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Games of the Year: Halo 4 and Honorable Mentions

Along with XCOM: Enemy Defense and FTL, Halo 4 is my final game of the year.

Halo 4 is great. The single player fails to capture the greatest glory of the series, but is still adequate, interesting, and challenging. Spartan Ops manages an alright job of being an episodic version of Firefight from Halo Reach. But most importantly, the multiplayer is some of the best and most well tuned the Halo series has ever offered. Which is saying something given that Halo currently stands as the best multiplayer FPS on the market, and is easily one of the best multiplayer FPS series of all time. (Yes, I played a lot of Unreal and Quake and even Call of Duty and still believe Halo is as good or superior.)

Unlike most FPS games, every game mode in Halo 4’s wide array of options for multiplayer is fun. Every one of them. Oddball? Yeah, now you can pass the ball to team mates. Dominion? It is territories with turrets and the game’s biggest weapons/vehicles! Capture the Flag? It is now 5v5 instead of 4v4, which makes for a much more dynamic and interesting game. I even enjoy things like Flood, SWAT, and King of the Hill on a regular basis.

That’s before we mention 343’s brilliant re-packaging of classic Halo multiplayer with the modern sensibilities first championed by Call of Duty. While layouts in Halo 4 aren’t as deep as I would have hoped (primarily because I am a RPG player and expect very distinct character development), it is still a really solid change of pace. Along with some cool armor abilities, Halo 4 is the culmination and evolution of every Halo before it. While I do feel that weapons on the map need some fine tuning, I think this is an incredibly positive direction for the entire series.

Halo 4 is amazing. I have already logged nearly 3 days of time in the multiplayer alone, and I have no intention of stopping any time soon. This is the definition of a must own title and a game of the year. It is fun, replayable, and gorgeous. Get it if you don’t already have it!

I’d also like to throw out a few honorable mentions that were probably also games of the year, but not worth an entire write-up:

  • Cargo Commander: A little light on content, but a very fun game. The aesthetic and setting, along with the game’s title song, make for a really fun place to visit (despite its loneliness). And the gameplay is a literal spin on the roguelike genre, which I really loved.
  • Civilization V: Gods & Kings: BEST.EXPANSION.THIS.YEAR. No religion in Civ V was a huge mistake, so it was so nice to see it again. G&K somehow managed to make a game that will already last you 100 hours last you a 100 more.
  • Guild Wars 2: While I didn’t love this game like I had hoped, it was still a fun ride. The game is gorgeous, mostly fun, and worth a shot. You may or may not get hooked, but you’ll have fun finding out.
  • Planetside 2: My ‘Least Played Game that I Should Really Be Playing Because It Is Awesome’ Award. Planetside 2’s beta was great, but I have been so distracted with other games that I haven’t been able to play it. It is my MMO of the Year, without a doubt, and definitely worthy of being a game of the year even with my minimal play time.

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