A TREND LONG IN THE MAKING
RPG infused [Fill in the Genre Here] has perhaps permanently gained dominance. In our augury last year we predicted that RPG’s proper were not on the decline in terms of quality per se but certainly becoming more rare. The opposite is the case for games wanting to force leveling, character specialization, crafting, item hunting, grinding, open world exploration and all the other elements traditional RPG’s hold dear. This is especially criminal when the game doesn’t ultimately force you to make any choices, allowing everything to eventually be unlocked.
Why not just open it all up for fun right out of the gate?
BEST OF SHOW
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
The multiplayer system for unlocking different guns and attachments, developing your own classes, and gaining experience actually works very well. It worked well last year too. And the year before that. And the year before that. It’s time to take some risks Activision – ditch the gameplan and stop playing it safe.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
An open world racing game? Unlockables dangled in front of you after every event? Side activities to earn some dumb currency called Speed Points? How about we just race and have cops chase us maybe.
This game feels like it was originaly designed to be an RPG…until someone played Resident Evil 5 and decided it needed to be a more traditional third person shooter. The Consequence System is just lame, since the decisions you make and your squad member’s opionions of you never actually materialize into interesting interactions or plot points. The squad based combat is similarly malnourished – when you can just blow through most areas with brute force that’s not a good reflection on your commitment to tactics.
ALL TIME WORST
A quick trip back in time to 2007 for the worst offender of shoehorning RPG elements into a non-RPG:
Hellgate: London was an actioney-shootery-roguelike game set in a dark fantasy world where you were tasked with sending demons back to their putrid home. Nobody wants to play a shooter where your shots are dice rolls despite clearly aiming correctly.
None of the games this year are on this level of shoddy implementation, but they did enough damage to warrant mention nonetheless.
AGAINST THE GRAIN
Persona 4: Arena
Now THIS is how you meld RPG elements in a non-traditional genre. Who knew that a fighter could be so engaging outside of the ring with such rich story telling? The status effects you can drop on your opponents work surprisingly well too. On paper at least, incorporating procs like poison damage sounds like a disaster. In practice though almost everything about this game clicks.