Camped just outside the top ten is an interesting place to be for a game to be. Not quite big enough to reach the highest echelons, but at the same time with enough pressure to really deliver on your promises.
Anyway, today’s article features the five games that we didn’t quite like enough to reach the highest height, though we were still very excited about them nonetheless.
15. Killzone: Mercenary
One of the PS Vita’s two bright hopes for the holiday, Killzone: Mercenary sets out to show everyone just how well the handheld can do a first-person shooter. Lets face it, Resistance: Burning Skies and Black Ops Declassified were both big disappointments, and whilst Unit 13 was a solid and interesting shooter, it couldn’t save Zipper Interactive, so it’s up to Guerrilla Games to deliver.
Actually, that’s not quite right. This is actually Guerrilla Cambridge working closely with the Amsterdam-based parent company, using an adapted version of the Killzone 3 engine, and crafting the first Killzone entry outside of the Netherlands.
Still, it’s shaping up rather nicely, delivering easily some of the best visuals on the machine, alongside some intriguing little twists to adapt it to a more portable experience.
As Al said, “The Vita might be finding itself home to a plethora of indie games at the moment, but Mercenary shows that the machine is more than capable of big-budget AAA titles in the right hands, with the right license. Hopes are high that the rest of the game impresses just as much.”
14. DmC: Devil May Cry
I’m not entirely sure that the furore surrounding Dante’s redesign ever really died down, and this was something reflected by fairly slow sales. It managed to break past 1 million, but didn’t set the tills alight, despite the largely positive reviews.
Pushing past all the controversy, it came as a fresh and vibrant looking game, pushing Unreal Engine 3 into a new and interesting direction, stylistically. Fluid combat also lived up to the legacy of the hype and legacy of the series, letting you seamlessly switch between weapons, and juggle demons in the air before smiting them with prejudice.
“It’s obvious why long time fans of Devil May Cry had concerns about the reboot of the series” Peter concluded in his 7/10 review, “but Ninja Theory have done a lovely job with taking over the reigns. It’s certainly not without its issues, and at this stage in a generation you feel like a game should probably be wielding more graphical clout, but the game’s combat more than makes up for it.”
13. God of War: Ascension
Ascension came to the table with relatively low expectations on its shoulders, as Kratos returned for yet another mythological romp through Greece. This time around, we saw him in his earliest incarnation yet, as the game was a prequel to all that went after this.
Unfortunately, this kind of left the plot in no man’s land, where the events of all the previous games limited the scope and scale of what Kratos’ new adventure could aim for. That’s not to say that Ascension didn’t have huge set pieces, such as the running battle with the Hecatonchires during the opening section of the game, but it didn’t have that stength of plot to push it forwards.
“It’s a fun ride – there are some lovely set pieces – but it’s largely a ride to a conclusion we already know,” said Alex in his 8/10 review, “and without enough focus to make it an unforgettable experience. Kratos’ backstory is fleshed out, his motivations explained and the rest of the series built on solid foundations, but is this really an essential slice of the story?”
“It doesn’t feel as relevant as the PSP games, nor as necessary, but it’s more God of War, and for some that’s probably more than enough.”
Similarly, the addition of a multiplayer mode was met with scepticism from fans, who viewed it as a somewhat cynical addition to the franchise. However, there has actually been a decent level of support for this with free post-release DLC, and whilst it’s not setting the world alight as the latest multiplayer sensation, it’s not the waste of time some might have assumed.
12. The Last Guardian
The Last Guardian isn’t coming this year, I’m sorry to say, and we’re not exactly sure whether this game will ever see release. In fact, everything’s going completely silent on this front, aside from a brief confirmation from Sony that this game is still in development.
Will it reincarnate itself as a PlayStation 4 game? Time will tell, but for now, there’s not much more to say.
Let’s just think back to what we were all so thoroughly enchanted by, so many months ago:
11. Aliens: Colonial Marines
Well, this was a torrid tale of lies, betrayal and disappointment. Gearbox had been tasked many years ago with the creation of a sequel to Aliens, in video game form, and this year we finally got to see their results.
It actually looked fairly promising prior to release, with a nicely atmospheric section on show, as you revisited the half detroyed Hadley’s Hope. As soon as it hit the shelves, though, all hell broke loose.
Alex concluded that “Gearbox have indeed failed to live up to the lofty expectations that Aliens fans had hoped for, the game itself as a shooter simply doesn’t measure up amongst the games it attempts to ape. Sadly, it’s hardly top tier, with the weighty Aliens lore the only thing that saves it from being something approaching a disaster.”
He awarded it a 5/10, but it turned out that at least 2.5 of those points were actually courtesy of TimeGate Studios, who claimed 50% of the work on the game was theirs and not Gearbox’s. Instead of developing the game themselves, Gearbox had outsourced large amounts of development to TimeGate, and then reportedly tried to desperately salvage things at the last moment.
Naturally, this landed everyone involved into a lot of bother. Sega was forced to admit that the trailers and adverts for the game did not match the final game, instead using footage from the much better looking pre-release demos of the game, before becoming a defendant in a lawsuit over false advertising.
The game does not look like this.
Needless to say nobody involved was particularly happy with how things panned out. Except maybe Wii U owners, who have been spared a release on their console…
Tune in over the next couple of days to see how the top ten have enjoyed the first two thirds of 2013.