Brut Awards 2013, PART 1: Honorable Mentions and Cool Indie Stuff

Boy, what a year 2013 was. We’ve learned a lot this year, and because of that this industry grew…along with Activision’s bank of endless greed. However let’s not dwell too much on the negativity here, plus Infinity Ward and Treyarch do have plenty of opportunities to break out of those gold shackles. By the way those shackles are also exclusively melded by Kotick himself.

Bobby Kotick

Courtesy of all the money spent on Call of Duty DLC.

There were  several predictions I made this year, and in the most humble way I can say it, I was fucking right. First off, there would be more sharks in videogames and I would hate the living shit out of their existence even more because of it. Second, Ellen Page would clone herself just to confuse Brutuxan’s arousal meter. Third and most importantly, some of the best developers in this business would utilize the strength of the current-gen consoles just to make something beautiful. Or in other cases, they would just make God of War: Ascension and Gears of War: Judgement.

But this isn’t the worst of the year, dammit! This is the best of the year!

Before I start, let me give out the rules here for those who are unaware how I do this.

  1. This isn’t a ‘Top 10’ list.
  2. This isn’t a list in any sort of numerical order.
  3. I usually try to deliver some poignant message or some shit at the end.
  4. Every game is a winner!
  5. I’m separating my ‘Best of’ list into two parts.

Now with that said, let’s move on into…

Honorable Mentions –

Splinter Cell Blacklist Award

Splinter Cell Blacklist:

While the writing isn’t anything fresh here, hell it might as well be called NCIS: Splinter Cell, the game does surprisingly shape up very well. Not that I probably should even reference the story for these games anymore, hell how many times has Fisher’s daughter been kidnapped? Like 5 times?

The reason why Blacklist is considered a valid entry in this series is that while it isn’t as formulaic as Conviction and not as slow-winding as Chaos Theory, the game does find a solid middle ground. Even better is that you’re given multiple play-styles to tangle with, such as going the panther, ghost, or full-out ‘murderous psychopath’ route (Pssst…I couldn’t remember what the last one was called.) Regardless of which way you want to play, the game accommodates whichever chosen playtsyle by giving you cover, pipes to climb on, and wait for it…non-linear paths! Wow, its almost like the game got better because you weren’t forced to go down a singular path, how shocking.

There’s also a lot of other content on the side as well such as spies versus mercs, co-op missions, challenge missions, and horde mode type missions. All of this is accessible through the control center of this stealth unit called the ‘Fourth Echelon’, which added a really neat element to the campaign. For example all of the missions are accessible through a single map menu, however this layout is in the middle of an interactive aircraft where you can talk to your teammates, attain upgrades, and even talk to your daughter through a speaker. Who surprisingly never gets kidnapped in this game. I was seriously waiting for that moment to happen.

Even without Michael Ironside and the switch to a much more action oriented experience, the game is still pretty damn solid. Though seriously, how many times are we going to have the annoying computer hacker who wears a silly sweater? That needs to stop, at least wear a jacket!

Deadpool Award

Deadpool The Videogame:

I remember a lot of the critics being pretty harsh on this one. Saying that the gameplay is repetitive, the mechanics are clunky, and the writing is just…’stupid’. Granted, I am quite a huge fan of this potty-mouthed vigilante and his wacky antics, so maybe that’s why I wound up digging this game. In fact while some of the mechanics were a bit iffy, most of it was actually not that bad.

Let me explain,  Deadpool the Videogame is essentially about the merc-with-a-mouth trying to create a script for his first ever videogame. That’s pretty much it, that’s what you’re getting.
This could either be the best or the worst thing imaginable pending on where you sit with this character. I for one, loved the living hell out of it because High Moon Studios does so much with an idea that sounds like it was processed through a board of lazy videogame business-men. The jokes are more often hit than they are miss, and not to mention Nolan North does a great job with this character (but then again, anything’s a step-up when you’re voicing Desmond.) While the fighting mechanics do get frustrating at times and the camera is a bit ‘wonky’, the overall experience you’re getting here is pretty good.

I do have some main issues though with some of the complaints railed against this game. First off I heard somewhere that the game’s a bit hypocritical because while it is satirizing modern videogame tropes, the gameplay itself dismisses the legitimacy of that element. My main problem with this complaint is that the game itself was never going to be a ground-breaker, even more-so is that what it is satirizing/making fun of are mostly games outside its genre. You never see one jab at Devil May Cry or God of War despite those games being in the same genre as this one (which I’m sure I just pissed off a lot of hardcore hack & slash fans by merely mentioning Deadpool in the same realm as Devil May Cry, too late it happened fuckers!) Plus, personal preference here, the gameplay isn’t a complete shit-fest like I was expecting it to be, it isn’t perfect, but it’s suitable for the character’s given chaotic nature.

The other common complaint I heard was that some critics really did not care for the writing, Again, this goes back to whether or not you’re a fan of this character, but I still feel like I should mention this since we’re living in an age where apparently all videogames should be taken seriously and can never be ‘silly’ again. That’s not the type of lunacy that goes on in this industry! No sir!
When you’re writing a character whose main abilities involves being able to regenerate health, is known for saying crazy shit, and has a sensational appetite for burritos then go nuts. The only restriction here is that you have to find a flow within all this mayhem that this character is doing or saying, and once again Deadpool nails this. Unfortunately I feel like some critics don’t take that into consideration and thus decide that the game was made specifically for morons or people who are fans of this character. I happen to be both, so that fits perfectly within my spectrumzzz dawg!

Injustice Gods Among Us

Injustice: Gods Among Us:

Hey, you got my Mortal Kombat into your DC superheroes! No wait, you got my DC superheroes into your Mortal Kombat! Guy’s, regardless if you’re a fan of people in dumb costumes or a fan of people in dumb costumes, Injustice is a game for everyone! Well, not really, but still it is a lot of fun. This was essentially the game that Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe should have been, except without the Mortal Kombat part because DC ain’t quite a fan of having Scorpion decapitate Superman. Or let alone let anyone outside of the DC even combat Superman!

The good news about Injustice is that the logic behind having someone like Batman being able to beat the crap out of Superman makes sense, even when the explanation behind that aspect of the story is a bit flimsy. In fact let’s get this over with, the story mode for Injustice is actually not as bad as to be expected from these sort of games. It works mostly because first off, it’s written by people who are fans of DC comics, and secondly it’s told through the perspective of each character that progresses the story along. It definitely has its plot-holes and idiocies when it comes to certain characters, for sure, but NetherRealm Studios still manages to execute this mode properly. That is all I will say about the story, because considering this is a fighting game I think it’s more important to highlight what makes Injustice so much fun.

Each hero/villain in this game has a meter that allows you to perform special moves, and if you max that meter to its fullest you can perform a ‘super special move’. Doesn’t sound too enthralling considering you can do this in mostly every other arcade fighting game, however what makes it so cool is the cinematic that follows afterward. Like, I don’t know, Superman essentially performing a piledriver from space or Doomsday clobberin’ some poor fool into the center of the earth, Dig Dug style!
Although the main highlight of the game is the level interactions. Each level has a certain set of transitions that allow your fighter or your opponent to land some serious hits. And what occurs in some of these transitions is pretty insane, like being thrown out into space near the Watchtower or getting smashed to pieces by the inmates of Arkham Asylum. Plus depending on which character you play as, you can either pick up vehicles and throw them or dodge enemies projectile attacks by utilizing the environment to jump out-of-the-way.

To put it bluntly, it’s fucking over-the-top and I love it.

While I can’t quite put it in my best of the year list, it isn’t because it doesn’t deserve a spot. It’s just because with every fighting games comes a lot of work and practice, and unfortunately that’s something I don’t have the time for these days when it comes to fighting games. But don’t let that discourage you, this is a competent game worth getting if you’re a fan of DC superheroes, fighting games, and causing large amounts of mayhem in general. And there’s even a ton of neat DLC that’s already out for the game, still no sign of a Mister Mxyzptlk challenge mode though. Really miss that ‘Great Gazoo’ looking bastard.

Crysis 3 Award

Crysis 3:

This series has always seemed to me as just one continuous demo to show off the prowess of what modern PC’s can do. It’s also one of those games that’s seems to be begging me to put my current PC out of its misery in order to buy a new and better one to play this game. Sorry Crysis 3, but I ain’t performing an Old Yeller this year! I will say this however, the game does still manage to look pretty good on a console.

If you don’t know what’s happening in Crysis 3, here’s the gist of it. Cut to 24 years later after the events of Crysis 2, New York has been encapsulated in a nanodome where the entire city has been turned into a luscious jungle. Prophet has awaken to not only realized that the city has changed, but that CELL has become fairly dominant. So now it’s up to Prophet to find out how this happened, but to also eliminate CELL and the rest of the Ceph forces.
Here’s the truth, reading that description almost put me to sleep, it’s that generic of a plot. Although after playing the game I do have to give kudos to James Vincent Meredith for doing a pretty good job as Prophet, and to some of the writers who managed to also inject a bit of humanity into what could have been another boring sci-fi story. You actually do kind of feel something for these characters, including from a side character named Psycho who is going through some pretty tough times.

What caught me off guard with this installment though was the fact that you got to choose how you wanted to play. Did you want to be stealthy, a melee fighter, or did you want to shoot at every living thing in sight? Well it’s all there through a special perk system that works right on the spot, literally, like you can just go through a quick menu and select which set of perks you want to use. The perks aren’t just restricted to class though, you can also choose which three you want to use at any time as well.
Another thing that I was happily surprised about was how these levels felt open, but also in the sense that they support your own playstyle. It really sounds like I’m repeating what I just said for Splinter Cell: Blacklist, but it is the truth. Both of these series managed to avoid falling into the trap that so many other shooters do, which is linear level design and repetitive gameplay. That’s why playing Crysis 3 was a breath of fresh air, because it wasn’t restrictive nor dull at any point to play.

If there is any downside to this game, the campaign is fairly short and the multiplayer, while solid, isn’t doing anything new. Hence why I didn’t put it on my ‘Best of the Year’ list, but as it stands it’s still a fairly solid shooter. I still don’t like the design of the nanosuits in this game though, it just looks like the Michelin Man except on steroids.

Indie Stuff –

Gone Home award

Gone Home:

The less said about Gone Home, the better. If only for the fact that the mystery behind this empty, yet mysteriously trashed house is so fascinating that I personally think it would harm the experience. So let me say this if you want to remain spoiler-free. Gone Home is an experiment that manages to excel beyond expectations and leaves behind a message that I think will resonate with a lot of people.

There, now for those who want to know…

SPOILER TIME! Gone Home is about a woman named Kaitlin Greenbriar who has returned home after a year-long trip. When she enters this luscious abode, she  realizes that not only is the house empty, but that a lot has happened since her departure. Throughout the entirety of the game you’ll be spending your time investigating what has happened to her parents, and especially what’s been going on with her sister. Although you’re playing as Kaitlin, the game is mostly centralized around her sister, Samantha Greenbriar.
Gone Home has accomplished several things that some prolific videogame personalities like David Cage could never seem to accomplish. It tells a well done coming-of-age story that doesn’t steer off track with ridiculous QTE’s, and even more impressive is that it tells its story through notes and tape recordings. It’s really a testament to how brilliant the writing is, and how much attention to detail that The Fullbright Company has put into this game. And because of its short length, the experience is actually that much more memorable since its allowed the developers to really flesh out each key moment. It’s not the most lavish game, but considering its low production qualities it sure does manage to achieve more than most of the schlock that’s out there now.

Still, it would have been cooler if Slender-Man was there…as the housekeeper!

Papers Please Award

Papers, Please:

Who would have thought that running a border inspection post in a country run by communists would be so much fun? I couldn’t tell if the developers of this game wanted to strictly deliver a message about immigration and the harshness behind the policies that go with it, or make a time attack mode with a European aesthetic to it. Whatever the case may be, Papers, Please is worth the coin that was pitifully given to you by a dying mother. Sorry, I’m energetically grim right now and it’s really showing.

As I stated, the game is about an immigration officer working in a border post on the Eastern side of Arstozka. A made up fictional country that in no way bears any resemblance to another European country that existed, ever. The game starts out fairly simple as you’re given the task of either denying or allowing these feeble peasants to tremble their way into Artstozka. However as the days go by, the game becomes more complex as you’ll be asked to check documents for false identification, do body searches for explosives, and more tricky objectives. Luckily the game gives you the tools in order to thoroughly check each person, the problem is that you’re also on the clock here.
So less reading, more telling poor families to fuck off and jump off a mountain! Whoa, that was very un-Artstozkian of me. I do apologize, they should jump off a tower instead.

As dark as this game can be, it is something I strongly recommend people to play it. Regardless of whether you’re a big gamer or not, this one easily sucks the time right out of your day and you even learn something! It’s a perfect way to teach kids about how measly immigrants are and why they should always bring in their goddamn passports! Oh boy, that one just slipped right out like a  greasy  Kolechian…oh Jesus, I should probably stop here. Go play the game dammit!

Kentucky Route Zero Award

Kentucky Route Zero:

In terms of indie games, Kentucky Route Zero is about as indie as they come. Though don’t mistake that as, “We didn’t make anything profound here, but we’re going to pretend that it is.” This game is actually an old school text adventure, but done with modern pixelated visuals. There’s also no facial features on these characters, and no dialogue as well. So why should this game interest you at the very least?

Well let me explain, Kentucky Route Zero follows the story of several people. The main one being a truck driver named Conway who is followed around by a silly dog in a straw hat. Conway’s goal is to make a delivery to 5 Dogwood Street, and in order to do that he has to go through a mysterious route called Kentucky Route Zero. Along the way he meets other characters, including a woman named Shannon Marquez who you do get to control as well.

The game is very strange, and the story is told through acts rather than episodes (because, I don’t know, indie.) However its strangeness and its minimal time-consuming structure is what I really like about Kentucky Route Zero. There’s a lot of text to read in this game, no mistake about that, but they give you enough fascinating imagery to where it feels like you’re reading an interactive novel at points. Plus the break in between acts allows you to digest more information, rather than cram a ton of exposition into your noggin in order to understand the story.
What caught me off guard the most with this game though is how it pushes forward and experiments a lot in interactive narrative. As I mention, you control different characters in this game, but you also get to choose what dialogue they can say. It sounds confusing, but they do this in a way where if there are two characters that are both playable, they’ll just have one character choose what to say. I’m also not sure where they’re going with the choices in this game, but I’m instantly hooked with the game’s presentation. Who knows, maybe by act 5 I’ll think this entire thing was complete garbage and I’ll be plagued with why I put this game on my best of the year list.

For right now though, if you’re type of person who loves old school text adventure games and don’t mind pixelated art-styles, then by all means give this one a shot. However if you do not like to read, want everything explained to you right away, and want Crysis 3 level graphics then stay as far away from this as you can.

The Stanley Parable Award

The Stanley Parable:

I’ve played this game for almost three hours, and now I smell like a sitcom pilot for the BBC. I never even knew what those smelled like! From the outside, you would assume that The Stanley Parable would be one of those games that aimed to rip off Douglas Adams writing. Although as it turns out its more in the same vein as something like Portal, and luckily it never tries to recreate the same hilarious moments from those games. In fact you’ll probably be taking away a couple pretty humorous moments from The Stanley Parable itself.

At its barest, the game is about a simple man named Stanley who works in a bland office building. Everything goes normal as usual, until one day he realizes that everyone had disappeared inside the building. So it’s up to Stanley to figure out what happened to everyone, well, that’s if you choose to. Because on the other side of this story is a narrator constantly breaking the fourth wall, multiple endings that play a part in the game, and a strange fixation with arrows. I should probably mention that this game’s plot sounds fairly complex, and should require another playthrough in order to fully understand it.
Just like Gone Home, the less said about the game, the better the experience will be. Or in my case, the less you know, the more you’ll be hearing ‘WTF” over and over inside your head.

The Stanley Parable deals mainly on the idea of choices and what they mean to the player. Though if you’re just not in the mood for very in-depth discussions about modern videogame tropes, then the quirky and witty dialogue should at least appease you. You insignificant and feeble-minded fool!

Alright, that’s it for the honorable mentions and the indie category. Check in about a week or two to see my opinion on some of the best DLC and finally the best games of this year, along with my GOTY pick. Also coming soon is my ‘Worst of the Year’ list, which I’m sure will make readers wonder, “What’s Brutuxan’s worst game of the year?” I’ll give you a hint, it’s Fast & Furious: Showdown.



Filed under Best/Worst of 2013

2 responses to “Brut Awards 2013, PART 1: Honorable Mentions and Cool Indie Stuff

  1. Pingback: Brut Awards 2013, PART 2: DLC & Main Grub | Brutlounge

  2. Pingback: Brut Awards 2013: Just the Worst | Brutlounge

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