Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint (The Pickford Bros)My iPad and iPhone have become my primary gaming devices this year – by which I mean, I spend more time when not at work using them to play games. Mobile and tablet devices have a confusion of shovelware and over-complicated and uncompelling “Gamifications” but Magnetic Billiards stood out and proud from the rest because I see it was a genuinely “must complete”, old-skool with new ideas title. I appreciated the way it was sold to me and the way that the ‘DLC’ was handled. I love its core “game” because it is pure, straightforward, honest and encourages me that within all the pandemonium currently raging about ‘the future of gaming’ it shines through because it is a game.
Myself and FPSs had a great relationship when I used to work on magazines. I loved Wolfenstein and the Dooms. I then loved Ultima Underworld (and Eye of the Beholder) taking the idea of the first-person up a notch. However, FPSs and I went our separate ways after it dawned on me how mind-gratingly dull the genre is. I’m sure that the engines and uniforms and ‘real war stories’ and ‘authenticity’ and ‘user-base interactions’ and ‘totally unique scenarios’ are technically awe-full. I don’t get it though. However, I thought I’d give Bodycount a go if nothing to stop being called a mardy old twat who doesn’t understand gaming in the modern age going forward 24/7 out of the box. It was great fun. It is great fun. Fun. That’s it (also, I lack the special awareness, logic and patience for Portal 2 which absolutely is a first-person shooter!)
Forza Motorsport 4 (Microsoft)
Finally, although I loved Mario Kart 7 on the 3DS, I actually went out and spent my own money on a new Xbox 360 so I could play Forza 4 again at home. I mean, having been a Gran Turismo fan since it first existed, only to have been slowly and tediously and painfully pedanted into the pits stops of GT5 I almost gave up on racing games and retired to ModNation Racers (before that was slowed to a crawl on release). Then came Forza 4. It’s a game that, unlike most FPSs, which try to ‘reimagine’ a genre, takes a tried and tested genre and just extrapolates what’s best about it. A flawless, beautiful, fun, gamey game of a game (and I hope Microsoft manages to build in the car-hopping from Driver: San Francisco next year!).
SHAUN WHITE - Head of PR, EA UK
FIFA 12 (EA)
Simply the best football game ever. New defending takes time to master but rewarding once you get the hang of it and precision dribbling is a thing of beauty. Incredibly realistic and, as in real life, it’s virtually impossible to hit the back of the net with Freddie Piquionne.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Activision)
Okay, so I should be in the Battlefield 3 camp but I’ve always been a fan of CoD and this year’s offering hasn’t disappointed. Still not improving though and my average score per game on Team DeathMatch is still 7 Kills, 15 Deaths. If only there was a way to get rid of the bloody snipers!
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (Sony)
The series alone is a reason to own a PS3. It’s the full package – incredible storytelling, amazing visuals and awesome gameplay.
YEN HAU - Product Manager, Rising Star Games
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda)
Skyrim is my Game of the Year, hand down. There’s not much I can say that hasn’t been written about in press, but what truly stands out for me is the way the world opens out to you as soon as you finish the introduction. It is often very refreshing to stop in the middle of a quest chain and wonder off to inspect something in the distance. Added to this is the way you progress your character. No longer are you restricted to picking an archetype at the beginning, but your class evolves around your play style. I get a big sense of freedom knowing that putting one point in two-handed weapons doesn’t mean I’m stuck down the warrior path.
There’s something special about Skyrim that I can’t put my finger on. Maybe its knowing that, 20 hours in, I’m still only scratching the surface. It has drawn me in and kept me interested, which is something that doesn’t happen to me very often.
Batman: Arkham City (Warner Bros)
I loved Batman: Arkham Asylum; it was one of the few games I actually finished last year (along with Mass Effect 2 and Uncharted 2), so I was ecstatic when Arkham City was finally released. I love the way it literally carries on from its predecessor, with all the gadgets you received in AA already ready and available to use from the outset. The fight mechanics remain as awesome as ever, as does the detective mode. It has always troubled me that recent incarnations of the Dark Knight seems to have forgotten that he is, first and foremost, a detective.
Arkham City takes everything that made AA a joy to play and just makes it bigger. Being able to swoop down from rooftops and traverse the city really is great fun and liberates you from the confines of the prison. This is what Batman games should be all about and I can’t wait to hear if they’ll do another one.
Dark Souls (Namco Bandai)
I hate dying in games, I just want to say that from the outset, but there’s something about Dark Souls that just keeps me coming back for more. The difficulty has a lot to do with it, but the way the game plays reminds me a lot of how I play Monster Hunter. The way you have to understand the behaviour of your opponent, be they trash mobs or a boss, and tailor your strategy in order to defeat them. It’s completely engrossing how you don’t just go in button bashing and randomly swing away – you have to think about what you’re doing, not rush through and learn from your experiences.
For me, this is what makes Dark Souls a truly great game. It’s pacing is slower than what we’ve been exposed to over the past year, but that’s not a bad thing for RPG fans. The challenge is great but it rewards you with an experience unlike any other.
Honourable Mentions: Fruit Ninja Kinect (Fruit Ninja Kinect is by far the most fun I’ve had using Kinect so far. The litmus test for me here is performing cuts in the stance and movements like a ninja…and not feeling silly. Lots of laughs had here with friends and family, plus it does wonders for your arms!), Uncharted 3, Portal 2 (I mention these two as I have them in my ‘to play’ list. I’ve only scratched the surface of both titles, but what I’ve seen so far ensures that I will definitely ‘return to play’ and not simply ‘return to store’.)