Posts Tagged ‘Horizon’

Well it’s that time of year once again. The holidays are coming to an end and it’s once again time for me to pick the best games of the year. I’ve played a lot of games this year. Some of which I finished, and some which I’m still battling through. There are the games that are from franchises that I’m familiar with, and there are those sleeper games that flew under the radar and surprised me. It’s been a good gaming year. Now it’s time to see what were some of my favorite games I played this year, and what game takes home the honor of Game of the Year.

5. Spec Ops: The Line

Sure it plays like a generic third person cover based shooter, and it’s multiplayer is garbage, but it’s the twisted story that kept me playing Spec Ops: The Line. I wanted to see what happened next in the sands of Dubai. Who knew that Captain Walker was just fucked up in the head? By the time I reached the climactic ending and chose how I wanted the game to end I felt more than satisfied with the outcome. Then I went back and experienced the other three endings. Honestly, down the road I would like to see more games like this where the hero is not really the hero at all. It’s the grey line that blends the actions of heroism and villainy thats worth traveling.

4: Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

No Bayformers here. These are the adventures of the G1 Transformers that I grew up with here. High Moon Studios once again hits the ball out of the park with another amazing story as the civil war between the Autobots and Decepticons continues. There were some great moments that took place in this game including one scene that was straight from the Transformers: The Movie that hit my nostalgia block. The additions of the Combaticons (forming Bruticus) and Grimlock helped make the game become more than just a transforming shooter. Multiplayer was still “meh” to me, but creating my own unique Transformer was pretty cool. Now I eagerly look forward to seeing what the studio has up it’s sleeve for the next game especially due to the cliffhanger ending.

3. Borderlands 2

I didn’t think it was possible, but Gearbox Software was actually able to improve on everything that made the original Borderlands awesome. A better storyline, improved enemy AI, and an arsenal of weapons that absolutely kick even more ass than ever before. However, Marcus still doesn’t give out refunds. Characters including Claptrap, the hilarious Tiny Tina, and the main villain Handsome Jack really stand out in this game. The four player co-op once again is a huge plus leading to lots of fun (as well as a few cheap shots for shits and giggles), and the DLC so far has been pretty good. Once again my gun porn addiction continues especially when Gearbox is so generous by handing out all those Golden Keys lately.

2. The Walking Dead

Telltale Games once again takes a popular property and turns it into one of the best stories of all time. Based on the comic book series, The Walking Dead took me on an emotional roller coaster while experiencing a full scale zombie apocalypse in the process. Key decisions throughout the game led to moments where I had to decide on who lives and who dies. Then there were the consequences that followed which really weighed heavy on not just my character, Lee Everett, but also on myself as I questioned whether I made the right choice. Of course I had another mission and that was to protect the young Clementine who just wants to find her parents. How do I tell here that her family is nothing more than just a couple of undead zombies? Better yet, do I give her a candy coated and “Disneyfied” answer of “Don’t worry. They’re just fine.” Choices, choices. Something this game has well executed.

Now It’s time for my pick for the 2012 Game of the Year. Now before I give that honor let me share what games won my pick of Game of the Year in the past:

2006: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
2007: Bioshock
2008: Fallout 3
2009: Batman: Arkham Asylum
2010: Red Dead Redemption
2011: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

And now it’s time…

2012 GAME OF THE YEAR
Halo 4

Five years. Five years I waited. Now 343 Industries has delivered to fans like myself the next big Halo game. Not only was it a new Halo game, but it was a sequel that marked the return of the iconic Master Chief along with a new threat that makes the Covenant look rather weak. Bungie has handed the proverbial torch and 343 Industries ran with it. Improved visuals, improved enemy AI, better weapons, a smart story, addicting gameplay, and awesome co-op and competitive multiplayer made Halo 4 not only the best Halo game (topping the original Halo: Combat Evolved), but the best first person shooter of all time. Halo 4 has now set the standard for where all future FPS games will be judged.

Honorable Mentions go out to:

Assassin’s Creed 3
Dishonored
Far Cry 3
Forza Horizon
Trials Evolution

So there you have it. My personal favorites of 2012. A new year is now on the doorstep and that means new games for me to tackle. I’m looking forward to 2013 to see what I’ll be playing and reviewing. Until then…Game on!

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Welcome to Paradise City…whoops I mean Fairhaven. Sorry, for a second there I thought I was playing Burnout Paradise 2. Well in a way it does feel like Burnout Paradise except this time it’s with real world cars. That pretty much sums up Need For Speed: Most Wanted from Criterion Games (the team behind the awesome Burnout series). Make no mistake. This game is not a remake of the 2005 racer filled with all those cheesy dialog cutscenes. This Most Wanted is all about racing while also avoiding the law, and it’s a lot of fun.

PROS:

Open World Racing Action
Fairhaven is the setting for this new installment of the Need For Speed series. Here yoI found plenty of action tearing through the streets with tons of ramps to jump, billboards and gates to smash, cameras to speed past, and so much more acquiring speed points all with the goal to become the “most wanted” driver. A variety of races are also available to choose from at various intersections so that I could upgrade my ride to take on tougher opponents, or avoiding the fuzz. Fairhaven is a city which begs to be explored meaning hours of time just driving around doing nothing or finding a secret location or two or even three. Just a reminder: The GPS is very helpful here so take advantage of it.

Lots Of Cars Available From The Get Go
Littered amongst the big city is a wide selection of cars to drive. These cars were highly noticeable with their manufacturer logo above them allowing me to jack them. Muscle cars, sports cars, exotics, and even daily drivers. Nearly all the cars are available right away except for the cars owned by the drivers on the Most Wanted list. I get those by beating them. Having these jack spots is great for when I want to change rides for more races , and avoiding the cops so they lose my trail or when I took too much damage.

The Relentless Cop Pursuit
Getting chased by the cops in Most Wanted reminded me of the pursuits I had in the Grand Theft Auto games. Both had open world maps, large circular area on the map of coverage to chase you, and cool down periods when I avoided them where I would find a service station for repairs and a change of paint or just jack a new vehicle. The boys in blue in Most Wanted are relentless, and they have a variety of ways to take me down from road blocks and spike strips. The higher up I was on the most wanted list, or the more chaos I cause only draws more attention to myself means even more cops in pursuit and bigger ways to take me down. When I was able to avoid them I had a big sigh of relief in the accomplishment, however I know the next time will get much tougher.

CONS:

No Consequences For Getting Busted
This bothered me a lot. For a game that prides itself on avoiding the law you would think that there would be some sort of penalty for getting caught. Well there isn’t which kinda sucks. What would a game of Monopoly be like if you “Go to Jail” and still collect $200 because you passed “Go?” Criterion should’ve added some sort of consequence for getting busted like a loss of speed points for example. Some sort of “risk vs reward” option surely makes things more interesting when in the adrenaline rush of getting chased by the law.

No Way To Play As The Cops
Ok, I know this isn’t Hot Pursuit, but a game mode in multiplayer where you have racers vs cops would have been really cool in this game. In Hot Pursuit it was a blast. With the open world here in Most Wanted it would really change things up as players can find some creative ways to take opponents down in a race. C’mon man. I know I’m not the only person out there suggesting this. DLC add-on perhaps?

SO HOW DOES MY 2012 CHEVY CAMARO ZL1 HANDLE?

Considering that this is more of an arcade style racer my 2012 Chevy Camaro ZL1 is nothing different than practically any other car in the game except for overall speed and drifting through turns. I do have the options of available upgrades that I win through the races making my ride more than just a “stock” model. I will say that seeing the flames coming out of my quad tailpipes looks awesome.

IN CONCLUSION

Need For Speed: Most Wanted looks and plays like a sequel to Burnout Paradise, except for the cops of course, but Burnout this is not. Maybe this is an idea Criterion is toying with when it comes to a new Burnout game in the future. With this game, along with Forza Motorsport 4 and Forza Horizon, my racing game needs for speed are pretty much taken car of for a very long time. This game is a must buy fur racing fans who crave going fast and like to break the law in the process.

Developer: EA, Criterion Games
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1-8 (online multiplayer)
Price: $59.99

Welcome to Horizon! A festival celebrating the love of automobiles. Oh, and there’s plenty of music and a lot of hot girls showing off their assets (preferably on my car please). For years, the Forza Motorsport series gave me the opportunity to race in some of the hottest cars on the most popular tracks in the world. Horizon takes a completely different approach and delivers one of the best driving experiences alongside Test Drive Unlimited. Yes, the game is that good. For a time I had my doubts about Horizon, but those doubts were quickly dashed once I got behind the virtual wheel of my Dodge Viper and started driving for the first time. I love this game.

PROS:

Open World Driving
Turn 10 Studios and Playground Games take the Forza we all know and love and moved if out to the open world. Colorado becomes my new racing playground with tons of events to compete in and plenty of hidden treasures to find. Of course there’s also those times where I just want to drive on the open road and explore allowing me to enjoy the experience of driving rather than forcing me into race after race. Forza Horizon lets me do what I want whenever I want and I like that.

I Want Cars…Lots Of Cars
Now I’m not going to find the hundreds of cars that I would have in Forza Motorsport 4, but what Forza Horizon offers in terms of badass rides definitely suits me just fine. Horizon features some of the best muscle, sports, and exotic cars on the road, or dirt, for me to race or just cruise around the countryside with. There’s also the opportunity to restore older cars (found in hidden barns) to use as well. Cars also show real damage from crashing and hitting walls making for a sense of realism in racing which is a huge plus for me.

Wide Variety Of Events
There is always something to do in Forza Horizon. Your GPS will point you to upcoming races to advance your status in the championship, but there’s also other events to take part  in. PR Stunts, rally races, illegal street races against random drivers on the road, and even speed challenges from random radar cameras. Better yet, how about racing against an airplane. I kid you not. Just the mere thought of that type of event channels my inner Doug Masters from Iron Eagle. I got a real kick, as well as an adrenaline rush, doing these showcase races taking in planes, helicopters, and even hot air balloons. Sure it’s a novelty, but being told that your faster than an airplane is pretty damn cool.

CONS:

Lack Of Customization Options
The one thing that the Forza Motorsport series is known for is endless customization. Paint jobs, vinyls, aftermarket parts upgrades, and tuning so you get the most performance and handling out of your cars. Forza Horizon is more like Forza Motorsport Lite. Sure you get all the exterior goodies as well as some upgrades, but the tuning is missing. That kinda sucks. The upgrades can also be one a double-edged sword, because most races will not allow you to use your upgraded vehicles meaning that I’ll have to downgrade or pick another ride.

Opponent AI Can Be A Little Too Easy
If you want the biggest challenge that this game can give you then I would suggest setting the difficulty to “Hard” because anything lower is just too easy. Yes, I like to finish in first, but I felt like the opponent AI wasn’t putting up too much of a fight especially towards the end of the race. It was like they were begging me to pass them just to make me feel better. Another suggestion is to not stay with the default options. Customize your racing options so that you can score as many bonus credits as possible.

SO HOW DOES MY 2012 CHEVY CAMARO ZL1 HANDLE:

Once I acquired enough credits I went right to purchasing my car. The 2012 Chevy Camaro ZL1. I kept the car in my actual Victory Red color and changed out the rims, and painted them black to look exactly like mine. Keeping the car in it’s original stock I took it out in the open road and it was fantastic. Driving high speeds was exhilarating and the handling was brilliant and responsive. I could really see the sense of speed coming from the supercharged engine delivering 580 horsepower and 557 pounds of torque. I also switched into cockpit view and the look was absolutely authentic. It really felt like I was driving in my car.

IN CONCLUSION

Forza Horizon sticks to the roots that made the previous Forza Motorsport games fun to play. Add on a spectacular multiplayer experience to the fun and engaging single-player game and what I have is racing gold despite a couple of flaws. Horizon makes me feel like I’m at an over the top car show, and that’s pretty cool. This game has a lot to offer making it great for if I just want to have a casual drive to balls to the wall hardcore racing just to show off how badass I am behind the wheel shouting out “Move bitch! Get out of my way!” The big question I ask myself is if Forza Horizon is better than Test Drive Unlimited? I would have to say “Absolutely!”

Developer: Turn 10 Studios, Playground Games
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1-8 (online multiplayer)
Price: $59.99

With all the E3 hype behind us now, and my winners and losers picks done, I wanted to concentrate on the other games that caught my attention. Now I can’t call any of these games definite buys just yet, but they’re clearly on my radar which could be both a good or maybe even a bad sign. Good news is that I have plenty of time to keep an eye on these titles before making a commitment. Looks like another busy end of the year. My wallet is ready. Hopefully these games will be as well.


Dishonored: At first when I saw the trailer for this game before E3 it didn’t impress me that much. Then as the show went on, and I witnessed some gameplay videos, my mind had a quick change. Dishonored looks really good featuring stealth, plenty of abilities, and tons of action as you make kills to clear your name. By the way, the possession skill is awesome.

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Forza Horizon: Cars and partying in the desert. It’s Race Wars! Ok, this isn’t The Fast and the Furious, but Forza Horizon does remind me of a cross between Need For Speed and Test Drive Unlimited. Unlike the Forza Motorsport series, Horizon is more of an arcade style of control with more speed on the open road instead of on the track. I’m interested in this game, but I still need some further convincing.

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Injustice: Gods Among Us: DC superheroes back in another fighting game from the team behind Mortal Kombat. All of a sudden I had memories of Mortal Kombat vs. DC and I hated that game. Injustice looks great with plenty of over the top fighting action including flying thought buildings and even outer space. Everything was going great until thoughts of Mortal Kombat vs. DC kept creeping into my head. Plenty of time between now and 2013 to see how this plays out.

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Need For Speed: Most Wanted: It’s been awhile since I purchased a Need For Speed game, but Most Wanted could change that. Wait a minute, wasn’t there a Most Wanted game in 2005? Man, where’s the originality in the name Criterion? Here’s another random thought. For a Need For Speed game Criterion’s latest sure looks like something from the Burnout series. Maybe this should be called Burnout: Most Wanted. Either way I want to see more before returning to the series.

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Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed: The first game was a lot of fun for a mascot racer. Now there’s a sequel. At first I felt that this new entry from Sega was to “gimmicky” with the transforming vehicles for land, sea, and air. As of late my interest has changed to the positive and it has nothing to do with Danica Patrick being in the game. The unique Sega themes for each track look fantastic especially the Golden Axe stage. Can’t wait until the holidays for this one.

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South Park: The Stick of Truth: Trey Parker and Matt Stone showed off the game at the Microsoft Press Conference as well as shared a few laughs with the crowd. I had my suspicions well before E3, but after seeing the game in action my interest grew. This South Park RPG feels just like an episode of the popular show as I get to play as my own unique character and interact with the gang. I can even call Cartman a “Fatass” using my Kinect and he’ll respond to you. Sounds like fun.

Hardcore gaming fans, Microsoft has NOT forgotten about you. After watching the 2012 E3 keynote press conference on Xbox Live it looks like they listened to their customer base and delivered the goods. Games, games, and more games. Of course there was also plenty of Kinect, apps, and the introduction of Smart Glass which looks like a great innovation. More on that in a bit.

So what did I enjoy out of the press conference? Well here is my positives and unfortunate negatives of the big show today.

Halo 4: Kicking off the show was Microsoft’s premiere franchise. Good move, because I didn’t want to see Call of Duty…again. From live action to the gameplay itself Halo 4 looks like it will deliver on it’s promises especially considering the fact that this game is developed by 343 Industries and not Bungie. Master Chief is back! And so is the Battle Rifle. from the campaign footage I saw I can tell you that this game looks awesome. A new enemy joins the fight which had one moment where the chief threw a plasma grenade only to have it thrown back at him. 343 did announce before the show about multiplayer with both competitive and co-op gameplay with Spartan Ops. As of right now this game is living up to it’s tremendous hype.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist: Holy shit Ubisoft I didn’t see this one coming! Sam Fisher is back in a whole new adventure taking place on the Iran/Iraq border where his mission is to prevent the next blacklist attack. In other words it’s more kick ass stealth, interrogation, and execution tactics that I love. Busting through doors and taking out enemies you tracked beforehand in slow motion looked amazing. Kinect voice recognition also played a factor in this game as Sam can get the enemies attention as well as call in an air strike. This is something I’m going to like. Too bad I have to wait until Spring 2013.

Tomb Raider: While I’ve never been really into the Tomb Raider series, the latest gameplay demo for the rebooted origin story for Lara Croft really blew my mind. A mature style Tomb Raider with amazing visuals and combat along with a more realistic feeling. I really liked the outstanding visuals (especially the water effects), the combat, and the destructible environment as it objects would splinter and break from gun attacks. I really enjoyed the cinematic action from the waterfall and parachuting scene where Lara literally fought for her life while going through tremendous pain and suffering. A great demo from Crystal Dynamics and more than likely a buy for me.

Gears of War: Judgement: OK, so this was only a trailer, but the prequel that takes place just after Emergence Day and stars Baird and Cole Train is looking pretty good so far. Too bad I have to wait probably another year to play it. Hopefully this game debuts on the new Xbox with the new Unreal 4 Engine.

Resident Evil 6: Could it be? Another game that feels like a Hollywood blockbuster movie. Leon tore through zombies better than any USS soldier in Operation Raccoon City. No bullet sponge enemies and clunky movements made for some great action. Objects crash and explode along with the zombies that stand in your way from completing each objective. The demo was spoiler free leaving plenty to the imagination.

Xbox Smart Glass: The mere thought of having my Xbox connected with my iPad and iPhone has me excited. From television, to movies, and even my games I can coordinate everything into one smart source. I can be playing a game of Halo 4 and my iPad displays key information of locations and about what I’m doing. My iPhone can be used as a remote control to integrate to the new web browser. Even my Kinect integrates much simpler with Windows 8 for easy web browsing and voice recognition. Full integration begins this Fall.

Other things that interested me included the expansion of ESPN with all channels along with NBA Gametime and League Pass so that I can watch the Miami Heat anywhere when I’m working on the road. South Park: The Stick of Truth has me very interested considering the fact that I’m a big fan of the show. I also liked The Wreckateer which could make for a fun Angry Birds clone with Kinect this summer. Finally, I’m going to keep my eyes on Ascend: New Gods from Signal Studios, LocoCycle from Twisted Pixel, and Forza Horizon which sort of reminds me of a mix of Need for Speed and Test Drive Unlimited.

So here is my list of negatives.

Madden NFL 13: NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana was a great highlight, but the laggy voice recognition controls for calling plays at the line made things look terrible. EA Sports and Tiburon have a lot of work to do to make this feature work seamlessly. August 28 is not that far away so get busy.

Nike + Kinect Training: I’m not going to fault Nike for announcing this innovative product featuring your own personal trainer, development program, and challenging friends on Xbox Live, but I just don’t see a lot of people buying this Kinect based program. Just look back to last year with UFC Personal Trainer. Not everyone has a Kinect and more people would rather just play games or watch movies and sports. Besides most of us all have gym memberships already.

Xbox Music: With so many apps on Xbox Live including last.fm and Pandora already available Xbox Music and it’s 30 million songs to choose from will have a hard time fitting itself in. Also will this be a free service or pay per song like iTunes.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2: Since this series has fallen out of favor with me due to it’s crappy multiplayer filled with cheaters, glitches, and boosters, it would take a lot to bring me back. Activision and Treyarch are taking a big leap here with a future war, but there wasn’t enough here today to sway me back. Zombies will return, but I need more of a reason besides that to make me commit the money. Hopefully I’ll get that answer in the coming months, or else it’s another year of avoidance.

Overall, I enjoyed Microsoft’s presentation for the Xbox 360 for the rest of the year and beyond. No terrible actors, no casual kiddy games taking control of the show, no fist bumping. Microsoft went back to what made them successful since the beginning and left the majority of fans, including myself, happy. Time to get my wallet ready for another busy season.

In just one week, the gaming world will descend on Los Angeles for the 2012 edition of the Electronic Entertainment Expo otherwise known as E3. It’s a week filled with big announcements, parties, and tons of games to play.  Back in 2009, I attended the E3 Expo and had one heck of a good time as I got the opportunity to meet and play some games with some of the big names of the industry. I also remember consuming a ton of alcoholic beverages as well. Still it was a great time that I hope to do again in the future.

Before the big show starts you get the keynote press conferences. Every year I check out the Microsoft press event to see what I can look forward to on the Xbox 360 for the rest of the year and beyond. Some things are rather predictable, but then there are times where they’ll throw in a surprise or two just to keep you on your toes and excited. However, don’t expect any news on a new Xbox console at least until next year. Well it’s time to make my predictions on what I can expect from Microsoft at E3 2012.

Right off the bat I’ll expect a demo of the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. For the past few years it’s been tradition for Microsoft to show off the game especially due to the fact that they have the exclusive rights to have the game’s DLC first before anyone else. Now it’s no surprise that I really have no interest in this franchise anymore, but I have to admit that I did like Treyarch’s previous Black Ops game especially in the single player and zombies mode. Call me slightly interested on this one, because if the campaign looks pretty good and zombies mode returns I might possibly buy this game.

Next up I have 343 Studios showing off the highly anticipated Halo 4. Last year at this time we got a teaser trailer letting us all know that Master Chief is back. I expect a demo of the campaign just to wet the appetite along with showing us some new features. I’m a big fan of the series even though the last two games in terms of the plot was a little far fetched. The multiplayer however is awesome and very addictive. I’m definitely looking forward to this game.

Next up I have Forza Horizon. This is a game that I don’t know much about. All I’ve seen was a teaser trailer with a few exotic cars (including the new Dodge Viper) and a crowd of people partying. So what kind of racing game is this? Arcade or simulation? Hopefully there is an answer on this one.

In the past few years Twisted Pixel has put out some amazing games for both XBLA and for Kinect including the Splosion Man games and The Gunstringer. Microsoft responded by acquiring the development studio. Just before PAX East last month Twisted Pixel hinted at a new game to be announced at E3. I would assume to hear what’s next from the studio during the press conference.

As usual we could expect plenty of Kinect announcements along with a demo or two hopefully free of fist bumping and terrible acting. I’m sure they’ll show  Fable: The Journey and Harry Potter Kinect, but what I really hope to see is Crimson Dragon. This game was worked on by some of the development team behind the Panzer Dragoon series. I know that most people hate the motion controlled add on, but keep in mind that Microsoft also wants to reach out to the casual players.

Finally, we can expect plenty of talk centered around the Xbox Live Dashboard as well as integration with Kinect. I also expect Microsoft to announce some new apps to make the Xbox 360 more than just a gaming console. Honestly, apps don’t concern me as much, because the only apps I really use is Netflix, UFC, and ESPN. I don’t see the need for anything else.

Other Games that may make an appearance include:

Assassin’s Creed 3
Rainbow Six: Patriots
Tomb Raider
Bioshock Infinite
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Rock Band Blitz
Deadlight
Avatar Motocross Madness

Well that’s my predictions for Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference. The spectacular kicks off E3 on Monday, June 4 at 1pm ET/ 10am PT. I’ll be watching this all unfold on Xbox Live, and see if my predictions hold water.

Oh wait…I just remembered. At the end of the show, Microsoft always surprises us with an unannounced game. It’s always a game from a popular franchise. Last year it was Halo 4. This year I have two possible predictions. One would be Left 4 Dead 3, but my money is on a prequel to Gears of War. Pendulum Wars maybe?