Game of the year is the hardest of them all. What makes the game of the year? Everything must be almost perfect, well balanced, epic, have a great story, characters, mechanics, graphics, and everything that makes up a game must be amazing and better than the competition. I wish I could have picked more than one because there were so many amazing games this year.
Skyrim actually wasn’t my first choice. It won because of how grand in scale the game was and the attention to detail that only a few games this year did. Over 100 hours of gameplay, unique characters, a grand story, beautiful graphics, lots of customization, and a gorgeous soundtrack made Skyrim come out on top of the entire pile. Skyrim is a special game in the sense that no other RPG or game can do it.
Shooters tend to be the most criticized category because they are usually all the same and don’t do anything new for the industry. This year some awesome shooters and not all made it on the list. This year saw some shooters that pushed the graphics cards on PCs, showed some astounding multiplayer, but most lacked in good stories. That’s usually what is looked for in the shooter category is mainly a good single-player campaign.
This was a tough one but Gears 3 topped them all mainly due to a good single-player campaign and an amazing finale to an already wonderful story. The multiplayer may not be as groundbreaking, but it’s the overall cohesive and well-balanced campaign that put it at the top. With great characters to follow and some truly awesome weapons to shoot you just can’t put the game down, and that’s what you want in a good shooter.
Technical graphics aren’t so much the art style, but what’s under the hood. Usually, games that introduce new engine or technology tend to be the best. This year was huge for DirectX 11 games on PC which can not be down on consoles. State of the art graphics cards are needed and a few games really showed this off this year. Usually, high-resolution textures, great modeling, lighting, water effects, weather, and other elements make up a good-looking game.
Were you surprised? Battlefield 3 was the only game to truly use DirectX 11 exclusively and completely left out DirectX 9 and 10. While the PC version only got this treatment the console versions looked pretty close. Battlefield 3 sported some amazing lighting effects as well as water and the textures looked real. Nothing really pushed graphics cards harder this year than Battlefield 3 so it takes the cake.
Multiplayer can be put into any game, but a good multiplayer (whether it be cooperative or competitive) has to have balance, a good amount of modes, and something to set it apart from the rest. Shooters tend to be the main course when it comes to multiplayer. However, those tend to always be the same, but something needs to set it apart. Usually, it’s well-made maps, balanced weapons, and customization. Even something like poorly run servers can make online play bad. There were a lot of shooters this year, but only one topped them all.
Great maps, a beautiful game engine, vehicles, and a change in pace for unlocks and perks is what makes Battlefield 3 the top dog this year. All the rest were just perfections of what has already been down, but Battlefield 3 perfected and added on to what’s already been done. Excellent maps, great balancing, and starting you out with crappy load-outs to force you to be good makes this one shine. Not to mention up 64 players on huge Rush or Conquest matches is an absolute blast and no other shooter can pull this off.
Great sound design isn’t the music but everything else you hear. Not only is variety good, but it has to match and be unique to the game and atmosphere. Everything from the wind blowing through cracks, swords clashing, breathing, grass rustling, and bullets whizzing it all makes the audio experience.
What makes the Battlefield series in the general top most games in sound design is the audio directional placement and just the sheer realism of battle. No other war game has pulled off such rich and visceral sound from bullets whizzing by your head to being able to find a sniper from distance and direction. Everything sounds hyper-realistic, but also completely ensnares you into the battle. This realistic and technically phenomenal achievement puts it over the top of everything else.
Once you start calling out beloved franchises and threatening to kill them you will get scrutinized for it by fanboys/girls. The first Killzone (released in November 2004) was deemed a Halo killer and was Sony’s late attempt to create an FPS killer app that would dominate Halo. It failed big time due to the lack of power the PS2 had and Killzone was released with lots of slow down and didn’t look nearly as good as Halo 2. Its sepia-toned art style was also a turn-off from Halo’s colorful world. So, Killzone 2 was shown and trumped Halo 3 in a lot of ways (mainly graphics) and became the PS3 owner’s favorite FPS.
Fast forward almost 7 years from the first game and Killzone 3 is an unstoppable juggernaut and a huge technical powerhouse. Plus don’t forget about the astounding multi-player suite. The single-player campaign has always been touch and goes for some people, but I personally think Killzone 3 has the strongest single-player in the series and even stacks up (or is better) than some of today’s FPS single players’ campaigns.
You play, once again, as Sevchenko and you’re fighting the genocidal Helghast army, but this time it’s a lot more personal and the ISA are really in some trouble. After assassinating General Vasari at the end of Killzone 2 the ISA squad has to stop a new rising threat while the Helghast high council tries to use a new superweapon to wipe out Earth. It sounds cliché but the characters are engrossing, they are more fleshed out and their personalities are deepened which makes for a more riveting story. You really feel like you’re on the brink of defeat due to the constant struggle for survival. The dialog is sharp, and the set pieces are phenomenal which makes for a roller-coaster campaign.
You really care for all the characters in this game since it feels like it was directed like a movie. Every scene is carefully plotted out and the action compliments it. Speaking of action that’s what Killzone is all about. Shooting guns in this game feel tighter and a bit faster than in the past games. The recoil has been toned down so not every weapon feels completely inaccurate which makes the game not so hard as well. The old weapons are slightly upgraded so they feel nicer to wield around, but the new weapons kick ass. The WASP is a portable mortar that homes in on enemies and if you zoom in you can use it as a one-shot artillery strike. The Arc Cannon shoots green energy and makes enemies explode, so this naturally replaces the lightning gun.
There are also more weapons that you can carry such as detachable turrets that you can store on your person for later. Ammo crates scattered around help you stay loaded up on ammo for your favorite guns, but being able to carry a normal weapon and a heavy one is a great change. The jetpack is a new addition and it feels great to fly and works well in multiplayer. There are also some other parts of the campaign mixed up with vehicle sections and even a section in space! The campaign never gets boring and is constantly changing things for you and this includes environments (more on that later).
Shooting overall feels better than the past games and is really fun. The guns have weight to them, but not the annoying weight which makes the game feel slower. Aiming is a lot better since it’s not as stiff as the past games as well. Killzone 3 is also heavily cover-based so you can’t just run and gun or you will die almost instantly. This requires strategy with the weapons you choose and I love this a lot.
When it comes to looks Killzone 3 shines over any FPS out right now. Fighting the huge MAWLR at the end of the game is just jaw-dropping since everything has such detail. It seems impossible for Guerrilla to have squeezed so much power out of the PS3, but it really shows here. This game just looks astounding with a ton of background detail and not just in the foreground. Everything moves, everything feels dynamic and the lighting is amazing. Killzone 3 tries to dodge the complaints about the “boring” sepia tone by adding color to the environment without ruining the art style. Fighting in the snow, lots of reds and oranges, and Helghan, the burning city of Pyrrhus at the beginning of the game plus not to mention all the green from the new super weapon’s energy.
The multi-player is extremely fun and more refined this time around and the unlocking and level-up systems are addictive. Using points to unlock new gear keeps you coming back and the more you play the better you get like in any great FPS. The maps are very well designed and don’t feel so random as they did in the past games. There are great spots for strategy and learning the maps only takes a few playthroughs. Each class has its own unique abilities and you will want to try them all because not every weapon is available for every class. I never had so much fun on a PS3 FPS online as I did in Killzone 3.
When it comes to 3D and the Move I couldn’t test this fully, but I have tried a bit of each and I have to say the Move feels great to use but not as tight as the controller. the 3D is also great for certain moments of the game, but other times you won’t notice much. Apart from this you are in for a great ride with Killzone 3 due to its varied gameplay (the stealth section actually works!) to the brutal melee kills that add a “Hell Yeah!” factor to multiplayer. Even being able to be healed when you die in the campaign makes the game feel fresh. Everything is tighter and even looks better than the last game, and that’s worth my $60.