games. As my brother can tell you it started out as a miniatures wargame. Well one of the little side games came about when some guys thought it would be fun to have the elves fight the orcs in a game of footbal and Blood Bowl was born.
Blood Bowl is a little more like rugby or Australian rules football than American. There’s no downs, you just run until you get to the endzone or fumble, or get killed. There’s a lot of violence when your center is a troll and your linebacker is a rat-man with spiked gloves. I find sports much more interesting when a legitimate tactic is to decimate the other team in order to score.
So a team in Europe took the board game with miniatures, squares, dice, and all and translated it to a videogame. This is my kind of Madden. Team budgets and management, seasons, divisions, tournaments, bribery, it’s all there. And the online leagues are a great way to get together a group of people for weekly trash talking and games.
Apologies in advance for the blatant advertising.
As readers know my friends at Kerberos Productions developed a space “4X” strategy game for the PC called Sword of the Stars back in 2006. Well amost three years later, after two expansions, numerous updates, and countless patches the swan song for SotS (the first) will be released next week. It’s a mini-expansion called SotS: Argos Naval Yard and it’s budget priced for $8.99.
You can’t really find SotS in stores anymore, but with their new publisher it’s out on all the major PC distribution sites like Steam, Direct 2 Drive, GamersGate and Impulse. In celebration of the final release of SotS (the original) multiple sites are offering some sales. As of this post you can get SotS:Ultimate Collection, which contains everything except for Argos Naval Yard, for $7.99 at GamersGate between now and the end of the weekend. Direct 2 Drive is offering a pre-order of SotS:UC and SotS:ANY for a sale price of $16.95. One can assume that Steam and Impulse will follow suit if you prefer those distributors.
SotS is a complex strategy game that I can’t recommend for everyone, but for less than a night out at the movies you can see for yourself what I’ve been doing as a hobby for the last few years. Let me know if you pick it up. I’d love to hear what you think and help out if you get stuck.
Yep, I am lost. I’ve joined the shambling ranks of massively multiplayer online role playing gamers (a.k.a. that which has no life). But I didn’t join up with the 11.5 million other people who play World of Warcraft. Nope, I’m rooting for the underdog and playing Warhammer: Age of Reckoning (WAR).
I’ll let you in on a little not-so secret. Sure you can trace high fantasy maintays like orcs and elves back to Tolkien and beyond, but before anyone had ever heard of Blizzard game studios a wargaming company in the UK made Warhammer which was a very dark fantasy world chock-a-block full of orcs, elves, dwarves, and men. They even spun off a sci-fi version for Wharhammer40k with space elves (Eldar) and a rampaging insect hive mind (Tyranids). The years later along comes Blizzard with Warcraft games (RTS before MMORPG) and sci-fi Starcraft games (Zerg = Tyranids) pretty much ripping off the style of Warhammer wholesale.
So I picked the muhmorpuhger that uses the more original fantasy setting that came out at the end of 2008 instead of the also-ran that’s been out for years and has may, many more people playing it. And I’m having a blast. My witch hunter on the Ostermark server is already up to level 12.
P.S. I’ll be playing WH40k’s Dawn of War II long before I’ll be playing Starcraft II.
Beyond the cut are a few sentences worth of my thoughts on mostly all the games of 2008 I’ve played. Listed in no particular order or preference. There’s already plenty of top X lists and games o’ the year out there.
If we didn’t need to restart the last chapter our run of the No Mercy campaign last night would have fit nicely into the 90 minute feature time limit. Adam, Lex, Matt and I battled through countless zombies (actually the count was just shy of 1,800) mowing through the horde and the boss mutated zombies until reaching the top of the hospital and calling in a rescue chopper.
Our last stand as the chopper came was a grueling 15 minutes of continual assault. As usual when the first tank (basically a movable wall) showed up we lost our cohesion but quickly regrouped. Lex was the first to fall right before we heard the rescue chopper approach. As we made the break for it I was quickly swamped and taken down. I was too far away so I told Matt and Adam to go on without me, I was done for. Adam was in the lead but he turned around to help Matt who got pinned by a smoker. His move turned out to be a sacrifice as it drew the attention of another tank. Matt saw an opening and leapt for the chopper not giving Adam a second thought to become the sole survivor that escaped.
I hope you’re happy Matt. Now you’re going to have to write three letters to our mom explaining how the sacrifice of her only boys allowed you to survive the zombie apocalypse. At least until Tuesday when we try again.