Since I wrote up all of my games of the year, I realized there were three that I left out! Those three are Rogue Legacy, Monaco, and Shin Megami Tensei IV (which I didn’t really forget about, but I’ve been impressed with it since I got it for Christmas). Since I couldn’t stand to have any absences in my list, it’s now going to extend to thirteen. Here’s the full list, complete with write-ups and pretty pictures. The other posts about my games of the year will be going down after the time of this entry’s posting.
1. The Walking Dead- Survival Instinct
Hahaha, no. Just kidding.
13. Injustice- Gods Among Us
Injustice was my first foray into the fighting genre, and still stands as one of my only titles in that category. Injustice has a very deep combo system, and that in addition to the fun roster of DC characters, dynamic stages, and great graphics makes it one of the best games of this year.
In addition to Injustice’s fantastic couch multiplayer that’s great for playing with friends and family, it also has a well-done online multiplayer mode that’s usually quick to match players and create balanced fights. Add to that the surprisingly deep campaign and assortment of fun DLC, and Injustice just might be the best fighting game I’ve played (besides Brawl, of course).
12. Shin Megami Tensei IV
Admittedly, I haven’t played much of this one, so it can’t be as high on this list as it probably deserves to be. That said, it’s a fantastic example of what a good JRPG is, and has a deep and fun customization system to keep the player coming back. Which is good, because the story doesn’t exactly do that.
11. Mario & Luigi Dream Team
The Mario & Luigi series stand as some of the best RPGs I’ve ever played. A staple on Nintendo handheld systems, Alphadream’s witty, rambunctious, and unique platformer/RPG hybrids are always a joy to play, and Dream Team is no different.
Dream Team, while not my favorite in the Mario & Luigi series (Bowser’s Inside Story has that honor), maintains almost all of what makes the series so great. The transition to the 3DS was handled expertly, and the graphics and 3D effects are some of the best I’ve seen. The game itself boasts an expansive story mode, and relatively deep RPG customization elements that match the excellent puzzle-platforming overworld segments. Simply put- Dream Team was one of the best 3DS games I played this year.
10. Luigi’s Mansion- Dark Moon
Luigi’s Mansion (2001) was most definitely one of the best GameCube games of all time, in addition to being the first time we’ve seen everybody’s favorite second banana in the limelight. Luigi’s spooky venture through an enormous haunted manor was as enjoyable as it is memorable, and its unnecessary, but very welcome, sequel is just as good.
Dark Moon plays more like a point-and-click adventure than its predecessor, but it balances it with the action-packed ghostbusting mayhem of the original in such a way that the two seamlessly intertwine, with Luigi’s trademark vacuum cleaner uncovering clues and solving puzzles almost as well as it devours poltergeists. The narrative surrounding Luigi’s journey, while relatively trite, brings back Elvin Gadd, one of the best characters created by mankind, so that’s a plus, too.
Best Demo: The Stanley Parable
Truth be told, I’m only adding this section into my 2013 games of the year so that I have a chance to include the fantastic-ness that is The Stanley Parable. I know what you’re thinking- Tim Allen would make a really weird, but strangely fitting, John McClane. But also wondering why I’m doing this, rather than adding the real game to the list.
Well … the reason is that I haven’t actually played the game. Sorry! I will, I promise! But, I have played the demo. And the demo of The Stanley Parable is almost a game all on its own. It lasts a solid half hour, and is a completely standalone product from the game packed with hilarious narrations and thought-provoking choices, and the lack thereof.
When I bought my PS4, I knew full well in advance that I was really only going to have one game on it for quite some time (since Ubisoft delayed the other launch title I was planning on getting). Little did I know, though, and a PSN gem would also await me. Res0gun stands as one of my two favorite PS4 games (taking into account the fact that two are all I have).
Res0gun is one of those games that’s beautiful in its simplicity. It’s also beautiful in its beauty- it’s one hell of a pretty game. What seems, at first, to be a simple Galaga-turned-sideways knockoff ends up being one of the most enjoyable and replayable games ever. I’ll be “saving the last humans” for years to come.
8. Rogue Legacy
Roguelike games have never been my forte. While they are enjoyable for a time, the frustration of permanent death always gets to me in the end. Rogue Legacy is the first one that’s really been able to captivate me, and it’s because of the numerous twists it puts into the formula.
Whether I was stumbling through the castle with an OCD dwarf crippled with vertigo, tynirg to fnid my wya tourhgh wtih a dlsxeiyc brarabain, or fabulously vanquishing my foes with a gay ninja, Rogue Legacy never ceased to amuse me. In addition, the leveling mechanics and variety of ways to keep getting better and better with each death kept me climbing the tower again and again.
7. Pokemon X/Y Version
Let me tell you a little story. It’s the story of my history with the Pokemon series. It started with Ruby Version, which stands to this date as my favorite in the series. It just couldn’t be better. Then, Diamond and Pearl came around, and were entirely forgettable. Luckily, Heart Gold and Soul Silver came around and gave the DS Pokemon games a good name. … And then Black and White arrived and gave them a bad name once again. I couldn’t even stand to purchase Black or White 2. And then something amazing happened.
Pokemon X and Y fixed nearly everything that was wrong with the series, and brought back some of what made me love it to begin with. The graphics are top-notch; the 3D in particular is smartly handled in that you can only activate it in certain places. The battle dynamics are surprisingly improved upon with the additions of Mega Evolutions, the Fairy Type, horde battles, and more. Everything just … works. And it’s awesome.
6. BioShock Infinite
BioShock Infinite is an interesting beast. While it is one of the most enjoyable and nice-looking games I’ve ever played, it also challenges one to not only think outside the box, but also to ask in what dimensions the box may or may not exist. In this it both excels and fails, and the reasons why were brought on by my second playthrough of the game.
While the gameplay, graphics, and voicework of BioShock Infinite were top-notch, the story is hard to tackle as being qualitatively good or bad. While the two lead characters of Booker and Elizabeth are deep and understandable, the central conceit of the plot is almost incomprehensible. Without spoiling anything, the ending and the events leading to it make the entire rest of the game seem nonsensical and unnecessary. It’s confusing, but at the same time makes sense with the hints dropped. The Lutece twins in particular stand out as characters that, in the end, seemed unnecessary and only added for the benefit of a shocking reveal (which there apparently had to be, since it’s a BioShock game). Really, a shocking reveal seemed to be what the whole point of the game was. I just wish it was a reveal that made enough sense not to taint the whole experience and make this game only number 6.
Also, BioShock Infinite holds the honor being the only game that’s caused me to scream, out loud. If you’ve played the game, you know exactly what part I’m talking about.
5. Tomb Raider
As I said in my review, this was the first game in this series I’d seriously played. While I wasn’t expecting too much initially, my time with it at IGN took away any reservations I’d had about buying it. And boy am I glad it did.
Tomb Raider, in addition to being one of the most beautiful games of the year, is also one of the most fun. The pace never stops, and the marvelous narrative drives the player all across the gorgeous landscape and through a variety of buildings and military installations. While rife with gruesome death sequences, it’s also chock-full of rollicking, cinematic escapes and panoramas that would make Uncharted blush. I hope to see more of Lara in the future.
Another interlude here, this time celebrating my three favorite pieces of downloadable content from the year. First up …
3. Anyone who’s seen my Twitter feed or watched me stream on Twitch knows that Borderlands 2 is swiftly climbing the ranks as one of my favorite games of all time. If I had played it last year, it would have been number one on this list. One of the reasons I love it so much is because of its fantastic sense of humor, and Dragon Keep exemplifies everything great about it. It balances making fun of almost every medieval fantasy trope there is while at the same time delivering an enormous, fun, and deep alternative storyline that delivers some of the best one-liners (“It smells like hooome”), and some important closure to the titular character (and arguably the star) of this DLC. Plus, the final revelation of who the queen is is so fantastic that I won’t even write it with a spoiler alert, you just have to play it and see. Suffice to say, you won’t be expecting it.
2. Civilization V is one of the best strategy games I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy. However, it isn’t without flaw. Well, it wasn’t. Now, I’m not so sure. Simply put, Brave New World fixes every single thing that was wrong with Civ V. The end of a game is now as enjoyable as the beginning, and the cultural victories are more balanced and worth trying for. It may as well be Civ VI.
1. The reason Borderlands 2 is becoming one of my favorites is due in no small part to Krieg, the psychotic and utterly fantastic 6th playable character in Gearbox’s terrific RPG/FPS hybrid. Not only is he downright hilarious (“I’m the conductor of the poop train!”), he is brilliantly voiced, and simply the best character in the game, with abilities like throwing axes with dynamite strapped to them, and blowing himself up upon death (to bring himself back to life, to boot). Not to mention he has a skill tree entirely dedicated to setting himself on fire.. Yeah. Krieg is the best, and this was by far the best DLC of the year.
Monaco is probably my favorite stealth game, even though it’s not really a stealth game. The best way I can describe it is as a heist game, which still doesn’t quite grasp it. What it is is an incredibly fun, goofy, and exciting way to spend time with friends, in the same room or online.
To give you a taste of how fun this game is, check out a not-so-short video of me playing with my buddy Cedric. Warning- view at your own discretion. Exposure to Monaco apparently leads to thinking one can emulate Freddie Mercury or use a British accent.
So, yeah. It’s awesome.
3. Assassin’s Creed IV- Black Flag
ACIV is the game I bought when I bought my PS4. While I loved ACIII (it was my game of the year last year) it was definitely not a perfect game. Rife with bugs and burdened by an incredibly long and dull tutorial sequence, ACIII suffered a lot of flak after release, and people wondered if ACIV would save the series. It did.
Gone are the days of waiting for your cannons to load, falling through the ground, and wading through anti-revolution propaganda (okay, there wasn’t too much of that)! The swashbuckling age of pirates is perfectly encapsulated by the character of Edward Kenway (Radonhakatoowa… … uh, Connor’s grandfather). Edward is my favorite assassin to date because he’s not really an assassin for quite a while. He’s just a guy. A guy I’d probably like if I’d met him (despite the fact that he’d probably kill me and steal my stuff). He’s understandable, he’s got selfish motivations, and learns more about himself and becomes a more honorable person through his interactions with his memorable cast of friends (like Stede Bonnet, Edward “Blackbeard” Thatch, James Kidd, Ben Hornigold, etc.). The gameplay is magnificent, and it all looks astoundingly beautiful on the PS4. It’s all just … great.
2. The Last of Us
It was incredibly difficult to decide between my final two games on this list. And while I can’t help but feel like I’m doing Naughty Dog’s gem a disservice by giving it any other position but number 1, and it’s one of the only games I’ve given a perfect score, I ultimately had to settle for second place. If I had it my way, it would be tied for first, but I don’t see that as a viable alternative either.
Look- you don’t need me to tell you that The Last of Us is a great game. Just do a Google search of it. Really. Perfect scores across the board. Here, read my review of it. The only thing that needs explaining is why it’s in second, and not first, place.
It’s been a big year for gaming. From the exciting new pieces of hardware like the Oculus Rift, PS4, XBone, and Steam Machine to the hardware that was slightly … less so (I’m looking at you, OUYA); from the greatest of the great games, like The Last of Us and ACIV, to the utter disappointments (Colonial Marines, ahoy!); from the great developer choices, like Link Between Worlds and Super Mario 3D World, to the not-so-great (Don Mattrick … just, Don Mattrick), it was a huge year in gaming.
But, of course, we’re not here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about why The Last of Us wasn’t my game of the year. So, let the explaining begin.
In all my time as a gamer, there’s only ever been one game that caused me to buy a console. While that might not seem so great a feat, it really is. In the past, I’ve been able to wait, even in the case of my favorite series (Sonic Generations, for which I had to wait several months for a PC release). The console in question was a console in which I previously was not interested in the slightest. To this day, this game is still my favorite on said console, I’ve played it through twice, with over 50 hours on both files. I’ve convinced 3 family members to buy it (or bought it for them), and they’ve all loved it too. This is probably the game into which I’ve become the most invested in the story and those of all the characters therein.
Enough beating around the bush. My game of the year is Fire Emblem Awakening.
1. Fire Emblem Awakening
I have nothing bad to say about this game. It’s undoubtedly one of my favorite games. The story, the characters, the graphics, the gameplay, the difficulty, the voice acting, the music, the writing … everything is perfect. I could go on, but I won’t. But I could.
Well, that about wraps it. Agree? Disagree? What was your game of the year? Let me know!