Jan 18, 2013 By Shujaat Syed @shoejaat
Not only did we get some fantastic releases, but we also ended up getting a few games that matured this medium. This is my own little shout out to some of the great games that came out this year. The list that I have isn’t a typical Game of the Year list. The games I selected truly showcased and raised the bar for a particular aspect of gaming.
Have you ever fired a gun? Do you know how visceral of a feeling it is? Well I haven’t but, if I had it would feel like something with a lot of force behind it – and this game captures that feeling perfectly.
Shooting has never felt as good as it does in Max Payne 3. This is simply because the game employs expertly crafted shooting mechanics. Every bullet that hits an enemy has an effect no matter where you shoot them on their bodies. Shoot their feet and watch them stumble over, shoot their arms to mess up their aim, shoot their groin because it’s funny. Your pistols in this game are not pea shooters. They are deadly, and their bullets carry weight. However your arsenal is much more expansive than just that. Max can wield different weapons such as assault rifles, sub machine guns and shotguns.
However Max is just as vulnerable as his enemies since he can only take a few shoots before he is killed. To help with surviving, the game reintroduced the Shoot Dodge/Bullet Time mechanic found in earlier Max Payne games. This simple but well implemented mechanic insures your survival without making the game cheap. The moment to moment gun play found in Max Payne is brutal yet satisfying and simply unmatched in terms of performance.
…the initial goal was to modernize Max Payne gameplay. Max is a game about choreographed gunplay combined with stylish, fluid movement (both in real time and in Bullet Time). We didn’t want to sacrifice a thing, we wanted first-person precision and ease of targeting but we wanted all the things we love about third-person games in terms of being able to see your character move believably.”
Kevin Hoare - Rockstar Games
The Halo franchise has always been the king of open sandbox combat and Halo 4 is no different. Each weapon has a purpose which fills its own niche. Whether you are starting a new chapter into Master Chief’s story or just fragging your friend’s multiplayer, it’s undeniable that the shooting mechanics in Halo 4 are responsive and tight. Who didn’t feel like a badass when they first picked up the SAW and mowed down enemies in mere seconds?
Most role-playing games (or RPG’s for short) let you create and customize your own character. However most times, your created character ends up looking like the back side of a jackass. Yes, a jackass’ ass. No really…create a character in Mass Effect or any Elder Scroll’s game and see how wonderful they look. However one game truly stood out in its character creation tool kit this year – you could say it wasn’t dogmatic.
Japanese developed RPG games are often criticized for not giving the player enough choice or even a choice at all to customize their characters. Dragon’s Dogma addresses those faults by giving us one of the most robust character creators in any RPG. Want to play as a grizzled old fat man? You got it. Want to play as a snooty little kid? You got it. The only limit on your character is your imagination. There is the added bonus that the characters you create will always look good – unless you purposely want them to look hideous.
However it’s not all about good looks in Dragon’s Dogma. The height and weight you chose for your character actually affect the game play. Creating a larger character allows you to carry more items and have more strength. On the other hand, a smaller and lighter character allows you to move faster and grants you much more stamina. The developers of the game know they made a kick-ass system for creating characters so they let you do it twice. Your Pawn (essentially your sidekick throughout the game) is also created by you. You can finally have the David and Goliath dream team you have waited for.
Since the 1980s I had wanted to make a game where one could travel through a real fantasy world. .
Hideaki Itsuno – Capcom
The character creator in Reckoning, although nowhere as deep or intricate as the one found in Dragon’s Dogma, was still fun to use. The game gives you the option to choose from multiple races and the end product always looks pleasing to the eye. You can’t really make an ugly character in this game, for better or worse.
Some games offer us a ridiculous amount of options to tweak our characters. But what good is all that if those games don’t offer a sizeable wardrobe for our characters to look awesome in. This sleeper hit gave us a character with a very large and varied wardrobe.
Sleeping Dogs is the game that let you kick ass in style. In Sleeping Dogs you play as Wei Shen, an undercover cop in Hong Kong which is a very diverse setting and the clothing in the game reflects that. Not only do you get to choose jackets and watches but you also get to try on outfits inspired from great kung fu movies such as Game of Death, Kung Fu Hustle and more. There is even a Reservoir Dogs inspired outfit. The clothing in the game is not just for show either. Some sets of clothing give you bonuses which can range from granting Wei more melee damage to making vehicles cheaper for him to buy.
You didn’t see old school Jet Li or Jackie Chan walk into a room with two bazookas over their shoulder, it’s not the Schwarzenegger approach. It’s much more that they rely on their wit, their sills, their agility their martial arts abilities. To go into a room, maybe disarm an enemy, shoot a couple of guys, get rid of the gun and then use the environment to take the rest of them down.”
Dan Sochan - United Front Games
While the game does not allow you to select the clothes you can choose to wear in this game’s campaign mode (you are free to do so in Arcade, and the New York Minute game mode). It is undeniable that you do get to see Max don tons of different outfits as the game progresses. The outfits in the game are highly detailed and varied. Rockstar even included the original models from the first two Max Payne games as unlockable skins. Constipated Payne is back.
Racing? No, this isn’t about racing, this is about driving. Two separate things. We had one of the two best racing games (Most Wanted and Forza Horizon) come out in the span of weeks so competition between those two was definitely high. While both of them were excellent racing games, which one offered us the better driving mechanics?
This was Playground Studio’s first game (with help from Turn 10) and boy did they knock it out of the park (no pun intended). No other open world driving game feels as nice Horizon does. Period. Hitting up the open roads of Colorado feels great because this is a world designed for driving cars. While Criterion’s new Need For Speed: Most Wanted was also a great game in its own right, the driving never felt truly enjoyable. In Most Wanted, the spectacles are the police chases and crashes. In Horizon, the spectacles are the relationships you form with your cars. It’s a beautiful thing.
The driving is always exciting no matter what car you are seated in. You do not need an S class car just to have fun with this game because of the skill system. The skill system rewards you for drifting, getting air time, drafting, and a bunch of other numerous things. Chaining these combos is a nice way to improve your driving skills. What makes Horizon different from all other open world games is the physics. The game runs on the Forza Motorsport physics engine and because of that Horizon is tailored towards more of a realistic driving game but it remains fun.
We’ve got a big family back at Playground, about 100 people on-site. We want Forza Horizon to be our calling card. It’s what we’ve worked hard on for the past two and a half years. We’ve poured a lot of effort and our heart and soul into it.”
Ralph Fulton – Playground Games
Trials is a very different kind of driving game because the challenge comes from finishing an obstacle course as opposed to besting your opponents in a race. The levels start out easy enough but get controller smashing tough as you progress through the game. Finishing harder levels offer a real sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. RedLynx has dominated the vehicular platforming genre way back when Trials was just a flash game on Miniclip and they have spent years perfecting their craft.