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During the holiday rush, most gamers will be thinking about the most recently released games, like Skyrim, Modern Warfare 3, and Batman: Arkham City. However, there are some games that were released earlier this year that should not be forgotten this holiday season, and then there are those that should.
Remember – Dead Space 2 (X360, PS3, PC)
Released way back in January, Dead Space 2 featured more necromorphs, more action, and Isaac actually talks. Though slightly marred by an inane marketing campaign, Dead Space 2 was a great sequel to a great game, and should not be missed by any fan of the survival horror genre.
Forget – Resident Evil: The Mercenaries (3DS)
Here is a simple rule to remember about Resident Evil games. If it doesn’t have a number attached to it, it isn’t worth your time. Only Code Veronica has bucked this trend.
Remember – Bulletstorm (X360, PS3, PC)
Hey, remember that really vulgar FPS that came free with your $60 Gears of War 3 beta? The one where they said “dick-tits”? That was Bulletstorm! As it turns out, it was also a really cool game. After all, what other game rewards you for finding new and creative ways to murder hapless AI?
Forget – Brink (X360, PS3, PC)
Somehow this game generated a lot of hype before its release (first-person parkour!). However, everyone soon realized that it was just an average multiplayer FPS with an atrocious single player campaign, half-baked ideas, and failed potential, just like all the trailers showed it to be.
Remember – Portal 2 (X360, PS3, PC)
It’s a little sad to think that this Valve gem could get lost in the holiday shuffle. Portal 2 is undoubtedly the funniest game on this list, and also the most rewarding. Solving the game’s tricky puzzles evokes a greater feeling of accomplishment than any achievement point ever could. Combined with a great, original multiplayer co-op mode that prompted more high-fives than any other game this year, Portal 2 is a game that everyone will love.
Remember – Mortal Kombat (X360, PS3)
With the 9th game in the series, Mortal Kombat rebooted itself, and was better for it. While the story mode is kind of dumb, it forces you to play as characters that you might otherwise have ignored, which works to highlight the actual combat. Each of the 27 characters have their own unique moves and fatalities, all of which are fairly easy to pull off, making the game extremely accessible to both button-mashers and veterans. Though the character designs may be a bit odd (all female characters are half naked with balloon breast and high-heels, including the old woman with grey hair), this ‘90s flashback will satisfy the nostalgic and the newcomers. Plus, Freddy Krueger as DLC!
Forget – Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (X360, PS3)
Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a stellar 3-on-3 fighter that includes some fighters never seen before. However, with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 released in the same year, there is no reason to pick this one up.
Remember – The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (PC)
The Witcher 2 is a must have for any PC gamer who fancies themselves an RPG fan, and has a rig that can handle it. Though the game is difficult at first, the combat becomes a fun and rewarding experience once you get that hang of it and stop mashing buttons. The game also has a branching story requiring at least two playthroughs to fully experience, and Geralt of Rivia will sleep with anything with lady parts. Although it’s not the longest RPG of the year, The Witcher 2 will more than satisfy any gamer’s action RPG itch while erasing the sour memory of Dragon Age II.
Forget – Dragon Age II (X360, PS3, PC) – To be fair, Dragon Age II isn’t really a terrible game, just an immense disappointment. Though it boasts compelling characters and a decent story, exceedingly recycled areas, an abundance of glitches, and repetitive combat hold this rushed sequel back. This was not Bioware’s finest hour. The Champion of Kirkwall has nothing on the White Wolf.
Remember – L.A. Noire (X360, PS3, PC)
This image must accompany any mention of L.A. Noire
A technical marvel for its use of MotionScan technology to capture facial expressions, L.A. Noire is also a technical marvel for featuring a protagonist that’s a giant douche-wanker, while still being compelling. That’s because the game faithfully recreated 1940s Los Angeles, and delivered cases that were compelling, and not as simple as they seemed. You can’t shoot your way out of every problem in L.A. Noire, and that’s a good thing.
Forget – Duke Nukem Forever (X360, PS3, PC)
Put this game in a bigger box, wrap it up really nice, and give it to some you don’t like very much. Then, watch as that glimmer in their eyes turns to anguish, and savor the sweet, sweet taste of despair. After all, that’s basically what Gearbox did to everyone who bought this game, and that’s all its really good for. Though, with 15 years in development, did anyone actually expect this turn out any kind of good?
Remember – Infamous 2 (PS3)
There was another stellar superhero game released this year besides Batman: Arkham City. Infamous 2 puts you back into the shoes of Cole MacGrath, and follows the ‘if it ain’t broke’ school of thought, while fixing the problems of its predecessor, namely, melee combat. There are some new powers and abilities, including fire and ice powers (which aren’t that great), and a lot of exploring to do. If you got the first one for free after the whole PSN debacle, then you will enjoy Infamous 2.
Forget – X-Men: Destiny / Spider-man: Edge of Time (X360, PS3)
One is an 8-hour action RPG, and the other is your yearly dose of crapulence after a hiccup of quality last year. With two vastly superior superhero games this year, both Marvel entries are irrelevant at best.
Remember – Child of Eden (X360, PS3)
Created by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Child of Eden is a delight of sight and sound. Much like his previous game, Rez, Child of Eden is an on-rails shooter that rewards the player for destroying enemies along with the rhythm of the music. But the game isn’t about shooting things, or progressing to the next level. It’s about the experience. Sure there’s a story about a girl and a virus, but it’s largely irrelevant. The game is about the integration of the music and the shooting along with the visuals to create a synesthesia experience. Also, the game supports both Kinect and Move for a great motion controlled experience.
Forget – El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (X360, PS3)
El Shaddai has a wonderful visual aesthetic, but it seems like the developer, Ignition, were far more interested in the art direction than in gameplay mechanics. The simplistic combat and inane platforming just don’t do the visual style justice. While some may love the game despite these shortcomings, the game takes considerable liberties with religious texts, so it’s probably not a good idea to give this game as a gift during holidays based around religion.
Remember – Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 2: Innocent Sin (PSP)
Some games are worth waiting 11 years for, and Persona 2: Innocent Sin is definitely worth it. Originally released in Japan for the Playstation back in 1999, P2:IS was the first part in a 2 game series, and was denied a North American release, in part due to school violence so soon after Columbine, and Nazi imagery, including an appearance by Hitler. For the 2011 PSP release, Atlus edited out the Nazis, changing swastikas to iron hearts, and altering Hitler’s appearance and name. There are also some minor changes to the interface as well, but the game largely remains the same. For anyone who still owns a PSP and has a soft spot for JRPGs, or for anyone who remembers only getting half the story with Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, this game will be a much welcome, and long sought, addition.