Happy New Year.
Far Cry 3 is great. There's a lot of buzz on the 'net about weird shit it does w/r/t post-modern story elements... my strong urge is to put that out of your mind if you've been exposed to it, or not to read it at all before you play the game. The only interesting insights into the story which inform your gaming experience will come from your own experience; this isn't a general truism, but it is true w/r/t FC3. The game handles well; it is a competent shooter with a decent stealth mechanic. Now, I played both FC1 and 2 a heck of a lot so I will compare it to them. It is easier than either of them, and more garish, for want of a better word. I'm given to understand that what I refer to as "garish" is intentionally so in order to make the player reflect on his own position as regards gaming as a whole, but I find that pretentious and stilted (the writer of the game refers to FC3 as a building which should have six legs but only has four, and this makes "stilted" a uniquely appropriate critical predication). I will simply take all game elements at face value, because irrespective of their deeper signification they inescapable have the value of their prima facie existence, for better or worse. So; garish. There is island racing, island hold 'em, island skeet-shooting (with real birds!) and some interesting weapon challenges. FC1 and 2 had none of these. All of the objective-oriented gameplay in FC2 was immersed in the realism of the location, even the side-quests, and there were no side-quests in FC1.
I said the game is easier. Enemies can only see you within about 30-40 meters of you, which is dumb. In FC2 even if you had a sniper rifle you had to stand well, well back in order to be able to use it without being seen, such that it was still quite difficult to aim. There's this "target-painting" mechanic in FC3 which is silly as hell; it lets you see enemies through walls, once they're painted. That said, I had a whole lotta fun. I don't always finish games these days and I finished this.
I found every character in FC3 who is a resident of Rook Island to be very well acted, directed and characterized. It is competent in every respect of its execution, and excellent in a few; characters, acting/direction, and GUNS. However excellent it be w/r/t guns however, Far Cry 2 did it better, I'm afraid to say.
I also started BG1, and then BG2, and then BG2 ToB again recently. I'm not going to talk about them. I just find it funny that I'm revisiting my blog and playing this damn game again for the umpteenth time.
I found XCOM Enemy Unknown to be a disappointment. I liked and played a lot of Fallout Tactics, and find the latter game to be superior to XCOM in just about every way. Indeed, this comparison so robustly expresses my feelings I don't feel the need to elaborate... I'm not pretending to give gaming news that is accessible to people without gaming experience, so I recognize if you have played neither game this is meaningless to you; that's fine. Play both is my advice. XCOM is a very well-reviewed triple-A title; every such should be played. Fallout Tactics is a personal favourite - it should also be played.
Dishonoured was a marathon game for me. I played it into the ground in a few days - so clearly I liked it. And I did like it! A lot. However, you realistically speaking unlock every ability you want in the first three missions if you are thorough, and you unlock every ability you actually need in just the first mission if you play carefully. So: the game is easy. It took me a lot longer because as soon as I discovered the game incentivizes being "Good" I tried my best to be so, and then I learned you can go through the whole game without killing a single individual, so I did that, because I felt the game was challenging me to: there is, after all, a points-bonus at the end of every mission for the reward "didn't kill anyone". That's a very clear indicator that A) you can do every mission without killing anyone, and B) this is a goal, a challenge, inherent in the game. It is therefore disappointing as all hell when you get to the very end, and having voluntarily made your gaming experience exponentially more difficult by your commitment to pacifism, you find the ending sequence gives zero cognizance whatsoever to your unstained karma. You get the "good" ending, ok, but I'm totally certain you'd get that as well if you simply kept your killing to a minimal standard.
It's a great game. Play it!
I also beat Dark Souls. I don't want to elaborate overmuch on this topic. The game is exceedingly difficult, and combines a finely honed modern physics engine and modern graphics with a very old-school approach to gaming. It is well-compared with original NES RPG titles, like any D&D game on the NES or SNES. I like this game more than Dishonoured or XCOM, and recommend it more heartily. It is punishingly difficult and this is probably why; I derive a lot of enjoyment through triumphing over adversity, when it comes to games.
I played Alpha Centauri recently, the expansion. If you like civilization games (Any of the capital C Civilization titles as well as a few other colonialist games of the same genre, titles aren't coming to mind) then you owe it to yourself to play this. This game is to civ titles what Blade Runner is to sci-fi movies. A classic, stand-out with excellent production values, innovation and brilliance. Mind you, the original Alpha Centauri has most of the artistic perfection; the expansion is merely competent w/r/t art, though it has fun elaborations on gameplay. This one is a classic.
Speaking of classics I bought Master of Magic from Great Old Games... it actually is also a civilization game, but not the type that you need to have played in order to consider yourself informed about the genre. It's a lot of fun and has a wide variety of gameplay mechanics, all solidly intergrated. It's latter day successor is Warlock: Master of the Arcane, but the pathetic thing there is that this successor simply has less to it. Master of Magic had far more gameplay elements, and I do not think there is a persuasive argument that any of them needed to be shaved off. It was very well put together.
Hesitantly; very, very hesitantly; I'm looking at a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday update schedule. We'll see. It's not like anyone is reading this thing.
Oh, Post-Script: Borderlands 2: disappointment of the year, even more than Diablo 3.