Yes it is that time of the year again, when all those lists start to happen and a tremendous amount of disagreeing begins. So with that in mind, here is my list of the top ten games of 2013, as played by me!
It is highly possible you won’t agree with all of them, the order they are in, my reasons for liking them and a hundred other things, but to be honest I don’t care. Hardly anyone will read this anyway so I could say what I liked and no one would be bothered, but in the interests of looking somewhat professional, here is my list anyway!
I did not like AC3. Connor was an incredibly boring protagonist, the random stuff in world seemed almost completely pointless and despite one very cool twist at the start there was nothing particularly interesting in the game.
What a difference a year can make. Black Flag rights all of the wrongs of it’s predecessor, with 20 minutes of game time being more entertaining than 20 hours of AC3. I have barely completed any of the story as I keep finding random islands with loot, and pirating random boats on the open sea. I haven’t yet completed it, but it is a testament to how good the game is that it can make this list and I have barely scratched the surface of the main story.
I only recently purchased Brothers, and I now solidly regret not getting the game sooner. The fairy tale of two siblings on a quest to save their father is poignant and moving, and once again shows that silly things like being able to understand exactly what the characters are saying doesn’t necessary mean it will create more emotion. Lets be honest, more often than not, having them speak english just reveals bad writing.
The control scheme works really well in Brothers, and despite some fiddly bits where concentrating on one sibling can result in the other spending five minutes walking into a wall, it provides this strange sense of local co-op play, despite playing by yourself. The ending will move you to tears, and that makes it worth the price, even though it is very short at around three hours.
Reboots are all the rage these days and some work better than others. The reboot of Total Recall for example, wasn’t exactly stellar, while Ninja Theory’s new take on the half human, half demon, all badass Dante is brilliant.
I remember playing the very first Devil May Cry and loving the wise cracking, ass kicking main character. He was surprisingly deep, despite the one liners and the gameplay was top notch, though when the sequel rolled around I was disappointed they didn’t call it Devil Never Cry (play the first game and you will understand).
Ninja Theory took everything I loved about Dante and rebooted him into a brilliant character action title, making him a slightly arrogant young man who is slowly coming to terms with his place in the world. The story is fantastic and sets a new bar for the series, removing a lot of the japanese eccentricities but keeping the core feel, and that is quite a feat.
The Vita has become my indie game box, the system I use to play the smaller, cooler games I might not get chance to on other systems. So when I saw Thomas Was Alone on the system it was a must get, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Who needs crazy things like human looking protagonists or thousands of polygons? It can get just as much emotion out of a bunch of squares and rectangles as you can a digital version of your favourite actor, and in some cases, you can do more with said shapes.
Thomas Was Alone creates empathy for those squares and rectangles, and builds a story of loneliness, redemption and teamwork through excellent narration. Yes the game is relatively simple, but that doesn’t diminish the great work being done and as the story builds and more characters are introduced, each one has his or her own personality, thoughts and feelings and it is proof that polygons do not an emotional story make.
There are certain series or titles that are events. The new Star Wars movie, that will be an event, not just a film and in gaming, Grand Theft Auto is the event. The fifth title in Rockstars long running crime epic sees a return to one of the cities from San Andreas and it is truly stunning.
If GTA V is the last generation’s swan song, then boy, did it go out with a bang. It is probably the best looking open world game I have ever played, with stunning vistas surrounded by life stretching as far as the eye can see. It plays really well too, and the three protagonist structure proves an interesting way to tell an interesting story and as always Rockstar shines in this regard.
I did play it with a sense of ‘they should have done this different’, but I had a great time despite the potential for truly great gaming moments being almost totally lost. If the heists had been more open to experimentation and failure, then maybe this would be higher on my list, but alas. Still, there is some great times to be had in Los Santos.
Games have often been criticised for their use of violence above all else, and to be fair there is some merit to that argument. Hotline Miami is the game that takes the concept and runs with it, head long into a mass of armed goons, holding a metal pipe and wearing an animal mask.
It is brutal, unrelenting, and brilliant. It is filled with gore, 80’s tinged neon and a killer soundtrack. But it is also more than the some of its parts, and the story deals with dark themes that few games tackle.
More to the point though, it is fun, brutally hard in places and provides a sense of gory satisfaction games haven’t revered in some time.
The original created wonder by showing you a world you haven’t seen, an underwater city torn apart by civil war and addiction. Infinite does the same, showing a world you haven’t seen before, the floating city of Columbia, and layering philosophy and other sensitive themes over the top.
It is a brilliant game, at least in my opinion, and as the story expands and you start to see just what is going on, for every answer you get at least one other question. It is a game that prompted a lot of intellectual discussion, and few games can claim that as a legacy.
Ok so I know this came out in 2012, but I played in 2013, so it is my 2013 2012 game of the year! And what a game it is. A new IP, providing multiple ways to play, an interesting story and a bleak, steam punk world? What more could one ask for!
The thing I liked the most about Dishonored was that in the entire game I killed around 11 people, and even those were mainly due to mis-steps in a carefully thought out plan to stealth my way through and get by undetected, and it made for a brilliantly refreshing change. It made me think about how to complete a given objective, and due to the fact that you can take out primary targets without actually killing them, gave you other things to do.
It’s not the perfect game by any means, but it is certainly ain't far off. It hones stealth action to a razor point and grants you the tools to approach a mission however you see fit. Just fantastic.
If you want bleak, overbearing universes, play The Last of Us. Coming from the makers of the Uncharted games, you would think that the protagonist would be killing hundreds of goons in a complete antithesis to the way his character is portrayed in cutscenes. Not so here.
Naughty Dog have created characters that must do horrible things to survive in a horrible world. You might only encounter four bad guys at a time, but every situation is a him or us deal and it just makes sense. It is a brilliant world, showing what life could well be like after such an apocalypse.
The relationship between grizzled old timer Joel and teenager Ellie provides drama, heart and action, and proves that games do not have to be kill fests to provide a human element to the tale. The writing is top notch, as is the voice acting that went into giving these characters life, but the truly special thing is that Naughty Dog have almost given Ellie and Joel a soul. You care about these people, and how this journey will affect them long after you have put the controller down.
A truly first rate game, and my second favourite game of the year.
Gone Home is something special. Not because it revolutionises any particular mechanic, or for its writing or art style. It is special because I played it a few days ago and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.
It might be short, but it doesn’t need to be any longer. It tells it story at the pace the developers want, and draws you in as you search the empty house looking for reasons why everyone has gone. It creates a brilliant atmosphere, and deals with themes many will find close to their heart. If several games on this list try to make you cry, Gone Home may well be the one to actually succeed.
I hope it is played more, it deserves to be. It worth every penny of whatever you may pay for it, and will show just what gaming can do, how interactive entertainment can be more than just shooting stuff. A true classic.
Well there you have it, my top ten games of the year! I hope you liked reading this as much as I enjoyed writing and playing the games on it. If you want to chat about anything, hit me up!