Welcome to the second part of Our Year in Games series which is momentarily replacing the regular Our Week in Games feature until the new year. Last week we talked about some retro gaming, football management and adventuring in Skyrim. Hit the jump to see what else has been part of Our Year in Games.
Vita! Earlier this year Sony’s follow-up to the PSP was launched in the shape of the Vita and I got my hands on one pretty sharpish. I’ll be honest, I haven’t really used the little device anywhere near as much as I should have, especially when I think about the cost and some of the great games that I have played on there. Maybe my lack of game time with the Vita is down to that fact that I generally shy away from handheld gaming, I don’t play many games on my mobile phone, the powerful Samsung Galaxy S3. It is probably because at heart I am a PC gamer through and through, as even my console play time is far less than what I rack up on my desktop machine.
Regardless, I am still very much pleased that I bought my Vita, especially for being able to play games like Wipeout 2048, Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Little Big Planet: Vita, three exclusives which really show off the power of the device. They are brilliantly crafted titles, and I only wish that I devoted more time to playing them, and the other games I have on there.
The Vita might not have redefined gaming as much as Sony would undoubtedly have hoped, but it is certainly becoming a more rounded platform with the release of PlayStation Plus and the introduction of an email client. Going into 2013, I probably won’t use it as much as it deserves, but I hope I do, as the times I have spent with it have definitely been worthwhile.
2012 is indelibly marked on the calendars of many as yet another potential end-of-the-world scenario. For me though, the biggest ending that 2012 brought was the conclusion to one of the most powerful sci-fi tales in recent gaming history, Bioware’s Mass Effect.
For me, Mass Effect was about sacrifice. From the moment of Ashley’s valiant last-stand, Shepard saw pretty much every single person she ever cared about die. Tali, Garrus, Liara, Kaiden, all killed trying to make a difference. Wrex, Vega, Mordin, countless names on the Normandy memorial. Miranda, Legion. The list of the dead goes on.
The Mass Effect trilogy will eternally be tarred with the memory of the community’s reaction to the ending, but after my experience with the game it could never have gone any other way. A Disney ending would have rendered Shepard’s journey irrelevant. Do I wish I could have had more of an impact? Of course I do. I wanted to punch the head Reaper in the face and tell those robots to get the hell off my planet, but Shepard was only one person, and whilst I couldn’t save everyone, I sure as hell did what I could with the tools at my disposal.
I don’t think I’ll be returning to Mass Effect any time soon, but not through any bad feeling. There are many decisions I regret, but to go back and change them would reduce their impact. From the beginning of Mass Effect I made the decision to never go back and change my decisions, to forge one ‘canonical’ play-through and live with the consequences. As a result, I lost almost my entire crew across the length of the trilogy, and never even got to see who emerged from the Normandy at the end of the game. Doc, I hope you made it. Enjoy a bottle on me.
I never wanted a happy ending Bioware, I just wanted an ending. And that’s what I got.
Strangely, the game I played most this year wasn’t the best, it wasn’t the most memorable, it wasn’t even my favourite. In fact it was the mediocre SSX.
When it was released I felt SSX summed up the current generation of games perfectly. The PS2 era SSX games were so brash, over the top and had so much character. Yet SSX 2012 did away with all this in favour of a greater focus on realism, with tracks that featured sheer drops that force you to memorise every turn. It was yet another dark and gritty reboot that lacked even the imagination to come up with a new name. A game stripped of everything that once made it special so it’d appeal to the mass audience. Yes it was functional and occasionally bordered on fun but the real reason it was my most played game in 2012 was that I kept playing in the hope that I’d see some of that creative spark that once made the series so special.
Deponia, like many other games this year, looked great from the outset. Essentially a point and click adventure game with a side of humour, drawn in a unique cartoon style. However, unlike the many other games that looked good this year I actually got to play this one. Being only my second point and click ever (my first being The Dream Machine earlier in the year) I didn’t have that many expectations or previous experience to drawn on. I was happily surprised by how good Deponia was, in fact it turned out to be one of the best games I’ve played all year and has changed my mind about buying such a game again in the future.
The best part of Deponia and the reason I enjoyed it so much is the witty characters and the interesting world that has been built around them. Deponia focuses on the heroics (or to everyone else, disastrous attempts at escape) of Rufus, who longs to leave the junk world he was born into and live the high life in Elysium. The comedy (and tragedy) that follows Rufus is sometimes comical and occasionally hysterical and I can’t say that I’ve laughed and enjoyed myself so much playing a game since Portal 2.
The comical characters aren’t the only thing that kept me playing on however. Deponia also has mean puzzles, great characters, witty comedy and a unique graphical style to boot.