All posts by Keith Allen Weber

About Keith Allen Weber

Howdy! I'm Keith Allen Weber I'm a comic book/sequential artist, screen writer, and graphic artist. My profession is to do inking, pencils, digital coloring, and writing.

Top 5 Video Games of 2014

Number 5.  –  Alien: Isolation

This is a huge step up for the series to go in the right direction from the awful installment called Aliens: Colonial Marines. All the Alien games in the franchise have been action titles, but it has been a long time since the first Alien game for the Atari 2600, to actually go to the horror genre. Throughout the majority of the game, you’re being stalked by the Alien, and your first warning that it’s nearby is usually the sound. You can hear the thumps and rattles as it stalks down a corridor or slithers through the air ducts. You can hear a telltale noise as it triggers an automatic door by strolling past, or the sound it makes when it descends from a vent to hunt. Most horror games become a lot less scary when you turn the sound down; this becomes a lot harder.  I can’t argue that Alien: Isolation wouldn’t have been improved by being a bit shorter, and there are one or two sections of the game which could’ve been completely excised without compromising the quality – but it’s an expertly designed, expertly paced stealth-horror game that relies more on tension and creeping dread than on jump scares, and pays loving homage to the film that started the series.

Number 4.  –  Five Nights At Freddy’s

It’s funny that I rate an indie horror game higher than an installment from a long-lived, horror franchise like Alien, but Five Nights at Freddy’s and its sequel revolutionized PC gaming in 2014. It’s been a long time since a PC title could ever say that since the popularity of PC has ever been so small. Five Nights at Freddy’s puts players in the role of night watchman Mike Schmidt, who takes a security position at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza nightly between midnight and 6:00 AM. As taped messages reveal, though, not everything is A-Okay at good ol’ Freddy’s. As midnight hits, Freddy and his giant, animatronic pals are set to Free Roam Mode. As someone who has walked through Disneyland at 3:00 AM with no lights and no background music, that fact alone should be enough to make a horror hit. It gets worse, however. As night watchman, the player’s job consists of keeping an eye on Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie Bunny, Chica Chicken, and Foxy the Pirate, all the while making sure not to get caught. Getting caught, as the messages will tell you, results in a violation of the rules at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, since the characters will assume the player is an animatronic endoskeleton and will stuff the player into a spare Freddy Fazbear costume. This wouldn’t be all that bad, were it not for the internal wiring and structures already in place, which would crush a human. Five Nights at Freddy’s is horror done right. No slasher techniques, no gore necessary. The terror comes from simplicity; who hasn’t thought about giant characters coming for your blood? Plus, I do feel the need to mention value—the game can be picked up on Steam for only five dollars. It’s a great price for a great game.

Number 2.  –   Dark Souls 2

It is a well known fact that the Souls series have always been legendary for its difficulty and the sequel of Dark Souls is no exception.  Like previous installments, Dark Souls 2 focuses on a centralized world that has little to no narration. It’s shrouded in a mist of shadow, leaving players to freely explore its world. There is no one to hold your hands, no markers to tell you where to go, and no right path to choose. Around every corner lurks danger and there is no such thing as a safe place. You are basically told right from the start that you are screwed in this forsaken world, and it’s for that reason (and others) is why I love this series. Dark Souls 2 isn’t for everyone, or even every moment. It’s a “sit forward” game that demands you be mentally present and adaptable. But for those who like to earn their victories — really earn them — this is a game in which winning means something more than I went through the motions and witnessed the end. If you do seek misery then on release, when the community is scrambling to uncover the mysteries of Drangleic lore, will be the most exciting time to play. Good luck — and don’t you dare go Hollow.

Number 2.  –  Dragon Age Inquisition

Another installment from an famous IP that put the series in the right track. And as far as things to do and see, there are lots of things to do in this very game. The number of quests that show up can seem overwhelming, and often whenever you turn a corner, you’ll see another exclamation point on the map that denotes another quest giver. Inquisition really is a huge game. The so-called critical path will take roughly 50-60 hours to complete. However, between side quests, getting to know your followers, customizing your Inquisition headquarters, and exploring the new and fairly deep armor and weapon crafting system, you could easily double the amount of time you spend on the critical path. If you like games that are time sinks, Inquisition is your game. To put it in as few words as possible: Inquisition is a splendid game as the next-console-generation successor to BioWare’s catalog of great action RPGs. It looks excellent. The story and characters are memorable. The gameplay lets you be almost as tactically minded as anyone could ask for. And it’s all tied together by a typically beautiful soundtrack and Hollywood-quality voice acting. No doubt it’s the best RPG of 2014!

Number 1.  –  Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U is the ultimate video game battle royal. Nintendo unleashed its second monster franchise reboot of the year on Nov. 21, six months after “Mario Kart 8” came out of the gate. Both games are high-definition updates of popular series that drop favorite video game characters into a competitive format — high-speed racing for “Mario Kart 8” and Street Fighter-style arena combat for Super Smash Bros. And like “Mario Kart 8,” Super Smash Bros. is just about everything Nintendo fans could hope for. Retaining all the charm of past games and packed with upgrades, options and crystal-clear graphics, Smash is simply a blast. Super Smash Bros. pits iconic video game characters in battle arenas — and there are plenty to choose from, both characters and arenas. A good chunk of fighters come from Mario franchises, but there is a more than healthy sampling from other classic series such as Metroid, Legend of Zelda, Punch-Out, Pokemon, Mega Man, Pac-Man, Pikmin and Sonic. The Wii U version closely resembles the DS version, but the advantages over the handheld game are significant. First and foremost is resolution and screen size. Super Smash Bros. looks absolutely gorgeous in the Wii U’s HD format. The various animation styles, ranging from Pac-Man to Pokemon, that are mashed up in this game meld beautifully against the sharp and shifting backdrops.



Top 10 Nintendo Wii Games

Since the NES years, Nintendo wanted to revolutionize the way we play our video games. Since its success with A, B, Start, and Select button and the D-pad, Nintendo wanted to give more variety to our controls. The Wii is not the first console that utilizes motion controls, the NES was the first with peripherals such as the Power Glove, Laser Scope, Roll & Rocker, U-Force, etc. were the first attempt to play games differently than the standard NES controls, but they were ideas so bad that Nintendo had to no longer continue this trend. The problem was that it was too early for such technology to work, so we had to wait many console generations till this trend was to return. On the 6th Generation of consoles, the Gamecube was losing in the console market competing with the successful Xbox and the Playstation 2. The Gamecube was cursed with a marketing appeal aimed towards children, no DVD player, and mediocre third-party support. It was looked as if the Gamecube was much of a failure to the Dreamcast, so to not make the same mistake again, Nintendo needed to sell more units than the upcoming Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, but they needed to have a gimmick that not only makes it different than any console experience ever. Once called the “Nintendo Revolution,” this system was made to revolutionize gaming instead of making another disc based console with better graphics. Nintendo used its old motion peripherals and made motion gaming popular. For that they accomplished it. Not only did it work, but the Wii Remote (and Nunchucks) read the player’s precise movements that it brought interactivity into a whole new level. The gimmick worked so well that even people who never played a video game in their life began buying a Nintendo Wii, making it the best selling console in the 7th Generation; beating the 360 and PS3. All of the sudden, Nintendo was having their own renaissance since the NES days because millions bought many of their games and peripherals, their library grew so rapidly, and Nintendo has gained a lot of third-party support that they’ve strived for since the Nintendo 64.

You might think that because of all the success that Nintendo have made with the Wii, you might as well should call it one of the greatest consoles of all time, but unfortunately with all the stagnation piling up on the Nintendo Wii, it created a bunch of problems. You see, people get bored with the console so Nintendo and their developers were sent out to create some of the unique games out of the 7th generation, but unfortunately with every good game released for the Wii there are a ton of shuffleware tossed in the Wii’s library. It goes back to the Nintendo’s issue with the Gamecube where there were too many kiddy appeal that it alienate many hardcore fans for the Wii. These shuffleware ware rushed out there to make a quick buck that turned out the most gimmicky if not the worst ever. Throughout the Wii’s lifespan, shuffleware was plagued the Wii that makes it so hard to find a good game in an ocean filled with crap. It’s because the system was so easy to make games out of it that it shows the Wii’s obsolete technology such as poor online gaming community that uses friend codes, usage of internal flash memory,  SD cards are secondary memory, and no HD graphics that the 360 and PS3 are providing. It’s the reason why people either had to sell their Wii because they got bored with it or the had to purchase another system to go with it that fill that void that the Wii can’t. But at the same time, the 360 and PS3 wanted to make the same success as the Wii by copying their motion gimmick by using the Kinnect and the Playstation Move. Neither one of those peripherals could match up to the Wii’s success because they were copy-cats instead of original ideas. Even though the Wii may not be the greatest system of all time, it is however the most unique console ever created. For a long time Nintendo wanted to make a system that reads motion and the Wii did it, finally. And though people today still preferred to use the standard controls, Wii showed that it is possible to make an alternative to how we interact with our video games and these are the ten of the best games on the system that proved it!

Number 10.  –  Wii Sports Resort

Although the Nintendo Wii was quite the revolutionary console when it was released, the downside of this console was the limited accuracy of its wireless controllers. This is not to say that the games were poor but rather, it limited the player to what could be achieved in the grand scheme of gaming… until now! With some clever marketing on behalf of Nintendo, it comes bundled with Wii Resort and Impulse Gamer was ready to test the hype with Nintendo’s official sequel to Wii Sports. So if you loved Wii Sports, than get ready for another party game experience! Before embarking on our Wii Resort adventure, we needed to install the new Wii MotionPlus controller which is basically an attachment that neatly plugs into the bottom of the Wiimote. Thankfully it also comes with a new handgrip, ensuring that nothing or no one gets damaged in play. Once we configured the controller and sat through the introduction video of the new MotionPlus attachment (this went for too long), we were ready to start playing some sport and Wii Resort includes the following games; Swordplay, Wakeboarding, Frisbee, Archery, Basketball, Table Tennis, Golf, Bowling (best ever), Power Cruising, Canoeing, Cycling, and Air Sports which includes parachuting and piloting.  With 12 sporting games included in Wii Resort, there’s definitely something for everyone and although the game will eventually get quite boring in single-player, where this game does shine besides it’s party-game atmosphere is through the new Wii MotionPlus attachment that takes Wii gaming to its next evolution.

Number 9.  –  New Super Mario Bros Wii

Nintendo has been making Super Mario Bros. games for as long as they’ve been making game consoles, and after the mammoth success of New Super Mario Bros. on DS, it comes as no real surprise to see them continuing that tradition on the Wii. And while Nintendo have made it clear that the unique multiplayer aspects are the selling point of the game, when you sit down with this little gem the one thing that becomes abundantly clear is that no matter what Nintendo say, New Super Mario Bros. Wii is clearly designed as a single-player Super Mario Bros. experience with a few extremely fun multiplayer modes thrown in for good measure. Not only is New Super Mario Bros. Wii chock-full of classic Super Mario Bros. influences from start to finish, but it takes many of those ideas far beyond what they originally were in past releases. Not only is the game extremely challenging, but there’s so much to do in each world that you’ll find yourself coming back to the game time and time again in an effort to see all the game has to offer. The multiplayer modes make the game an experience anyone can get together and enjoy and adds an even more enjoyable layer to what is already a brilliant platforming experience. New Super Mario Bros. brings all of the classic fun from past Super Mario Bros. releases together in one amazing greatest hits-style gameplay experience and does so in a way that only Nintendo themselves can do. If you only buy one game for your Wii console for the rest of your life, make sure it’s this one.

Number 8.  –  Donkey Kong Country Returns

When Rare created the original Donkey Kong Countrytitles for the Super Nintendo console, the games basically took the system’s visuals capabilities to new heights and also offered up one of the best platforming experiences the console had to offer. Now, having spent the past few years resurrecting the Metroid series on Nintendo’s home consoles, Retro Studios has turned its attention to bringing back the Donkey Kong Country experience after its rather lengthy hiatus. And while long time fans of the classic 16-bit series will find a wealth of familiar musical, visual and gameplay touches throughout the game, they’ll also find a staggering number of new ones to go along with them. Donkey Kong Country Returns is almost the perfect continuation of the series in many ways. It manages to offer the perfect balance of old and new elements to form what has to be one of the Wii console’s finest platforming experiences and a game that should challenge even seasoned fans of the genre. The main game itself is easily enough to make the package worth your time and money, but figuring in the massive amount of replay value the game offers up makes it an even more appealing package. It might have been a long wait for a new Donkey Kong Country title, but after a few minutes of playing Retro’s new rumble in the jungle, you’ll realise it was more than worth it.

Number 7.  –  Xenoblade Chronicles

The creativity Monolith has employed in producing the world of Xenoblade Chronicles is staggering. In terms of presentation, the immense landscapes are a delight to traverse and include some memorable enemies to battle. While some close-up camera angles expose graphical limitations, the art design more than compensates. Story cut-scenes use the in-game engine, your characters appearing in the customised outfits that you’ve assigned them, giving a wonderful sense of continuity. Although some of the voice acting is hit-and-miss, the soundtrack is superb, genuinely enhancing the experience. With a well-written plot, this carries out the magic that this game holds. Xenoblade Chronicles perfectly reaffirms the quality of experience possible from the JRPG genre. Epic in scale and setting, the story mode alone will consume over 50 hours of your gaming life. This isn’t a title to rush through, however; you’ll spend many more hours making the most of its incredible complexity, enhancing a range of abilities and exploring the world’s ecosystem. Although the developers have done a terrific job of incorporating daunting detail with intuitive controls, this title is still best suited to gamers with the capability, diligence and passion to see it through.

Number 6.  –  No More Heroes 2:
Desperate Struggle

What do you want from a video game? Fun? What if it makes you laugh? And smile? What if it can surprise you? What if it’s a sequel that removes the bad parts from its predecessor and replaces them with…. wait a minute… what if it replaces them with other un-fun stuff? No More Heroes 2 remains propelled by its own bratty enthusiasm for the good first half of its run-time, though it does start to run out of steam somewhat as it approaches the grand finale. There are some sequences where you play as characters other than Travis Touchdown that suffer from ill-conceived controls. The game never gets too heavy though; the simple-but-fun beat-em-up combat and ridiculous boss scenarios rise above any minor remaining issues with No More Heroes 2. A few of the later boss battles and levels that attempt to mix things up contain some of the frustrations that dragged the first game down, but for the most part this is yet another third-party Wii exclusive of which Nintendo faithful can be proud. Suda51 delivers a game that almost anyone can appreciate. In every way, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is a better game than No More Heroes. Almost every design flaw and every fan complaint has been addressed. While the original No More Heroes was fun to play if you could get past all of Suda 51’s weird meta-joke gameplay designs and awkward segments, No More Heroes 2 is fun to play without any reservation. Perhaps the only real complaint one can make is that a few of the levels and bosses are lackluster, and the game doesn’t quite have the same charm as the first, but in almost every way, this is a far superior game to the original, and Wii owners should definitely give it a shot.

Number 5.  –  Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

Before launch time, the Wii looked to have a slew of launch titles that would blow away the competition. As Wiis hit the shelves, people began to find out that fully using the Wii’s functionality would take a little longer than wii’d expected (I know, that pun got old last year). Also, people drooled over the idea of having an FPS that controlled like a mouse using the Wii’s controls but at launch we were given Red Steel and Call of Duty 3, two games that just felt a bit sluggish and certainly didn’t give you the control of a PC shooter. While the game’s intuitive control scheme is obviously the biggest improvement to the series, this game also sports some other notable enhancements. For one, the graphics are absolutely gorgeous. It’s easy to see the difference in graphical power between a GameCube and a Wii if you compare Corruption to either of the first two installments in the series. Also, the environments are as scenic as ever from tribal planets to futuristic sky towns to abandoned space stations. If you were looking for a nominee for current best graphics on the Wii, Corruption would take the cake with its detailed art and pop-in absence. With all of the impressive graphics and environments, it’s amazing that this game still runs at 60 frames per second. I never experienced an ounce of slowdown in my entire session of gameplay, even amongst some highly intense battles. However, all of these graphical triumphs do come at a price: a few times throughout my journey I was forced to wait for extended periods of time just for a door to open between rooms. It is nice that these doors encompass any load times throughout your journey but when you’re forced to wait as much as 20 seconds, it can ruin the flow of the game and even be a further nuisance if you’re attempting to escape a room without fighting the enemies within.

Number 4.  –  Red Steel 2

Ever since we first laid eyes on the Wii we’ve been crying out for a decent sword-fighting simulator – something that delivers the hectic clash of blade meeting blade and leaves you feeling that your swash has well and truly been buckled. The first Red Steel game was one of the worst games on the Wii, but Ubisoft’s sequel uses Nintendo’s MotionPlus adaptor to offer much more control to your swings and parries. The result is a game that’s brilliant fun. Combat is divided between guns and swords, and while you can trick out a series of repeaters and tommyguns with some handy upgrades, most of the fun is to be had with mastering your katana skills. The addition of the MotionPlus device – it can either be bought in a bundle, or separately – allows for a wide range of different swings, parries, and lunges, and you should prepare yourself for a real workout as you swipe away at brutal enemies with your remote.  This is one of those games where you’ll definitely want to get a safe distance away from the telly, and if you’ve got much Ming china lying around, you should probably shift it into the next room before playing. The swordplay is mostly excellent, but there are still rare occasions where the remote can’t quite figure out what you’re trying to do. When things get really busy, you can expect the game to lose track of a few of your moves, which is hardly a problem when you’re taking on standard enemies, but can be really annoying in the middle of a boss-fight. Red Steel 2 is brilliant fun, bringing a real blast of action to the Wii, and reminding you that MotionPlus can be about more than just throwing Frisbees and going waterskiing.

Number 3.  –  Rayman Origins

Rayman Origins perfectly embodies what made many of us fall in love with gaming in the first place. It’s a nigh-on flawlessly executed romp through intricately designed levels that boast the most gorgeously detailed and vibrant visuals you’ll see this generation. Tight controls, a perfectly judged difficulty curve, fantastically surreal boss fights and tons of replayability go that extra mile to make sure that after years of being relegated to countless remakes of Rayman 2 and having those pesky Rabbids stealing his thunder, Rayman is back on form and back in the spotlight where he belongs. Drop-in/drop-out cooperative play for up to four players is the icing on an already sumptuously sweet cake. If you have any love for 2D platformers — and the idea of getting your friends together for an encore of New Super Mario Bros. Wii’s four-player action appeals to you — you’ll pick up Rayman Origins straight away. It represents the very pinnacle of 2D platforming and is undoubtedly one of the Wii’s very best games. Truly unmissable.

Number 2.  –  Super Smash Bros. Project M

I don’t need to tell you what Super Smash Bros. is but I can easily say that Brawl will always be inferior to Melee because of it’s unbalanced gameplay, missing characters, uninspired levels, and slow gameplay. It’s too bad that Nintendo focused on the casual aspect with Brawl instead of the competitiveness of Melee. That’s why MODs are a savior to gaming with Project M takes the graphics and presentation of Brawl and the speed and gameplay from Melee mixed into one. The biggest addition to Project M is the addition of Melee veterans Mewtwo and Roy. Both characters bring updated versions of their Melee movesets, as well as some new techniques. Roy’s Double-Edge Dance has been greatly expanded upon, and Mewtwo can now hover in any direction after a single jump by holding the jump button, and can attack out of Teleport. Both characters are even given Final Smashes, Mewtwo’s being a clone of Lucario‘s while Roy’s is completely new. Mewtwo and Roy do not replace any characters from Brawl. hile some might not find Project M to be their cup of tea, there’s absolutely no reason not to try it for yourself. The mod is completely free and a lot of hard work was put into it. It’s a great way to make the wait for Smash 4 more bearable. I’ve had a ton of fun with it over the last couple days, and I feel confident other people who give it a try will too. This is one of those rare cases where the mod is actually better than the original game!

If you want to know how to download this mod and transfer it to your Wii click here!

Number 1.  –  Super Mario Galaxy

I must admit that Super Mario Sunshine is not that great follow up to the like of Super Mario 64 because it wasn’t revolutionary and the setting was unimpressive. However, it would take 11 years since Mario 64 to have a game that feels like the Mario series can be revolutionary once again. If Wii Sports didn’t get you into buying the Nintendo Wii, Super Mario Galaxy will!  Super Mario Galaxy doesn’t have a particularly deep or involved story, but what stands out from the rest of the Mario games is the adventure through outer space and the many creative level designs that looks like Nintendo’s best effort without having to use HD graphics. This is the most uplifting experience since going to Disneyland and you can simple feel it from the presentation, scale, creative level designs, and musical orchestra. The likeness factor is throughout the roof, but the objective of Mario is all the same. Once again, Bowser has stolen 120 stars and kidnapped Princess Peach, this time in an attempt to conquer the entire galaxy. Mario, of course, sets out to foil the dastardly lizard’s plans once again, this time with the help of a princess from the stars named Rosalina and her army of adorable sentient mini-stars called Lumas. The real charm here is in the nostalgia. Super Mario Galaxy is packed to the brim with callbacks and cameos from other Mario titles and even an occasional reference to other Nintendo titles. One moment you’re ice-skating in outer space; the next, you’re bouncing on a conveyor belt made of Battenberg. Such is its energy and thirst to explore new frontiers that even the emergence of all Mario games fails to make this any less than essential!  It has everything. Great bosses, great power-ups, great levels, a great concept, great innovation, great design, great graphics, a great musical score and most of all it is brilliantly good fun. It makes you think, it makes you smile and it compels you to play just one more level. Flat out, the most addictive platform game ever created, if not one of the most addictive games ever created. The perfect demonstration of how to ‘do Wii’ and what’s more, a game that matches, almost inch for inch, the genre defining heights of Mario 64. To play Galaxy, is to fall in love all over again.

The Top Listed Wii Games

10)      9)      8)   

7)      6)      5)   

  4)      3)    2)  



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Top 10 Video Games of 2013

Number 10.  –  Killer Instinct

You’d have to have an awfully foggy memory of the mid-’90s to be the sort of person who was clamoring for a new Killer Instinct game. The old fighting game always felt like an also-ran, combining muddy, pre-rendered graphics with a ridiculous combo system and a set of finishing moves that made the whole thing feel like it was occasionally biting from Mortal Kombat. It was flashy and had a weird sense of style, but I always thought it was a terrible game, and the sequel was only marginally better. So when word started swirling around last year that Microsoft was finally going to dig into more of the Rare back-catalog and produce a new Killer Instinct game, I wasn’t exactly jumping out of my seat. But the team behind this new KI reboot has kept the charming things about the franchise intact and placed them into a better, more modern-feeling fighting game. It’s still ridiculous, the announcer still screams his head off, and the combos are wild… but actually executing KI’s combos is a good time, too, making this download-only fighting game an exciting turnaround for the series.

Number 9.  –  Injustice: Gods Among Us

Mortal Kombat studio NetherRealm has attempted to right the wrongs of the modern fighting genre by providing in-depth mechanics without compromising storyline, and it has been largely successful in achieving this goal. Injustice: Gods Among Us plays not unlike an evolved version of the Mortal Kombat reboot. Battles no longer pan out across the traditional two rounds, with combatants sporting dual health bars instead.  Players retain what was remaining on their initial gauge when their opponent has been worn down to their back-up health bar, and the result of this is fairer fights, with the overall winner being the combatant who was more consistent throughout the bout. The exclusion of a dedicated block button is another deviation from the established formula. Players must now press backwards or down to ward off blows in what feels like a nod to the Street Fighter series. This adds an additional layer of strategy, since players must anticipate which direction their opponent is striking from and react accordingly. There’s plenty to love about Injustice: Gods Among Us, especially if you are a comic book fan. The game combines a compelling story with polished fighting mechanics and some genuine innovation. While there are better options out there for online play, NetherRealm’s effective use of the licence at its disposal will help it attract a huge fanbase.

Number 8.  –  Metro: Last Light

I could have shot the neo-Nazi (he probably deserved it), but there were worse things lurking in the reclaimed subway tunnels of the Russian Metro (and not just the communists). Besides, bullets were currency, and you never knew when you’d need to upgrade your equipment—or, more importantly, buy additional air filters for your gas mask. Hours later, as a winged beast ripped me across a rooftop, I was glad for the extra ammunition, though my thoughts were more immediately occupied with strafing into cover in order to recharge my hand-pumped electrical generator. Later, I’d chance it, running blindly through swamps toward what my compass and the faint hint of torches promised was a human settlement, my Geiger counter pounding like my heart. Perhaps I’m a masochist, but the less ideal my in-game circumstances became, the better Metro: Last Light seemed. Has desperation ever been so perfectly programmed?

Number 7.  –  The Legend of Zelda:
A Link Between Worlds

A Link Between Worlds has everything that longtime fans will love, from callbacks to previous games (Dampe the Gravekeeper makes another appearance), to the familiar layout of the land. But newcomers will also find that the game facilitates their needs and is a great introduction to the famed series. Not only is the gameplay silky smooth and accessible for newbies, but a hint system has been put in place for anyone who gets stuck. And the best part is that the hints don’t outright solve puzzles for you, so the challenge is still there. Simply put, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is one of the best experiences one can have on the 3DS, or on any platform, for that matter. This is the kind of title that can sell systems and only comes along every once in a while, so make sure you secure your copy now, because you’ve got two whole worlds to explore!

Number 6.  –  The Last of Us

Naughty Dog has managed to create a beautiful story within something as dark as a zombie apocalypse with The Last of Us. The game has you coming to terms with your own mortality and makes you second-guess the people you would trust your own life with during such a bleak time. In preparing for such a catastrophic event, you would need to make sure you have enough resources, learn how to protect what you have and of course employ ways to prevent getting bitten. But the most important aspect of survival would center around those people you would trust and this is the key competent of The Last of Us.  In the end, The Last of Us is an overall enjoyable gameplay experience. The Last of Us suffered from a few flaws due to the unrealism of combat, the unbalanced AI and the lack of freedom as a whole. But in the end, The Last of Us delivered on the hype surrounding it and offered up an intriguing storyline smothered in realistic and intricate detail.

Number 5.  –  Grand Theft Auto V

Though this game will never be better than San Andreas in my eyes, it’s a solid title.  It’s kind of unbelievable that the developers pulled this off on a current-gen system. The art direction makes the world pop. It’s bright and colorful and feels like Southern California without the nitty-gritty realism that left GTA 4 feeling rather gray. There is pop-in and poor texturing in places, but it’s tough to notice when you’re driving at 100 mph while trying to escape the police. The moments where you can get a plane or helicopter and fly above the city are breathtaking. I should warn that there are reports that the digital download version has some pretty serious pop-in and loading problems that don’t appear to be on the Blu-Ray disc version. If you want to get Grand Theft Auto V, the disc version is the way to go. As with all GTA games, GTA 5‘s soundtrack is top-notch. From a gameplay perspective, Grand Theft Auto V may be the best GTA yet. It stands head and shoulders above GTA 4 and offers one of the most impressive video game worlds. It isn’t a game for everyone due to some brutal and psychopathic characters, even by GTA standards, but the game is so well-crafted that it’s possible for almost anyone to find something to do, even if it’s just playing tennis and golf all day. There’s so much to do in the game that it’s almost overwhelming. Rockstar put tons of time and effort into polishing its winning formula. It isn’t a dramatic change for the series, but it’s a more polished, and very enjoyable, addition to the franchise.

Number 4.  –  Bioshock Infinite

And we all just thought that Bioshock was just a game about blowing shit up in a city underwater and Bioshock Infinite was the same game over again, but this time up in the air in Columbia. I am mixed with some of the gameplay that this game offers, however I am completely satisfied with the game’s plot where no one could ever see it coming.  I haven’t been so fascinated with a plot this complex since Watchmen and Metal Gear Solid because it’s something that I have discussed and (probably) argued with fans’ theory of the game’s plot because it left a lot of mysteries and we’re still waiting for a huge DLC to give us a clearer story. I’m also wishing that a DLC could actually add a lot more than just explaining the plot because there are a lot of miss opportunities to make it a brilliant game (gameplay-wise). If only they didn’t downgrade most of the best things from the past two Bioshock games, I could easily say that this is the best Bioshock game of the series, but still the original Bioshock (and System Shock 2) still holds as dominate installment of the Shock series (Both Bioshock and System Shock). But that doesn’t mean the gameplay is at all bad, it’s just because Bioshock 1 & 2 did is so much better that I wish that it was implemented better. Let’s not forget that Bioshock Infinite has given us the pleasure of railing on rails and have nonstop shooting and the ability to make holographic objects to be physical with Elizabeth’s ability to “tear” them into our dimension. And this is a game that focused heavily on the adventure and the plot that goes along with it, unlike Bioshock 2 that had miss opportunities and focus of a multiplayer which is unnecessary. These are all the things that we’ve never done in video games before and I’m happy that the Bioshock series still does bring brand new things to a genre that I mostly hate for its lack of creativity. In fact, I can go as far as to say that Bioshock is the only series that’s actually giving life to FPS. The series gave us an amazing plot, phenomenal and original gameplay, and a breath taking experience.

Number 3.  –  Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

This really is the best sandbox game of 2013… even better than Grand Theft Auto 5. Ubisoft outdid themselves by releasing the best game of the series since the second game.  As an overall package, Assassin’s Creed IV is the best in the series for how nearly everything has been tweaked, overhauled, and completely rethought. With one exception: the melee. In the day of Batman, Bayonetta, and a rebooted Devil May Cry, there’s no excuse for this uninteresting combat. It’s simplistic, unruly, and never takes more than the same recurring two-button combo. It works, but that’s simply not enough compared to the attention lavished on everything else. Wonky combat aside, Assassin’s Creed IV is a hell of a game. Instead of building giant cities separated by little patches of open land, you have here a massive ocean peppered with islands that include small to mid-sized cities, forming a Carribben setting that oozes character. Never has a game delivered on the promise of living the life of a pirate as well as Black Flag with its awesome production values, refined game design, and lively oceangoing hijinx.

Number 2.  –  Pokemon X & Y

It has been over a decade that we wanted a 3D Pokemon adventure that isn’t a spin-off or any gimmick; just your traditional Pokemon game into 3D. We were teased with the technology of Pokemon with Stadium 1 & 2 but no Pokemon 3D adventure. That is until we waited for X & Y to finally arrive and took the world by storm. In all honesty, Pokemon X and Y are two of the best games in the series. While there are a couple of things I’m on the fence about, there are a lot of new features to check out and enjoy both during and after the main game. As mentioned earlier, the Friend Safari is a definite improvement over the old Safari Zones and is useful for catching Pokemon not found in the normal course of the game, including the Stage 2 versions of the Kanto starters (Ivysaur, Wartortle, and Charmeleon). While I don’t use the Pokemon-Amie and Super Training on the touch screen, I’ve began to get into the random battles and trading on the PSS. You can also use the GTS to see where various Pokemon are to catch in case you don’t want to wander around forever looking for your favorite Pokemon. Whether you’re a new trainer setting out on their very first Pokemon journey or a seasoned Pokemon Master, Pokemon X and Y are definitely worth picking up and playing.

Number 1.  –  Rayman Legends

For a long while, Rayman Origins has been not only the best Rayman game but also the best 2D Platformer. Of course the sequel was going to dominate the original and create a gaming sensation. And in case you like Rayman Legends enough to play it like a completionist, there’s no shortage of carrots to keep you moving forward. You unlock playable characters and alternate skins (you never have to actually play as Rayman if you don’t want to). You level up based on the awards you win from gathering fairies on levels, winning rewards, and playing the online challenges. Win sets of uniquely named collectible creatures that live in a menagerie you can visit for extra loot. Some levels unlock brutally difficult timed challenges that you will love to hate. But the most ubiquitous measure of your progress is how many of the 700 captured teensies you’ve rescued. The little guys are everywhere, waiting to thank, cheer, celebrate, and kiss you. For the sake of the freedom of these 700 teensies; for all the content; for the sheer amount of joy and enthusiasm and butt poking; for the sea and sky and swamps and castles; for how well these worlds and their levels are imagined, adorned, and realized, this may very well be the last platformer you ever need.

Top 10 Video Games of 2012

Number 10.  –  Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2 picks up five years after the original game ended. The Vault promised advanced alien technology and untold riches but all it delivered was (as the intro refers to it) ‘tentacled disappointment’. The opening of the Vault did cause one unforeseen development; the discovery of a new and valuable mineral known as eridium. The Hyperion Corporation, led by the villainous Handsome Jack, has come to Pandora to control the planet’s reserves of said mineral. Needless to say Pandora hasn’t thrived under Hyperion and Jack’s iron-fisted rule. Rumours of a new Vault containing great rewards have started circulating again and that’s where you, as a Vault Hunter, come into the story. Borderlands 2 is the rare kind of sequel that eliminates almost all of the faults from the first game, and makes improvements in other areas as well. While I can sit here and say I’d have loved at least one game-changing improvement, the reality is that Gearbox has done a truly fantastic job with the game. The characters are funny, and the tone of the game (i.e. irreverent, funny and over the top) is perfectly pitched and suits the game world perfectly. If you enjoyed the first Borderlands then picking up the sequel is a no brainer. If you didn’t grab the first game then there’s no better time to join the fun.

Number 9.  – Trials Evolution

Trials Evolution does not bring much more to the table in that respect. The basic premise is still the same, and the physics handle with near identical similarity. However the evolution releases us from the confines of the warehouse in which Trials HD was trapped, unleashes fantastic multiplayer functionality and bundles in hilarious non-bike related skill games for good measure. None of that really matters though. The addiction is not going to withdraw simply because some irritating noises get in its way.  Trials Evolution is the most compelling, entertaining and habit forming game on Xbox, arcade or otherwise. Once the obsession bug bites there is no stopping it as the hours and days disappear into that dark abyss as you race ever quicker to the fastest times and unreachable gold medal perfection. For some Trials Evolution will be a way of life, for everyone else it will still most likely be the best action and skill based game released this year.

Number 8.  –  Journey

There’s really nothing I dislike about Journey. It comes as close to achieving what it set out to do as any game I can remember. The only objections I can imagine are for people who desire something that this game has no intention of delivering. Players looking for mind-bending puzzles, complex dialogue trees, or pulse-pounding action won’t find any of that here. While Journey has more gamelike elements than other experimental games like Dear Esther or Proteus, its primary hook is the same sense of wonder and curiosity that makes those games so memorable. There is the fact that the game is quite short—three to four hours on average—but again, I don’t see that as a negative. The short play time allows you to take in the entire quest, to experience it with another person and form a bond instead of having to switch anonymous partners constantly. It’s even budget-priced accordingly.

Number 7.  – Mark of the Ninja

Mark of the Ninja‘s is a 2D action platformer and the main focus is on stealth. The unnamed protagonist personifies basically everything you’ve ever heard about ninjas, fictional or not. You can climb up sheer walls and along ceilings, dispatch enemies without making a sound and deploy all manner of ninja tools, like smoke bombs and grappling hooks. Many of your ninja tools are also in short supply, but have pretty important effects, like distracting a guard, despite being simple in nature. Though it’s somewhat questionable that a smoke bomb or throwing darts at a wall can’t also draw guard’s attention like a noise making firecracker. It doesn’t really hurt the game once you understand the balance implications, but it is logic breaking. The game strikes a perfect balance of making you feel like a badass when everything’s going well in stealth but also keeping you vulnerable to the guns the mercenaries are packing. You can dispatch enemies instantly if you’re attacking from a hidden location or view, but you’ll need to successfully pull off a QTE to determine if it was silent or if the guard gets off a yelp. If you do get detected, you’re usually better off making a run for it than fighting it out toe to toe. It’s this vulnerability that reinforces the focus on stealth, and every guard becomes a decision to risk an execution to eliminate them or to try and sneak past them entirely.

Number 6.  –  XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Nobody makes games like XCOM anymore. By design it feels refreshingly old-school. From the grey-headed aliens to the intergovernmental agencies, this plays like a game that was designed in 1992, not 2012. From a gameplay point of view, it is so much more unforgiving than strategy games have been in such a long time that it would be unsurprising to hear more casual players are put off easily. It’s a game that is mercilessly difficult but consistently fair. Players will fail frequently, but they can know that it was their own mistakes that lead to that failure, and not a flaw in the gameplay. It’s not a game for everyone, but hardened players who persist amidst the difficult conditions set by XCOM discover a rewarding experience. XCOM can be a cruel, vindictive mistress, but she is one that can be tamed. With an investment of time and patience, players can gain access to a true tactical masterpiece, unlike anything we’ve seen in the past decade.

Number 5.  –  Max Payne 3

The Max Payne series is most known for it’s innovative bullet-time effects inspired from Matrix. And it’s been a good long time since we’ve seen the series back on its feet. Outside of the actual gameplay, Max Payne 3 uses an experience and leveling system popularized in other shooters nowadays, along with a hefty avatar and loadout system that gives you a lot to spend in-game currency on. Custom loadouts allow you to equip anything you want for the most part, but loading your character down with weapons does have drawbacks, including reduced stamina for running and an increased wait time to recharge health. If you’re at all a fan of shooters, then I urge you to run out and pick up Max Payne 3. It’s a great follow-up to one of the best third person shooter franchises around, and while it certainly changes up familiar elements of the series, pretty much all of the changes work out really well. The shooting is, bar none, some of the best you’ll see out of this generation of consoles, and really begs to experienced. So do yourself a favor and pick this one up, it really shouldn’t be missed.

Number 4.  –  Dishonored

As a full piece, however, Dishonored is incredible both as a game and as a work of art. Fun to play, intriguing to explore, beautiful to look at, and emotionally evocative, it’s a game that simply must be experienced. While it offers plenty of gory action for those who are interested in taking that route, its greatest gift is to deliberate, thoughtful players who enjoy stealth-based games with quality settings and meaningful moral choices. Dishonored made me feel like a person struggling to retain the things that were important to me in a world gone mad. It goes beyond “role-playing” to challenge players to draw their own personal moral line in the sand, but does so without being preachy or judgmental. Is it really best not to kill anybody, or are there people who are evil enough to deserve death, should you have the power to mete it out? It’s messy and thought-provoking, just like the real world… or at least a real world in which you have the power to possess rat swarms and perform impressive “death from above” leaping assassinations. Is it a world worth saving? That’s exactly what Dishonored wants each player to decide, and have a wickedly good time in doing so.

Number 3.  –  Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 does almost everything just about right. You can tell the developers put a lot of thought went into the game’s systems and menus to keep the experience streamlined while still offering a lot of customization and information. One thing missing in particular in Far Cry 3 are the non-player characters. You’ll run along endlessly respawning jeeps of bad guys if you don’t take over their outposts, though besides that, you’ll find a small handful of natives hanging out in the villages and towns, and maybe at the beach. Besides occasionally doing dumb things or fighting with pirates, the small number of NPCs don’t do much in the game. On the other hand, wild animals (NPAs?) are everywhere and frequently get spooked enough where they come charging. Having a Gila monster hiss and scurry out of the brush, or shark suddenly strike while swimming through the water will scare the hell out of pretty much anyone. Also, the campaign sort of switches gears for the last 1/3 of the game, which I’m still not completely sure I’m crazy about. There’s no doubt in my mind that Far Cry 3 is one of the best releases of 2012. Ubisoft’s balance of open world gameplay and FPS action really hits the mark, and overall the game does a fantastic job in providing players with an interesting, immersive gaming experience.

Number 2.  –  Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

I’m actually one of those people that actually believe that the add-on is better than the original game itself, and that’s a rarity to say that since DLC/Add-ons are just an extension of the real game. Blood Dragon however is it’s own game.  Visually Blood Dragon delivers a pseudo 80s style, complete with plenty of neon glow to it. The island is a dark place, only highlighted by the bright outlines of soldiers, and their blue blood. Running on PC the effects are gorgeous, and all the issues of the console ports are gone. I was able to max out the settings and enable vsync, and still had the game running at a blazing frame rate. For owners of a machine that can run it, this is the version to own. The music also lit up my nostalgia meter. It sounds ripped from the cutting room floor of the Terminator soundtrack. The thumping drum beats, mixed with ambient tones really solidified the classic action movie feel. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a treat on so many levels. When the base game it was built upon stands as one of the finest experiences of last year, then toss in an entirely new setting, it just amplifies the fun. Add the small sticker price and solid amount of content, and we definitely have a winner on our hands. Fans of Far Cry 3 should not miss this fantastic experience, and anyone who grew up watching films like Terminator, Aliens and Commando owe it to themselves to play this, as it was certainly crafted by people who understand the culture.

Number 1.  –  Guild Wars 2

We’ve waited a long time for an MMO that could stand against World of Warcraft and the second Guild Wars finally accomplished it… plus free of charge! Where World of Warcraft is as traditional an MMO as they come, Guild Wars 2 is the weird, contrarian opposite. Its design can be seen as an attempt to fix and improve on every broken mechanic that online games persist in pursuing. It has no quests: instead players gang together to fight in rolling ‘events’ – mini storylines that playout in stages depending on how gamers perform. It has no raids: it’s endgame is more about exploring the world or leveling alternative characters. It is heavily PvP focused: it is trying desperately to create an eSport with in-game tournaments and a spectator mode. But most importantly, it doesn’t demand a subscription fee from players. That last point is incredible, given the focus the game’s developers Arenanet have placed on improving and expanding the game. Every two weeks on the dot ArenaNet ship out the next chapter of Guild Wars 2. Dubbed the “living story” — changing the world with each release — these bi-weekly updates accommodate the players needs with fresh things to do and major improvements.

Top 10 Video Games of 2011

Number 10.  –  Sonic Generations

So, have Sega succeeded in making the best ever Sonic game? Yes, absolutely. They have taken the original premise of a classical platformer with boss fights played at high speeds and ramped it up to eleven thanks to the devious level design, funky effects and plethora of worlds. Added to this is an even better game in 3D which delivers the true Sonic experience in a new way. Granted, it’s been done before but not anywhere near this well. As mentioned previously if this was all the game was it would be a pleasure to play anyway, but thanks to the volume and variety of challenge acts plus all the extras and things to spur you on to better scores and the like if you want to, the package is embellished even further with delights. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely the best Sonic money can buy. Sega have finally altered the paradigm. Sonic Generations is a good 2D platformer and a great 3D one. It’s the best of both worlds.

Number 9.  –  L.A. Noir

At first glance you may mistake Rockstar Games’ newest open-world game has nothing more than another Grand Theft Auto clone.   But look closer, because Team Bondi’s newest game has very little to do with Jack Thompson’s least favorite franchise.  With its slow pace, emphasis on characters and graphic adventure roots, L.A. Noire feels more like Sam & Max than Grand Theft Auto.  But the rich blend of police procedural and intelligent writing has not only led to the most impressive game of the year, but also one of the very best titles Rockstar Games has published. L.A. Noire is unlike anything I’ve ever played before.  Sure it takes elements from other games (Grand Theft Auto, Phoenix Wright, etc.), but never before has a title managed to combine these things into something on this scale.  It’s hard to believe that somebody would spend seven years making what amounts to a graphic adventure, but I certainly appreciate the job Team Bondi put in.  I have a hunch that L.A. Noire is going to be an incredibly influential game moving forward.  L.A. Noire is an intelligent game with stellar acting, game changing technology and a cast of memorable characters. It’s also Rockstar Games’ most refined product, making it one of the best games this high profile company has ever published. If you’re into solving crimes and police procedurals, then this game was made for you. Just remember to switch to black and white!

Number 8.  –  Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Human Revolution has been a long time coming. Its predecessor, Deus Ex, has been named one of the greatest PC games of all time and has sold more than a million copies worldwide. Its 2003 sequel, Deus Ex Invisible War, divided the fans and received a mixed critical reception. So what then of this third installment in the Deus Ex dynasty? How well does Eidos Interactive’s third attempt at a dystopian FPS/RPG hold up? The answer, is well; but with caveats. For a game with as much depth of story and of action that Deus Ex Human Revolution offers you cant get too hung up on individual problems. The game needs to be looked at as a whole. As a complete package its clearly an impressive, engrossing experience. Its storyline is excellent, its characterisation, voice acting, score and script are very well done, and its aesthetic is deliciously dystopian. The only fly in the ointment is its binary combat mechanics. But these are not enough to detract too much from the overall experience. Deus Ex Human Revolution is a great game, and its one that all fans of the franchise should enjoy.

Number 7.  –  Portal 2

I’ll give the sequel a lot of credit for try to surpass its original, but no matter how creative this game was, it was not better than the original.  Valve has proved time and time again that they are masters in their craft. Portal 2 is so expertly made that you can’t help but savour its creation. The story keeps you engrossed, the gameplay is fine-tuned and accessible, and the co-operative mode is a blast. Keeping to recent form, Valve also includes a developer commentary mode, in which the team comment on the game’s creation and bring to light aspects of the development process you would simply have glanced over. The Source engine also keeps pace. Early on, Portal 2 might appear a tad dated, but as the game sweeps you up in its lore it’s impossible to nit-pick. Yes, the odd texture looks a little grainy, but Valve hides any technical limitations behind their impeccable art direction. Moreover, the voice work and soundtrack is such that visual quibbles will soon fade from view. What you have then is a package brimming with quality. The singleplayer campaign expands on the original and turns it into a fully-fledged game. The co-operative mode is an entirely separate beast, with different chambers and puzzles, and can be accessed via split-screen or online. And then, as a final treat, you can revisit Portal 2 and listen to the developers comment on this game’s creation. Were life to imitate art, we might all be shooting portals and stepping out through the other end. Indeed, this is both mathematical and storytelling art-work; it teams a gripping narrative with an inventive gameplay mechanic that makes for an excellent and unforgettable ride.


Number 6.  –  Dead Space 2

If you’re squeamish, then this could possibly be the most disturbing game for you. As for me who has seen a lot of violence, this is more of an action game. Lots of people would love to say that “Dead Space is just Resident Evil 4 in space,” however what the Dead Space series does more successfully than the current Resident Evil games is to staying consistent with the scares. Though the series uses blood and gore as the selling point to scare people, it’s the very nature of hopelessness in space and the many necromorphs need to kill that makes Dead Space 2 such a haunting experience. I favor for Dead Space 2’s level design much more because it has more creative and has varied locations that shows that inside a spaceship can look more than what we all already seen like churches, nursery, etc. This is what makes this experience not only more like a breath of fresh air each section of the game, but also stick out some horror.

Number 5.  –  Dark Souls

Think back for a moment to the most challenging game you’ve ever played, but not the kind of challenge that resorted to cheap tactics and made luck a tremendous factor in succeeding. Instead think back to the game that challenged you to accomplish its tasks, the puzzles that resisted being solved and the bosses that could not be overcome in a single try. When you did succeed, how did it feel? Were you excited over your accomplishment, or walk away frustrated that the ordeal took so long? This kind of question is important when discussing Dark Souls, as it is a game based entirely around defeat and success. That said, calling it cheap is a flawed argument, considering that playing the game assumes that you accept its inherent difficulty. The packaging even warns you with a message on the back, “Prepare to die,” in multiple languages. This isn’t the kind of game that allows you to progress at a rapid pace, slashing through monsters and otherwise cutting a bloody swath from beginning to end in a few short hours. This is the kind of game where even the most emaciated of villains can dispatch you if you’re not being careful. Dark Souls provides an amazing experience through a fantastic world, and it demands your patience and control every step of the way.

Number 4.  –  The Witcher 2:
Assassin of Kings

As an RPG it has everything you could possibly want; armour, armour upgrades, short and long range weaponry, loot, levelling, skill trees, crafting, magic, potion making and sexy time with other characters. It reads very much like a checklist for modern RPGs and that is by no means a bad thing, The Witcher 2 merrily ticks all the right boxes when it comes to RPG mechanics. As a player you are granted such freedom when tackling a given quest or combat situation it can be a bit daunting at first, however this is helped by the excellent button mapping job that has been done to accommodate the 360 controller.What is definately not like an old school RPG is the tight responsive combat. Peering over someone’s shoulder while they play The Witcher 2, witnessing them hacking away at multiple enemies it would be easy to ask the question “is this a new hack and slash title?” NO, it really isn’t. The wealth of combat options available coupled with the well mapped responsive controls makes for some enthralling battles but by absolutely no means is this a mindless button basher. At times it is punishingly difficult but never frustrating and ultimately if it all gets too much you can pop to the menu drop the difficulty for a few minutes and move on. The only real criticism that can be levelled at the combat is the sometimes odd hit detection, making it tough to know if you have been wounded and the odd sound drops when taking on multiple enemies.

Number 3.  –  Batman: Arkham City

Video games related to comic book heroes don’t have the best of reputations. It’s quite strange, because the source material is all there – you’ve got rich lore and you’re going to end up playing a super-charged character. Yet developers always found it hard to transition this into a functional game. Well, that was until Rocksteady got their hands on the Batman franchise. Arkham Asylum did what so many other super hero games had failed to do beforehand; it made being a super hero fun. Now Rocksteady are looking to do it again with Arkham City, a much more expansive tale that they hope can turn this into a successful franchise. Although, Batman: Arkham City is not perfect, Rocksteady have proven once again that they can make a super hero game work and work rather well at that. Arkham City provides players with hours of content layered underneath a solid storyline and compelling gameplay. Now that Rocksteady have made Batman an open world experience, it’s hard to say what innovations they’ll bring into the next game, but for now, Arkham City can proudly hold the torch as one of the greatest superhero games of our generation.

Number 2.  –  Rayman Origins

Rayman Origins perfectly embodies what made many of us fall in love with gaming in the first place. It’s a nigh-on flawlessly executed romp through intricately designed levels that boast the most gorgeously detailed and vibrant visuals you’ll see this generation. Tight controls, a perfectly judged difficulty curve, fantastically surreal boss fights and tons of replayability go that extra mile to make sure that after years of being relegated to countless remakes of Rayman 2 and having those pesky Rabbids stealing his thunder, Rayman is back on form and back in the spotlight where he belongs. Drop-in/drop-out cooperative play for up to four players is the icing on an already sumptuously sweet cake. If you have any love for 2D platformers — and the idea of getting your friends together for an encore of New Super Mario Bros. Wii’s four-player action appeals to you — you’ll pick up Rayman Origins straight away. It represents the very pinnacle of 2D platforming and is undoubtedly one of the Wii’s very best games. Truly unmissable.

Number 1.  –  The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Though it’s far from perfection, this is the one role-playing game that fulfilled our dark fantasies come to life. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is every single reason to love a Western role-playing game, condensed into a single comprehensive experience with nothing lost in the conversion process. It is a game that will drown those who step into its absorbing, overwhelmingly detailed world, a game that will bury you and refuse to let go. Yet your submergence will be agreeable, your burial ecstatic, and the hands placed around your throat welcomed like those of a lover’s. To play Skyrim is to enter into a relationship, one that provides feelings of empowerment, yet demands total submission.

How is it that after 60 hours of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the first thing I want to do when I finish writing this review is play more Skyrim? It’s simply because, like Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls and Fallout games before it, Skyrim offers a fantasy world so rich and expansive that to describe other games in those terms after playing this one would just feel hollow. The sheer amount of content packed into the game is a true marvel of video game production; it’s even more marvelous that all of it is so well executed that you want to see and do everything, and better still that you’re free to play it all in whatever way you want. Unsurprisingly, Skyrim isn’t perfect in a technical sense, but it gets close enough to fulfilling the potential of this specific role-playing format that the experience it offers is absolutely essential.

You’ll probably have your own set of stories about the crazy things that happened during your many hours in Skyrim, including a horse fighting a dragon, and a conjurer who raised a slain chicken as her undead minion during a battle. Those both happened to me, by the way. Aside from the infrequent hard lockups and such, the oddities that tend to pop up in Bethesda’s games have almost become part of the charm for me, though you know yourself how much those things detract from your own experience. But it hardly matters. No other game I know of operates with this many moving parts to create such an immense world filled with this much choice in how you engage its excellent, endless fiction. It’s one thing when a game offers dozens of hours of gameplay; it’s quite another when that gameplay is good enough you’ll want to live in its world for that long.

No other game I know of operates with this many moving parts to create such an immense world filled with this much choice in how you engage its excellent, endless fiction. It’s one thing when a game offers dozens of hours of gameplay; it’s quite another when that gameplay is good enough you’ll want to live in its world for that long.

Top 10 Video Games of 2010

Number 10.  –  Darksiders

This game came to me as part of the THQ Humble Bundle. I myself had skipped over it up until this point, for no real good reason. I had never got round to it and well, you know how it is. After getting this bundle it was the first game I played; being in a game drought at this point for me personally, it came at a perfect time. From the moment I picked it up it oozed quality and love. You play War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and you’re accused with starting the end of the world a tad prematurely. The environments are great, along with the way this game feels to play. It’s naturally weighty which, given War’s short stocky build and over-the-top weapon set, seems a perfect fit. The gameplay is a mixture of faster paced spectacle-fighters such as Devil May Cry and adventure titles such as Zelda. The story kept me coming back for more, while the gameplay kept me wanting to play just a little bit longer. With this pretty much dirt cheap everywhere, it’s a time to pick it up if you haven’t already.

Number 9.  –  Super Mario Galaxy 2

Sorry that I couldn’t put it any higher, but if you take out Yoshi and Luigi feature, this game is the exact same game as the first Galaxy game. Thinking it would be fresh and innovative on the same level of super mario galaxy where it really just rehauled game mechanics similar to super mario sunshine was to super mario 64. The gameplay worlds were entirely the same except for yoshi world which really was the first mario jungle type stages (which was a nice change from the generic prototype art designs of the lava, ice, green pasture, and galaxy levels that were in the original and previous super mario 3d games) my biggest problem though was the level design. Easily the worst besides super mario sunshine. The difficulty was non-existant since the developer made the game with the clear intention that people won’t use any of mario’s special moves. Basically cloud mario was a joke in terms of difficulty. They basically made the levels in order for you to just press A and waggle every time. They didn’t bother to require you to use Z + A double flip the quick backward jump, and wall jumping at the pure minimal possible. I basically saw in world 4 a hint that tells you that you could do a running jump to get through tight spots which is just shocking that nintendo developers made this game for the lowest common denominator. Probably the easiest 3d mario game.

Number 8.  –  Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Peace Walker takes the Portable Ops formula and fixes the big issues. It still focuses on short missions, but recruiting enemy soldiers via the Fulton recovery system gets you back to base sooner. Building up Mother Base is a great way to illustrate Big Boss’ growing power, making you eager to hunt down as many recruits as possible. The addition of co-op play provides a fun way for friends to team up, but I was always more interested in Metal Gear as a solo experience. I was also a bit disappointed in the lack of great boss fights. I remember the strange tune Chrysalis emits, but otherwise, a parade of tanks, APCs, and helicopters don’t make for satisfying or noteworthy victories.

Number 7.  –  Donkey Kong Country Returns

Donkey Kong Country Returns did a lot of things right. It brought back an old franchise with a new sheen that somehow still preserved the magic of the originals, and it re-introduced something I felt was sorely missed from new Nintendo platformers: challenge. Seemingly out of nowhere, Returnstook the Wii by storm, offering up one of the most challenging platforming experiences on the console.  Truthfully, as a retro gamer, while I never found the core game to be that challenging, attempting to get everything (including the extra mirror mode that restricts you to one heart and no power-ups) is one of the hardest quests you can ever embark upon in gaming. While I gave up in the original due to some motion frustration, I’m well on my way to utterly completing the 3DS version (I only have mirror mode left), and I’m loving every minute.

Number 6.  –  Halo Reach

Acting as a prequel to Combat Evolved, and providing a good exposition of the events that resulted in the discovery of the first Halo ring, Reach stands as one of the most accomplished and self-assured games in the series, providing a fitting swansong for Bungie. For the first time in the series’ history, players enjoyed a story that featured other Spartans, and the tale of Reach’s destruction proved to be one of the most gripping and emotionally engaging narratives crafted by Bungie. The plot benefitted from being relatively straightforward and focussed, with the gradual demise of Noble Team forming the central theme. Not only were the characters and battles memorable, but they also seemed to matter. Most memorable of all is the final epilogue stage, where a stranded Noble Six, having ensured humanity’s survival, is overwhelmed by Covenant forces. All of the core FPS elements were polished to near-perfection, but Bungie proved that they weren’t afraid to try new things, as their inclusion of a spaceship combat level proved. Multiplayer was as addictive as ever, and the introduction of daily and weekly challenges provided yet another hook to keep players glued to their consoles.

Number 5.  –  Limbo

Short? Yes! Simplistic? Yes! A bit too easy? Yes! A lot needed more? Yes! But you can’t deny that this game brought back the forgotten Cinematic Platformers like Oddworld. You know that feeling you get after a really intense, really weird dream? You know, that uneasy sense of dislocation as your head continues to reel from the impact of what you perceived the night before? That strange, swirling feeling of an unsettling significance, the source of which you can’t quite put your finger on? Limbo is dripping with that. The Boy’s influence on the world around him with complete freedom. Every puzzle requires a different approach or a new way of thinking, and any concept that is repeated is expanded upon immensely as it progresses. Limbo is a game that really trusts the player to think. There is no tutorial beyond what you learn of your abilities first-hand, and every solution comes about through nothing less than creative thought and experimentation. As well as bringing about fantastic gameplay, it’s a philosophy that also creates a powerful bond with The Boy himself. It’s also a deeply affecting, at times absolutely terrifying emotional experience, with real weight and a subtle but densely-layered narrative. Things won’t look the same after you’ve finished it.

Number 4.  –  Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Take Hideo Kojima and his production team, ask them to completely reboot the Castlevania franchise and, in turn, we got the first Castlevania title to efficiently make the transition from side-scroller to 3D. A percentage of fans were rather upset at the conclusion of its story (we’d rather not spoil it for those hoping to still play it), and at Shadow’s obvious influences taken from the God of War series, but overall, Lords of Shadow was rather unforgettable. Robert Carlyle (the dad from 28 Weeks Later), and the ever-great Patrick Stewart provided stellar voice acting as Gabriel Belmont and Zobek, respectively. Despite having both its titan-sized battles and overall combat system both being taken almost directly from Kratos’ playbook, Lords of Shadow proved that killing vampires with a whip is still immensely fun in the modern era of gaming.

Number 3.  –  Amnesia: The Dark Descent

You can see flashes of Amnesia in Penumbra and its sequel: a first-person adventure game where the world is a reactive, physical space to be poked and prodded. Penumbra nearly made it in here, but there’s something about Amnesia that raises it above the others. The story is ridiculously hokey, and the setting is closer to a cheesy Hammer horror story than something you’d expect to give you sweaty palms. But in Amnesia you’re not a typical game hero: when bad things happen, you don’t have the power to confront it, you don’t have a buff bar full of counters, and you don’t have a gun in your hand. You have a lamp. You have to run and hide and hope whatever it is goes away. Your character’s fear is palpable: the screen shakes and warps as the terror builds, and the monsters seem to wait for the perfect moment to strike at you, delivering the sort of scare that has you hyperventilating along with your character. Just keep telling yourself that it isn’t real.

Number 2.  –  Red Dead Redemption

When Grand Theft Auto 4 was released it was praised as the holy grail of open world games – the amount of detail and polish that went in to Grand Theft Auto 4 was amazing. Unfortunately, the game lacked variety and gamers grew tired and bored of it’s linear and repetitive game-play. We then had inFamous, a game that had a little more variety and was a lot more fun to play. The Good/Evil system, although shallow, was fun and it certainly added to the sandbox experience. Just Cause 2 was the next sandbox game to deliver top notch graphics with a vibrant and colourful world that was fun to explore – though it was not as realistic as Grand Theft Auto 4 it was definitely more fun to play. We are now getting closer to the release of Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption and so far it’s looking like the best open world sandbox game to date.

Number 1.  –  Mass Effect 2

Ok, take everything I just said about Knights of the Old Republic and multiply it by 5. Everything that BioWare does great, story, world building, dialogue, combat, was done almost to perfection in this game. You are Commander Shepard (who is always Commander despite actually being given a ship and thus technically being a Captain) the first human to be accepted into the Specters, an elite group of operatives that have free reign to do whatever they want in the interests of protecting the Citadel races. Does that mean nothing to you? Then play the game, I’m not going to explain the entire world to you. Even to summarize it would take up too much space, that’s how much effort BioWare put into creating the world of Mass Effect.  It is the most expansive and user determined ending I’ve even encountered in a game. Without spoiling anything I will say that no matter how you choose to play your character, noble hero, hardline human patriot, blood thirsty killer, ect ect you will be able to tailor the ending to fit your character. This game is a must play for any RPG fan.

Top 10 Albums of the 1970s

Was the the 1970’s a good decade? Unfortunately, it’s a decade that’s just as bad, if not worse, than the 2000s. After the 1960’s Hippie Revolution, things came to a turn for the worse where the Cold War gotten more violent, draft was occurring in America, and many bad things were happening that effected the free world countries. For the least tragic stuff, there were a horrible trend of disco music that made all of us not want to go back to this decade. These where truly dark times, but fortunately people were able to fight back with music. As the psychedelic 60s gave way to hippie backlash and high ambitions, one thing was clear: There was something damn funny about peace, love and understanding. Shaking off naturalism, daisy chains and acid tabs came easier than expected, and what resulted was a paradox of both striking diversity and remarkable coherence: From high-concept prog-nerds and high-octane guitar solo to high-heeled glam-rockers and high-ass punks, the 70s saw the rise and dominance of the album-as-unified-statement. TheTopLister now takes the opportunity to present this list of its favorite albums of that decade… minus the fact that this is the top 7 70s albums with the top 3 Pink Floyd Albums.

Number 10.  –  Bat out of Hell – Meat Loaf

‘Bat Out of Hell’ is as much the brainchild of composer Jim Steinman as it is a Meat Loaf solo album. Steinman began working on the songs that would comprise the album in 1974, while he was composing a musical update of ‘Peter Pan’ titled ‘Neverland.’ Steinman and Meat Loaf later toured together as part of a National Lampoon live show, and began collaborating on the three songs they felt were the standouts from that project, with an eye toward developing the material into a cohesive album. Though the album was slow to break, ‘Bat Out of Hell’ eventually sold 43 million copies worldwide, including 14 million in the U.S. alone. It stayed on the charts in the U.K. for 474 weeks, and in true rock and roll fashion, its enormous financial success spawned a number of lawsuits and bad blood between Meat Loaf, Steinman, and various record labels. Meat Loaf and Steinman would continue their difficult working relationship thereafter, and Meat Loaf’s next album, 1981′s ‘Dead Ringer,’ would stiff in America, though it sold respectably in the U.K.Meat Loaf would continue on a downward career and personal trajectory that resulted in drug abuse, losing his voice, a series of poorly received albums and eventual bankruptcy before reuniting with Steinman for ‘Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell.’ The album, released in 1993, rocketed Meat Loaf back to the top of the charts and also won him a Grammy. Meat Loaf released ‘Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose’ in 2006, sparking off another legal dispute between he and Steinman.

Number 9.  –  Who’s Next – The Who

Songs that find their way into constant circulation on classic rock radio have a tough row to hoe: How can a tune you’ve heard hundreds, or even thousands, of times still be majestic, much less even enjoyable? And, worse yet, is there even an inkling of hope they can seem fresh? But the truly great ones find a way; Who’s Next is chock full of them.Who’s Next creates a sandwich of its own, two massive rock classics bookending the affair. “Baba O’Reilly” is best known for its organ-based synth-esque intro, but it also stands as the pinnacle of the Townshend’s empathy for — some might say “obsession with” — youth. Partially inspired by the drooling masses at Woodstock, “teenage wasteland” has entered the lexicon in a way that would make T.S. Eliot proud. On the flip side, “We Don’t Get Fooled Again” is as striking as ever for its unabashed bravado. After almost all of the nearly nine minutes of drum-bashing, power chord-exploding ferocity have expired, Daltry screams and proclaims, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” Driving to work on a Monday morning, could anything still ring more true?

Number 8.  –  Paranoid – Black Sabbath

Paranoid is the album where heavy metal truly began, the Genesis moment for the genre. Sabbath was still in a transitional mode with their debut, shedding their blues skin to become a band that changed history. Paranoid is where Sabbath came into their own and wrote songs for the ages. At points, the band appears to be headed in different directions but it all gloriously comes together; Iommi plays a classic riff; Ward is at his jazzy best; Butler’s bass oozes into the spaces and cracks and Ozzy’s voice sounds ominous. The musicianship, particularly the rhythm section, is awe-inspiring; listen to the interplay between the big three, especially the musical section closing the final two minutes of “War Pigs.” It’s music that still gives me goose bumps decades after I first heard it. Like the early Led Zeppelin albums, he said he’d played it so many times that he couldn’t hear it again. I encouraged him to revisit it. Paranoid is the album where everything happened for Sabbath, all at once. Four decades later, it’s as fresh and relevant as ever, not just the most important Sabbath record but a musical benchmark of the 20th century.

Number 7.  –  This Years Model – Elvis Costello

Costello’s debut, My Aim Is True, had been brilliant enough, suffering only slightly from the impersonal and occasionally perfunctory work of his for-hire backing band. For his second album, he set out to solve that problem and put together the Attractions, which more than did the trick. From the muscular opening of the brilliant “No Action” it is apparent that we are in the presence of a true musical powerhouse, every bit the equal of their contemporaries the Clash. The result is a blitzkrieg of biting, flawless rock and roll, veritably spilling over with biting putdowns, harassing come-ons, and a kind of clear-eyed paranoia about the truth and consequences of impending stardom. This is Costello as both fearful talent and tactless bully: “If I’m going to go down/ You’re gonna go with me,” he taunts on “Hand In Hand” – and that is arguably one of the record’s love songs. On the cruelly baiting “This Year’s Girl,” he mocks the vapidity of the fashion industry, even while confessing his desire to have a pin-up model all to himself: “broken/ with her mouth wide open.” One of the rock tradition’s most bitter heel turns, This Year’s Model is an incredible display of focused talent and the unique capacity for a genius to make unpalatable vulgarities go down like so much poisoned sugar. Number 6.  –  Give ’em Enough Rope – The Clash  A year after The Clash bursted onto the scene with their acclaimed self-titled debut and gave punk the much needed political drive it needed, they followed it up with a record that tends to go under the radar since it is sandwiched between their furious debut and their masterpiece, London Calling. Released in 1978, Give ‘Em Enough Rope was The Clash sustaining their new found following with much more social and political songs about pissed off British youth. Songs like “Safe European Home, “English Civil War,” “Drug Stabbing Time, “Tommy Gun,” were audio documents as to what was going on in London and beyond at that time. With its original title as Rent-A-Riot, The Clash were on the verge of stirring up something big. Yet, while the album reached number 2 on the British charts and number 128 on the US charts and was actually the first album of the band to be released in the U.S. After the release and buzz about The Clash, CBS Records then went and finally released the band’s self-titled debut with an alternate cover and tracklisting, taking out the song “I’m So Bored with the U.S.A.” Yet, all these years later and with all of the global conflicts going on now, Give ‘Em Enough Rope is just as much as a document of today’s music as it was in 1978.

Number 5.  –  The Wall – Pink Floyd 

The last Pink Floyd album to feature all four integral members, The Wall has for many fans and critics been a point of as much contention as the album that would follow it, The Final Cut. A magnum opus by any standards, the album is seen as much the work of an egomaniacal, self-obsessed Waters as it is the “true” final statement of one of rock and roll’s greatest bands. Both claims are somewhat justified in light of the album’s visionary focus coming almost solely from the intensely personal experiences and emotional perspective of Waters, and also with regards to the album’s inclusion of the classic lineup, as Wright would be fired by Waters two years after its release. Over the course of the album’s hour and twenty-odd minutes, Waters uses his already well-polished metaphorical skill set to eviscerate everything from the recording industry to the educational system to the patriarchal (and yes, even matriarchal) corruption and villainy of the British government. From start to finish, The Wall is an overture to the perils of rock stardom and the inevitable betrayals of self it brings to those artists who achieve it. What might have otherwise lent itself handily to epic-scale self-loathing for virtually any other band served a different purpose for Pink Floyd with The Wall as the songs and overall storyline speak to the most viscerally human commonalities of fear, regret, and grief. Channeled through what are some of the band’s most powerfully enduring songs, The Wall allowed Pink Floyd the rarity to write an album about the introspective struggle of their celebrity without sacrificing its merits to self-important posturing of the highest order.

Number 4.  –  Never Mind the Bollocks – Sex Pistols

The Sex Pistols created an uproar with this album, simply for using the word “Bollocks” (a common British slang term for testicles). Getting banned from a number of shops for just their title speaks to how powerful this cut-up album cover is. Iconic for its design (or lack of it), Never Mind the Bollocks has been emulated countless times. A gorgeously packaged catchall, Never Mind the Bollocks documents the most infamous gang of teenage nihilists to ever pick up a guitar. Built around three culture-shock top 10 singles and the Sex Pistols’ glorious top 40 debut “Anarchy in the U.K.”, the November 1977 release of Never Mind the Bollocks was actually derided as a greatest hits cash-in by many critics (“Anarchy” was a year old, “God Save the Queen” more than six months). By the time the album came out in late ’77, it was the only way to hear the Sex Pistols, who were banned from performing in England. When the clock struck 1978 the Silver Jubilee was over and so were the Pistols, who self-destructed after a brief American tour in January. The Sex Pistols were one band who lived up to the hype and didn’t linger!

Number 3.  –  The Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd

While their previous releases had focused on common themes and narratives to the degree of one or two lengthy songs per album, Waters made clear his creative desire to see the band’s new material take on a unified theme with each track working as a compositional complement both musically and lyrically to the whole of the album. As opposed to what had been a largely abstract lyrical disposition for their material up to that point, Waters’ lyrics are more pointed and exacting on the album — an important shift especially given the explicitly topical nature of the band’s later releases and what would eventually prove to be a point of division among the members. From that perspective, The Dark Side Of The Moon remains Pink Floyd’s most important release though not the band’s best. Again highlighting their most compelling and commanding attributes as a collective of vastly talented musicians, The Dark Side Of The Moon succeeds primarily because of the music’s equity and balance. Even with Waters’ exclusive writing credits on the album, Pink Floyd’s eighth album is the definitive result of the band’s near-mythical rarity in being able to perfectly manifest their creative solidarity through every song. In an album featuring the likes of Gilmour’s iconic solo from “Money” or Wright’s beautiful and heart wrenching keyboard work on “Us And Them” as well as the numerous other key moments offered by each track, the fact that no song plays like the characteristic thumbprint of any one member is one of the album’s more subtle but no less powerful traits. The Dark Side Of The Moon was and still remains Pink Floyd’s unparalleled masterpiece in terms of what the band was capable of creating at the zenith of their creative synchronization, though its members would soon discover that their most powerful music was derived from a ruthlessly vulnerable place of imperfection.

Number 2.  –  The Clash – The Clash

Decide if you like London Calling or the debut Clash album, but I say that no other punk band was able to express powerful ideas as eloquently as the Clash and their debut self-entitled album. No other punk outfit was able to assimilate and utilize as relevant and fascinating a collection of influences.The late ’70s weren’t kind to England. The economy was in the pits and the outlook was bleak. Enter three lads from London, who managed to channel the collective anxiety of the country’s disenchanted youth, courtesy of Joe Strummer’s madder-than-hell, politically charged lyrics and Mick Jones’ machine gun guitar riffs. The Clash was a major turning point for punk. For the first time, the establishment had to recognize the genre as a voice for social change. On their eponymous debut they take Junior Murvin’s superlative reggae hit “Police and Theives” and transform it into a punk classic. Their most popular tune, “Complete Control” was produced by Jamaican studio genius Lee “Scratch” Perry, and is one of the most brilliant recordings ever made. In their remarkable statement of purpose, “Clash City Rockers”, they tack on an ending paying tribute to stars of both reggae and glam, while incorporating “Bells of Rhmney”, a folk song about labor unrest in Welsh coal mines in the 1920’s! A punk band with lyrics to rival Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs – it seems incredible. When this album came out in 1977, CBS execs in the U.S. decided not to release it here because they thought it would be over the heads of American audiences. They may have been right, but they finally released an American version after the LP became the biggest selling import in history. If you’re in a record store look carefully and you’ll see that there are two similar looking versions of the CD with somewhat different lineups of songs, the American and British versions. Take your pick, either version is SP’s #1 punk album of all time!

Number 1.  –  Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd

One reason why I couldn’t say Dark Side of the Moon is Pink Floyd’s best work is because their follow up turned out to be the best follow-up album of all time, and the best album of the entire 1970s. Wish You Were Here‘s iconic artwork immediately betrays the emptiness and delusion of its subject matter from the mechanical handshake as well as that between the businessmen with one engulfed in the literal and metaphorical flames inextricably linked to the band’s being fully aware by then of the looming threat of creative and even more poignantly mental devastation. As intended as the album was in paying due credence to Barrett, Wish You Were Here works just as adamantly in the compositional and lyrical disenchantment of the remaining members of the band themselves. This is primarily evident on tracks such as “Have A Cigar” and “Welcome To The Machine,” both of which render a scene less focused on the retrospect of the album’s elegiac tone and more on what the band observed in themselves at that present time. The rarity of a perfect album does not afford itself simply to occasion, and much like Barrett himself the brilliance will justifiably be forever debated, but the humanity and fragility of grief poured into each song of Wish You Were Here will remain inarguably captivating and unrivaled. In the year since its release and in the relatively recent death of Barrett himself in 2006, the album has become one decidedly concerned with more than just the fragmented mind of its inspiration. For all its intimately achieved grandeur, it represents one of modern music’s most powerfully relevant introspective views of human fragility as well as the cruel indifference of grief. From that perspective, Wish You Were Here stands as Pink Floyd’s unintended masterpiece, as much an anguished and reluctant farewell to their friend in Barrett as it was to themselves as a band they no longer recognized.