Geek Team Six’s Most Anticipated Games Pt. 3
This is another part in the collaborative effort of the GTS writers to bring you the most anticipated games of the upcoming year.
Yeah, I know Chris already did NBA 2K12, but give me my turn with it.
NBA 2k11 was the absolute pinnacle of sports gaming that it’s almost difficult to describe. It was an easy game to learn if you were picking up a controller for the first time, but one of the most difficult games to master. I was still learning things about the game in January of 2011, and the game came out in October 2010. It keep the game fresh and interesting.
The dynasty mode was perfect with perfect opposing AI, perfect simulation stats, perfect player traits. Everything that is important to building a team including chemistry and roles was in dynasty mode. Throw in the best trade logic in any sports game ever? It was easy to see why my roommate and I poured days into our virtual basketball team (Kevin Love is a beast by the way).
Of course, there was Michael Jordan. The greatest player of all time graced the cover of the game and brought with it “The Jordan Challenge”. This were 10 moments in Jordan’s career that you had to recreate including the 61 point game in the Boston Garden and “The Flu Game” during the 2007 NBA Finals. Combined with the excellent situational announcing in the game, it felt like you WERE Michael Jordan. All of Jordan’s moves were at your fingertips and they evolved as Jordan evolved. In 1986, Jordan was a gunner who went to the rim with reckless abandon. By the time you play the final game of his career (Washington doesn’t count), you relied on Jordan’s fall-away and post-game. If you beat the Jordan challenge, you got to play “My Player” mode with rookie Michael Jordan in the 2010 NBA season. A perfect reward for completing the challenge.
It was the best sports game of all time, so there is no reason to be worried about NBA 2k12, right?
Not exactly. The biggest thing that 2k12 has to do is avoid complacency. It has to do SOMETHING to try and improve on the greatest sports game of all time. Read that last sentence again, and you can see where the big issue with 2k12 lies.
What they appear to be trying to do is expand the “Challenge” mode into a Larry Bird and Magic Johnson challenge. Where this could catapult it past NBA 2k11 is in the amount of classic teams. If the game gives us a ridiculous number of classic teams (and I’m not counting the cop-outs last year where they had “No Name White Guy” fill in as the 7th man off the bench. If I’m getting the ’86 Celtics, I want the effing ’86 Celtics!) then it could push the game over the top. My dream is 30 classic teams and a mode where I can play a season mode and prove that the ’86 Celtics were the best team of all time.
Other than that, little improvements need to be done with the game-play. Simple things like tuning the defense and real ball physics, things 2k has already said are in the works.
It has a lot to live up to, but 2k12 should deliver another top notch basketball title.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
My favorite game of the past five years is Uncharted 2. It was as close to a perfect video game as there can be. There was exploration, shooting, action sequences, great plot, great characters, basically an Indiana Jones film but in video game form. On top of that, the controls were perfect. There was never a thing in the game that I felt I couldn’t do. It simply flowed. It was one of the few games that felt like I was playing a movie. Also, the graphics were gorgeous. That helped a lot.
Really, for Uncharted 3, Naughty Dog just has to do more of the same. It already looks like best looking video game of all time. Give me another perfect blend of adventure moviness and I’ll be happy.
Batman Arkham City
My favorite comic book hero of all time is Batman. Batman proves that any man (as long as you have billions of dollars lying around) can be a crime fighting vigilante. There are no need for super powers when you are the worlds greatest detective.
For far too long, Batman games had failed to live up to the caped crusaders legacy. That was until Batman: Arkham Asylum came along. It took the mood and the atmosphere of the Christopher Nolan Batman films, combined with the story telling and voice acting (Mark Hammil!) of the animated series and mixed that along with a well crafted game combining exploration, combat, stealth and crime solving to create the best Batman game ever. It was the first time ever that the player felt like Batman, not just a guy controlling Batman. The only thing missing was the non-linearness. While the game encouraged exploration of the Asylum, it still felt like it was “Go here and then go there” during the mission. All it needed was an open-world similar to a GTA game where Batman can jump around the city of Gotham, solve random crimes and help innocents in between trying to figure out what the Joker (again, Mark Hammil) is trying to do this time.
This is basically the premise of Arkham City. Let’s take the best elements of the first game and throw them into an open world environment. The second they announced this, all Batman fans immediately had to change. It sounds like EVERYTHING Batman fans have been dreaming of.
Which is the biggest problem with the title. It sounds almost too good to be true.
A lot of the success of the game hinges around the game’s ability to have an open world that we actually care about. In games like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, the gamer chooses to do side-missions and jobs for strangers because they are actually fun and entertaining for the most part. A game like L.A Noire suffers because the side-missions suck more than the Cleveland Cavaliers. They are terrible and mind numbing and oh god how the hell did they think that gamers would actually enjoy side missions involving shooting when the games worst attribute is the gun play? I used “Skip to destination” in that game all the time, only because I had zero interest in the side missions (and because I wanted to see what happened next in the fantastic story, but that’s a tale for another day).
So will Batman suffer the same fate as fellow detective Cole Phelps or will he be buddies with Niko Bellic? A lot of the “freshness” of the game hinges on those side missions. If they perform well, it will feel like more than just Arkham Asylum 2.
On the top of the already vastly improved combat shown, there is one major reason to buy this game. It is the final time that Mark Hammil will lend his voice to the Joker. Everyone now associates the Joker with the late Heath Ledger, but the Joker became The Joker because of his voice acting during the animated series. Mark Hammil was brilliant. He brought out the utterly insane side of the Joker where he laughs at everything and everyone and has fun, but he can also be the dark and sinister and twisted Joker that makes us wonder how anyone can conceive of such a man.
And his laugh. His Joker laugh was fucking perfect. Funny enough that it made you smile a little, but unsettling enough that you wondered whether or not you would sleep at night. It appears as if he’s about to pass along the reins to John DiMaggio (the voice of Bender on Futurama) as he played the role of the Joker in Under the Red Hood. It was good, but it wasn’t Mark Hammil, who annouced that this is the last time he is playing the Joker.
Batman Arkham City may be a buy just for that performance. The final act of the Joker. Maybe he can have a moment just like this:
That’s how you play The Joker.