The Year in Games

Posted on January 9, 2006 by psu

Now that everyone else has already done their own roundup of the year in games, it’s my turn to jump in, late as usual. At this point, there is not that much to be gained from just telling you that Resident Evil 4 was completely 733t or that Half-Life 2 pwns! So instead, I will declare 2005 the year that I became a crack-addled gaming zombie, and I completely blame peterb and tilt for doing this to me. In this spirit, here is a list of the top five games that I finished in 2005 which I would have completely ignored in 2004. Actually, what I mean is, if I saw the game on a shelf at my local emporium in 2004, and the guy told me he’d give me the game free, I probably would have turned him down and gone home and played Madden.

5. Shadow Hearts: Covenant (Japanese Gay Porn RPG)

Considering everything that this title has going against it (stultifying gameplay, long winded cut scenes with ludicrous dialog and horrific voice acting, juvenile “story”, crazy collecting side quests involving porn), I can’t believe I ever decided to pick it up. I must have decided that I had to make sure once and for all that Japanese RPGs were to be avoided. Of course, as we all know, I ended up really enjoying the game and buying more JPRGs. Life is pretty unfair.

4. Resident Evil 4 (Survival Horror)

Survival horror games are characterized by cheap scares, gameplay that is long on atmosphere and short on reasonable mechanics, stupid puzzles, crappy cameras and hordes of zombies that are hard to kill. Since I hate all of these things, I was hoping that Resident Evil 4 was different, and it was. This shooter wrapped up in a tweaked horror engine (moving and aiming are slow, there are still lots of stupid puzzles) is good for hours and hours of zombie killing goodness. And now you can play the “looks like ass” version on the PS2 as well!

3. God of War (Platformy combat game)

The first platform action game that I tried on my new Xbox was Ninja Gaiden. The game chewed me up and spit my ground up bones on the ground. And that was just the demo. Clearly I lacked the speed, coordination, and third-person camera decoding skills to actually play games like this. God of War is for all those old slow guys who want to pretend that they are 15 and still agile so they can beat the crap out of endless hordes of enemies. I had fun with that for a couple of weeks, but in retrospect the game is pretty disturbingly juvenile and stupid.

2. Lumines (Tetris puzzle game with a disco beat)

This one is a cheat because I didn’t “finish” it yet. I don’t like Tetris. I don’t like puzzle games. I don’t really like techno. I will play Lumines late into the night until my eyes bleed. ’Nuff said.

1. Ico (Platformy adventure/puzzle game)

Slow pacing, a crappy third person camera, and a seemingly endless puzzle-filled escort quest. I suffered a lot with this game. But reaching the end, I was surprised to find out that a video game can actually generate an emotional response more complicated than adrenaline filled euphoria. Since this is a list of 2005 games, I also have to include Shadow of the Colossus which provides a similar experience, though the game is drastically different in construction and execution.

An optimist would look at this list and declare that I have grown in my appreciation of the craft and art of the video game, and am now more open to new experiences, rather than being closed up in the narrow genres that I used to enjoy. They might be right. I even bought Indigo Prophecy, although I’m not that far into it yet. Madden and Halo are still more fun though.