Sometimes you just have to buckle down and put out good games. Take-Two Interactive—and their branches, 2K and Rockstar—did a minimum of futzing around this year, instead releasing a relatively slim, high quality roster. Almost all of Take-Two's sequels improved upon their predecessors. Rockstar brought back Max Payne, fatter and drunker than ever, and his vacation to Brazil was some grim fun. They also showed off the long awaited Grand Theft Auto V. So far, so good.
2K meanwhile was saying goodbye to some old friends and doubling down on new ones. The Darkness series made a somewhat surprising comeback early in the year, right around the time 2K released what will be their last MLB game. And then there were Spec Ops: The Line, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and Borderlands 2, a monstrous success and great update on the first. All in all a good year creatively for Take-Two and friends.
The original Borderlands was a game with mechanics so addicting, I gave up crack just to play it more. But with stagnant, repetitive environments and a bland, directionless story, my continued and unavoidable play became nigh self-flagellating. Gearbox and 2K did much to fix this problem in Borderlands 2, and for me nothing symbolized this better than their charismatic villain Handsome Jack. Like his H-shaped Moon base, the cocky and crass Handsome Jack was a constant presence hovering over the game, driving the plot forward and legitimately engaging you in the story. As a result—and combined with new, dynamic scenery—the hours upon hours sunk plundering Pandora were loads more fulfilling. Plus he had a horse made of diamonds. <3 U Butt Stallion!
Spec Ops: The Line's Story Ambition
"Spec Ops?," I thought, as I saw The Line on PSN, "Geez, I haven't played one of those in forever, nor do I remember seeing any ads for this because I'm ignant" (don't say it). So began one of my most interesting shooter experiences in years. For military shooters, I don't remember being this engrossed since Modern Warfare 1. While the gameplay was nothing to shake a stick at, and not every narrative decision was justified, the sheer ambition of the thoughtful, utterly dark, introspective The Line stunned me. I was reminded that brown military shooters don't have to be meaningless setpiece linked to meaningless setpiece. After playing through it in one sitting, I couldn't get it out of my head for days. So kudos to Take-Two for having the guts to put it out. It really wanted to be something different. It did around 3% of Black Ops II's sales.