I am, at my heart, a true gamer. Not a hardcore, not a passive, just right in the middle. I don't go for every achievement point, I don't just pick up a controller because everyone else is doing it. My tendencies lean towards playing lots of different games, playing through story modes, generally one playthrough only (Unless it's Mass Effect:P).
In playing this way, I tend to be surprised by the quality or fun of a title, or disappointed by a game after it's hype had me really pumped to play it. Here's a few titles from the past 12 months of gaming that really either had me going or annoyed the hell out of me.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I picked this up just the other night as trade bait at the flea market. I got it for a GREAT price, knowing I'd actually get more in trade than I spent on it. However, I popped it in and aside from the poor decision to near COMPLETELY change the origin story of Wolverine (more the movie's fault than the game), the gameplay is easy and compelling. It's unabashedly violent, which typically isn't my taste, but it serves well here because we finally see a guy who has knives in his hands stab someone. And boy, he stabs someone... ALOT. And with vicious, glorious glee. Not for kids by any means, but great for an adult gamer like myself.
Terminator: Salvation. This game was supposed to lick. I didn't hear a good thing about it. So, when I pop it in and check it out, I find a game that, while not deep, is a fun shooter that literally plays like a movie, with a decent story and some genuinely gripping moments.
Bioshock. One thing that does separate me from my friends when it comes to gaming tastes is that I generally HATE first person shooters. To me, no matter what shape of gun you have, no matter what kind of environment it is, it's still just DOOM in pretty clothes. So, for a game that I should hate to make me play for a solid 25-30 hours, it has to be something special. A wonderfully creepy atmosphere, a well designed and laid out plot, and some amazing visuals make this one to behold.
Spiderman: Web of Shadows.: The art of the sandbox game is hard to truly pull of technically, even on today's gaming machines. The art of being Spider-man truly hadn't been pulled off up to this title. I've been a Spiderman fan since I was in the womb it seems, and I've almost ALWAYS been disappointed by his video game incarnations. (The only truly good one being the Sega Genesis title). This title brings the reigns in, and shows us what Spider-man should be played like. The voice acting, admittedly, was a teenie bit weak, but the game itself, with Venom literally destroying New York on a massive scale, was truly epic.
Blaz Blue: For what is heralded as the rebirth of 2D fighters, this game really let me down. Difficult and clunky to play, poor translation, and a monster price tag. All things that lead to a big letdown.
Star Ocean- The Last Hope: I played this one right through to the end, where I was certifiably raped by the final boss after I'd been laying the plugs to him for over an hour. The control was fine, the game was servicable. But... BIG big but... the translation was almost ear-bleedingly bad, and that final boss.... boy he turned me from this title.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2: It's almost unfair to say that this was a bad game, as it wasn't. It was just that it was the exact same game as the first one really. The "new" things they added to the game, the fusion attacks, really weren't something to write home about. They changed the story of Civil War from the comics, which was a travesty. All in all, while it was a decent game, it was still a major disappointment for this gamer/ comic book fan.
Magna Carta 2: This game was a PS2 title with a shitty fighting engine and brutal translation (we seeing a trend yet?). The game was ugly. Flat out ugly. The women's boobs were just too big. The guys looked like girls. Without boobs. Thank god I rented this, as I would have cried over the 70 bucks in cash or trade I would have lost to this mess. I still begrumble the 10 bucks I spent on renting the darn thing.
There's still lots of titles that didn't make these lists that while a treat or a bit of a disappointment, weren't to the scale that these were. It's very rarely I get exactly what I was looking for in a title, be it bad or good. If there was one title that I got exactly what I was looking for in the past year, I'd have to say it was Batman: Arkham Asylum. Low and behold, it sits atop many Game of the Year lists, including my own.
See you tomorrow!