GWJ Conference Call Episode 220

Conference Call

Our Favorite Games of 2010, Your Emails and more!

This week Shawn, Julian and Elysium dive into their favorite games of the year. We also have a special segment with Lara and Cory offering their picks!

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined. You can also submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Comments

Preparing for Starcraft 2 and Cataclysm mentionings.

Personally, my GOTY is Mass Effect 2. I've played it over and over too many times to say anything else. With Red Dead Redemption coming second.

Hey my email got read! Thanks for the input guys I hadn't really thought of that perspective. The comparison to GTA is apt.

Awww, gotta love the 30 year old senility moment. "Left 4 Dead 2 was this year."

Well, the Hunter was last year also. Let the emails begin!

You are, of course, correct. The way I gathered up a bunch of the games was I looked through show notes from all the podcasts. We did talk about The Hunter in 2010, but now that I listen to the show, it was because Rob wanted to talk about the new bow they put out.

I blame Rob.

Certis wrote:

I blame Rob.

I can live with that.

Speedhuntr wrote:

Personally, my GOTY is Mass Effect 2. I've played it over and over too many times to say anything else. With Red Dead Redemption coming second.

Just the opposite for me. RDR is my #1 with ME2 a very close #2. I absolutely loved ME2 (and should really get around to picking up the Shadow Broker DLC sometime), but I've put at least 50 hours into RDR. It completely sucked me into the Old West world Rockstar San Diego created. I was so immersed that I even spent several hours (5 at least) playing poker and blackjack. Then they released Undead Nightmare, which was awesome. That was another 10 hours or so right there.

garion333 wrote:

Awww, gotta love the 30 year old senility moment. "Left 4 Dead 2 was this year." ;)

Yeah, when I heard them say L4D2 was this year, I was like "umm, no." So I'm guessing L4D2 was talked about in two separate GotY discussions (2009 and 2010). IMAGE(http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-laughing002.gif)

No mention of Civ V as being a bit of a letdown?

I have 45 hours into Civ V. How big of a letdown can that be?

Elysium wrote:

I have 45 hours into Civ V. How big of a letdown can that be?

I've got about double that with Civ IV and I doubt I'm going to get that close.

Should the Android app be linked in the OP now as well?

Good point!

Rat Boy wrote:
Elysium wrote:

I have 45 hours into Civ V. How big of a letdown can that be?

I've got about double that with Civ IV and I doubt I'm going to get that close.

Yeah, but once the AI gets (even more) fixed, the inevitable expansions happen and we see some great mods you may clock in as much. May.

Civ V had a bad launch, but it's hardly a bad game. So, I can see people not mentioning it as a letdown.

I'm hoping they do something along the lines of Beyond the Sword, but for now it's a vanilla Civ game that just doesn't feel as fun or as addictive Civ IV.

Edit: I'm not saying it's bad, it's just not as good as its predecessor.

goty for me has to be Just Cause 2 and Red Dead Redemption. Both are games that just pull me into their atmosphere and refuse to let go even when I am not playing them. I still have Mass Effect 2 to play, but I didn't even get through ME1, so I don't have much hope for it holding up to my current gotys.

Don't suppose you could link the prediction episode from late 2009? I'm sure we'd all like a little trip down memory lane before you guys put egg on your own faces

Rat Boy wrote:

I'm hoping they do something along the lines of Beyond the Sword, but for now it's a vanilla Civ game that just doesn't feel as fun or as addictive Civ IV.

Edit: I'm not saying it's bad, it's just not as good as its predecessor.

I hate being cockblocked in my own territory by an ally's worker unit.

Even if Civ V is not a strictly better game than Civ IV, I think it's a stretch to call it a disappointment. The people who have serious issues with Civ V are the extreme fanatics who mastered the systems of the previous games and are disappointed this game isn't a step up in complexity giving them new systems to master. From a casual perspective, Civ V has a number of appealing graphical and interface improvements and lets say a more aesthetically pleasing combat system. Also it's still basically Civilization. This is why Civ V is considered one of the best games of the year. It's a slick pretty new design of a game people already loved.

Elysium, I'm with you on Alan Wake. As a game, there isn't much to recommend it.

Edit: Thanks for answering my question about the DS. And thanks, Elysium, for being the first to man up when answering it. I'll get Advance Wars: Dual Strike and see what I think, although Super Scribblenauts will be next in line.

I think Lara would have recommended Dragon Quest IX.

DOW 2 Chaos Rising was an excellent game/expansion overlooked in the podcast.

I wanted to also lend my support to Elysium for enjoying Singularity as well. It was better than Metro 2033 for me since I just had a hard time seeing things and none of the weapons really felt "good" to me. I guess a lot of games like Metro 2033 are trying to do things that I feel Half Life 1, 2 did better.

Another game not mentioned is Front Mission Evolved. I really enjoyed that game and feel it was really overlooked. It followed along the lines of a straight forward, directed shooter like Singularity. The customization of weapons and mech parts was far superior in Front Mission Evolved so the directed mission goals can be completed differently depending on your chosen role loadout. (missiles, rocket launcher, shotguns, miniguns, melee, shield bashing, sniper, support, grenades)

ClockworkHouse wrote:

Elysium, I'm with you on Alan Wake. As a game, there isn't much to recommend it.

Same here. I picked it up as a result of the love heaped upon it in the conf call and Giant Bomb, but it fell pretty flat for me. The story, although interesting, was delivered with too much monotone (both the narration and pace). The gameplay wasn't anything special either.

I'm with 'the Urge' on Heavy Rain being amazing. Forgot to put that on the other thread. I only did the one playthrough, since it was such a harrowing experience, but it moved me in a way that only a few other games have been able to.

Apparently there has been a massive overhaul of Hydrophobia in the form of a patch. Has anyone tried it and has it fixed the game? It looks good in the video but I'm guessing the original did also.

I actually bought the Red Dead Nightmare pack dlc when it was on sale (now I just need to borrow the game off my cousin's kid.) I've also bought Bioshock 2 on the strength of what I'm hearing about the second half. I'll probably get to it sometime in March.)

It's been a superb year for games. So many developers nailing the balance between innovation and retention of the elements that work.

Higgledy wrote:

Apparently there has been a massive overhaul of Hydrophobia in the form of a patch. Has anyone tried it and has it fixed the game? It looks good in the video but I'm guessing the original did also.

Wow, here's the full list of changes:

Improved Graphics
- Character dynamic self-shadowing
- Enhanced lighting
- Improved textures
- Better water spray effects
- Improved water reflection and refraction
- Enhanced electricity effects
- Environmental geometry tweaks
- Additional video texture work

Physics Enhancements
- Increased number of dynamic objects
- More realistic character water resistance
- Explosive forces re-balanced

Overhauled Camera System
- Camera positioned closer to character
- Improved tracking of the action
- Enhanced collision detection
- Better FOV for framing the action

Improved Movement and Animations
- More fluid and precise character control
- Improved character animations add realism
- Enhanced animation transitions make the character more 'weighty'

New Climbing System
- Continuous hand-over-hand climbing system added
- All new, more realistic animations
- More fluid climbing controls and movement

Platforming
- Automatic ledge grab functionality
- Improved swing mechanic
- Improved jump-from-balance mechanic

Control Layout
- Switch to a more traditional control layout
- A to jump
- LT to aim
- RB to detonate enhanced Gel and Energy Rounds

Dialogue Re-Edit
- Dialogue has been pruned
- Irritating or extraneous lines cut

Cutscenes Re-edit
- Cutscenes reviewed and edited
- Overly long cutscenes shortened

Collectables
- Emails and E-Books no longer interrupt gameplay when collected
- Collectables re-positioned throughout levels
- Points awarded for collectables tweaked

New Waypoint System
- Waypoints for every objective and sub objective
- Choose permanent on-screen waypoints or new MAVI only mode
- Waypoints added for Ciphers and Frequency Keys with colour coding
- Corpses with Frequency Keys glow orange for easy identification

Map Improved
- Improved controls and button layout
- Default view of Kate's position
- Toggle Kate's position / objective location manually
- Easier to navigate

Prompts
- Prompts re-worked for better clarity
- Prompt triggering reviewed and improved

Tutorials
- Video tutorials cut back
- Improved in game tutorials
- New tutorial puzzles

Wading Improved
- Enhanced physical character feedback from water forces
- Improved transitions between wade states

Swimming Improved
- Improved swimming controls, more finely balanced
- 180 degree swim turn removed
- Improved camera behaviour when swimming
- Underwater combat system streamlined

Puzzles
- Improved feedback for Cipher and Frequency Keys
- Ciphers re-positioned for greater accessibility
- New mission orders related to Ciphers add to the backstory
- Existing puzzles refined where possible
- New electric puzzle elements added

Damage System Improved
- Kate no longer unfairly damaged/killed by unseen elements
- Fire/electrical damage reduced
- Combat damage re-balanced

Overhauled Damage Feedback
- Monochrome health feedback system implemented
- Enhanced directional damage indication
- Heartbeat force feedback and SFX added
- Audio ducking system improves health feedback

All New Oxygen Feedback System
- Oxygen bar added
- Heartbeat force feedback and SFX added
- Phobia effect for oxygen feedback enhanced
- Phobia audio hallucinations added
- FOV pulse added for drowning feedback
- Phobia warping effect removed from non-submerged sections

Overhauled Combat System
- Automatic weapon holster/unholster system
- Seamless integration of combat / non-combat systems
- Improved aim reticule
- Aim remapped to LT
- Destructible objects highlighted more clearly
- Destructible objects easier to hit
- A greater supply of ammo throughout the levels
- AI improved and enemies rebalanced
- More enemies and more engaging combat design

Weapons Improved
- Sonic Rounds overheat removed
- Sonic Rounds charge time halved
- Sonic Rounds do more damage to NPCs and are lethal
- Multiple Gel and Energy Rounds can be deployed simultaneously
- Deployed Gel/Energy rounds can be detonated as a group

All New Cover System
- Smoother transitions in and out of cover
- Easier and more intuitive to get in and out of cover
- Toggle cover whether armed or unarmed
- All new animations make cover system more realistic

Checkpoints and Reloading
- Checkpoint positions reviewed and improved
- More checkpoints
- Automated and faster reload after death

Levels and Game Balance
- Vent behaviour improved
- General level design tweaks
- AI numbers and positioning improved
- Ammo amount and placement improved
- Collectable placement improved
- Gameplay balance improved throughout

Value
- Price dropped to just 800 Microsoft points
- Trial extended to allow players to sample more of the game for free

That's a lot of work for a patch. Good on them.

I don't see that Civ V was a disappointment. It's not Civ 4.5, but how could you expect that to happen? Civ IV is eminently moddable and several very excellent free mods of the game already exist, especially multiple ones that cater to increasing complexity to downright ridiculous levels. There is no need for Firaxis to do what fans are already doing quite excellently.

Civ V took Civ back to Civ 3 and went in a different direction. I like it just fine. Indeed, I like it more than Civ 4, though I've been partial to Civ 3 over Civ 4 to begin with (and Civ 5 is like Civ 3 in several ways, so that's hardly surprising).

fangblackbone wrote:

DOW 2 Chaos Rising was an excellent game/expansion overlooked in the podcast.

There were a lot of excellent games not mentioned in the podcast, especially from the Wii platform. 2010 is really such an awesome year that it isn't possible to cover all the awesomeness in one podcast and finish short of 3 hours.

Just on Wii, there's:

SMG2
Tiger Woods 2011
Kirby
Golden Eye
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom
Sin and Punishment
Metroid
Donkey Kong
Monster Hunter
Red Steel 2
Epic Mickey
Sky Crawlers
Fragile Dreams

and perhaps some others I'm forgetting. On PC, there was talk of Mass Effect 2, but no Transformers, no Borderlands, no Sins: Diplomacy, and certainly none of the ton of short indies. A significant part of the HD console list could also not be mentioned.

even assuming that we'd spend no more than 2 weeks each on every game, which is a travesty for games like SC2 and Civ V, our cups for 2010 overfloweth. Mass Effect 2 alone got me about 180+ hours or so (about 2 playthroughs for every class).

Borderlands was last year. And damn its hard to believe they cranked out so much DLC in one year. (dr. ned, gen knox, moxi, claptrap)

I just got ME2 on the steam fire sale so I am looking forward to that. I held off because I really didn't like the combat in ME1. I just felt there were a lot of games that had a much better mix of rpg/shooter going all the way back to Jedi Academy. The fact they made it more a shooter in ME2 pleases me greatly.

LarryC wrote:

Mass Effect 2 alone got me about 180+ hours or so (about 2 playthroughs for every class).

That's ... insane.

garion333 wrote:
LarryC wrote:

Mass Effect 2 alone got me about 180+ hours or so (about 2 playthroughs for every class).

That's ... insane.

No, that's just really hardcore.

28 playthroughs is insane...

IMAGE(http://xbox360media.ign.com/xbox360/image/article/111/1117896/crazy-mass-effect-2-stats-and-what-theyre-used-for-20100903105831289_640w.jpg)

double post

garion333 wrote:
LarryC wrote:

Mass Effect 2 alone got me about 180+ hours or so (about 2 playthroughs for every class).

That's ... insane.

No, it's only half insane. The other half was a mixture of Hardcore, Veteran, and Normal.