My Year in Gaming

If there’s one thing that the end of a year is good for, it’s top ten lists, and a lot of the gaming publications have released their lists of the best games of 2010.

I can’t comment on most of the titles that appear on the years best games lists because, for the most part, I haven’t played them. What did I play this year?  I’m glad you asked. Here are some thoughts on all of the gaming related items I took part in during 2010…

New Hardware
In March I purchased a Nintendo Wii. The main motivation behind the purchase was for EA Sports Active, which has seen a good amount of usage in our household. I’ve got a copy of Twilight Princess that I haven’t touched, along with Super Mario Galaxy that I’ve played for about twenty minutes total. My daughter and I sometimes play together, usually Disney Princess: Enchanted Journey, or Bowling.

In July I finally replaced my aging PC with a pretty sweet Alienware, and there was much rejoicing. The guts of the machine consist of an i7-960 quad core, 3.2GHz CPU with 12GB RAM, Radeon 5870, 2.5TB hard disk space, and a Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium. That’s in addition to the pretty lights emanating from the case and the funky alien head on the front.

In October I purchased a Nintendo DS. I was initially on the fence about getting one of these things, but since buying it, its seen use almost every day. I don’t regret it for a second.

The PC Games
I’ll start with the big one, World of Warcraft, which easily took up the majority of my time. I played fairly consistently throughout the year, starting up in January after a few months break. I levelled my Mage to 80 and he’s now my “main”, supplanting my 80 Shaman. I also started up an Orc Warrior who currently sits at level 61. I’ll continue with the Warrior once the Mage is 85.

I think Cataclysm is pretty cool, but not quite as awesome as I was hoping it would be. As of today, I find my interest is beginning to lean away from WoW towards my growing stockpile of un-played games. I think at this point I play WoW because I can jump in for a half hour or so and knock off a quest or two before I have to attend to “real life” matters.

The other MMO I (sort of) played this year was EverQuest II Extended. I tried playing this, but I just can’t. I have so many fond memories of my three and a half years with EQII, but each time I go back to check it out those memories seem to drift further and further away.

I managed to play through a couple popular puzzle-type games, in Braid and Limbo. I quite enjoyed Braid and actually managed to get through it fairly quickly because I couldn’t put it down.  On the other hand, I thought Limbo was merely “okay” and not deserving of all the hype it was receiving.

I played a fair amount of StarCraft II, but I’m still a mission or two away from completing the campaign. I’m not the biggest fan of real time strategy games, but I had to check this one out, and I wasn’t disappointed. Actually, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, although once I’m finished with the campaign I doubt I’ll load it up again until the next campaign is released.

With the purchase of my new PC I found myself looking for games that would show it off, and for that I played Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and Far Cry 2. Call of Duty looks great, but the game play wore off on me fairly quickly. I can’t stand the lack of freedom throughout the levels. If you don’t move fast enough, you die. If you move too fast, you die. Basically, the game moves at its own pace and drags you along for the ride. Far Cry 2 is the polar opposite, and I really enjoyed it. It looks great, and I love the open world concept of it.

Finally, I spent a little bit of time playing Torchlight, which was cool and nostalgic for about half an hour, at which point I started to fall asleep. I haven’t been back since. I also played Trine for about twenty minutes, which isn’t enough time to have formed an opinion of it.

The Portable Games
I played through and finished Golden Sun, an old Game Boy Advance game on my Nintendo DS. It was decent enough, but the random battles drove me crazy. I’m now playing Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies, and I’m loving it. The graphics are great and the story and game play are both really well done. I didn’t know a whole lot about this one before getting it, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I’ve even found myself grinding levels not because I have to, but because I’m enjoying it.

The Console Games
This year saw my Xbox 360 red ring on me, but fortunately it was still under warranty, so I sent it off for repair. My replacement box has been running smoothly ever since. This wasn’t a big year for the console for me. I spent some time playing Tomb Raider: Guardian of Light cooperatively with my wife. It’s a great, fun little game.

Most of my time on the 360 was spent with NHL 10, which is the best dang hockey game I’ve ever played (I haven’t played NHL 11). The only other games I spent any decent amount of time with on the Xbox were Deadspace and Halo ODST. I’ve made it through about half of Deadspace and it’s really cool. I love the atmosphere and it’s genuinely pretty creepy. ODST however is a little disappointing. I love all of the other Halo games, but just a few missions in, I find it a little on the boring side.

There are other games I dabbled with on the Xbox here and there, but nothing I spent any significant amount of time with.

Steam
This year marked my first purchases from Steam. Typically I like to have a box and printed manual, but given that less and less shelf space is being dedicated to PC games and most of them no longer come with printed manuals, there was no longer anything to keep me from purchasing my games from Steam. The frequent sales don’t hurt either.

The Games I Bought but Haven’t Played
As always, my eyes were bigger than my amount of free time. I have purchased, but have yet to spend any time playing the following games:

  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Dawn of War II: Gold Edition
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2

I also recently received Halo Reach as a gift at Christmas, and purchased Super Street Fighter IV and Forza Motorsport 3 with a gift card, also received at Christmas. I won’t count those games among the ones I “haven’t played” as I’ve only had them for a couple days now.

My Game of the Year
Looking back over the year, I’ve actually played more than I thought I had. There’s no doubt that World of Warcraft took up the vast majority of my free time, but I certainly wouldn’t say it’s the game I enjoyed the most this year. For that, I’ll turn to Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies for the Nintendo DS.

It does so many things right. There are no random battles, so if you just want to get from one place to another quickly, for the most part you can. It’s got all of the requisite bells and whistles, such as nice graphics and great music. It’s got a nice world that feels big without feeling too big, and once you reach a certain part in the game you’re more or less free to explore it as you wish as opposed to being led through it in a specific order.

What does it the most for me though are the underlying mechanics. I love the way the party and class systems work. You can adventure alone if you wish, or create a party, and you can also choose from among several classes to play and change your class whenever you want (after a certain part early in the game). If you’ve got a DS and like RPGs, I highly recommend it.

Anyway, I hope you all have had a great year, and here’s wishing you the best for 2011.

2 Replies to “My Year in Gaming”

  1. I have to agree with you on DQIX. Super fun game and brings back the feeling of playing the first Final Fantasy on the NES for me.
    I usually pull a walkthrough on games like this but for this one I’ve been just going where the game takes me.

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