Game of the Year
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Look at some of the achievements for this game and you know what to expect: shit your pants during a boss battle, find Jesus while playing as a Jew, fart on 100 animals, join the KKK.
South Park fans would not be surprised by this. The surprising thing is that The Stick of Truth is a great turned-based RPG (where did all of those go?) with a script written by Matt Stone and Trey Parker that rivals the best stuff they have done in 18 years on the show. Great time was taken by Obsidian to ensure that this would look and feel like you were playing an actual episode of South Park including every character imaginable from Al Gore to Scott Malkinson (he has diabetes).
I laughed plenty at The Stick of Truth and then I made my way to the abortion clinic and was attacked by Nazi zombie fetuses who squealed “sieg heil” at me. I had to pause the game while I laughed so hard tears streamed down my face. It was one of those laughs that you only have a certain number of times in your life.
Then, I went to Canada.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is the funniest game ever created. In a world of sci-fi/military super-serious, apocalyptic games, it is a breath of fart-filled, shit-throwing air. I loved every bit of it.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
While some were disappointed with Peter Jackson’s handling of The Hobbit, few had anything negative to say about Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Creating a new franchise in a world beloved by millions was a bold move that paid off big. From the believable inclusions of Gollum and Sauron to the “nemesis system” that redefines how you approach your enemies, Shadow of Mordor made me want to continue after the story was over if only to play the puppet master of orcs. It is the best representation of Tolkien in the medium. It is also the best Assassin’s Creed game of the year.
Skyrim is three years old. I know this. Why is it in contention for Game of the Year? Because this year, after putting over 100 hours into my first character I decided to start fresh from the start with a new race, new abilities and go to places I either never traversed or went to late in my first playthrough. What I got was a wonderful trip down memory lane while having a new feeling of discovery at the same time. Not many things can give you that. Skyrim did.
It would be easier to just let you read my review of this to show you why this was a move back for the franchise in a year fans were expecting new ideas and forward thinking.
Maybe Battlefield 4 was the herald of things to come. With today’s consoles married to the magical online world more and more, developers have taken the opportunity to release games that are not ready to play. Why finish a title when you have a release date to meet and can just patch it until it is fixed? It is a regular slice of gaming life to open your game, put it in your console and have a “day one” patch. Funny how a few years ago, no one (in the console gaming world anyway) hardly knew what a “day one” patch was.
It is simply this: developers (trying to meet publishers release date) could not get everything done during crunch and decided, instead of delaying their game, they would release it and fix it after buyers had already bought it.
No. Bad dog. If you are charging $60 for something, I want a finished product.
Patches do not bother me. If they are for bug fixes and to shore up stability, that is a necessity. But the fact Halo: The Master Chief Collection had to have a 20GB patch containing almost all of the multiplayer when you first put the game in the system is lunacy.
Here is the real enima of it all: even after installing the patch, THE GAME DIDN’T FUCKING WORK! IT IS BARELY WORKING NOW. TWO MONTHS LATER!
This isn’t even getting into detail of missing faces or falling into the world in Assassins Creed: Unity or the fact that DriveClub is just now working. DriveClub was released in October, by the way.
Now there are some who have done the right thing. Batman: Arkham Knight delayed their release eight months. The Witcher 3 was running full-speed into its February release when CD Projekt RED moved the title to May after seeing the carnage of this fall and not wanting their premiere title tarnished by the same thing. Even Battlefield learned its lesson, delaying Hardline to March.
We deserve better as gamers. Most of us have limited resources and have to be careful what we throw our money at. To get home with a game that is not finished is a big “fuck you” to the people who are the lifeblood of the industry. Gamers are the ones who decide what is popular and what is not. We have the ultimate power to say “enough is enough”. Let’s remember that.