Gillman’s GotY

Hey everyone!  It is the companion article for the podcast!

5. The Walking Dead

If you have read the site you know that I have a pretty healthy disdain for the TV show adaptation of The Walking Dead; you may not know that I also have a pretty large, and slowly growing, hate of the comic series as well.  What once was a thoughtful and well written take on the end of the world has turned into an annoying group of jerks slowly turning what is left of working civilization into functional murder factories, an impressive feat when uninfected humans seem to be rarer than the North Korean unicorn.

Wonderfully the game manages to have nothing to do with the other abominations of the series, mainly because I believe that Kirkman has actively kept his hands off of it.  The story has a ton of bullet pointed events that must play out, but the people that are there, and their attitude during the events are entirely player choices.  It is like a D&D game with an obsessive DM that doesn’t allow that much exploring.  It never feels like it ends up mattering though, because everything that happens in the game just feels like direction intended by the player.

Basically everything else besides the story is either forgettable or mechanically broken, but they did that one thing better than anyone one else and warranted a mention on the top five.

4. X-Com

X-Com managed to make me feel like Firaxis had reinvented the wheel.  Both playing as an unforgiving tactics game and an interactive tech tree, X-Com is as punishing as it was a blast to play.  It sucks losing dozens of soldiers through the course of standard play, but at times I just let them go because it kind of felt like it added to the experience.  Sure, having only one none rookie live through a mission would probably cause a save load, sure, there were times that I am sure I researched the exactly wrong thing and didn’t really know how to progress until I read a FAQ; none of that mattered because it was the perfect replacement/addition to my yearly Civ 4/5 hole that I fall rather deeply into.

3. Atelier Meruru

If you listen to the podcast you know two things, the first is that we had massive audio problems on the game of the year podcast, the second is that I came very close to naming Atelier Meruru my game of the year.  The series has always had some kind of had a crazy warm place in my heart; and those of you who remember might notice that if it hadn’t been for two of the best games in recent memory, Skyrim and Saints Row the Third, Totori would have been my game of the year last year as well.

I won’t bore the loyal readers by going through why this ends up being so high on my list, but you should all know that if it wasn’t for the fact that this came out in the spring this probably would be the reason that things aren’t being update, and not just me being stupid lazy.

2. Far Cry 3

Shooting doods is fun.  Shooting them in an open world environment that I can actively effect down to how certain areas play is something else.  The last Far Cry was a brutal and unforgiving world where nothing ever seemed to change except your ability to exist in it.  This time you are clearing areas to make random bad guys not appear, reestablishing communications with the mainland in areas so shops can stock better/free weapons, and slowly helping the natives regain the island.  Sure the core story of the game is stupid, lazy at times, and seemingly inspired by the world’s worst people having the worst things in the world happen to them, but considering that this is the first year that story made a good showing in more than one game I can’t see that damaging Far Cry that much.

Sure, a RPG shooter isn’t anything new—one year Stark attempted to make Deus Ex the game of always—but the genre isn’t really present enough to be ever really considered overdone.  Something should be said about the game just functioning well, not that that is really enough in this world anymore, but there is something between the lines that seems to just be a little more than other FPS games.  Did I mention that the game is well written in parts?  Sadly it seems to be pretty character specific, but when rescuing the protagonist’s girlfriend from a burning hotel full of angry soldiers, then having an army chase them the argument about her driving and his shooting seems to be pretty spot on—at least from my experience in terrible relationships.

The only real, solid, complaint that I can muster is that when the game works it is mind blowing, but sadly it only happens enough to secure the number two spot.

1. Code of Princess

In all honesty I think I might have been as surprised as everyone else in the world by how much I really enjoyed this game.  I think that some of the experience gathered from any entertainment is the mindset going into it, and considering that I knew little to nothing about Code of Princess when I bought it—besides the fact that I would be the third 3DS game that I owned and would oddly make me feel less empty about having the system—I think that might have something to do with it being in the top five spot.

The rest of the game, a side scrolling brawler RPG with more selectable characters than I will personally ever be able to play, has something to say about it beating the rest of the selection and planting itself at number one.  The main character is wearing next to nothing in the game, which is brought up exactly twice with her both flipping out and defending her choice of ultra-casual wear, and almost the rest of the characters kind of being completely useless and forgettable as a cast somehow is made to work and work really well.

While it might not be true for any other human being on the planet, Code of Princess was exactly the game I wanted to be playing at exactly the right moment.  That is why I am making it my game of the year.

Dish Network may Remove AMC from Channel Lineup

There is bad news for fans of good TV that subscribe to Dish Network.  It seem a legal scuffle from back in 2008 between AMC and Dish Network has the satellite TV provider contemplating dropping AMC.  AMC filed a lawsuit against Dish Network for failing to fulfill and agreement to air AMC’s Voom HD channels.  Dish Network has put the idea of dropping AMC on June 30th in retaliation to the lawsuit.

Unless an agreement is made, Dish Subscribers could miss out on hit shows, such as Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and The Walking Dead.  Since almost anyone I talk to these days is watching at least one or more of these shows on a regular basis, I can already see some angry Dish customers switching over to a competitor.  AMC has a website,, where viewers can send an email to complain to Dish Network about the decision.


The Walking Dead: The Game: The Review

The Walking Dead is a long running comic book series that has the misfortune of being simply amazingly written while at the same time having a TV show based on it that has never really understood the tone of the comics.  Given the continued vitriol the internet has recently found against the show, and the way that the last game by this publisher (Jurassic Park) was received expectations of this game were expectedly low.  Happily that made the entire experience that much more enjoyable when nothing about this game was awful at all.

The first, and most striking, aspect of the game is the art style.  Everything is cell-shaded to look like the characters from the comic book and looks simply amazing, which is interesting because this is built on the aging Telltale engine that has been kicking for almost a decade at this point. Even without that consideration made this game looks fantastic, and from start to finish it remained impressive looking.

The Walking Dead also manages to escape all of the common adventure game trappings of needing to find random objects and combine them to proceed.  Most of the environments in the game are small and don’t require most puzzle solving, and when they do most of the time the characters in the game either know exactly how to proceed and inform the play as such or the solution is as simple as glancing over the world for interaction points.

Even though the world is populated by the living dead most of the action in the game comes from the dialog choices presented to the player, as they are all timed.  This might not seem like much as most games have done this in the past, but the results are what really define the game.  Most of the time when a choice is given in a speech tree it directly impacts how the NPCs of the world interact with the avatar, so instead of taking time and reading each choice carefully there is a real sense of having to think on the fly.  The way that the game only allows auto saves means that while the game can be reset to a previous state there is going to be some content that has to be played between choices, so most decisions have to be lived with.

The voice acting is on par with almost all of the other games from Telltale as well; which is to say amazing.  The content of the game could very easily be construed to be that of a B movie and largely hammed up, but it is good to see that while the TV series might not really understand character development this game does.

This game falls into line with the old purchasing structure of the old Telltale model, the episodes have to be purchased as they come out monthly.  The first episode (of five) goes for five dollars, which is pretty reasonable.  This will probably mean that the total series will end up costing about 25 dollars, and since the first game ran me just over two hours long the series will probably end up between 10 and 12 hours.  That said I think I played this game in one sitting, which might not sound like much but I thought that I had only been playing for a quarter of that time.  This might be the best game that Telltale has put out yet.

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