This year already has been blessed with some pretty fabulous title in the way of gaming. Opening up the year was none other than Mass Effect 3, the long awaited conclusion to the incredibly popular franchise. I concluded it in many different ways, as a man, having a relationship with the sexy Quarian tech geek Tali, and as a woman romancing the gorgeous biotic doctor Liara T’Soni. I was a little disappointed that no wedding bells chimed for Sheperd and Tali, and no blue babies came out from the relationship with Liara. However, if anyone is like me, Sheperd insisted on dying at the end of every single one of their campaigns. But, I am certain that all fan boys would agree with me that her memory will live on. In our hearts. In our minds. And in our erections.

Coming next were other titles the likes of Star Hawk, which had an excruciatingly difficult conclusion to its campaign if you ask me. The campaign I felt acted more along the lines of a tutorial, with each level helping you more and more to learn the basics for the multiplayer battles.

Diablo III was also released recently, as too was Max Payne, but I am sadly yet to play either of them, but with all the hype that both titles have already acquired, one can imagine that they are sure to be respective hits.

There are however still many hits that are yet to be released. In August, Darksiders 2 explodes onto all platforms at once which I feel will be quite the epic. The original was an incredibly long and often brutally challenging game with many puzzles that left you wondering ‘huh?’ throughout a great many parts of the levels. Now, Commander Sheperd is quite a smooth, charismatic character, but let’s face it, he (or she, if you swing that way) ain’t War, Death, or any other such apocalyptic horseman, and what other video game grants you the option of playing as such a formidable character?

August however has another addition to its mist; X-COM, Enemy Unknown. Now, I only recently found out about this particular title, and it led me to wonder what rock I had been hiding under all this time not to know of its existence. Not a remake or a sequel to the previous games in the franchise, but a reimagining of what made the originals so engrossingly fun to play, this strategic shooter should be quite the experience. However, all release dates apparently are still yet to be confirmed, with the PC been confirmed for August, but the Xbox 360 and PS3 systems unanimously yet to be acknowledged. It has been announced that all platforms will cater for the game, but when they will be released is another matter to be decided entirely.

Now, I am more of an XBOX kind of guy myself. Many games I play I prefer to acquire on this specific platform wherever possible. I always find the graphics to be more substantial on that platform than on the others. The PS3 is a system that is so advanced in my opinion that many game developers are yet to begin using the technology in their projects, which is why some games on the PS3 seem so bland when in comparison to the PC or the XBOX 360.

Both the PS3 and the XBOX 360 need not be upgraded for quite some time though. The PC is another matter entirely. Every year a brand new, better performing gaming system is loosed upon the world. In 2009 I acquired a new computer which at the time was said to have the fastest system imaginable as its guts, but now, well, to call it a relic from a time long past might be a bit of an understatement. It is still good if one wants to use it for text and such; that is of course if one can survive how slow the son of a bitch is, for it has the capability to drive the sanest man to insanity at the length of time it takes to save a word document, let alone turn on. And don’t get me started on how long it takes to shut off. You could click the ‘shut down’ button, go out, do your weekly shopping, come back an hour later, and it would probably still be going with the paces of shutting down. God, I cannot wait to shut the bastard down permanently!

However, in 2011 I procured a new system to build a personal dream of mine. I acquired the fastest gaming system at the time, just don’t tell me to go into the technical aspects cuz I’m not a tech expert when it comes to that kind of stuff. I also bought myself a HD 3D TV, and attached the PC, a PS3 console and an XBOX 360 to the television as to use as my monitor, with the sole intention of throwing LAN parties at my place. Well, that dream was a success I would like to add. However, the only problem is that once a person begins to play, they somehow don’t ever want to leave, and seem to become a permanent fixture to the house. There has been someone who arrived about a year ago and I don’t think they have gone home since. Can’t even begin to imagine what his wife is thinking. Probably something that begins with ‘Ya’ and ends with ‘hoo!’, with a ‘thank God he’s never coming back’ attached to it.

Getting back on track though, following these two hits, comes Far Cry 3 in September. Now, I initially ‘umm’d’ and ‘arrr’d’ a lot about this. The original was an explosive thriller that was challenging and fun, with realistic battle scenes and bad ass mutants for you to take out when not being confronted by the tens of thousands of mercenaries that all managed to be jam packed onto the island that was like a giant match box just waiting to be ignited. The sequel went on an entirely different track, having a more RPG style FPS experience in the African wilderness, and initially it was theorised that the third installment of the game would go along the same length, but no, another Pacific Island like the original it would very much seem. After watching the trailer, I had to say that I was quite impressed, but then again, there is no such thing as a shit trailer, but games are usually more accurate in their depiction than movies, so I feel that one can almost always trust the experience one sees in a game trailer to be actual and whole with what they will expect to find in game. The graphics look superb to say the least and the overall storyline seems to be detailed in the clips. You and a couple friends go to an island, not realising it’s filled with crazies. You get pissed drunk, your BFF gets dead, your girlfriend gets kidnapped and you get left for dead on the forsaken hell hole. The action scenes look pretty solid and the strategic maneuvers one will have to go through to succeed look pretty enjoyable, but time is the only thing which can tell if everything will be as good as the trailer makes it look.

Then in November we have COD Black Ops 2, with its futuristic perception of all out warfare, which looks a bit like a combination of one of the Metal Solid Gear titles and Project Snow Blind, all rolled up into one. Basically every COD game has successfully captured my attention time and time again, and after Modern Warfare Three, let us hope that Treyarch are able to keep up with what Infinity Ward have spawned for us in the past.

Of course, November is also the release of the one, the only Halo 4, a.k.a the first in the all new Halo, the Reclaimer Trilogy. Now, what I have seen in reviews and in movie clips makes this title look to be a worthwhile addition to the Halo franchise. However, I am somewhat concerned with the switch of developers. Bungie knew what they were doing, and had being developing the franchise for a cool ten years before handing the reigns over to 343 Industries. I will note that I was not as impressed as other people were with Halo HD. Yes, graphically it was unsurpassed, but it was the lack of many new features that bugged me. True, there were skulls that could be found in the maps, but so many were placed in the most horrific of locations. I mean, WTF is a grenade jump! Cuz that is the only way to acquire some of the skulls according to every single walkthrough I ever read after I couldn’t find half of ‘em on my own. Who in their right mind comes up with the idea to throw a grenade to the ground, and use the momentum from the explosion to propel your character towards the location of one of the skulls? If anyone was like me, they either flew in the opposite direction of the skull, or in all likelihood were blown up, which is the sole job of the grenade – to blow shit up! On top of this, I was not entirely impressed with the little data files that could be found, where one clicked on a button and suddenly viewed a movie clip that included either Guilty Spark, a Covenant A.I, the Grave Mind or another character from the franchise. In the Library, I had to go through hell to find a certain movie clip which turned out to be Guilty Spark crying out ‘I’m so alone!’ about a hundred times before talking about how he, she, it (?) wished that the developers of Halo had put two sentries on the Halo rings to watch over the installations rather than one to put an end to its loneliness! Not very riveting I found. There was also the lack of new weapons, and the fact that all weapons acted exactly like the ones from the original Halo. They all looked nice and fanciful but all reacted in the exact same way. There was also the game play. I don’t know about anyone else, but I found the environments to be a little cheaply designed. Just say there was a tree, right? There was an Elite behind the tree taking shelter. If you shot between the space located between branches you should, in theory, hit the Elite, right? WRONG! You hit the tree? How exactly, when it is not there! The invisible space between the branches is still a part of the tree. When a game is developed, all of the parts of the map, all of the brushes are placed into the level, one piece at a time. Made out from pixels, the spaces between them, from the spaces between tree branches to that of bits of metal on buildings all have pixels that are invisible to the naked eye connecting them. In some games, the developer might remove these as to allow the player to shoot between them, but not in Halo HD. Did that make any sense? Well, I hope so, cuz I ain’t going through it again!

The end point in regards to Halo 4, is that I just don’t want 343 Industries to balls up one of the greatest gaming franchises developed, so fingers crossed on that one.

Well, those titles mentioned are the ones on my Game Wish list for the year, but that don’t mean there might not be others that shall pop up over the course of the next six months before the year is up.

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