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GAF Games of the Year 2013 - Voting Thread - VOTING CLOSED

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thestopsign

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1. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies ; A strong return to form.
2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; Another strong return to form.
3. Papers, Please ; Totally unique experience.

Those are the only games I played extensively enough from this year to list. I have a lot from the Steam Holiday sale to go through now though.
 

SoraanTribal

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Nov 4, 2011
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1. Bioshock Infinite ; This is very weird for me because generally speaking, I am not a big fan of FPS games. Most of them tend to bore me with their settings and stories. So the fact that I'm saying a FPS is my GOTY feels very odd coming from me. What I loved most about Bioshock Infinite was the story, characters (especially the Lutece twins!), music, and world. It's actually hard for me to think of a more realized world in a game and boy was it beautiful - like seriously, it might be one of my favorite looking games ever. I'm not going to say Bioshock Infinite's gameplay was the best ever or anything like that, but I actually had a good time with it. The combat and how the guns felt was very satisfying, and the skyhook/rails added a lot of excitement into the battles. It's a shame they couldn't have added more of those into other parts of the game, but regardless, I had fun while playing. It's also one of those games that when you replay it, you see constant references and hints to things that happen later in the story. You keep thinking, "Ah ha..." when you run across something small that you notice. I think the biggest thing that made me name this my GOTY is just... it has stayed with me since completing it. I was seriously obsessed with discussing the game, and it was in my thoughts constantly for those first few months. Hell, I still think about it even now. None of the other games on my list had that effect on me. It also has one of my favorite endings in any game.




2. The Last of Us ; For the longest time, I kept going back and forth on which game would be my GOTY - this one or Bioshock Infinite. I eventually settled on Bioshock Infinite because it just stuck with me for far longer than The Last of Us did. While TLOU does adhere to a lot of the zombie apocalypse tropes, it handles them so well and the execution was impeccable. The acting was second to none as well. I thought the gameplay itself was serviceable, but nothing really all that special. The "filler" sections of finding a plank/ladder/raft-thing for Ellie grew very tiresome, and I don't think they even needed to be in the game at all (or maybe just once). I think playing the game as stealthy as I could actually hindered the gameplay because on the occasions where I messed up and had to actually fight back, it was a lot more exciting. For me personally, The Last of Us was an emotionally draining experience (not only because of the story, but the gameplay as well), and I don't really have any motivation to replay it. However, that first experience was fantastic.




3. Super Mario 3D World ; It's kind of hard to believe I have a Mario game in my Top 5 after all this time. If you had asked me when I was younger if I would still be playing Mario at age 30, I'd have laughed at you. But here I am, and it's still incredibly fun. I have played this game a ton since it released with one of my best friends, and it has some of the most entertaining multiplayer I've ever experienced. The level design is damn near perfect and the controls feel great as well. I wouldn't want every Mario to be like this (bigger, more open levels would be nice), but I can't deny just how much fun I had and how much I laughed while playing.




4. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; When this game was first revealed, I wasn't particularly excited. As much as I loved A Link to the Past (one of my favorite games ever), I didn't really want to go back to that world as I tend to prefer new experiences. I was also not completely sold on the art style they chose or the fact that it was a 2D Zelda (I prefer the 3D ones). I wasn't even that excited going to pick the game up at the store when it released, but as soon as I got to the title screen and heard that music, there was no stopping me. I played it for like 6 hours straight which is rare for me as I tend to stop after an hour or two and take a break, but I couldn't put it down. The gameplay was as tight as ever with 60fps and the music... my god, the music. I know most of the soundtrack is just a remixed Link to the Past, but it's phenomenal. While I think the dungeons could have been a bit better/harder, they were still very well designed and fun. The story actually surprised me - something Zelda games rarely do. The story is absent for much of the game except sprinkles here and there, but I thought the ending was very well done and went some interesting places. I only wish the game had been a bit longer, but at the same time, it was a solid 20~ hours with no filler content. Can't complain too much about that.




5. Pikmin 3 ; Wow, what a surprise this game ended up becoming. I had never played a Pikmin game before, and when I would watch someone play a previous game in the series, I thought it looked a bit silly. Definitely not something I would enjoy. Well, this year, I finally picked up a Wii-U, and on a whim, I also bought Pikmin 3. I was a bit worried about the supposed time limit (as I'm not a fan of games built around a time limit like that), but as soon as I dived in and realized just how much freedom you have, it was almost like the time limit wasn't even there. I ended the game with some crazy 64 juices remaining, so running out of time never even crossed my mind. And your progress is saved when the day ends (even boss health!) which is a big plus. While charming, the story isn't really the main focus of the game. It's the minute to minute gameplay that is so tightly executed and satisfying. Seriously, this game surprised me more than any game in the past few years. It's kind of funny how you look at games on the outside and judge them before even giving them a chance. I would have missed out on this fantastic experience...





6. Ni No Kuni ; This is where things get a bit more murky for me in terms of my favorite games of the year. The first five were very easy to point to and say "Yes, that's what I loved this year." While I enjoyed #6-10, they are not quite on the same level as the first five. Anyways... I was very hyped for this game prior to it releasing. It seemed like it could be the old school, traditional JRPG I've been craving for a long time. And for the most part, it was. In addition to Bioshock Infinite, this is one of the best looking games of the year. The art direction was breathtaking with some beautiful sights - it was incredibly easy to see the Studio Ghibli influence. I think one of the things I loved most about the game was the world - it was just really fun exploring the world and finding all the little secrets... something I have missed in JRPGs released this generation. While the story was nothing to write home about, I thought it was pretty decent and kept pushing me forward. The battle system had potential, but I feel like the horrible AI really hurt it sometimes. It wasn't quite as good as I was hoping it would be, but I still put in a lot of hours and had fun doing so.




7. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed ; I'm including a kart racer on my top 10 and it isn't Mario Kart? What's going on?! I'm as surprised as you might be. This game technically came out last year on consoles, but I didn't play that version. I've been playing the PC version which released in 2013, and after putting in a ton of hours (mostly with my best friend)... I can safely say this is one of the best kart racers I've ever played. And I do not say that lightly. I'm a pretty big fan of the genre (just about the only type of racing game I enjoy), and I was blown away by just how much fun I had. The roster probably wasn't as good as it could have been, but I loved just about everything else about this game. From the interesting level/track design and different types of racing (kart, boat, air) to the balanced power-ups, it was always a blast. I think my favorite thing about this game is actually the inclusion of a career mode which Mario Kart has been lacking for way too long. I love all the different types of events besides just racing - it keeps things fresh. I really hope this next Mario Kart goes in this direction, and I really do hope Sega/Sumo makes another!




8. Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD REmix ; I probably would have put this one higher if not for the fact that it is a HD remaster. It's an incredibly well done HD remaster with a lot of extra stuff they didn't have to do (like remaking 358/2 Days cutscenes), but still... There isn't a lot to say about it, but I'm a huge Kingdom Hearts fan, and finally getting to play the Final Mix version of KH1 was awesome. Entertaining story, simple yet fun combat, amazing music, and Donald Duck/Goofy. What more could you want?




9. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn ; I feel kind of weird putting this game on my list since I'm not playing it anymore. And that's not a good sign with it being a MMO and all. But looking back, I lived and breathed this game for around 3 months, so it must have done something right! As someone who suffered through 1.0, this game was a massive improvement in almost every single way. I guess that's not necessarily saying much since 1.0 was so bad, but it's commendable that SE went back to the drawing board and completely remade the game. Impressive, even. And while I do have a few problems with the game - too many boring fetch quests, end game is too boring and grindy - the game does more good than bad. They might have played it a little too "safe" in terms of design, but it's hard to blame them after the 1.0 blunder.




10. Tomb Raider ; I'll be honest - I'm not really a big Tomb Raider fan. Never have been. But there was something about this game that brought me around. Maybe it was the fact that it was so similar to Uncharted (a series I love) that made me like it. Maybe it was the fact that using the bow was so fucking satisfying (I'm sorry, but you used anything other than the bow, you played the game wrong - joking... kind of.) Maybe it was the added exploration elements to the game - something I hope the next Uncharted incorporates. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I liked the new Lara, and thought she was far more interesting than her previous counterparts. I don't know for sure what made me like it, but I really did. Oh, and on the PC, the game was really gorgeous (dat TressFX). I will say though that the supporting cast was terrible and completely forgettable (I don't even remember their names) and the story got worse the further you progressed culminating in some very weird plot developments. But hey, at least the
dual pistols QTE thing
was really cool at the end.



x. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons ; I actually didn't play this game until the week before Christmas. I knew absolutely nothing about this game besides a little word of mouth, but I saw it on sale, and was looking for something short, but memorable to tide me over until Christmas. And it definitely satisfied that itch. For a story with absolutely no dialogue, I thought it was really great (and rather touching). Even though I suspected/predicted some of the events in the story, it was all very well executed. I also loved how they used gameplay to help tell the story - in particular the last ten minutes of the game. The puzzles were not complex or anything, but due to how the controls work, they were still interesting. This is also a very beautiful game with some truly gorgeous views.

x. Batman: Arkham Origins ; If this game had released before Arkham CIty, I would have probably preferred it. The only complaint about this game is really that it feels too samey/safe with not much new. That isn't really a huge complaint since all the Arkham Batman games have been really fun, but it feels more like an expansion than a new game. That said, the boss battles are fantastic and far better than previous Batman games.

x. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag ; Over the years, I've started to grow a little tired of the Assassin's Creed series. There's little innovation between each game, and the stories seem to get progressively worse. That said, the pirate/sea aspect to ACIV was very well done and pretty fun. The combat is still a slog at times, but with likable characters and fun setting, I had a good time overall.

x. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD ; Another game I have not finished yet, but I have played the original Wind Waker which was great (yet flawed). This seems like a really well done HD remake.




2012. Xenoblade Chronicles ; Technically, I played this game last year, but I wasn't posting on GAF until this year, so... I didn't get to vote for it the year it released. Anyways. Xenoblade Chronicles is actually my Game of the Generation. Fantastic story that never lets up and keeps surprising you, great characters, the best soundtrack of the generation (tied with Nier for me), fun and exciting combat with an interesting twist (seeing what attacks are coming), and most importantly... the world is breathtaking and very well designed. It has one of the most interesting and original concepts for a world - a society living on the surface of two gods/giants. The only complaints I have about the game are minor and completely optional - the sidequests. Most of them are really boring MMO-like quests which is a real shame considering I feel like they really could have expanded on the lore of that world in interesting ways via sidequests. That said, there are still a few sidequests that add a bit more to the world/characters, but they are hidden beneath like 400 other tedious and boring quests. I hope "X" will have a less is more type of approach and just have like 30~40 really interesting and involved quests. Speaking of which... "X" is my most anticipated game right now!
 

Zia

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Oct 15, 2011
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Typically, my list-making efforts are allocated elsewhere so I didn’t bother with what was actually (IMO) the most interesting part of my list: the Honorable Mentions, which included some big, brawny dumb stuff in BioShock Infinite and The Last of Us, as well as Tearaway, which I was unable to put enough time into to rationalize placing on this list. Boo. But yeah, a proper top ten without interesting writing is barely useful, an extended list without write-ups mostly useless. So, no Honorable Mentions.

Anyway, what a year! Video games!

1. Dota 2 ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaGSi1YTA-E
2. Spelunky ; http://www.polygon.com/2013/12/23/5227726/anatomy-of-a-spelunky-miracle-or-how-the-internet-finally-beat
3. Device 6 ; 2013 saw Simogo cemented as masters of the iDevice. Their interactive novel, Device 6, makes its Japanese contemporaries look unsophisticated and juvenile by comparison...
4. Year Walk ; … while in Year Walk they released the greatest adventure game since Grim Fandango, a beautiful, tactile ode to Swedish folklore that owes as much to Bergman as it does Schafer.
5. Fire Emblem Awakening ; And the award for Best Gay Character of the Year goes to… Frederick!
6. Gone Home ; Sorry Sam, but second best ain’t bad, particularly when it’s within the context of what were the first wet, web-footed steps toward Spector’s One Block Role-Playing Game.
7. Super Mario 3D World ; Maximalism begets what may be the ultimate expression of Mario. Joyously messy.
8. Papers, Please
9. The Stanley Parable ; Video Games: The Video Game
10. Ridiculous Fishing
 

Megidolaon

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Jun 17, 2011
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1. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; Most addicting game I've played in years. I am embarrassed to say how much time I've spent on it (over 400 hours). I can't begin to say how fun it is both gameplay-wise and story-wise. I got soo into the characters relationships and wanted to see every last piece of dialogue.

2. The Last of Us ; Great story. One of the few western games that had characters I cared about. Fantastic atmosphere and visuals.

3. Super Mario 3D World ; I usually like to just watch others play Mario, but this is the one Mario I actually wanted to play with others. That's a testament to how fun it is and how good the multiplayer is. Suckered in even a Mario novice like me.

4. Zelda: Link Between Worlds ; Great Zelda done in old school style.

5. Pokemon X/Y ; Pokemon is always a consistent series and this one offers the comfortable RPG relaxation with a new style that makes it feel fresh.

6. Wind Waker HD ; Had a lot of fun playing the beautiful HD version of the great island-sailing Zelda.

7. Kingdom Hearts 1.5 ; Nice nostaligic Disney magic.

8. Ni no Kuni ;Nice traditional JRPG. Didn't blow me away, but enjoyable.

9. SMT IV ; First SMT game for me. A good dark adventure.

2012. Xenoblade; A great console JRPG that spans a humongous scope. Best of the kind since FXII
 

Marc

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Aug 14, 2013
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*phew* Made it!

1. Dragon's Dogma Dark Arisen ; Could be seen as cheating a bit to put this game here but I think it deserves it and the expansion justifies another look. What can I say about this game without overhyping it? Its one of my game of the generation, up there with the likes of Red Dead and Portal, so I guess I can't avoid the hype. Its vast in scope in every sense, especially story which I feel got completely overlooked by nearly every reviewer to the point where I question whether they actually finished it. The map is huge but detailed and focused in feeling like a real world, everything has a place and purpose. It doesn't have a ton of small towns for no apparent reason, and keeping in line with what is a sporadic population. The gameplay can be very tough, or very easy, you can push yourself if you choose or play at a more leisurely pace. It doesn't crucify the gamer like the Souls series, but can offer that level of challenge if you want it. It is an RPG, with a great focus on action where you feel empowered as a player to make a difference. There are so many options in dealing with an enemy that strategies flow intuitively in dealing with different situations. Each with their own challenge and appeal, the variety is great as well... usually in RPG's you come up against the typical enemy and it gets boring. I never play magic classes as I tend to find them boring but damn, the magic abilities here are great. All very different and some amazing effects to be seen.

2. The Last of Us ; Gameplay wise I didn't think it was anything special, much like Uncharted for me. Difference here is the character work, the detail, the dialogue, everything is done so well to make a cohesive whole which is bettered by the brilliant work with the script, animation and graphics. Its like an independent movie with two great actors on the top of their game given a brilliant script to work with, rough around the edges for sure but far more satisfying than the hollywood blockbuster *cough*GTAV*cough*.

3. Rocksmith 2014 ; I am learning to play a guitar thanks to this, what could be better than that? It has faults and tries to milk every penny out of you but unlike most games I can say 'fair enough', its worth it, as I am getting something back. Well played to Ubisoft for making a game like this as its very niche and could go very wrong. Maybe not a game exactly as I certainly haven't tried any of its arcade stuff but the challenges make it into a fun game thats really addictive and I learn while playing.

4. Hotline Miami ; Brilliant fun, great challenge and it introduced me to the idea of 'indy' gaming. Never really looked at games in that sense, but perhaps when I would write off a game as looking a bit rubbish I am now more willing to give the benefit of the doubt. That is thanks to this game and the great recommendations it had for its PS3/Vita launch. Plus it was priced exactly as it should have been which is why i think it has been successful, they hit the spot. Its hard to describe the fun of a game sometimes and in this case the standout for me was the handling of deaths. Instant restarting feels sooo good, can jump right back in, try different things out and dying isn't a chore like most games where you have to go through some load screen. Can jump into the action again and again, so it becomes addictive. The story and presentation was surprisingly well done, felt like a "What if Quentin Tarantino made a game" back when he was good.

5. Rain ; Amazing game, if you can play a game at a snails pace and just enjoy the surroundings then it is well worth getting. Great setting, great idea, story and it looks dream like. A short game, although it required far more sittings than say Brothers, but long enough to get real value out of it. Don't want to go into too much detail but would love to see a PS4 sequel with rain particle effects. The brilliant composition of Clare De Lune justified the price on its own, let alone the rest of the fantastic score. The game is kind of to the side and not very necessary, the setting, story and such seem better suited to an adventure or puzzle game. Could have been a classic if they had gone that route IMO.

6. Resogun ;
Pure fun wrapped up into a digital download, and FREE! The best game of next gen for me, not saying much perhaps but I really rate it. It is challenging to the point where I thought it was impossible to beat on normal, yet somehow kept pulling me back until I got the platinum which I never do for the playstation. Can't let down those poor green humans!

7. The Swapper ; Looks beautiful, sounds beautiful, very creepy, interesting story and original concept... a great sci-fi game. I struggled with one of the puzzles and thought that I was hitting a wall but got back in the groove and managed to work things out quicker than I expected, a very intuitive design, challenging yet not frustrating. Balanced very well. Special note to the music as well, really well done, its a sodding puzzle game but the music had me on edge like an Aliens film.

8. Brothers A Tale of Two Sons ; If the game was a little longer, had actual dialogue and less cartoony people then I think this game would be a lot higher up. As it is, it is a brilliantly short game that touches the heart. Very unique idea with the controls and they really pushed things with this game. Some of the views are breathtaking.

9. Tearaway ; I haven't completed this and not getting much time for my Vita right now but what I have played it is fantastic, would never guess that I would enjoy this kind of game. Thought I had grown out of it, but having Iota look up at me as the Sun is a magical feeling. Makes me feel like a 10 year old playing a game, a 10 year old usually on the toilet... spoils the magic a bit. Uses all the features of the Vita so well, truly a great piece of kit that is undervalued by the general populace.

10. Beyond Two Souls ; People give Cage way too much crap, the game isn't perfect and has its faults but that seems to blind people to what is some truly remarkable feats in this game. For starters, it is the best looking game I have played in my life on any system. It is jaw dropping at times, even the banal bits like an underpass... I found myself stopping to just look around. Its bloody cement, asphalt and snow but it is amazing. The character work is second only to The Last of Us this year and high up there for all time efforts. Motivation, plot and such aren't out of this world, so it is mostly here on technical merit but had to put it in.


And the "Good effort!" awards go to:

x. GTAV ; Basically I think GTA games are incredibly overrated for the most part, great sandbox fun but its one helluva shallow sandbox. No lasting moments and written as if by some horny, angry, stereotyping teenager. This would almost get on my top ten list however as the heist missions are great, but there's like 3 of them. After doing the jewellery heist I was like "whoah, I can plan to rob a bunch of jewellery stores?!? Oh, no wait, that was it.". Wish they spent less time on sodding yoga and more on heist missions, would have been great. Feels like a missed opportunity. Hope they go with London next as a bank robber, and have that as the focus of the game with the ability to rob a bunch of stores multiple times (maybe with escalated security too in response?). Also I am not a big framerate guy, I rarely notice it... in this game though it felt like claymation or something at times. It was really grating.
x. Papers Please ; Great idea, execution didn't really pull it off though. I wanted to like it more than I did but have to give it props for being original.
x. Batman Arkham Origins ; If this was the first Batman game, it would be top 5 on my game of the year. It isn't though so all a bit samey which works against it, but there are some moments that blow the other games away. The Joker flashback, symbolism of two sides of the same coin that is Batman and The Joker. I thought the twist was done well, but I wish that character then went on to have more of a story in the game as they made a really good version of him that deserved some of the spotlight. Deathstroke was awesome but blew their load too early with him, pacing dragged the game down quite a bit in fact. Still, there is a very good game buried in amongst the flaws. Note required of the bugs, clearly released too early and its a sickening trend in gaming. Hopefully lawsuits will reign that in.
x. Splinter Cell Blacklist ; The game itself I thought was rubbish, the voice acting was awful, the story the typical tom clancy pap. The Michael Bay of gaming basically. On the otherhand the side missions for sneaking were old school awesome, one of my best gaming moments of 2013 was pulling off all the tasks on some WW2'esque fortress. Infiltrating around the outside, sneaking through a window, avoiding lasers and dogs... it was great. And the stealth was great, so why not make that the game! Ugh, frustrating, they keep trying to push the franchise into some all encompassing game. I wish they would get some of the designers of the stealth system to work with the assassins guys.
2012. Dragons Dogma ; Damn right, its that good.
 

John Harker

Definitely doesn't make things up as he goes along.
Feb 26, 2005
17,582
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Santa Destroy
okay, finally able to crack this bad boy open and start puting some things down.

where's the list of released games? doesn't someone usually have an excel or something?
 

TWILT

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Mar 30, 2012
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1. Fire Emblem Awakening ; Man, freaking Fire Emblem. It was really tough for me to decide between this and Pokemon as my overall game of the year. While I technically have more hours into Pokemon Y (over 450+ hours), ultimately Fire Emblem Awakening gave me a strong longer lasting impression to me.

Fire Emblem Awakening is simply phenomenal. While it is a good deal easier than previous Fire Emblems, Awakening still manages to have me resetting every time an ally of mine falls in combat. Usually if there’s one character I don’t care about, I usually go, “Eh, guess I can move on without him/her…”, but here, NO ONE gets left behind. I felt so emotionally invested in the characters, I considered them more than just mere allies. The strategy is still there of course; if you make the slightest mistake, you will pay for it. Fire Emblem kept me thinking and on my toes when I played it.

It helps that this game has an great cast of characters to choose from. From the determined leader Chrom, to the badass Lon’qu, to the sugar loving Gaius, to the sick and twisted Tharja, to best waifu wyvern riding Cherche, Fire Emblem Awakening truly made me care about the cast of characters like a good game. There’s tons of supports and interactions between the characters in this game; hell, I have over 6+ playthroughs trying to get most of them!

There’s also a lot of freedom in the game. If you want to do a no grind playthrough, that’s cool. You want to use your avatar as a wyvern rider? If you’re willing to put the time in the game, sure! Try and use every character in the game? Go nuts. There isn’t a character that’s a “bad” character, and you can use pretty much anyone you want. I love this type of freedom and while it may take away from the overall difficulty, I prefer picking what you want than overly challenging myself.

And did I mention the music? Oh man, this game has one of my favorite overall OSTs of 2013 as well. I love the dynamic soundtrack the game has and it’s an absolute blast to hear. Conquest (Ablaze), Divine Decree (Ablaze), Id~Purpose, Id~Hope, and of course, Don’t Speak Her Name! Fire Emblem always had a consistent track record when it comes to music, and Awakening is no exception and arguably the best yet.

Overall, considering I have 300+ hours in the game AND I bought each and every single piece of DLC, Fire Emblem Awakening is my game of the year. I was a bit nervous to hear that apparently Awakening might have been the last game in the series if it sold poorly, but thankfully it’s the best selling Fire Emblem yet. The future is in good hands, and in Lucina’s words, hope will never die!


2. Pokemon XY ; Pokemon is back, better than ever, and this time on a mainline game, in 3D! Pokemon is the game that keeps you coming back for more and more, even after you beat the Champion (I have 450+ hours in this game!) While admittedly, the postgame is a bit weak, that doesn’t stop Pokemon XY from being a damn awesome game.

Same old same old? On the surface level yes. You catch Pokemon, you collect 8 badges, you stop evil criminal organization and you become Champion. That is NOT a bad thing however, and there are plenty of advancements in the series. Tons of cool features like Pokemon Amie which strengthens your bond with your Pokemon, Super Training which makes EV training easier and more convenient than ever, the surprisingly great online options, and little things like riding on roller skates! It’s also easier than ever to raise the perfect Pokemon with perfect IVs and such, and half my time on Pokemon XY is spent training and raising my Pokemon alone! It’s an incredibly satisfying feeling when you raise your powerful Pokemon.

There’s something really cool about seeing your favorite Pokemon in 3D. It’s a really nostalgic feeling to me and helped made me feel like my Pokemon were my friends and partners rather than a sprite without emotion. There’s also tons of Pokemon to catch, having the biggest variety of Pokemon yet in a game. I never felt like I was forced to use any kind of Pokemon, and I just used what Pokemon I really liked (shoutouts to Goodra, Sylveon and Greninja by the way!).

Music is great of course, and I’d argue it’s the best Pokemon soundtrack yet. From the Gym Battle, the Champion Battle, the Legendary Pokemon theme, and even stuff like Vaniville Town, the Route 18 theme, and the Anistar City theme…all these songs were memorable to me. Pokemon music has never been better than ever.

Overall though, what I really like about XY is that the whole game felt like a genuine journey, and considering I’m still playing the game AFTER I became the Champion, that journey isn’t over yet! Pokemon XY is Pokemon at it’s finest, and while it does have it’s fair share of problems, they’re mostly minor and I still stand by Pokemon XY are the best Pokemon games yet. If we ever get that Pokemon Z that fixes XY’s problems, I can see that being even better. Pokemon XY is my most played game of 2013, and damn did I always have a smile playing it 90% of the time (the 10% being whenever I had to battle against Mega Kangaskhan…)


3. Super Mario 3D World ; Now here is a game that makes me really glad I picked up a Wii U on Christmas (along with The Wonderful 101 of course). As much criticism as Nintendo gets and deserves for messing up their Wii U release, you have to admit they still managed to make some damn fine games for it, and one of them just happens to be this game! I love me some 3D Mario and 3D World certainly got a lot of love from me.

The entire time I was playing 3D World, I always had a silly, but happy smile on my face, mostly because I was just having a damn great time with the game! The platforming is tighter than ever, the levels are unique and have a lot of feeling to them, some levels can actually be challenging if you’re one of those people who like collecting everything, and well, it was just a blast to play! Every level felt like I was doing something new and fun, whether it be trying out the new cat suit power up (which is actually really fun!), riding down waterfalls and rivers with a giant dinosaur, racing against the clock to reach the goal, solving a clever puzzle while using the new Cherry power up and making sure the Mario clones don’t fall, sliding down ice skates, playing through familiar levels, and more! Because goddamn, this game has a lot of content to it, and all of it is super fun.

This game also looks fantastic visual wise. It feels super nice to see a game that’s full of color and full of life. While the Galaxy games on Wii were certainly no slouch visual wise, there’s something about seeing 3D World in glorious high definition that makes it an absolute treat to see. Even looking at the game on the Wii U pad, I was hooked to the screen. 3D World is the game that just keeps on giving, and it always pulled me back in for more, mostly because there’s a bunch of collectibles and extra levels to get. And of course, it’s always super fun to finally play 3D Mario with friends (even if the lives system could use some work) and just having a plain good old time!

The music of course is fantastic. Classic Mario songs are remixed, and sound better than ever, and I really feel it helped add to my experience overall. It helped make the game to an overall fantastically fun playthrough and I couldn’t imagine the game without it. Overworld, Athletic Theme 1, Snow Theme, Athletic Theme 2, Beep Block Skyway, and many more were just so nice to listen to, the game also has one of my favorites OSTs of the year as well.

Super Mario 3D World is a fantastic game, and while you may want to look into other games before getting a Wii U, I’m super happy that I finally got one for this game. While I’m hoping to see something even bigger than 3D World next time, as long as the game is super fun and fantastic like this one, I wouldn’t mind to see more of the same.


4. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ; Rules of nature!

Ahem, anyway, what needs to be said about Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance? To be honest, I’ve never really been much of a Metal Gear fan. Snake Eater was pretty cool, but what really got me into the series is of course Rising. In general, it’s just a pretty well done awesome game! One of Platinum Game’s best games easily in my opinion (I even loved it more than Bayonetta, though I should really try Vanquish sometime…), I really loved everything about Metal Gear Rising.

Gameplay? Fantastic; by far the best action game I’ve played this year (and yes, I have played the incredibly mediocre DmC game that came earlier in the year). The slice and dice combat is super satisfying and fast paced, and will keep you coming back for more. While still somewhat limited, being able to cut almost anything feels so great, and make you feel like a real badass. Pulling a Zandatsu feels so damn good (BULLSEYE!) And don’t get me started on those awesome boss fights, which I’d argue are some of the best in action game history. The Samuel samurai showdown in particular just gets me hype every time I replay the game. And while the game is probably not the most difficult action game I’ve played, on the higher difficulties, it certainly kept me on my toes and one mistake meant you’ll take a lot of damage.

Music’s just as awesome of course. Arguably one of the best OSTs this year, everything fits with the dynamic soundtrack, and while some may argue it’s a little too cheesy, I think it’s a little too awesome. Some of the standout tracks for me are Hot Wind Blowing, The Only Thing I Know For Real and of course, It Has To Be This Way. The soundtrack plays such an important part of the game for me, I’d be almost tempted to kick the game off my list if it didn’t have such a godlike soundtrack. I mean, well the game would still be awesome, but just slightly less so!

While the story isn’t something I’d say is worthy of an Oscar or anything, there are plenty of moments in it that’ll definitely give you a big smile on your face (Go ninja go ninja go!) The characters themselves are pretty interesting, especially the final boss (Nanomachines, son). While the game is a bit on the short side, it more than makes up for it with being highly replayable and just being absolutely a blast to play! Overall, if you haven’t played Revengeance and you love action games, you’re seriously missing out and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see what’s in store for a potential sequel with the Platinum Games magic. This image basically sums up how I felt when playing Metal Gear Rising.


5. Shin Megami Tensei IV ; Mainline Shin Megami Tensei is back and better than ever. One of the best JRPGs released this year, Shin Megami Tensei IV offered a challenging and fun JRPG battle system that’s rewarding and satisfying with the Press Turn system with an interesting storyline with thought provoking decisions, which all help influence the ending you get. Like a mainline SMT game, it’s brutally difficult, though thankfully it’s the most approachable mainline SMT game yet.

The setting almost immediately drew me in the opening hours. The seemingly medieval atmosphere soon turned into a futuristic modern timeline really made me curious about what exactly happened in this world. I’m a huge sucker for those kinds of things and helped really make me love the game even more. Despite the few problems I had with the world map, Tokyo was still a sight to explore and see. I would absolutely love to see more games that take place in modern places with an interesting theme (shoutouts to The World Ends With You by the way).

The decisions you make in the game really made think about my actions in the game. Is it really okay to kill this one person? Would you exclude someone for being different or let them join in your activities? While the characters themselves aren’t as strong as say something from Persona, they’re still enjoyable and interesting in their own way. Even if you don’t enjoy the characters that much, Shin Megami Tensei IV more than makes up with it with a very captivating atmosphere.

As for the gameplay itself, it’s the most steam lined main SMT game yet, and they’re all changes for the better. Demon Fusion is easier and better than ever, letting you know what exactly what kind of demon you want to get. Apps make the game feel like there were a lot of options to customization and the Demon Whisper mechanic, where you can pass down demonic skills to your main character, is something I absolutely love, since it makes customizing your main character easier than ever. The battle system is still really fun and Press Turn is something I wish was in the mainline Persona series. Battles can be really easy if you’re prepared or almost impossible to beat if you aren’t ready. There’s also numerous things to do, including over 100 sidequests, most of which are actually pretty unique and offer different demons to fight.

I can’t not talk about the music, since it’s also one of my favorites this year! The music really helps set the atmosphere with the game, and I was always playing the game with my headphones on. Some of my favorite tracks include the Tokyo Overworld, Pluto Castle, and Infernal Kasumigaseki and I can’t forget about the awesome battle themes including Isabeau, the Tokyo Battle Theme, the Archangel Battle theme, and the main Boss Theme.

Overall, Shin Megami Tensei IV is a fantastic JRPG, has a lot of things I love in JRPGs and I’m really glad I got the chance to play it, even with the steep $49.99 price tag. While I still eagerly await the next installment of the Persona franchise, I would not mind at all if Atlus continued the mainline Shin Megami Tensei series one day.


6. Wonderful 101 ; Now here is a game that really isn’t for everyone. I mean, really it’s not; it’s actually a pretty flawed game. The game has a pretty big learning curve so much so that the game actually took a while for it to click with me, it has rather unfriendly controls to begin with, the camera is pretty bad at times (and it’s easy to lose track of your characters at times), and what’s worse, the game doesn’t really tell you HOW to play at all.

Such a shame though, because everything else is gold and some people are missing out on an otherwise excellent game. Once the game finally “clicked” with me, I was having a badass time. While the battle system takes a while to get used to, once you do, it feels super satisfying to use and it has that certain Platinum Games magic to it so to speak. I was really impressed on how many options there are in terms of combat and while once again it takes a while to get used to, “drawing” what weapon/attack I want to do almost becomes second nature. It never really takes itself too seriously, and the game had so much charm and colour, it made it all the more easier to have a blast.

The game actually made me feel like a kid again, and I was watching a badass episode of the Power Rangers. I was really “into” the game persay, and the game itself made me feel like I was part of the action. The characters themselves helped with this, each with their own unique personality and style. From Wonder Blue, the smartass sword user we all love (who surprisingly has quite a bit of depth to him), Wonder Yellow the tough hammer using guy with a Russian accent that I’ve really grown to like and even someone who may seem like a generic main leader guy like Wonder Red has his perks.

Once again, The Wonderful 101 isn’t a game for everyone; not at all. However, once you give the game a chance and it finally clicks with you, it stays clicked and you’ll be playing the game with a certain rush in you. Not quite my favorite Platinum game of choice, but damn it does come close and it certainly was wonderful to play through.


7. Dragon's Crown ; Alright, so, let me guess this out of the way. I’ve honestly never been that big of a fan of Vanillaware games. I couldn’t really get into Odin Sphere, and Muramasa, while fun, wasn’t my cup of tea either surprisingly. Combine that with Dragon’s Crown’s rather “controversial” artstyle, and I wasn’t all that hot about Dragon’s Crown. I finally decided to get the game when a couple of friends of mine seemed to have a lot of fun with the jolly co-op mode, and you know what? I’m really glad I did.

Dragon’s Crown is a super fun Action RPG beat em up game that’s super addictive that has a surprising lot of depth (coming off Muramasa, I’m impressed). The game looks fantastic as the hand drawn dungeons and environments look really nice. The dungeons themselves are really fun to explore and have their own unique bosses, whether it be a giant deadly dragon or even a killer rabbit, it was all pretty fun to fight, which are also spectacle to see. If there’s one thing I always liked about Vanillaware games, it’s that they always look damn great, and it was nice to see that Dragon’s Crown was no exception.

The game really nails the Medieval theme down to a T I feel. Whether it be the fantastic use of the visuals, the type of characters shown and even the well done music, it made me feel like I was going on an epic adventure with a group of travelers to save the place from deadly dragons and beasts. Once again, I was never ever really into Vanillaware games THAT much, but Dragon’s Crown feels really nice and smooth, and I was totally into it so to speak. Overall, if you own a Vita or a PS3, you owe to yourself to give Dragon’s Crown a chance, because despite all the criticism I have to give to Vanillaware games, Dragon’s Crown is a fantastic game that I’m glad I didn’t pass on.


8. Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies ; Take that!

Just when I thought the series would never come over here after Ace Attorney Investigations 2 didn’t (and seriously Capcom, PLEASE bring it over here…), they surprise me again with Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies. Yeah, it really sucks that this game is digital only for Nintendo 3DS, considering Nintendo’s…questionable digital system, but hey, I still bought the game, and you know what? I still really loved it.

Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies is easily one of the strongest entries in the series thus far. One of the best transitions from sprites to 3D models, Ace Attorney looks beautiful and animates really well. The game still has the goofy, yet lovable charm the Ace Attorney games always had, while still looking better than ever.

Like any good Ace Attorney game, the game is still very well written, no matter how crazy the situation may sound. It’s one of those games that really make you think about what’s going on, and it rewards you for doing so. Being a lawyer has never felt more awesome. The characters are great too. Athena Cykes is totally awesome and has a very interesting backstory that I won’t spoil too much. Simon Blackquill is also one of the most badass characters Capcom has ever created, being one of my favorite prosecutors (with only Edgeworth being just a little better). Returning characters like Phoenix Wright are better than ever and even someone like Apollo Justice ends up doing some badass stuff.

Overall, Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies is a must play for Ace Attorney fans and I’m glad I didn’t skip this. I had a fantastic time analyzing all the evidence I had to reach out to the truth and reading all the amazing dialogue. Hopefully, this isn’t the last Ace Attorney game we get.


9. Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; Zelda, Zelda, Zelda. For whatever reason, Zelda always manages to make my list of favorite games of the year in some form (except the year that Phantom Hourglass came out…). I’ll be honest; I was never that big of a fan of a Link to the Past. Don’t get me wrong; I still think it’s a good game, but it never really captured me like so many other fans for some reason. A Link Between Worlds though? Easily one of my favorite games of the year.

What I really like about this game is that unlike the previous game in the series, Skyward Sword, is that the game does not hold your hand whatsoever. No annoying helper that pops up every 5 seconds to explain stuff you already know and you actually get the feeling of figuring stuff out for yourself! The game is a little on the easy side, but it makes up for it with being just an absolute joy to play through without constant tutorials being shoved down your throat.

There’s a lot of freedom in this game, so much so that you can tackle dungeons in almost any order you want. All you need to do is “rent” the item required for tackling the dungeon, and you’re good to go! Unfortunately, this does mean the actual dungeons are bit shorter than they should be I feel, but overall, it still feels really nice to go in any direction you want without being “wrong” about it.

The new gameplay mechanics work really well. I had my skepticism about Link turning into a drawing, but the mechanic works really well and is very clever in puzzle solving. It still always feels great when you’re solving a puzzle (even if the game’s a little bit on the easy side.) The boss battles are really great too. While in A Link to the Past, none of them really struck out as memorable to me, A Link Between World’s bosses were always were really fun and clever.

Overall, A Link Between Worlds is a damn great game and I’m glad I got the honor of playing it as a big Zelda fan. After Skyward Sword’s…problems, I was a little skeptical about the future for the franchise, but after playing this game, it’s nice to know the franchise is in good hands still.


10. Animal Crosing: New Leaf ; Ah Animal Crossing. Such a weird yet enjoyable game. This is actually my first Animal Crossing game, and to be honest, I wasn’t really expecting to like the game as much as I did, but damn, I spent a much longer time in this game that I thought. You can’t really “beat” the game so to speak. It’s a game about how you’re the mayor of your little town, and from that point on, you can build your town the way you like it. It’s actually a pretty relaxing game, and it’s really nice to have a game where there isn’t really a forced objective.

There are lots to do in the game, and it’s actually all really addictive. Whether it be making your town a better place, with stuff like Ordinances and decorating it, improving and making your house looker nicer, or just plain seeing your villagers and what they’re up too, I was always playing the game with a smile on my face. The game is filled with content and there’s actually incentive to actually always come back to the game! Since there’s stuff like holidays for Halloween or Christmas in the game, and plenty of fun events, I was making sure to at the very least check on my town every time or so, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Such a rarity in games these days.

Other that that, there’s not too much to say! Animal Crossing’s a very relaxing game, that doesn’t really stress you out with endgoals and achievements. It’s not a game for everyone, but it’s always super nice to see a game that I just plain had fun with and that earns it’s spot on my game of the year list. Now, I should really check up on my town sometime after I abandoned them for Pokemon…

x. Tales of Xillia ;

x. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon ;

x. The Last of Us ;

x. Spelunky ;
 

Jibbed

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Jun 11, 2011
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1. Assassin's Creed IV (PC); I can't really get my head around the fact that this is the best game I've played all year (in terms of 2013 releases), but somehow Ubisoft completely nailed what can only be described as any wannabe-pirate's dream experience. I've found myself sailing for almost hours on end just listening to the crew singing songs, the waves lap against the bow of the ship, and largely just revelling in how beautiful the whole thing is. The storms especially are a sight to behold. As crazy as it sounds, this game is exactly what the new consoles needed to give them some extra legs at launch. 10/10 would sail again.

2. Bioshock Infinite (PC); Beautiful in every sense of the word, just lacked a little bit of fun on the gunplay side of things that enabled ACIV to pip this to #1. 9.5/10, this is one of those games that everyone needs to experience at some point - it will blow your mind.

3. DayZ Standalone (Alpha - PC) ; I'm not even entirely sure if this is eligible but it was released the week before Christmas, and I've nearly accumulated a day's worth of meandering already. I had some amazing times with the mod and I can already see the potential in the unshackled standalone version, it just needs a few months to get there. Undoubtedly one of the games of 2014 to look out for, it's already closing in on 1M sales. Much banditry, much fun.

4. Grand Theft Auto V (X360) ; My only non-PC entry for obvious reasons... regardless of the hype and whatnot, this game delivered. Phenomenal stuff as always from Rockstar, absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on the PC version.

5. Papers, Please (PC) ; This game really caught me off guard before it started cropping up everywhere and I was hooked for a few days solid.

6. Just Cause 2: Multiplayer Mod (PC) ; Fun fun fun! EXPLOSIONS!!!!
7. Civilisation V: Brave New World (PC) ; First ever Civ game and wow, this shit is addictive.
8. Battlefield 4 (PC) ; I missed all the launch crap that came with this so I've somewhat enjoyed my limited experiences with the game... unsure if >BF3 right now, but still good.
9. Grid 2 (PC) ; Not as good as the first (in fact, by a huuuuuuge margin), but still a good lil' racer.
10. DmC: Devil May Cry (PC) ; First ever DMC game, it didn't hold me for long but I enjoyed it all the same. Pretty!

X. The Last of Us (PS3) ; I watched someone play through the entirety of the campaign on YouTube and enjoyed every minute of it. Almost made me buy a PS3. Again.
 

SloaneRisette

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zerosecondcooldown.blogspot.com
1. The Wonderful 101 ; Seeing The Wonderful 101 at E3 back in 2012, I was confused, to say the least. It was hard from the get-go to really tell much about the game with what little was seen about it, and with what was seen in the first footage, while it looked good, it was, well, confusing. Back when it was announced as Project P-100, I didn’t know a lot about Platinum Games or Hideki Kamiya. I’ve read about both the company and the man on NeoGAF a ton, and knew that they were both thought highly of, so I definitely had confidence in the project, despite not knowing a lot about it. Of course, with 2013, playing different games from Platinum left me all the more excited about how crazy and over the top The Wonderful 101 would probably be.

And, with seeing The Wonderful 101 Nintendo Direct, my excitement for the game shot through the roof and then some. The game looked to be as what I hoped it would be—something over the top, crazy, ridiculous, and most of all, something that looked to take pride in the fact that it was a game. And from the moment I first started it up all the way to the last boss battle, I felt like I was definitely right about it. The Wonderful 101 is a game that really is over the top in story, cinematics, and gameplay, but also doesn’t compromise on solid gameplay mechanics either. The Wonderful 101 is an incredibly solid action game, constantly keeping you on your feet, but never being (at least when I played it on Normal) too tough to the point of not being fun anymore. The story was absolutely silly and ridiculous in all of the best ways, and the ramping up of the action with each boss battle, by the end of the game; I had a huge smile on my face and loved every moment of what I was playing. Out of all of the games I’ve played this year (and believe me, I played a lot of games this year), The Wonderful 101 is far and away my favorite, even with me not expecting to like it as much as I would at first. It is without a doubt my game of the year.

2. Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies ; I don’t think many people were really expecting a new Phoenix Wright game anytime soon. At least, people probably weren’t expecting a Phoenix Wright game that wasn’t a crossover or iOS. Well, I wasn’t, at least. When it was announced that Dual Destinies would be digital only on the 3DS, my hopes weren’t exactly high. Alongside that, Capcom’s track record this generation has been a bit hit or miss, so I was a bit nervous about their ability to deliver a great Ace Attorney game. And while I did enjoy Apollo Justice and Trials and Tribulations, I never was the biggest fan of Ace Attorney. So, to come back to the series with a newfound appreciation for non-conventional types of games (which I feel like I owe partially to games like 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward) I was incredibly surprised.

The graphics looked quite nice, and as I mentioned in my review, even the 3D effect, while not necessary for anything, added a nice pop to certain parts. The music had a great mix of old that was finely updated, and new ones that were at the top with the best of the classic Ace Attorney music. Not only that but they just improved the gameplay as a whole. Whenever you were finished in an investigation area you were told right away, finding things was much easier, and the courtroom sections of the game never felt too tough or too easy, just right, just about.

However, one of the best parts about the game, as to be expected of an Ace Attorney game, is the writing. It’s absolutely top notch, which, as bad as it may sound, left me a bit surprised. But, as surprised as I was, I love Dual Destinies, and enjoyed every minute of what I played of it.

3. Pikmin 3 ; A Pikmin 3 being released was easily one of my most hyped and anticipated releases for the year. And, quite frankly, it didn’t fail to impress. The game looked absolutely gorgeous, one of my favorite looking games to date, with gorgeous creature designs that strike both awe and terror, as well as wonderful environments that are as fun to go through as they are to look at.

The gameplay was the same Pikmin gameplay that I knew and loved, too. However, and maybe it is just my getting better at games with age and determination, but the game feels much easier to get used to and adapt to, considering the extra captains to take control of in the game and the two different types of Pikmin that are vastly different than any type of Pikmin from any game in the series, but still, the game remains deep and challenging, especially considering the side modes that there are. The fact that the game also makes sure to keep a great balance between the story and the gameplay is something that has sorely been needed for the series, and is incredibly appreciated. The series has had its fair share of bumps between Pikmin and Pikmin 2, but 3 is by far the sharpest, most refined entry yet.

4. Pokemon X and Y ; While, normally, I might not consider a Pokemon game to be quite as high up on a Game of the Year list of mine, Pokemon X and Y bucks the trend with good reason. Pokemon X (the version I played, though, as always, the two versions are near identical) is such a paramount improvement over the rest of the series, that it’s almost crazy to think about how much the series has grown with this release. The move away from sprites into an all 3D was probably one of the most notable changes, and, while there weren’t as many new Pokemon this time around, the sheer effort that went into the creation of not only a full on 3D world, but rather nice 3D models for all of the Pokemon is definitely impressive to me.

Alongside that, the game is just fun to play. There’s always been a point in Pokemon games where I eventually just erase my save file after the Elite Four and becoming the champion, and then doing all sorts of theme runs and Nuzlockes, but here I’ve managed to stick with the same file for a surprising 205 hours now (and yes, I did check this). For me, that’s incredibly surprising, but it’s due to all of the improvements that GameFreak has made to a lot of the systems in Pokemon X and Y a lot easier to get used to, such as breeding (and boy, did they make breeding easier) and EV training. Breeding a competitive team is no longer a chore like it was when I tried in past generations, but instead an easy process that allows you to get to the part of the game that is the best: the actual battling. Overall, Pokemon X has been one of the best games I've played just due to the sheer number of hours I’ve not only put into it, but enjoyed from it.

5. Animal Crossing: New Leaf ; Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a bit of an interesting case as to why I’ve loved it so much this year. More or less, it’s a lot of the same as past games. There’s an absolute ton of improvements from the past games, without a doubt (especially for those who remember playing Wild World, ugh) and they’re all solid improvements. While the addition of being the Mayor of your town is a bit inconsequential at a certain point, it’s just a neat addition that adds a bit to the series that’s never been there before. All of the additions of happenings with your fellow villagers in the town, returning holidays and new holidays, the game is just packed with content that, as to be expected from Animal Crossing, definitely takes a long time to just see everything, assuming you’re not altering the time.

But, the nice thing about the game is that it’s just relaxing. It came out at a good time for me, just as a school year was wrapping up, so to be able to take some time with a nice, laidback game was one of the best things I could ask for. It’s a simple game that is rather similar to past games in the series, but it executes everything very well, and it’s just a treat to play, whether you go to a villager’s birthday party, or come back to your town a few weeks later to see your favorite villager has packed up and moved on, the game has some strange ways of evoking emotion in its own way. It’s so simple and so serene, yet at the same time, an absolute joy to play. While at first I played an hour plus every day for the first few weeks after the game was released, now I’m playing thirty or so minutes every other day, and I still love it just as much. While I can’t give the time and dedication to New Leaf as I would love to, even what I can give I’m happy giving to the game, because I have such a relaxing time with it each time I turn it on. It’s without a doubt the game I’ve spent the most hours with in 2013, and I still see myself spending many more hours into it without a doubt.

6. Fire Emblem Awakening ; Despite coming out so early in the year, Fire Emblem Awakening has remained one of my favorite games of the year because it’s been so absolutely solid despite all of the other releases. After games like Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, Fire Emblem more or less fell off the radar for me, so the news that they were actually going to localize Awakening was not only a bit of a surprise, but something that helped work up my interest in the Fire Emblem games again. And when I had heard that Fire Emblem Awakening was turning out to be a great game that a lot of people liked, I just readied myself even more for another romp in the realm of medieval strategy.

Fire Emblem Awakening was another good return to form to the Fire Emblem series when I ended up actually playing it. It took a good mix of past games and refined them, as well as taking a mechanic that was only featured in a Japanese only Fire Emblem, the “My Unit” and brought it to the US, but the great thing about the Avatar character in Awakening was that they actually mattered to the story in an important way. Awakening also had tons of content at its disposal, between near 30 chapters for the main game and plenty of DLC, not to mention Streetpass battles if you can manage to find someone to Streetpass, there’s plenty to do in this Fire Emblem, far more than any past Fire Emblem. And with the music being solid, the switch from sprites into 3D, while a bit jarring (those sprites in Fire Emblem and Sacred Stones were fantastic, after all) and the gameplay being fantastic, Fire Emblem Awakening was a bit of surprise that turned out to be one of my favorites.

7. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ; Aside from Anarchy Reigns, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was my first Platinum Games romp, and my first traditional one at that. Having never really been a part of any Metal Gear Solid craze, this was, admittedly, my first time playing a Metal Gear Solid game, and a spin-off at that. And it was definitely a really fun game, without a doubt. The music was absolutely insane and fantastic, not to mention unexpected considering my only exposure to any Metal Gear music was the Snake Eater song, I was definitely thrown though a loop.

That it was possible to cut nearly anything and everything, while it was a bit silly, was a surprisingly fun novelty to the game that I never seemed to tire of. I remember having to restart the game due to cutting away too much from a ledge that I needed to jump onto just because I was having so much fun with the sheer absurdity with the ability to cut just about whatever I wanted to in the environment. Even continuing on to being able to chop up random foot soldiers and Geckos up into thousands of pieces was bizarre and fantastic in its own right. The gameplay was as tight and fast-paced as I’ve heard of a Platinum Games game, and it never felt too overbearing or difficult to get a handle of, especially for a person like me that’s, at best, average at action games. From the beginning of the game to the very end, the sheer absurdity and fun I had with Revengeance is not something I can say of many other games, and the game just managed to have what will probably end up forever being my favorite line from this past generation of video games.

“Nanomachines, son.”

Just the perfect, absurd end to a perfectly absurd game.

8. Shelter ; It was a game that I heard about, was surprised was even being made, but the concept seemed so unusual and interesting to me that I couldn’t help but want to try it out. The very concept sounds almost unheard of in a video game: you play as a mother badger guiding her five young cubs through the wilderness, making sure to protect them from other animals, starvation, and nature. The whole premise of the game sounds a bit strange and unexpected, but I think that may have been what drew me to liking it so much. In an age where we’re only now starting to get these types of experiences, Shelter is a very special one, evoking plenty of emotion in urgency in very real ways.

The small family of badgers ends up having to face all sorts of dangers ramping up with each chapter, and the urgency that you experience ramps up as well, starting from simple darkness and fetching food all the way to forest fires. The game constantly had me on edge, due to the very real consequence that if something happened to my badger cubs, they were dead for good. The game did a great job at showing just how protective a person can become, and that definitely held true for me. I was near screaming by the end of the game due to how poorly everything started to unravel for my playthrough of the game. The environments were gorgeously crafted, and the ambience from the music helped make the experience come together even more. Despite being a rather short experience, it was a wonderful one, and talking to one of the developers helped affirm how much I enjoyed Shelter even more.

9. The Stanley Parable ; Without a doubt, 2013 was a year for incredibly inventive, incredibly interesting games. The Stanley Parable was one of those games. Based on an old Source mod, The Stanley Parable is a first person game that is focused on exploring the environment and what it may hold. One of the most enjoyable things about The Stanley Parable was just how subversive it generally was. Whatever you would go into the game expecting, the game would find some way to mess with your expectations of what you would expect from a game. Even what would probably be the simplest achievement, clicking on a door five times, is made absolutely ridiculous in what should be a rather simple achievement.

The narrator proves to be probably the shining spot of the game as well. Filled with wit and snark, the narrator constantly goes over every event and action that the main character does, and even disobeying him leads to a lot of sarcasm and quite a bit of hilarity. The Stanley Parable is one of the few games that had me laughing out loud from the writing. Although the gameplay is simple walking around with the occasional clicking objects in the environment, simply exploring the environment, finding out how events unravel in certain endings, and listening to the narrator speak made this an unexpected, yet very enjoyable experience.

10. Gunpoint ; Gunpoint is a great game just for how it takes the ideas behind a stealth game and manages to size it down into something smaller, but manage to not compromise the in gameplay mechanics of the genre. A small indie game done primarily by one man, it combines stealth elements and puzzle elements to create a fantastic game. Armed with what’s called the Crosslink, you play as a freelance spy whose objective on the missions he takes from all sorts of people, you’re tasked with infiltrating buildings, hacking computers, stealing schematics, looking at laptops, planting bugs, all variety of different objectives, by rewiring switches, motion sensors, and security cameras to aid you in getting around buildings and past guards.

The neat thing about how Gunpoint is structures is the quick reload function after you die. It’ll give you either the option to restart the mission entirely, or from a variety of going back different amounts of seconds. The ability to go back a small amount of time back to right before you made that crucial mistake that led to you getting shot and being able to just go back on the fly is really great, and takes out a lot of the tedium of a stealth game, while still being able to remain stealthy with how the game is constructed. It’s a nice addition that doesn’t compromise on any core design.

The music is a soothing jazz that fits the espionage and the hatted, trenchcoat wearing character, and the writing feels on point. The main character is quick-witted and always ready to strike back with something witty or sarcastic to say in the pre-mission dialogue. Gunpoint is a rather short game that can be breezed through pretty easily, but despite that, it’s fun to be able to go back to, run through a couple of levels quick, and then leave it be for a little while to return to at another point. The game is simply, but solid, and I would love to see the concept expanded upon in the future.

Sorry for the lengthy write ups, this was for a big GOTY list that I did, so there's a lot of words.
 

John Harker

Definitely doesn't make things up as he goes along.
Feb 26, 2005
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1. The Last Of Us ; I didn't actually want to give this my #1... but after much thought, I couldn't find a compelling enough reason not to. The ending was incredible; in fact, the entire last half was. I didn't love the world and story at the beginning, but I loved the gameplay. Then, around the time you join up with the two brothers, it kind of flips for me and I fall in love with the world and the people, but the gameplay takes a step backwards to your standard 'must clear this room before can advance' - which I didn't like as much (I felt the beginning had more suspense and strategy involved). So it was a bit uneven for me overall for a GOTY.... BUT the whole package is much better than the sum of its parts. Nothing is flawless in my eyes, but what you do have is a wonderful, enthralling experience with one of the best endings in a videogame, so ultimately happy to call it my #1 since I clearly feel so strongly about the total package.

2. Pikmin 3 ; I never played Pikmin 1 or 2, so imagine how strong the impact Pikmin 3 had for me. So incredibly unique, such a compelling world and wonderful characters - full of so much, well, character! I was really surprised at how much dialogue and characterization was in a Nintendo game - I haven't played anything like it before. Loved it, from beginning to end. It was absolutely gorgeous too; one of the best looking games I've played this year, and I own every device on the market. Well done, Nintendo.

3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; this game fills me with wonder at every turn. Loved turning the formula upside down. Might be one of the most brilliantly designed games I've played in years.

4. Super Mario 3D World ;

5. Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag ; Really surprising how good this turned out. Playing it on PS4, it's stunning, cohesive, tight, and well, not really buggy at all. Naval is unique enough to put this above some of the other, better story-driven games coming up below... but 5-6-7 were really a really tight race for me.

6. Bioshock Infinite ; LOVED the ending, and really liked Burial at Sea. Those two elements put it above Tomb Raider for me, which I wasn't expecting, because I think the gameplay was derivative and a major step back from Bioshock 1. Please no more corridor stuff, I want my strategy and fear back - but great story, fun world, interesting characters, etc.

7. Tomb Raider (2013) ; bravo, beautiful game, loved the new Lara, some of - if not the - best third person combat and controls I've played in a game. They did a great job keeping Tomb Raider relevant, had a lot of fun here.

8. Beyond Two Souls ; clicked for me after like 4 hours, which I know is a bit too long, but ended up really enjoying it... I'm one of the few people who still think David Cage is brilliant - notwithstanding the fact I've met him before, I'll always give his games a chance, and he hasn't disappointed here at all. Ellen Page was phenomenal.

9. Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn ; never thought I'd play an MMO again, but this one is a lot of fun! Really great experience

10. Tearaway ; very happy with this one too; beautiful, unique, and while I felt it was too long, the game is mesmerizing and deserved to be played

Honorable Mentions:

X. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
X. Killzone Shadow Fall ; best in the series
X. Dead Space 3 ; weak Dead Space, but had fun in co-op, which I usually don't do.

LTTP 2012:

2012. Dishonored ; stealth! no kill runs! strategy and awesome world? yes please
2012. Kingdom's of Amular: Reckoning ; beautiful game, great action. it's a little overwhelming but very fun

Both great games!

(So, did I do that right?)
 

elfinke

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The 24000 character limit means I have had to cut nearly a thousand words from my descriptions, lol. Apologies for the ampersands, too.

But here we go.

Some of the best hours of gaming I’ve sat through were had in the last 12 months (with apologies to those big hitters in my Steam/PS+ lists that I simply didn’t get around to: Spelunky, Beyond: Two Souls, DMC, Antichamber, The Swapper, and an even bigger regret for not owning a 3DS).

Here’s what tickled my fancy the most.


1. Rocksmith 2014 ; This tops my list for one simple reason: I learned to play guitar this year. That’s all I need to say about it. In the space of a few months, I have gone from never having once plucked a string before to now being able to play a number of songs almost unaided, this is perhaps the greatest gaming-related purchase I have ever made.

A no-bullshit tutorial mode that is a ton of fun, no locking of options or modes or features behind completion goals (fuck you every game ever that has that - especially racing games these days. Seriously, lose licensing as a gate, forget XYZ-class racing leagues as progression gates: I just want to race on tracks with cars of my choosing from the getgo - I gave you $90 already you fucks. Turn10/Polyphony etc: you are all doing it wrong) & a multitude of learning tools that were clearly designed by people who cared about the product they were making & just as importantly, cared about the audience they were appealing to.

No higher praise can be given.


2. The Last of Us ; Naughty Dog had a story to tell, & they wanted - nay needed - you to wind the film reel. This is clearly the culmination of a group of people all working towards one goal in what must have been near perfect harmony. The art matched the story which matched the player engagement which matched the art which matched the acting which matched the button prompts & so on. It is not the first game to have such perfect harmony across the many elements that make up a game (indeed, it isn’t even the most harmoniously matched on this list), however each of those elements are refined in a way that no other game has ever achieved.

The art: there is a red brick wall very early on in a small, meaningless area you must clamber around that is the brickiest looking wall I have ever seen in a game. The petrol station/convenience store you crash the car into & are ambushed at is full of little things that are not seen anywhere else in the entire game & yet are lovingly crafted & placed in the environment. TLoU is full of things that have maybe 1-5 seconds of screen time, & it just makes it the most wonderfully realised, realistic virtual world I have spent time in. It was a big year for sound achievement in games I played, & TLoU sits at the top - it entirely justifies spending money on good speakers/cans.

The story is internally consistent, something that is crucially important in a game like this. I played TLoU on easy, like I do most games these days, & it made for a wonderful experience - I do not buy the tone people use when they dismiss other people’s criticisms of the game by saying, ‘oh if you didn’t play it on hard you didn’t get the full experience’. That’s some bullshit & unfair to the people who have criticised TLoU & identified its shortcomings that bothered them, but that is also a tangential discussion for another time due to character limitations in this post!

I never felt trapped by design (whether it be circumstance, environment, resource, enemy etc) & it made for a terrific time. At no point did I feel like I was trudging through filler or sloppy design, with the exception of one or two stationary sniper-based encounters. Moreover, as others have mentioned, I thought it was vitally important to embrace a ‘come-what-may’ attitude to playing TLoU: you fuck up the stealth & are now engaged with the enemy? dealwithit.jpg. You desperately want to gather those items but can’t see how to get around those clickers? toobadmotherfuckers.jpg. Those cloying moments, those moments that are difficult to reconcile with the ‘I want everything my way, I need to collect everything, I need to pass this section perfectly…’ attitude that other games wholly support or even promote, are exactly what made TLoU so fucking great - it challenged that attitude & those behaviours. Not every player enjoyed that pushback, though.

Easily my GOTY in a year where I’ve played more games that are great than probably ever before, but pipped to no.1 only for a very personal reason intrinsic to what Rocksmith gave me.


3. Rogue Legacy ; Talk about tight systems design, Rogue Legacy has them in spades. As a bonus, everything peripheral to the core platforming is tightly refined: it has a wonderful soundtrack, reminiscent of Diablo, a neat art style, marvellous humour & a positive player feedback loop that can keep you hooked in that ‘one more go before bed’ (otherwise known as the Football Manager loop) routine that sees you sit up until the wee hours of the morning.

This feedback loop is similar to the Souls’ series: deaths are rarely anything but your own hamfsted fault, & as a result, you are left feeling you could always have performed that jump/spell/attack/dodge/action better, rather than feeling slighted by poor design (see ‘enemy wave encounters’ in many FPS, for example), & thus more importantly you are sure you will do it better next time. Combined with restarting with potentially a better character trait roll, a persistent character levelling system as well as a thing to spend earned gold on, it means that Rogue Legacy tickles an itch that is not quickly scratched. Even the character death screen, where the enemies you killed on the last run are tallied in the order you defeated them, was created clearly to compel you try again.

Tremendous, masterful game.


4. Gunpoint ; Tom Francis you fucking guy. Brevity, levity, tight controls, tight environment design, zero filler: Gunpoint has become my preferred game to gift to people on Steam. Talk about feedback loops, this game is designed around one that someone clearly came up while drinking a pint of beer with mates:

“Hey, I tell what would be fun to do? If I could jump through windows with no regard to gravity or fall damage, l& on top of people & then punch the shit out of them!”

*snort* “In a game, or right now?”

“Whynotboth.gif?” *chortles*

“Shit yeah, it’d be even better if you played a character like Maxwell Smart!”

& thus Gunpoint was born.


5. Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus ; A new R&C was always going to make it on my list. Easily my favourite 3d platforming franchise of all time. Nexus nailed what I want & what I love. It was the perfect length, its story was fun & seemingly canon (if you care about that) & the weapons, the centrepieces of any R&C, all a bunch of fun to use.

It’s easy to think that Sony not locking down Insomniac is a missed opportunity, but if Nexus is indicative of the quality all future R&Cs, (especially if it remains episodic on PS4 - I’ll buy a PS4 upon any announcement, Insomniac), I’m super happy.


6. Gone Home ; Yet another game that had a story to tell, knew it had to to tell it in a certain timeframe, & dem&ed from the player motion to experience it - but with a very key difference: the story in Gone Home is told whether you are there or not. Unlike TLoU or Tomb Raider where the story does not progress - & therefore does not exist - unless you progress through player action & agency, in Gone Home the story of Kaitlin, Sam & Lonnie exists no matter what.

More importantly it has played out & concluded. Whether you st& on the front porch of the house, look in every nook & cranny of the house or look at your Steam library icons, it doesn’t matter, Sam & Lonnie have left together no matter what. It’s a fucking fantastic, mature story told with great empathy & gravitas, & yet, you don’t save the world, or the princess.

That makes for an interesting shift in story telling in video games & player interactivity to story telling in games, & it’s a shift I adored & appreciated.

Similar to TLoU, Gone Home is aided by sublime environment creation, audio cues & graphical prowess (those textures!) We played this on our 120” projector, late at night. I controlled Kaitlin & my partner gave direction on the what, where, who & when as we worked our way through the house. The bathtub scene was masterful - everyone talks about the lightbulb moment in Gone Home, but the (
drenchd red with hair dye
) bathtub was my highlight.

Again, it was the perfect length, given you could blow through it in 90 minutes, or up to several hours. I felt that I didn’t get closure with the mother & her maybe-affair with the fire dude: that may be my fault for not exploring more, but in some ways I’m glad I didn’t get closure there - a thread left hanging is an under-used story device in games, for sure.

In any event, we enjoyed the heck out of our time in Gone Home & it too provided something I want more of in the future.


7. Brothers: A tale of two sons ; I still think that To The Moon has the single most affecting & endearing story ever told in a game, but Brothers runs a close race . A story that is entirely shown & not told to the player: its delivery of the tale of the eponymous brothers was a pleasure to take part in.

It’s a tremendous game to look at & be a part of - & perhaps more importantly, it makes the most of what it has, hints at a lot more, but doesn’t ever overreach. Similar to how areas that are story-inconsequential in the world of Game of Thrones must feel like while all the story-business takes place elsewhere, Brothers clearly exists in a world that is much larger, much more fantastic, full of magik, Ogres & other such things & yet you are shown just the tip, leaving you wondering & desiring more (the placement of chairs to sit in & gaze across the vistas, with either or both brothers, was an inspired addition.)

Brothers’ unusual method of control is intrinsic to telling this story: it could not be told with a different control scheme & have the same intended impact brought about at the very end. Whether the story has this desired impact its author intended is neither here nor there. To wit, not caring or feeling anything when Desdemona is murdered by her mistakenly confused husb& does not make Othello any less of a wonderful story, it may merely mean those tones do not resonate with you. Brothers is no Othello, but it is absolutely a type of thing I would like to be able to access more of in the future.

The highlight for me was saving the suicidal man on the edge on the river, after his house had burned down - his family, dead, within. This is a heartbreaking, fully voluntary & encapsulated mini-story entirely shown & not told (the few Simmish-style quips don’t count!), that makes up barely 2 minutes of gameplay & has no bearing on anything (you don’t earn a level up, or a new ability etc) beyond developing your own relationship with the brothers during their voyage.

Brothers is succinct, beautiful & more people should play it, if only to disagree & further the conversation around story-tied-to-input-mechanics style of gaming (& I don’t merely mean placing Y/Triangle on the top of the screen during QTE’s!)


8. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger ; My favourite first person viewpoint game since Hard Reset, & it is better than that. Gosh I enjoyed CoJ:G. The narrative was hilarious to follow along with, & there are additional hooks to enjoy if you have watched any western-themed shows before (shoutout to Deadwood fans!) Walking & shooting & having the gameworld adapt to the the narration is a novel experience, & it is done here with great ability & care.

The game looks tremendous, using a style that I think suited its themes well. The cut scenes, told out of engine, are similarly brilliantly executed. Unlike almost every other game ever, I was compelled to seek out many of the collectibles in CoJ:G, namely the cards that had some extra historical info on the characters, events & regions you were interacting with, as the colour text was a bunch of fun to read (& the bonus XP didn’t hurt either!)

It was the perfect length, too, with minimal fuss or filler. No going & doing anything that was superfluous to getting to the end, getting your man. I would dearly like to see more games of this style, length & price in 2014.


9. Bioshock Infinite ; Once the credits rolled, I felt an immediate sense of disappointment. Not because the story was too hurriedly wrapped up or because I was missing having shot someone, but because I was no longer a participant in Columbia, which is surely the greatest asset & best character in Bioshock. From the very first moment you step out into Columbia it is a breathtaking world fantastically realised. It looks beautiful, with soft glows, rounded edges, muted colour palettes. It sounds wonderful & its sounds are wonderful (a common theme in gaming in 2013). Everything has a very particular & identifiable set of hues, themes, colour swtches, fonts, textures that are used to great effect to build a world I wanted to drink in more & more of.

Not being an American, some themes (the specific use of slavery employed in BI, rather than the more general idea of slavery) & set pieces (Wounded Knee Massacre) had little to no bearing on my evaluation of my time with BI. At most they were mere gilding, rather than the emphatic statements Levine & Irrational were perhaps going for, which I think were rather more the point. Nonetheless, watching the transformation of Columbia, Booker & the various agents within the world you are a part of was an interesting & conversation provoking experience.

Similar to how TLoU dealt with Ellie during stealth moments, Elizabeth as a companion during gunfights proved to be a bunch of fun - even helpful - & didn’t once hinder my interactions. Exactly as it should be. I don’t buy the ‘oh but it breaks the immersion’ criticism, simply because the alternative as has been experienced in other games with AI companions (Far Cry 3, Resident Evil 5 are prime examples or rubbish AI companionship) are a god damn clusterfuck of immersion breaking AI fuck ups & frustration. BI & TLoU avoided those shortcomings via their similar compromises & provided a more than acceptable experience inspite of them.

BI absolutely had the weakest set of feedback loops, from the combat to the scavenging in bins (though at this point that is more a trope of the Bioshock series than anything, not that that excuses it) for resources, but it hardly mattered. It never quite fell into the cheapest set piece design employed by other AAA shooters of the generation, & it certainly didn’t rise beyond being a fairly average shooting game (relative to CoJ:G or FC3). It did also lean too heavily on exposition via audio logs - which is not something that is intrinsically bad by any measure, but having built this beautiful world, it was a shame more wasn’t shown & not told.

Nonetheless, BI provided a wonderful place to visit & an easy entry into the top ten of 2013.


10. Divekick ; Pythagoras theorem gone mad! Depth out the wazoo, but still only two buttons. As other have said, this is the final 10 seconds of every hype fighting match ever, with the barrier of physical dexterity removed, condensed into the purest form.

2012. Far Cry 3 ; I spent a good long while umming & ahhing between FC3, Sleeping Dogs (I adored the language/sounds/music/story, but didn’t love the city & the h&-to-h& combat was often a bummer) & Hotline Miami (the soundtrack, holy shit. Also one of the best puzzle games I’ve ever played), but in the end I enjoyed the overall package that FC3 delivered, warts & all, more than the many other 2012 games I caught up on this year. FC3 overstayed its welcome by a number of hours (certainly, once Vaas was done for, the story ought to have wrapped up), but man, for an open world game this was a blast. Tackling radio towers & infiltrating outposts was a lot of fun, for things that are completely arbitrary & peripheral to the actual story. FC3’s implementation of visual cues to indicate your lack of stealth worked pretty well, & the up close & personal chaining of knife attacks worked well. Also, I think Far Cry 3 was a better tomb raidering game than Tomb Raider.

x. Grand Theft Auto V ; Many games on this years list contain deficiencies, compromises. Some of those games overcome those shortcomings, some did not. Some of those deficiencies didn’t bother people, other people found them deal breakers.

GTAV I think, stands as a monument to overcoming all those things, as a Colossus of Rhodes to being bigger than the sum of its parts. Its framerate was a bummer. Some cutscenes fell flat. Some gameplay sequences are rote for 2013 or archaic. The radio wasn’t as great as in the past games, maybe. MP was a huge bummer. I don’t think it was as funny as past GTAs.

& yet, for all those & more things, I thought GTAV was brilliant & I had a whale of a time completing the story & many of the peripheral objectives.

If Bioshock’s Columbia is its greatest character, then GTAV’s Los Santos is one of the greatest & best realised characters in fictional history. The sheer amount of detail in every goddamn alleyway, street post, wall, garden, pool, fence, road, house & poster is astonishing. & not in isolation: fences tie into pools tie into houses tie into streets tie into cars tie into the radio stations those cars default to tie into… The piece of butchers paper used to plot the links between items in this game world to make it as cohesive & believable as it is, must have been the size of a tennis court. & this is on decade old hardware. GOTY 2023 is going to be fucking spectacular if Dan Houser & his colleagues have anything to do with it. GTAV will act as a time capsule to what 2010-2013 was like to live through, & in this regard, succeeded.

x Tomb Raider ; The story ought to have taken some cues from Far Cry 3: rescue friends -> leave island. Instead, it took on some hokey paranormal samurai malarkey to artificially extend the length of the story, when combined with the impossibly dumb decision making from the other characters in the game lead to so many eyeroll moments I got motion sickness. Similar to FC3, this game overstayed its welcome by a few hours. The story is complete nonsense, with few redeemable moments. In fact, Tomb Raider felt like it was made by two disparate dev teams: one beautifully creative & artistic with an eye for production quality, another working on enemy encounters, player engagement/mechanics & story. Team one spoke in English, & are wonderfully verbose. Team two used sign language which was then translated into Hungarian before being scribed by a 4 year old onto butchers paper with a crayon.

Two examples that really rubbed me the wrong way & best exemplify what I mean:

A) When you must gather the block & tackle (‘the item”) from a distant boat (‘the boat’) to help move the engine on the story-related broken boat. You work you way across to the item, only to find a pair of enemies st&ing nonchalantly around within the boat, chatting about leaving in the morning on a dinghy. How the fuck did they get there? I had to grapple & jump & dive to get to them. Why are they there, when there are so many other areas they could st& around in that aren’t full of jagged edges & steep drops into the ocean? These enemies show a time where someone testing Tomb Raider said ‘it has been too long since I fired my awesome new compound bow, place some enemies in here as filler’, when really, what needed to happen was to redesign the grappling & climbing out to the item, & make that the challenge.

B) Everyone talks about the hilarious rescue of the dude with the spanner - a stupid moment in the story (if it was a MIG welder, or an angle grinder than perhaps it would make more sense, but it wouldn’t excuse any of the dumb moments around it - again, like how did he get there? I had to grapple my arse off & fight a bunch of huge enemies to get to him!), but for me there is a moment around the campfire that tops it.

You return from a bit of shooting & killing only to find the camp has been under fire, & find Reyes has a gash on her arm & is unable to st&. You help her st& up & eventually her cut is b&aged & placed in a sling. You fucking what, game? If there is one thing I abhor, it is internal inconsistency, or hypocrisy. & Tomb Raider is rife with it, but this one moment is so fucking hopeless as to be insulting. I’ve been punched, held down by dudes & beaten, fallen off roof tops, dived through fire, shot at & hit, & I have a h&ful of scars & some ripped pants to show for it, but this annoying clingy character gets a wittle scwatch & needs a b&age, boohoo.

& yet, despite/inspite aaaall that (& other things... ddiissoonnaannccee), I managed to really enjoy my time it & I’m looking forward to whatever is next.

x. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon ; Unfortunate one line quips aside, this game was a fucking blast. It nailed the feeling of 80’s action films, from brofist arm pumps, hilarious music-working-out-montages-culminating-in-sex-scenes & a fucking laser shooting dinosaur ride at the end. Also, it was the perfect length, all over in a matter of hours with zero filler getting in my way. Outpost taking from FC3 is still in, but I was burned out on this aspect about 60% the way through FC3 & had no desire to do this in FC:BD.

Plus, you can click in your sticks to nonchalantly flip the bird. It’s juvenile & an exuberant expression that fits the game perfectly.

x. Papers, Please ; A little too close to actual work, for my liking, which in turn is what makes this such a successful game. You want a feeling of encumberance & inefficiency? This is your game. Along with Brothers, this is a game as much about its mechanics (& how they directly tie to how the game works) as it is about the story or the design. Lucas nailed the feeling of bashing a rubber stamp, & as someone who frequently has a fucking messy desk filled with contracts, agreements & other legalise, likewise nailed that feeling :/

x. Cart Life ; Sorely overlooked in between the many other games released around that time, including Papers, Please. You want a bleak fucking game & story, but told with real warmth & care? This is the one. Beautiful game I need to play more of.

x. Year Walk ; Simogo are to iOS development what Naughty Dog are to Playstation development. Being a part of the zeitgeist as people discovered how this game worked, along with the companion app, was a blast.

x. Democracy 3 ; Being an ultra-conservative dickhead has never been so much fun.

x. The Stanley Parable ;
x. Don’t Starve ;
 

Levyne

Banned
Jun 6, 2011
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Don't worry We have a few people who will probably just stomp the limit anyways.

Lots of detailed posts on this page. I want to read them but I need to blitz my TLoU playthrough so I can probably put it in D:

Work down time tomorrow.
 
Jun 12, 2013
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1. Rocksmith 2014 ; This tops my list for one simple reason: I learned to play guitar this year. That’s all I need to say about it. In the space of a few months, I have gone from never having once plucked a string before to now being able to play a number of songs almost unaided, this is perhaps the greatest gaming-related purchase I have ever made.
That's awesome. Congrats! I wonder how successful it was in terms of people sticking with it and actually learning how to play.
 

timetokill

Banned
Oct 19, 2004
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Here’s what tickled my fancy the most.


1. Rocksmith 2014 ; This tops my list for one simple reason: I learned to play guitar this year. That’s all I need to say about it. In the space of a few months, I have gone from never having once plucked a string before to now being able to play a number of songs almost unaided, this is perhaps the greatest gaming-related purchase I have ever made.

A no-bullshit tutorial mode that is a ton of fun, no locking of options or modes or features behind completion goals (fuck you every game ever that has that - especially racing games these days. Seriously, lose licensing as a gate, forget XYZ-class racing leagues as progression gates: I just want to race on tracks with cars of my choosing from the getgo - I gave you $90 already you fucks. Turn10/Polyphony etc: you are all doing it wrong) & a multitude of learning tools that were clearly designed by people who cared about the product they were making & just as importantly, cared about the audience they were appealing to.

No higher praise can be given.
How old are you? I ask because I've always wanted to learn guitar (or piano) and I worry that I'm too old :( I tried as a kid and I got easily frustrated, but playing along with rock songs might make it more fun for me.
 

elfinke

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How old are you? I ask because I've always wanted to learn guitar (or piano) and I worry that I'm too old :( I tried as a kid and I got easily frustrated, but playing along with rock songs might make it more fun for me.
The big three-oh (30). I just jumped in, head first, not knowing if it would be a waste of $300 or not.

Turns out, it totally wasn't. On the lowest difficulty on easy songs, it is as easy to play Rocksmith as it is to play Guitar Hero or Rockband, for sure, but so much more satisfying.

And in no time at all you'll progress to basic chords and if you're anything like me, hit a wall with chord changes (they're tough!)

But persevere, sleep on it a bit, come back after a break, work in the tutorial/lessons and suddenly, you'll just 'get it' and away you go. The tracklist is fantastic, too, which helps no end. Similar to GH/RB, it only takes one or two songs that you really like outside of instrument playing, to get you on your way.

A massive recommendation from me, even have new calluses to show for it!
 
Mar 16, 2010
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1. The Last of Us ; Not much to say that hasn't been said elsewhere. It's an amazing game in all respects, and deserves every bit of the praise that came its way. The fact that it was executed on the aging Playstation 3 hardware makes it all the more impressive. The only game that's ever left me literally jaw-dropped at the end. (PS3)


2. Antichamber ; It was a good year for puzzle games, and Antichamber was the most impressive and fun to solve. It was also a pretty intense mindfuck, from which many people seemed to turn away and say "No THANK you, sir." What a shame. For the record, I played this right when it came out (January), and still remember it vividly and fondly. (PC)


3. Tearaway ; Second biggest "what a shame" on my list - that is, it's a real shame that this will likely never get the exposure or recognition that it deserves. Best graphical style and execution in recent memory, and the soundtrack has found its way into my regular rotation. The most creative game of the year, and indeed the generation. (Pic: my dude) (Vita)


4. Spelunky ; I haven't come close to beating Spelunky, but I still play at least once a day (but usually more). I'll be playing this for a long time. (Vita/PS3)


5. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons ; It's a short, plot-driven puzzle game with the lightest of platforming elements, no understandable dialogue or text, and only four input buttons - two of which are analogue sticks, each of which controls a character. If this sounds like a cross between Journey and ICO, and you can imagine that with Skyrim-ish environmental atmosphere, that's what you end up with here - and it's fantastic. The emotional payoff for me wasn't quite Journey-level, but it's up there. (PC)


6. Remember Me ; I expected a flat, boring, forgettable experience based on reviews and forum chatter, but decided to check it out anyway due to the praise that the environment and game-world in general was getting. What I got was an interesting plot, engaging combat, and indeed a ridiculously beautiful world that I only wish was more interactive and open for exploration. I spent most of my time playing just staring in awe at the glorious near-future cyber world. (PC)


7. The Swapper ; Puzzles reminiscent of Braid, a creepy and claustrophobic deep space atmosphere, and an intriguing story made for an awesome experience. (PC)


8. Proteus ; Speaking of experiences, this was one that can't be found anywhere else. Is it a game? I don't care. It took me to an interesting world that I explored for a whopping 38 minutes of play time, but which stuck in my mind far longer than most game worlds I've explored for many hours longer. (PC)


9. Fez ; I love a good puzzle game, and I love a good head game. Luckily, this had both, and a charming and inventive style with an amazing soundtrack to boot. (PC)


10. Bioshock Infinite ; I had no doubt that I would play and enjoy this game, as I did the previous entries in the series, so there were no surprises. Still, it was very well executed and put together, and the world was wonderfully constructed. (PC)




x. Little Inferno ; A surprisingly fun little game, with an equally surprising and dark story arc. (PC)
x. Guacamelee ; It's an enjoyable Mexican-themed metroidvania with some really annoying boss fights and too many memes. (Vita/PS3)
x. Bleed ; An out-of-nowhere indie platformer/shooter with a fun style and tight controls. Finished in a single sitting, and have been meaning to go back for more. (PC)
x. Gunpoint ; A set of cool mechanical concepts, and some of the funniest dialogue around. (PC)
x. Gone Home ; Like Proteus, it's a unique experience set in a location not often seen in - and with themes not usually addressed in - other games. (PC)
x. Dragon's Crown ; Had I spent more time with this beautiful class-based brawler - especially with friends in co-op - it might have been on the list. As it stands though, I really enjoyed all the time I spent, and look forward to going back sometime. (PS3)




2012. Dishonored ; I had Hotline Miami here originally, but having just gotten The Brigmore Witches from the Steam sale (and owning, but not yet having played, Knife of Dunwall), I decided to replay Dishonored to refresh my memory on everything that happens. What an incredibly amazing game. The control is so well-tuned, and the general feeling of movement in the game is spot-on. The art direction and execution, visual effects, sound design, and AI make for an amazing environment to traverse and explore. I love this experience so much. It really drives home how much I love first person combat/exploration/story games (Half-Life, Deus Ex, VtM:B, Bioshock, et al) and how I can't wait for Half-Life 3 to happen. The production of these games seems to be a waning percentage for various reasons, but I really hope they continue to be viable for development.


Even towards the end of the year, I was having a tough time coming up with ten games I liked enough to compile a top ten list of. Luckily, the Steam Xmas sale solved that problem.
Games I wanted to play more of, but no time, no time: Tomb Raider, Risk of Rain, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen
Games I didn't play at all, but wish I had: Fire Emblem: Awakening, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, The Stanley Parable, Metro: Last Light
 

timetokill

Banned
Oct 19, 2004
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The big three-oh (30). I just jumped in, head first, not knowing if it would be a waste of $300 or not.

Turns out, it totally wasn't. On the lowest difficulty on easy songs, it is as easy to play Rocksmith as it is to play Guitar Hero or Rockband, for sure, but so much more satisfying.

And in no time at all you'll progress to basic chords and if you're anything like me, hit a wall with chord changes (they're tough!)

But persevere, sleep on it a bit, come back after a break, work in the tutorial/lessons and suddenly, you'll just 'get it' and away you go. The tracklist is fantastic, too, which helps no end. Similar to GH/RB, it only takes one or two songs that you really like outside of instrument playing, to get you on your way.

A massive recommendation from me, even have new calluses to show for it!
Haha, damn, that's pretty much my age exactly (30 in a couple months). I'll have to look into this more seriously!! Thanks for explaining your vote and answering my Q.
 

Oneself

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Apr 26, 2005
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1. The Last of Us ; Probably my favorite game of the generation, TLOU is the perfect example of what a AAA game should be.
2. Rayman Legends ; Best looking 2D game ever, super fun, co-op, beautiful soundtrack.
3. Brothers ; Innovative and stays away from guns and things that we're seeing way too often in games. Can somewhat be played co-op with a loved one.
4. Guacamelee! ; Challenging, great visuals, fun combat.
5. Knack ; Yep, you read right. Old school platformer, simple and fun, great co-op, awesome looking at times.
6. Grand Theft Auto V ; Feels like "another GTA" with infinite amount of missed opportunities but it's definitely entertaining if flawed.
7. Resogun ; Just great.
8. God of War Ascension ; Better than I thought, worst than I had hoped. Still a great rollercoaster ride Kratos style.
9. Super Mario 3D world ; I'm not a fan of Mario games that came after Mario64 except for NSMB, but this one gets most things right and looks charming.
10. Tearaway ; You own a Vita, get that game.
x. Puppeteer ; Charming, very good looking, plays well, platformer fans should play it.
x. Grid 2 ; Surprisingly fun racer, recently discovered thanks to PSN's free games.
2012. Hotline Miami ; Fits the Playstation world perfectly. Trial and error can be fun and unpredictable.
 

Salih

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Nov 10, 2010
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1. Bravely Default ; this game came out late but was the most impressive one. The battle and job system are outstanding. It's impressive that a portable JRPG regained my faith in this genre. Enjoy this one US-GAF.
2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; It's ALttP on steroids - it's fast, fluid and fun.
3. The Wonderful 101 ; It's a shame most people are incapable of understanding the mechanics of this game. It's probably the most innovative game i have played in the last 10 years.
4. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (WiiU)
5. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
6. Super Mario 3D World
7. Pikmin 3
8. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
9. Attack of the Friday Monsters
10. NES Remix
 

Hypron

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May 9, 2012
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1. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ; Hands down my favourite game of the year. Maybe not the best objectively... But whatever, it's the one I enjoyed the most. It's the one I replayed the most and see myself replay the most, so I believe it deserves first place. I liked the game that much because of the smooth and innovative gameplay (the Blade mode/Zandatsu mechanic is really well thought out and works extremely well). The game also has exceptional bosses. Senator Armstrong is my favourite boss of the generation. The fight has everything: challenge, humour, interesting patterns, hype and a great finisher. Couldn't ask for more.
2. Super Mario 3D World ; The only other platformer mario game I played in my life is Super Mario 64 (on DS) so this game felt really fresh and new to me. It's also the most polished game I played this year. The game feels great to play, looks splendid and has lots of content (I'm still working towards unlocking the last world and I'm already 25 hours in). I loved every minute.
3. The Wonderful 101 ; This game has got great gameplay (like you'd expect from a platinum game), and a SHITLOAD of content. There's heaps to unlock. It also goes completely batshit insane towards the end, which I love. It's dragged down by the space harrier sections and other such minigames, so it doesn't take my top spot this year but it's still a damn fine game.
4. Metro: Last Light ; This game has the best atmosphere out of all the ones I played this year. he awesome graphics contribute a lot to setting a mood. It also feels great to play, and is a nice improvement over 2033 in almost every way. I was even surprised how well the game ran on my modest rig. I enjoyed pretty much every single minute I spent with it.
5. Shadow Warrior ; I haven't finished the game but I'm enjoying so much that I have to include it in the list because I feel it deserves recognition. It's a great old school style FPS. The sword is also one of the best weapons ever. So much fun to use. I only have 2 complaints: why the hell does that game have fall damage and also the bosses have a bit too much health imo.
6. Batman: Arkham Origins ; This game might not be the most innovative of the year but it was still really good. It feels a little bit less polished than the first two games in the series but it does quite a few things better, including: character design, story, boss fights, and the combat (the new enemy types are good additions and force you to adapt your play-style).
7. Spelunky ; This game is absolutely awesome and I played way too much of it. I'm putting it in 6th place because I already played it last year on 360, but the recent PC release with the daily challenges are enough for me to put it on this list again.
 

Cyrano

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Dec 20, 2010
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1. The Stanley Parable ; I played a lot of games this year. This was the only game that I genuinely enjoyed enough to actually make a vote for. The reason why is precisely because The Stanley Parable is a commentary on videogames with all of the intact tropes. It does not subvert them so much as it subverts the player into thinking about escaping them. It is the game Portal always wanted to be, gleefully aware and feigning ignorant of its interactions. The purpose of the game is to be aware of videogames, of play, of what value a game affords its player in the process of interactivity. More than all of this though, it's also funny and a game I wouldn't feel embarrassed to show to somebody disinterested in videogames. I want more games like it, more games where the goal isn't numbers go up or shoot all the things. More games where I feel like I have to question if what I'm doing is playing a game or the game is playing me. Because if I'm being honest, most of the mega-successes of this year are very much the latter, and The Stanley Parable makes me question them as anything more than a genuine waste of time (pressing buttons).
 

Riposte

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The Stanley Parable ; I played a lot of games this year. This was the only game that I genuinely enjoyed enough to actually make a vote for. The reason why is precisely because The Stanley Parable is a commentary on videogames with all of the intact tropes. It does not subvert them so much as it subverts the player into thinking about escaping them. It is the game Portal always wanted to be, gleefully aware and feigning ignorant of its interactions. The purpose of the game is to be aware of videogames, of play, of what value a game affords its player in the process of interactivity. More than all of this though, it's also funny and a game I wouldn't feel embarrassed to show to somebody disinterested in videogames. I want more games like it, more games where the goal isn't numbers go up or shoot all the things. More games where I feel like I have to question if what I'm doing is playing a game or the game is playing me. Because if I'm being honest, most of the mega-successes of this year are very much the latter, and The Stanley Parable makes me question them as anything more than a genuine waste of time (pressing buttons).
This brings to mind an argument I once made to you on strong desires for subversion (e.g. "anti-FPS" FPS games) and how it related to the amount of interest one holds for videogames. This is exactly why people should link their top 10s (or top 1s); it's the most illumination you can hope to get on not only tastes, but perhaps ideas from a single glance and no one has time to figure out where even a fifth of GAF is coming from.
 
Jun 9, 2011
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This brings to mind an argument I once made to you on strong desires for subversion (e.g. "anti-FPS" FPS games) and how it related to the amount of interest one holds for videogames. This is exactly why people should link their top 10s (or top 1s); it's the most illumination you can hope to get on not only tastes, but perhaps ideas from a single glance and no one has time to figure out where even a fifth of GAF is coming from.
It's a reasonable and sensible idea, from what I've seen it's gained traction.

The GOTY threads are some of the most intriguing to me specifically because the overlap of tastes can be really odd and surprising. I see people with half the same list as me, and half games I'd avoid like the plague. The large divergence in perspectives on fundamentals plays into it, as well as the fact that many people seem to be involved with gaming less as a source of direct enjoyment and more as a cultural phenomenon that they are just along with for the ride, like a bad habit that doesn't do enough harm to bother kicking. But of course that's what makes the discussions interesting - some people see gaming as sport, some as escapism, some as art, some as fashion, and some as candy.
 

Cyrano

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Dec 20, 2010
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This brings to mind an argument I once made to you on strong desires for subversion (e.g. "anti-FPS" FPS games) and how it related to the amount of interest one holds for videogames. This is exactly why people should link their top 10s (or top 1s); it's the most illumination you can hope to get on not only tastes, but perhaps ideas from a single glance and no one has time to figure out where even a fifth of GAF is coming from.
My general issue with this is that I think most would see the lists outside of their context. My personal top 10 would be very different from a top 10 list of games I would recommend to other people. There would assuredly be some overlap, but for me at least, not to the extent that I suspect those ten overlap for most. I think people should keep that in mind if they are going to make such a list. It feels irresponsible to encourage certain games in the same breath.

In addition, I think games are too long generally and saying "these are the ten games you should play this year" sounds prescriptive and overly burdensome. I would rather recommend people play one genuinely great game than ten mediocre games.
 
Jun 9, 2011
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My general issue with this is that I think most would see the lists outside of their context. My personal top 10 would be very different from a top 10 list of games I would recommend to other people. There would assuredly be some overlap, but for me at least, not to the extent that I suspect those ten overlap for most. I think people should keep that in mind if they are going to make such a list. It feels irresponsible to encourage certain games in the same breath.

In addition, I think games are too long generally and saying "these are the ten games you should play this year" sounds prescriptive and overly burdensome. I would rather recommend people play one genuinely great game than ten mediocre games.
Well, the problem there is that I don't think any two people share an exact set of criteria for how they make and qualify their selections. I tend to lean hard on games which I spent the most time with during the year without getting bored of them, regardless of how long their campaigns are. At the same time, I tend to inject games I would recommend other people play because I think they are of high enough quality and uniqueness in craftsmanship and mechanics/systems to be worth the time and money investment. Ultimately though, the list only contains games that I felt I enjoyed playing the most.

I guess I don't see why a top 10 list couldn't be both recommendations and a sort of taste litmus test at the same time. Technically, the only explicit context that could be missed here is that the reason the list exists is for a vote tally.
 
Feb 28, 2012
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1. Grand Theft Auto 5; I'm going to go on the limb and say this is the current pinnacle of game development. This game does EVERYTHING and it does it so well that it'll be difficult to top and on such old hardware, it's a miracle that Rockstar pulled this off.

2. Legend of Zelda - A Link between Two Worlds; I'm a huge sucker for Zelda games and with the classic top down art style, renting weapons, redone music, challenging dungeons and 60 fps made this another classic.

3. The Last of Us; Kind of a no brainier. Being so critical of games these days, I rarely get this immersed in a game. I didn't check once to see how much of the get is left, I just kept playing.

4. Super Mario 3D World; Another no brainer. This is a strong case of great level design and how system specs don't dictate a great game.

5. Ni No Kuni - Wrath of the White Witch; I can't remember the last time I sunk in to a long JRPG, nor one that would appeal me to play it till completion. Charming, clever, gorgeous, and with so much heart. I loved every facet of this game and am hoping for a sequel on ps4!

6. Puppeteer; I knew this game would be great when I saw the first trailer! Good comedy in games is rare theses days, but this game manages to pull it off. The best art direction in gaming this year!

7. Metro Last Light; I was honestly surprised on how good this game was. Not only graphically but the shooting mechanics were simple and fun. I haven't had this much fun playing a FPS campaign in a long time.

8. Swapper; I take a lot of pride in playing puzzle games but this one was challenging. Length of the game was perfect!

9. Assassins Creed 4 - Black Flag; I started off wanting to hate this game simply because of how bitter I was about AC3. Even the ship battles were fun! I enjoy more personal stories, rather things always hanging on some grand scale.

10. Brothers - A tale of two sons; Usually, reading about how good a game is diminishes the "wow" effect is has on me, but this games ending hit me where it hurts. Not to mention that I'm a the oldest in the pair of brothers, made the feels more feels.

x Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD - This game was meant to played in HD. Even though I must have played the game 100 times before this, it still felt amazing!

x Bioshock Infinite; I loved how everything in the game was set up so well: story, environment, characters. But the weak shooting/ combat mechanics let me down.

2012. Okami HD; Seriously goes to show how great art direction can be timeless. Also, Issuns speech before the last boss battle.
 

Cyrano

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Dec 20, 2010
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Well, the problem there is that I don't think any two people share an exact set of criteria for how they make and qualify their selections. I tend to lean hard on games which I spent the most time with during the year without getting bored of them, regardless of how long their campaigns are. At the same time, I tend to inject games I would recommend other people play because I think they are of high enough quality and uniqueness in craftsmanship and mechanics/systems to be worth the time and money investment. Ultimately though, the list only contains games that I felt I enjoyed playing the most.
I don't think anyone shares an exact set of tastes either, but I do think that one should separate what they enjoy, what they waste their time on (games that "hook" them for one reason or another) and what they would genuinely like to see more of and share with others.

If it was just a time estimate, Borderlands 2 was my game of the year, but I frankly wouldn't recommend that game to anyone. It touches on the collector in me, but I'm not going to applaud its addictive tactics nor encourage others to take part in its manipulation. I certainly wasn't glad about playing it for all that time, much as there are books I've spent a good time reading, yet I find absolutely turgid.
I guess I don't see why a top 10 list couldn't be both recommendations and a sort of taste litmus test at the same time. Technically, the only explicit context that could be missed here is that the reason the list exists is for a vote tally.
Except that a personal list is both of these things, while a list of games recommended to others is one and not the other, or at least it is not intended as such (probably? Wouldn't want to cast judgments on that).
 
Oct 31, 2009
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1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ;
2. Bioshock Infinite ;
3. Ni No Kuni ;
4. Rogue Legacy ;
5. Saints Row IV ;
6. Mario and Luigi: Dream Team ;
7. Tomb Raider ;
8. Beyond Two Souls ;
9. StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm ;
10. Super Mario 3D World ;
 

system11

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Jun 28, 2013
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1. Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag ; #1 pirate simulator.
2. Remember Me ; Peerless story, composition and art direction, really wanted to tie this with Black Flag.
3. Bioshock Infinite ; Elizabeth, best NPC of all time.
4. Dragon's Crown ; Brilliant take on the side scrolling beatemup genre.
5. Metro: Last Light ; Great game which really set the right atmosphere.
6. The Last Of Us ; Solid storytelling and good graphics.
7. Tomb Raider ; Not quite as dumbed down as people said.
8. GTA V ; Giving this a point because I liked Michaels story.
 
Jun 9, 2011
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I don't think anyone shares an exact set of tastes either, but I do think that one should separate what they enjoy, what they waste their time on (games that "hook" them for one reason or another) and what they would genuinely like to see more of and share with others.

If it was just a time estimate, Borderlands 2 was my game of the year, but I frankly wouldn't recommend that game to anyone. It touches on the collector in me, but I'm not going to applaud its addictive tactics nor encourage others to take part in its manipulation. I certainly wasn't glad about playing it for all that time, much as there are books I've spent a good time reading, yet I find absolutely turgid.
I find the "why" of people's choices very interesting certainly, and I think it deserves its own thread, but I have little faith that it wouldn't just become lingering drive-by bait or die after about 20 posts.

I'm curious about the idea of something with a certain hook that you spend a lot of time with being a waste if you're enjoying it. I don't find something that doesn't have at least some variety and emergent depth to remain enjoyable even if the fundamental mechanics seem addictive, so I don't find myself hooked for long by anything that I think is a one trick pony. So basically, if I enjoy something, I don't think it was a waste of time, and what I'd like to see more of are games which I enjoy. That sounds horribly simplistic when I actually write it, but there it is.

Borderlands 2 is an interesting example as it's one of the games I found the most boring and devoid of redeeming qualities all last gen, largely because of what I just mentioned in the previous paragraph. For me, it's a game whose systems seem haphazard and barely designed, whose fundamental mechanics feels one-dimensional throughout, and whose predominant time consuming exercise is picking up and dropping equipment. I don't continue to play such a game because the repetition is acceptable and carries a superficial illusion of being satisfying. That illusion is broken for me because my desire to explore possibilities is stifled by the lack thereof. It bores me, and when something bores me, I stop submitting to it.

Having said that, it took me an embarrassingly long while to realize I was submitting to it. I spent a good portion of the first half of last gen wondering why I was falling asleep (literally, I'm not being silly for effect here) playing games I thought I should be enjoying. The volume of high concept, low execution, one dimensional games I had played had numbed me to my own ability to discern what I even really enjoyed anymore. Thankfully, the industry is full of different ideas and types of games (AAA, indie, whatever), and there's still places to find what I love. I had just gotten lazy, really. This is the reason for my central, mostly irrational fear of games devolving from the incredible potential for complexity and development of player technique they could offer, to being just some kind of reductionist Pavlovian nightmare.

Except that a personal list is both of these things, while a list of games recommended to others is one and not the other, or at least it is not intended as such (probably? Wouldn't want to cast judgments on that).
Well, logically, you're right, but I'm not sure someone could make a list based on their own feelings and not have someone able to glean some idea of their tastes from it even if the context was very specific.
 

Cyrano

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Dec 20, 2010
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I find the "why" of people's choices very interesting certainly, and I think it deserves its own thread, but I have little faith that it wouldn't just become lingering drive-by bait or die after about 20 posts.
As is the case with most threads on GAF. What's worthy of discussion is rarely also popular enough to survive a long time on a forum so constantly concerned with being up-to-date.
I'm curious about the idea of something with a certain hook that you spend a lot of time with being a waste if you're enjoying it. I don't find something that doesn't have at least some variety and emergent depth to remain enjoyable even if the fundamental mechanics seem addictive, so I don't find myself hooked for long by anything that I think is a one trick pony. So basically, if I enjoy something, I don't think it was a waste of time, and what I'd like to see more of are games which I enjoy. That sounds horribly simplistic when I actually write it, but there it is.
Enjoyment can come with reservations. I may enjoy a lot of things, but I also try to be realistic and aware enough to see something I enjoy as a waste of time. I do not think this is wrong or bad, just an awareness that not all things a person enjoys exist in some kind of pure bubble that isn't informed by reality. I can feel that World of Warcraft is both enjoyable and a waste of time. I think it requires a certain amount of introspection to realize that there is probably a lot of horrible shit you enjoy. But unless you're aware enough to recognize that and realize that the criticisms mounted against something you enjoy probably aren't that far off, you'll be spending an eternity trying to defend indefensible things.
Borderlands 2 is an interesting example as it's one of the games I found the most boring and devoid of redeeming qualities all last gen, largely because of what I just mentioned in the previous paragraph. For me, it's a game whose systems seem haphazard and barely designed, whose fundamental mechanics feels one-dimensional throughout, and whose predominant time consuming exercise is picking up and dropping equipment. I don't continue to play such a game because the repetition is acceptable and carries a superficial illusion of being satisfying. That illusion is broken for me because my desire to explore possibilities is stifled by the lack thereof. It bores me, and when something bores me, I stop submitting to it.
Submission isn't all there is though. To some degree I seek to complete games I feel like I should complete. This has been an ever-growing problem, as I am more and more chastised for not having finished a game when I felt there was nothing to finish. In all honesty, if a game cannot interest me in two hours, I don't feel like it deserves more of a chance. Yet the experience is degraded for you. You're not "allowed" to talk about the game if you didn't finish it. That's a real cultural problem that I'm oft competing with when deciding to put a game down and not look back. It becomes a question of how deep into the cesspool you must go to know that you're drowning in feces. I primarily play games to discover, and that hasn't happened lately, for me, with modern games. There are bright spots, and while people shout at me every year, "how can you only like one game?," my frequent response is, "how can you like more than one, given what's available?" But we're not there yet. I know that. You can't be a conscientious objector without being willing to submit and suffer like everyone else. It's not a flagellation I'm terribly appreciative of, but it's the one necessary for anyone to have a conversation with you about the media.
Having said that, it took me an embarrassingly long while to realize I was submitting to it. I spent a good portion of the first half of last gen wondering why I was falling asleep (literally, I'm not being silly for effect here) playing games I thought I should be enjoying. The volume of high concept, low execution, one dimensional games I had played had numbed me to my own ability to discern what I even really enjoyed anymore. Thankfully, the industry is full of different ideas and types of games (AAA, indie, whatever), and there's still places to find what I love. I had just gotten lazy, really. This is the reason for my central, mostly irrational fear of games devolving from the incredible potential for complexity and development of player technique they could offer, to being just some kind of reductionist Pavlovian nightmare.
DLC is the first step to that reductionist nightmare, but the reality is that most videogames have always been reductive, they were just visually agreeable enough to sell their brand of repetition at the highest prices. There are times where I enjoy such simplicity, but it's certainly far more rampant than I would hope. I don't actually think the videogame industry is aware of how to use their tools (or perhaps more pertinently, what their tools actually are-design and not graphical power). The technology available promotes sameness, rather than difference, because the nature of tools available doesn't promote design. Consumers are guilty of this as much as developers and manufacturers.
Well, logically, you're right, but I'm not sure someone could make a list based on their own feelings and not have someone able to glean some idea of their tastes from it even if the context was very specific.
Not disagreeing, but I believe a personal set does give a better idea of taste than those you would recommend to others.
 

ohlawd

Member
May 28, 2012
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I'd link my GotY post (badly written as it is) as my homepage but eh more likely it'll end up as console war bullshit bait if I ever get into a heated thread.
 

Selkies!

Member
May 15, 2009
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1. Spelunky ; This would be much lower on my list if it wasn't for the daily challenge. That small addition turned this game into an obsession, and I absolutely expect similar features in all future randomly generated games.
2. The Last of Us ;
3. Fez ;
4. Gone Home ; A videogame has never brought me that close to tears. I beat it in a single sitting, and I don't usually play games for much longer than an hour at a time.
5. Bioshock Infinite ; I spent more time reading theories about this games story than I did actually playing most of the games on this list.
6. Rogue Legacy ;
7. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ;
8. Fire Emblem Awakening ;
9. Papers, Please ;
10. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; A little too easy and a little hard on the eyes, but still loved it.
x. Brothers
x. Gunpoint
x. Antichamber
 

colt92

Neo Member
Jan 4, 2014
131
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Barcelona
1. Tomb Raider ; A game that surprised me quite a lot. I found that the different game mechanics (shooting, platforms and puzzles) were entertaining and didn't feel out of place. The overall experience was very enjoyable.
2. Papers, Please ; I would have never thought that a game that entitles you with an apparently boring task, such as being an immigrations inspector, could turn out to be an interesting thriller with multiple endings.
3. Payday 2 ; Quite the improvement. It has everything that made PAYDAY: The Heist good and takes it to the next level. Stealth, customisation, jobs...
4. Surgeon Simulator 2013 ; Perfect balance of fun, challenge and frustration.
5. Blood Dragon ; Don't you dare call it DLC. Fun and as long as it needs to be. An excellent reminiscence of the 80s cyberpunk genre.
6. The Stanley Parable ; Because the narrator is awesome. And more things, but they're spoilers.
7. Splinter Cell Blacklist ; I liked the mix of the Conviction mechanics and the good old stealth mechanics of the previous ones. I forgot mark and execute existed.

x. Deadpool ; Fun to play once, because Deadpool jokes.

2012. Binary Domain ; I regretted not playing it in 2012. A great shooter, with a very good story and characters that you can care about. Saly, it's very underrated and unknown.
 

elfinke

Member
Nov 13, 2009
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Haha, damn, that's pretty much my age exactly (30 in a couple months). I'll have to look into this more seriously!! Thanks for explaining your vote and answering my Q.
No worries. Ordering my top ten turned out to be pretty easy, once I started. However, working out games to place in the ten was very difficult, and I still wonder if I haven't short changed a game or two by leaving them out!

Pretty different tastes from mine, but great writeup, elfinke. :)
Thanks. Like I mentioned, I cut over a thousand words (some 6000 characters) in order to make it fit into one post, many of those words went to feature design, or how production ties into design and mechanics or similar, and I agonised for some time over how best to cut those paragraphs without losing my meaning. I feel like I struck a decent balance. Maybe I'll re-write those other words for another post.

Your espousing the virtues of DOTA2 made me re-download it, but I talked myself out of firing it up, for what must be the dozenth time in the past few months. I recognise the positive trappings of DOTA2, and know that I could lose time to it that I don't have!

The main barrier to entry for me is I don't have my PC setup in a way that allows for easy mouse use. I'll have a post in the 'show off your gaming setup 2014' thread soon that will better explain, but there are a number of compromises made to allow PC gaming in my living room, lol.
 
Jun 9, 2011
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Submission isn't all there is though. To some degree I seek to complete games I feel like I should complete. This has been an ever-growing problem, as I am more and more chastised for not having finished a game when I felt there was nothing to finish. In all honesty, if a game cannot interest me in two hours, I don't feel like it deserves more of a chance. Yet the experience is degraded for you. You're not "allowed" to talk about the game if you didn't finish it. That's a real cultural problem that I'm oft competing with when deciding to put a game down and not look back. It becomes a question of how deep into the cesspool you must go to know that you're drowning in feces. I primarily play games to discover, and that hasn't happened lately, for me, with modern games. There are bright spots, and while people shout at me every year, "how can you only like one game?," my frequent response is, "how can you like more than one, given what's available?" But we're not there yet. I know that. You can't be a conscientious objector without being willing to submit and suffer like everyone else. It's not a flagellation I'm terribly appreciative of, but it's the one necessary for anyone to have a conversation with you about the media.
You sure as hell shouldn't be doing this to yourself out of any obligation to anyone else. There's nothing wrong with discussing what you didn't like about the part of a game you did play. The peanut gallery isn't paying for your time and games.

I guess I'm pretty lucky, this year has shown there's still plenty of the kind of games I want to play being made. I just hope that the kind of budgets backing up "visionary" projects where the player is barely part of the equation will start becoming available for a broader spectrum of more niche titles. I do think the success of some Kickstarter projects is opening some publisher's eyes.
 

Cyrano

Member
Dec 20, 2010
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You sure as hell shouldn't be doing this to yourself out of any obligation to anyone else. There's nothing wrong with discussing what you didn't like about the part of a game you did play. The peanut gallery isn't paying for your time and games.

I guess I'm pretty lucky, this year has shown there's still plenty of the kind of games I want to play being made. I just hope that the kind of budgets backing up "visionary" projects where the player is barely part of the equation will start becoming available for a broader spectrum of more niche titles. I do think the success of some Kickstarter projects is opening some publisher's eyes.
Oh I dunno. I play games and watch shows based on friends' recommendations from time to time. It is not as if I always do this, but I will certainly say that I'm influenced by others with regards to the choices of games I play. It is not the sole factor, but it certainly contributes. Sometimes I feel obligated to continue a game I otherwise would not because of flavor of the month attitudes and my general wish to not feel behind. Other times it is genuine desire, or a game which didn't hold my interest enough to finish, but one I would still finish if given the time. In the end, I don't really think it's a bad thing, but it's not always pleasant either.

As for what kinds of games are available, I've found it relatively easy to jump backwards into old Korean and Chinese games lately, even though there's almost no place to have a discussion about those games on English-speaking boards. A bit unfortunate, but a reality I've learned to live with. Kickstarter is a bright spot though, and I'm looking forward to playing some RPGs from India and other interesting projects from around the world. The Girl and The Robot is the latest entry I took an interest in.
 

HiddenSentry

Member
Nov 3, 2009
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1. The Last of Us ; A game that had me hooked from the very beginning. Both the gameplay and the story were worthy of my game of the year. Playing it on hard really made the combat and just the air of desperation that permeated the entire game really stick.
2. DmC: Devil May Cry ; Goofy, over the top, and just generally a blast to play. I beat it twice (once on hard then again on the unlocked difficulty) and found the combat mechanics to be very solid. The story was goofy but some of the set pieces were extremely fun.
3. Fire Emblem Awakening ; Bought a 3DS for this game. And it was worth it. Only knock against it was that on the default difficulty the end of the game became a little easy.
4. BioShock Infinite ; Really enjoyed the skyhook encounters in this game, but otherwise the combat was a little rote. Otherwise it was extremely good at crafting locations that were interesting to explore and see.
5. Tomb Raider ; I like Uncharted’s version of combat and exploration and this game hit that button nicely.
6. Path of Exile ; Best ARPG of the past few years. Just look at that skill tree!
7. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon ; Not the hardest (or even a hard game), but Luigi’s Mansion was just a fun exploration and puzzle game that charmed me from the very beginning. The Doctor fellow’s ringtone is god-like.
8. Guacamelee! ; Lots of style and a decent level of combat. It stayed fresh throughout and didn’t overstay it’s welcome.
9. Trackmania 2: Stadium ; I love Trackmania. The community isn’t quite there anymore but it’s still a great time. Custom tracks and multiplayer is the only way to play this game.
10. Shadowrun Returns ; Fun. I’m a sucker for the turn-based combat here. I also think I really like the Shadowrun setting as the intersection of basically everything fantasy and sci-fi is a great place to create basically any story you’d want. The story was different than I expected, but still it was enjoyable. I just wish some of the side characters such as Coyote had a bigger impact on story scenes.
 

SA-X

Member
Jun 7, 2004
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1. Super Mario 3D World ; Something new, unexpected, and incredibly polished around every corner. Great in both multiplayer and single player. Just an amazing game, the type of game that made me a fan of gaming in the first place and keeps me coming back for more.
2. The Last of Us ; As usual my runner up is a game that arguably would have won single player game of the year for me, but the multiplayer of the #1 game was enough to put it over the top. Naughty Dog has really nailed how to build cinematic games that still have really fun gameplay and incredible pacing.
3. BattleBlock Theater ; Another great coop multiplayer game. This game is basically designed around giving all the players a million tools to screw each other over with lol. Its also has a really enjoyable (and hilarious) way of telling its story which is rare in a platforming game (or any game really).
4. Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus
5. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
6. Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move
2012. Spelunky ; I don't consider the daily challenges to be enough of a difference for this to be considered eligible for 2013 voting. It is a fantastic game though, the level generator is maybe the best I have ever seen at churning out levels that feel like they are hand crafted and the game just oozes personality and charm. The controls and gameplay are also perfect, often when I die in a very hard game like this I wind up blaming it on the controls or some dumb design decision by the devs, but in Spelunky I know its just my own damn fault lol. My only gripe is that I wish the local multiplayer was split screen, the game is just too hard for the non-first players to be cutoff from the screen when player 1 rushes ahead because they inevitably die instantly every time.
 

Levyne

Banned
Jun 6, 2011
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So I blitzed out the Last of Us, mainly with this thread in mind. I haven't really let the thoughts stir much yet, but my initial takeaway is pretty boring I guess. I thought it was pretty good, but I don't see the "near consensus GotY" good. And I don't mean that like I'm trying to be cynical, at least don't think so. I guess I lot of people resonated with and really truly loved parts and factors that I merely "liked", and parts that annoyed me must have not mattered to some.

I don't want to give the wrong impression, I really liked it and it definitely makes my list somewhere. I'll have to let it stew. I guess your mind invents a fairly significant set of expectations when you go into something like TLoU that's running away with everything and then some.
 
Feb 25, 2013
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*Bah, got in too late. Lesson learned for next year.*

I'm going to preface this post by saying this: I have not played all that many games from this year. Honestly, after a string of AAA titles in a row for months straight, I burned the heck out. I've been mostly playing earlier indie games as well as retro to regain my bearings. The reason I am revealing this is to basically say that it's not that I didn't like very many games this year, I just didn't happen to play very many from this particular year. With that said, let me begin.


1. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance;



My entry point into the Metal Gear series. Zandatsu, the music, the overall gameplay. Loved it.



2. Saints Row IV;

Pure, unadulterated, black tar heroin bat shit. And I loved every moment of it. Sure, I have my fair share of criticisms (the game is beyond unbalanced, the graphics are rather bad, etc), but in the end, it was just pure fun.






Honorable mentions

x The Last of Us;

This probably would have been my #1, but I've only experienced the story in full via walkthroughs. My PS3 died soon before purchasing The Last of Us and I just haven't been able to get into a good enough financial situation to rebuy a PS3. I've got the game and I've played a bit at a friend's house, but I can't in good conscious nominate a game I've maybe actually play an hour of (when the game is 15 to 20 hours). The story telling is amazing, though, and the gameplay seems solid enough hence my giving it an honorable mention.
 

samoset

Member
Jan 25, 2009
248
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1. Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; Most fun I had with a game this year. I have been waiting and waiting for a Zelda game to excite me the same way they did when I was a child. A Link Between Worlds finally made me feel like a kid again. I personally found the new item system refreshing gameplay wise, and made me wonder why this had not been implemented sooner. Immediately when I finished I went back and played through on the harder mode; which is something I rarely can do or am willing to do now days. A Link Between Worlds saved my opinion of the franchise, was the most fun I had with a game this year, and most importantly brought me back to feeling like a kid with a gameboy again.
2. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; My first Fire Emblem and I can not stop playing. I love every second even playing on casual at the normal difficulty; sure it is easy, but it is still just so enjoyable.
3. Animal Crossing: New Leaf ; My girlfriend and I spent 145 hours playing this game over the Summer. So much personality and so addicting, if it was not for school my time played would be doubled or tripled. Best girlfriend friendly game I’ve played!
4. Bioshock Infinite ; Everything that is good to me about Bioshock is story and Infinite delivered. If it was not for internet overanalyzation I would not have any idea that there were any flaws with the plot. Unfortunately I am just done with combat in the Bioshock universe, its just no longer enjoyable for me.
5. Grand Theft Auto: V ; Best Grand Theft Auto to date, but I don’t think the franchise has the same impact anymore.
6. Pokemon X ; Fantastic graphics, and a nicely updated Pokemon. However there’s just not enough for me that has changed to enjoy it anymore.
7. Luigi’s Mansion ; Best graphics on the 3ds and better animations than most console game. The gameplay has a niche of its own but its just not a very strong niche.
8. Shin Megami Tensei IV ; First mainline SMT game. I really enjoyed playing it over the summer; however it just felt a little to budgeted and beheld to its Famicom roots.
9. Tomb Raider ; Rented and played through this game in two days. I loved exploring and traversing the environment. Great time but ridiculous plot that crosses the line and really impacted my overall impression of the game.
10. Papers Please ; I was not able to get too far into Papers Please, but I appreciated what the game was trying to accomplish.
 

somesayyea

Member
Apr 4, 2007
1,215
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Toronto
1. The Last of Us ; remarkable game throughout - from gameplay to story to graphics - everything is top notch

2. Tearaway ; haven't completed it yet, but I'm having a tremendous amount of fun playing it - makes excellent use of the vita's features

3. Killzone: Shadow Fall ; had a great time going through the sp campaign and the game looked gorgeous

4. Guacamelee! ; played it on the vita and enjoyed everything about it

5. Resogun ; like sshd this game is a blast to play

6. God of War: Ascension ; not as good as previous games in the series, but still a solid experience

7. Tomb Raider ; went into it with lowered expectations and had fun playing through the game (just wish there were actual tombs to explore) - very pretty on pc

8. Beyond: Two Souls ; better gameplay than heavy rain, but the story wasn't as intriguing to me

9. Dust: An Elysian Tail ; don't particularly like the artstyle, but the gameplay is solid

10. Puppeteer ; artstyle and presentation is fantastic
 

Spieler Eins

Member
Sep 18, 2011
12,153
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530

1. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate ; Truly the ultimate version of Monster Hunter (Tri). Even though there's a huge amount of new boss fights, items and other content, the complex core gameplay is still well balanced and both the item crafting as well as the deep realtime combat mechanics that offer many ways to tackle the powerful (and merciless) monsters still work as well as ever. Plus this time, singleplayers will not miss out on any content. While the small size of some maps can be annoying, especially now that the hardware wouldn't actually hold it back, the more colorful new art direction suits the series and looks great for the most part, while each new monster again received a great amount of detail.


2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; While this might unfortunately just be one of the worst looking games Nintendo themselves have put on the 3DS (despite a decent 3D effect), the gameplay remains mostly flawless. It isn't one of the greatest titles in the series, but certainly quite a comeback after the abominations that were released on the original DS. The new item mechanic really doesn't change the pace very much, it does however make the exploring more comfortable and you can bet that Hyrule is jam-packed with secrets and diverse objectives, which will hold your attention for hours. The dungeon designs are also very good and (after an intro that's still quite tedious) you'll have free reign. The painting mechanic isn't as profound as season changing or shrinking were implemented in other handheld Zelda games, but it still enhances several puzzles. Even though some claims suggest otherwise (and this is certainly no Dark Souls) this game actually features an acceptable difficulty, which at least requires some kind of focus. At last, one shall also not forget about the amazing OST that ALBW features.


3. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers ; This game is a throwback into the 90s, quite literally. But not in a bad way. Even though I haven't played the JP-only original on the Saturn, I guess it didn't receive that many significant upgrades on the 3DS. Yet, not only the gameplay but especially the atmosphere holds up incredibly well. The world of SH (which falls somewhere between Bladerunner and Matrix, I guess) feels great because of amazing music, art direction and voice acting. Even though it drags a little by the end, the gameplay is still tons of fun. Hilarious demon conversations, fusing them, preparing for each dungeon (including airports, VR museums plus other refreshing designs) and all that jazz is great. The battle mechanics are quite deep and you need to take a glance or two into the instructions at first, but overall the challenge is beginner friendly while consistently increasing. It can be quite hard at the end, but it's nowhere near impossible either.


4. Luigi's Mansion 2 ; This probably doesn't beat the first Luigi's Mansion for me, because it's not really like that, but that doesn't mean it's not great for what it is. The art direction has changed quite a bit compared to it's predecessor, but it's a really beautifully crafted world that has it's own unique identity among Mario related titles. My main gripe would be that the enemy encounters fall flat except for two or three boss fights, but unlike Luigi's Mansion 1 there is now a significantly increased number of environmental puzzles. And even though there's just two main actions Luigi can use (flashlight, vacuum), they really came up with a huge amount of (clever) mechanics which utilise just these while exploring a variety of distinct mansions. And although there now is a mission based structure suited for handheld gaming, there's still plenty of secrets to find if you decide to leave the predetermined paths. Also, it can obviously be pretty funny watching Luigi slapstick and for what it's worth, you've probably never heard Martinet talk this much in a game.


5. The Wonderful 101 ; Despite it's funny looks, this is a hardcore action game and it's pretty much the opposite of beginner friendly or any kind of accessible on top of that. However, once you've somehow gotten yourself used to the wacky game mechanics after an hour or two (even though some things you won't even realize until a second playthrough), there's at least 15 hours jam-packed with profound action gameplay and pure spectacle awaiting. It's incredibly diverse, but especially if you're hunting high ranks, a couple of parts that stray from the standard gameplay (i.e. shooting stages) might become annoying because they aren't exactly easy either. On the other hand, other aspects such as boss fights just keep improving and culminate in a breathtaking finale.


6. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies ; After several lukewarm entries, Ace Attorney has finally seen a true comeback and the best entry of the series since the original AA1. First of all, the transition into 3D has been nothing short of incredible. In a handful of minor occurrences the weaknesses are revealed, but for the most part they managed to perfectly capture the essence of the 2D AA games through clever art direction. Where something like Ni No Kuni has sadly failed, sometimes in here you might even confuse the 3D models for 2D drawings. But since they are actually 3D, they are much more dynamic. The impressive 3D effect further improves the graphics and the new OST is equally great. Unfortunately, the streamlined gameplay has not only removed some of the series' frustations, but also some of the atmosphere during the investigations moving it even further into ,visual novel' territory. Also, there's still many points in which several pieces of evidence would fit as a solution, yet only one is accepted by the game. On the other hand, most cases have an average plot at worst fortunately (no really bad ones, although the third came close) and the finale knows how to shine, even despite a silly twist. There's some short moments of cheesy friendship babble, but other than that the characters are usually fun and AA5 features the best prosecutor so far.


7. Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge ; Yeah, this game has such an awful reputation and I'm probably the only one putting this in here instead of other obvious choices, yet it really was just tons of fun, so sue me. I haven't played the original NG3, but this version now features the combat system of Ninja Gaiden 2 which still plays so well while offering a decent challenge, so it ended up again being pretty addictive for me, especially since there's lots of content, including stage secrets, several additional characters and weapons (plus online modes) found in here. It also looks very nice and while the infamous story might be super shitty, I wouldn't know because you can skip almost all of it.


8. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ; This game is yet again, pure spectacle. Sadly, it's clear that PGs priority was Wonderful 101, considering that this one is barely five hours long. But fortunately, it's very intense throughout and you'll often have the desire to get back to it. The combat system looks like a standard affair at first, however they've come up with lots of cool ideas for the cutting-mechanic and especially the over the top boss fights will simply make you smile. You wouldn't ever want to hear the cheesy soundtrack on the radio, however it perfectly adds to the action here and constantly gets you pumped. Thankfully, you're mostly in full control despite crazy looking movesets, setpieces and the bloated, dumb story by Kojima (including some pseudo version of goddamn Short Round) can be almost fully skipped. Unfortunately, even on the higher difficulty settings this game is more spectacle than substance compared to Wonderful 101 or Ninja Gaiden games, hence lacking the final adrenaline rush. On the other hand, a higher difficulty would have been frustrating because the camera in this game is just bad. And I don't have a problem with recalibrating it, however fixing the camera automatically behind your character requires pushing the right stick which is just extremely uncomfortable and way too convoluted for the fast paced action.


9. Mario and Luigi: Dream Team ; A decent entry, although nowhere near Bowsers Inside Story. It's about 10 hours longer than the other M&L games, but these hours aren't used meaningfully. There's too much useless text and some bloated dungeons. However, it's still a very diverse game with one of the most inventive turn based battle systems in all of the Mario RPGs (and hence all RPGs in general) that truly benefits from the 3D. And talking 3D, the transition into the new dimension has again be very successful. The world keeps the spirit of the 2D predecessors, the actual 3D effect is amazing and it has a charming vacation feel going on. Plus, the soundtrack is great, even more so during the dream dungeons.


10. Pokemon Y ; I was debating whether or not to put this in here, since Gamefreak have been as lazy and/or incompetent as usual. Technically, this game is a complete mess. The only thing that doesn't look outdated are the new Pokemon models in battles, however the rest of the game in relation to the DS predecessors feels like playing a Dreamcast port of a PS1 title at the very best. (And at one point, I've discovered a place in which they even forgot to add freaking night sky boxes in battles) Yet, it's also the only Nintendo title that lacks a full 3D effect and the few instances that feature it are either poor looking or absolutely kill the framerate. This time, there's hardly any endgame content and the gameplay plus the way the game is built is obviously yet another rehash of what you've been playing since the Gameboy, hence I almost gave up on it, BUT they've made a small gameplay tweak that drew me back in for like 40 something hours. Instead of tediously grinding for each Pokemon, now the whole party gains EXP after each battle which is very motivating considering that for the first time I could finally have a full team of equally strong Pokemon instead of using the same two or three monsters throughout the entire game again. The new online features also enhance this game's minor novelty a little, even though I'm not sure they worked properly for me. Also, while others might actually criticize Gamefreak for a little number of actual new monsters, I actually consider it pretty neat that big parts of the game mostly feature Pokemon from Red/Blue which are without a doubt still the best in the series while also offering many other homages to the origin of the franchise.


x. Tales of Xillia ; Unfortunately Xillia is quite a bad looking game all around and the music has also been better before. I'm not sure why they don't go back to the superior cel shading of Vesperia and the new character designs are some of the worst you'll ever see on top of that. Thankfully, despite the horrendous art direction, the characters are likeable- and the story decent enough to keep you going (although the opening hours are rough and the main character stays a wimpy dork until the end). That is of course, alongside the as addictive as usual real time combat system of the series. Through new combo systems it might actually be one of the best seen in a Tales title yet, though it also doesn't feel all that different (and some late game bosses are annoying). The new approach which is I guess trying to imitate Xenoblade through pseudo open fields, more MMO-esque side quests and tons of unnecessary loot is still pretty half baked and I'll happily take the puzzle oriented direction over this for now. However, I appreciate that they try something different and I'll give Namco the benefit of the doubt for Tales of Zestiria.


x. NES Remix ; This is a surprisingly meaty game. Despite it's fast paced minigame nature in the vein of Warioware, finishing it will take at least 10 hours. The challenges are mostly very motivating through their simplicity and rewarding when you're facing full levels at the end. However, sometimes the flow of this game will simply halt and destroy the pacing completely. On one hand, it might happen because some original games used in here just aren't very good anymore. Most are still fine, but no one wants to deal with the unaltered controls of Mario Bros or Ice Climbers nowadays. On the other hand, some challenges that come out of nowhere are way too luck based and well, if you're out of luck you might be stuck for a while and set your frustrations free. Also, for some reason it lacks multiple save files or any kind of rush mode for replayability.


2012. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward ; I've played both this and 999 early this year and especially VLR blew me away. It's a game that finally hit (almost) all the right notes for me again and improved on it's predecessor in every way. Unfortunately it didn't completely get rid of all of 999's faults and there's still lots of unnecessary jokes and completely dumb anime character designs. However underneath that lies one of the smartest stories found in a videogame, because despite it's ,visual novel' stigma the way the plot builds and culminates is only possible in videogame form. While 999 already tried certain concepts, it fell flat because it was stuck in archaic gameplay mechanisms that were now thankfully removed. You might need a couple of hours to get used to how ridiculous all of it looks, but afterwards you'll be hooked for at least 30 hours. The sense of mystery and the atmosphere are strong (especially due to the survival horror-esque soundtrack) and manage to detract from some remaining anime cliches. Puzzles are also improved, but the difficulty is still a little unsteady. All in all, they feel quite rewarding and in the worst case it's possible to activate an easy mode.
 
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