266 points, 15 votes, 6.5 TOP GAME votes
Mordy: Somehow, Bethesda went from the quirky, though fairly generic world of Elders Scrolls, to the thematically rich, emotionally painful, and – fuck it – literary world of Fallout 3. No game ever moved me this year as much as Fallout 3 did. When I left Vault 101 for the last time, marching back into the wastes after reconnecting with the friends of my youth, I choked up. I found myself thinking back to the vault for the next hour or so, thinking back to what was forever lost, to what I’d never see again. Fallout 3 was full of these kind of gorgeous moments. An unexpected Town House excursion exposed beds full of skeletons and a still functioning robot. When turned on, he read a poem to the children’s dead skeletons. The poem? Sara Teasdale’s There Will Come Soft Rains. The Town House had no connection to any quest, no goods worth salvaging. But it was my most amazing moment of gaming in 2008.
John Justen: Absolutely no question that this is the best, most involving RPG I have ever played. This is the way to get people who don’t like RPG’s to take a second look. I really hope there is an achievement for obsessively turning on ham radios and opening toilet stall doors, because I’m pretty sure that I’m in the lead on that one. There really isn’t anything that this game does wrong, music included.
CraigG: It’s both exciting and daunting in terms of how big this game seems; I’ve barely made a dent in this after ten hours of play. It’s part of what really got me into gaming as a hobby.
Mitch Krpata: The most fully realized game world since Crackdown, at least. I’ve yet to play it for less than three hours at a time.
Circa 1916: Awesome so far, despite weird little things. Animation is awkward and comical sometimes. Combat can get a little wonky. I killed a guard with one bb to the chest (?) and enemies don’t really react to getting shot. Only 3 hours in. Spent most of my time wandering around a town chatting with people and I can’t wait to get back to it. Scarily addictive and ridiculously fucking awesome so far. I’ve already logged 20 hours and I haven’t even really touched the main quest yet. The sidequests are mostly excellent and feature a surprising amount of different outcomes. The game feels huge but not stretched thin. The replay value is ridiculous. I’m super impressed overall, it’s worthy of the Fallout name. Every time I fire this up I become more and more enamored. This has got to be the best RPG of the 00’s. Eh?
Forksclovetofu: Now that I just got past my first (wounded) deathclaw and marauded the shopping center, I got to say this is so addictive and fun and engaging. Improved Oblivion basically with a much more agoraphobic and nihilistic setting. I’ve been real happy with the pirate radio on the PIPboy. The further I get into this game the more vast it feels. Just got a house with requisite robot butler and am on the third chapter of Moira’s crazy book and am ready to take some time off from that particular quest batch. I can’t walk out the door without some oddball thing happening: robot firing lasers at me, three man merc hitsquad after my bounty, giant crab men chasing me down the street, fire ants that breathe actual fire, mine infested bridges… it’s always something new! I am regularly struck by how uncomfortable I am killing folks who’ve set up little shelters under bridges or in utility sheds; they see me running up the hill with an assault rifle and of course they’re going to start firing. Then I kill them and take all their stuff. And _I_ get the good karma?
I ran into a shitload of freezes getting by some mirelurks and then more when I was going to rivet city. Weird music/sound hitches. A spot where the world geometry came apart and threw me into a black hole. At least five cases where I’ve run into divots of rough terrain that I simply couldn’t extricate myself from. Doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason and it comes and goes. But I can’t stop playing! The carrot for me now is to visit all the places on the map that the wanderer perk opened up. I’m going through by quadrant and the main hassle is fear of running out of ammo; the alien blaster has been a real consistent life saver and I don’t think there’s any more ammo to be found for that weapon. As soon as that starts to wear, I’ll certainly head to the end. I’m expecting to be done with this game in the first week of the year and then put it in lukewarm storage in anticipation of the DLC. Still finding surprises round every corner tho! Button Gwinnett robot! Nukalurks!
Roberto Spiralli: i definitely agree with the scarily addictive tag. First time in a long time that I’ve done that thing where i thought 10 minutes had past and it was an hour. When I first arrived at Megaton and did my early exploring it really did feel like I was just back playing Oblivion, but the more I play, the less I find I can rely on the tactics and the approach I used playing that game. I am also going the ponderous/exploratory route. I lack the self-discipline to stop myself being distracted by everything I wander across so the main quest hasn’t seen much love.
Jim: OK, I have killed so many people already. This is a buggy piece of shit. Just jumped off the bridge that goes over the river in the south-east going across to DC and the second I hit the water it crashed. Jesus Jones. There’s plenty of games I’ve enjoyed playing more, but I’ve notched up 37 hours in a week and despite now having it crashed eleven times and corrupting a save game I’m still persisting at it. Actually if I was to enumerate all the lame things in this game that pissed me off, it would sound like I disliked it, but that couldn’t be further from the case.
Kingfish: Found Hubris Comics last night, and the text adventure in the basement. I like having the Explorer perk, as it reveals every single place; I feel like I’m cheating but I’m not! Huzzah! The guys at Obsidian and Bioware would have probably done a better job of strengthening and filling out the story bits for the quest, but for a big-budget/blockbuster title, I’m happy with what we got. Needs more funny, but it does wonders in expanding the world and backstory. Not only do you get to see more of their ruined society, you get to investigate museums to see how their ruined society spun off.
Cozwn: The water mechanic doesn’t feel properly developed enough for it to have any significant or meaningful impact on the way you play the game and so the way you interpret its meaning – however I do agree that the end of the game does undermine a lot of what’s gone before (inasmuch as its somewhat redemptive)… for me, it’s the finality that jars (I know, right? the game has to end) as so much of the game is about the world and its inhabitants scratching through but for the most part slowly wasting – memories wasting, and bodies wasting physically (psychologically, and emotionally)… I would have preferred something a little more elliptical, less obvious, more elision less bang.
S1ocki: It’s kinda crazy how much I THINK I’ve done, but you guys are all talking about weapons and techniques and shit I’ve never even heard of yet!!
Goole: i don’t really have much to say except this game is awesome and it’s taken over my life.
189 points, 13 votes, 3 TOP GAME votes
BNW: Very well done. Slightly overrated but still high quality and fun.
EZ Snappin: A good Batman game? Whodathunkit?
Adam: Watching goons get progressively more freaked out as you take down their buddies one by one is pretty satisfying. Also the way that pushing the left stick all the way forward doesn’t make Batman run–dude just walks… and very confidently so for a guy wearing a cape.
MPX4A: Best thing I’ve done so far:
1. String thug up
2. Spray proximity-triggered explosive gel below thug
3. Wait for thug’s buddy to notice and run towards him
4. Cut thug down with batarang onto explosives
Polyphonic: Fun game and certainly the best superhero game ever.
S1ocki: Not only a great game, but one that managed to incorporate the character’s mythology in a way that surprised and impressed me. The flashback scenes were more artful and interesting storytelling than I’d ever seen in a video game, rivaling the Batman movies in their interpretation of the endlessly re-told tale of the Caped Crusader’s origins, and—without giving too much away—at points using the familiar conventions of video gaming in really innovative ways. As I said about Uncharted 2, I’m skeptical of video games’ ability to replace, or even mimic, cinematic storytelling, but this pointed to some interesting new directions.
CraigG : I just found this game satisfying in pretty much every way. The story line was good without feeling the need to get overly complex, the fighting is really great and you get a warm glow when you manage to wipe out over ten guys without taking a single hit. The stealth sections, wiping out a room one by one, watching them panic… it’s all so satisfying. Everything is well balanced in terms of combat/stealth and I feel the only thing letting the game down IMHO are the boss battles, which are mostly only fun because they fill the fight with lots of fighting against regular grunts too. Overall, easily the best game I played all year.
Forksclovetofu: Less groundbreaking and more that it just does everything perfectly right. I appreciate the ridiculous depth; it’s an adventure, button masher, stealth, puzzle hunter, fighting game jammed into one. Never really hits a slow point; I found it amazingly well balanced and engaging.
Mordy: This is one of the best things I’ve played this year. I don’t know if that’s high praise for the game, tho, or just a good indication of how disappointing 2009 has been for gaming.
Antexit: Arkham does some great stuff with the Batman story and there are some amazing Psycho Mantis-level mindfucks. Not only is it the first superhero game that makes you feel like you’re the hero in his every aspect (as opposed to the Spidey games, which got swinging and crawling great and everything else sucks) but it’s a better stealth game in a lot of ways than Metal Gear. I love how balanced the combat is! The bad guys seem to be able to take about as many hits as you, and you really get the sense that you’re up against a room full of bad guys and the reason you come out on top is not that they’re all really weak or that you have some artificial advantage but that they’re a bunch of thugs and you’re BATMAN.
Jjjusten: This is 80% great, but drops in the ranks a little bit in retrospect for the fact that it’s way too easy. The boss battles are the worst aspect of that; I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Killer Croc level is, no joke, ONE OF THE DUMBEST AND WORST LEVELS IN MODERN GAMING. Whoever decided that replacing challenging or difficulty with easy, mindbending tedium needs to get a pink-slip. That said, when the game is on, it’s on. Plus, it looks great… except everyone I talk to plays 90% of the game in detective mode, so we never actually see much of it.