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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Video Games of the Year

For those who are unfamiliar with this blog, I have an annual tradition of picking out the best books I've read over the previous year.

This is the first year I've played enough video games to be able to deliver a similar judgement, but interestingly enough, I've been catching up on about 10 years of not playing video games, so nearly every entry that I go around to finishing has been great, or I wouldn't have bothered playing through to the end. If you ever want to feel like a genre is fantastic, you just have to leave it for 10 years and then come back to only the good ones, with time doing the work of eliminating the dreck that results from Sturgeon's law.

I'll separate the selections by platform, since the pickings have been so rich.

I'll start with the PS3, because it's the oldest platform and has the most games out. It's a great time to buy a PS3, and the wealth of software and media available for it is nothing short of astounding. In many ways, the PS4 is still an inferior machine for the casual user, since it still can't talk to DLNA servers or even play MP4 movies!

By far the most outstanding game on the PS3 is Uncharted Among Thieves. It's a relatively old game, but you can't tell. Newer games look better, but load slower or have long startup times. Compared to its predecessors, however, it's clear that Uncharted Among Thieves has done everything right with respect to pacing, game play, and movie-like action. It's an amazing game and has aged well. If you own a PS3 you need to play this game.

Journey runs a clear second place on the PS3. It's non-violent, not challenging, but immerses the player in the environment far better than any of the other experiences I've tried. It's also not available on any of the other platforms, so it's a clear exclusive for the PS3, and well worth the experience. If you like that type of game, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons also stands out, and is a short game that's well worth your time.

On the PS Vita, it's a tough decision for my game of the year. I enjoyed Tearaway, and as a game that fully exploits the physical capabilities of the vita, it is nothing short of amazing. However, Golden Abyss also does a lot of very similar things, and is still a better game for me as I dislike platformers. By far the most addictive genre for me, however, is the desktop tower defense game, and for that, Pixeljunk Monsters Ultimate is just too good not to recommend.

Finally, the PS4. Well, I've sampled a bunch of games on it so far. The best one is still Resogun. Over and over again, it is the one game I fire up the PS4 for. Once you have a PS4, however, you might as well get Flower. On the PS3, Flower is overshadowed by Journey, but on the PS4, that doesn't happen and you might as well get to play it at high resolution. It is truly an experience to be savored.

Strangely enough, looking at my list, there's only one PC game on the list, and it's the very old Arkham City. The reality seems to be that the desktop PC isn't in a very inconvenient place in the home for me, and takes a long time to startup and play. It's also not very comfortable compared to playing on the couch, and I'm always tempted to do some work on the PC instead of playing a game. In the future, I'll probably abandon my PC as a gaming platform and stick to the PS4, despite the higher expenses playing on the PS4 entail.

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