We are Super Couch and we are here to make you think about games and get excited and stuff! Seriously though, we're a couple of guys who write reviews and news stuff and other things about games we find interesting
-LW (caution- long rant ahead, you've been warned)
Okay, for those of you who aren't aware, a quick SuperCouch backstory. We started here on Destructoid some little while ago, right before the alpha phase of the new site that didn't exactly go over so hot, but hey, that's how those things go. Dan and I had written more than a handful of things and commented on front page stories and eighth page c-blogs because, well, gosh darnit, there's a real sense of community here.
And then came what we like to refer to as "The Purge". When everything came back up here on Dtoid, there was the notice that everything would take a little time to come back, but all would be well. So we waited. Nothing. Not only did none of our posts come back, neither did our comments, or our account.
That's right, SuperCouch had been erased from Destructoid.
Well, okay, no hard feelings, so we'll just start over. And so we have, with a handful of reviews, some lists, and an oddball post here and there, and our continuing support of anyone with an intriguing or different perspective on anything video game related. Like I said, we enjoyed the fact that just because your blog wasn't front page news didn't mean that people weren't going to read it and give you feedback on it.
But that's the thing, it's continually seemed like SuperCouch didn't exist. On a page of a hundred comments, I would expect to be overlooked, sure, but on a page of four or five, well, you know, maybe I'm just old-school in my line of thinking, but I like to acknowledge someone when they give a damn about whatever it was I took the time to write. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
"But Logan," I hear you exclaim, "why should people acknowledge you because you gibber some little troll comment?" Elementary my dear internet, because my comments are actually used to give some sort of coherent, dare I say almost intelligent, bit of response about how a particular story made me feel or what it made me or think, or something else of substance. But, largely they went unnoticed, but hey, the internet's a big, scary place where things like that happen. So I'll survive.
But then something really irked me. A week ago Dan posted a comment that was, admittedly, a bit trollish, but it was a Sterling article so it's all fair game. Really though, he just figured he'd poke fun at the giant ostrich face picture because that particular piece of news had been around on the net for five or six hours, and just now there was a Dtoid article up on it. Not a treatise or small novel, just a couple of paragraphs; so that ostrich had to be to blame. Well, damned if this kind of bigotry toward grounded aviation would go unpunished, and so in the middle of a page of a hundred odd comments, ours was deleted.
That's right, when we were finally noticed it was to be yanked down for trying to inject a bit of well-intentioned and obvious satire. But the powers that be would have none of that. Well, you know what, fine, whatever, we'll just deal.
Which brings me to what prompted this little rant of mine. The other day I had posted our Mortal Kombat review to great fanfare and widespread acclaim. Which is of course to mean that we had no feedback, as per usual. But no big deal, it's out there, maybe some people read it, maybe not, I don't know, but okay. Then on the C-Blog Recap I find it listed under "Fail". Well, as you can imagine my first response was pure nerd-rage, I'll be honest, but then I calmed down and just wondered "why".
Well you see, I've been a very naughty boy. My articles have also been going the that dirty little tramp that won't be named here. "Why Logan," I hear you exclaim again, "why have you been pimping your articles out to another video game blog?" Because I didn't realize signing up here was like signing over your soul. I didn't know there was some non-compete clause attached with the usage of the precious community space.
But I understand, though. I get it, because it goes back to that sense of community I talked about earlier. There was a faint ripple of betrayal in the waters, and you know what, I understand. Three hours ago I was ready to just put this site in my rear view and sign off with something quite a bit more colorful, but what would that accomplish, really?
I've already gone on and on about how it doesn't seem like anybody reads our articles, let alone gives a damn about our view of things, and that's not entirely fair, I admit. We've contributed our fair share to this community, and all we're asking for is a little bit of love in return; not so much to ask. Yes, I sent some of our articles elsewhere, but can you exactly blame me?
Well okay, maybe you can, but at least tell me that you blame me. Talk to me, say something, I feel like we don't communicate anymore. I just want validation for the effort I put into making you happy!
Really though, I love this community, mainly because it really feels like a community, and I just want to feel like I belong, like I have a place in this particular universe. Otherwise maybe, just maybe, one day, I'll write something really spectacular, the greatest thing ever written in the history of the internet, and you'll miss it. Now wouldn't that be a shame? There's be sad faces all around, much like mine when I don't think anyone reads me. I'm needy, sure, but I have cause- I write some fairly decent stuff, so you should read it. Really, don't make me cry, because that just looks horrible.
Okay, I have to do this, so just bear with me for one second, okay?? MORTAL KOMBAT!!
I feel better. Now then, on with it. Netherrealm Studios dives back into the storied Mortal Kombat franchise with a sequel/reboot combo, and man do they knock this thing right out of the park. The ladder, the tower, the story mode, the online gameplay, oh me oh my what a solidly put together package.
Let's start with the klassic arcade ladder. It's there, it's exactly what you'd expect, and it's a blast. Throughout every mode, the gameplay is fluid, easy to pick up, and more kreative than simple dial-a-combos, which is what makes every mode just so much fun. The ladder is simple enough, 7 random fights, then Shang, then a sub-boss, then the head man himself, and each character had their own, often tremendously kreative, ending. Exactly what you'd expect, and that's what makes it perfect- no unnecessary tweaking, no messing with a proven formula, just klassic arcade. But wait, there's more! MK also includes a tag-team ladder mode, and the tag-team kombat flows fluidly and allows for some fun and kreative match-ups.
I've always been fascinated with the story behind the Mortal Kombat series. It's so full, so vast, and so very, very detailed. The problem was that the narrative was never clear and never discernible unless you played through everyone's arcade mode and watched all of the endings and read all of the bios, but even then you never really knew what was really what as the next installment might rewrite canon all over again. The story mode in the newest MK flows in the same style as the story mode in MK vs. DC Universe, and tremendously thorough and cohesive. The story follows the first three MK games and provides an interesting look into the evolution of some characters with backstories not presented in previous games, for instance the pre-cybernetic Cyrax and Sektor. And don't worry about just getting the condensed version as story mode will take you about 8 hours. The only problem is that the cutscenes cannot be skipped or paused, which is a bummer. That aside, what might be a throwaway mode for a fighting game turns into an engaging and fabulously presented piece of gameplay.
And then we come to the challenge tower. A ladder of unique scenarios that are sometimes as komedic as they are kreative, ranging from 3 or 4-on1 endurance match to matches where your only attack is to throw your regenerating limbs at your opponent. Starting fairly easy, by the time you hit about 225 the difficulty has been ramped up to throw a solid challenge at you. Yes, I said 225. There are 300 challenges, and they will do their best to kick your ass.
There are, of course, also online modes for 1-on-1 and tag-team matches, but it's the added King of the Hill mode that I found to be tremendous fun. Your avatar (360) or a mini version of your fighter (PS3) are in a theater watching the current match and get to rate the winners performance, earning them respect points. There's also a nifty little easter egg code to hold up a lighter, silly, sure, but awesome in its own little way. There was a little bit of lag in some of the matches I was in, but hopefully that's just opening week massive traffic and gets ironed out very, very quickly. Enjoyable, solid, and very balanced, the online modes are very well implemented here.
There are also practice modes, one for standard gameplay (moving, striking, etc.) and one specifically to be a fatality tutorial, because lets be honest, they're not just a cornerstone of what makes MK great, but the animations have gotten more interesting and more brutal. The Krypt returns as well, bringing with it a slew of unlockables like secret fatalities, concept art, renders, and some music tracks. There are also alternate costumes and a couple of secret characters (one of which is possibly the most badass fighter in MK history) that are unlocked by completing story mode. PS3 owners also have their exclusive content of Kratos and the Olympus-themed stage, but DLC has been promised and I'm personally hoping for Motaro and Rain (that's right, I said Rain).
This newest, highly-anticipated entry into the Mortal Kombat franchise delivers a tremendous amount of kontent, solid and fantastic gameplay, all wrapped up with stunning environments and brutal kombat like the X-ray attacks in a package that I couldn't recommend more. What few flaws are there are tiny, but they do keep it from being a flawless victory, if only by a bit. Even if you're not a fan of fighting games, or if you're not really good at them, you'll enjoy Mortal Kombat.
Whew, been too long since Dan or I finished an article to post, but we didn't want to completely flood the internet with too much awesome writing. But now you've all had time to catch up and catch a breath, so here we go again.
Actually, Dan's swamped and I kinda hit a wall with what to write about without doing my eight hundredth and some-odd list, which led to this brilliant idea: a rant blog about, well, rants. I've been keeping up with a handful of the year's biggest titles, but didn't thoroughly polish them off to get a review out in a timely manner. If I'm going to get a review spit-shined and onto the web it should be done by Sunday of that game's week. (Following me?? Okay.)
But what about rants?? I had issues with some of the characters being a little beyond cheap in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 too, ya know! Somehow rushing out a two- or three-paragraph half-essay on why Sentinel should be banned or why only the "Normal" control scheme should be allowed for ranked matches just seemed like a mildly pointless drop in the ocean. Or the nerve of EA to say, "Hey, if you want to play Dead Space 2's multiplayer, that's great, so long as you bought the game new or are willing to pay 10 bucks for a code." Sorry guys, I Gamefly, so I'm not often going to put money into a game unless I really, really like it or decide to hang onto it. Not to mention that the multiplayer wasn't worth a Hamilton. Or what about Killzone 3's really disjointed story?? Again, it's like be the guy holding onto a splinter of the battering ram just so he could say he helped; no thanks, I'm going to try to find a ladder.
But that's what it seems like, anymore. Too often it's the same batch of blogs or forum posts on the same things. I'm all for community participation and discussions and groups of like-minded gamers banding together under the flag of their particular cause, defiantly waving their particular console/genre/medium preference and giving full voice to what they enjoy and expect in hopes of raising the quality of the products in the industry we all love. Sometimes you have to come up with some new ideas, though; can't just be another on a list of a couple hundred comments on a post about a redesigned character or over-priced peripheral.
I know rant blogs aren't all that original, either, but I wasn't going to do another list, not yet anyway. For such a passionate community, we seem to get stuck in ruts way, way too often- the same arguments, same issues, same debates that we can go over in our sleep. It's not all the industry's fault, either. Oh sure, sometimes some announcement sets up this cascading effect, an avalanche of what-have-you-that seems to spin itself around into something as familiar and tired as fanboyism or "evil Activision", but not always. Sometimes there's just a lack of creative discussion, there have to be more than four ideas about any one topic, but more often, and sadly, someone comes along and drops in a beautiful gem of a conversation piece, something to make us look at things in a different way or give us a different perspective, but it falls on deaf ears because the more pressing concern is the overly bombastic flame war raging on.
And that's our fault too, we can't ignore trolls even if we try. More often than not, we get so stirred up that we have to pick a side, we have to stake our hilltop on the battlefield. Once in a while someone injects a new point that's, well, different, but it almost always turns out to be the same stand-still, obscenity-laced, nerd rage-fueled tennis match that we're all tired of. And how often does that turn away people who were once so active in the forums or the blog community?? Too often.
So this is my challenge to all of us- really understand your point; be willing to concede ground on occasion, nobody's going to be right all the time; and if you absolutely must insult someone, at least make it creative for a change. I don't think we should be discussing Dragon Age II like it's Candide, but let's not have twenty comments of "the reviewer's biased" (if you don't like the review, write your own, but give it substance) and another forty of "not worth $60" (that's your standard retail price now for the most part, get over it; speaking to our U.S. community) and heaven knows how many of "the guy above me who didn't agree with me, you're -insert whatever stupid remark here-". We demand creativity in the developed product, so we should be creative in our feedback and our criticisms.
Some of them are ending a series, some are just continuing them, some we're not sure of, but this is the year for the third installment in many a triple-A series, and a few others besides. I'll take a look here at a handful of them (with some maybe unannounced or that maybe I missed) and what role they'll play in their respective series; if I'm not sure, that won't stop me from speculating the hell out of it.
Coming out in just a couple of short weeks is the next installment in Guerilla's Killzone series, purportedly picking up right where the second game left off. Killzone 3 is half of Sony's 1-2 FPS punch this year, and is their biggest entry thus far to feature Move support and 3D technology, perhaps being the sounding buoy for the latter. The story apparently picks up immediately after the end of the previous installment and doesn't appear to be a climax to the series. With solid sales figures and quite a bit more depth left to explore, expect the Killzone brand to hang around for a while.
The other half of the PS3-exclusive FPS pack, the Resistance series picks up its third chapter. The story follows Joseph Capelli, who, after his role at the end of Resistance 2, has hung up his boots and gone into hiding to escape the overwhelming Chimeran invasion. Due out in September, [/i]Resistance 3 looks to be Sony's next big step to combating the 360-exclusive (PC excluded) juggernauts of the [i]Halo and Gears of War franchises. Speaking of which...
Gears of War 3
The first definite conclusion on the list comes in the form of Epic Games' closing installment of the Gears of War series. Gears of War 3 looks to wrap up the hugely successful series with new characters, new enemies, new weapons, and more of the same enjoyable gameplay, but better. With playable female characters, a brand-new one-hit-kill-guarantee weapon, and an occasional mech suit, Gears 3 looks to be as fun as its predecessors, if not moreso, while drawing the story to a satisfying close.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
The next entrant into the incredibly successful, and phenomenally fun, Uncharted franchise is also the first on our list with a colon and a subtitle. Year after year, Uncharted sets the bar for visuals, story, and adventure gameplay, providing not only an amazing cinematic experience, but also something that is "Game of the Year" material every time, and Uncharted 3 looks to be no different. Almost nothing has been revealed about the storyline, but with the enormous popularity and success of the series, don't expect Uncharted 3 to be the end. Due out in November, the long wait provides ample time to save up for a 3D TV, as Uncharted 3 may just be "the game" for 3D.
Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds
Let the beatings continue. 11 years since the release of MvC 2, Fate of Two Worlds hits shelves in a little over a week, and all I want to know is where Mega Man is! Grousings aside, the roster features fewer characters than MvC 2 (36 as compared to 56) but the characters' playstyles all look to be fantastic and the story mode now promises individual endings. Couple that with the word that MvC 3 will play similarly to Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, and have Zero, all i can say is sign me up!
With a rumored, probable, but as yet unanounced fourth quarter release date, the long-awaited third installment in Blizzard's other, other big name series come home to PC. Bringing a random level generator, enhanced equipment settings, and five classes (including the Witch Doctor, he told me what to do), Diablo III promises a meatier and continually unique experience for each player, set 20 years after Diablo II.
Mass Effect 3
The grand finale of the tale of Commander Sheppard comes to us "Holiday 2011", and promises to bring the blockbuster series home to Earth and promises an intense ride. With reports of over 1,000 variables involved, players should expect to have widely varied experiences of this last entry into Bioware's magnum opus in space.
Following the genuinely bizarre ending to F.E.A.R. 2, F.E.A.R. 3 launches in May (after being pushed back from March because of the production time probably lost due to arguments over the logo) and has you controlling Point Man and Paxton from the original F.E.A.R. If even only the sheer creepiness from the first two remains intact, F.E.A.R. 3 will continue a year of enjoyable scary games that was kicked of by Dead Space 2.
This one might be considered a bit of a stretch, dropping in March, MotorStorm: Apocalypse isn't just the third MotorStorm game released on the PS3, it's also simply called MotorStorm 3 in Japan, so there. Really I just wanted an excuse to post that picture and say that Apocalypse looks like the most awesome MotorStorm yet, and if it's anywhere near as fun as the rest of the series, might be one of the best racers of the year. Hold onto your "Oh $#!^" hats, this is gonna be fun.
The quirky PSP rhythm-style series gets its third title in March, continuing from the end of its predecessor. Along with more realistic backgrounds there will be a greater emphasis placed on the multiplayer elements. With the "Pata-Text" multiplayer chat, Patapon 3 just might be the reason I finally snag a used PSP this year.
The next installment in the Stronghold series looks to take its gameplay back toward the original style and less like that of the second game. Firefly Studios' signature series has long been an enjoyable time-killer for me, so while I am looking forward to this one, it's not something too high up on my list for the year.
The Last Guardian
While not technically a trilogy, this is only Team Ico's third game, and The Last Guardian will no doubt be as much a spiritual successor to Shadow of the Colossus as that game was to Ico, so they are somewhat a trilogy (if you really, really stretch the idea). Regardless, The Last Guardian looks to be amazing, and with a fourth-quarter release date, the build up might just be intolerable for some. That is, of course, were it not for the release of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus: The Collection, arriving on March 31st (according to Gamefly).
Max Payne 3
I know, file this one under "probably not this year either", I mean, Max is even up there looking around for his release date. But tentatively slated for the end of the year, Max Payne 3 will probably (and hopefully) wrap up Max's story after being stranded working security in Brazil. I always had fun with the original two Max Payne games, but the sequel's poor sales have no doubt contributed to 3's back-burner status, and Take-Two's other interests may keep it pushed back for quite some time yet. I stay hopeful for a December release, though I don't quite see it happening.
Wow, what a year. 2010 was such a great year in gaming for us that it's taken us until February to get our "Best Of" lists together. I'll be going first in giving my winners for the last year, so kick back, relax, and prepare to find something you may not agree with.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Regardless of what complaints I've had about the previous installments (read, first AC was buggy as hell), the story has always been one of the most intriguing in recent memory. The setting, both place and time, have always personally fascinated me, and the intriguing characterization twists for historical figures like da Vinci and Machiavelli make it even more impressive. Ezio returns with the rest of the Auditore clan, bringing back some of my favorite characters. The story also includes more of Desmond's near future scramble to stop the end of the world, and makes him and the crew introduced in AC II more likable and with deeper character. It also throws a couple of genuine "holy $#!^" moments in at the end of each respective story, providing a fantastic experience.
God of War III “Hope”
Very few games, let alone series, have consistently pushed such grand, cinematic events like the God of War franchise has, and the end sequence to III delivers the perfect capstone to an incredible story. Anyone familiar with the myth of Pandora's Box could see from a mile off what card they were going to play, but it didn't take anything away from how well it was crafted. Kratos' distaste for the gods, living, dead, or otherwise, along with the constant internal struggle over the loss of his family, propel his final act of defiance, which provides hope to humanity, as an unintended consequence, of course. Well crafted, well pulled off, GoW III's finale will go down, in my mind, as one of the greatest ever.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game “Your Friends”
Gather round kids, let me tell you a little story. After months off and on of trying to finish this game, we wound up one night finally beating Super Gideon. What we didn't know was that this was only Gideon's first form, and it took us completely by surprise to face Gigadeon Graves, and a stroke of sheer luck to beat him. But wait, there's more! Another full level, and then finally the real Gideon. We were so close to the end, but we were out of range. Then Daniel resorted to what had become his favorite little trick, picking up my character and tossing me at him. And I'll be damned if that wasn't the blow that beat him. All game long we found it so convenient, and often accidental, and sometimes frustrating, to pick each other up and bash enemies all across the stage that it became another really fun component of one of the best downloadable games of the year, and one of the most fun experiences from a nostalgic standpoint.
Best “Holy S#*t!” Moment
Split/Second “Close Call”
Daniel stole mine, as you'll see one day when he finishes his list, and I didn't just want to copy him. But that's not to take away from the sheer "holy $#!^"-ness that was having giant pieces of a stage fall on you while you're doing 140 trying to get out from under it. The falling plane on the runway, the falling control tower on the runway, the falling bridges and other giant pieces of architecture...just awesome. Raises the heart rate, gets you to jump out of your seat and scream at the t.v., and even after you've seen it for the hundredth time, it's still awesome.
Best Boss Fight
Transformers: War for Cybertron “Omega Supreme"
The final Decepticon battle pits you against the largest Autobot on Cybertron who also, by now is pretty pissed off at you for trying to destroy it. With a myriad of cover-destroying weapons, Omega Supreme forces you to think fast, act faster, and aim perfectly in order to bring him down. Strategy is paramount in this last obstacle for Megatron, not only in learning Omega's attack pattern, but also in finding which weapons drop where, which weapons work the best, and knowing the difference in when to stand and take your shot or to run like hell. The attack pattern seems to randomize on the harder difficulty settings, making you rethink everything you might've thought before, but without making so hard as to be ridiculous.
God of War III
This game was made for HDTV. There's no question about it. Anyone (like myself) playing this game in standard definition is definitely not getting quite the full intended effect here. To see God of War III in shimmering 1080p is why high-definition was invented. Say what you will about the gameplay or music, but the visual experience of God of War III is astonishing. while the environments may be few, they are fabulously well-detailed and sometimes quite large. Watching Cronos in the middle of The Pit of Tartarus, seeing Hephaestus at his cramped, yet vast forge, or starting slack-jawed at the opening sequence of the Titans climbing Mount Olympus, God of War III sets the bar for visual amazingness.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game
Anamanaguchi rocks the chiptunes in the soundtrack for Scott Pilgrim in a big way. I love me some old-school game music, but there did come a point where it all seemed to blur into the same sort of note patterns. Not so with Scott Pilgrim; the soundtrack completes the nostalgia trifecta (visuals, gameplay, audio) perfectly and helps deliver a masterful experience while also reminding us of when we were 9 and shouting out instructions to the buddy standing next to us about who's gonna go after who and who's gonna keep the other minions covered. Not just that, though, the soundtrack is an amazing standalone collection that really rocks the house.
Best Voice Acting
Watch the very opening scene. That should do it. No seriously, go YouTube it, I'll wait. Back?? Fantastic. Kainé's dialogue never abates during the time she's around, which fortunately is a fair chunk of game time. It's not the language itself, but the tremendous over-the-top quality that is clearly intended that makes it so funny. Jamieson Price shouldn't be overlooked as Nier, but as he does deliver a tremendously solid performance, top honors have to go to Liam O'Brien as Grimoire Weiss. Who ever would've thought a talking book could have such dry wit, or be so funny?? O'Brien delivers a fabulous performance that makes Weiss an exceptionally likable character with just the right amount of balance between companion and smartass.
Nier was the kind of character who was just "that guy"; nothing special, no powers or elevated standing in the world, just a guy who wanted to cure his daughter and was willing to do absolutely whatever it took to accomplish his goal. Nier's determination, his great banter back and forth with Grimoire Weiss, as well as his willingness to help out anyone in his village in need help to make him a tremendously easy character to relate to and feel for. Nier is the everyman protagonist done right from his total fatherly devotion to his suspicion of his floating book companion's true motives show he's not a character of blind faith to be easily duped. Hardworking, intelligent, and steadfast, Nier is a remarkable hero.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game “Gideon (And All Of His Goddamn Forms!)”
He's big, he's bad, and now we beat him! Wait, what, there's another level! Dammit! What the *^%& is that! He's back! Yay, he's dead again! What!? Another stage!? C'mon man, you gotta be kidding! Okay, here we go, one last round. That was the general tone of conversation on our group's final playthrough for Scott Pilgrim, because no boss has really been able to piss me off quite as much as Gideon Graves while still being so well used. He was the perfect boss for a beat 'em up because even if you didn't know the storyline for Scott Pilgrim, by the end you wanted to beat the elitist looking ponce to a pulp just on principle! Gideon was the right kind of frustrating, not cheap, not ridiculously hard, but challenging in all of the right nostalgic ways to really make you want to do a happy dance after seeing his beloved Chaos Theater collapse all around him.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Here it is February of 2011 and I'm still playing BC:2 multiplayer (*note- not an FPS guy). Never have I had so much fun with multiplayer in an FPS game, thanks to the balance in the unlockables system, the fairly wide variety of loadout customization options, the large maps, and the destructible environments. DICE really hit the nail on the head here with something tremendously enjoyable, and enough variety per map that the handful of modes can still provide different experience for each match. And with the new Vietnam expansion, DICE just keeps on rolling out the online goodness to tide me over until BC:3. Take your time guys, I'm gonna be here for a while.
Most Disappointing Game
This game had so much potential for awesomeness. Liam O'Brien voicing War, Mark Hamill voicing his constantly nagging demon "handler" The Watcher, a post-apocalyptic setting where you play as one of the Four Horseman braving the armies of Heaven and Hell so that you can clear your name! But the gameplay fell so flat, so tragically, terribly flat that it overshadowed any chance Darksiders had as a real fun title. Your movement is sluggish, even once you're finally on horseback, the carbon-copy Zelda combat elements don't belong in this kind of game (I love Zelda, but be honest, the combat isn't what you come for), the Portal gun sections either held no challenge or were the hair-pulling kind of frustrating that can only come from very strained mechanics, and the actual story is tremendously uninteresting. It's sad, because I really, really wanted to enjoy this game, I wanted it to be up there in my Game of the Year list, I thought it was almost a no-brainer, but alas, Vigil Games needs to go back to the drawing board if they hope to put out a quality sequel in the next couple of years.
Top 10 Games of 2010
Cavia's swan song was a triumph of an action-RPG that publisher Square-Enix would do well to take notes from. First off, the floating book was voiced by Liam O-Brien, enough said. Probably more importantly overall, though, is the fact that Nier gets back to what it means to tell a story and to tell it right. Oh and by the way they threw in some very solid gameplay to go along with it. Building on the most stunningly fantastic opening scene in the history of video games right on startup, Nier lends itself to the old style of multiple playthroughs resulting in different endings that unveil more details about the world Nier lives in, but there is one very interesting twist that brings an actual real-life consequence for uncovering the entire truth, and only those bold enough to make that sacrifice will fully understand the consequences of Nier's actions, and in the age of simply going to Wikipedia to look it up anyway, you have to applaud Cavia's approach of fully investing in a story so as to disregard that and put faith in their product to the point that gamers will want to replay so thoroughly. I did, and I enjoyed every playthrough. Nier really is a study in storytelling, and I'm saddened that there won't be a sequel.
This game isn't on here simply because of the over-the-top sexiness, but it sure didn't hurt. What really put it up here was a very well put together gameplay flow that made us remember what fun the old Devil May Cry games were before they got all stale and halfway done. The story is just the right kind of way out there conspiracy, and the battle against their particular deity at the end caps it off very nicely. It's definitely fun enough to warrant some extra playthroughs, particularly for anyone looking for a challenge (the "Infinite Climax" difficulty will tax even the most skilled gamer). Bayonetta is the kind of game, along with Platinum Games' other entry on the list, is a reminder that games don't have to have a multiplayer component in order to be high quality titles.
8. Dante's Inferno
Yes, it's a very highly stylized re-imagining of the source material, what did you expect?? I'll tell you what I expected, fun. And man did Visceral Games deliver. Albeit Dante's Inferno is a bit short, the gameplay is tremendously fun. Wait, what's that?? It's a God of War clone except with a Christian basis of sorts instead of ancient Greek myth?? So what?? It's an incredibly fun game, get over it. Not to mention the level of detail put into the designs of different levels and enemies. The different circles of Hell are very, um, thoroughly represented and Visceral pulled absolutely no punches in terms of content or graphic displays, as well they shouldn't have; it is Hell, after all. With a solid combat system that varies slightly enough to not be a "direct" God of War clone, properly disturbing scenery, a fairly decent story, and one hell of a boss battle towards the end (see Daniel's "Best Holy Shit! Moment), Dante's Inferno is a fun, fast-paced ride that leaves you wanting Visceral to adapt the rest of the Divine Comedy, which it seems like they are going to do.
7. Transformers: War for Cybertron
I was so hyped for this games simply because I was promised that it wouldn't suck like most of the Transfromers video-games have, and I was not disappointed. Both Autobot and Decepticon campaigns are fairly beefy and extraordinarily fun to play, certainly worth going back through again and again and would make this a great title just like that, but the added multiplayer vaulted it up into the top 10. Simple, yet habit-forming good, WfC's multiplayer really lets you utilize the strengths of your favorite Transformer, along with some added customizations, through quite a wide selection of modes ranging from Deathmatch to Conquest to King of the Hill. Escalation, however, is probably one of the most fun modes. Essentially the Transformers version of Horde mode, Escalation is so ridiculously fun and the strategies vary wildly from map to map. High Moon Studios did an incredible job and I'm really looking forward to the sequel slated for sometime in 2012.
6. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2
I had absolutely no knowledge of what the Naruto anime was about, but I'd heard a lot of people say that this was a fun game and I enjoyed the demo, so I thought I'd give it a try. In the surprise of the year, I found myself hooked on the gameplay right from the start. I'm not one for fighting games, but the mechanics in UNS2 made it easy to learn, incredibly fun, and the team-building combinations are vast enough to accommodate any style. I didn't pay much attention to the content of the story, as it evidently picks up far, far into the anime, but it was paced out well and hit all the right notes to go with the mood, picking up steam in a huge way toward the end. There are also plenty of side quests to compliment a fairly lengthy story mode, making the 30 hour gameplay trophy not as crazy as it might originally seem. The biggest kicker, though, was the multiplayer, both ranked and player matches. Being able to sort by similar level was a great way for me to get started, but once I was comfortable and really found my groove, sorting by connectivity became a much better option (some really laggy matches, but that happens sometimes), and anyone looking for a challenge can sort by more advanced players, if they dare, and of course you can always host your own match and see who decides to drop in. I definitely didn't see this coming, but UNS2 was a fantastic game that I recommend whether you know anything or care about the anime or not.
5. God of War III
The genuinely epic saga of Kratos comes to a spectacular close in God of War III. From the twisted styling that shows you beating down Poseidon through his own eyes, to the final confrontation with Zeus, to a tremendously well played-out ending, God of War delivers on the right notes. Although seemingly the shortest of the series, III crams in quite a bit of content, a lot of tremendous boss fights, and a great story that really ties everything together, not to mention the most amazing visuals to date. The challenge mode seemed too much easier this time, though, which was a pinch disappointing, but the main story is fun to go back through again either for trophy/achievement hunters or simply for the fun of it. SCE caps off a very unique twist on ancient Greek myth with a solid title that definitely adds to the roster of great PS3 exclusives.
4. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Wait, Logan, an FPS in your top 5?? What's the world coming to?? It's coming to ridiculously fun multiplayer coupled with a decent, albeit sort of rushed and short campaign, that's what. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the single-player in BC2, it was fun, engaging, and it presented characters that it was easy to connect with and care about, it just wasn't really spectacular. Not bad, not at all, just not quite amazing either. Call it "great". There, happy?? Okay, so then there's the multiplayer. I had never before played online multiplayer so much, particularly in an FPS. I kept BC2 from Gamefly for a month just to keep playing this multiplayer. The maps are a great mix of medium size to "whoa that's a pretty big freakin' map", the unlockable system is well put together, the customization options are great, and the players always seem to be having a blast. Rush and Conquest modes were fantastic, but I was hooked on the good old-fashioned Team Deathmatch. 4 teams of 4, destructible environments, tanks, rockets, great sniping positions, the fun just never ever ends! Had the campaign been amazing, this might actually have made #1, but that being said, it's a very solid all around package and has the best FPS multiplayer I've ever played. (Which makes me wonder what happened to DICE when they worked on Medal of Honor; not so much fun)
Vanquish was, to me, that kind of "where did that come from" title in 2010. I loved Platinum Games already for Bayonetta, so I was very interested to see what they were going to do with this. While it can be argued that the story may be a thin sort of sci-fi cliche and the characters could use a bit more polish, the gameplay far and beyond outshines any possible flaws (and the opening cutscenes has people exploding from a space microwave, how much mroe awesome can you get!?). The constantly fast-paced adrenaline rush that Vanquish delivers only slows long enough to let you catch your breath and the end of some stages before it throws you back out into its sweeping current of third-person shooter awesomeness. There's also a challenge mode included which puts you in one of a handful of settings from the game and turns lose five increasingly difficult waves of enemies, just in case you crave more action after you finish out the story mode. And believe me, you will.
2. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
I was very skeptical about the quality of the single-player experience in what seemed like a rush job by Ubisoft to push out a follow-up product with some tacked on multiplayer; I was never happier to have been proven wrong. Brotherhood delivers a fantastic AC story with intriguing new gameplay elements (like training your own guild of assassins to help you during missions, if you choose) that screams that Ubisoft really knows what they're doing here. The multiplayer also turned out to be a very simple, yet addictive feature that had me truly impressed. While the gameplay elements are essentially the same across the different modes, the dynamics of being in a team of hunters trying not to be seen or prey trying not to get caught make for a nice twist, as does the two-on-two-on-two setup in the third mode, making a nice circle of predator and prey which forces you and your partner to balance hiding and hunting. Brotherhood was a tremendously well-balanced, well-designed, and well-executed mid-step in the series that makes me expect bigger and better things with AC 3, and it also let's me know that Ubisoft doesn't intend on disappointing.
1. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game
Oh how I've missed good 16-ish bit beat 'em ups! Drawing from one of my favorite graphic novel series, SPvTW: TG delivers a nostalgic rush that works so well off of the inclusion of old-school video game elements in the original graphic novels (it's enough to put you on a mobius strip). The gameplay works just like you'd expect, but that's part of what makes it so fun and addicting. Including an unlockable boss rush time attack mode and a survival horror mode pitting you against an ever-growing zombie horde for 30 minutes, the fun never seems to stop! If there's any drawback at all, it's the lack of online co-op, but there's still nothing quite like sitting in a room with a couple of friends shouting at each other and the t.v. just like back in the old days (see "Best Item" anecdote). The biggest draw for me was originally how fun it was, the little hands-on time I had at first; then after reading through the series (and loving it!) I bought the game myself to dive into and I never wanted to come up for air. It's a fantastic translation from a video-game-influenced comic to a comic-influenced video-game that brings back all the good memories with a rocking soundtrack by Anamanaguchi that's just icing on the cake.
Being SuperCouch, we like to get off said couch as little as possible. After all, we're mostly about gaming (and collecting priceless Chinese porcelain dolls). However, movies are my other favorite pastime. Sadly, 2010 was somewhat of a lackluster year in film, especially in comparison to the last few. There were still some great shining gems amongst the turds, though, and I find it proper to spew out my personal ten favorite flicks of this year.
Walk with me.
10. Exit Through the Gift Shop
If there was one genre that was in full force this year, it was documentaries. Winnebago Man, Restrepo, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work; all great films. But Exit Through the Gift Shop was a fantastic example of creative filmmaking and style, as well as a great insight into many different graffiti artists and what goes into their work. The crazy works and stunts that Banksy pulls in the film are amazing to see, and the whole film carries a secretive "you're not supposed to see this" vibe that adds to the artist's mystery. Also, Shepherd Fairy.
9. The King's Speech
The minute Oscar season started, The King's Speech rolled into town, and it did not disappoint. Filled to the brim with amazing performances, a well written script, and memorable scenes, the film is a delight to watch. It's amazing that Colin Firth can churn out Oscar-worthy performances two years in a row (he was fantastic, and nominated, in his role last year in A Single Man). Geoffrey Rush, as linguist Lionel Logue, has been long overdue for a film that really lets him stretch his acting chops. And Helena Bonham Carter, well, is very good too (which is great since I has disliked her for some time).
8. Toy Story 3
After Pixar's amazing last outing, Up, I wondered if Toy Story 3 was a good idea. After all, the first two are great by themselves, and third entries (in film anyway) tend to not be so hot. Pixar proved me wrong with what might be the best Toy Story film yet. It was great to see these characters I grew up with again. The story was satisfying, doing a good job of capping off the trilogy (but leaving it open if they want to do more with these characters). The humor is spot on, the action is exciting, and the animation is just as great as you would expect it to be. A great film to add to Pixar's solid lineup (that is, until Cars 2 next year. Ugh).
7. Piranha 3D
Hold on a sec! Stop! I know what you're thinking. You're probably one of the people who saw this and thought "Piranha 3D? Didn't that movie suck?" My answer is a resounding " Hell no!" Piranha 3D is everything I could have wanted out of a schlocky horror film. Last year's My Bloody Valentine remake got close, but this film hits the mark excellently. Gore, humor, boobs, more gore, more boobs. The 3D was fantastic and used in all the right spots, which is more than I can say for many other films this year. With a wink and a nod (and a 3D barfed-up penis), Piranha 3D was some of the most fun I had in a theater all year.
Way before Mark Millar's comic, the concept of real superheroes was explored. Kick-Ass used that same concept, but made it hyper-violent. How does one turn the comic into a watchable movie? Luckily, director Matthew Vaughn knows how to balance violence and a great script. Kick-Ass is smart, bloody, and immensely entertaining. The violence is toned down from the comic, which makes room for more character development. The casting is spot on, with Nicholas Cage turning in a surprisingly fun role as Big Daddy. Aaron Johnson is a great lead, and ChloÃ« Grace Moretz is a crowd pleaser as Hit Girl. It feels odd taking such joy out of a film where a child is killing hand-fulls of men, but who really cares when it's such a fun ride.
5. Black Swan
With all the talk of director Darren Aronofsky doing The Wolverine, his most recent limited release almost passed me buy. Good thing I caught it, as it's an incredible film. Natalie Portman blew me away with her turn as a uneven dancer who attempts to get the lead role in a ballet production of Swan Lake. Just as surprising in Mila Kunis as her rival, who is great on all accounts. Gracefully woven with that familiar touch only Aronofsky can deliver, Black Swan is a crazy, wonderful production.
4. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
I really cannot say what hasn't already been said. Edgar Wright has made what might be the funnest movie of the year. The film is so sugary sweet, so delightful, I was rather sad when it was over. Consistently funny, with plenty of gaming nods (not too many to overdo it). The casting is great here, with a big surprise from Michael Cera (who I originally was unsure of in the role), and a very cute Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The film is a ADD-fueled ride that is worth taking many times over.
3. True Grit
I was a bit surprised to find two remakes in my top ten this year, but True Grit definitely earns it. The film feels like classic movie making at its finest, with the Coen Brothers crafting a fine western that in many ways surpasses the original John Wayne film. Jeff Bridges, who won Best Actor last year, is flawless as "Rooster" Cogburn, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld is fantastic as well. The Coen Brothers' eye for quirky characters and beautiful environments shines here, making True Grit a worthy western.
These days, anything put out by Christopher Nolan is a sure bet to be a good film. This year he went above and beyond and made Inception, one of his best films yet. The story is complex, but nonetheless entertaining, taking multiple viewing to figure out. The characters are instantly relatable and fun, especially the scene-stealing Tom Hardy. And, as in all of Nolan's films, the set pieces are extravagant. It took me awhile to figure out that Inception is not an action film, but a heist film. Only in the future. And using dreams. And with zero gravity spinning room fights. And it's awesome.
1. The Social Network
It was a tough choice between Inception and The Social Network as my favorite film of 2010, but after viewing both film agains my choice became clear. David Fincher's film is one of the best written movies I have seen in a long time. Aaron Sorkin's script is impeccable, with just the perfect amount of wit, mixing humor with realism. The film is constantly entertaining, with an amazing cast to back it all up. Not going to lie, I used to despise Jesse Eisenberg, but he is marvelous here as Mark Zuckerberg. The film doesn't attempt to pull a lot of punches, but instead tells a good story. And that is part of what makes the film so good.