Or The “I’m Sorry You Came Out The Same Year As GTA5″Awards
So, Grand Theft Auto V comes out tomorrow and as expected, the critical community is losing its collective mind heaping praises on it1.That’s great for Rockstar, but this article isn’t about them. This article is about some of the other games that in any other year would have been a surefire lock for a Game of the Year or two. On a side note, how smart was Volition to get Saints Row 4 out a full month before Grand Theft Auto 5? Not only did they fill the gap when the lust for crime gaming would be near its peak, but they distance themselves enough to minimize comparisons between the two. Plus, they justified ingame glitches in the narrative. Let me say that again: they justified any glitches and bugs in the game via the narrative. Anyway, back to that list. In no particular order at all:
1 granted, Rockstar is still mitigating negative reviews and manipulating their Metacritic score by only giving the game to limited publications, but I can’t imagine anyone having anything too terrible to say.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Brothers is a difficult game to talk about. If I tell you what makes the game so marvelous, then I’ve in essence ruined your playthrough. Hmm. I’ll just say it is a somber tale of two brothers with a unique control scheme2 that hits some pretty poignant emotional notes and has a minimal yet effective story that is at some points (one point in particular springs immediately to mind) informed by the game mechanics. There is a very good reason people would not shut up about this on twitter and any other year this would be a lock for multi-platform game of the year. But alas, its short playtime (average about 3 hours) and the fact that the biggest game of our generation comes out tomorrow deffo bumps it from the list.
2 though if you’ve played The Adventures of Cookie and Cream3, not completely unique
3 if you’ve played The Adventures of Cookie and Cream, mad props for playing a highly underrated game
Here ya go. Next entry. (what do you mean that’s not enough? Ugh. Fine. Can I just drop in a block quote? Alright!)
Alright, so first off, let’s just nerd out for a bit. This game has one of the greatest stories I have ever played in my life. Never, in all my life, did I expect this game to be so enjoyable. From its characters, to its gameplay, to its artistic style, to its story, to its ending, and to just about everything else I can think of, this game blew me away.
Honestly, Bioshock is probably my favorite series (that I’ve never actually played4); I love the high conceptedness of it all. I mean, who makes a game based on Ayn Rand5? In all honesty, I can see some outlets (like the Escapist) giving this the nod over GTA5.
4 No you can’t pull my gamer card. I beat every Persona and SMT game except IV and all the Devil May Cry’s on their hardest levels, so there.
5 Also, why does Ayn Rand’s game get critical acclaim, while Nietzsche’s game barely sold? I miss you Xenosaga ;_;
Fire Emblem: Awakening
I’ve played a lot of Turn Based Strategy games. A whole lot7 when you consider I actively hate the genre. But, as you might have noticed, I do have a thing for a good female protagonist and Fire Emblem is one of the most gender neutral series I’ve ever played. Plus Lyndis. When I started playing FE:A, I was mostly hoping that it would at least keep me sort of amused or something. I dunno. Poor impulse control. Plus Nintendo was doing that buy SMT4 and FE:A and get $30 in the eShop deal, so I figured even if I did hate it, I’d have $30. Little did I expect this to be one of my favorite games of all time. If you like Fire Emblem, you already have this game and have skipped down to the next entry. If you like Marth and Roy in Smash Bros (or that broken monster Ike) and you wanted to know more about them, then this game is for you. Honestly, Awakening feels a lot like Star Ocean 3 in the sense that this feels like a capper for the entire franchise. There are call backs and homages and (if you are willing to part with about $60) you can get DLC that will give you all the heroes of Fire Emblems past like the aforementioned Ike, Marth and Roy8. Oh and this game is somehow simultaneously completely broken and a challenge. My Tactician and my Lyndis (damn straight I bought her) can cut a liberal swath through enemies but in some cases, depending on them solely has caused me to lose the mission.
TL;DR This game is awesome and totally my handheld game of the year, except…
7 both Devil Survivors, all the Disgaeas, Phantom Brave, Makai Kingdom, all the Final Fantasy Tactics and Advances, XCom and Fire Emblem GBA, Path of Radiance, Radiant Dawn, and now Awakening. Oh and the Arc The Lad series. I have poor impulse control. And I think I forgot a few…
8 that is assuming you can best them in combat…
Shin Megami Tensei IV
Of all the entries on this list, the more criminally under-appreciated has to be Shin Megami Tensei IV. To put this in persepective, I listen to approximately 60-70 hours of podcasts a week. About two-thirds are either gaming podcasts or frequently have gaming related discussion. Now of all these podcast hours, do you know how many times I’ve heard Shin Megami Tensei come up? Three. Do you know how many times it was actually discussed and didn’t have its name mocked? Once. One time! Shin Megami Tensei IV is already secretly the best game I’ve played this year and I’m only 15 hours in. A lot of people hold up Xenoblade as the best thing to happen to JS-RPG’s9 in years, but the real revolution is handheld. The 3DS has quietly been a monstrously amazing platform and SMT4 may well be its crowning jewel. If you don’t play anything else on this list, pick up SMT4. Ye,s it will curbstomp you, but don’t let that scare you! Adversity builds character or something. Argh! Just play it alright.
9Japanese Style RPG. It’s a thing I’m try to make happen
I just spent about 5 minutes looking through Google Images for a screenshot of this game that had some kind of HUD on it so I could prove that this is gameplay and not one of Orito’s beautiful paintings. I know people have been waiting for Nintendo to step their game up with the Mario franchise especially considering the tepid response to Super Mario Bros. U. Ubisoft has thrown down the proverbial gauntlet and told Mario to bring it, resulting in one of the finest platformers in recent years.
The Last of Us
Speaking of gorgeous games… Naughty Dog has been making amazing games with the Uncharted series for a while now, but man did they blow it out of the water with The Last of Us. There is a surreal beauty in destruction and ugliness and never is it so apparent than in this game. One of the hardest M’s to come out in a while, Last of Us is brutal in its violence and in the emotional impact of the story. If there is one title other than Bioshock Infinite that I can see taking a few GotY’s, The Last of Us is definitely it.
Beyond: Two Souls & Watch_Dogs
As for the last two titles that could potential be Game of the Year contenders, there’s just that: potential. Beyond: Two Souls looks like David Cage is finally getting to make that movie that he’s always wanted to make plus who doesn’t love Ellen Page? On the other hand, every single game has had some bizarre part that really doesn’t make much sense, or a super awkward sex scene (actually that’s almost a calling card now), or a place were the controls just completely break. Plus as interesting as the narrative can be, there’s also a pretty high tendency for the story to have gaping plot holes; something that doesn’t effect initial scoring, but might drag it down for game of the year considerations.
As for Watch_Dogs, everything I’ve seen of it looks good and if there was anything that makes me want a next-gen system day one, this is it, but I still don’t really know much of anything about the game. I’ve seen plenty of vertical slices of gam play that looks pretty awesomesauce, but Aliens: Colonial Marines looked good too. Not that any of it matters, because as we all know GTA5 is going to be game of the year :|
Any other obvious games I missed10? Let me know in the comments.
10Other than Tomb Raider, that is. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love that game, but it’s not a contender, sadly.