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As we come to a close to 2013 which also sees the start of a new generation of consoles, it’s time to take a look back at some games that in my opinion, were stand out titles this year. Everyone’s choices will be a bit different for different reasons but our lists will be an indication of what really rocked this year.
What made your list? What didn’t make your list? Feel free to comment as I tell what was on mine and on several others as we take a look back at 2013.
Tomb Raider – To be honest, since the 2nd game on the PS One, I have not been a big fan of Tomb Raider. And it didn’t help that franchise has been up and down since that time. When word went around that the series was getting a reboot and in essence showing us how Lara Croft became “LARA CROFT, BADASS” , many of us were on the fence about getting this game. When it dropped, many of us were blown by how visceral this game was. From the first shipwreck to the last explosion, Lara barely got a rest between the action and in many ways this was compared to the Uncharted series. The only negative to this was ‘how fast’ Lara got accustomed to taking lives. Other than that, the game controls were great especially after you mastered the bow and the sheer exhaustion you could feel after playing for a few hours really made this thriller a hell of a ride. Top pick all around.
Bioshock Infinite – Finally, a Bioshock game that took us from the depth and into the sky. This game had an intriguing story of racial purity, eugenics, religious dogma and learning about oneself. Also, even though intially the game was teased as not having to do much with previous Bioshock games, when near the end of the game when you find yourself back in familiar surroundings and your character realizes that they are the catalyst, it’s hard to deny that your mind isn’t blown by the story. Not to mention also graphically speaking, it was easily one of the best looking games this year.
The Last of Us – One of the last games I played on my PS3 before I transitioned to the PS4. Good story and also a good ending and left a lot up for discussion. To be honest, I am not a big post apocalypse type gamer although I did enjoy playing Fallout 3. But The Last of Us did bring a lot to the table. A world wide contagion causes the world to fall into collapse and with a very brutal opening, we see Joel given the task of escorting Ellie across the country because Ellie may hold the key to healing mankind. The story we get to see however is the relationship that Joel has with Ellie as he still copes with the loss of his own daughter and the decisions he makes all the way through the end of the game which could have an effect on not only himself but Ellie. Even after the credits rolled, I couldn’t help but say “Wow, they really went there.” with this story and I was just blown. The game in many ways will remind people of the ever popular The Walking Dead, as there is a story of how we wind up treating each other when it becomes an every man woman and child for themselves world. There were plenty of holy crap moments throughout and it does not disappoint. If you are a PS3 owner, you can’t miss this game.
Assassins Creed Black Flag – Initially I didn’t think it could improve after AC 3 which was hit or miss in its own right but AC:BF is a step in the right direction. When it was initially announced where Ubisoft was going with this series, one couldn’t help but given then a serious side eye about the setting. Pirates? Really? Ok, what ever. Asassins Creed III while ending Desmond Miles’ story also brought us Connor Haytham and many of us felt that with what Ubisoft was trying too much, but Black Flag? The closest thing you will get to a good Pirates of the Caribbean atmosphere. While many will hate the mine games in ‘the real world’ outside of the Animus, you will have a ball being a pirate in this game as Edward Kenway; a man who is out more for himself and chasing the dollar and could care less about the war between the Templars and Assassins. Also on the next gen systems, it’s one of the prettiest games to see and with so many sprawling locations and activities, it’s hard to be bored. I am about ½ way through and still can’t wait for more! And as a bonus for PS4 owners, you get a short level featuring Aveline, from the PS Vita game.
Diablo III – This is the console dungeon crawler I have been looking for! The closest we have seen this generation was Sacred. I played this on PC and when Blizzard brought this to consoles, I didn’t think they could get the controllers right but they did! Many of us waited for YEARS for a new Diablo game and Blizzard moving at a glacier’s pace took their time with this. I grabbed it on PC when it came out last year and yes, the online issues and the auction house nearly destroyed this game so when it was announced that it was coming to console it caused a nice quiet divide in the gaming community. It seemed as if the console release fixed a lot of problems that plagued the PC release. You don’t have to be online to play, no auction houses, nice and easy controls and best yet, a great way to play with friends on the same screen. The only thing I really wished Blizzard could have done was find a way to import my PC characters to the console so that I wouldn’t have had to start all over from scratch.
So, what didn’t make my top 5?
(yes, I hear snorts of derision out there. If you have a problem, you can always buy me a copy of these games! HAHA!)
Grand Theft Auto V – “WHAT? ARE YOU CRAZY?” I have to be that one but to be honest, I felt like after this one, you played one GTA, you played them all. Sure, now you have 3 different characters to play with but to some degrees I felt like they were so typical and cookie cutter, that it almost didn’t matter which one I used, the end result was the same. Go in, cause some mayhem and live out your criminal fantasies. Plus, with this series making a return to the West coast, I really would have loved to see another East coast based setting.
Splinter Cell Blacklist – truth be told, I just got this game last week and I am having such a ball with this game! But I haven’t played enough of it to really fit it in.
Batman Origins – As much as I tried to get into it, it felt too much like Arkham City and I know a lot of my friends said, the longer you play, the better it gets. That’s nice and all but both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City didn’t ask me to play for awhile before it gets better. So in that respect, I passed on this.
Here are some readers’ selections:
The Last of Us – my number one game of the year. I am a story driven gamer first and foremost. The story in this game gripped me until the very end and only left me missing joel and ellie. I needed more as soon as the game was over and this drove me to play through again on survivor. This doesnt mean that the game was too short either by any means.
Tomb Raider- this was a great reintro of laura croft. An origin story done well. Gameplay was great and intense. Once again the story kept me at attention
Splinter Cell Blacklist – this game was purely gameplay. The plot was, while decent, still dry. An acquired taste. The actual gameplay and challenges presented during every mission is what kept me playing. Plus who doesnt want to be an international super secret ops agent? Sam fisher delivers and is pure bad ass.
Far Cry 3 – this one is probably cheating as it came out last year but so I would have some stuff to open at christmas, my wife wouldnt let me have it until then. This left me playing the majority of this game in early 2013 so :p. Once again the single player story game is where its at here. Getting to ride with jason on his journey into the unknown was a blast. Vaas is probably one of my favorite villains to date. “Have I ever told you the definition of insanity?” The story path of this game and the size coupled with the possibilities was amazing. One could literally just get lost hunting or playing around for hours on the beautiful map.
Grand Theft Auto V – while this was a short lived game due to replay value being destroyed by broken multiplayer, it was still a blast. A very refreshing step back in the right direction after Rockstars dissapointing installment of GTA IV. The story in the game felt a little short. I think this had to do with the lack of extensive side missions to play. At the same time the story holds its own. The game was hella fun to play. The integration of 3 main playable charscters was cool and there was plenty to do outside of the main mission line with or without side missions.
The Walking Dead Season 1 is my honorable mention. As this also came out last year, it came out as a full disk or downloadable game back in January. So it counts as this year. Fan or not of the tv show this was a great story driven game. Season 1 was emotional and fun and when it was over I picked my jaw up off the floor and googled to see when the next installment was coming.
1. Borderlands 2 – a damn fun game. great characters and one of the best villains in a game. excellent replayability and a great co op game.
2. Grand Theft Auto 5 – excellent characters, lots of varied missions, and a whole lot of other things to do. and then there is gta online.
3. King of Fighters 13 – definitely a improvement over the year before. its a return to form for kof but older entries are still better.
4. Final Fantasy 13 -2 – another game that fixes all the problems the earlier game had. the time dynamic made for a interesting game that probably could have been a chrono trigger had they not made it associated with ff13. great music.
5. Darkness 2 – the visuals were excellent. it looks like a playable comic book. you cant do some of the things that were in the first game but you still have many options to eliminate enemies with. story was really well done and a great cliff hangar ending but there more than likely wont be a 3, which is a huge shame.
And lastly some short lists
1. Pokemon X
2. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
3. LEGO Marvel Superheroes
4. DuckTales: Remastered
5. Resident Evil: Revelations
1. The Last of Us
2. Bioshock Infinite
3. Saint’s Row 4
4. GTA 5
5. Devil May Cry
…and no we didn’t forget PC gamers out there
1. Dust: An Elysian Tail
2. Torchlight II
3. Don’t Starve
4. Civ 5: New World Order (worth including even though a DLC for what it does for the game)
5. Europa Universalis IV