Friday, January 27, 2012

'To The Moon' - An Indie Game Review

An old man on his deathbed. An old man morning his wife's death. A man struggling between medical bills and building a dream home for his wife. A man coming to terms with his wife's strange illness. A man married to the woman he loves under the shade of a lighthouse. A teen on his first date at the movies. A teen asking out a strange girl. A boy gazing at the stars with a new friend.

All these men are one and the same.

Freebird Game's latest title 'To The Moon' tells a story of love, life, regret and eventual death. While a story like this is nothing groundbreaking, the amount of effort and heart put into the yarn being spun shows in abundance.

The style of the title is much like an old school 16-bit game

The game takes place in a future not to far ahead of us. In this place a company has developed a special kind of technology, one that allows them to tap into a persons memories and alter them. These changes made to the persons memory make them feel as if they have really lived and experienced the changed moments in their life, which is why the company only does this service to people close to dying. This give's them a final chance to live out their lifelong dreams before they pass.

You play as both Dr. Watts and Dr. Rosalene, the specialists sent to make the dying John Wyles final wish a reality; he wants to go to the moon.

In reality, 'To The Moon' feels less like a game and more like an interactive movie. You control the two doctors that walk around and piece together John's past, but its a game that you can't really lose. There are some puzzle elements and various objects to find, but it's a game that gets you lost in what story it has to say. This was a game meant to tell a story and it succeeds in that department without a doubt.

One of the many mysteries you discover is that John wants to go to the moon, but he doesn't know why. All he knows is that he want's to go there.

Each scene is memorable and beautiful while you traverse John's memories

Throughout the adventure (which plays out in Acts) you go through various points of John's life and discovers more and more about his past. You learn about his wife who died two years prior to your arrival, and you slowly realize the impact she had on his life as you go further and further back into the recesses of his memories.

Her name is River. River is one of the driving forces to this story, and it links nearly all of his memories together in one way or another. You go through their happiest moments together and also the moments that test both River and John as a couple. Each moment is heartfelt and each memory is lasting, the good times and the bad.

You soon come to John's earliest memories but you find them to be unstable and recessed, as if John was intentionally wanting to forget them for some reason.  That reason is soon discovered and made clear why John would want to lock it away from even himself.

With every scene,there is also beautiful music to go with it

While the story builds upon the life of John and the two people sifting through his memories, the music that accompanies us players in the game is quite a gem. Say what you will about the specifics and production of the music, I found them to be very well made and well directed. Every heart-pounding scene of love or heart-breaking moment of tragedy has wonderful music to accompany them, each of which fit the scenes like a glove. They really drive the message of each act well.

The music was made by the games creator and also Laura Shigihara, who wrote a piece just for the games most depressingly brilliant scene.

Planned as the first episode in a series, 'To The Moon' tells not only a timeless story but does it in a way I've never seen done before. The dialogue is well written, witty and clever. The characters are all believable and fit their parts well. The music was well done and show how much work was put into the production. The story kept me playing and guessing what would happen next up to the final scene.

While the game only lasted me six hours, I feel as if it was six hours more than well spent. The game is $12 (The soundtrack is $5 if your interested) which might seem a little pricey for an indie game, but I think it hits a sweet spot for what it has to offer. The site has a demo that allows you to play for an hour, which should give you a good grasp of how the game plays. After that hour demo I think you will know for sure if this is your kind of game or not.

It's definitely the kind of game for me.


'To The Moon' was made by Freebird Games and can be found here: 
The game costs $11.95 and the soundtrack costs $5, with half of all soundtrack purchases going to charity.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Damnation & Redemption: A Look Back at Fallout


Today, I'd like to have a look back on one of my favorite game franchises; Fallout.

 Fallout Background Info


On October 23rd, 2077, the Great War started and ended, lasting only two hours. No one knows who attacked first but every country responded at once, dropping nuclear warheads and bathing the world in atomic fire. Before the Great War, a nuclear holocaust was in plain sight and was fast approaching. Hundreds of large underground bunkers were built and called Vaults. The Vaults were built by Vault-Tec, a scientific corporation with a dark agenda hidden behind a friendly exterior, built them. The Vaults were really controlled scientific experiments, though they did provide shelter from the radioactive blasts. The Democratic nations and the Reds were at each other's throats and the world had reached its breaking point.

The United States had annexed Canada as China invaded Alaska. With quick timing, the US
retook Alaska but had problems on the homefront. Soldiers were falling out of the ranks and riots were rampant. The soldiers that went AWOL were sent to military prisons while the President and his secretive military organization, the Enclave, retreated to an Oil Rig for safety. A plague breaks out as the F.E.V. (Forced Evolution Virus, a biological chemical that mutates genetic data in organisms) is leaked and the world goes up in fear.

At this time, Captain Roger Maxson and his men kill the researchers they were assigned to protect after finding out they were doing horrible experiments on military prisoners. Maxson
and his men desert the army and move civilians into the research base they were guarding. After the bombs stopped falling, the research station was unharmed. Maxson led his men and their families to a fallout shelter in what is known as "the Exodus". The years passed and this group became known as the Brotherhood of Steel, an organization dedicated to retrieving technology and storing it. They didn't believe people were responsible enough to have it after the events of the Great War.

Life went on and the Wastleland remained. Vaults opened and people spilled out, those left
outside that had survived set up settlements, and factions formed. In California, the NCR (New California Republic) formed and set up a democracy. In the Midwest, a faction based off the Roman Empire formed, known as Caesar's Legion. They gathered slaves and conquered all in their path. Splinter chapters of the Brotherhood of Steel showed up across the country and the Enclave spread across the United States. All manner of people roamed the wastes. Raiders and settlers, Vault dwellers and soldiers, traders and mercenaries. Though purged in atomic heat, the Wasteland held many new creatures, products of mutation from the radiation and the F.E.V. that lingered in the air. Men lived, fought, traded, worked, survived, and died under an uncaring sun.



The place where it all began. Set in a world that mixes the 50's style, futuristic technology, and Cold War fear of nuclear conflict, Fallout came out in 1997 as a spiritual successor to the 1988 game Wasteland. Taking place around southern California in 2161, 84 years after a nuclear conflict known as The Great War, Fallout stars the "Vault Dweller" on his quest to find a water chip for his home within 150 days, yet the game has a 500 day time limit. His home happens to be number 13 of the Vaults. Fallout brought something new to the RPG table, the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, Luck) system. Your base S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats reflect the skills you may have and your interactions with the world. The game was a new experience, based on exploration and time managing. It was fun and definitely not forgettable.

Fallout 2


The sequel to Fallout, Fallout 2 brought improvement to the series. It brought many more items, improved AI, better companions, a more expansive story and world, karma, and large scale effect of player's actions. You start in the town of Arroyo, started by the Vault Dweller in Oregon. As the grandchild of the Vault Dweller, you play the "Chosen One", chosen to find the Garden of Eden Creation Kit (G.E.C.K.) to help rebuild the town to ideal conditions. During this, the Enclave has reared its head for the first time since the Great War and has surpassed the Brotherhood of Steel in technological sophistication. You are given your grandparent's Vault suit, Pip-Boy, a flask, and some cash as you set off. As you play, you begin to uncover the Enclave's sinister plots and deeds and you take it upon yourself to fight them. Fallout 2 contained some silly content, but also came with much more than Fallout and came without that timed quest. For that, Fallout 2 was a great experience.

Fallout 3


The third game in the series and first developed by Bethesda, Fallout 3 continued Fallout's original style. Often characterized as "Oblivion with guns", this comes from the fact it uses the same engine and gameplay mechanics as Bethesda's fourth Elder Scrolls title. The game brought Fallout into the third dimension and was a dramatic change. The point-and-click system and turn based combat were replaced by an over-the-shoulder view and real time fighting. The auto-travel map was replaced by a seamless exterior world. The VATS (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) introduces itself as a throwback to the old combat style of the previous two games. It freezes time and allows you to auto-aim at body parts, giving you a certain chance to hit or miss. The game also moves to the East coast in the Capital Wasteland, Washington D.C. As a survivor from Vault 101, you go amongst the world in search of your father and then get wrapped up in much more than anticipated. This game was a welcome change of pace, combing Fallout with the system of Oblivion, another of my favorite game series.

Fallout: New Vegas

The second Bethesda published Fallout game was developed by Obsidian Entertainment and was heavier on inspiration from Fallout 2. With a much larger game complete with many more items, factions, and quests, it is easy to see how it draws from Fallout 2 (especially with the "Wild Wasteland" perk that makes events happen that tend to be pop-culture references, much like Fallout 2's random encounters.) Featuring the power struggle between the NCR and Caesar's Legion, you play as a simple courier that was in the wrong place at the wrong time. A quest for revenge becomes a quest for power as you determine the fate of post-apocalyptic Las Vegas. To me, this is the best Fallout game yet. It didn't have the drive of Fallout, the open-endedness of Fallout 2, or the tone of Fallout 3, yet it brought something else. It combined the best of all the games into an outstanding title and my choice Bethesda game. Good show, Fallout: New Vegas, good show.




Wait, aren't you going to do Tactics and Brotherhood of Steel? No. Though I do like the Midwestern Brotherhood of Steel, I never played Tactics. Also let's just pretend Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel doesn't exist. Like it was a bad dream. In fact, its not even canon so to hell with it. Bad game anyway. So, in conclusion, I thank Fallout for its contributions not only to RPGs as an industry, but its contributions to me. It expanded my horizons in a genre sense and a creative sense. Oh what the world would be like without Fallout... nothing but fantasy RPGs and that's no fun. Need a little purgation to have a good time. Well, that's it for me. Until next time folks. See you in the wastes.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fat Guy Thought: Sleep

Fat Guy's think a little differently from skinny people and here's Darris with the proof.

Sleep is probably in the top ten of important thing;s in a persons life. It is a time for rest, reflection and reset. The average person gets about seven to eight hours of it a night, but for fat people sleep is a bit different. I'm not talking about, say, fitting on a bed, or trying to avoid rolling on to your pet while you sleep by the way. This is more to do with sleep patterns and the time we spend awake.

Me about 10 minutes from now.

Overweight people need sleep just like any other person, but fat people can go quite a long time without having to sleep. The constant extra reserves of energy sort of act like a slow burn then not only affect how long we can stay away but also how long we sleep for.

I could (and have) easily gone on 20 hour days with 4 hours of sleep with no backlash several times, and even in a row. It accumulates not only in the energy we have just from the fat we have stored, but also from the general lack of energy we burn during the day. This has more to do with the lack of exercise overweight people tend to get per day.

Lucky twat.

Sometimes I have no choice but to get only five hours of sleep without the use of sleeping medication, which can get annoying when I wake up for work four hours too early. I usually spend the extra time gaming (I'm replaying Resident Evil 4 at the moment). When it comes to sleep fat people can adapt various different styles to it without much heath issues. Well, besides the obvious one of being fat...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ogachi's Top 10 of 2011

Alright! Video games! So! I suppose I should make one of these. So I will.



L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire is an interesting experiment in game design. With unique gameplay and fancy animation technology, L.A. Noire set out to do something different. Though it had it's flaws, (Most particularly with a robotic main character and lack of detail on anything that is not a face. Hell, even the faces were not very well textured though they sure were well animated.) L.A. Noire still brought something new and interesting to the table and it did it well.


Batman: Arkham City


Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to Arkham Asylum and does a good job carrying on tradition. In fact, it doesn't really bring much new to the table but more of the same isn't a bad thing. The game still handles well and is filled with fun Batman villains! Even with the lack of new ideas, Arkham City is still a great game and has earned its spot on this list.


Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a long awaited addition to the franchise and it carries it on well. With gameplay reminiscent (if not a dumbed down version) of its predecessors, Deus Ex continues the focus on playing the game as you see fit and leveling accordingly.



Brink successfully combines the movement of Mirror's Edge and the style of Team Fortress 2 into one package. Though the story is kind of silly, the game pulls through on its gameplay and the amount of fun it can provide.


Dead Space 2


Though not as suspenseful as its predecessor, Dead Space 2 is able to carry the Sci-Fi horror's legacy well. Leaning even more towards the Action Horror genre, Dead Space 2 still is able to satisfy with its dark environments and flowing gameplay.


Portal 2

Portal 2 follows suit of Batman: Arkham City in that it also gives more of the same, though lacking much innovation. The slime and co-op modes are welcome additions nonetheless and the game still shines amongst the crowd. The witty dialogue, stellar soundtrack, and seamless gameplay combine to make this game number 5 on this list.


Warhammer 40,00: Space Marine


Though it does not have all the amenities the other games have, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine does bring one important thing to the table; Gameplay. It performs masterfully and feels great to play. Charging down groups of Orks and just hacking through crowds is a great time.


Total War: Shogun 2

What can I say? Total War: Shogun 2 is everything a truly large-scale strategic RTS should be. With the ability to command armies and sabotage cities on its turnbased overland map and siege your foes in battle mode, the game is easily the best RTS I have played in a long time. Add all that to the fact it is also the prettiest RTS to come about lately and Total War: Shogun 2 rightfully claims the number 3 spot on this list.


The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Imagine Oblivion. Now make the graphics better and the character concepts more gritty. Now put the civil war from Star Wars in there. Put snow everywhere. Skyrim has been made. It is also more of the same but brings a new(ish) combat system to the fray as well as a new leveling system. The game is a great time and (with modding communities like the ones Bethesda games have) will be around for a good long time.


Dark Souls

Oh man you guys. My number one game. What else could it have been? Of course its Dark Souls! A Medieval fantasy setting with fun controls and a good difficulty curve, it is a game that achieves being challenging but not frustrating. It easily worked its way to this spot with its infer-your-own-story and 3rd person sword fighting. Dark Souls earned everything its gotten from me. What can I say? It was a fun roll through hell.

And that's the ball game. Until next time folks. See you online.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Helpful Side Of Gaming

I've decided to do a slightly more personal piece today. Don't worry, I'm not always this serious. Next time will be a bit more cheery and draped in a load of sugary anime or something. Promise.


I've never told many people this, but early in my life I suffered from bouts of depression. This never really came as a surprise to me as my whole life I've basically been overweight. When you are overweight your entire life you develop two things very quickly; thick skin and a sense of humor. But sometimes the thick skin wasn't enough. Sometimes the negative comments got through to me, penetrated deep and forced me to face them. While I've never taken medication for depression, I can see why some people would want a way out from it. Depression is a terrible thing, especially when you know that in your mind there is a sane person who wouldn't think some of the most exhausting and degrading thoughts.

Being fat sucks for anyone and everyone, but being fat as an adult is way better than being fat as a kid. As someone who has lived both sides of the coin I know for sure that the constant string of crap heading my way via the other kids at school or in my neighborhood was a constant attack on my self preservation. When your an adult people will leave their hateful or abusive comments to themselves, but as a kid it all just comes out with no filter as to whats going too far or what is acceptable to say.

With all that said, I was depressed quite a bit as a kid. I only had a few safe havens in my life at an early age, and the most influential of them was probably video games. Video games got me through a lot of dark times in my childhood. The escapism of the interactive medium took my mind off the negativity and cynicism that surrounded my school life. I this was the start of my attraction to video games. Unlike books or movies, you were in control of the game and you set the pace of the story. It made me reestablish what I knew about stories as I knew for a fact that video game would one day be as big a thing as movies or books. A welcome escape, and essential as I went through life.

With all the video games I played and books I read I probably would have become a recluse if it hadn't been for the fact that I loved entertaining people. The friends I had would always be ready to do stuff on any given day to go walking the neighborhood or playing some Super Nintendo. After I moved away from my hometown and started middle school in Georgia I was lucky enough to find like-minded friends right away. So while middle school and high school was as degrading and perilous as it could get for a fat nerd I was lucky enough to have a steady supply of friends, anime and video games to get me though it.

I can still remember clearly an incident when I moved from Georgia to Florida. I was going to high school there and riding the bus. I was having a stressful day and the bus was dropping us off at our houses. Throughout the bus ride there were people making fun of me and one of my friends, and this started to eat away at me. While I went to get off the bus at my stop, I passed one of the people who called me a "fatass". I got off the bus, turned around towards the window of the person who called me that and banged on it. I shattered the window.

Needless to say I got in quite a bit of trouble for that, but all I really had to do was pay for the window and do a bit of community work (I went to an animal shelter for a few days to help). Looking back on that incident, I remember countless occasions where things could have gotten out of hand. The countless number of time being picked on during lunch or after school. The time where me and my friends would be playing 'Magic: The Gathering' only to be harassed or to have people mess with our cards. I would keep my cool, but I was always defensive for my friends sake.

I like to think that I found mediums of entertainment that have not only I have enjoyed, but have also benefited me as a person. Video games taught me heroics and courage. Video games taught me that everyone is different. Video games taught me that facing problems can resolve issues, but you should always pick your battles carefully. Video game helped me in times of trouble and torment.

I fell lucky to have grown up with video games in my life.


Friday, January 20, 2012

New Fat4all Comics #1!

(Click to expand)

Animazing #2

"Animazing" is a series about moments in anime, but not just any scene or bit. These are moments that set an anime apart from others. Moments that turn a show that's fun to watch and follow into a show that matters to you on a personal or emotional level. These are not your run of the mill character pieces, but instances where the characters feel more real then you could has possibly imagined before.

Today's anime juncture come to us from a classic. An anime that almost rightly so doesn't need explanation due to not only it's popularity, but the quality of the series itself. That show is:

While last week I talked about a series that was a little more on the fringe of the anime world ('Paranoia Agent'), the show Cowboy Bebop is on the opposite side completely. It might be one of the best known anime programs to come to North America. So far the series has proven to stay a near timeless classic thanks to the astonishing amount of work and detail put into the animation, music, setting, and script. But aesthetics aside, another reason the program is so popular is the tone it sets with it's viewers on an emotional level.

While there are many different moments I could classify as 'amazing' in this series, there is one part that really hit me (and I'm guessing all of it's fans) right in the gut at every turn. No not the 'Green Bird' moment, even though that scene is quite incredible.

The moment is, just like last week, an entire episode. And that episode is:

Cowboy Bebop - "The Real Folk Blues (Part 2)"
The final episode.

The entire series was a setup to this moment, and everything is answered whether you realize it or not.

Finally reunited, Spike and Julia attempt to make their escape from the Red Dragon syndicate. This leads Spike down a road filled with turbulence, pain, anguish, and finally acceptance as he and Vincent face off for the final time. Music fills nearly every scene and when there is no music you pay attention even more. The visuals of life and death fly across the screen at various points in the episode. The one real moment of peace is shattered as a tight-knit family is broken apart.

From the opening scene in the graveyard to the final scene on the steps of the syndicates tower, the series creators nails what I would call a perfect landing. I can still remember the first time I watched this episode late one night on Adult Swim and I can tell you without a doubt that it kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last note was played in the ending credits.

This choice for an "Animazing" isn't exactly a shocker and I'm sure many of you have already seen this anime and this episode. You may have even seen it more times than me (though I re-watched it quite a bit back in the day). But this is exactly what this blog series is for. Not only letting in newcomers to what I consider some of the greatest moments in anime, but also reminding the die-hard's out there that nearly every anime has a chance to make something amazing of itself.

See you later, space cowboy.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lightning Warfare: A Look at Tribes: Ascend



This is my first look at the beta of the free-to-play adaption to the Tribes franchise; Tribes: Ascend. Alright, I'll admit that the only Tribes game I've played is Tribes: Vengeance and only after the multiplayer was thoroughly dead. So, don't expect a nostalgic look back. Instead, expect a look into the future of frictionless warfare!




The game focuses around the conflict between the Blood Eagles and the Diamond Swords, leaving out the Children of the Phoenix and the Star Wolves. It is always possible that the two factions may be added at a later date.

The game has twelve different classes to choose from. There are four light , five medium, and three heavy classes. Each class has its own unique gear set and purpose. Light classes are flag cappers while heavy classes are made for defense and medium classes tend to be general purpose.

There is a leveling system in T:A. Each class has an XP meter. The more you play that class, the more XP you will get for it. With the XP, you can buy upgrades for that class. The upgrades tend to be ammo, damage, speed and capacity boosts, though there are others. The XP is specific to each class and cannot be used for others. Also with the XP, you may buy perks after finishing a class's tree. Each class has two perks and the perks can be used for any class, no matter which you got them from. "Convert to Shared XP" is a feature currently in the menu of the game, though it is listed as coming soon. It is unknown when it will become functional. Shared XP may allow a central pool of XP that can be used for each class, though you will likely lose some XP in the transfer.

Along with XP as currency are tokens and gold. Tokens and gold are used to purchase classes in the game, the gold price being lower than the token price. Tokens are earned through playing while gold is bought. You may also buy boosts with real money. After your first purchase, you get VIP status that gives you a permanent 50% boost to token and XP gain. The boosts you can buy double your XP and token gain for 10 or 30 days. They cost $7.95 and $14.95 respectively. Therefore, T:A is not a pay-to-win game, it just gives you a bit of a headstart. There is nothing you can get with gold that you can't get with tokens.




Tribes: Ascend uses the same formula that previous Tribes games have used. Movement in the game consists largely of skiing and jetpacking. You ski downhill and across flat ground while you jetpack up slopes and over obstacles. Skiing is a function that lets you move without friction, basically sliding around with your only limitation and booster being gravity. When mastered, extreme speeds can be reached this way, especially in light armor.

Weapons are varied throughout the classes. There are two classes unlocked as you first begin to play: The Soldier and the Ranger. The Soldier uses the classic spinfusor and energy pistol combo while the Ranger uses an assault rifle and a thumper grenade launcher. Both wear medium armor. The rest of the medium classes tend to use grenade launchers and automatic weapons. Also, there is an engineer class that can build turrets. That's pretty cool. The heavy classes use large weapons like the Doombringer's chain gun and saber launcher while the light classes are the most varied with sniper rifles, shotguns, and SMGs. Each weight type has its own spinfusor class, which is great because the spinfusor is probably the greatest gun in history.

There are currently three gamemodes: Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Rabbit. Team Deathmatch is your standard kill-them-because-they-look-different mode with one difference. In T:A TDM, there is a flag that drops after the first death. The team that holds the flags gets more points for kills. Capture the Flag is just standard CTF except you gotta go fast. Rabbit is a mode where there is a single flag. The player that gets the flag becomes the Rabbit and is marked for death. The rest of the players then chase down the Rabbit and kill him. The flag is dropped after the Rabbit's death and the person who picks it up becomes the Rabbit, continuing the cycle. The person who has held onto the flag the longest wins.




Conclusion? What? Aren't you going to do Generic Technical Reviewing? No. This is a beta. A closed beta at that. The review will come when it's done. As for now, enjoy my phrasing. Anyway, Tribes: Ascend is great fun and is shaping up nicely. I can't wait to see all the features that will be added by release. As for now, it is only a PC game though the developers have talked about a console possibility. Not the Wii though, that would be silly. After this comes out, the developers will continue their work on Tribes Universe, the upcoming Tribes MMO. Oh the wonderment yet to be seen. Until next time folks. See you on the slopes.



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fat4all's Top 10 Games of 2011

Instead of just running down the 'top game' for any specific category or genre, I thought I would just make a list of my favorite games of 2011.

These are the game's that made me proud to be a gamer in 2011. These are the games that kept me playing long after the end credits. These are the games I loved despite what critics or other gamers have said about them.

So with those words out of the way, let's get started!

Number Ten
Child of Eden

As a spiritual sequel to the amazing and underrated 'Rez' for the PS2 and Dreamcast, 'Child of Eden' has you soaring through digital worlds in an effort to save the AI program project Lumi from a virus sweeping the system. This game is a visual feast, and one that should be seen with your own eyes.

Number Nine

Sucker Punch pulls out a stunner this time around. While the first inFAMOUS had tons of bugs and glitches, along with a story that was sub-par at best, the sequel corrects nearly every issue and then goes the extra mile of making the story relatable, interesting, fascinating and best of all fun. What more could you want from a game taking cues from comic books and graphic novels?

Number Eight
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together

Tactics Ogre fans, unite! The ultimate remake of the amazing Super Nintendo game is here! Say what you will about SquareEnix, but they have been on a role with their high caliber revisions on their classics. I honestly had to choose between this and Final Fantasy IV Complete, and it was not an easy choice.

Number Seven
Yakuza 4

I have always and will continue to say this; the Yakuza series is basically like a soap opera to me. I've played every game not only because of the fun fighting mechanics and the overtly Japanese EVERYTHING in the game (hostess bars, golf, karaoke, arcades), but also because I really started to understand the characters in the game. I've always liked a game with a good story, and while the story in the Yakuza series is almost always hit-or-miss the character stories is where they pick up the slack.

Number Six
Shadows of the Damned

This is a game where they got nearly everything right for me. The characters are hilarious yet believable. The story is simple yet deep. The humor is crude yet disgusting. Nearly every aspect of the game is what I would consider 'game of the year' material. The voice acting is top notch (you can play with the Japanese v/o cast, but the English team did a more than amazing job.), The action is constantly changing and throwing you in different directions, and the script make you want to hunt down every last bit of story in this game. Give it a try, I think most people would like it. Especially if you have a slightly twisted sense of humor.

Number Five
L.A. Noire

When I was a kid I loved platformer and puzzle games, but when it came to the PC my love was point-and-click adventure games. From the various murder mysteries like the 'Laura Bow' games or the amazing and hilarious Lucas Arts 'Monkey Island' titles, I treasure any good P&C title. Well, L.A. Noire is basically a new take on point-and-click mystery games. Built from the ground up to be nothing more than an in depth look into the life of a detective in the 1940's, this is a story about the life of Cole Phelps. His triumphs, his mistakes, his faults, and his passion to always want to be on top morally. A life story with an amazing yet subtle conclusion, this is a game with depth.

Number Four

With the world shaped around him and a constant voice ringing in your ear, you press forward into god knows what, looking for answers. Bastion is a subtle yet extremely well made title on XBLA that had me hooked right from the get-go. The art, the music, the narration; everything comes together in a sort of potpourri of simple yet elegant game design. It's gaming 101, but with a ton of heart. The story shines through up until the very last word is spoken.

Number Three
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Is it the best Zelda game? Not to me, I personally found it to be quite simple even compared to Twilight Princess. Is it still a good game? Without a doubt. Skyward Sword delivers on Nintendo's promise to use the Wii motion controls in a way fitting of the Zelda universe and they did a spectacular job. The Wii controls not only always worked for me, but worked better than I could have imagined. The story itself at first seems like standard Zelda fare with evil slowly invading Link's personal space. But the abundance of character changes made this Zelda game feel like a whole new experience. Every character has certain features and flaws that make them seem more real than ever before, even more than my favorite Zelda character game Majora's Mask. Believe the hype.

Number Two
Portal 2

Welcome back. Enjoy some of the fresh mountain air. There might even be a deer. Portal 2 is the definition of  substance with it's creative and hilarious story, and also style with its clever puzzles and amazing environments. Valve steps up to deliver a game that not only had an honest chance of being my number one, but also a game I would consider timeless to stand next to titles such as 'Super Metroid' or 'Final Fantasy VI'. The game flawlessly marries idea that you can have your cake and eat it with every line uttered through the 10 hour experience that is Portal 2. Also, what else could you say about the ending except:

Number One

How do you feel about marriage? What about having children? Would you sacrifice yourself for the person you love? These are not only questions asked of the main character Vincent, but they are actually asked of you. Catherine hides behind a facade of puzzle gameplay when the true heart of the story lies in your mind. The story is about love, life, infidelity, sex, and even more concepts most people would rather not discuss unless they really have to. Every choice is your own, and every outcome is because of you, just like in life itself. Atlus's 'Persona Team' hits the nail on the head and delivers a game that makes you not only consider the characters lives, but your own life as well. Highly recommended.


So there you go! My personal favorites from 2011. I honestly hope the tradition of amazing games keeps on coming, as I need so new game to play now that it's 2012.