Backlog: The Final Countdown Edition

ss-final-countdown
ss-final-countdown

Our missives have been delivered without detection, each reaching the intended recipient under the strictest of discretionary measures. Exactly 24 hours from now, we'll all convene at the predetermined meeting spot to do our dark work in secrecy.

Yeah, you guessed it. It's that time of year where a bunch of dorks get together to drink beer and argue for a few hours about what the ten best games of the year were.

We'll be continuing the tradition we established in 2009 by running a series of articles on our top ten games of 2010, along with a series of honorable mentions. This time we're expanding things by bringing Matt into the fold, while longtime contributors Tyler and Spencer will be stepping up once again to weigh in.

Those articles will run starting on Monday, December 27th, and will culminate with our #1 Game of the Year on Friday, New Year's Eve.

How did we spend our last week preparing for the debate? As it turns out, we didn't really play a whole lot of games. You could call it unprofessional, but I prefer to think that we're just on top of things this time around. Considering how many hours I sank into this year's big releases throughout November (way too many, before you go and count), I think we're probably more than ready to hash things out tomorrow.

Anyway, here's what we've been up to.

Aaron:

Backlog - Demon's Souls
Backlog - Demon's Souls
Aaron-Backlog-Tiny
Aaron-Backlog-Tiny

I got a lot of Blur time in this week with the girlfriend. As an enthusiast of Mario Kart she took to the cracked-out version of the formula like a duck to water. To be honest, that's all I've played that's worth mentioning. Sure, there were a few hours of Assassin's Creed Brotherhood and a few intimate minutes with my new copy of Demon's Souls (in which I kicked the first boss's ass without ever dying), but I was a pretty lazy gamer over the past few days.

That's about it! I apologize for the small contribution but I've been so preoccupied. However, our book shipments arrived this week, and that's amazing. I'd suggest that you buy multiple copies.

And to give an indication of how inundated I am right now by entertainment, here are all of the titles I've yet to finish near the end of 2010: Tales of Monkey Island chapters 1-5, Bayonetta, Amped 3,  Darksiders, Enslaved, Final Fantasy 13, Forza 3, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Metroid: Other M, Super Meat Boy, Trials HD, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Goldeneye, Donkey Kong Country Returns and several other games I can't even remember right now.

Doug:

fruit_ninja
fruit_ninja
Doug-Backlog-Tiny
Doug-Backlog-Tiny

This past week has been light for gaming, due mostly to all sorts of parties and other social functions tied in with graduating from my graduate program last Friday. This is where I take a bow and ask for somebody to, please, hire my master's degree-holding ass.

However! We continue on gaming undeterred. Along with finishing up Red Dead Redemption and spending a little more time with Forza 3 and NBA 2K11, I've been putting more time into some mobile games. I picked back up my Dragon Quest IX save and that has definitely been worthwhile. Sure, I'm stuck grinding in a dungeon fairly early in the game, and I'm trying to chase down metal slimes and hope they don't run away...but I'm enjoying all of this! I feel feverish. On the one hand I'm playing sports games and racers and things by EA Sports, I shouldn't be enjoying ドラクエ so much but here we are.

I've also been playing my iPhone a ton recently. Cut the Rope is going to be the next Angry Birds in that, once your mom and uncle find out about it, they'll start raving about it. It's a really simple, cute puzzle game that (like Angry Birds) gets surprisingly tricky but remains addictive. I completed my third playthrough of Game Dev Story, and put that needle and spoon to the side for the time being. During EA's crazy $.99 sale on Thursday, I bought the iPhone version of FIFA 11...and while it's technically impressive, it's trying to play like a PSP game would but on iOS — I kept losing my thumb on the touchscreen, which is bad when you need it all the time for a sports game. Lastly, I also picked up Fruit Ninja, which is the world's greatest fruit salad creation simulation game and is pretty damned addictive in its own right. Combos are the key, but hitting them right is very tricky.

Nick:

infinity-blade
infinity-blade
nick-headshot2
nick-headshot2

For whatever reason, I don't think I fired up my 360 or PS3 for more than thirty minutes all week. I've been writing here and there when I'm not looking feverishly for jobs and -- more importantly -- a means to move away from home, hopefully for good this time. As I write this, I'm seated at a cafe in Lake Oswego, surrounded by women in their forties and fifties complaining about Obama's "agenda" and whether they'll be able to keep their condos in Hawaii.

So you'll understand if I keep this as brief as possible.

Last night I played a couple hours of Kirby's Epic Yarn with my friend Dan over a couple gin and tonics. As it turns out, it's both a great co-op game as well as a great game to play with a solid supply of booze: It's easy enough that you can press on blindly without fear of losing progress, and it's just so unabashedly cute that you can't help but fall for its charm. That's not to mention its great controls or its endearing and technically impressive visual style, either.

But the one game I played consistently this week was Chair and Epic's iOS spectacle, Infinity Blade. I've completed seven bloodlines, or playthroughs, and the game is somehow even more compelling on repeat attempts. It's the first attempt at a console-quality game on iOS that I would consider an unqualified success, thanks to its deep touch-driven combat system, an engaging character progression and equipment mastery system, and its stunningly rendered landscapes, characters and animations. It's astounding to think we've gone from playing Snake on our monochrome Nokia phones to this in the span of a decade. If you own an iPhone 3G S, third-gen iPod Touch or iPad, I recommend Infinity Blade without reservation. And the sooner you get it, the better: Once the new endgame content and multiplayer mode are added, you're gonna be facing an uphill battle to catch up to me and my overleveled protagonist.