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Found 17 results

  1. GP Staff

    Game of the Year 2016: GP's Top 10

    We're nearly a month into the new year, but you didn't think we forgot to post GP's top 10 games of 2016, did you? Okay, so it's a little late, but better late than never, right? In any case, there were quite a few memorable and great games in 2016; our individual game of the year lists tended to reflect that a lot as each one had at least a few unique games that didn't pop up in others. Some games dominated the conversation for most of the year, some were quaint surprises, and yet others popped up at the last minute to steal the spotlight. And in a year where shooters had one of their biggest years in a while, perhaps the most surprising thing about our list is that only one made it on (which speaks to the quality of the games that released in 2016). But enough talk! Here are the ten games the GP staff and contributors voted on as our overall Top 10 games for 2016. Enjoy! 10. Kirby Planet Robobot "Kirby“s latest outing has me reflecting upon my childhood, and how these games make me feel, in a different way than I expected. I simply haven't felt this impressed, this unbelievably delighted from a Kirby game since my childhood. I've often said that Return to Dream Land marks the pinnacle of traditional Kirby gameplay. But Planet Robobot takes it -- and fans“ expectations -- and manages to make everything feel like a mechanized wonderland." - Jonathan Higgins 9. Severed The beauty and the pain portrayed in Severed is matched only by how simple and refined the combat is. It may not have the whimsy of their other games, but Severed is easily one of DrinkBox Studios“ best, and one of the best games overall on the Vita -- not just of this year, but of any year. - Chris "Wildcard Corsair" Garcia 8. Owlboy So much about what makes Owlboy worth experiencing isn“t in the mechanics, but in its cast and environments. You won“t feel triumphant in the end — it“ll be more like you just watched a really awesome Disney movie. The folks behind Owlboy put so much meticulous care into their work that it took nine years to make. The end result is absolutely worth your own time and attention. - Jonathan Higgins 7. Pokemon Sun and Moon Alola is an absolutely, positively phenomenal place. Its challenges were versatile; I“ve never had as much fun with a main story in a mainline Pokémon game. The soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal; “The Battle At the Summit!” is probably Masuda and his team at their absolute best. Narrative direction? Superior, bested only by Black & White. Music, sounds, and general ambiance? Also top-tier. All of this and more make Sun & Moon easy to recommend to first-timers, or lapsed fans. - Jonathan Higgins 6. The Witness It's hard to follow up a game like Braid, but developer Jonathan Blow did it. The Witness is truly unlike any other game I've ever played, thanks to its unique combination of exploration and puzzles. The game teaches you organically how to think about the solutions to each puzzle, and the way that each area is divided into different types of puzzles is extremely well done. It is, without a doubt, the smartest game of the year. - Jason Clement 5. Tokyo Mirage Sessions As a fan of both Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei, I can certainly understand the disappointment some felt when Tokyo Mirage Sessions turned out to be a game that in no way matched what they had envisioned Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem would be. But the heart of both franchises shines through in ways expected and not, with a top-notch presentation and a warm heart that in my mind turned out to be the Wii U“s last and greatest hurrah. - Justin Graham 4. Final Fantasy XV Though it“s rough around the edges, Noctis“s road trip tale of brotherhood and a desire to find his betrothed after his kingdom has fallen under imperial rule shines through where it counts, wearing its inspirations from past Final Fantasy games on its sleeve while standing well on its own. And the game“s ending is not only rewarding, but one of the very best that the series has delivered yet, nailing the game“s themes one after another. - Justin Graham 3. Dragon Quest Builders Building has never been quite as compelling in video games as it is in Dragon Quest Builders. While the simplistic combat is perhaps the game's weakest point, Dragon Quest Builders is by far one of the deepest experiences I've played this year thanks to its blend of exploration, construction, and traditional JRPG mechanics. Nearly everything about it from its addicting gameplay to its fantastic soundtrack make it an outstanding experience and one of this year's biggest surprises. - Jason Clement 2. Overwatch I won“t tell you my exact hour count, but I“ve put a disgusting amount of time into Overwatch. You know how I complained about not having enough time to play games in my backlog? Well, I'm pretty sure I could've finished a couple of RPGs with the amount of time I have thrown at Overwatch. But anyway, Overwatch is a total blast to play. Rich with personality/polish, an incredibly varied playable cast, rewarding team-based gameplay, and plenty of positive reinforcement built right within the game makes the consistent fun I've had with it far outweigh the criticisms I could level against it. And from someone who pretty much never plays first-person shooter multiplayer is incredibly high praise. - Barrel 1. The Last Guardian The Last Guardian is, by all accounts, a game that very possibly could have come out and completely underwhelmed; after all, it was in development for some eight years (and more often than not, those types of deals tend to be disasters in the end). But somehow, some way, Fumito Ueda and his team at GenDesign pulled it off. By no means is it perfect; playing the game can be challenging at times due to some awkward controls and stubborness on Trico's part to obey at times, but the journey is worth it at the end and incredibly compelling. The Last Guardian has some of the most stunning environments and architecture I've ever seen in a video game. The visuals are breathtaking, especially when you're in the outdoors areas and see Trico's feathers glistening in the light and ruffling in the wind. The Last Guardian is triumphant, its story possibly exceeding what Team Ico had accomplished in its two previous games thanks to a touching narrative that is built on the relationship between the boy and Trico throughout their journey. I can't imagine how Ueda plans to top this, but I can't wait to find out. - Jason Clement
  2. Jason Clement

    Game of the Year 2016: Jason's Picks

    I'll skip the real-world comparisons and say that for the most part, 2016 was a pretty good year for video games overall. Two of the most long-awaited games finally came out (and not a moment too soon), and they were both surprisingly excellent. Many more great indie games made their debut, and I'm looking forward to catching up with a lot of them over the next year. And the 3DS had one of its best years yet in terms of RPGs for the handheld. Heck, we even got cool surprises like the NES Classic Edition. As usual, I want to acknowledge some of this year's runner-ups, such as Firewatch and Stories: The Path of Destinies; both of which nearly made my list. Coatsink's Shu also deserves a lot of credit for being one of the most original games I played this year as well. And last but not least, Overwatch is a game I wish I had spent more time with, but ultimately there just wasn't enough time to play everything. In any event, here are my top 10 games of 2016. 10. Fire Emblem Fates Fire Emblem Fates was far and away one of my most anticipated titles coming into 2016. Awakening was my game of the year for 2013, and now the series was plunging headfirst into a story that would see new protagonist Corrin split between two warring sides: his adopted family and the family of his birth. It was an interesting twist and a great setup for a potentially epic story and character-rich plot, even if the story gets away from itself a bit at certain points. The strategic gameplay is still as good as ever and I enjoyed pairing up various units to see how their relationships would unfold. 9. Abzu Confession: I was already completely biased in favor of Abzu from the start, especially since two of the three major creative people behind Journey (aka my game of the year in 2012) worked on it. Also, in light of that latter fact, it's also not surprising that Abzu is essentially Journey except under the water, in a sense. However, it does not out-Journey Journey, and that's okay. Abzu is a short but breathtaking experience, and Austin Wintory's woodwind-filled orchestrated soundtrack adds to the epic feel of swimming alongside majestic sea creatures and currents in exotic underwater locales. There's virtually no challenge to it, but I almost can't wait to dive back in and experience it all again. 8. Batman: The Telltale Series The last Telltale game I had played before this was The Wolf Among Us, which I really enjoyed, but for some reason I hadn't had the desire to play any more after that -- until Batman, that is. Unbeknownst to players at the outset, Batman: The Telltale Series exists in its own universe, meaning Telltale gets to tell Batman as they want to tell him. Everything you knew about Batman potentially gets thrown out the window, which is refreshing and exciting to me, and Telltale used this to their advantage to tell one of the best Batman stories of recent years. Also, it probably has the most exciting quick-time-event sections I've ever experienced. Season 2 can't come soon enough. 7. Star Fox Zero If you haven't played Star Fox Zero yet, you might be surprised to see it on this list. Aren't the controls terrible? Isn't it a bad game? And to that I say no, it's not a bad game. At all. The controls aren't 100% ideal, but they're fine once you get used to them for 30 minutes or so (with occasional spottiness). But underneath the stigma of its motion controls, Star Fox Zero contains one of the best Star Fox games, bar none. Platinum's signature is definitely felt in this game especially with certain levels that feature over-the-top action (especially some of the latter ones), and it was a joy to hear the new songs as well as new renditions of old classics. It may not be exactly what everyone wanted, but as a reimagining of Star Fox 64, it definitely achieves what it sets out to do (with a few twists) and be incredibly entertaining at the same time. 6. Paper Mario: Color Splash Paper Mario: Color Splash may continue the same direction that the much criticized Paper Mario: Sticker Star started, but I'll defend it to the death as one of this year's great titles. While the plot is still rather thin (pun not intended, I swear) compared to the first three Paper Mario games, Intelligent Systems gives Mario and friends more to work with in this game as he investigates why the color is seemingly disappearing from Prism Island. The new color system doesn't add a ton of depth to the card-based battle system, but it's used surprisingly well in various puzzles throughout the game. Also, Color Splash has a fantastic soundtrack and arguably the best/funniest writing in the entire series (The Thousand Year Door included), where each level is essentially a brand new scenario to work through (mini story arcs and all). What it lacks in the main plot, it more than makes up for in its witty writing and zany characters, making for a memorable Paper Mario experience. 5. Song of the Deep In many ways, Song of the Deep is this year's Child of Light. It's a fairytale/storybook plot featuring a little girl who goes on a journey, except this time it's under the sea. It's a shame that this game never got much more recognition than it did because it features some outstanding atmosphere and environments throughout. Insomniac Games managed to tell a touching story about Merryn's journey through the sea but also make a compelling, underwater Metroidvania world to explore at the same time. 4. The Witness As someone who enjoyed Braid (and especially its big twist at the end) years back, I knew I had to experience The Witness when it finally released (being from the same creator and all). While the decision to have no music is definitely strange at first, there is something really interesting about just having ambient rustling of leaves, the wind, and your footsteps as all you hear. The island you explore is incredibly beautiful thanks to the unique low-polygon style used but also hauntingly lonely. More than anything else, the combination of exploration and puzzles is what truly makes this a unique experience. The game teaches you organically how to think about the solutions to each puzzle, and the way that each area is divided into different types of puzzles is extremely well done. It is, without a doubt, the smartest game of the year. 3. Final Fantasy XV What a long, strange journey it's been for Final Fantasy XV. While it's definitely not the game that was originally presented to us at Final Fantasy Versus XIII, I'm thrilled to say that it turned out to be a good game in the end anyhow. It's not perfect by any means, with much of its world suffering from an identity crisis (is this a Final Fantasy world or is this Middle America with some fantasy elements?) and its main plot being a jumbled mess at points. Yet, Noctis and the bond between his three friends form the core of what makes Final Fantasy XV one of the best games this year. They go through quite a bit throughout the game, but none of their interactions ever feel forced, instead feeling like four good friends going a bachelor road trip before one of them (Noctis) gets married. Even though the broader spectrum of the plot (such as the invasion behind Insomnia) is somewhat lost in translation over the course of the game, Hajime Tabata and his team got the most important aspects right by honing on the relationship between Noctis and his friends, making the open world feel alive and worth exploring, and creating a fairly memorable villain that keeps you guessing as to what his motivations are. Also, the ending is definitely one of the more interesting finales in the series and will have fans talking about it for a while. 2. Dragon Quest Builders Minecraft is a game that has only ever vaguely intrigued me, but I still haven't had the urge to play it even in the midst of its insane popularity today. Dragon Quest Builders made me a believer in the concept by taking Minecraft's building and crafting elements and pairing it with objectives and an RPG plot that's surprisingly more compelling than it should be. Exploring each area of its rich world and gathering materials is just as much fun as building towns from the ground up, block by block. It could easily be a dull, grating experience but DQB makes the experience fun by giving you a wide array of building materials as well as objects and rooms to build. While the simplistic combat is perhaps the game's weakest point, Dragon Quest Builders is by far one of the deepest experiences I've played this year, and nearly everything about it from its addicting gameplay to its fantastic soundtrack make it an outstanding experience and one of this year's biggest surprises. 1. The Last Guardian Hoo boy -- where do I even start. The Last Guardian is, by all accounts, a game that very possibly could have come out and completely underwhelmed; after all, it was in development for some eight years (and more often than not, those types of deals tend to be disasters in the end). But somehow, some way, Fumito Ueda and his team at GenDesign pulled it off. By no means is it perfect; playing the game can be challenging at times due to some awkward controls and stubborness on Trico's part to obey at times, but the journey is worth it at the end and incredibly compelling. The Last Guardian has some of the most stunning environments and architecture I've ever seen in a video game. The visuals are breathtaking, especially when you're in the outdoors areas and see Trico's feathers glistening in the light and ruffling in the wind. The Last Guardian is triumphant, its story possibly exceeding what Team Ico had accomplished in its two previous games thanks to a touching narrative that is built on the relationship between the boy and Trico throughout their journey. I can't imagine how Ueda plans to top this, but I can't wait to find out.
  3. HAIL 9000

    Game of the Year 2016: Hailee's Picks

    2016 was a busy year for me, what with moving to a new country and all. Unfortunately that meant that I didn“t get to play everything I wanted to this year, but despite that I still had quite a tough time narrowing this list down to only ten games. There are definitely a few games that I really enjoyed that didn“t make the cut. I won“t give shoutouts to all of them, but at the very least I have to mention Kentucky Route Zero Act IV, which after much deliberation I decided not to put on the list because it“s only a part of a game and can“t stand alone without the other acts. But all and all this was a pretty good year in video games, at least for me, so let“s dive in! 10. Hyper Light Drifter Hyper Light Drifter is a game I“ve been looking forward to since I first ran into it at PAX last year. The game“s art direction is what drew me in immediately, but after playing the demo I was even more excited to see the finished product. When the game finally came out earlier this year, I was excited to find that it had been worth the wait. While I definitely found it to be pretty darn challenging and sometimes frustrating, I overall had a great time with Hyper Light Drifter. The gameplay, although often difficult and tense, was a lot of fun and felt rewarding, featuring some very satisfying and fluid combat which was nicely complimented by great puzzles. That said, the game was certainly an exercise is resilience, and did sometimes feel quite punishing, but never so much that it pushed me away completely. But where Hyper Light Drifter really shines is in its worldbuilding. With the aid of its stellar visual design and soundtrack, the game manages to create a consistent mood that“s mysterious and often sad. It masterfully crafts a world world that succeeds in being beautiful as well as interesting, which drove me to play and explore as much as I could. All these elements helped make Hyper Light Drifter a memorable experience. 9. Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse As someone who first came to the Shin Megami Tensei series through Persona, I often find myself wishing that some other games in the series were a bit more accessible with stronger and more prominent plot and characters. While obviously not a Persona game, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse was kind of a happy medium, at least for me personally. Apocalypse brings back the world, locations, and gameplay of Shin Megami Tensei IV with a new, stronger, and more consistent plot that intersects in interesting ways with that of the original. Additionally, various gameplay and UI improvements address a lot of my frustrations with Shin Megami Tensei IV. The most welcome addition for me, however, was a cast of much more compelling and engaging characters, all of whom are unique and full of personality. All and all, it really felt like it managed to be a new experience that took advantage of its foundations while improving and building on them. It succeeded in not feeling like a rehash, despite revisiting many of the same locations as Shin Megami Tensei IV. And it does all of it with an awesome post-apocalyptic cyberpunk aesthetic and the Shin Megami Tensei art direction that I“ve come to know and love. 8. Dragon Quest Builders This is one game I never would have expected to end up on my list but holy heck did I have a lot of fun with it. I was barely even paying attention to this game until I happened to play the demo at PAX to kill some time. Dragon Quest Builders is kind of a perfect storm of several gameplay elements that I tend to have a lot of fun with. I dabbled with Minecraft a few times back in the day before it became an overwhelming cultural phenomenon, but I was never able to stick with it for more than a few days. Although I very much enjoyed the gathering and building, I struggled to give myself something to do. Ultimately, I just found the sandbox to be too big and directionless for me to really enjoy. Dragon Quest Builders does an excellent job of solving this problem by giving the game a plot (I use this term very loosely here) with quests and objectives. When I wasn“t feeling particularly creative or inspired, I had a stream of guests to give me direction. And when the mood struck, I had the opportunity to set aside the quests for a while and create a new building or improve my town here and there. Additionally, the separate chapters provide enough variety to keep things interesting. And the game has that cute whimsical Dragon Quest feeling which just makes it feel that much more fun and inviting. It ended up being my favorite game this year for all the times I just needed to wind down and relax. 7. Owlboy My list this year seems full of games with notably long development cycles, and Owlboy is no exception. It may be kind of unfairly baised, but Owlboy“s origins definitely color my feelings toward the game. It just warms my heart when developers get to see a personal project that they“re passionate about realized, even if it takes years. Owlboy is first and foremost a really fun platform-adventure game. The mechanics are solid, the levels are well designed, and the fights feel rewarding. Owlboy also builds on its well established genre template by adding fun mechanics of its own, like flight and the ability to carry Otus“ companions to utilize their various skills. It also definitely succeeds in invoking that nostalgia for some of my favorite Nintendo titles of the past. While my taste in videogames has certainly broadened over the years, I got my start with The Legend of Zelda series, and it still feels great to master the mechanics of a well-crafted boss fight and finally get it right after several tries. While great gameplay is at the core of what makes Owlboy great, it“s certainly not the only place that it shines. The art direction and character design are both lovely. The characters are endearing in appearance and personality, and to top it all off the game has a big heart. 6. Overwatch It almost feels silly to write about Overwatch or put it on a GOTY list considering the game“s hilarious popularity, but it definitely deserves a spot on mine. Overwatch is just so darn good and so much fun, and I“m not usually one for competitive multiplayer, especially in first person shooters. As I“ve come to expect from Blizzard, the game takes many of the best aspects of the genre and perfects and builds on them. It“s a class-based shooter with so much variety that it“s easy to find something that works for you. And although I had my favorites, I happily switched between a broad list of characters between matches, unlike other class based games where I tend to perfect my role as only one or two characters and avoid deviation. Overwatch also takes some deliberate steps to take the pressure off by focusing on player accomplishments at the end of matches rather than offering a ranked KDR. It makes the game accessible not just by offering lots of ways to play, but also by giving players lots of avenues to get the hang of things in a low stress way where they could focus on improvement rather than performing well enough to avoid being singled out. It was exciting to see a lot of my friends who don“t usually go for this genre try out and get into Overwatch. On top of all of that, the amazing and diverse cast of well designed characters, the colorful aesthetic, and (notably minimal) interesting lore and character relationships just makes the game a lot of fun. Although we don“t know a ton specifically about the heroes, the shorts, comics, and quips passed between characters gives us a window into who they are. And all in all the game is just a lot of fun. 5. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice The Ace Attorney games are some of of my all time favorites and their characters have a special place in my heart, so I“m always excited about a new entry in the series. While I enjoyed some of the spinoffs like Apollo Justice and Ace Attorney Investigations, I was so pleased with Dual Destinies because it felt kind of like a return to the first three games, which are far and away my favorites. It was nice to see Spirit of Justice continue in this vein while bringing some fresh ideas to the series with the cases in Khura“in and the new Divination Seances. While these cases still stick to the same structure we“ve come to expect, they change up the formula in a way that I thought was interesting and fun and require you to think about things a little differently than previous games. The game of course features the usual series staple of likable characters with horribly punny names and great character designs. Additionally, moving some of the cases to Khura“in also lets the game tackle some new and interesting issues. This leads to some excellent writing which even manages to push the boundaries of the series in a few ways, with one chapter in particular completely overturning my expectations of what was possible in an Ace Attorney case. All and all, Spirit of Justice brought something new while still maintaining the staples of the series that I love so much, making it a welcome entry. 4. Stardew Valley I have a lot of love for the Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons series (shoutout to Natsume for making this extremely confusing), so I was pretty darn excited about Stardew Valley. And for me, Stardew Valley is the perfect realization of everything good about Harvest Moon. Pretty much all aspects of the gameplay feel very well done, and make my day to day life as a farmer/adventurer/best friend to everyone in the town so satisfying. It“s addicting to the point of being dangerous, because you can lose hours to the game by falling into the “I“ll just play one more day†mentality. On top of that, it definitely adds a nice level of complexity to the writing and character development that I“ve never really felt was there in Harvest Moon games. The heart events feel more meaningful, and the characters have distinct personalities and backgrounds. It means that choosing a spouse goes beyond “do I want to marry the mermaid or the archeologist†(FYI I wanted to marry both in Harvest Moon DS). And on top of that, the game receives regular content updates based on player feedback, so it just keeps getting better. The other thing that really endears me to Stardew Valley is that it came about as the creator“s passion project which (as far as my understanding goes) he tackled almost completely on his own by learning to create his own art and music. The game is so lovingly crafted, and it“s clear that it could only be born out of a deep love and understanding of the Harvest Moon series. 3. The Last Guardian As an obnoxious Team Ico fan who“s always trying to force Shadow of the Colossus on everyone I meet, I was really looking forward to The Last Guardian. I definitely had tempered my expectations considering how long the game spent bouncing around in development hell, but in the end I really was not disappointed. The game is certainly not perfect, and as many have pointed out, it has its frustrating moments. I am absolutely guilty of having to turn it off and step away from it because Trico was just not cooperating. But I also find Trico to be one of the game“s greatest triumphs. He really does feel like a separate entity with his own personality and agenda, even when his agenda is doing everything but carrying me up to some dang ledge. The game excels at creating a bond between the player and Trico through shared experiences and hardships, and their symbiotic cooperative relationship feels like something unique I haven“t experienced before. I definitely applaud the developers who perfected Trico“s behavior. The game is also reminiscent of Team Ico“s previous games, Shadow of the Colossus and Ico, in more ways that one. It“s definitely a contemplative game, with the moments of calm far outweighing the moments of tension. The level design is both well executed and interesting, and the art direction is beautiful. The game excels at teaching you about its world and characters through small thoughtful details in things like the way characters move and interact with the environment. And as we“ve come to expect, the game has a strong emotional core and a story that many players will find quite moving. Of course, it also has some of the studio“s less stellar staples like awkward movement and controls, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. 2. Final Fantasy XV If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I was kind of taken by surprise by how endearing I found Final Fantasy XV. As a fairly invested fan of the series, I never would have requested an entry centered around trendy rich boys taking a roadtrip across a fantasy version of middle America, but here we are. Something that“s always endeared me to the Final Fantasy series is its willingness to try things out and do whatever the heck it wants, and Final Fantasy XV is certainly no exception. To start out with the bad, the main plot of the game definitely leaves something to be desired. It“s not incredibly interesting, it doesn“t flow very well, and I often found myself confused and wondering if I had missed some bit of context that would help me understand what was going on. I think some of this can be attributed to trying to fit it into the game“s open world structure, but the plot and its delivery feel like a bit of a mess even after taking that into account. My other complaint is that while the combat is definitely fun and satisfying on top of looking real cool, it“s lacking in strategic depth. However, this doesn“t stop the game from having some really awesome fun boss fights. The thing that really endears me to Final Fantasy XV is its characters and their journey together. Even though the main plot didn“t really do it for me, all the little character moments and interactions really did. I loved the little incidental conversations between the characters, camping at night and picking out meals for Ignis to cook, and going through all of Prompto“s pictures at the end of the day. Driving or walking around the beautiful world feels peaceful and reflective, and I think going through the day to day of this journey with the four characters let me get to know them in a different way than I“m used to. You get the sense that you“re really on a journey with four friends who care a lot about each other, and in that way the game shines. Plus the game has a heavy dose of the kind of dorky weirdness I“ve come to love in Final Fantasy games. So ultimately while imperfect and rough around the edges, Final Fantasy XV was just a lovely experience and certainly a lot of fun. 1. Firewatch Every year or so there“s a game which I am gifting to my friends out of the kindness of my heart so that they feel obligated to play it and talk to me about it. This year, that game was Firewatch. There were a lot of things that made Firewatch for me. First of all, it“s gorgeous. The art direction is incredible, and I appreciated all the time the game gave me just to wander through its beautiful recreation of the Shoshone national forest. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest I spent a lot of time outdoors, and, even though it“s set in Wyoming, the “hiking†in this game felt so nostalgic to me. The writing is where Firewatch really excels though. It deals with the pretty unglamorous lives of real people, focusing mostly on Henry, a middle aged man who“s reached a difficult crossroads in his life. It touches on a lot of subjects I find are rarely visited in games, which I thought was refreshing. Henry is definitely not your average protagonist, and his efforts to escape his life by taking a job as a park ranger out in the wilderness isn“t your average premise. In addition to Henry“s story, you get to piece together the stories of previous fire lookouts as you find traces of their lives left in the park. Every single story told in the game has a strong emotional core which makes them all feel very worthwhile. The way the story is told through walkie-talkie conversations between Henry and Delilah is kind of delightful, and the writing feels both genuine and natural. I got so wrapped up in Henry“s relationship with her and with the game“s central mystery that I beat it in just two sittings, which is quite unusual for me. I also appreciate that between important conversations, you usually spend some time hiking in silence to let you process what just happened. If you“re thinking of playing Firewatch, I“d recommend not reading this last paragraph since I“d hate to color your expectations. This is where I expect my opinion diverges from many others, but the ending was what really cemented Firewatch as one of my favorite games, because I felt incredibly let down. I found myself so invested in the mysteries and in my relationship with Delilah that when things didn“t play out as anticipated I was disappointed. But I thought about it a lot (I mean really a lot) and realized that the game had intentionally manipulated me into thinking the story was something that it wasn“t, and in doing so, had really succeeded in making my experience as the player mirror the experience of the protagonist. That helped make the game“s conclusion much more meaningful and poignant.
  4. Laddie13

    Game of the Year 2016: Laddie's Picks

    Each year there is always that one game that comes out of nowhere and completely blows my mind; last year it was Until Dawn. 2016 was a lot like that, and for me could be summed up as the year of pleasant surprises. A few of my most anticipated games fell short of my expectations and landed a slightly lower rank for others that weren't even on my radar. The biggest shake up in my gaming universe came in the form of VR, not only did I vicariously live out a life long dream/biggest nightmare of cage diving with a shark, but the PSVR also renewed my interest in the horror genre. A few games that were also contenders that just missed being included were, Inside and No Man“s Sky. Dishonored 2 was left off because sadly I never found the time to play it. Then there“s Overwatch, just kidding I have no interest in that game whatsoever. So without further adieu, I present you my (spoiler free) top ten games of 2016. Ok, there“s 11, I have this thing about even numbers, odd, always odd numbers with me 11. Tom Clancy“s Division I love a good pandemic outbreak in a video game, but maybe after playing The Last of Us, my expectations were too high for The Division. I felt no sense of urgency trying to save the human race. I think a lot of that was because much of the story was presented to you in the form of various audio recordings scattered within the open world of the fictional Manhattan. However, that didn't stop me from sinking several hours into the game. Gameplay was a lot like Destiny, but I found the loot drops and leveling up in this game less frustrating than the abusive relationship I had with that game. There“s something about the concept of looting and leveling a character up in a video game that I can't resist. I feel the heart of The Division“s story is a morality tale warning the human race that Black Friday shopping is evil and if you partake in the barbaric ritual, you will die a painful death from smallpox. 10. Call of Duty Infinite Warfare I would have loved Activision to forgo the Call of Duty brand for Infinity Ward“s Infinite Warfare. Sure it still has the foundations of a COD game, but it could have just as easily been marketed as a new sci-Fi franchise separate from COD. Multiplayer is pretty much what you would expect; no one is reinventing the wheel here. Maps are decent, and the game features a wide variety of standard and more futuristic versions of various weapons, and of course zombies. Infinite Warfare“s real strength comes from its campaign. Visually it is stunning especially running on a PS4 Pro. It tells a decent story and features memorable characters, including a charming and witty robot named Ethan, and something COD has sorely lacked in the past, a positive female character, Lt. Nora Salter. Too bad Infinity Ward wasn't brave enough to make her the lead playable character, but it's progress nonetheless. I love the missions where you have to fly a Jackal, so much fun. Too bad IW didn't think to include a multiplayer Jackal mode similar to Battlefront“s Fighter Squadron. 9. Until Dawn: Rush of Blood This game bears very little resemblance to last year's excellent Until Dawn regarding gameplay. It's an on-rails shooter, macabre roller coaster ride through a very creepy carnival/haunted house where dolls, demons, squealing pigs and everyone's favorite, clowns are the enemies that often jump out at you when you least expect it. While it still perfectly fits the category of horror, Rush of Blood is more a light-hearted scare, one that you never really sense you are in danger unlike the demo, Kitchen or the Playtest episode of Black Mirror. Rush of Blood has a fun arcade-y feel to it and is a perfect introduction to VR. Akimbo move controllers are the only way to play this game; the dual shock 4 will work, but hitting various targets in quick succession heightens your score, and the DS4 will slow you down. The game features seven different uniquely themed levels and while the enemies all tend to feel the same despite their form, it's replay value is high, and it's some of the best entertainment $20 can buy. 8. Ratchet and Clank (2016) Ratchet and Clank is not a remastered version of the PS2 classic but rather an all-new game based on the animated movie that is based on the original game. Err, whatever it is, it's spectacular fun. Often the thing I find with remastered/ remakes is that you can't always go home again. While you may have loved a game fifteen years ago, it may not have aged as well as single malt whiskey. Not a problem here, though, the characters, gameplay, and story feel brand new. It looks fantastic, once again it has PS4 Pro support that really makes those graphics pop. I've always thought Insomniac games have the best weapons and gadgets, the sheepinator will transform your enemies into harmless sheep, while the Groovitron forces enemies to uncontrollably dance, you don't find that fun in Battlefield“s arsenal. Ratchet and Clank was worth revisiting or playing for the first time. I only hope the upcoming Crash Bandicoot reboots are this good. 7. Titanfall 2 First off, no one is more surprised than I am that Titanfall 2 wasn't higher up on this list. [Editor's note: Full disclosure - Laddie is a moderator for Respawn's official Titanfall forums]. Respawn has delivered a great campaign that incorporates elements of genres you don't often see blended with an FPS like platformers and puzzles. Where Titanfall 2 misses the mark with me is, multiplayer. The first Titanfall was something so magical that I have invested over 60 days of playtime into it. Of course, I expected changes in the sequel, but Titanfall 2 doesn't feel like Titanfall anymore. The maps hardly encourage movement; the Titans are a shadow of what they used to be, and only two game modes feature grunts, and even then they have been stripped of their witty banter. Respawn prides itself on listening to the community, but I have to wonder if they were listening to the right community. They almost shipped Titanfall 2 without the most popular game mode Attrition in favor of the camper“s delight mode, Bounty Hunt. Luckily they came to their senses and added it back before launch. Titanfall 2 is still a decent game, especially if you didn't play the first, and all future DLC except cosmetics will be free. There“s also the grappling hook; that's fun. 6. Here They Lie I pretty much freaked out when I saw the trailer to Here They Lie for the first time. I“d been anxiously awaiting to see what Cory Davis (Spec Ops: The Line) and his Tangentlemen were up to. Here They Lie was a PSVR launch title and Sony Santa Monica and Tangentlemen took a Blair Witch approach to building up interest and promoting the game in the weeks before it released in the form of a website. Each day I would visit in hopes of finding out more about the Daedalus Project and the woman in yellow. Here They Lie is a psychological horror game, one that is steeped in surrealism, so much so that I felt like I was in a David Lynch movie. By that, I don't mean an actor playing in a David Lynch movie but rather your life becoming a Lynch movie. The look is gritty and reminded me of Eraserhead, and another aspect that was very Lynchian was the use of sound as if it became a character in the game. It also took a bit of getting used to, and at first, I could only play it for short periods at a time. Oddly enough, it is the only VR game that made me feel slightly queasy. It's not a game for everyone as it often relies on symbols and metaphors for the player to interpret for themselves. Here They Lie is an interesting horror experience, one that doesn't last long but will haunt you for days after. 5. Rusty Lake Roots Someone very wise once recommended that I play Rusty Lake Hotel, it was a puzzle/room escape/adventure that was so dark and twisted I instantly became addicted. This lead to the discovery of the Cube Escape series also developed by Rusty Lake, which kept me occupied right up until the announce of Rusty Lake Roots. If you have ever been intrigued by the prospect of tracking your family tree through things like Ancestry.com, Rusty Lake Roots might just change your mind. There are 33 levels in Roots, solving one, opens up another part of the story that traces the Vanderboom family through several generations of a deeply disturbed family. If David Lynch (yeah, I know another Lynch reference) were to make a strange and surreal point and click adventure game, it would probably be a lot like this. It's tough to discuss Rusty Lake Roots without spoiling things, but for a mere $3, you should give it a try. 4. The Deadly Tower of Monsters Every month I'm constantly disappointed or already own the free games offered with PlayStation Plus and Games with Gold. Recently PS+ offered up a game I missed called The Deadly Tower of Monsters. Right before Thanksgiving I went and caught myself a terrible cold/sore throat combination which freed up some time that I filled with video games. By chance, I decided to give DTOM a try. The concept of the game is that a cheesy science fiction B-movie is being re-released on DVD, and the director is brought in to record commentary while you play. It felt like an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and features a mix of aliens, dinosaurs, and dragons as enemies while the gameplay is a hack and slash/ dual stick shooter hybrid complete with irreverent humor. Seriously, was this game made for me personally, of course not but it sure felt like it. There are three playable characters and each feature different abilities that you will need to swap out to access or complete various levels. It's not an exceptionally long game, but it makes up for that with fun and cleverness. 3. Uncharted 4 I was saddened by the thought of our hero Drake“s story coming to an end and worried that an Amy Hennig-less Naughty Dog would not do his ending justice. I was wrong, Uncharted 4 -- while probably my least favorite of the series -- delivered a beautiful and perfect ending while leaving the possibility of another Uncharted series in the future. Uncharted games have always been the perfect mixture of great storytelling and fun gameplay; Uncharted 4 didn“t quite get the balance right this time. One minute I would be in the moment of action packed adventure only to be interrupted with extremely lengthy cutscenes that stole my momentum. Stealth based combat has always been an option and even sometimes a necessary means of survival in Uncharted, but it felt forced in Uncharted 4. I guess what I'm trying to say is the influence of Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann made it feel more The Last of Us than Uncharted regarding gameplay. That“s by no means a terrible thing; I just felt it slowed up the pace. It goes without saying the game looks gorgeous. What surprised me the most was how good the multiplayer is. I don't prefer third person and no one buys an Uncharted game for MP, but it's worth a try. 2. Doom I expected nothing from Doom but a slight disappointment. Was I ever wrong; I love this game. It was a tough decision putting it in second place and could just as easily be my number one. Doom“s ultimate strength is the excellent single-player campaign; it's not exactly groundbreaking material but what it lacks in originality is surpassed by pure fun. It“s also quite a lengthy campaign by today's standards, one in which I have played through several times to find all the hidden things and areas. Kudos to the artists and level designers at Id that made Hell and Mars look so good. Initially, I wasn't impressed with Doom“s multiplayer but it got better once I learned to lose my regenerating health sensibilities and remember to pick up health packs. Id“s dedication to the game is admirable as well; They keep adding free content and game modes that keep me coming back to play. 1. The Last Guardian In the nine years it took for The Last Guardian to come out, my interest in this game has run the gamut between super excitement to indifference. In all honesty, I never thought the game would ever be more than an urban legend. On December 6, 2016, Sony finally released The Last Guardian. My journey began as soon as it unlocked at midnight and for the next few days, the game consumed me. The game is not without flaws, and everything you have heard is true, camera angles and wonky controls are often frustrating but if you have played Ico or Shadow of the Colossus they will come as no surprise. There were times I felt the awkward controls were by design and that later in the game controlling the nameless boy became more intuitive as if the boy was learning. More than likely it was due to just becoming more accustomed to the controls. I've heard several people complain of terrible frame rate issues as well, but I didn't experience that, it's probably just less noticeable on the Pro. The real star of the game is Trico, a giant cat/dog/bird that is the most advanced AI I've encountered in a game, which probably contributed to the delay as I'm not sure PS3 could have pulled it off. I fell in love with that magnificent beast and the relationship between Trico, and the boy is truly something special. The game hit my emotions in a way I didn't expect, I“m not even ashamed to admit it brought me to tears, both of sadness and of joy. The Last Guardian is my game of the year because it was such a powerful moving experience despite its flaws. Sometimes I stray, but we all know my gamer heart has always truly belonged to Sony, games like The Last Guardian make me proud to be a Playstation fan.
  5. If you were worried that the long-awaited The Last Guardian wouldn't actually release in 2016 despite last year's E3 saying otherwise, you're not alone. Between the recent rumor that Guerilla Games' stunning Horizon: Zero Dawn might be delayed until 2017 and the fact that we've seen nor heard nothing of The Last Guardian since June of last year is definitely not a great sign, but the most recent issue of EDGE magazine has put those fears to rest. The publication detailed its hands-on impressions with one of the game's earliest areas and also got to speak with the man behind it all, Fumito Ueda. Although he admits to being a bit worried about certain things in-game (as any creator usually is), Ueda remains excited for the game to finally release. EDGE also describes Trico -- the game's gigantic, dog-like, avian creature -- as "one of the most striking video game presences in recent years," though it may also be seen as divisive as Ico's Yorba, who players found as irritating as she was charming. Ueda also mentions that Trico is a "free-spirited creature who flagrantly disregards your attempts to tame it," though the relationship between it and the boy strengthens over the course of the game. The Last Guardian is scheduled for release later this year on PlayStation 4. Expect to hear more about it at E3 in just a few weeks. Source: EDGE Magazine (via International Business Times) Are you looking forward to The Last Guardian? What are your thoughts on Trico?
  6. Here's an interesting question for you that just came to me earlier - like the title says, does the reveal of The Last Guardian, FFVII remake, and Shenmue III give you hope that Half-Life 3 will be announced at some point? Before E3, I would be content to tell you that Half-Life 3 will probably never happen, if only because Valve doesn't need it to anymore (they make enough from Steam), and that expectations probably will outstrip what the final product is if it does happen. But now, something about those reveals makes me think that we could see HL3 at some point. I dunno if it'll be this year, next year, or even in 2017, but I have to think Valve will pull of the same big surprise at some point before 2020. I dunno, what do you guys think?
  7. Whew, it's been quite a ride so far, hasn't it? Even though E3 actually officially begins tomorrow when the expo floor opens, most of the flood of announcements occurs on Monday, making this arguably the biggest day of the week for anyone watching from home, followed by the remaining conferences on Tuesday. And with that, here are a few random thoughts from me about the day's announcements. Microsoft's showing was fairly solid, although perhaps not quite as surprising as last year. Their biggest revelation was the announcement of Xbox 360 backwards compatibility, which is great service by them, but I don't know if it's quite enough to get people up in arms with excitement. Rare's offerings were definitely not expected. The new pirate game Sea of Thieves looks pretty rad, and it's great to see them working on something that isn't casual or Kinect-related for once. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that the Banjo-Threeie rumors ended up being false, though. Also, the announcement of Rare Replay was something I did not expect at all, but actually is sort of an incentive for me to get an Xbox One eventually. There's incredible value there, and ironically, it almost pains me to see Microsoft selling the collection at a price where each game is essentially a dollar apiece; even the bigger, Xbox 360 ones. Star Wars Battlefront essentially saved EA's conference from being a complete bore. It's almost ridiculous how good and fun that game looks. And though I don't quite remember seeing Star Destroyers in the atmosphere during The Battle of Hoth, it was a cool visual addition nonetheless. The battlefield in Star Wars has never looked or felt more alive; November can't come soon enough. Ubisoft didn't show too much that I was actually interested in, though it was good to see fans getting another Oblivion-developed South Park game. Sadly, it wasn't too surprising to me that Beyond Good & Evil 2 didn't show up; at this point, I'm beginning to wonder if it'll ever happen. There was one anonymous developer working on it about a year or two back that mentioned that work was progressing slowly on it, but that it wouldn't be out until 2016/2017, so perhaps we still have a year or two left before we can totally give up on seeing it. Who knows, perhaps Ubisoft will pull a 'Last Guardian' with it sometime then. Sony... well done, Sony. They pulled off what was perhaps the biggest bombshells (three of them!!) since perhaps back in 2004. To be honest, I'm rather shocked that so many people didn't believe The Last Guardian still exists; both Sony and Fumito Ueda have acknowledged within the last year that they were still on the project and that certain recent elements have escalated the game's development, so I can only assume these people are either jaded or weren't following the game closely enough; maybe both. Also, what's especially interesting to me is that the game is seemingly unchanged from its initial debut some 8 years ago. I was almost certain it would be radically different at this point due to the extreme delays and vaporware status its had for so long. The Final Fantasy VII Remake was legitimately shocking, if only because Square Enix was staunch in saying that they wouldn't do it in years' past. By and large, this is an amazing development, and speaks well of Square's current leadership and direction. Between this, Final Fantasy XV beginning to look like it might come out soon, and Kingdom Hearts 3's development continuing nicely, there's reason to believe Square is actually listening to fans, and I imagine they'll begin to thrive as a company because of it. I never was into Shenmue, but I can appreciate its popularity and legacy, so it was also pretty surprising to hear that Shenmue 3 is officially maybe happening if the Kickstarter is successful (it will be). It'll be interesting to see if SEGA will put out a remastered HD collection of the first two games in order to generate hype and get players up to speed before it eventually comes out. Uncharted is something I still need to play (all three games, actually), but holy cow, that Uncharted 4 live demo was something else. Naughty Dog is a master at scripting action-filled moments like that, and the fact that they managed to give the illusion that you were in an open world (but not really) was also pretty impressive. Personally, I can't wait to see what Nintendo and Square Enix have in store later today. What surprises might we find? After today, I honestly can't say; just about anything is possible. What were your thoughts on Day 1 of the E3 press conferences?
  8. This started out as a couple of dumb one-off jokes I made earlier today, but then I realized...why not go further with it? Why not make it a number of dumb jokes? Why not indeed. So, in today's post, I'll be talking about some upcoming video games that are taking way too long to come out. But not just that - I'll also be revising their names to more accurately portray their current state and poking a little fun at them along the way. I've got my poking stick set to "stun" and my jokes set to "kill," so let's get this thing on the road! Agent Revised name: Undercover Agent This is literally the game's entire existence. Do you remember Agent? No? No one does, so if you said yes, go sit in time out, Mr. or Ms. Pants on Fire. It was announced in 2009 or so, and since then there's been nothing - total radio silence. Suffice it to say, it appears Agent has gone deep undercover, so until Rockstar pulls him from active duty, he won't be seen in the public eye unless he's in disguise. Let's just hope Momma Agent doesn't get a letter saying he was KIA. Final Fantasy XV Revised name: Final Fantasy 2015, At the Earliest Revised revised name: Pretty Boys with Sharpened Toys At first they were going to call it Final Fantasy Versus XIII, which is a heck of a mouthful. Makes sense to shorten the title a bit, especially after it's completely failed to show up on store shelves since its announcement in 2006, right? But Squenix wasn't just shortening the name, they were telling us something. Something to do with 15...what does it mean? Well, I've deduced that it means 2015 is the absolute earliest we'll see this game on store shelves. So if they rename it to FFXVI, be prepared to wait another couple of years, at least. The Last Guardian revised name: The Last Guardian of the PS3's Legacy "Woof! I mean...meow! I mean...hold on, let me think about this." Let's pretend for a moment that The Last Guardian is still coming to PS3, because that may be the only way for some of you to hold back the tears. Got rid of the sniffles yet? Good, let's move on. The Last Guardian has been "in development" for a while, being announced in 2009, and has always been slated to come out on PS3. Since it looks like the PS3's lifetime will expire before this game ever comes out, I've taken the liberty of crowning it the Guardian of the PS3's Legacy. Once every PS3 game that will ever be released has come out, ol' Trico will finally spread his wings and soar onto the system to secure the console's legacy with one final, amazing game. Unless it turns out to be terrible, like most games that stew in development hell for years, but let's just do what it takes to keep from crying and hope for the best. Beyond Good & Evil 2 Revised name: Beyond Good Graphics and Evil Executives 2 Still waiting. BG&E was a fan favorite and a critical success, but it didn't really do well commercially, so fans were ecstatic when it was announced the game was getting a sequel in 2008. And yet now they've been waiting...and waiting...and waiting. At this point, I'd like to think that by the time the game finally does come out it will have amazingly advanced graphics, probably powered by the Playstation 5, Xbox Two, and Wii U Me, and the developers will have finally found a way to convince the publishing bosses that the game will turn a profit. Prey 2 Revised name: A Longer Development Cycle than Prey, 2 Now with twice the prey! Prey 2 was announced in 2011 or so, but they've been pretty quiet since Bethesda told everyone that it was being polished up to their standards. What standards those are, exactly, we'll never know, but it probably involves releasing it with a host of hilarious glitches. In any case, the original Prey took around 12 years to finally see the light of day, and while Prey 2 has only gotten a few years in, the complete lack of any new info points to the developers trying to match or exceed that cycle. I'm pretty sure at that point it stops being "development hell" and turns into "development hell frozen over." Kingdom Hearts 3 Revised name: We Ran Out of Kingdom Hearts Spinoffs 3 I'm confused about those 3 things behind the logo too, Sora. It finally happened. After so many long years, we finally have confirmation. It's what we all expected, all hoped, all secretly knew. And our waiting has paid off as Square Enix has revealed...that it has finally run out of Kingdom Hearts spinoffs. Half-Life 3 Revised name: No-Life 3 While you wait, enjoy this mockup that took someone literally seconds to make. Because people who are still going around looking for clues of this game's existence have no life. That, and the game itself doesn't have a life, since it doesn't exist. It's a double whammy of painful realization! Starcraft: Ghost Revised name: Starcraft: Ghost I don't know if this is an actual screenshot. No one remembers what the game looks like. Oh, wait. Some of you may be saying that these are the same games I featured in a past article (welcome back, Señor or Señora Pantalones de Fuego) but I talked about them differently this time, so it makes it new. So nyah. So what do you think? Did I hit the nail on the head with my revised names? Do you have a better name for any of these? Or do you not care either way and just want to sound off in the comments about something else? Whatever the case, head on down there and speak your mind!
  9. So, everyone and their grandmother knows the story of Duke Nukem Forever by now. The game spent 12 years locked in development hell, where it became a legend whispered in hushed tones and broken promises. Delay after delay after delay, it was thought that The King would never take his throne, but then Gearbox stepped in to usher him to his seat of honor...which turned out to be more of an ugly metal folding chair than a seat fit for a king. Hell, they probably spent a year alone on that intricately animated jump. But I'm not here to talk about DNF. I mean, other than that first paragraph. I'm here to talk about the games that are starting to look like they'll take the same road as Duke and enter a protracted development cycle full of turmoil, missed release dates, and topped off with a nice "when it's done" when asked about the game's release. These are the candidates to become the next Duke Nukem Forever. FINAL FANTASY VERSUS XIII Announced: 2006 Status: As of October, it's "still in development." FFVXIII as it shall henceforth be known because I am not typing that out every time, has good reason to get RPG fans excited - it's basically the gritty reboot of the FF series. It's dark, angsty, and moody, and it doesn't care what you think. The setting is also worlds different from what we've come to expect of the series, being set in a futuristic environment, but, like, Earth futuristic. Then there's the gameplay, which looks like a more fast-paced, action-packed version of the Kingdom Hearts battle system. All this combined might be the kick in the pants the FF series needs to draw in a new crowd and get back some of those who were less than impressed with plain ol' FFXIII. But Squenix has been relatively quiet about the game, only mentioning it in little blurbs because they're annoyed that everyone's asking about it. Still, the fact that they've confirmed it's still in development as recently as last year is better than when they were saying nothing and everyone assumed it had been cancelled. It's also been rumored that this game has been turned into FF 15, which, knowing Square, would just add a few more years onto the development cycle while they redo the logo or something. We be rollin'. Slowly. Likelihood of being released: It's not looking good due to the sporadic updates. They say they're working on it, but not how hard, or how often, or how far along they already are, or anything, you know, indicative of the game ever coming out. Don't hold your breath. THE LAST GUARDIAN Announced: 2007 or so Status: Fumito Ueda says he's still working on it...that's something, I guess. Hoo boy, where to start with this one. Team Ico's next game has a lot of people feverishly anticipating its arrival, and for good reason - Team Ico has made a couple of fantastic games, and gamers are ready for more. Not only that, but The Last Guardian hearkens back to Ico with its theme of bonding and friendship, only instead of it being between a little beast boy and a...whatever Yorda is, it's the friendship of a little boy (not beastly this time) and a gigantic...furry thing. The furry thing in question has a lot of appeal with those big sad eyes that tug at your heartstrings, so gamers are ready to find out just how darn lovable he really is. Sadly, all we're getting is little teases here and there that the game is still coming out, with no concrete evidence that it even exists in any form at this point. Sit, Trico! Good...fluffy...birdy...thingy. Likelihood of being released: Well, Sony would be foolish to let this one slip away, but it's still going to take a while. You might have to buy a PS4 for this one. Or, who knows, maybe, along with The Last of Us, it'll be part of Sony's "The Last" games to send off the PS3 after the PS4's release. Or something. BEYOND GOOD & EVIL 2 Announced: 2008 Status: Coming to next-gen systems. Probably. There's really very little to say about BG&E2, because there really hasn't been much said about it. It was announced to much fanfare back in 2008, and fans of the original game have been wringing their hands in anticipation of getting to finally play the follow-up to such a stellar adventure. Since then though, the game hasn't been heard from very much. There's been a few mentions of it here and there, but nothing really concrete until last year when it was announced that the game was actively being developed for next-gen consoles. Unfortunately, unless they never started on a current-gen version of the game, that probably means they have to redo a whole bunch of stuff to get everything ready for it's big debut on the fancy new PS4, 720, and Wii U hardware (well, ok, maybe not so much on that last one.) Regardless of whether or not that's the case, the development of this game has been so quiet that it wouldn't be that surprising if it just went dark again for a few years. They seem content to wait it out, at least. Likelihood of being released: There's a good chance this will come out, sometime. It's just hard to say when, but fans of the series seem willing to wait. Either that or they've already forgotten about it. HALF-LIFE 3/HL2: EPISODE 3 Announced: Never Status: ??? This one is a bit tricky. Whether you want to call it Half-Life 3 or Half Life 2: Episode 3, the one thing everyone can call it is non-existent. Valve has never officially announced either game, but that hasn't stopped people from scouring the internet, Steam, and real life for any and all clues that point to the release of this most elusive of video games. Sure, there's this thing: Now with realistic crowbar action! But it's not a Half-Life 3 screenshot. It's not a Half-Life 3 anything, necessarily. It's just some fantastic concept art. Honestly, it's hard to find any concrete information on what, exactly, that is at this point (it was posted a few years ago), but if you ask the average PC gamer, it's a bona-fide Half-Life 3 screenshot and that's enough for them. And why wouldn't it be? The Half-Life games are some of the best story-driven FPS games ever made, and fans are itching for more. But, like a bad friend, Valve has no intentions of scratching that itch. So it looks like you'll be waiting a long while yet for a game that, according to that picture, looks better than anything Crytek has ever done. Better start upgrading your PC in the meantime. Likelihood of being released: Oh, it'll be released, eventually. It pretty much has to at this point, it's just a matter of when. It could be this year, or it could be 2025. Who knows? Only Valve does, and they're not telling. HONORABLE MENTIONS Agent - Announced (conceptually) in 2007, officially (with name) in 2009. Has been pretty much nothing said about the game since. Prey 2 - Announced in 2011, which isn't that bad, but the development seems to be stalled. It's being polished to Bethesda's standards. Wait, why are you laughing? So, sure, 6 years in development may not seem like much compared to DNF's 12, but they're halfway there - and if the developers continue to show the same amount of disinterest in releasing these games, they could go all the way, if not further. This is to say nothing of other HL3-esque games that haven't been confirmed but people think they're happening anyway - like Kingdom Hearts 3 or Shenmue 3 - which may not ever see the light of day, or even exist, but that hasn't stopped people from saying they're being made...ever so slowly. But let's just go ahead and agree on one thing - if any of these games end up taking 12 years to come out, they're probably not worth playing.
  10. -UPDATE- Sony's Head of Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida has told Kotaku that while English isn't his native tongue, the term "hiatus" (as used by Jack Tretton) in regards to The Last Guardian's status is "misleading." He offered the following comment to clear things up: "The game is in active development. [Lead designer Fumito] Ueda-san shared updates a few months ago. Nothing has changed. My answer is, 'Yes, the game is in active development.' It“s not hiatus at all. But we are not ready to reintroduce it. When we are ready, we will do that. Please wait." -Original Story- The last official bit of news we've gotten on The Last Guardian came in February when the game's director, Fumito Ueda, reassured that the game was still in development and remained under his supervision, but according to what SCEA president and CEO Jack Tretton told GameTrailers, the game is now on hiatus. "I think the cool thing about our worldwide development studios is we have so many projects out there from so many great teams," he said. "Projects never ultimately go away, so The Last Guardian has certainly not gone away, but it's on hiatus right now." Tretton's comments don't necessarily come as a surprise, as Sony has been dodging questions about the game's development for years now, but at least we know exactly where the game stands for the time being and have a little bit of closure on it. Still, the news is likely devastating to those who were really looking forward to it. If and when development on the game continues, there seems to be no doubt that development will be moved to PS4, just as a rumor mentioned earlier this year. Are you surprised that The Last Guardian is on hiatus?
  11. Jason Clement

    The Last Guardian

    From the album: Editorial/Feature Images

  12. It had been a while since we'd last heard anything about The Last Guardian until Fumito Ueda posted a small update on his site. He let fans know that the game was still being worked on despite the length, as well as other issues. There's no doubt that the game has been in development for a very long time now since it was first announced in 2009. Is it possible that after all this time they have just decided to shoot for the next console cycle? That's the rumor going around on NeoGAF thanks to the postings of Kenny Linder. Linder was previously employed by Sony UK's internal studio Bigbig, which closed down last year. He states that the game has been "PS4 for a long time now." He also imparts more possibly insider knowledge with the following: "I don't know, but I know it's been in development on Orbis for a long time now. It's platform has been questionable for nearly two years, but the last time it was restarted (it's been restarted a number of times), it was moved to Orbis." Do you think The Last Guardian will arrive for the next Sony system or will it be one of the last big games for PS3?
  13. We haven't heard anything at all since the last minor update on The Last Guardian, but to quell our fears and worries, Fumito Ueda has given us another small one today! Ueda, who left Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Studio a while ago, is apparently still working on The Last Guardian as a freelance contributor. He's posted the following on his website: "While it“s been a long time coming, THE LAST GUARDIAN remains under my creative supervision and is still in development by an incredibly talented team. I should also mention that details regarding THE LAST GUARDIAN's release is solely decided by Sony Computer Entertainment, not myself. Please keep an eye out for their official announcement. Moving forward, it is my intent to continue my involvement with THE LAST GUARDIAN project, as well as pursue new creative projects with a fresh perspective. As I rekindle my passions as a creator, I look forward to seeing where it will take me, and I deeply appreciate your support during this transition." Maybe we'll hear more during Sony's big event on February 20th?
  14. Think about some of the most highly anticipated games from the last few years. The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy Versus XIII, Half Life 3, and Duke Nukem Forever. What obvious thing do they all have in common? If you said 'long development times' then congratulations, because you were finally right about something! The games listed above are each going on their sixth and seventh years in development. Not nearly as long as Duke Nukem Forever's development time of twelve years, but enough to where it is starting to get ridiculous, and sadly, this is only the beginning. When the next generation of consoles come out and games become even more detailed, more and more AAA titles could end up taking just as long. --------------------- Obviously this won't be a problem for the average game being released, but when it comes to AAA games, nothing will end up being 'average' about their developments. High caliber games are already extremely expensive to produce, but with the future looking more and more likely to contain ballooning production times, those numbers could begin to soar way past what is necessary. Pictured: Apparently not enough What happens when a game becomes too expensive? It fails, no matter what. Dead space 3 is shaping up to be one of next year's bigger releases, but EA seems to think the only way the game can survive is if it pulls in over five million sales. A number the series has never even come close to. What happens when every high budget game requires millions of sales to keep the company alive? I'll give you a hint - the company dies in almost every case. Look at Radical Entertainment, the company behind Prototype 2. The game had plenty of steam behind it when it released, and it did sell the most copies out of any game in April, but the company was still closed down due to a lack of sales. --------------------- And then there's Duke Nukem Forever. After twelve years of development, the game nearly killed 3D Realms due to the cost. But the hype for DNF was through the roof. Nearly every gamer knew about the legendary game, and everyone wanted to try it. When it finally did release, it was critically panned by everyone. Even people that didn't play it. How could that be? Is he cracking his knuckles or praying? The reason is simple. The game had been hyped up for so long, that there was absolutely no way it could have lived up to everyone's expectations. When something takes twelve years to make, people expect it to absolutely change the face of gaming. Of course, Duke Nukem Forever didn't do that, and it never could have. For that fact alone it was considered one of the worst games of the year. Sure it was bad, but the sting of twelve years made it so much worse. However, it doesn't always end badly. --------------------- You may not be aware of this, but Team Fortress 2 was in development for nearly a decade before it released. And when it finally did hit store shelves, it became one of Valve's most popular games. Even today the game is bringing in huge profits for the company despite becoming free to play forever. A fact that totally contradicts what I've been talking about this whole time. But! Team Fortress 2 was just an online shooter. There wasn't any worries about dealing with the stories or fleshing out the characters because there weren't any. They got the gameplay down right and made the game look great, that was all they needed. The Meet The videos on the other hand show just how crazy wait-times can make people. Another fun fact: Team Fortress 2 went through about a million graphical changes After all these years, Valve just recently released the highly anticipated 'Meet The Pyro' video (the last class video to be revealed). Every TF2 player was waiting for this video to release and they were expecting all of the Pyro's secrets to be revealed. Instead we got two minutes of the Pyro hopping around a field blowing bubbles. Not everyone was happy about that. They waited all this time for answers and they didn't get any. Arguments erupted over the video. People loved it, hated it, felt depressed, or were just happy it was out. It was just a video that caused all of this! Imagine what will happen if Half Life 3 doesn't answer all of the fan's questions! It'll be a day that will go down in infamy, that's for sure. ------------------------ What do you think about all of these inflated development times? Could it really become as destructive to the gaming industry as I seem to think? Why not share your thoughts and opinions below? As always, thanks for reading.
  15. The Last Guardian has been travelling across quite a bumpy road as of late. It was just under a week ago that we received the dreaded news that the trademark status for the PS3 game was changed to "abandoned". To many, that bit of info didn't come as a surprise. What else would one think of the status of a game for which we've only seen a droplet of info across three or four years now? At an interview during Gamescom, Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida has finally given comment on the matter: "The team is still working on it very hard. There are certain technical issues they've been working on. That's the period of time when the game, looking from the outside, doesn't seem to be making much progress. But internally there is a lot of work going into creating the title." Yoshida also explains how The Last Guardian had to have a lot of the work that got the game in a playable state completely redone: "We had the game playable. At one point we felt that it would be produced for a certain time period. That was the time we prematurely talked about the launch window. But it turned out the technical issues are much harder to solve. So the engineering team had to go back and re-do some of the work they had done." And to those saying that the game should just be a title for the upcoming PlayStation 4 at this point? All Yoshida had to say about that was the following: "The game is developed on PS3." It's a tiny bit comforting to get some update on The Last Guardian, at least. What are your thoughts on the confirmation that The Last Guardian is apparently still in-development?
  16. Jason Clement

    The Last Guardian Trademark Abandoned by Sony

    The debacle over whether we'll ever see Team Ico's latest project, The Last Guardian, just got a bit worse. You see, The Last Guardian's trademark status with the United States Patent and Trademark Office was changed to (ABANDONED) and it's “Live/Dead Indicator” indicated that it was dead. That's right- as of this moment, Sony no longer holds the trademark for The Last Guardian. What exactly does this mean? It's unclear at the moment, as it could mean any number of things, including the scrapping and abandonment of the entire project. In recent months, Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida has repeatedly stated that the game has not been canceled and is still in production, so is it possible that they decided to abandon the original title and go with something different now? Sony isn't making any comment at the moment, so it's tough to say exactly what is going on. One thing is for sure, it doesn't bode well for the project's already-tarnished-by-massive-delays image. Do you think this news means that The Last Guardian is dead in the water?