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What to play before 2011?

Brad Gallaway's picture

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Screenshot

I'm trying to decide what to tackle next… No decisions have been made yet, so I'll probably just try a few random things I've downloaded and then go to bed. However, while on the subject, it does bring up the issue of 2010—specifically, that there's only about eighty days left in it.

I've mentioned several times on my Twitter feed that this is the first year where it genuinely seemed as though there wasn't enough time to play everything that I felt I should as a critic. I mean, I'm no stranger to the traditional fourth-quarter rush, but between the wealth of retail and DL releases, 2010 seemed to have more worthy (if not spectacular) games per month than I could possibly get to.

While I usually have to pack my play schedule a little tighter as each year draws to a close, I just don't see how it's possible to get to all of the "must-plays", let alone the "looks interestings" that are still on my list. The numbers just don't add up, and I have to admit that it feels pretty frustrating.

As an example, I've been comparing Game of the Year lists with a few people privately, and in each case our picks were almost completely different. I don't think it was necessarily that everyone had a radically diverging opinion, instead I think it had more to do with the fact that each of us had chosen different games due to time constraints and had simply failed to play the others. I really, really can't think of another year when that was the case.

So, what does all this have to do with you? Good question. Since there's so little time left before the necessity of crafting the traditional end-of-year wrapup, I thought I'd throw it open to all of you and see what the hivemind felt I should definitely play before December 31.

Below is a list of likely candidates, but I'm also totally open to other suggestions. If there's something you think I absolutely should see, I want to hear about it. Any system except PC is fair game (including DLC or Add-Ons) so dear readers, I ask you: What's an important critical play?

Potential Candidates for Review before 12/31:

  • Metro 2033
  • Singularity
  • Dead Rising 2
  • Cave Story
  • Bit.Trip Runner
  • And Yet It Moves
  • Castlevania: LoS
  • Valkyria Chronicles 2
  • Transformers: War for Cybertron
  • DeathSmiles
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2
  • Fallout: New Vegas
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Platform(s): Xbox 360   Wii   PS3   Nintendo DS   PSP  

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Super Mario Galaxy 2 is

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is definitely one you should play before the year is out. I'm surprised it's taken this long!

Essential 3 games to review

The essential three games I'd pick to review would be:

Castlevania:LoS
Costume Quest
Metro 2033

Castlevania is Konami's third attempt to see if they can do a 3D Castlevania.The game looks and sounds great but does it play great? I think that's a case you'll have to judge!

Costume Quest is Double Fine's game for the year and it's a turn based RPG. Turn based RPG's haven't had an easy time this year with FF13 being linear and Resonance of Fate being hard to grasp, so this game might just be better than both! (Plus , hey, Double Fine. At least it'll be funny :))

Metro 2033 sounds like a bit like System Shock 2, and any game that sounds like that deserves a look.

Dead Rising 2,Valkyria Chronicles 2,Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Fallout: New Vegas are all sequels and have gone down well with critics so there's no need to rush to review them while Singularity and Transformers: War for Cybertron are average games.

That leaves the quirky games you have there:,Cave Story,
Bit.Trip Runner,And Yet It Moves and DeathSmiles which need their own relaxed time to play with and understand.

My Recommendation

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is an amazing game IMO, a much better game than the one it's compared to so frequently in reviews: God of War 3. I recommend it with a caveat, though: if you review it, I'd appreciate you actually reviewing it on its own merits. I know that sounds obvious, but most reviews I'm seeing of this game are seemingly reviewing the game for what it's NOT (another cookie-cutter clone of Symphony of the Night Metroidvania, because we obviously NEED another one after all the handheld games and the resurgence of the Metroid brand) and not what it IS (an action-adventure game with strong fantasy and horror elements). It's not a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, but it's well-crafted and I really enjoyed my time with it. IMO, it's the kind of game the series needed.

Castlevania

I am enjoying Castlevania on the environments alone. It is simply beautiful to walk through.

Other than that I like it. I like the monster horror theme.Still early in the game.

Can't say if you are going to like it. The demo doesn't do it justice.

Play Castlevania...

...because whether you love it or hate it, I'll enjoy reading your review of it.

But seriously, it should be tops on your list presented here. It's not going to change the world, but it's the God of War I think you wanted, but never got. Although in all honesty, it does many things differently than GoW, and is it's own game because of it. Anyway, that's my vote.

Also, Super Mario Galaxy 2 probably wouldn't be the most fun to review, but man oh man, what a SOLID and FUN game, even more than the first one.

For a change, how about

For a change, how about picking up a sports title? Now I'm not the biggest fan of sports games, but nevertheless it's a hugely important part of the games industry, and the one meta-criticism of GameCritics.com is that it *never* reviews sports titles.

Didn't you make a blog post

Didn't you make a blog post last year apologizing to SEGA for playing Valkyria Chronicles late? Didn't you also mention that everything about it was a win?

Are you really thinking about not playing the sequel?

The problem with Valkyria Chronicles 2...

...is if Brad plays it, it's the last thing he'll review in 2010. I'm playing it now, and a part of me regrets picking it up during the holiday rush, because the game is deep, and long.

I never played the original, but I'd like to, because I've been given the impression that the story rocks a lot harder than this one. I am impressed with some of the characters, but the setting and art style scream "tired and played out anime cliche". The story is pretty interesting so far, though.

Overall, I think it's a good game, but I'm personally enjoying Etrian Odyssey 3 a great deal more. Just more my cup o' tea, I guess. Anyway, I'm actually playing Castlevania twice...what could be better proof of it's excellence than that?

Thanks much to everybody for

Thanks much to everybody for the votes… I think it’s becoming pretty clear where the rest of my year’s going to go. ^_^

Crofto> Looking at Super Mario Galaxy 2, there’s definitely a million reviews out on it already. Thinking I might hold off there.

Adam> Thanks for that breakdown… I like the way you think!

Alv> I don’t play sports games at all, unless they have some weird fantasy/sci-fi twist. I just don’t enjoy them. Can’t get into them. Not many of the critics here (besides me) lean towards sports, either. Sorry!

Coyls> Yeah, I know… I’m just about to end my current handheld game, so VC2 may be up next. I can pretty easily juggle one console and one handheld. We’ll see.

Surprised nobody’s called out Red Dead Redemption or Peace Walker yet. No love for those?

voting for Max and the magic

voting for Max and the magic marker and Light Trax.

On Read Dead Peace Walker

Oh, oh, oh, I thought you were asking based strictly on your above list. Red Dead Redemption and Peace Walker are both so excellent, you have to play them sooner rather than later.

Red Dead Redemption will just steal your soul from reality and place it in the old/not-so-old west. It's a brilliant game that looks, sounds and feels awesome.

Peace Walker just surprised the hell out of me. And believe me, I expected it to be very good. But once you get into the game a bit, and get a grip on the somewhat limited controls, it starts to sing, and then it really hits you that you are playing a sequel to Snake Eater, which in my opinion is the best Metal Gear ever. Peace Walker is truly a console experience brought to a portable gaming device, with little sacrifice. And the game is just wonderful to play, well beyond finishing the campaign. I sunk 90 hours into the damn thing.

Try Red Dead Redemption

For chrissake Brad, you own Red Dead Redemption. Go for it! The hype has died down, and there's a potentially fun and zany zombie expansion pack on the way. Now's the perfect time to dive in.

Don't be shy about using cheats to get the final costume if you really care for it. I can see some of the side quests to get the final "Legend of the West" outfit pissing you off. All the other outfits are generally pretty easy to obtain.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Metro 2033

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Metro 2033. I'm almost finished with it. It has its problems, but the story and atmosphere are extremely compelling and IMO smooth out the rest of the issues this game has.

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