Archive for December, 2008

Best of 2008 Vote

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OK, everyone: the ps3blog Best of 2008 vote. Write your votes in the comments. They will be tallied and reported in a week.

Criteria

Any voted game must have had a western (US/Europe) release in 2008. Japan only games released in 2008 (such as White Knight Chronicles) are not eligible.

Best Narrative/Fiction

Not just the best premise, but which game had the best characters, dialog, pacing, immersion, and emotional impact.

Biggest WOW Factor

Not necessarily the most technically sophisticated, but which game shows off the biggest, from the gut, “wow” effect.

Most Innovative

Which game broke new ground and pushed the boundary of game design the furthest? Which game will be copied the most in years to come?

Best Multiplayer

Which game had the best local or Internet multiplayer?

Most Overrated/Overhyped

Which title was hyped way beyond expectations or is rated far beyond the actual quality delivered.

Most Underrated/Underhyped

Which quality game was overlooked and didn’t get the recognition it deserved?

Best Surprise of the Year

What was the best announcement, unexpected game, or other surprise of the year?

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

What was the biggest disappointment: either the most disappointing game, missing feature, lost exclusive, slipped release date, etc.

Best Party Game

Which is the best game for having a group of friends over.

Best Downloadable Game

What is the best downloadable game. We will count full-sized downloads and games that were distributed via disc and download (such as GT5:P and SOCOM)

Game of the Year

This is the big one: which is the all around best game of the year. The criteria for “best” is somewhat open to interpretation: it can imply any combination of accessibility, addicting, longevity, value for the dollar, technical sophistication, production values, thought provoking, emotional impact, or design innovation.

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18 Comments

Dead Space Impressions

Dead Space is a horror/suspense 3D shooter. How good is it? Read on…

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Pros

  • Presentation: All the little things are just so beautifully presented. Even things like accessing the save terminals, opening your inventory, or unlocking a door is just beatiful.
  • Animation: All the animation is consistently excellent. Worth mentioning are some really spectacular death animations when you are killed by monsters or environmental hazards.
  • Variety: The creatures, the combat, the weapons, the environments, the hazards, and the bosses all feature extensive variety. This game has variety in spades.
  • Narrative: This is at the high end of video game writing. The level of narrative quality is comparable to other excellent games such as Uncharted or Bioshock.
  • Bosses: This has the best bosses of any shooter I’ve played. They’re unique, they all have some hidden trick to them, but they are all beatifully done, and fun to play.
  • Art Design: Most of us have already seen millions of space ships, space marines, and aliens over many different games. For such routine subject matter, the art team really ran with this one. This game features the most unique and beautiful designs for it’s environments, weapons, and creatures. This game is jam packed with extremely stylish and well designed artwork.
  • Unique: This game features tons of unique touches for a shooter. The upgrade system, the bosses, the limb dismemberment centric combat, the weapons, the zero-grav sections, etc..
  • Weapons: While most other shooter tend to feature the same type of weapons, this weapon selection stands out from the pack. Most weapons are designed to cut and slice rather than just poke holes.
  • Quantity: They didn’t skimp on this title. There is a high quantity of quality content to experience.

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Cons

  • Nothing: This isn’t the perfect game or even game of the year, but it really nailed the genre that it is in. There are really no outstanding flaws.
  • DLC: OK, if I had to pick a negative, it’s the DLC. This isn’t a big negative, just don’t buy it and problem solved, but it’s junk-ware DLC: just a new set of skins separated into approximately ten different packs for $3 each. I’d rather they not clutter the store with this kind of thing.

Bottom Line

Previously, I would have said Resistance, Bioshock, and Uncharted ruled the single player action adventure shooter genre. Those three are still phenomenal games, but Dead Space easily takes the crown. It really is that good.

This game has the variety and animation of Resistance, the narrative experience of Bioshock, the graphical presentation of Uncharted, and artistic design and bosses that are unmatched. This is a very polished product, and I would say it’s the perfect solo action adventure title for 2008.

3 Comments

Fallout 3 Impressions

Fallout vs Oblivion

Fallout and Oblivion are very different style of games. Personally, as a huge Fallout fan, and an Oblivion hater, I was nervous that I was going to get more Oblivion than Fallout. Oblivion felt like like it came out of a random fantasy RPG generator: the story, stats, towns, and quests all felt completely generic and uninteresting to me.

I previously said that I would rather play a game by the old Fallout team using the Oblvion IP rather than the Oblivion team using the Fallout IP. I was wrong. Bethesda nailed it. They authentically captured all the magic and personality that made Fallout 1 + 2 great, and they evolved the whole experience further.

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Pros

  • Decision Trees: There are tons of decision trees to this game. Beyond basic good/evil decisions, there are tons of dialog trees and optional questing routes to take. I love this mechanic and wish more games would use this.
  • Flexible Game Progression: All game missions and objectives can be completed in multiple ways. Characters can take many different useful combat specializations and extra specializations and play the game in very different ways.
  • Nails RPG Basics: Stats, combat, story and atmosphere are the cornerstones of a traditional RPG, and this game really nails all of them.
  • Stats: All RPGs have tons of stats, but a mediocre RPG has bland, generic stats that make leveling up feel like a chore. The stats in this game are all fun. None of the stats are worthless, each one lets you do cool stuff in the game. It’s fun to choose perks and it’s exciting to get to assign new points. The stat system is basically the same as Fallout 1 + 2, but it was great back then, and it’s very well integrated into the current game.
  • Combat: The combat is fun. It’s mostly picking a body part and rolling the dice. It’s got strategy, and the rag doll death animations are very satisfying and fun to watch.
  • Story Line and Atmosphere: This isn’t Shakespeare or anything, but by RPG standards, the story is very entertaining and fun to play along with.
  • Authentic Fallout experience: Bethesda did a phenomenal job at capturing the the personality and experience of Fallout 1 + 2 while using new tech and making several major improvements.

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Cons

  • Glitchy: This game doesn’t have a few glitches, it has tons of them. However, most of them are mostly minor. The worst glitches required a game restart. These glitches can be irritating but they have a fairly minor impact on the overall experience.
  • Repetitive Art: Thee overall style is good, but the art assets felt very repetitive throughout the game. Most environments looked the same.
  • Character Models and animation: The character models all have a very stiff feel to them. It seems like artists designed separate head, torso, arms, and legs while a crude program stitched them together and animates them.
  • Anticlimatic: The game felt like it had a long, slow start of killing bugs and such, and when the game finally felt like it was really getting going, it abruptly ends.
  • Fallout Remake Rather Than Sequel: This is a completely new engine, and has completely new dialog and characters, but the overall story arch, and game progression felt exactly like Fallout 1 + 2. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it is a great formula to begin with, but the game felt like a Fallout remake rather than a sequel.
  • Combat quirks can be gamed: Monsters can’t open most doors, so a popular tactic is too use all your action points on targeted attacks, leave the room, relax and recharge in safety, then reenter the room with full AP and repeat.

Bottom Line

This game has tons of flaws, but ultimately, this is an awesome RPG. I’m not a huge RPG fan, but this is easily the best RPG that I’ve played since the earlier Fallout games. It’s addicting, exciting, and does full justice to the Fallout license.

I got a solid twenty hours of playtime in, but my biggest gripe is that the game ended too quickly. I can’t wait to see Bethesda take this concept further with a bigger, better sequel.

6 Comments

What are your favorite games of 2008?

Here are my favorite games of 2008:

Metal Gear Online
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
LitleBigPlanet
Uncharted
Call of Duty 4
Heavenly Sword
Wipeout HD

I wanted to get a lot more games, but didn’t have the money for it. Let’s hear your favorites!

18 Comments