Well, the new year has come and gone and the inevitable ‘games of the year’ lists have been cropping up at all the usual outlets. This is the first year I have really committed myself to my journalism, with my blog and my work here at Non-Fiction Gaming being updated on a weekly basis. I’ve talked about a whole bunch of games over the year, some good, some bad. I don’t want to bore you with a long article containing dozens of games broken down by genre, so instead I’ll just give you my top five overall.
5.) Diablo III
This game has the very strange honour of being on both my GOTY list and my ‘biggest disappointments in gaming’ list. I feel like the biggest fault of Diablo III is that it isn’t Diablo II. Diablo II was this amazing, super addictive dungeon crawler that had thousands of people playing it over a decade after its release. To say that Diablo III did not live up to its predecessor is fair, but it’s also fair to say that it was not a terrible game. In fact, it was quite fun. When it first came out, myself and a group of friends had an absolute ball.
It was only once we hit the brickwall of inferno did the flaws become apparent. Luckily, Blizzard have been hard at work tweaking the game, with patch 1.0.4 and 1.0.5 bringing new features that aim to bring the game up to the standard we expected. Nonetheless, it was still a fun game that I sunk a large amount of hours into.
I picked up Dishonored fairly late in the year, and was disappointed that it took me so long to get a hold of. In the current world of gaming, which is littered with yearly instalments of Call of Duty and like, thirty Final Fantasy games, it’s very difficult for a new IP to take off. Dishonored did more than take off, by throwing a fantastic stealth-action FPS into a rich and detailed steampunk world.
3.) Sleeping Dogs
I love kung fu. I love Hong Kong action movies. I also enjoy GTA style sandbox games (when they are done well) so you can only imagine how much I enjoyed Sleeping Dogs. This game gets my sleeper hit of the year award (no pun intended) for coming out of no-where and impressing the hell out of me. So many franchises and new IPs have gone the sandbox route in order to ride on GTA’s coattails, and the vast majority of them have been garbage. Sleeping Dogs showed me sandbox done right, by breathing life into the virtual city of Hong Kong.
2.) World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria
I’ve become a ‘fair weather’ World of Warcraft player. I played the game in ‘hardcore raid for 5 hours a night, 6 nights a week’ mode when in high school (and still managed to graduate with a decent grade), dropped back to a slightly more casual but still pretty fanatical level in University, and finally relegated myself to re-subscribing for short ‘bursts’ of play. MoP was one of these bursts. I no longer have the time to commit myself to a game like I could back in high school, but if I did, I would gladly choose Mists of Pandaria.
The expansion is a culmination and refinement of all the fantastic new features that WoW has been implementing over the years (such as the dungeon/raid finder, streamlined quests and dungeon/raid progression) wrapped up in a beautiful story and world that makes you forget the game is over eight years old.
1.) Natural Selection 2
Oh come on. You all saw this one coming, right? The original NS taught me the value of teamwork, the joy of server communities and the innovation of independent developers. NS2 is this amazing blend of FPS and RTS, a game made by a development team no bigger than a basketball team, yet looks as good as any triple A blockbuster.
NS2 shows us that indie developers can play with the big boys, and that innovation in video games is far from finished. It’s super addictive multiplayer and fanatical community means that this is a game I will be playing for many, many years.