Merry Christmas everyone! 2013 has been one of the best years for gaming in recent memory, there have been some really awesome games released that will remembered for a long time after the year has ended. With it being Christmas and all I decided that the best gift I could give to you all would be my list for games of the year, and I doubt I’m the only one who thought the same.
I have a few rules here. First, I must have played the game. Your not going to see any indie games that came out of nowhere due to the simple fact that I didn’t play any of them. I have been busy with work over the last 6 months and haven’t had time to do any real digging. I still haven’t played The Walking Dead Season One for crying out loud! I have a mighty backlog. Also, I’m judging games on their resonance, not simply by their length of playtime. To get on my list your games has to have made me feel feelings that I wasn’t feeling outside of the game, if that makes sense.
5. Grand Theft Auto V
I can hear the fanboy hate rolling towards me like an enraged barbarian army but Grand Theft Auto V is only number 5 on my list. Don’t get me wrong, I had a hell of a time playing this game, with my time played clocking in at 67 hours, 1 minute, and 6 seconds. I played this game to the point of getting everything and doing everything in the game besides the gold medals. I achieved all the single player achievements, besides the 70 gold medals, and just felt done. This was my first Grand Theft Auto game and I had a great time, but there really wasn’t much resonance; there really isn’t a need to play it anymore. Sure there’s the online function of the game but I don’t really play many standard online games due to my stammer, too hard to communicate reliably.
Even through all of this complaining that I seem to be doing, Grand Theft Auto earned its spot on this list by the sheer quality quantity factor. I bought GTA on Black Friday for $35 and have played it for 67 hours, coming out at a blazing 52 cents per hour. When people hear complaints of how first person shooters aren’t worth the $60 standard fee due to short campaigns that ratio can be as high as $10 per hour, showing how much a value GTA is. It’s not anything revolutionary, in my opinion, but it is one of the best games to come out this year. Also, the environments of San Andreas and Los Santos are one of the greatest achievements of the Xbox 360 and PS3 console generation.
4. Pokemon X & Y
I used to be a pretty big Pokemon fan back in the day, but “growing up” had left me with just a passing interest. I tried to keep up to date with the franchise but the latest game I ever really played was Emerald, a generation 3 game, and I never even finished it. However, at this point of life I found myself with the ability to get back into the series. I had enough spare income to buy a 3DS and a game, so I invested in Pokemon X and a 3DS XL. Whew, now that was a great choice.
The sixth generation of Pokemon games actually do a lot to leave a lasting mark on the series. The introduction of true 3D battles seems like it would be such a small thing but it helps breathe life in the monsters. Gone are the days of pixellated sprites firing beams at each other and flashing to say, “Hey, I just got hurt.” The battle system of Pokemon X & Y harken back to the Pokemon Stadium games on the Nintendo 64, just with a lot more content in them. Also, the inclusion of the Fairy type makes a pretty big difference in battle. The Dragon type used to be really overpowered but now can be negated by a quality Fairy type on your team, from now own my Xerneas will be one of my regulars.
However, I do have a major complaint with X & Y; they’re too easy. The main story of the game offers up little challenge to anyone who knows what they’re doing and the revamped EXP Share item takes away the need to grind to strengthen new Pokemon. I do think though that, in the end, these changes offer up more benefits than negatives. In the end, Pokemon X & Y was able to real an old Pokemon fan into the modern age with relative ease.
3. BioShock Infinite
BioShock Infinite was, in one word, amazing. Irrational Games did a marvelous job in transforming the world of Columbia from an idea on paper to one on the screen. We as gamers are so used to the dystopia being a place of gray-scale and boring color palettes. BioShock Infinite is neither of these, it erupts with vibrant color and almost every part of the game is designed in a way that catches the eye. All of this makes the opening act of the game one of exploration and marvel, thus making the sudden violence even more disturbing. As Columbia is thrust more and more into war you can see the city crumble away from its vibrance.
To put it simply, BioShock infinite is a beautiful game. If this was a list of most eye-popping games it would be number one, but it’s not. In the end BioShock Infinite is a first person shooter that has some actual depth to the gameplay and story, something that you don’t see much of these days. It was this combination that really grabbed me and pushed me though the game. The story just grew and grew in complexity without ever falling over on itself, and the ending just left me sitting there to think about everything that had just gone down. Almost immediately I begun my play through to get the rest of the achievements and had a blast doing it. 1999 mode is a real, fun challenge and it was enjoyable to see all of the subtle hints earlier on in the game about what was going on.
So why isn’t BioShock Infinite higher up on the list? In my opinion the gameplay could get a little stagnant during some of the later levels. The final fight on 1999 mode was just a pain in the ass and not fun at all. After I finished up the achievements for it I found myself, like in GTA, with no real urge to play it any more. The story was amazing, but once you know all that happened then there really isn’t much else that grabs you.
2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
This game… this game was just about perfect. I was a little wary about Nintendo making a successor to A Link to the Past, one of my favorite games of all time, but they were able to achieve greatness. A Lin Between Worlds offers up the perfect combination of nostalgia and newness, making players of A Link to the Past feel like it really is the same world that’s just aged since they last walked it. As I played through the game I found myself doing things through instinct rather than by being prodded. Yet, areas were just enough different to sometimes through me in a loop and realize that this was a brand new game unto itself.
The decision to offer many, but not all of, the items through the rental service was a risk that turned out well. For once your rupees had value and there were things to save up for that really helped you. I also applaud Nintendo that they went the extra mile in making Ravio, the merchant of the item shop, actually fit into the story. The story could have been something lazily written but was actually really engaging and rewarding to see.
Is A Link Between Worlds a perfect game? No, not at all. It is indeed the best Zelda game I have played since Ocarina and the best 2D installment since A Link to the Past, but it’s going to take a miracle for those two games to lose their thrones. A Link Between Worlds can at times feel a tad easy but I can’t say whether or not that’s due to me playing so much Zelda in the past. Overall, A Link Between Worlds was one of the best gaming experiences this year, bringing back so many feelings of nostalgia admits a game that was just fun to play, but it wasn’t the best game of the year.
1. The Last of Us
What could I possibly say about this game that hasn’t been said already? The Last of Us is simply the perfect combination of story, gameplay, and resonance. I think that it’s important to say that I’m not really into the survival horror genre, I never gave it a chance. However, when I say the reviews and talk about The Last of Us I had to play it. However, I ran into a problem… I didn’t own a PS3. I saved up my money and did my research and bought both and man was it a great choice.
The Last of Us is a game, that can’t be argued, but it is so much more. It is a story of a man letting go of decades old demons, the tale of a young girl finding her place in the world, and the epic of their trek across the United States. Along the way Naughty Dog, the developer of The Last of Us, paints a picture of America that is both breathtaking and deadly. Nature has had its chance to retake old land it once owned after the decades since the zombie causing fungus first made its jump to humans. The duality of life and death is done in a way that works so well, it’s amazing. This world is not one you would want to live in but it is one you want to witness through you TV screen.
The gameplay is smooth but has enough restrictions on the player to make the world the danger that it is. The game doesn’t pause when you open your bag to retrieve items or when you crafting items, making you have to prepare for almost any situation like you would in a real life situation. When battle does commence however, the violence is almost too much for even the most veteran gamer. The Last of Us earns its Mature rating and should not be played by anyone who doesn’t fall into that category. The game does a great job at showing that violence is never something to be done lightly and should only ever be a last resort. Violence is not fashionable or is it pretty, fighting for your life is cruel and ugly.
I’m not even going to mention the opening to this game. If you own a PS3 and haven’t played That Last of Us, you need to buy it now. If you don’t own a PS3, you need to buy one and a copy of The Last of Us now. Don’t just watch a Lets Play of this game, you have to experience it. The ending just left me sitting there as the credits role, contemplating on what happened. The Last of Us is, to me, the epitome of what this gaming generation sought to achieve. It is my game of the year.
So what were some of your favorite games of this year, and why?
Also, if you’ve read all my lists for Listmas you have my deepest thanks. I was reluctant to take part but it’s been a blast and I’m looking forward to it next year. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Years and may clickers never be in your future!