Blade & Soul Dojo: Cal Report - GOTY Edition Part 1 - Blade & Soul Dojo

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Cal Report – GOTY Edition Part 1

Hello children. Did you think I was gone? I am never gone. I am the gift that keeps on giving. Of course I am talking about video games. And even more of course, I am talking about my Annual Game of the Year, Contenders edition! You may be asking; can something that wasn’t done a year ago be considered annual? And to that I ask; shut up.

This edition will cover the games I have played and believe are GOTY contenders. You may be asking yourself another question: What makes you qualified to do this? And to that I say, you ask yourself too many questions. And secondly go read the reviews on 1up sometime. If those are considered professional gaming journalist reviews then I am way more than qualified to do this.
Why no news, you ask yourself. Too much to cover in one report is the answer to that inner question. This edition will cover the contenders but not actually reveal the GOTY. Not quite yet. That will come in a later report.

First off, how this is going to work. I am going to simply list a game, and list why that particular game is a contender for GOTY of the year. 2011 was a great year for video games and gaming in general. A lot to cover in this edition.

Ready? NO?! Here, I will hold your hand while we do this.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

When this game was first announced I will admit I wasn’t too excited for it. Even up to a few months before the game came out I still wasn’t looking forward to it too much, but then I played the leaked beta/demo thing and became pretty excited to see what this game had in store. And sure enough the game was a joy to play.

The graphics were good enough, the Mass Effect conversation style was pretty great, and the side quests were all pretty interesting. Even the main story was fairly good, although compared to the whole the main story was kind of weak.
So was there something wrong with it? Two things: The boss fights and the animation. And here I thought Bethesda was the king of crappy animation. Explaining the animation is kind of an obvious thing, just go watch some gameplay videos. The boss fights on the other hand…awful. To get a good idea of how the boss fights go down, just picture an old school shooter like Doom or Duke Nukem where it’s just you and the boss in a room and you fight each other. There will be health and ammo scattered about to pick up to help you with the fight. During my 2nd try on the first boss I had to question whether or not I had been transported to the early 90’s and that wasn’t a good nostalgia kind of thing. It wasn’t until we learned that boss fights had been handed off to another studio to work on did it start making sense.

Overall though Deus Ex: HR wasn’t a let down and is a pretty good game.

Dark Souls

Ah yes. The spiritual successor to Demons Souls. If you read my review of Demons Souls you will know that I absolutely adored the game and loved just about every minute of it. So, to say I was excited about Dark Souls is an understatement.
Dark Souls delivered in more ways than I can possibly imagine. Game was much better, and bigger than I thought it would be. Gameplay is largely the same as Demons Souls, but it’s the way you go about the game that just feels much better. Dark Souls is easier and at the same time harder than Demons Souls. Without going into a full blown review, it is kind of hard to explain how.
However, the game is a flawed masterpiece, and that’s mostly thanks to the broken Online portion of the game. The NA servers as I understand it, are P2P thanks to the fact that Bamco sucks. So what does that mean exactly? Unlike Demons Souls which was one server, Dark Souls breaks you up into smaller servers based on some factors. People in forums and wikis claim that members of the same covenant can party with each other easier and are generally connected to each other, but damned if that ever worked. Trying to invade another person’s world still doesn’t work all that well even a month after the game has released. And thanks to the fact that not everyone is on the same server, the Covenants that rely on people to be online and do specific stuff are near impossible to complete. Let me break it down in an example.

Small spoilers ahead for those who don’t want ANYTHING spoiled.

There are a few Covenants like this, but I will highlight this one specifically. In Dark Souls there are several factions you can join called Covenants. Within those Covenants you can level up and earn rewards for doing specific things that the leader asks for. I joined the Forest Hunter Covenant that summons you to fight someone who is entering the Forest portion of the game for the first time as long as you have a certain ring equipped. So I join the Covenant. Few hours go by. No summons. Few days go by. Still no summons. A week goes by, still not being summoned. Finally, after about a week and a half I get summoned to fight someone. Yay! A few hours go by and I get summoned again! But then one of the NPCs that is a member of my Covenant walks off the ledge of a cliff, dies, and I get blamed and kicked out of the Covenant. Yay…

Battlefield 3

It was hard to not be excited for this game, especially considering how long it has been since a true Battlefield game. Graphics were a big part to be excited for this game, but I was more excited for the 32 vs 32 matches that were sure to provide endless amounts of excitement.

And thus did it deliver. The multiplayer is fun and frantic, the gun play has never been better, and the game is certainly pretty to look at it. The first time I saw two jets above me engaging in a dog fight as a tank rolled over a tree in front of me and blew up a jeep speeding down the road, I nearly started crying.

However, it is not all sunshine and farts. If you were someone who only cares for singleplayer, as with all flagship Battlefield games, this one is not for you. The singleplayer is pretty bad and just not all that fun to play. However, if you bought Battlefield 3 for the singleplayer…I can’t say any kind words so I will not. Just know you are an idiot. But the multiplayer suffers as well and that’s mostly thanks to the Battlelog interface thing. I guess I see what EA and DICE were trying to do, but the thing is broken and a horrible idea. It’s not going away so it’s something you have to deal with, and when you actually get in a game it becomes a moot point and its shootin people in the face time.

The maps, or the lack thereof, is a bit of a disappointment too. They aren’t nearly as big as I think some people were hoping for. Gone are the open, wasted expanses of Battlefield 2. In 32 vs 32 matches you’re almost always going to be engaged in a firefight within 30 seconds of spawning. Good or bad depends on where you fall on the spectrum. While I lament the fact that the maps are smaller, I am pretty happy about having not to run for 3 minutes just to get sniped by Mr. Camper # 20.

I am of the opinion that the game is fine as is, but really could use two more maps that utilize the full vehicle load out. Not every map has jets, not every map has tanks, and whoever thought that the Operation Metro map was a good idea should be fired.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Not gonna lie. This game did not live up to my expectations at all. If this was a personal list, and I was being completely subjective I wouldn’t even include this on the list.

I have played the game about 70 hours now; I know, a lot for a game that didn’t meet expectations right? In these 70 hours I have seen hundred of NPCs that have the exact same body type, NPCs that are dumb as a box of rocks, NPCs that have blocked my path forcing me to either reload the game and try again or murder them, objects that fly around the room and kill me and all NPCs in the room due to some weird ass physics bug (believe me there is nothing like trying to talk to an NPC only to have a pot come flying in and hit them and kill them mid sentence, only they don’t stop talking and the game keeps going), and animation that I would have thought were horrible 4 years ago.

For a game that was supposedly using a new graphics engine this game still looks amateurish in the animation department. The graphics are pretty good as long as you don’t look at something for too long.

Is it all bad? No, but a lot of bugs that happened to me were game breaking and NPC behavior and looks are absolutely immersion killing. Basically, Skyrim suffers from the same issues Oblivion did despite a new engine being used. The game just looks better. That’s not acceptable to me. Not after putting up with it in Fallout 3 and New Vegas, I am only going to tolerate so much.

But, its not all suck and die in the world of Skyrim. The third person view this time is very good and actually feasible as a method for playing the game and the combat has indeed improved. But its not enough. I guess I was just expecting too much.
When I heard that Skyrim would be using a new graphics engine, I think I got a little too excited. So, while this game is a contender, odds are it isn’t winning my game of the year. However…this list isn’t for my GOTY. Its GOTY in general. So, still has a chance.

Xenoblade

As I already said in another Cal Report the story in Xenoblade takes such a dive it is unbelievable. For a game that throws a lot of clichés out the window in the earlier parts of the story for it to come back and slap you in face with every cliché in the book hurt me deeply.

But other than that, this game is one of the best games I have ever played but story is a big part of a RPG and after the first few hours or so of this game I was like, “Oh wow, this game is doing something here.” But of course it’s a JRPG and so I don’t know what I was hoping for. Again, my expectations for this game to be something COMPLETELY new and different were just too high.
But if you ignore the story or don’t give two craps about character development, you will enjoy this game immensely. Also Nintendo sucks.

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Is this my favorite Zelda game of all time? I am not sure, but damn if it doesn’t come close. Skyward Sword has the best story in any Zelda game (my opinion), best combat (not my opinion), and bucks a lot of things that had become standard in Zelda games. Unless you absolutely refuse to use motion controls, this should be near the top of your list of favorite Zelda games.
Couple that with the fact that Skyward Sword is the fastest selling Zelda game of all time, people seem to be buying in.
BUT, with all things this is not a perfect game. Biggest reason? It’s on the Wii. The systems power, or lack thereof, really hurts Skyward Sword from reach GoAT awards. Should this have been moved to the Wii U and the anti-aliasing issues fixed? Maybe. And it probably will too.

My personal issue with the game? The concept art versus the actual art. The Link on the cover of the case, that art style. I want that art style. Small complaint yes, but I am still holding that against this game.

Rage

Whoops. How did this get here? Lets ignore this and move on.

The Witcher 2

You could make the case that this game was contender number one for 2011 GOTY, and I would agree with you. Up until The Witcher 2 released, nothing much had been happening in the way of awesomness.

Off the top of my head, the only major complaint I can think for this game is the fact that it isn’t too nice to new players. But in all honesty, I refuse to hold that against the game. If you didn’t play The Witcher that is a you problem.

A more valid complaint is that this game isn’t quite as open world as some people thought it would be. But again, I am not going to hold that against the game too much.

An actual valid complaint against the game is that the animation during conversations seems…off. Its hard to nail it down exactly, but the animations seemed a little stiff and not quite as good as something you would see, in say Mass Effect. Is it as bad as Skyrim? Not at all.

The ending is also a bit…not good. Considering how strong game is up to a certain point, the ending does kind of feel like a letdown. But for the most part the game has great graphics, a good story, and good combat. It improves upon The Witcher in every possible way, and when it came to high fantasy, you could essentially do no better this year. Especially with Dragon Age 2 laying a massive egg.

Minecraft

If there were Vegas odds for what the game of the year will be among the so called gaming press, I would lay a lot of money down on Minecraft. Minecraft officially released on 11/18/2011, thus it qualifies for GOTY awards, and get them it shall.
I didn’t play Minecraft all that much. Most likely less than 30 hours, but what I saw made me realize what makes the game so addicting. While I could never get past the graphics (I am a graphics whore I know), the gameplay and the sheer freedom Minecraft offers is alluring. It is easier to ask what you can’t do in Minecraft rather than what you can do and that makes it a pretty worthy contender for GOTY.

Conclusion

There you have it, the First Annual GOTY Contender Edition.

You may notice that a few games didn’t make the list. Like Uncharted 3, Modern Warfare 3, and Gears of War 3. Couple of reasons for that. One: I have yet to play Uncharted 3. Two: Modern Warfare 3 is awful. Three: Gears of War 3 just wasn’t good enough for GOTY material.

What about all ya’ll? What are your GOTY contenders? I will be following up this edition with the GOTY Edition which will have the GOTY (obviously) and the runner-up.

Hope to see you next time!
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