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Welcome to the Rofling Officer Productions blog, where you will mainly find extremely cynical reviews by a British Stereotype (usually with my good friend, John Smith). These reviews will most often be of games and films, but also have a few little projects.

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Saturday, 31 December 2011

Top 15 Games of 2011!

Dan: Welcome to our annual tradition of announcing the best games of this year, which we’ve narrowed down into 15 slots that were so hotly contested that some of the choices are actually kind of shit. Anyway, we’ll start (as countdowns from 15 often do), with number 15, which is a game where no one could CHART where it would end up, hence it was:

15. Uncharted 3

John: Nathan Drake is possibly the most insufferable character I have ever seen this side of Essex. He makes me want to rip my eyes out and shove them in my ears so I don't have to hear his bull crap anymore. However this in itself really doesn't make Uncharted 3 or any of the Uncharted series bad games, in fact I love them, and this one is more of the same with just a few additions. It is not as good as the second one, partly because the second one was in the top three games I have played on my PS3 and partly because the second one did innovate on the first unlike this inclusion into the series.

14. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

Dan: Halo: Combat Evolved is the best game in my favourite gaming series, so by that logic I should just give the anniversary edition 10 and call it a day. But no, 343 Industries included some new features, so let’s have a look at them. There’s Multiplayer now, with some classic Halo maps thrown in, which seemed to be pretty good to me. The unfortunate thing is: it’s just Halo Reach multiplayer. And as fun and good as that is, I feel those maps should have just been added onto to Halo fucking Reach. But whatever, if this really bothers you then boo hoo, but personally I could just play that fucking campaign over and over again slapping my hands together and drooling. Just like 10 years ago, the campaign is as compelling and great as ever, and the weirdest criticism of the game I’ve heard as of yet is that “it’s the exact same campaign as 10 years ago”. IT’S A BLOODY HD REMAKE, WHAT DID YOU EXPECT TO HAPPEN? Master Chief vs Samus? A Captain Keyes boss fight? A Cortana sex scene?! There have been a few little changes here and there, mainly the addition of terminals that you can access to get backstory about the Forerunners and shit, if you love to find out about lore. Other than that, it’s the same great campaign of 10 years ago updated with some nice looking graphics. 343 Industries haven’t sold me on them yet, we’ll see how shite (or otherwise) Halo 4 is next year.

13. Dungeons of Dredmor

John: 2011's has seemed to have been the year in which roguelikes have come back in force shaping It like a piece of clay until the genre has completely changed. From games such Brogue and Desktop Dungeons, to even The Binding of Isaac. All have added their own charm to the genre. However the best of all is Dungeon Defenders, a game with the cartoon humour of a violent Looney Tunes, and more ways to customise your character (not in a physical way but in the way you play) than a plastic surgery clinic. It also updates the graphics of Roguelikes, which is nice.

12. Space Marine

Dan: When I first played the Warhammer 40k: Space Marine demo a few months ago, I was blown away by how fucking FUN it was. It was in the days of dread before Battlefield 3, MW3, Rage etc. You know, the boring cover shooting regenerating health shit that I keep fucking BANGING on about like the twat I am. Anyway, I got Space Marine and launched it, and within 10 minutes I was gleefully laughing my way through it. It’s been ages since I laughed at a game, not since Portal 2, but Space Marine was funner than using a shotgun that fires exploding lasers at zombies, which is an apt comparison as there is a gun that feels just like that. The jetpack is like being hooked up to a drip that feeds endorphins, jumping into the air, sniping 5 Orcs in the head and then smashing into the ground, sending another 20 flying off a fucking ledge is infinitely more satisfying than popping out of cover, shooting a bloke, then having strawberries thrown all over your eyes. This game is fucking great at its core gameplay so if you want a game where you want to chill out and kill shit for a few hours, or your some sort of masochist and enjoy Warhammer 40k lore, you could do a hell of a lot worse than Space Marine.

11. Arkham City

John: Just to be clear, this game would have been higher if they hadn't delayed it for so long on the PC and yet still having problems with it, just as the random framerate drops. I also occasionally find the combat, while smooth, be more fiddly than a buttered up fiddler crab, randomly having me attack somebody who I was not aiming for, probably because he stole my chocolate or something.

However once you ignore this, you realise that this game is probably the best Superhero game you have ever played, and when you think that there is more of a chance for a turtle to flip you off than a superhero game to be good, it is very impressive. The main quest is extremely good, as well as the amazing sidequests, such as the Zsasz one, and the great exploration, it really does give this slick game a place on the list.

And now we're into the top 10.

10. Battlefield 3

John: The campaign of this game is the sort of thing you would enjoy, if your list on fun things to do included being repeatedly stabbed in the balls, or being raped by a wild armadillo. I don't know who would want to watch a movie instead of play a game, but that's what this is... probably made by Uwe Boll. It is your generic Modern regenerating health shooter, which involve you staring at more strawberry jam than a fat person, and when you're not doing that, you're admiring the architectural skills used to create a brick wall. And I'm talking about the online as well here.

Ah the online, in my eyes practically the same as that of Modern Warfare 3 apart from a few maps. All it involves is running around before being shot in the arse by somebody probably just playing a practical joke. The worst for these is Operation Metro, where the middle of the map has more men in it than a gay brothel. And you can't appreciate how good (because god it does look good) it looks when it's raining or extremely light in almost every map, all that does is blur your vision, like watching porn while having a man's arse shoved in your face. There are exceptions however, and they are Caspian Border, Tehran Highway and Back to Karkand maps. The first two because they are extremely fun to play on, especially flying around in a helicopter on Caspian Border with the finesse of a one winged Ostrich (however I usually ride shotgun in vehicles as an engineer, or some guy from the Washington DC ghettos) and for Back to Karkand it was obvious that they would be good maps, as they were in the Battlefield 2. So all in all, other than in the few good maps online, I didn't find this game enjoyable so just went back to Team Fortress 2,
Daniel did like it though so here's his opinion, not that I care, as its shit.

Dan: Battlefield 3 is probably the best (realistic) shooter of the year, which really depresses me. This is because of how painful the campaign was to play. A mesh of ridiculously unforgiving Quick Time Events (shudder), a very silly plot surgically taken from Tom Clancy and Modern Warfare and almost on rails gameplay throughout poison this game. This game is not only the best realistic shooter this year; it also has the very worst campaign of any shooter I’ve played in a while. There is a 3 minute section before you do a rail shooter section where you aren’t allowed to fucking move your character up to the jet, you can’t look around, you can’t take your helmet, and you can’t have a look around the ship. It’s ridiculous. From start to end the campaign (however nice it looks, and oh fucking hell does it look nice) feels terrible, and the only remotely alright bit is the tank section, but even then a lot of control is stolen from you. Moving on from the FRIGHTFUL single player, the Multiplayer (in my opinion) continues Battlefield’s trend of excellence. The beautiful environments make me literally duck whenever something explodes near me, and there are some fantastic moments that are genuinely fun, one such moment is when you parachute down to the next part of the map in Damavand Peak, that feels brilliant. Doing a HALO (sort of) jump like that brings back bad memories of the campaign, but other than that Battlefield 3’s multiplayer feels excellent, just like it’s predecessors.

9. Terraria

John: Now this is the game that I wanted Minecraft to be, except in a 2D setting. It takes all the building parts of Minecraft and adds in more RPG elements than a Dungeons and Dragons party. You have the item progression and the bosses.

This game is unfairly described as a Minecraft rip off, but that would be like saying that all FPS' are rip offs of each other, or that snowmen are rip off's of real men. This game adds so much more depth to Minecraft, which can leave you feeling bored, while this game does not, with its challenging bosses and different enemies. It's not a game that I can talk about that much though, as it all depends on how you play it.

The name also sounds like your being orally raped by a dentist, but we will just skip over that.

However, even though I've said this is what I wanted Minecraft to be like, you may be wondering why Minecraft is one place higher, well just read about it next.

8. Minecraft

Dan: I am a newcomer to Minecraft, as I had other less nerdy things to do like read comics and play Warhammer, but recently launched a game and having been force fed random trivia from people and videos I knew exactly what to do to start. It peaked my interest, but I wasn’t totally sold on the “best game ever” stamp being stuck on it absolutely everywhere. In PC Gamer I saw a massive amusement park built in Minecraft, I read about fully functioning computers with rudimentary games playing on them. My jaw literally dropped. Minecraft is totally overwhelming to a newcomer, and it almost turned me off. But I persisted and mined and crafted and fought my way through giant cocks until I built a huge sprawling mine. Then I thought: I want a lava waterfall! So I made that. Then I thought: how about a train system. So I built that. I was lost. Minecraft had consumed me. I have absolutely no idea how to review Minecraft, it’s fucking huge. I still have no bloody idea how to get to the nether, I have no idea how to make cakes, but I can tell you I have had a great time for the little I’ve done SO FAR. This is one of the most interesting games I’ve ever played and it may have even turned me onto Terraria, so you owe to yourself as a gamer to check this out, because it seems like this will be the start of a golden age. To sum up as best I can: the graphics are cute and look like someone spilt tea on the scribbling of a 4 year old, coming up with a project (making large lava falls and a train system) then seeing it come to fruition is endlessly satisfying, because there are endless fucking possibilities. Phew. Have I finished the review now? Yay now I can play Minecraft again…

John: Easily this year's success story (I know, I know, it was released in alpha last year), this is the game which proved that having more blocks than a building supply shop can create a good game. I can think of no other game which will let me create a huge squirrel next to a diamond model of a arse (I didn't do either of those) before going out to kill some exploding, green phalluses. The possibilities in this game seem almost limitless, well other than the limit of creating a lesbian sex scene with Angelina Jolie, but it comes damn close to anything being possible.

The fact that people have made full functioning computers in this game shows the scale of things possible. I myself usually play this in creative mode, getting bored of survival (however I did just "finish" the game by killing the Ender Dragon), so have built some huge structures. It is a game that I will fire up every so often if
I'm bored and get lost in for hours and hours seeing new things to do. It will get updated regularly by Mojang, and even though Notch has moved on to working on a new game for them, the team still works hard on it. I applaud Markus Persson for this amazing game, and starting off (yes I know about Infiminer) this new genre, and I for one hail our blocky overlords.

7. Bastion

John: Easily one of the funniest games I have played this year, the Narrator is funnier than watching a fat person slip on a banana skin. The way he makes observations in his voice which sounds as if he's swallowed a ton of nails adds to the enjoyment of the game and helps create a story which feels like one of your own, even if you couldn't create your own character. After playing this game I feel that even Diablo 3 couldn't beat it.

And I haven't even mentioned the soundtrack yet, which sounds amazing, and is probably the best I have heard in any game, but I'm not a music reviewer, as reviewing music is like trying to get a turtle to drive a car so my opinion is worth fuck all anyway.

It is one of the games this year which shows that the higher the selling price, the better the game, is a statement which is certainly not true.

6. Serious Sam 3: BFE

John: Probably the best and most fun, first person shooter, I have played in a very, very long time. Serious Sam scoffs at all your fascination for your own strawberry jam and love of brick walls. That sort of thing is for people who get scared of kittens. Instead Serious Sam is armed with more weaponry than Sarah Palin when she sees a communist. And no you don't need to keep slamming your finger down on a button when it pops up on the screen as if your trying to perform some lewd sexual act with it either, because this is a man's game, not some pussy film.

Yes the first few levels of this game are pretty terrible especially the museum level, and are more on rails than a very good train, they also involve you journeying through more corridors than if you're working in fucking real estate. However after this, god is it a good game, enemy blood splatters over your eyes, not your own, and paints the map, like a psychopaths dream in the jam. The weapons all feel amazing to use, from the sledgehammer to the laser rifle, and leave you laughing in a manic fashion as you kick a clone to the ground before sending his body flying with the shotgun. However unlike the other violent, fun game, Space Marine, this isn't really a game you can chill out to.

I'm surprised I managed to go this long without mentioning the co-op, which is amazing if you have a friend to play with... Which I don't so Dan had to do. We could waste on end playing it online it was that fun, with infinite respawning and friendly fire on, it makes the game extremely hectic and enjoyable. There is nothing better than going on rampages with a friend (no we are not condoning mass murder) killing monsters. Overall, this game makes me happy after the crap we suffered with Duke Nukem Forever, and Serious Sam takes back the old school shooter crown... By killing the Duke with a shotgun blast to the face, while he stands around disgustingly slapping wall boobs like the weird necrophiliac (as opposed to those normal necrophiliacs) that he is.

Dan: Serious Sam 3 is incredibly fun, and I took no notice of it until I realised it was an old school shooter and therefore infinitely more fun than obese blokes wearing enough armour to wallpaper the entire fucking world lurching from cover to cover ala Gears of War. And it is. I am currently about a quarter of the way through the game I have more weapons than I have teeth and I can run faster than a uranium fuelled Usain Bolt. Not to mention fights are tense and exciting with the omission of regenerating health meaning I don’t have to crouch behind a wall rubbing my temples and willing my legs to reattach. No, I rub a health kit on my balls and return to life. Basically it’s a shooter like Doom or Duke Nukem 3D, the golden age of shooters, and as such it’s fucking awesome. I’m a quarter of the way through without even a hint of a plot more than: aliens are here, blow them up. But what more do you want from Serious Sam? It’s so fucking fast paced I nearly had an epileptic fit, while playing Modern Warfare 3 causes me to have a NARCOLEPTIC FIT (OH SNAP). Not to mention this is an insanely fun co-op game; John and I could play for hours on end, running at close to the speed of sound while blasting Kamikaze’s with shotguns never ever loses its charm and fun. Basically, if you long for a return to the great days of shooters, play this now, and if you DON’T have a longing to return to the golden age of shooters, play this anyway, and you’ll see how fucking stupid you are.

5.Total War: Shogun 2

Dan: Total War is for the most part, a good game series. The strategy is almost unmatched, and the mix of RTS and TBS feels perfect. Unfortunately a lot of the recent titles have been a pile of shite marinated in piss. Empire and Napoleon were set in the most boring period to set games in ever. You watch squads of musketmen slowly walk up to the enemy, fire then take 15 seconds to reload then YERARRH. Watching this is normally more boring than watching paint dry and at least paint serves some purpose, Empire’s only purpose was to fuck up as many aspects of the series as possible But Shogun 2 takes the series back to its much better roots. Large (yet samey) units of racist Japanese people (the angry eye ones) charge at each other ferociously, and the new graphics make it more satisfying as ever. Shogun 2 is a very good strategy game; while still not as good as the exceptional Medieval 2 it still has the same style of great battles. The AI is also no longer pathetic. ANECDOTE TIME: One time a few years ago while play arguably the shittest expansion pack in Total War History, Rome Total War: Alexander, Alexander was trapped in a city under attack by Persians who vastly outnumbered him. I thought I’d try to get him an honourable death so I could be defeated in style. But after one wave of enemies the Persians just stopped attacking and started repositioning their army again and again, meaning I could just sit there peppering them with arrows and win the battle. There’s none of that anymore, I’ve lost count of the amount of times the great AI has taken all of my provinces within the first 4 turns. Unfortunately this game still has hints of the monumentally awful Napoleon before it laced throughout, such as attrition. It just goes to show you should never stop fucking that one awesome prostitute (Romeo Med-two) by moving onto another (Napolempire) to see if the experience is good. Most probably it will be shit and even if you go back that first prostitute won’t feel the same and you’ll still have chlamydia from the second dirty prostitute, hence Shogun 2. Very good, but poisoned by its shit predecessors.

John: God that analogy was strange and long winded, just like how long it takes to lead this game. Seriously, it would be quicker to paint the Sistine chapel in semen than to load this game. Still good though.

4. Portal 2

John: Well we have another game in the Half-Life universe, it's just a shame it isn't Half Life 2 Episode 3... In fact, no it's not just a shame, it almost made me slam an ice pick into my brain. But that's enough of that, and let's get back onto Portal 2. I know already I was one of the 0.01% of creatures who didn't think the original game was this revolutionary masterpiece, and the only other thing that thought that was probably a brain dead slug who is addicted to crack. It was a good game, but I was too busy playing the much better game of Half Life 2 Episode 2 like any sane person should have done.

However Portal 2 was an extremely good game, like all Valve game are. The story was excellent, and the puzzles where more puzzling than something which is very puzzling. They kept you thinking for hours (well about 10 minutes) until you finally felt success when you managed to complete it. The game had an extremely good (but cliché) story, which is like a marijuana cake having money inside of it, and the humour was amazing, well other than Glados, who's humour seemed to be that of a depressed undertaker, and Wheatley, played by Stephen Merchant doing his best impressions of somebody who's mother drunk a few too many pints when he was a foetus, he started getting annoying eventually.

The game has the re-playability of dying, even in its excellent co-op mode, which is extremely fun to play with an acquaintance (because, as I have stated repeatedly, I'm less likable than a Robot Hitler spreading leukaemia, so have no friends) and can lead to many laughs while you are trying to figure out the solutions to problems, or just pissing about.

Dan: So then: Portal 2, very much the sequel to Portal 1, and a very good game. Portal 1 was good, but it is not totally flawless and DOES NOT deserve all of the praise it got as “the best game ever”. I think a lot of it was due to Yahtzee, you bastard! I don’t care how funny you are, Portal wasn’t great and if you think so you must be stupid. So anyway, one of the redeeming qualities of Portal was its humour, and it’s very much back here. A lot of (particularly Wheatley’s) lines made me laugh a lot, but it’s GLaDoS that disappointed me the most. She is NOT funny at ALL any MORE. All her jokes are basically “you killed me, that was mean”, with different spins on that. The game seriously overstays its welcome too; it’s like a tramp you gave a pound to following you around the shops all day desperately seeking more. Near the beginning I was having a lot of fun with some of the new features so the game said “Oh! Then I guess you won’t mind if I drag everything out for 20 chambers?” The amount of repetition is startling, but it’s forgiven by me because the puzzles are genuinely challenging this bloody time. The first 16 puzzles in Portal (there were only 19 for fucks’ sake) were pathetic, and wouldn’t challenge a foetus whose head had been squashed by super compressed stupid. Portal 2 in comparison is very hard particularly near the end and the humour from Wheatley and Cave Johnson is great. This combined with the aforementioned new gameplay tweaks makes Portal 2 a fantastic sequel to a good, overrated game.

3. Orcs must Die

Dan: Orcs Must Die is the best Indie game I’ve played in a while (if not the best ever), but that’s partly because I naively stay clear from Indie titles until people say they’re excellent, because most are worse than a snake with rusty nails for fangs. Orcs Must Die continued this trend, after it received critical acclaim. It was on the Steam sale and I bought it and instantly it jumped up and down on any scepticism I had, and devoured any remains when I unlocked the extraordinarily satisfying wall trap that minced Orcs up into bloody pieces. This game sealed the number 3 spot when I got a catapult trap that launched Orcs into lava and acid pits. There are a few reasons this game didn’t get higher, one being it isn’t as substantial as the top 2, and it’s less substantial than Modern Warfare 3 (just) and it’s higher because MW3 sucked rat fur while this kicks so much arse that a shoe imprint is now a genetic disorder. You play some smug wanker, basically the equivalent of Merlin as a frat boy, but this is entirely forgotten around the time 20 Orcs are mashed into chunks while I scream with laughter. This basically is what games are at their core: fun. It doesn’t need a great story like Half Life, or gameplay overwhelmingly varied like Deus Ex, it just needs the genocide of the entire Orc race. The Orcs are all bafflingly cute, and never seem like much of a threat. They all sound like the clever gangster’s sidekick called Chug or Mugsy or something, who sounded like they learning to talk while voice acting. All in all Orcs Must Die is ridiculously fun, and the perfect thing to wind down to after a stressful day at work. Plus it’s cheap.

John: This was easily my surprise game of the year. I don't usually like arrow traps as they get more boring as you go along until the only way you can alleviate yourself from boredom is to watch dying grass grow. Orcs must Die however, is an exception to this. It is probably one of the most enjoyable games you will ever play ever and rightfully received acclaim and blow jobs off almost every reviewer.

If you want an indication of how fun this game is, just think, it managed to get higher than Serious Sam 3 on this list for that fact alone. The only main point of the game is for you to set up cunningly violent trap combinations to see how you can commit fantasy genocide on more Orcs than a Lord of the Rings convention. You can crush them, shoot at them, set them on fire, and then just catapult them back into the traps to see if they can get through the toughest obstacle course ever again. Your choice in traps is almost limitless, short of just nuking all the orcs.

The only real problems are the lack of multiplayer, as playing this game in multiplayer would be possibly one of the most enjoyable experiences I could think of, and the other problem is thatsome of the enemies are ridiculously overpowered. But that doesn't matter as it is hilariously fun and cheap anyway.

2. Deus Ex Human Revolution

John: You know what, when I first played this game, I thought, this will easily be the game of the year, nothing could compete with how great this is. I was later proved long as you can see in a minute if you read on, but that is a testament to rival those in the bible to show how good this game is.

I myself didn't think this would be a good game, the original is one of my favourite games of all time, and after Invisible War my hopes weren't high, however I was proved wrong and enjoyed this game. The ability to go into any mission in whatever way you want is great, you could just go in all guns blazing like a Bi-polar bank robber, or you can sneak in and take out the enemy non violently like a pacifist rapist to name just a few.

The story itself is amazing, and the bet I have seen from any game in a long time, introducing Adam Jensen, the man who seems to drink a glass of gravel every morning, as he tries to fight through a conspiracy bigger than what the secret ingredient for McDonalds is (hint, it's probably Chicken penis.) This is because it turns out he is a less competent security than Kermit the Frog, so allows every scientist in the facility to get massacred with the ease of slicing butter.

Then you have the large open world hub zones, with more to explore than a Temple of Treasures, and a lot of different side quests to take part in. These zones are extremely detailed and help flesh out the game world and make it seem more real. You even get experience for exploring these like Jensen is training to become a mouse. The world is also extremely complex with its politics, as you would expect from a Deus Ex game, with fighting between the Anti-Augs and the people for it.

Some of the Augmentations are amazing (for example the typhoon which allows you to fire grenades from out of your arse) and add a lot to the way you want to play the game in its early parts. Many can be very fun to use, however some give an extremely annoying cut scene every time you perform them , such as the Icarus landing system, but this doesn't stop them from being enjoyable to use. They also make you feel like you are actually superhuman, which is how augments should make you feel in a Deus Ex game.

Also the game brings back inventory Tetris, which is a great addition for the game if your nostalgic, like me.

I assume though, that I will have to talk about the criticisms of the game , for example the fact that you can get every augmentation possible by the end of the game, not varying the combat at all, and turning it just a little stale. Another is the inclusion of the boss battles, which in the original you could perform in any which way you want, from shooting them, to sneaking past them, to offering them sexual favours to advance to the next point. In this game however you just have to fight some a few guys who pop up like there the Spanish Inquisition which nobody expected and proceed to beat the crap out of Jensen even if he has become superhuman. The options for these guys are shoot or die (which happens a lot), which becomes very boring, very quickly. And the last boss isn't even a boss, more a target to shoot at.

I won't even talk about the fact that Adam Jensen has lost the ability to punch somebody, so instead you get a jarringly placed animation which could be replaced with a Glenn Beck sex scene for how well they are placed in. However all these reasons shouldn't put you off this amazing game, which you should all play unless you want me to take you around the back and shoot you through the back of the head.

Dan: Having only THIS YEAR played Deus Ex 1 and liked it a lot, I was looking forward to this being released. Then I realised that it’d already been out for about a month, so I found it cheap and bought it. I did a pretty in-depth review of all the pillars of gameplay, and what I like most about it is it mixes some of the good parts of modern action games (nice graphics, a particularly vibrant colour palette, good stealth) and mixed it perfectly with the element of choice from the first game, which let you play anyway you wanted. You could be a stealthy sniper who uses his silenced rifle to eliminate resistance then pick his way through, or you could just go balls to the wall and use a flame thrower to turn the NSF into a tasty snack. Human Revolution emulates this perfectly, and the story is almost as engaging and brilliant as the first. It definitely has the best story in any shooter this year, it’s also the best Shooter this year. That is, if you count it as a shooter. Personally I count it as an Action-RPG, but IGN class it as a shooter so there you fucking go, bitch. So then: criticisms. The boss fights is a nice juicy one, but that’s been ripped to pieces by every single critic ever, so I’ll just say that it surgically removes the element of choice in favour of chucking in some fuckwit we’ve never heard anything about. Fortunately I’ve heard the boss fight in the Missing Link DlC is much improved, so you can get that and shut the fuck up. Another one is the omission of melee weapons and instead just has stupid half-baked animation that blow you out of the experience like a hosepipe on overload, but you need never use this. All these critiques are nit-picks, so just ignore them and play the bloody game, because it’s great.

John: And now for the number 1 game, which should be obvious, as your all cheating scum who read what it was before reading this sentence, and so are all going to hell.

1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Dan: To repeat myself YET AGAIN, Skyrim is the best RPG I’ve ever played. Oh for fucks’ sake, I can’t think of anything to say that I haven’t said before, so see the review we did for Christmas if you want the full opinion. To show you why this is the best game of the year I’ll quickly tell a little story: Buttbeard, my Bosmer assassin, had just got a quest to assassinate a bandit leader in a fort, so I rode there on my horse. After entering the fort I went into sneak mode and got behind my target, after backstabbing a lot of his mates. Unfortunately, he was surrounded by more enemies than he would be if he was at a mass bandit reunion. So I equipped the Dragon Shout “throw voice”, which would make enemies think they heard the shout from the other side of the room. They immediately began to walk over that way, giving my time to sneak behind my target and slash his throat. No one noticed, and I escaped into the daylight. And then I heard it. The Dragon. One of the best pieces on the Skyrim soundtrack kicked in and I thought “let’s go motherfucker”. The bandits in the fort I hadn’t cleared out began to attack the dragon, firing arrows at it and being incinerated. Then the Dragon turned to me. I smiled, activated my power and became a werewolf. Grinning to myself, I charged out of reach of the dragon’s fire breath, and devoured the dead bandits’ corpses, giving me longer as a werewolf. I turned, and charged the dragon. My mighty claws quickly ripped the dragon apart, and its soul went directly into me, unlocking second stage fire breath, while I laugh. You see, none of that is scripted. It only happened in my play through, and will not happen to you (John: Correction, that basically happened to me, except I didn't turn into a werewolf, because it is pointless). But that’s fine, because something equally as thrilling will happen in your playthrough, and I can never get that. And that, people, is why Skyrim is the best game of the year. It’s fucking awesome.

John: Nothing much to say about it other than what he just said really, it is an extremely amazing game where you can all go and create your own adventures. It is not as good as Morrowind, but better than Oblivion by a large gap.

John: So there we go, an end to another year which has gone faster than a man with premature ejaculation. There were quite a lot of disagreements while working on this, the main one being if Team Fortress 2 should count, as even though it wasn't released this year, it was made Free to play, so just to say, if we did count it, it would have blow everything else away. Now go enjoy your New Year you bastards and we'll be back then.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Special Christmas Review of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim!

John: Oh Skyrim. Oh Skyrim, Oh Skyrim, Oh Skyrim. Finally an Elder Scrolls game which can stand tall and proud alongside the great game of Morrowind. There are no words to describe how much I enjoy this game, other than imagining a truck load of naked woman and money. It feels like an almost real world, which you can explore while other people go on along with their daily lives. However as this is such an extensive RPG we have run into many problems on how to review it, so instead we will write many subsections on different parts of the game and give our views on them.

Dan: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the best RPG I’ve ever played. The amount of choices in character levelling alone is astounding; it allows me to build an assassin who can silently roll behind his mark, cut their throat and dissipate into nothingness before the unfortunate fellow’s mates can do anything more than stare at his body. I can sprint and jump off a cliff, land in a river and blast a dragon flying over head with lightning. I can use my Unrelenting Force shout to use a massive force of wind to make Imperial soldiers sail over entire forts. I can listen to guards tell me about how they took arrows in the knee. I could literally go on for pages and pages, describing the quests and situations the almost immaculate Skyrim allows you to do and get into.

John: Anybody who says this game is best RPG ever is an idiot and deserves to be immolated after having his balls doused in petrol. It is not as good as Morrowind, no matter how close it comes and retarded people believe it is. However that doesn't mean it's not the best RPG I've played in the past 5 or 6 years, the only other one which can even come close in The Witcher 2 (I am not classing Deus Ex: HR as an RPG for this comparison ok... Got that), but Skyrim easily outshines that. Now on with the review.

Main Story

John: So Skyrim is the 5th game in the Elder Scrolls series, and not Oblivion 2 as some idiots believe. If anybody thinks that, I want them shot in the head with a laser rifle controlled by a rabid dog. The story revolves around a giant Dragon named Alduin coming back during the time of a huge civil war in Skyrim and subsequently reviving a load of other Dragons. So as Dovakhiin you have to go stop them by shouting at them like you're a character from any British soap.
I still haven't finished the main story because I kept getting distracted, however from nearly finishing it, it seemed extremely short and boring, which is why I was distracted, and also very strange for any game which includes dragons. However who plays an Elder Scrolls game for the story in all honesty. Also has some pretty good looking parts in it, just not as good as everything else.

Dan: The Main Quest of Skyrim is, unfortunately, a let-down. That’s not to say it’s not good: in some cases it feels spectacular, the first dragon fight near Whiterun is great. The way the dragon swoops and breathes flame on you as you desperately take cover in the tower, and how you charge forward and start hacking at its head looks and feels amazing. The problem was this: the next dragon fight had me running away from a flying lizard that was breathing fire on me as it swooped over then I charged and starting hacking at its head. And the same thing for the next one. And the next. The dragon fights do get very repetitive, but they ALWAYS stay rewarding. I can sit through Generic Dragon Fight #37 if it means I can use its soul to turn enemies to ice. The story (I haven’t actually finished it yet) is… well it’s good, I guess. The Main Quest has some great moments, as I say, but also some really irritating ones, mainly the one in the Thalmor embassy where they seem to either spot you from 200 yards away or block every door you need to get through, meaning stealth is almost impossible (so I was buggered).

The Civil War

John: The Civil war is possibly my favourite part of the game, fighting off many of those Imperial bastards to free Skyrim for the Nords (Yes I'm a Stormcloak.) Some of my favourite moments have been attacking forts and the cities of [redacted] with my Stormcloak allies to get Ulfric Stormcloak on the throne. (No I don't care if they are more racist than an angry Nick Griffin)

Dan: The Civil War that ties sort of into the backstory and a bit of the Main Quest feels a lot more rewarding and satisfying. In Oblivion the great battle for Tamriel was fought with about 12 soldiers in a small clearing. This is the gaming equivalent of going to watch the Lord of the Rings to find out it’s the pacifist version. In Skyrim the battles even stretch across cities, with catapults that do fuck all firing flaming rocks that do fuck all. I can Fus Ro Dah people off the walls while I decapitate an Empire prick in front of me. Anyway, I’ve gone on too long about that, so I’ll summarise the Main Quest/Story. The Main Quest is good, if underwhelming and repetitive, and the quests about the Civil War are, although not the main quest, excellent and tie in to the Main Story nicely.

Dragons

John: The Dragons themselves are pretty damned cool for the first few times you see them, however later in the game with good armour they just become a nuisance, as if you were being attacked by a very angry dust mite. And the fact that the game seems to throw them at you every 5 seconds just leaves you feeling disappointed. However no matter how many times you fight them, they are always, always more interesting than the fucking Oblivion Gates, however even if they had been replaced with some guy poking a needle in your eye they would have been less irritating.

The World
(Caution, this is me basically wanking over the world design)

John: My god the world is beautiful. It appears to have been forged by God himself. This is one thing I believe it does better than Morrowind. The amazing looking rivers, the awe inspiring mountains which form the skyline of the province, the wonderfully built cities. It's all amazing. It's not the most graphically advanced game I've played, but the detail, the detail must have been created by Vincent Van Gogh while high. Each city has its own style, its own personality, where the people go about their daily lives as if this was real.

It is easily the best part of the game, just exploring the word to see what you can find is endlessly enjoyable to take part in.

Dan: The world of Skyrim is vast, and you can literally keep playing forever, apparently. The Radiant Story system keeps generating quests for you, even though these are utterly generic and dull as fuck. It’s like being promised cocaine for the rest of your life then about a year in it’s switched to Coca Cola (ATTENTION: The Rofling Officer and John Smith definitely do NOT advocate the use of Cocaine, if you use such drugs please snort them so hard they enter your brain and you turn to mush you loser, thank you). Skyrim’s world is magnificent, glorious, incredible, unimaginable, and now I’m starting to run out of synonyms, but the point stands. Skyrim is so dense, so rich, so detailed, that everything like a Dungeon has its own backstory. I enter one and a ghost tells me to leave, but then I discover it’s not a ghost at all, but some wanker pretending to be one. I enter another, and another, real, ghost helps me proceed so he can take revenge on a Draugr called Olaf One-Eye. The cities are generally brilliant; Solitude sits atop a cliff looking gracefully down at the frozen sea, Whiterun lies in the middle of the tundra where giants herd their mammoths, and Windhelm is in the frozen, snowy north and has Jack the Ripper. Saying that, one city (Markarth) is SHIT, it looks awful, all the NPCs are hollow and have the same character trait and the design of the city is fucked up.
John: He is right, Markath is shit. Staying there is like applying to have a nail through the foot.

Dungeons

John: The dungeons are, for a start much better than Oblivions, which made me want to endlessly slam a hammer down onto my head due to how boring they were. However they are also nowhere near as huge as the ones in Daggerfall, which is actually a relief. The ones in Skyrim are extremely linear, and also some seem very similar, however they are varied enough to not get boring, and the stories in some of them are very intriguing. They do feel like they have been designed by a man with a fetish for long corridors though, and I hate that.

The Dark Brotherhood

Dan: The Dark Brotherhood quests of Oblivion were my favourite part of the game, as being an assassin is a route I always take in games like this. But now in Skyrim my choices were so open and great that I could stealthily roll behind my target, slash him with my daggers, doing 30x normal damage then disappear into the shadows as the targets bodyguards turn around. This is around 13 times as fun as Oblivion. Saying that the actual quests themselves are a little disappointing; they all feel like just one LOOOONG quest leading up to the target that I stopped caring about 3 quests ago. And even that isn’t that hard as you can just hack your way through everyone as they’re sailors and have no armour and are stupid. I was expecting this to be an ultra-hard test of my sneak skills, to help me appreciate all I’d learned like the last quest for the Thieves Guild in Oblivion. Don’t take this to mean that I didn’t LIKE the Dark Brotherhood quests, overall they all feel great and have some very satisfying moments that I could (and will) do again and again, but it just doesn’t feel that climactic.

The Companions
[Kind of/not really spoilers here for the Companions quests, you should be safe]

John: As the character I usually play as is some sort of stealthy warrior who is also a duel wielding badass, I felt that the guilds which seemed to fit me the most where the Dark Brotherhood (the only good part of Oblivion) and the Companions. At first the companions quests seemed extremely boring, involving the same collect an item shit that spreads through RPGS like the plague... or an STD. However half way through the quests, when you become a werewolf, it suddenly becomes a whole lot more fun. Your attacking strongholds of wolf hunters, hunting down the remaining organisation in revenge missions. It even becomes a little sad near the end after the Silver Hand assault Jorrvaskr. This all lead up to one of my favourite final quests of any organisation as you journey through Ysgramor's tomb.
Put it this way, I liked the companions so much I married Aela... Also that leaves me thinking, does marrying an NPC who just happens to be a werewolf, BUT you only see them as a wolf once, mean your into bestiality. What about if your also a wolf?

Bards College

John: Fucking, fucking terrible. I would rather have my balls pierced by a boiling hot spike than have to sit through this crap again.

Thieves Guild and Mages College

John: Haven't done much of these really and neither has Dan.

Marriage

The marriage in the game does at first seem pretty pointless as all it means is that you can have a meal cooked for you. However if you think about it, this is a role playing game, and add a lot to the immersion in the game. But then again if you enjoy immersion in a game "you're probably less popular than Hitler dancing on the graves of puppy's who have died from leukaemia" - Some retarded person.

Other Bad Points

John: The game was almost certainly not ready for it's release date, it was filled to the brim with bugs. It was and still is more buggy than a termite mound, with countless crashes to desktop for me, like a blind person driving a Ferrari. And (as I play on the PC as i'm part of some master race) the UI was, and still is dreadful, it was as if they had a 3 year old without a brain to create it. Somehow it was even worse than Oblivion's. Yes there are mods to fix it, but it is dissapointing nonetheless, no matter how much I love this game.

Conclusion

John: Even if you do somehow get bored of this game, just remember, mod tools will be released in January, so people will be creating new stories for this game for years. (And if you're not on PC, always remember Bethesda's own DLC, no don't shudder, it's not horse armour, and they have vowed to be releasing huge content in these, my bet, something about the Thalmor.)

Dan: In conclusion, YES SKYRIM IS THE BEST RPG I’VE EVER PLAYED SHUT UP, and it takes my game of the year slot. I can tell I’m going to be playing this excellent game for years and years, just like I did with Oblivion, the difference being this one is far better. There are a few let downs (which include a LOT of hilarious and game breaking bugs which we haven’t really touched on), but overall The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a wonderful RPG, and the only one I’ve played that lets me customise my character’s play style to the point of absurdity. A massive step up from Oblivion, and also a massive one from Fallout 3, but that was shit anyway.

John: In conclusion, it is not the best RPG ever, but it is certainly the game of the year and is amazing, so if you don't play it you deserve to be raped by a pig, or due to Darwin's theory, killed in the name of natural selection.

Both: So have a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season from us guys, and just remember FUS RO DAH!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Alan's Amazing Action Adventure, Days 1 and 2

Day 1!

With his round, bald head that makes him look hilariously like Karl Pilkington, and dressed in rags that even cockroaches would think twice about wiping their arses with it, Alan stepped into Riverwood. He strode confidently towards the blacksmith, Alvor who is incredibly fucking protective of his ingots. I asked Alvor what he has for sale, and he replied "some may call this junk, me I call them treasures". I don't know what kind of person would consider weapons and armour as junk OR treasures without getting a slap, but there you go. I was disheartened to see Alan only had 9 septims on him. If I was to be a blacksmith some day, I'd need money. As I walk down the stairs a woman called Gerdur (who's name sounds like she's helping to keep buildings up) rudely shouts in my face about how some guy called "Hod" is offering work at the mill.

Hod however, is not at the mill at all. In fact he's sat at home the lazy prick. He orders me to cut firewood up for him. It's better than nothing. So Alan walks over to a tree stump and sets to work cutting wood with his hands (the animation for cutting wood without an axe looks a lot like you're wanking off an invisible giant). Shirking this off as a bug, Alan turns to his left and nonchalantly takes the woodcutter's axe that some elf was about to take. While Alan gathers wood, the elf whinges to me about how Sven is stealing his bitch. I felt like saying to him his triangular head would put off any female, human or beast, but Alan just keeps on chopping. Soon I have 12 firewood, and I walk with Faendal back to Hod. He gives me only 60 bloody septims for the firewood, the stingey cunt. It's past noon by now, so I sit next to some ancient woman with a hat that makes her look Amish, who was shouting before about seeing a dragon. No idea what she's talking about. Must be insane.

I realise I haven't actually got any food yet, so I walk into Riverwood Traders to find two siblings bitching at each other. Suddenly I feel like I'm watching Eastenders, except it's a little more cheerier than that. I shut them up by talking to the bloke, Lucan. After noticing and sniggering that I have 69 septims, I decide to splurge and buy myself a cabbage for lunch. But before eating this one, juicy, delicious cabbage, I see a cooking pot behind me and I buy some salt and potatoes, bringing my bill up to 18 septims. Alan cooks up some lovely potato and cabbage soup and I walk outside, meeting Faendal near my chopping block. I have an instant lunch and, while we're on a lunch break (well at least I am, Faendal just seemed to be leaning on a table the entire time).

It's then I realise... I want to be Faendal. His bow is used to hunt, his axe to chop wood. I want him as a friend, so immediately ask him what the deal is with this girl he's after. He mentions something about how a bard called Sven is trying to steal her from him, and to deliver this fake letter to her, which he stuffs down my shirt. The fake letter is to be delivered to Camilla and told its from Sven, and since the letter contains bullshit about how she's a bitch (I didn't actually read it), she'll stop seeing Sven.

I decide to talk to Sven first to see if he is a wanker or not, and after showing him the letter he gives me a new one. At this point I realise while they're both bastards, Faendal is more of a badass. So I gently tell Camilla that Sven forged this letter, she doesn't really seem bothered, but tells me to talk to Faendal. By this point it's around 2pm, so I decide to get a move on cutting wood. I bump into Faendal who thanks me for convincing Camilla and says if I never need his help it's cool. So I deviously get him to cut wood at the same time as me, doubling my productivity. Even more deviously, I got him to give me his bow and arrows to hunt deer and wolves with.

After Faendal and I get our wood together I get 120 septims out of it which is cool. Time to work on my Smithing career.

I returned to Alvor the blacksmith, and under his instruction I made and tempered an iron dagger and a hide helmet, which will both be useful out hunting. For the rest of the afternoon Alan bought iron ingots from Alvor, and created armour from it, which he then sold back to Alvor for profitz. The time had reached 6:30pm, so I hit the inn.

Once there I met a drunk called Embry, who was being refused another drink. In a spontaneous move, I bought him some ale. Fight the power! He called me his "favourite drinkin' buddy", which warmed my heart considerably. On the other hand maybe it was just because I was standing in the fire. The barman bluntly told me that he cooks, which I laughed at then bought some mead and food. After I sat down and started to eat my apple pie, Sven came in and I asked him to sing Ragnar the Red, my favourite song. By the time I'd drunk 5 tankards of mead with Embry, it was 10pm, so after paying 10 septims for a room, Alan collapsed into bed. It had been an incredibly eventful day, for an NPC.

Day 2!

I rose from the inn just before 6 in the morning to join the hunt. As I set out I had visions of a Karl Pilkington figure walking and hunting like Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings, which was funny. I ran down the road and across the bridge, as I immediately spotted a deer on the other side of the river. Alan crouched and shot an arrow into the deer. Double damage! But the deer just ran away and a couple of wolves pounced on me. Could this be the end of Alan?

I quickly pulled my iron dagger out of my arse and swiped at the wolves. They died quickly, and I instantly skinned them. I shot at an elk, which took quite a bit of damage, but start to run away. I chased it, dagger out, and finally brought it down. I skinned it and stole it's meat, at which point Alan takes a swipe in the back. A bear! I backpedal, firing arrows wildly. Eventually a figure clad in chainmail with a donkey helmet on charged and slew the beast. My saviour! Turns out I had beckpedalled all the way to Whiterun, and I now stood in the tundra around the city. I triumphantly joined the road again and strode towards Whiterun.

As far ahead as the draw distance would allow I saw a giant engaging some tiny people down below. I was too scared to help, so I just watched. The giant fell however, and the woman there called me a coward and said she was a companion. I have no interest in joining the companions; I heard they send you on adventures. The time was nearing 11am, so I had to get a move on with the hunt.

I shot and stabbed another two deer, and got attacked by another wolf. Laden with pelts, I began the journey back to Whiterun, where I could rent a room in the inn. Along the way a thief ran towards me and asked for all my money. I had none, so I tried to persuade him of that. He was having none of it, and chased me back to the Whiterun stable. I hoped that the guards would do something other than tell me about how they took arrows in the knee, but they just watched as a hooded man tried to brutally beat me to death. I did it in self defence. Alan killed a man. I was so disgusted with myself for killing another NPC that I looted his body and left him on the side of the road.

By now it was past dinner time so I stuffed some raw venison into my mouth and entered Whiterun. I saw the blacksmith next to me, so I made my pelts into leather, which I made some actual armour from. Now Alan is a fine sight: Karl Pilkington in leather armour with a hunting bow. I still dress normally around town, as any good NPC would.

After spending the afternoon selling all the meat and leather I could spare and crafting some armour, I decided to hit the market proper. There was a crazy old woman selling maces and jewelry, and a place called the Drunken Huntsman. Mistaking it for a inn to get hammered in, I entered. And found it was a place that sold bows as WELL as a bar. Someone offered to fight me, which I refused. I'm not that type of person. At least Alan isn't. I went back to the market, and found a pretty thing by the name of Carlotta Valentia. She asked me to sort out some creepy bard who kept coming onto her in extremely rape-y sounding ways. I agreed. What's the worst that could happen?

I entered the local inn and reserved a room for the night, then bought some mead. The local bard was better than the one in Riverwood, I got him to sing the Age of Agression. I don't really support the Imperials, but it's a nice enough song. Then I remembered that the bard was Mikael, the bloke who's been bothering my lovely. Before I know it, Alan's only option to deal with him is a brawl. I can't back out now...

The punches fly thick and fast, while the people in the inn cheer and scream. Eventually, however unlikely this seems, I win. One final punch from Alan sends Mikael to his knees and he agrees to stop bothering Carolotta. Success!

An unintentional hero, Alan hits the hay.

New Skyrim-themed Series

Hey,

My and John have been reading this blog recently called Livin' in Oblivion, which I really recommend checking. It's really funny. It's about a guy who makes an Oblivion character who can't run, can't go on any adventures and has do normal jobs like gathering herbs. He basically makes an NPC. The blog follows this bloke, Nondrick, as he goes on a load of non-adventures. I thought it'd be funny to try in Skyrim to see if the experience is that much more engrossing than it already is (more on Skyrim in a special Christmas Eve review).

My character, the courageously named "Alan", is a Nord who has just arrived in Riverwood with an iron dagger, 9 septims (gold) and a shirt and some shoes. Can he make it big in the wide world of Skyrim?

There are a few rules: no reloading a save. Just like Lydia, if Alan dies then that's it. NO fast travel, but carriages are OK. Unless he is hunting, fighting or fleeing, Alan walks everywhere, no matter how tedious that gets (and believe me, watching a 4 hour special of paint drying seems like the Lord of the Rings compared to walking across a province. Also he has to eat reguarly and sleep. And above all, Alan cannot go on any quests, other than something like helping out a blacksmith make a dagger. You don't see any NPCs raiding Dwarven Ruins for treasure. My final aim of Alan is for him to land the 25,000 septim house in Solitude and get a wife (or husband. Just sayin').

But before he can do that, he needs to work up a little cash by doing NPC jobs. The next post will be about his first 2 days in Skyrim. Other blog posts about this probably won't be regular, as I'll need to slaughter a few thousand beasts in an underground cave to get at least a little escapism with my other character.

OK, time to write it up...