It’s been a year of ups and downs for all of us at Elder Geek. This last month of 2010 we asked our staff to let us in on what were their best surprise and biggest disappointment of 2010 was not only on the gaming front, but in their every day life as well.
Best Surprise of 2010: The geeky proposal from my fiance! (If you want to know more, read the article “Girl Meets Geek“) Obviously, any geeky girl just wants to have a blue feather and the story of a lifetime to share with her geeky friends!
Biggest Disappointment of 2010: Donkey Kong Country Returns…. three words: waggle, waggle, waggle. Many a Nintendo fan cried themselves to sleep this year. You ruined a classic Retro… Why did you let this happen? WHYYYYYY?!
My best surprise was how the Wii version of Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands was not only a well-made game, but better than the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions in some ways. The story is classic POP and the gameplay is interesting without the ability to rewind time. I especially the powers the Prince learns later in the game, that allows the player to scale shear walls if use skillfully.
My biggest disappointment was Dragon Quest IX. Maybe it is because I haven’t played all of the series, but I just don’t understand the big deal about this game. The gameplay is dated and doesn’t seem to have anything unique about it. Just because a series sticks to its guns, refusing innovation, does make it good. Also, what is up with Koichi Sugiyama? I heard his music is right up there with Nobuo Uematsu. With Dragon Quest IX, you could have fooled me.
My best surprise of 2010 is going to have to be my introduction to Scott Pilgrim. After a couple friends told me I should read the comic, I finally did and I really enjoyed it. Then I saw the movie which was also great, and hesitantly played the video game tie-in which was also very entertaining.
My biggest disappointment of 2010 came recently as I was driving to work. On my way I saw a billboard that advertised a Gulliver’s Travels movie. I thought “Hey cool, I liked the book,” but when I looked up and saw Jack Black staring back at me I was filled with hate and immediately knew that all hope was lost.
My biggest surprise…let’s see. It would probably be the announcement of Donkey Kong Country: Returns. I actually attended the Nintendo presser at E3, so when that dropped my jaw hit the floor. Was totally expecting a Star Fox game, but had no issues with being wrong in that trade-off.
My biggest disappointment would have to be Alpha Protocol. I’m a huge fan of BioWare’esq western style RPG’s, which is something Obsidian has had their hand in for a while. The entire concept of an espionage RPG had me pumped up…I don’t want to rehash the final product /weep. Another thing I’ll throw in is Tron: Legacy. It’s been panned big time overall by the critics. However, personally I thought the film was freaking awesome until the final 20 or so minutes. I kind of wish they cut all of that out and just said left you hanging because everything after that mark was a perpetual facepalm to the point I thought my hand had injected an egg down my throat into a newly formed chest cavity. It could have easily been a two-part film, and should have been in my opinion. Here’s to an awesome 2011!
My biggest surprise this year is that the indie game market seemed to kick the crap out of the larger developers. With limited staff and budgets, we got to see some amazing titles like Mount and Blade: Warband, Super Meat Boy, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and the epidemically addictive Minecraft. Certainly, some of the AAA titles were nothing short of outstanding this year, but I can truthfully say that most of my admiration (and lost time) goes to the independant game market this year.
My biggest disappointment definitely lies in the hands of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2. What should have been a slam dunk for Lucasarts turned into another quick cash-in. And that disgusts me. I could write an entire essay on the bad taste TFU2 left in my mouth, but I feel it would be a waste of our editors’ and readers’ time.
In terms of a biggest surprise this year, outside of the obvious “Holy shite, Duke Nukem Forever is actually happening!” gut reaction, would be the sheer quality of Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing. Not only is this the latest span in a series known mainly for making its oldest fans’ balls bluer than its mascot, but its a kart racer, emphasis on the “k”. If video games were dinosaurs, the “k”art racer is the La Brea tar pits. So it must have been the most cosmic of double botches for the two seemingly destined failures to come together and not only be playable, but actually be one of the best racers this year. Go figure…maybe Dynasty Warriors Bejeweled could work after all…
2010 was a pretty disappointing year overall for me. It was a pretty light year for good comedy movies (“Hot Tub Time Machine”…..wee), for some reason gamers ignored “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” to the point of box office annihilation, and Alpha Protocol just kinda sucked. But the one thing stood out as the most aggravating let-down of the year was the complete mishandling of the Taliban controversy over at Electronic Arts. Nothing brings back Six Days in Fallujah-esque memories like a publisher back-handing their own industry by refusing to stand by a product that garners the slightest bit of controversy. Every time a video game company refuses to defend the choices made within their products and consumer’s right to economic free speech, the industry takes another step back from widespread artistic and social acceptance. Even if it is indeed a weak-sauce attempt to drum up controversy, we have just as much of an opportunity to be in poor taste as any other media.
My biggest surprise this year was the flood of excellent indie games we experienced. From the outrageous success that is Minecraft to the sublimely frustrating Super Meat Boy, indie games are really coming into their own as a genre and legitimate business venture. When hard work and good ideas are rewarded, regardless of a project’s scale or budget, everyone benefits. Indie games are a breath of fresh air in a stagnating industry, and I’m excited to see what is to come.
Conversely, my biggest disappointment this year has to be big-budget games which simply don’t deliver. I’m looking at the Alpha Protocols, the Final Fantasy 13 and 14‘s, the APB‘s, and the Epic Mickey‘s out there. There will always be good games and bad games, but when poor design choices and a lax attitude towards bugs sink a promising multi-million dollar project, nobody wins. Instead of getting creative games like Epic Mickey, game companies simply fall back on sure bets such as the now-annual Call of Duty and Halo releases.
I would say the best surprise for me this year was wrapping up a first place at the Florida Royal Palms Literary Award Competition for the unpublished Fantasy category. I’d been working on that novel for quite some tome and it was nice to finally know it wasn’t terrible.
The biggest disappointment had to be Metriod: Other M. I’d been looking forward to that game for several months before it’s release. When the game finally came out it was a not only a bastardization of the franchise but also a pretty poor game overall. To this day it’s the only EG review I have regretted.
My biggest surprise this year was the tremendous success that free-to-play titles have managed to achieve. The fact that Turbine Inc. has managed to repeat the success of Dungeons & Dragons Online and successfully relaunched The Lord of the Rings Online (which has been the #2 MMO for many years) without a monthly fee, is something that I could not have conceived as being possible a few years back. Similarly, the way that Riot Games has managed to turn the classic, free Defence of the Ancients experience (free because… well, everybody has Warcraft III: TFT right?), into a strong and incredibly profitable free-to-play title with truly optional premium services, is hopefully one that will become an industry-standard in the next few years. With several free-to-play titles lined up by major players (Battlefield Play4Free, a new Age of Empires), I’m anxious to see how the F2P market will turn out in 2011.
The thing I was most disappointed with in 2011 was the fact that core games still do not seem to be taken seriously by mainstream media, or in the case of Australia, by politicians. The dominance of social games on Facebook, the tremendous success of cheap games in the App Store, and the appeal of the newly released Playstation Move and Xbox Kinect have all continued the trend started by the Nintendo Wii, and everybody seems to love it. But despite the ever growing audience of casual games and the love these games get from the media, “core” games and the devil-worshippers who play them still seem to be regarded as the spawn of Lucifer himself. For more than a month, EA became the victim of a crusade over the fact they referred to a multiplayer faction as “The Taliban.” Whether it would be preferable to use this name, or just use with “OpFor” instead, is a legitimate debate, but when the media got hold of it, it was blown out of sense of proportion. Besides that, Australian lawmakers failed to introduce the long-awaited 18+ rating, implying these politicians still regard games as not being similar forms of media like books, films, or music. Whether these things will change in 2011 remains to be seen, and I’m sure the industry will continue to produce “edgy” products that will get the collective panties of politicians, journalists, and random protesters in a knot.
Best Surprise of 2010: The announcement of Shogun 2 Total War. Huge fan of the Total War series! Being a fan of Japanese Medieval history, this has been a long time coming considering Medieval Total War received its own remake. I almost peed myself when I saw the trailers.
Biggest Disappointment of 2010: Alpha Protocol. Enough said…A novel concept, but poorly executed.
My best surprise of the year was Persona 3 Portable‘s female lead character. It absolutely blew my mind to realize just how different (in a good way!) the game felt for me when I played as a character I could sink into more easily. “She” vs “he” has a bit of an effect, but the way characters treated “me” made a huge difference on how I perceived the characters, “myself”, and the game as a whole. It’s easy to get pulled out of the game by an incorrect pronoun, but I didn’t have that problem here.
My biggest disappointment was Fallout 3. Yes, I know, I’m two years behind the times — but I explicitly held off on Fallout during grad school because Morrowind sucked three months out of my life and Oblivion sucked one or two months away when it came out. I was finally excited to sit down and play it on the PC, and…it just didn’t really work for me. The interface felt awkward on the PC, Bethesda’s facial animations looked even stranger than normal after finishing Mass Effect 2, and I just couldn’t get into a game made up of shades of brown. Yes, I know I can fix many of these issues with mods, and yes, I’ve tried a couple…but it just doesn’t feel right to me, and it doesn’t have the charm I was expecting and building up in my head.