Wednesday, 30 January 2008

WHY I HATE OBLIVION: An open letter

Dear Oblivion,
How’s it going? I know we hang out nearly every night after work, and it’s good. We’ve shared some stories, haven’t we? Remember that woman we punched just to get sent to jail? And the random and arbitrary slaughtering of livestock? What about the breaking and entering, and the setting on fire of dogs? Good times…
Also, I would be a liar and a churlish rogue if I denied our more intimate moments. I always have a grin on my face as I explore your every curve and dive into your nooks and crannies. You seem to enjoy yourself too, constantly telling me of new hidden depths and increasingly bizarre things you want to do with me. I’m an experimental kind of guy, I hope I kept up. But I can’t go on with this charade. I’m living a lie, and you are too. No gifts of 8% shielding necklaces can hide that. You want too much of me, and that’s wrong. I’ve got to make time for my friends, I’ve got a life to get on track, but you keep demanding my time. Remember when I nearly left you for good, and you dangled Shivering Isles in front of me in that sultry way you do? I came back then, but this time it’s different.
The worst thing about our tryst is that I can’t get you out of my head. I’m speaking about you to everyone I meet, eyes lolling like a lovesick lunatic. Random strangers are being confronted by my ghoulish visage, froth spraying everywhere as I extol your virtues. I am being shunned and scorned, and it is burning me from the inside out. And let’s be honest here, you gave it all away far too easily. I’m not calling you a hussy, but I expected at least a bit of a challenge. Sometimes you would promise something so appetising, I just had to put in the hours to get my juicy reward. And what would happen? It was just a case of repetitive strokes, bashing away with no real purpose, save for the occasional moan.
I’m sorry, but my time is short, and I am running out of ink. I hope you can forgive me, and I promise you that those rumours about Call of Duty 4 and I are lies. Maybe, in a different world, if I had not picked a combat class, things would have been different.
Goodbye, my love.


Monday, 28 January 2008

Pwning from a distance.

Getting 'pwned' or, as I often refer to it, 'having my ass handed to me' is by no means a new experience for me. I had what you may call a baptism of fire, being schooled day in, day out on Gears Of War, and then upgrading to Call Of Duty 4. Sometimes I win, but usually, I fail in the most spectacular fashion. Whether its that high-pitched American 12 year old that has the reactions of a meerkat, or the unshakable work-ethic of my friend, and sometimes mentor, Bojack85, there is always something, or someone to remind me that I am forever destined to be a digital punchbag.

I find solace in single player experiences. I marvel at my own ability to fully appreciate Bioshock, or Okami and lovingly record every smooth line I nail in Skate. Devil May Cry 4 has recently entered my must-buy list after much debate over whether or not it would be too much of a challenge for me. After a shower-related epiphany (where most of them occur) I decided that DMC4 would be fine to spend some money on, as I managed to complete both Lost Planet and Dead Rising. I consider all of these games to have the extreme 'Capcom Effect' in common: translate to -they are all really hard. I am willingly challenging myself, this is good, this is.....progress.

By today I am comfortable with this decision. Assuming that I can afford it, I look forward to Devil May Cry 4, keeping in mind that the extra challenge will provide more playtime from what, for the average gamer, would be a relatively short-lived experience. I found this video:

It is a display of awesome gaming prowess for which I salute its creator. Then I see this in the comments below, I am broken:

Just to clarify - user '2percentmilk' states: "Played the demo, hope the real game isn't that easy..."

An open letter to 2percentmilk:

I suppose you think that's rather clever do you? I mean, telling everyone how easy you found that demo. Really? You were so amazed by its lack of difficulty that you saw fit to put that as your public comment, rather than addressing the skill witnessed above. No doubt you perform such combo juggles in your sleep. It would seem that not even the mighty Capcom can provide 2percentmilk with a suitable challenge. We bow down in the shadow of your greatness. We stare slack-jawed as you perform 100-parry combos in Street Fighter 3. Or effortlessly get 1000 achievement points on Dead Rising. Thank you for sharing your greatness with us. We are in awe of you. Please, teach us master.

Really, come on. What kind of person finds Devil May Cry 'too easy'. Am I the only one who thought that Boss in the demo was actually quite difficult? Its almost as if he knew I had difficulty with it, and decided to rub salt in my fresh wounds, boasting and laughing manically. I don't know what motivates this behaviour. Maybe under-confidence with the opposite sex, or in real social situations. Maybe he feels so undervalued that he needs to flex his muscles on Internet message boards. I don't know anymore. How could one throwaway comment cause me so much mental anguish? It's as if God wishes to remind me that any confidence I have in my gaming prowess in unfounded and I should quit now, because even in the solace of the single player experience, the pwners will still somehow find a way to demean me.


On a lighter note, that Psychonauts is rather good, isn't it? and Rez HD is out this week.

Let the good times roll.

The Faux Bot

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Censor me, please! For I aim to corrupt your children's weak minds.

No doubt the majority of you will now be familiar with the sudden right-wing outcry over Mass Effect's apparent full-on sex scenes. First it was bad because they featured, wait for it....DIRTY EVIL GAY SEX. And now, its bad because sex is bad in general and kids may get to play the game. You should also know that all of these claims are totally unsubstantiated, or simply put, bullshit.

The best part though, is that the gaming community now bites back. With Bioware now being part of the EA giant, FOX news received a slamming letter from the games publisher, warning them of their poorly researched claims and all-out lies.

What is even more fun though, is what happened to the pop "psychologist" that had to have her 15 minutes on FOX's so-called 'news' . I guess this is what happens when you don't do your research and try to shit on something in an effort to promote yourself. Enjoy the rest of your career, bitch.

Then read the user comments for her book. Well done, gaming community.

The Faux Bot

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Get Rez HD for free. No witty headline required.

Just go here and register. it'll give you the chance to claim a free copy of Rez HD when its released for XBLA in a few weeks. If you have no idea what Rez is, I pity you, but register anyway and prepare to be amazed.

I could spew paragraph upon paragraph extolling the virtues of Rez, and in fact all of Tetsuya Mizuguchi's games. But I won't, I'll save that for a dedicated article. For now, register, watch this mental advert and sit tight with baited breath.


When it first came out, it had some sort of vibrator attachment peripheral, that was meant to 'enhance' the music. Which may explain why these two fellows are having so much fun.

The Faux Bot

Drip-feed, suckers! Are you as desperate for info. as I am?

Videogames as a medium, comes hand-in-hand with hyperbole and bullshit. As I've mentioned here before, very few, if any, games manage to escape even a small smattering of unjustified hype. Nevertheless, there is one game series in particular that has the power to get me frothing and willfully swallowing every last bitter morsel that drops from the gaming news dinner table. I am of course, talking about Grand Theft Auto.

Being an XBOX owner, I never got to experience GTA 3 and its sequels on release. I had to wait for the ports, superior as they were this doing little to hold during those long waits for the exclusivity period to wear off. Luckily, For the first time, I will get to experience a Grand Theft Auto game on release and feel part of the masses I so adore.

I don't have to justify my excitement anyhow. If your not excited for this game, then you probably didn't enjoy the others and therefore, have no soul. (I kid).

To get to the point, go here:

A decent and concise playtest that tells you everything you want to hear.

The Faux Bot

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Farewell, company timewasting.

Having a wonderfully boring job in engineering, which I was just released from today, that’s released not fired, the company is screwed. I try to fill my day with as much substance as possible. Cue the timewasters article written previously. However having some very powerful design software at my fingertips has allowed me to get creative, coupled with a hatred for my boss results in many wasted hours of playing around. Seeing the wonderfully constructed image from the Faux Bot gave me a little spark of how to waste even more time in my final days. So without taking the piss too much I have created a nice simple 3D rendition of that old classic Pacman. Enjoy.

Reporting for the last time from my nice warm office

Token Gestures

Monday, 21 January 2008

Save the Noble Jump Button

Join the campaign! Rise up, my gaming brethren! For too long, we have taken things for granted, sitting in our thrones while we grow bloated and corpulent! Together, we can reclaim a gaming institution, and restore it to its rightful glory! Other such motivational sentences taken out of communist propaganda! Overuse of exclamation marks!

I am sorry, my children, but we have much work to do if we are to save the jump button. You have all forgotten too easily the bad old days, where jumping in games was the stuff of children’s nightmares. They didn’t even have jump buttons, you just flicked the joystick upwards. And then your character (probably called Larry or Dave or something like that – not like the Nathaniels and Dantes of the modern era, good wholesome working class names with strong backs and families to feed) would do that horrific jump animation, where they essentially tore their groin apart in mid air doing the splits.

Even worse, the directional jump couldn’t be steered. Heading towards spikes that would most certainly end your life, with some sad 8-bit beeps and a ghost sprite? Unlucky, buckaroo. Become the human dartboard, you ain’t got a prayer. Then the first golden era. The Marios and Sonics that allowed you to not only control your jump, but steer it. Oh, those were happy times. Children played without fear in the streets, and Reboot was on TV. Recent masonic artefacts discovered in Egypt even revealed that Violet Berlin and Andy Crane from Bad Influence were borne from the First Golden Era. And then it happened. By inches and degrees, we started to take it for granted, and people suddenly stopped buying platformers. Those people are called idiots. No longer were people happy with Crash Bandicoot and Spyro. Why were we not happy with the world class games like the one with the Gekko in TV programmes, or Psygnosis’ Rascal? Hmm? Hmm? Soon, some games decided that they were going to do all the jumping for us, or not give the jump button its rightful place on the pad. It had to share its wares with all sorts of other actions, like three hobos with timeshares in a Bulldog. Worse, the Grand Theft Autos of this world brought back the groin tearing splits jump, and we lapped it up. Unquestioning and mindless, we somehow thought that stealing cars and listening to specially recorded radio stations was more important than jumping. Then, starved for attention, the jump command started whoring itself out to any genre it could score with. Like a cheap hussy full of Rohypnol and broken dreams, it slept with the First Person Shooter, and single handedly ruined all online deathmatches ever. Remember that first time you went online to show case your noobpwning? And then you discovered that strafing was pointless, because everyone just jumped around you in a circle? Heartbreaking.

Segue: Top 5 heartbreaking things in the world
5. Giving birth to a hand.
4. Someone taping over your only school sporting success, and replacing it with an episode of What About Brian.
3. Someone taping over your night as prom king/queen, and replacing it with an episode of That 80’s Show.
2. Learning that everyone jumps on online deathmatches, and seems to enjoy it.
1. Losing your virginity to a clown.
So, my children, let us stop this madness! Let us pray once again to the old gods, the Ratchets and Marios and Jaks and Sonics! Let us continue to abuse our punctuation, and all in the name of progressive regression! As the creator of John Fashanu’s Bake-off 3000 would say, Awooga!


Saturday, 19 January 2008

I think I missed my calling...

If this raises even one smile, I'm making it a regular feature. I could knock these out all day.

The Faux-Bot

Friday, 18 January 2008

Who to turn to when it’s all said and done?

The holidays are far behind us, we’ve moved into a new year and that lust for something new is as strong as the temptation to break the New Years resolution, if you made one and it has actually lasted up to this point. The games we had for our holiday session should now be turning into somewhat of a chore rather than the enlightened sense of discovery that they began as. So, what now? If, like me you are craving something different but have discovered that there doesn’t seem to be anything new on the horizon for some time, you may think that there is no hope for the world.

What to do is not an easy question to answer, but in times of need we do what we do best, well second best, the best we do in these situations is get drunk. But, after getting drunk we always look to the past for salvation. There is a lot of history for games; there are many games out there that, just because they are not brand new, are very enjoyable indeed. Everybody has that safety game, the game that must be found, dusted off and provide us with many joyful hours. Just think in a few years, that game from Christmas that is a struggle now could very well be that safety game.

There are so many titles that I could bring up here and I could happily waste my days in work listing them, but I won’t. This is very much an individual love affair and sharing my choices would prove pretty meaningless. So don’t despair, trawl through your old boxes, get down the pre-owned bins, or check the internet. There you could find that gaming salvation and live on in the past until the future is ready for you.

Don’t you open that trapdoor!

Token Gestures

Monday, 14 January 2008

"My stamps! You ruined my stamps! Not to mention five years of therapy!"

This has been rattling around in the back of my head for some time now, eagerly jostling for space amongst the unwanted hentai images and bank robbery schemes. Thankfully, it has found it's way to the front, allowing me to present you with a small, but loving tribute to all things Tim Schafer and Double Fine.
We can thank Tim for the sublime Day of The Tentacle, Grim Fandango and Psychonauts. I hang my head in shame to say that I have never played the latter, but am making every effort to, in order to hype myself up for his latest game - Brütal Legend. I spent a big chunk of my childhood playing the classic Lucasarts point and click adventures, and have recently revisited DOTT, to find that it had lost none of its charm and that I get more of the jokes now. What amazes me about his games is how aesthetically pleasing they still look and how I feel the same comfort from their jokes as I do with Monty Python or The Young Ones.

I'll be honest, I wasn't even aware that Psychonauts was a Schafer game until a few weeks ago, which might explain why I overlooked it for so long. Like I said though, I fully intend to pick it up now, in order to whet my appetite for his next output.

I won't bore you with the details of Brütal Legend because in all fairness, they're pretty thin on the ground, and I'd be needlessly stretching them out. It stars Jack Black, and seems to take on board his fondness for the blurring of Nordic Mythology and the history of Metal. Imagine a Tenacious D game, without the other guy, or acoustic guitars and remember that Tim Schafer is in charge, to make sure that it doesn't simply become a Black vanity project. It seems, more than anything, to be a healthy meeting of minds. It's a third person action brawler and it has Lemmy as the voice of your motorbike. What more needs to be said? Follow the links to read more.

It's hard to communicate why I love Schafer's games so much. The fact that they trace back to my childhood, and were some of my earliest gaming experiences certainly help. But they also seem to have a timeless sense of character, fantastic dialogue and more than anything, distinctive personalities. I urge you all to explore the world of double fine. Please check out the amusing mini-games available on their site and pick up whatever titles you can that carry the name Tim Schafer.

The original Lucasarts games can be played on your XP PC using emulation software known as Scumm VM. It's free and you can get it here:
You can probably torrent the games if you don't have them or can't find them on eBay. But, you didn't hear that from me, right? Psychonauts is available as part of XBOX Live's XBOX originals downloads, or in bargain bins across the land. You'll have to beat me there first though.
The Faux-Bot

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Gas Masks are 'well scary'.

Ahhhhhhh. Breath it in, or out. Whichever way, this may be the last gasp of relief you have this year. With Christmas now weeks in the past, the hyperbole express is back in action. What I'm trying to say, in the simplest of terms, is that videogames promotion is now well back underway. Gone are the Christmas big-hitters, the disappointments and the triumphs are all soon swept under the carpet and we ready ourselves to usher in a new year of titles, some we saw coming, and others that will no doubt surprise (so, actually not that surprising then).

With there actually being so many new games to play towards the end of 2007, we could all be forgiven for ignoring the true spirit of the videogames industry.....HYPE!

Let's get the ball rolling then, with the potentially amazing, or shit-awful Prototype. Some of the games in the back catalogue of it's developers are probably best forgotten. That said though, they certainly don't seem to be ashamed of their past. Maybe these are the kind of developers that learn from mistakes. Either way, not brushing your past under the carpet and taking a sense of pride in each release, no matter how ill-received it was, shows integrity and gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

Something about 'open-world' games always makes me slightly sceptical, its a trend best left in the hands of more credible developers, I feel. It has certainly been a buzz-word in recent years, and very often it was so poorly implemented that in the hands of anyone other than Rockstar, I began to see it as a sign of warning, rather than merit.

With Crackdown paving the way though, it seems like Prototype has alot of potential, it at least remembers that a 3-d world includes an x, y and z axis. Details are still thin on the ground, but you can clearly jump off big buildings. That'll do for now. I don't have great story hopes for this and their character artist seems oblivious to the existence of Half Life 2. But, the character art does stand out to me, with a few of the enemies reminding me of Lost Planets' evil-doers, and that is no bad thing. Capcom may disagree mind you.

The Faux-Bot

Saturday, 5 January 2008

My sidescrolling fetish

Its come to my attention that not everybody I know is totally in love with the animations of Paul Robertson. Any nostalgic gamer will instantly fall in love with his work, and with Metal Slug 3 currently dominating my XBLA game time, what better excuse do I need to ram him down your collective throat? None, exactly.


Better quality here:

The Faux-Bot

This is how Hitler got started....

Maybe this says something disturbing about my generation, or just me as an individual, but negativity seems to flow so much easier. My aggressive, violent and angry vocabulary is so much broader than my positive, nice one. Its little wonder though, after all, most of the best words are swear words, and the reactions from them are so much more fun to watch. Dropping the C-bomb at the most inappropriate time has brought me a multitude of self-satisfying moments of comedy genius.

I came to this realisation a while ago, when I began tallying the amount of discussions I had attacking culture and society opposed to the amount I had praising it. Needless to say, I found myself to be a very, very angry chap. As I mentioned before, the problem with it is that it comes so easily. I made a commitment there and then, to save my aggressive spews for only the most deserving candidates.

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the most recent of those candidates.

There is no escaping the widespread ignorance of the general public when videogames are concerned. But, I go about happily in my own little isolated subculture, not worrying about the misunderstandings of others, after all, it's not for them. Sometimes, though, lines can be crossed and voices cannot be ignored- S Campbell of South Wales, for example.

Over Christmas and the New Year we've seen knife crime and youngsters getting killed in cars. For presents this year some of them might have been given Playstation or Xbox games like Assassin's Creed or Need For Speed.

I really worry about the kind of person who thinks up these games. I can't understand why they aren't stopped.

Where to begin.......

First of all, let's make one thing clear. This was taken from the 'Your Shout' section of the Daily Mirror, a paper not exactly on-par with The Sun, but not one famed for the intellectual depth of its readers either. Also, I am assuming she is a woman, I mean, it is always them that do the moaning, right lads!? (wwwwwwwooooooooah)


Now, I may seem a tad harsh here, but shouldn't people like this be sterilised for the good of society as a whole? Can you imagine if such an idiot were allowed to breed? She may pass on her wild and sweeping generalisations onto future generations. I can see that she has a complete lack of understanding, and clearly has no experience or interaction with videogames as a medium. She has simply picked killing game (A) and driving game (B) out of her Argos sale supplement and let rip with wild abandon. Well done on working out how to use the keyboard Mrs. Campbell. But just remember, your innocent PC is a portal to some of the most depraved material ever created, so maybe you want to keep your witch-hunting a little closer to home, no? I mean, surely, the Internet needs to be censored too. We can't have people indulging in entertainment of their choosing now, can we?

What frustrates me most about this idiotic pissbag, is the way in which she assumes that videogames are somehow created by the hand of one, singular, sick and twisted individual, whose sole purpose is to profit from the corrupting of young minds. She must lose sleep at night, worrying about the bogeyman in his monitor-filled 'lab of terror', concocting the most nefarious products to erode the values of her soon-dead generation, in a bid to create a race of genocide-hungry, absolute fuckmonsters who will roam the earth, soon to be a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It wasn't like this in the 50's, was it Mrs. Campbell? No car accidents, or dangerous youth subcultures, and knives? Of course there were knives, but only on the dinner table, right? No murders and an ideal paradise that was corrupted by the influence of technology. We are so sorry Mrs. Campbell. Frankie Fraser was just a resourceful businessman wasn't he? And those Krays, well, they did love their mother.

I'm usually a pretty accepting person. If I don't agree with something, I'll let it go, but this kind of idiocy really does bring out the worst in me. I truly believe that this moron should be sterilised, or better still, put down, humanely of course. She is by no means the worst offender, but she has caught my attention and that makes her the target. She now becomes the personification of ignorance towards games, and for that, I will have to end her.

A tad extreme? Ah well, self-control is overrated anyway.

Sweet dreams.

The Faux-Bot

Thursday, 3 January 2008

EXTRA! EXTRA! Paperboy hits out at lazy developers!

Laziness. Apathy. The same old same old. It seems that every Christmas exposes the laziness of developers. We see the rehashes, and the heavy dose of sequelitis, and the previous-gen games given a next-gen coat of paint. Am I the only person in the world who sees the Christmas charts as a depressing confirmation that games aren’t worth anything? That they are really for the idiots, for the people who simply have to buy Fifa every. Sodding. Year. Yes, I know, I know, you need your reserve team up to date and the cup holders accurately modelled in the Kop Stand. I understand you need to see the new kit that has the three lines rather than the three stripes. After all, without these cosmetic changes the game is rubbish, and you would never dare play it.

Fair play, it can be annoying to play a sports game with old players. I don’t really enjoy my version of Brian Lara Cricket where W.G.Grace still dominates the crease. What bothers me more is the unquestioning purchase of the sequels without consideration or thought. 10/10? Bought it. 5/10? Bought it. 2/10, and has images of cat molestation on the front cover? Bought it. For the love of god, read a review. Please. I am begging all of you who think that buying yet another Need For Speed is an expression of your free spirited nature, put the game down slowly. Even if you intended to steal it to buy cheap cider to drink down the park, put it down. In fact, do us all a favour and have a carefully controlled car accident now resulting in your death. It will save many lives in the long run.

When you look at the charts, bloated from too much turkey and not enough exercise, that you realise developers are lazy because we want lazy games. I see the intelligent, thought provoking games, and I want to protect them from harm. I know the Christmas chart is a cruel place to be. The Fifas of this world, they will riddle these games with bullet holes while they pilfer their cash. I want to hold them against my chest as they bleed out, railing at the world and all of its infinite cruelty.

Because sometimes the good games die young. We are in a gaming market where entire studios can close down because people weren’t interested in truly original games like Okami or Viewtiful Joe. (God bless you Clover). Games are money machines, and to make that money you have to have a flashy advert or the enigmatic substance that is 'hype', and that is the truth.

Everyone holds up games like Ico as examples of how the public can realise greatness when they see it, and risk their moolah on something new. Well, a small newsflash for those people…ICO WAS DISCONTINUED. Everyone conveniently forgets that it is only available now because Shadow of the Colossus was projected to sell enough units to support its re-release (it did, barely).

But then you look at Assassins Creed. Admittedly, the press on it has been mixed in their reviews – ranging from half good and pretty to frankly repetitive and pretty. But who wasn’t seduced by that advert of Altair walking through the crowd? Who didn’t see gaming salvation in his stubbly chin, and think to themselves ‘YES! Thank you, Jebus, thank you!’ and then start a tribal dance in their undies? It didn’t matter if it was just a series of tasks repeated endlessly until you want to self-harm. Because the advert told you it was good, and he looked moody on the cover. The amount of copies this baby has sold were so high, the studio put their entire catalogue back three months because they didn’t need to rush anything out to scrape together money.

So, who’s lazy when we get down to it? The developers who give us the warmed-up leftovers? Or the public and their simple needs, satisfied by our never-ending love of shooting things with things, or moving a ball to a scoring zone?


Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Games Of The Year 2007

It would seem as though we weren't ones for participating in the Festive season here at Split-Screen. We did nothing to celebrate it here, and for you, our 3 readers, we should have made more of an effort. So, allow me to start with a sorry. And here it is:


Thank you for coming back. As you can see, you are to be rewarded for your dedication with a delectable feast of unfiltered opinion, taking the form of our Games of The Year 2007!!!!111one

Here we go, take it away, Token.

As always I endeavour to create controversy wherever I go. So here is a list of my favourite games of 2007. Please note that this does not mean the best games of the past year but merely my favourites. The past year has provided the gamer with some of the best titles in recent memory, there seems to be a wealth on offer for every taste. The bar has certainly been raised for future titles in all genres, now obviously this has been spurred on by the next generation consoles. So enough of my aimless rambling let’s get down and dirty with my list of my personal favourites of the past year.
So let us start with the game that has revolutionised the story driven FPS, it is of course Bioshock.
I realise that for someone who hasn’t yet completed the game to place this in the games of the year to sound very hypocritical, but I will mention here that the game has given me some bad memories, most notably that it was this game that I was playing when I got the red ring of death. After another sessions counselling I should be able to plug this baby back in. There is very little I can say about this game that hasn’t been said hundreds of times before so I will leave any extra input aside from my comment of ground breaking.

I continue this list with another FPS, don’t worry there will be different genres in here somewhere, Call of Duty 4 really has taken the helm of FPS', after the disappointment of Halo 3 we needed something like this to deliver, and it did with bells on it. A superbly created game with an excellent online multiplayer to boot, this game is stunning visually and with game play to match. I was not a fan of the previous titles but got hooked on this from the start. Despite a relatively short single player you never feel like you have been sold short, the story line is quite exceptional for a game of this category and a diverse set of missions will have you coming back for more. A standout game in the sea of FPS' available, a must buy.

Supreme Commander was quietly released early this year and for some reason I can’t quite fathom was never really publicised with the vigour that the game deserves. This RTS definitely raises the bar in a way that C&C 3 should have done. There are grumblings that the game is so power hungry that many PC’s will not handle it, this is very true and slow down is inevitable with the sheer scale of battles that occur. The maps are huge and the number of enemies on screen at any one time is breathtaking, and there is plenty of time to inhale as your computer tries with endeavour to process them all.

A relatively low key game that certainly proves that the RTS genre can still bash out a game that deserves a look, just make sure your machine can handle it first.

Crackdown came along in a haze and almost went unnoticed by myself. Another game that was released early in 2007, this 3rd person shooter certainly is different, with so many games now following the GTA blow shit up and cheer route this was truly a breath of fresh air, giving you the chance to uphold the "law", I use the term loosely, the fantastic animation and the great free roaming nature of this made it a hit with myself up till the first ring of death appeared. Great game.

I play a lot of sports games, which is why limiting this list to five is proving difficult. I could easily include Madden ’08 which you can read about in previous entries, also NHL ’08 has taken up so much of my life, and with a genuinely fantastic new AI system will always be challenging. But, after some deliberation I have decided to include Colin McRae: Dirt as my final choice for this list, I love my racing games and this one is certainly pick of the bunch, with so much variety from a game that shouldn’t have any is a wonder to behold. A fantastic pick up when time is at a premium, well worth investing in.

Well there you have it, my list for my favourites of the year.
Keep on trucking

Token Gestures (TG)

Don't be shocked to see some repeats, OK? Bioshock is outstanding. So now I'm going to talk about it too.

So much praise has been bestowed upon Bioshock now, that I even feel slightly cheeky saying that I can't say anything more about it. Not to mention that I'd be copying Token too. The point remains though, it's an outstanding game that will be discussed for decades. It may very well take many pages from the Half Life guide to storytelling, but in a time where so few developers actually get it right, shouldn't Bioshock be praised for taking its cues from the best place? To criticise it for not being 100% original is futile and with this in mind, I find it impossible to fault Levine's underwater opus. Bioshock represents a pinnacle in visual storytelling; every room and surface evokes a sense of character; Rapture itself being the biggest character in the whole thing Put alongside Atlas, the unforgettable Andrew Ryan, those darling Little Sisters and intimidating Big Daddies and you have one of the finest casts ever assembled. Every element is considered and refined to perfection. Just typing these words, and recalling the game's greatness makes me want to play through it all over again.

I suppose I'd better get my other repeat out of the way too. Here comes Crackdown.

Crackdown turned out to be something of an acquired taste among us gamers. Loved and loathed in equal measure, for all of those that despised its 'backwards-thinking' nature, there was an equal amount that adored its almost-retro design aesthetic and re-interpretation of the platform genre. Without doubt, the most postmodern game I've ever played - mixing up influences as diverse as Mario 64 and Grand Theft Auto, all with its tongue firmly in cheek.

Crackdown never asked to be took seriously, and I think that's what endeared it to me the most. It combined over-the-top comic book action with one of the most seamless and well-structured virtual playgrounds this side of the Mushroom Kingdom. Realtime Worlds - we salute you. May APB turn out to be another benchmark game. A sequel would be nice too, OK?

In the early days, this blog could have easily been mistaken for an elaborate and deceptive viral marketing campaign for EA's Skate. It is true, I have dedicated many hours of hype and praise to this game, and I awaited it almost as eagerly as I did Jet Set Radio, back in the day. Being one of the many disgruntled Tony Hawk fans, and crap at skating in reality, I was desperate for an accurate and satisfying simulator. Skate promised and delivered. Its not often we can say that.

Beautiful to look at, fantastically well-built and with the finest control scheme in years, Skate stands head-and-shoulders above most of the other high-profile releases this year. Few games are made with this much passion and dedication, and its these qualities that lead to it being such a rewarding experience. Developer Blackbox know the satisfaction of landing a kickflip, and have translated that feeling better than any developer before them. Innovative, fun and better with a mate. What more could you want? Medieval trading board games you say? I have just the thing for you.....

The best things in life are free, right? Microsoft certainly don't subscribe to that ideal, but it does make it all the more satisfying when they break character and start giving stuff away. Carcassone is my wild card in this thing, not just because of its low profile, more because when I sat down to write this, I had no intention of putting it in here. It is subtle, simple and rewarding to play. It has the kind of music that annoys and endears itself to me at the same time and allows me to play a multiplayer that doesn't involve guns. There's not much to be said about it really. You build towns, roads and monasteries. You get points. The sound effects are amusing. It was free. I love it.

I think that'll do for now.

As a gamer, I've had one of the best years ever, there has been a landslide of fantastic titles this year and I can only hope that 2008 will be half as good. I'd also like to mention other games that I have loved (and lost) this year that just didn't quite make it in. Call Of Duty 4 would have if it wasn't a war FPS. Mass Effect would have if I had finished it and the enemy AI wasn't so frustratingly fuck-awful and last, but not least, the sublime Super Mario Galaxy would have made number one if I was lucky enough to own it and dedicate substantial time to it. Let it be known, if you haven't heard already; that Super Mario Galaxy is pure videogame, it is the clearest and best expression of the unique language of the medium. When I get it, I'll have a full-blown essay ready and waiting.

2008 = GTAIV.

The Faux-Bot

Guest contribution from the PAPERBOY:

Okami – PS2/Wii. This game single handedly twists Nintendo’s nipples and gives them a chinese burn. Breathtakingly beautiful and constantly inventive, I urge anyone with a pulse and a brain to purchase this. You’ll never look at a game world as static and unchangeable again.

Bioshock – X360. Yes, it’s a shooter, but not since Half-Life 2 has a shooter been this good in single player. The art direction and 1950’s vibe give this aquatic horror blockbuster quality, and it deserves every inch of its success.

Tomb Raider Anniversary – PS2/Wii/X360. Ah, the remake that was worth it. For the seasoned pros, it was like putting on an old jumper that had somehow become more flattering to your waistline. For the newbies, it was a taste of old-school Lara, before big guns and stealth ruined things. Just turn off auto-grab.

Wario Ware – Wii. This was the game that Wii should have thrown all of its marketing clout behind, not the depressingly average Super Strikers. You will laugh, get drunk, and despair at how much of a fool you look. But you will come back.

Dissapointments of the year:

Final Fantasy XII – PS2. As a long standing FF fan, this was wrongly branded by the press as a good game. Repetitive and dull, you didn’t really understand who was who, and by the end you didn’t care. I haven’t emoted this little since my last botox high.

Halo 3 – X360. Admittedly, I find Master Chief the blandest character in the history of computer games, but never before has one game relied so much on multiplayer. The story mode was unique in its almost mandatory demand for a second player, and the graphics left me cold.

Wii Tennis – Wii. Overhyped piece of rubbish. There are two defining moments when you play this. The first one comes when you realise whatever you do, the players move automatically and use the same swinging animation. You die inside. Then you realise to win, you should merely flick your wrist while standing and drinking a beer, or reading Dante. You become a hollow shell of a man as your dream of the Wii dies.