Even though we’re supposed to pick a single game–hence the title Game of the Year–I couldn’t do it. In a year of great games like Batman Arkham City, Portal 2, Uncharted 3, Modern Warfare 3 (and that’s just the mainstream titles) I was able to narrow my choice down to two, one mainstream and one indie game that I felt deserved to be called my Games of the Year.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the only game aside from Oblivion that I’ve played in the series. While people raved about Oblivion and all the things you could do in it, I didn’t see the appeal. Then Skyrim happened. I wasn’t even going to buy it until months after its release when I could get a used copy for a good price. But one of my good friends bought it day one and I watched him play it. Just watching him play for a couple of hours completely changed my mind. I knew I had to get it.
Skyrim grabbed in a way that hadn’t happened since I played Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. Time not spent playing it was dominated by thoughts of what I was going to do when I got a chance to play again. The best part about it is how jam packed it is. You can’t spend five minutes wandering the world without finding some interesting locale to explore: dwarven ruins, abandoned towers, tiny wooden shacks, and populated cities.
The game’s not without its flaws, some of which I’ve talked about before, but despite them I wouldn’t have changed any of the hours I spent exploring the Skyrim province. Even though my time with Skyrim has tapered off in recent weeks, it captivated me in a way that no other (mainstream) game had this year.
What criteria do you use when you judge how great a game is? The graphics? The story? Whether or not it has multiplayer? What about if the game is able to make you like it despite having a consistent dislike for its genre? Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony did just that, and that’s why it earned a spot among my games of the year.
Jamestown is a shoot-em-up or shmup that tells the story of the war between the British and the Spanish in the 17th Century…on Mars. It’s such an insane premise that it works. As you make your way through the different stages you learn just how far the Conquistador is willing to go to wipe the British colonies off the face of Mars.
Jamestown supports local four player co-op, and each of the four ships have different abilities which creates varying styles of play. Before this game, I hadn’t played a shmup since Raptor: Call of the Shadows back in the nineties. I’m not great at games that require lightning quick reflexes, but I was able to get through Jamestown solo without too much trouble. Jamestown makes it so it’s not about twitchy fingers but about navigating the bullet patterns and knowing when to activate Vaunt mode.
Despite being an indie game, Jamestown brought me just as much enjoyment as some of the other games I paid sixty dollars for. If more shmups were like this one, I bet I’d play them a hell of a lot more.