1. The Last of Us ; Naughty Dog's last-gen swansong is the pinnacle of their work up to this point. Visually spectacular with engrossing gameplay, and that ending.
2. Grand Theft Auto V ; After San Andreas this was the game I wanted GTA IV to be. Better late than never and well worth it. Memorable, enjoyable characters, top-notch gameplay, and an open world to remember.
3. BioShock Infinite ; Ambitious as hell but a bit messy in execution. Some of the latter sections really dragged an otherwise excellent game down a notch.
4. Resogun ; An excellent next-gen showpiece and addictive shooter. Could have use more ships or more variety between ships, but the action is top-notch regardless.
5. Need for Speed Rivals ; Probably my biggest surprise of this year. Came in expecting a fun next-gen racer and was surprised at how addictive each of the two campaigns were. Some real heart-pounding moments.
6. Killzone: Shadow Fall ; Good attempt at getting away from the straight line corridor shooter formula and not a bad way to start a generation.
7. Rogue Legacy ; Very good take on a Metroidvania with solid replayability options.
x. DmC: Devil May Cry ; Didn't make the proper list because I didn't play enough of it, but it was enjoyable.
x. Contrast ; Some good gameplay ideas here but lacked polish.
1.The Last of Us ; A huge leap forward for the medium in story-telling. Amazing graphics and voicework. 2. Papers, Please ; Surprisingly addictive game, with a story I never expected to even be there. A TON of fun. 3. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ; In a drought of action titles (or good ones anyway) this one really hit the spot. Short-dev time or not, this game was great. Depth was lacking a bit, but that can be forgiven because of the dev time. And the Sam DLC was a blast as well. And of course that great soundtrack.
1. Senran Kagura Burst ; Maybe I made up my mind that I'd like the game before I even played it, but I was surprised at just how much I actually enjoyed the game itself. Plus big boobs. Can't go wrong with that.
2. Fire Emblem Awakening ; It was my first FE game, and I absolutely fell in love with the game. The game plays well and looks great. Makes me want to go back and try the older games.
3. Dragon's Crown ; I wish more developers would make more beat 'em up games like this. Had a lot of fun playing with friends in this. Oh, and did you see the rack on the sorceress? An absolute treat.
4. Super Mario 3D World ; I never thought I'd ever see a 3D Mario game with a workable multiplayer, but I was surprised how well it worked out here. Very creative and fun.
5. Mario and Luigi: Dream Team ; Sure, I just started playing this game, but I'm already surprised how good it is. I can't say much else, so half way up the list seems fair at this point.
6. Pokemon X ; Something about this Pokemon game just reinvigored my love for the series, but I'm not quite sure what.
7. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate ; I've spent and continue to spend an ungodly amount of time into this game. Not to mention it's a great game to play with friends.
8. Pikmin 3 ; I'm so happy to play a new Pikmin game, and it plays like a treat!
9. Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds; It was good, but not as good as others seem to claim. But I had fun.
10. The Wonderful 101 ; I had a lot of fun with this crazy and incredibly ingenious game.
1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; This game is briefly like this: thinking about everything I have ever loved in a The Legend of Zelda game. Removing every aspect I have despised in the history. Irritating handholding? Gone. Slow paced gameplay? Not this game. This is what A Link Between Worlds was for me. It's funny to think how easy it would have been to take the easy way out with this game. Throwbacks to A Link to the Past starting from recycled worldmap had some sceptical. The Zelda team certainly showed how you work against these expectations. Does it somehow disregard A Link to the Past? Not at all. It's just that it stands on its own two feets and while being the follow-up to something that is considered one of the milestone games of this artform it doesn't pale in comparision. ALBW takes just right amount of things from the past while keeping things fresh with additions making it a worthy sequel of ALTTP.
2. Fire Emblem Awakening ; I have always loved Fire Emblem series but I think with Fire Emblem Awakening finally took the franchise to the level it truly deserves. Creating 50 characters you can genuinely like is no easy feat but Intelligent Systems manages to pull it off. Whenever someone meets their end on the battlefield I found myself moving my fingers to what would become very familiar to me along the way: softreset. I really didn't want to let these characters die. It was not because I necessarily needed each and every one of them to complete the game but because I couldn't stand the thought that these characters would never again interact with other members of the army like they used to. They just feel so alive in this regard. The series is famous for the heavy random factor but honestly mostly when someone died it was because I made a mistake or two. They really make you feel bad like that but at least it can be considered an affirmation just how solid this game is deep down. Addiction in its purest form until you beat the final boss. Then you just feel like doing it all over again.
3. Super Mario 3D World ; EAD Tokyo truly are the masters of 3D platformers. You can safely say this even if it feels like they are still the only ones that bother trying. Super Mario 3D World faced some scepticism since its initial launch but the end result is something that is just a bliss to play. Platforming in this game is honed close to what you could call perfection. Of course perfection doesn't exist in this world but there isn't many parts where I thought "I wish they did this differently". Last level deserves an extra shoutout. It has just right amount of cruelty to make you want to pull your hairs out but on the other hand features masterful level design only the team that brought us the Super Mario Galaxy games could bring.
4. The Last of Us ; The Last of Us truly manages to be what Naughty Dog was grasping at with the Uncharted series. Production values are just off the charts with this game. The world just feels so alive and believable. It feels like in every corner there's a story to be told. Writing truly is one of the very best (if not the best!) I have ever experienced in a video game. It doesn't feel stretched or forced upon. Naughty Dog have truly became masters in this sense. Making poor old PS3 push these graphics is just insane and does its own job of making the game just be as impactful as it is. Prime example why graphics can matter in a videogame.
5. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies ; Phoenix Wright is back bitches and he's here to stay. This game is everything I wanted it to be and I love it to death for it.
6. Pikmin 3 ; Best looking fruits of 2013! Really this game has been long coming and I'm glad it's finally here. As a platform I think Wii U is a perfect fit for this revival. Wiimote+Nunchuk+GamePad combo made playing this game such a joy. I think this game in essence is Miyamoto showing to the world that he still has it. The extra polish the game received along the way certainly paid off in the end. The result is a worthy comeback of a unique franchise not unlike anything else.
7. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon ; This is the game that finally made Next Level Games rise up to the companion of the very best companies that have worked on Nintendo video games. It is just what this game is. Very Nintendo-like in a good way, bursting with creativity, quirkiness and fresh ideas. They also deserve extra credit for creating a game that takes advance of 3D. Playing this title in 2D makes it lose something I find essential.
8. The Swapper ; A title that almost managed to slip under my radar. I'm very glad it didn't. The Swapper has style. It manages to tell an interesting story while not making any compromises with the gameplay. There have been more than a handful of excellent puzzle games so this is not something that can be taken granted. If you want to excel in this sense you really need to put out something extraordinary. But that's just what The Swapper did. The core gameplay feels fresh while allowing some mindblowing puzzles that will make you feel stupid. Of course the key here is that they don't go overboard with this and you feel compelled to beat the challenges the game throws at you. I feel this is something puzzle games have missed. They can bring out hard puzzles but making them in a way that really compels you into beating them is a lot harder task. This is exactly what The Swapper manages to do.
9. Persona 4 Golden ; Persona 4 Golden is not quite like anything else. It's easy to see why this game has such a huge following all over this forum. During the between 50 and 100 hours this game takes you it's just inevitable that you will form a certain connection with the cast that is not comparable to any other video game out there. While being very exaggerated you can feel that these are genuinely believable characters. I also like how the game doesn't waste time hiding the fact that it takes place in Japan. It is yet another part of what makes this game so special.
10. Gunpoint ; Lots of stylish games on this list! But, yes Gunpoint is yet another such game. Noir-inspired spy stories are something that haven't been explored enough in video games I feel. Not to mention noir-inspired spy 2D pixel-art rewiring games! Gunpoint doesn't take this task too seriously. It knows when to have fun. Rewiring could have easily been just another gimmick but it's something fun to play with. You always feel like you have an edge over everyone else. Like a spy indeed!
x. The Wonderful 101 ; To start explaining this selection I would like to mention that I'm not an action game veteran. In fact The Wonderful 101 might very well be the first action game in the traditional sense that I have played. I couldn't have imagined a better introduction to the genre. When playing this title there always seems something new to delight you behind every corner. It really feels like the developers took up as their task trying to figure out how to constantly exceed the expectations. They managed to do exactly that. Just when you expect they couldn't possibly figure out something more amazing they just take it to the next level. After that they do it again and again. What I loved most about this game was just this. Surprises after surprises. Deep gameplay mechanics deserve an extra mention. Surely you can button smash your way through the lower difficulties but if you want to truly conquer this game you have to learn to appreciate the way this game has been crafted.
It's funny, you play all these wonderful games throughout the year and when the times comes for you to shine some spotlight on those games you find it nail-biting difficult to put a list together. I felt like I started the year off strong, beat a bunch of different games, and then around early Fall I fell into huge stump and had to almost force myself to make it through more titles. Life, work and other activities get in the way, and then you find yourself forgetting your place/story in the game and end up brushing it to the side. At least, that's what I felt happened to me. Anyways, to the list!
1.Fire Emblem: Awakening ; I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised that I'm listing an SRPG as my favorite game this year. Valkyria Chronicles started my love for this series, and Fire Emblem just solidified my decision to at least give more of them a try. Not only did I find the actual gameplay to be a nice surprise, but add in the pairing system and I was absolutely hooked! I found myself trying out every single character to see what new scenarios I could get. I bought the DLC maps, and spent hours playing the same map over and over again to maximizing my levels and relationships. I have single-handedly spent more time on this one game than any other game I've played this year. I was so impressed that I sought out previous titles, bought the official soundtrack and the Fire Emblem exclusive 3DS. Talk about addiction O_O
2. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag ; I hate Assassins Creed III. I like to think of it as going to my favorite Mexican restaurant and having the absolute worse meal, service and then dealing with a week of food poisoning. It was a horrendous experience that made me doubt I would ever buy, or even enjoy another Assassins Creed title again. However, I am SO GLAD that I gave this game a chance. It completely blew me out of the water (ehehe) with it's jaw dropping visuals, and expansiveness. Edward was a likable pirate, who actually made me want to continue with it's campaign due to it's sometimes slow pace. The real meat and potatoes of this game was easily it's side content. I looked forward to finding new sunken ships, and exploring the depths of the ocean for buried treasure. At one point I was swimming around, avoiding a pack of sharks when I heard the cried of a whale. I swam up closer to the surface and found myself swimming side by side with a humpback whale. Needless to say I found myself unable to wipe the goofy smile on my face for the remainder of the day. The primary downfall to my experience was the alarming amount of tailing missions and naval battles. Very few times do I think a game is worth the full price of admission, but I would definitely rank ACIV as one of those game I encourage anyone with an interest in open world games to try.
3. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch ; I love Studio Ghibli and I like Level 5 games, so I should have already expected this game to be a hit for me, and undoubtedly it was. Oliver and his tale made for a heartwarming experience that I won't soon forget. The game just oozed charm at every moment, with it's cute familiar critters, Ghibli visuals, and eccentric band of characters. I really enjoyed the way requests worked, it encouraged me to spend the time to complete ones I would have otherwise thought of tedious. I heard the game was well received here in the States so I'm hoping that means there's a sliver of a chance we may see a sequel.
4. Tales of Xillia ; I suppose this is another game where I was severely burned by the previous entry. Tales of Graces was one of those games I had to literally force myself to beat, and even then I barely found myself paying attention. I was happy to hear that Xillia was more story based, and closer to Vesperia than anything else. The entire cast was phenomenal, from Teepo and Elize to Jude and Milla herself. The gameplay was still great but I truly felt like the overall plot was what kept me so glued to the game. Bring on Xillia 2!
5. The Last of Us ; Not placing a Naughty Dog game higher feels odd to me. I have loved essentially every game of theirs I have played, from Jak and Daxter to Uncharted and would easily say that the tales of Drake in particular are some of my all time favorite games. Hell, I've named my three cats after characters of the series! The performances for Joel and Ellie were out of this world, both actors did a fantastic job and the ND team did and overall great job of making you feel like you were part of this bleak, depressing world. It's without a doubt that this is the best looking Playstation 3 game to date. More than once I found myself stunned by the environment and sounds that I had to stop and just simply..take it in. But the primary reason I don't find myself as enthralled is that I just didn't find the game fun. I hated the clickers and never once looked forward to a section where I had to actually interact with one. In fact, I can't recall any gameplay segments where you are in confrontation that I enjoyed. If the game was all about exploration and the tale of Joel and Ellie, I would have easily rated it as number 1.
6. Tomb Raider ; Speaking of Uncharteds, Tomb Raider definitely filled that void this year. Lara was likable, and despite the jokes and outright rage by some folks, I truly did feel like I wanted to do my best to keep her from harm. The plot was interesting, but the best part about it for me was shooting down enemies with bows. Who the hell would have thought that the simplest weapon would be the funnest to use?
7. Atelier Ayesha: Alchemist of the Dusk ; I've played the previous Atelier games, and I found them serviceable but I never would have ranked them on a top ten list. What made this game stand out over the others was the more mature cast. No more was I stuck with a bunch of early teens for a 20+ story about saving my town. Fuck this town, I rather save my sister! And this is why Ayesha>the rest. The new art direction was a welcome change too, the bright colors especially for one of the last "dungeons" was a true sight to see.
8. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time ; The gang is back y'all!! I was worried that I would suffer from franchise fatigue after beating the Sly trilogy right before playing TiT, but instead I was rewarded with appreciation for the direction the game decided to take. Playing as Sly's different ancestors help keep the game fresh and interesting, and it's ultimately become my favorite entry of the series.
9.DmC: Devil May Cry ; Aww, boo hoo Dante doesn't have white hair! Game over. WRONG! Are people forgetting that Dante was a wise-cracking jerk in DMC 1-4? Is Dante not a wise-cracking jerk in DmC? Uh, yes very much so. The most important aspect to a Devil May Cry game has always been it's stylish hack and slash demeanor and this year's entry did not fail. I liked the modern take and while the series hasn't particularly been a heavy hitter in the story department I still found the one provided by the game to be one worthy of mention.
10.Resogun ; Mindless fun that brought me and my family together for co-op adventures! Who would have thought that the first PS4 game that I would beat would be a free, shoot 'em up? There's something special about the rhythmic music, the electric shots and burning in your thumbs as you're chipping away at the last boss with one life left.
x. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies ; I wish more than anything else that I had spent the time and not gotten distracted during my playthrough of the game. Everything I've seen so far has impressed me but I could not in good conscience rank this game when I'm not entirely done with it.
x. Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus ; It felt so damn good to play a true Ratchet & Clank game again. I was tired of the shitty spin offs, and the game excelled at bringing back those nostalgic feelings of exploring the planets with your trusty robot friend and handy wrench.
1. Fire Emblem Awakening ; As a longtime Fire Emblem fan it gladdened my heart to see this title bringing in so many new people to the series. Maintaining the same core mechanics that have served the series well, this game added popular elements from throughout Fire Emblem's history, including child-generation reminiscent of Geneology of the Holy War, support conversations innovated by the Elibe games, the map system
of Gaiden and Sacred Stones, and class-switching similar to the DS remakes of the Akaneia games. Most important to the game's charm, however, are factors new to the series: High-quality voice acting present throughout (and not just in a handful of cutscenes) and dynamic fluid battle animations rendered with polygonal models. These additions keep even minor skirmishes and events engaging. The nature of the support system also means the characters have much more depth than the usual Fire Emblem cast, although without looking at supports many might seem the usual agglomeration of a handful of stereotypes.
There was also a lot of streamlining and simplifying to accommodate these changes and/or new players, which more or less evened out, in my opinion. I missed varied mission objectives, magic triangles, and height advantages, but I was also glad to see the back of weapon weights, the Con stat, and biorhythms.
Standout Music Track: "Id (Purpose)", which combined the Id motif found throughout several tracks and combined it with the Fire Emblem main theme in an incredibly satisfying manner.
2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; Link to the Past was my first Zelda game, so I can state with some authority that this game doesn't lean on nostalgia nearly as much as it could have. Instead, we have a game that takes the basics of LttP's overworld and enemy design and hangs a fast-paced, heavily streamlined adventure on it. The core combat mechanics are responsive and satisfying, and the combination of the always-available map, the relatively small world size, and a neat fast-travel system means it never takes too long to get someplace once you've decided where to go. The contrast between the oft-professed love of how quickly you get into the first dungeon and the wide praise for older Zelda games that are considerably slower is a subject that fascinates me, and I may make a separate thread about it in the future.
The nonlinear nature of the dungeon selection has been touted by developers, journalists, and players alike, but I found in practice the game is fairly effective at nudging the player into taking things in a certain order even when it's possible to do otherwise. I doubt there were a lot of people who did the Tower of Hera second, or who didn't clear the Thief's Hideout as their first Lorule dungeon. The game is fairly easy, combat-wise, as all Zelda games have been since AoL, but acquiring the Blue Mail and even one sword upgrade renders fighting more or less trivial. The story is more spare than I prefer, although it was nice to see the Seven Sages as characters with personalities instead of indistinguishable damsels, and a villain with a bit of depth is always appreciated.
The puzzles and dungeoneering is where the real delight lies. The wall-merging meshes really well with the stereoscopic 3D, and I'm convinced that the developers must have decided early on that Link would not be able to move vertically while merged specifically to put this extra emphasis on verticality. With horizontal movement greatly expanded by merging, the challenge focuses on getting up or down to the right place, and the high-quality 3D really makes an impact, in addition to making the layout clearer.
Standout Music Track: Gotta be the Lorule Overworld theme
especially when it changes after rescuing all the Sages.
3. Super Mario 3D World ; I've seen many apologizing for doubting this game after it's initial reveal, which is unnecessary. The initial trailer was genuinely bland and underwhelming. Fortunately, the actual game has the high level of inventiveness we've come to expect from Nintendo. To say that ideas are introduced and never reused is an overstatement, but it is fair to say that ideas are never merely recycled. They are always reintroduced in a different context that makes them new, and more often than not more difficult to tackle.
All Mario games have a certain balance between exploration and platforming challenge. Limiting myself to the 3D games, 64 and Sunshine are near the exploration end of the spectrum, the Galaxy games are in the middle, and 3D Land is near the platforming challenge end. With that in mind, 3D World is closer to the middle than 3D Land, with more collectibles and slightly more open levels. I'm interested to see if Nintendo ever goes back towards the other end of that spectrum with future Mario games.
Standout Music Track: There's lots of new music and fun remixes of classics in this one, for those weary of the fairly repetitive NSMB music, but my personal favorite has to be the lava level music.
4. The Wonderful 101 ; This game demands much from the player, but the rewards are worth it. Facing enemies that felt like huge threats early in the playthrough and comboing them into oblivion with ease is immensely satisfying. Even when you're struggling in the early goings the vibrant, colorful graphics keeps everything engaging, and a variety of gameplay diversions (primarily shmups, but there's a particular gameplay style whose presence I won't spoil here) provide plenty of variety. The story is a sublimely ridiculous melodrama of which the Saturday morning cartoons of our youth could only dream of, and its scale expands in the later levels on par with Gurren Lagann.
This game has some problems: Precision platforming is needlessly frustrating; the camera controls when the action shifts to the gamepad are janky; hunting collectibles breaks up the flow of gameplay a bit too much. These are minor issues, and do not detract appreciably from the overall experience.
Standout Music Track: If "Tables Turn" doesn't get you hyped up, you don't have a soul.
5. New Super Luigi U ; Arguably the cornerstone of the whole Year of Luigi, NSLU uses the basics of NSMBU to introduce a set of tightly designed, highly challenging levels. These are hard, but thanks to shortened length are rarely frustrating. In terms of pure 2D platforming challenge NSLU is only rivaled by the NSMB2 DLC.
6. Shin Megami Tensei IV ; My only prior experience with a "core" SMT title was Strange Journey, and like that game SMT IV got hooks into my brain with its fast-paced battles and addictive demon fusion system. SMT's stories typically suffer from a specific problem, namely that the law and chaos heroes turn completely bonkers at a certain point after seeming fairly reasonable throughout the earlier part of the game. Thankfully, this game halfway avoids this, as
Johnathan remains fairly reasonable even as Walter becomes a fanatic.
Numerous sidequests and a well-designed system for managing them provide plenty of stuff to do and neat little side stories to experience. SMT IV has the same balance problem as most RPGs, with the earliest parts of the game being maddeningly hard and difficulty falling off a cliff as more options open up, but nuking an enemy team in one turn has its own charms. You'll still need to outfit proper gear and teams for the bonus and DLC bosses, at least.
Standout Music Track: The Archangel battle theme. A badass remix of the law theme, it's only available in the Clipped Wings DLC missions; I daresay the track alone is worth the price of admission.
7. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies ; Capcom put a lot of effort into capturing the charm of the old sprites in polygonal models, and they succeeded. The writing and localization were top-notch and in line with the series's tradition of quality.
8.Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon ; Perfectly captures the goofy-yet-spooky tone of the original and expands on it, with several inventive variations on the haunted mansion theme. Full of charming details and interesting challenges, this game could have stood to be...maybe not twice as long, but easily 1.5 times as long.
9. Hotline Miami ; Proof that video game violence can be shocking without being realistic, the sudden savagery this game deals out and requires from the player is striking, and all the more remarkable for being accomplished with fairly low-res sprites. The soundtrack is paints an electronic fever dream into your brain as you are killed and kill. The final satisfaction of completing a mission is cut short by the music stopping, and you are forced to walk back through the level, finally paying attention to all the carnage you caused but couldn't be bothered to think about in the mad rush to get the next enemy. Seeing the blood and bodies in this context, barely different but still new, is sobering.
10. Pokemon Y ; It's Pokemon, so the only question is whether Game Freak messed up what they already had. Thankfully, the transition to polygons maintained the same charm in the monsters and the world. The new Exp. Share wrecks the difficulty curve of the single-player game, but no one really plays that part for the challenge anyway. The new trading system is fast and available wherever the player character goes, and is a relief from the clunky Center-based systems of the past.
x. Tomb Raider ; Does this game jettison the franchise's past almost entirely in favor of modern action-adventure trends? Yes. Is it an unabashed Uncharted ripoff, and therefore a second-generation Resident Evil 4 ripoff? Yes. Is it all well-executed and satisfying? Yes. Do I love Resident Evil 4 enough to endure any amount of clunky storytelling to play something like it again? You'd better believe it.
x. Tearaway ; A thoroughly charming game visually and narratively that makes inventive uses of the Vita's various odd bells and whistles. It's a shame the combat is fairly dull.
2012. Gravity Rush ; A staggeringly inventive core mechanic, a world that feels real and lived-in, and a compellingly sympathetic main character.
1. DOTA 2 ; Dota 2, for me, examplifies how a game made with gameplay as it's only focus and purpose can be an excellent thing. No other game I have ever played made me play it so much for self improvement, partly due to the unrivaled depth this game has, and will only deepen as more patches roll out. Every game you play you can do better, and the sheer versatility and genuine playstyle diferences of the over 100 carachters really cements this game as not only my most favourite game of 2013, but also on my top 3 of all time.
2. The Legend of Zelda: A link Between Worlds ; ALttP was my favourite zelda for over 10 years, and now, it's direct sequels furpasses everything about the original. Better soundtrack, better dungeon design, beter overworld, better sidequests, better carachters, better bossbattles, just better everything. This is a high bar Nintendo has set for future installments, and I, for one, am ratehr excited for things to come.
3. Super Mario 3D world ; I have never flopped my opinion on a game from watching to playing so fast. 3D world is a marvel in level design, soundtrack and visual wonder. from the underwhelming E3 trailer to one of the best Marios ever made, EAAD still has it.
4. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; I can't say much about this game other's haven't said already, it is in my opinion the best SRPG ever made, with an unreal level of polish and depth.
5. Pokemon X/Y ; Pokemon will forever be one of those franchises that decepts many with it's childish shell only to hide a ridiculous amount of complexity in the best competitive turn based RPG out there. Coupled with great creature designs and an amazing visual overhaul during the battles, this is the biggest change since the ADV games.
6. Guacamellee ; I've been hungry for a good MetroidVania since Castlevania: OoE, and this game saciated me as best as it could for the next Igavania/2D Metroid. Great sense of humour and increadibly fun combat, Guacamellee is a treat through and through, albeit a bit too linear.
7. Rogue Legacy ; I've always loathed rogue likes to the way you lost almost all progress upond eath. By fixing this, Rogue Legacy made me appreciate the genre that much more with a very nice balance between RNG'd dungeons and constant progression, and despite some flaws like the final boss and the last area, I've really coem to enjoy this game and will reccomend to everyone who remotely enjoys rogue likes.
1. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; I remember speaking to myself as I watched the demo download: "Damn, man -- I don't even like SRPG's. This is a waste of time." Half an hour later I was hooked. I wanted to get the complete game. For the first time in my entire life, a SRPG left me wanting more. And so, I pulled the trigger and downloaded it as soon as I could. Amazing characters that you end caring up about, tight gameplay that makes you realize that every mistake could as well be your last one, the music, oh man, the freaking music! Overall, an amazing gaming experience that make me say: Man, that felt good. This is why I'm a gamer.
2. Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies ; Honestly, this caught me by surprise. Pre-release, Athena never striked me as a cool character or even interesting, and the fact that the Mood Matrix looked like a gimmicky turd made things worse. Then Capcom decided to make it a digital release only. Whatever man, this may as well be the last AA title we get. Oh boy, what a swan song would that have been! It's probably my favorite AA game yet. I love how the new team manages the series, and I'm glad to see they're still working on it.
3. Animal Crossing: New Leaf ; Over 478 hours logged. I don't even think I need to talk about this one, classic AC.
4. The Last of Us ; Went on a media blackout on this one (just saw an E3 trailer, nothing else). Didn't want myself to get spoiled on anything, and thankfully I ended up getting it a few weeks earlier to it's release haha. Anyway, ever since the intro finished, I knew I was in for some crazy stuff! Naughty Dog does not disappoint. This is probably going to win GOTY, and while I think other games are more worthy of the title (see FE:A), I think it deserves it. We rarely see gems like this in the industry.
5. Super Mario 3D World; If I weren't so lazy, I would link to my initial reaction post of the E3 trailer. I was ready to give up hope on humanity until the day THAT fall trailer (you know the one) came along and wiped all of GAF's feet of the floor. Unlike SM3DL, this entry actually lived up to the hype. Still, it's not really what I wanted when I was thinking of a proper 3D Mario, but it'll have to do until Nintendo gets their shit together. I'll wait for my main entry while I have a lot of fun with this fine game.
6. Puppeteer ; Oh man, this game. Talk about criminally underrated and overlooked, more people need to play this! Granted, I played this entirely in co-op with my sister, so my experience may have been way different, but I had a ton of fun playing this, watching the cute and simple story unfold while enjoying the amazing graphics with probably the best art style I have experienced this year, as well as the magnificent music and, interestingly, cool backstory and lore of the game's universe. Sony Japan makes fine pieces of art.
Until here, aside from FE:A, I had a pretty rough time ranking these games. I think those 6 games should be played by every gamer, as they are some masterfully crafted pieces of art.
7. Pokémon X/Y ; Yeah, this is one of the biggest disappointments of the year for me. I was actually hoping this game would end up being my game of the year, but for several reasons (Mega-evolutions, "story", difficulty, who knows how much FPS, and pretty much no 3D unless you want to watch PowerPoint slides) I ended up being greatly ashamed of what the team at GF tried to craft. It has some nice additions, like some of the new Pokémon and the fairy type, and I enjoyed it anayway, but I still wonder what happened.
8. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; Best portable Zelda yet.
9. Grand Theft Auto V ; I actually had this way higher, but when reflecting on it I saw I didn't have as much fun with this than with other titles, it's somehow "forgettable". Still a pretty solid game!
10. Beyond: Two Souls ; Those party and homeless sequences made this game worth it. It has its bad moments and some bad writing, but it's still pretty good.
X. Layton Brothers: Mystery Room ; Best iOS game I've played this year.
x. Tomb Raider ; Everything about this game was to my liking, except the freaking story. Oh my god, I can't even start to describe how bad the writing and story is. Still, for what it's worth, I had a lot of fun playing it.
2012. Dark Souls ; I haven't even finished it yet, but I'm already wondering myself why didn't I try this game earlier. A wonderful masterpiece.
Games that I would have liked to play, but didn't for several reasons: The Wonderful 101, Rayman Legends, Shin Megami Tensei IV, Soul Sacrifice, Tearaway, Killer is Dead, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag...
I played Bioshock Infinite, Gone Home, DmC, and Papers: Please, and thought they were a big disappointment.
1. Dota 2 ; The only choice. Valve managed to combine the indestructible yet ever-changing ruleset of Dota with gorgeous art, admirable voice work, progressive community involvement and one of the few true free-to-play models. I've been playing Dotes for about seven years and don't see myself stopping anytime soon.
2. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
3. BioShock Infinite
4. The Wonderful 101
5. Gone Home
6. Super Mario 3D World
7. Dragon's Crown
8. Valdis Story: Abyssal City
9. The Last of Us
10. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
x. The Stanley Parable
x. Papers, Please
x. Expeditions: Conquistador
x. Call of Juarez Gunslinger
1. Metro: Last Light ; I wasn’t a big fan of Metro 2033 aside from the evocative graphics at the time. The game was unpolished, unforgiving and seemingly not play-tested at all. I stopped playing early and never returned.
Last Light is an entirely different affair. Despite the rumored shoestring budget, 4A games managed to deliver the best first person shooter in years, which directly challenges and beats the triple A competition.
Instead of wasting the graphics budget on meaningless spectacle with little substance and thin-at-best relevance to the experience of playing the game, the developer concentrated all resources on making the world beautiful from the point of view of an armed eavesdropper who carefully sneaks through the metro system of post apocalyptic Moscow. Here, reactivity to the world with special animations from the first person perspective, immersion building effects such as condensation inside of a gas mask and subtle uses of lighting (including breakable light sources) makes all the difference.
The game is still a first person shooter at heart, but it supersedes your expectation of how a first person shooter should play again and again. The majority of areas have a parallel design, where enemies can be tackled completely with stealth or with tactical shooting at your discretion. Both designs are well developed with a steady increase in difficulty throughout the game, and I felt encouraged to use both depending on the circumstances (for example, sparing pathetic guard duty foot soldiers, but mercilessly killing the aggressors who followed me to the surface).
The way the game handles exploration deserves special praise. Basically, the main path of this linear game is full of optional areas. You are encouraged to explore these optional areas because they contain valuable assets from the in-game economy, but you will surprisingly often find elaborate scripted sequences such as an ambush by monsters or some stray soldiers hunting down and attempting to rape a woman, or even more frequently subtle environmental story telling based on items, marks and bodies lying around. Even when you are funneled down a linear path, the game requires your attention and your ability to analyze environmental cues to progress forward. There is no overuse of x-marks-the-spot waypointing or sequences where you are following an ally (I was sad to see gaming journalists embarrass themselves by indicating the opposite, presumably based on only playing the introduction of the game).
Finally, despite being a game with so much freedom, where a playthrough can last anywhere from 10 to 30 hours, the game is better paced than any of the 6 hour Call of Duty-likes costing tens of millions to make. For example, early in the game, a tactical section against humans is followed by a horror section where vicious spiders are trying to eat your brains, which is followed by downtime taking in the beautiful sights of the post apocalyptic Moscow, which is followed by psychotic hallucinations, and where the experience finally ends with an overwhelming mutant ambush and a desperate escape to the closest metro station. The game just continues to throw varied situations at you like that, and it is even more impressive considering that the game is grounded in a single location, without the generous use of air travel or teleportation devices that makes the “good pacing” of some other titles possible.
Metro: Last Light is simply the best game of the year. If Valve had bought the game from THQ, lightly retouched it, and renamed the game to Half-Life 3, it would have been a complete no-brainer to expect the game to end up as the game of the year. Sadly, too few people seem to be willing to give a first person shooter from an unknown eastern European developer a chance. I personally can’t recommend this game highly enough for those who enjoy first person shooters and I sincerely hope that more people get a chance to try it.
2. The Last of Us ; The most dramatic (and graphically impressive?) opening in a game ever is followed by a too tutorialized starting area, which is followed by a lengthy third person stealth game centered around two charismatic characters. When it comes to the narrative, the game just crushes the competition this year. I was impressed to see the Resident Evil 4 influenced gameplay work so well, despite the focus on the narrative (which RE4 just neglected).
3. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons ; A minimalistic puzzle game which presents simple puzzles based on highly original gameplay mechanics and knows when to move on. Features amazing environmental design, including the instantly memorable battlefield between giants and a stunning icy lake.
4. Tomb Raider ; A linear third person shooter which uses light gating, exploration and problem solving to make the game more immersive than other games in the genre. Features an original stealth system where you automatically hide behind cover which is destined to have influence over future third person game design.
5. Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; I was skeptical of the changes in the direction of non-linearity, but it is impossible to dismiss the game on theoretical grounds when you start to play a Zelda game with some of the best dungeons in the entire series. The maiami sidequest was everpresent in the overworld and encouraged you always think about the merging with walls mechanic, while the dungeons were cleverly designed to combine the use of the dungeon specific item with merging with walls. In the end I didn’t find either the dungeons or the overworld more simplistic compared with previous Zelda games, and it should be pointed out that all the dungeons (I believe) still contain valuable special items, just not ones needed to complete the dungeon specific puzzles.
6. Grand Theft Auto V ; The most graphically impressive open world environment I have ever explored. I can’t wait to rediscover it with high end pc settings this spring. There are many missions and mission variety is great (especially compared with GTA IV), but the interesting heist mechanic was kind of sidelined, presumably due to messing with the goal of having high mission variety. I would have loved a more fully featured heist rpg, where you are developing multiple companions in five or so additional missions. The jewelry heist (first one) was truly fantastic, and I would have loved to see more of that.
7. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag ; A step in the right direction after the disappointing but still fun Assassin’s Creed 3. The ship combat is addictive, the protagonist is likable, and the new spin on real world framing as a very light first person puzzle game was successful. The game is too long and drags on in the end, but that is mostly my own fault for being obsessive about the ship rpg system and insisting on doing all the sidequests.
8. Super Mario 3D World ; Genius 3d platforming game from Nintendo EAD. The galaxy games seemed to be more varied with their mission based gameplay, but 3d World goes deeper into the basic platform mechanics.
9. Guacamelee! ; Nothing especially original about this one, but I appreciated the mastery of Metroidvania mechanics in a somewhat more directed game, where the difficulty is maintained despite the increasing agency of the player.
10. Gone Home ; A little gem which creatively uses suspense to “trick” you into appreciating old school adventure game mechanics applied to a family drama.
2012. Sleeping dogs ; Brilliant open world game. Finds its own niche compared with other open world games, with smaller but more detailed environments and a bigger focus on narrative. The Arkham influenced combat was well realized.
x. Bioshock Infinite ; My interest for this game was somewhat reignited when I got a 120Hz screen, but fundamentally, the combat arena type gameplay with lots of movement and bullet spongey waves of enemies doesn’t really interest me.
x. Zelda Wind Waker HD ;
x. Bravely Default ;
x. The Swapper ;
Didn't play many new games last year, most of last year was spent clearing out my backlog and checking out games I've missed. If it seems I've neglected to list a game (ALBW and SMTIV for example) chances are I haven't gotten around to playing it yet.
1. Super Mario 3D World; Nintendo EAD does it again. One of the best platformers I've ever played and the most fun I've had this year in both singleplayer and multiplayer. Pitch perfect controls, beautiful soundtrack that sticks in your head and an extremely polished look all come together to create a game that just oozes charm, excellence and most of all, fun.
2. The Last of Us; Naughty Dog knocks it out of the freaking park with what is probably one of the best story driven experiences I've ever had, gaming or otherwise. What they've managed to pull off with the PS3 is absolutely incredible. The game has a story that while it may be cliched and predictable at times still manages to pull you in with it fantastic characters that you genuinely care about and a world that feels alive despite it's post apocalyptic setting all with a marvelous attention to detail that never fails to amaze. Not to mention some extremely tight and satisfying stealth and melee combat that truly brings you into TLOU's brutal world.
3. Fire Emblem Awakening; Admittedly my first FE game, but it's absolutely brilliant and has really gotten me interested in the series.
4. Ace Attorney 5: Dual Destinies; I must say that given Capcom's recent output I wasn't expecting much. From the moment this game was announced I feared that this would be another RE6. So much could've gone wrong with this game, no Shu Takumi, bringing the series to new hardware, translating the artsyle to 3D yet somehow, despite everything Capcom these days, these bastards knocked it out of the fucking park! The animations and 3D models are just incredible (I dare say I may actually prefer it to the sprites), The music is absolutely outstanding and the story is terrific, hell I even liked the "filler" cases. The new characters are also wonderful, especially Athena and Blackquill.
Seriously, the reveal in the final case made me rest my 3DS on the table, get up out of my chair and run up and down holding my head saying "OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! What the fuck! WHAT THE FUCK!!!!???" repeatedly... and I loved it! This game floored me, definitely my favorite Ace Attorney game since Trials and Tribulations. (Yes this is taken from the impressions I posted in the OT for this game but it pretty much sums up exactly how I feel so I thought I'd just put it here)
5. Luigi's Mansion 2; Top notch level design, fantastic use of 3D and a staggering attention to detail all come together in a game that shows what Next Level games are truly capable of and makes me excited for their future projects.
1. Tearaway ; This game is my favorite for the year because it just never stopped amazing me. When looking through the Vita I felt like I was taking part in a real world that was made entirely out of paper. Almost everything in the environment is able to be interacted with in some way. Touching a loose fold of paper actually responds to your finger. The creativity that was expressed in the game and the freedom of your own creation is a true testament to how this game is the best I've experienced this year.
2. Metal Gear Rising Revengence ; Platinum Games knows gameplay, and they brought their skills to the Metal Gear universe. Slicing enemies up never gets boring. Precise blade movements when in blade mode keeps the game feeling fresh and alive. S rank can be a challenge if you don't cheat with special items, so there's plenty of replay value. Soundtrack is also the best of the year.
3. The Last of Us ; A great emotional ride where one actually begins to care about the story and characters. I went into this game with disbelief that it was, one of the greatest of the generation. It took me three play throughs to see how great this game truly is. I definitely don't regret buying or playing this gem.
4. Blazblue ChronoPhantasma ; Imported, I live in US. There's always a fighting game series where people say that an older version is better than newer ones. This is not one of those games. Seven brand new characters (including 2 DLC ones...) add to the already diverse cast. No two characters are alike, and this holds true for the new ones. I didn't know what was going on with the story, but that's not why people buy fighting games anyway. Online is a blast with the new arcade layout lobbies. You can just walk around and challenge anyone without needing to go into small lobbies. The balance in the game is great (aside from Kokonoe), and the addition of crush triggers and overdrive keep the gameplay at breakneck speed. This game is the reason why I still play my PS3 almost everyday.
5. Resogun ; It was the very first game I played on the PS4 and it had me hooked from the get go. I loved Super Stardust HD and this game has a lot of style and flare just like that game. High difficulties and going for High scores is where this games voxels shine. I still come back and play it cause it's easy to pick up and play for a short time.
6. Killzone Mercenary ; For a game that's only on the Vita, it plays just as well as some PS3 games. Graphics use all sorts of tricks to show just what the Vita is capable of. Multiplayer is fun and never overly hectic, since there's only a max player count of 8. The Goldeneye style missions provide new ways of approaching missions that make you have to play smart, instead of just running and gunning. I bought it at full price and haven't second guessed the choice once.
7. Killzone Shadowfall ; Graphically this game seems to be head and shoulder ahead of all of the new generations launch games. Story is passable but not the best. Multiplayer is where this game shines. GG is constantly working on it. The fact that there are free maps on the way is one of the most commendable actions that a developer has made towards keeping their community on the same level and try to keep things fresh. It's worth a pick up if you have a PS4, but it's not really worth buying the system over (unless you're a diehard Killzone fan like me).
8. Tales of Xillia ; Another Tales game, but it thankfully doesn't have annoying characters. The story is predictable to an extent, but with interesting characters and good voice acting it doesn't really matter. Combat is fun and fast paced just like a Tales game should be. Alvin is the best, even if he is sort of a jerk. Pick this game up if you like JRPGs.
9. Puppeteer ; I'm mad at myself for picking this up for only $7. This game beams beauty and wonder. Characters are charming and funny with their child book like dialogue and actions. The platforming is precise and not floaty like LBP. It's definitely another great PS3 exclusive to tell people to get when they make a "Just got a PS3 what games to get" thread.
1. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; I've spent more time with this game than any other this year, and had more fun with it than any other. I've always like Fire Emblem, and this one's got the same gameplay I've always liked with much improved art and writing compared to the past.
2. Gone Home ; Best writing and acting in a game this year, bar none. It's a small game, constricted, but that's all to its benefit. The popular meme is that it's not a game at all, but I think that's its greatest strength. Playing something that doesn't try to showhorn in unnecessary mechanics is refreshing. It's a pure experience without anything unneeded tacked on.
3. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons ; Brothers lures you in thinking its a simple fairy tale game with a gimmicky mechanic, but it quickly turns so, so dark and so uniquely Scandinavian. The game is gorgeous. The battlefield of the giants area was probably my favorite environment in a game this year. The gameplay is never fantastic, but it's worth it for the final twist that it sets up.
4. The Last of Us ; The Last of Us is a game that manages to be the most AAA-ass AAA game ever made, while also correcting for a lot of the previous excesses that plague the genre. The characters are all reasonably realistic. Joel is a pretty typical protagonist of the sort of games we've gotten the past few years, the gruff dude looking to protect people he cares about, but the story acknowledges that that sort of guy isn't actually always that good of a person. There's no heart of gold deep down, just a broken, miserable guy. The combat never spirals to Uncharted levels of excess and wanton murder, which is a plus, as well.
5. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; Perfectly straddles the line between being a classic Zelda while also being completely fresh. It's full of nostalgia. The dungeon designs are really solid, too, and actually made me occasionally turn on my 3DS's 3D.
6. Rayman Legends ; The first game was the best 2D platformer in years, and this one keeps up the tradition. The controls are so tight and the art is so good. I do kind of miss the ludicrous difficulty of some of Origins levels though.
7. Papers Please ; Papers Please is kind of paradoxical. It some how finds fun in drudgery and ugliness. Who knew bureaucracy could be so enthralling, and that such ugly, muted art could be so charming? The number of different ways the plot can go based on seemingly mundane decisions is really great, too.
8. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch ; A console JRPG made in the past ten years that isn't Persona and is actually good! That's an achievement in itself. The art is, of course, gorgeous, and while the plot is definitely a children's story, it finds its charms, especially with Drippy.
9. Guacamelee ; Guacamelee doesn't really do anything new, but it's the best take on the classic Metroidvania I've played in a while. The whole Mexican theme is super well done, and the combat and platforming are great.
10. Pokemon X/Y ; *sigh* I don't know what it is about Pokemon. I can't really point out anything particularly great about the games, but they're just addicting as hell. The new online features really streamline things; Wonder Trade is a godsend. Plus I think it's probably the best attempt, after year of ugly 3D DS games, to make a 3D game that looks comparable to solid 2D graphics.
1. Pokemon X/Y ; As the first game in the franchise that is fully 3D, this game had a lot to live up to. Many RPGs, when they get converted to 3D, lose some focus on some things, like battles ending up slower due to 3D models being animated, or the overworld getting slower due to the scale of it growing with nothing done to balance it out. Pokemon X/Y managed to clear this hurdle. Battles are as fast as they ever were, but the real standout is the overworld. This games pays attention on one thing many 3D RPGs neglect: Movement. While the general structure of the overworld has not changed much from the series past, movement certainly has, due to the inclusion of the roller skates. These roller skates adds an element of movement that is fast and nimble. While not as precise as running or as smooth as the bike, once you master the controls of the roller skates, you can roll across the games world in whatever pace you want. Past this subject, which is the one that was on my mind the most during the game, theres some more things to note about it. While the balance of the game isn't too great, as it can become incredibly easy if you use the EXP Share, its one of the more challenging games in the series without it, which was pretty fun. The story is pretty weird, almost not existing until a certain point where it starts appearing without warning, maybe a bit strong. This was a bit of a let down after the previous generation at least had an intriguing and decently written story and background, but other than that, its still better than what the rest of the series has. Theres a lower number of new Pokemon in this game than in past ones, but there are many great designs among them. The 3D models of Pokemons are amazing, retaining the charm of the old sprites, while allowing much better animations.
Overall, while not perfect in every way, this is the game I've played the most and had the most fun with in 2013.
2. Shin Megami Tensei IV ; This game is completely worthy of the Shin Megami Tensei name. Back in the apocalyptic, Tokyo, assembling the perfect teams of digital demons to take on all matters of demons and deities, an extremely fast battle system that requires you to think rather than just do whatever you want. This game manages to perfectly channel the atmosphere of the classic SMT games, from setting to graphics to the amazing soundtrack, while providing some modern design mechanics. Id say this game is one of my favorite MegaTen games, if not my favorite, period.
3. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies ; Phoenix Wright is back! ...Not like he left, really. Like Pokemon, Ace Attorney took the step into 3D models, and the result is nothing short of amazing. The models lack not one positive side of the sprites, while allowing for more detailed animations, and of course for stereoscopic 3D.
But, of course, the most important part of Ace Attorney is the story. And in the games case, it is the exact opposite of the disappointing and sometimes annoying Apollo Justice. The story is engaging, and without glaring plot holes or extremely faulty logic. Characters are actually relevant rather than just thrown in. Apollo finally feels fleshed out as a character rather than just a Wright clone. And Athena fits perfectly among the rest of the cast. This game also has my favorite villain of the series.
4. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers ; Finally out in English, more than a decade after it was originally released. This game is pretty great, cyberpunk, 90s, and MegaTen all in one package. You can see it comes from 1997, but it holds up just as well today. The only reason it wasn't my favorite MegaTen in the past few years is because SMT4 also came out this year.
5. Animal Crossing: New Leaf ; Theres not too much to say about this one, But I havent played Animal Crossing for a few years, and never done so on a handheld, so this one captured me easily. The perfect game to enter for a little bit once in a while to relax in your town. The improvements and additions in this game make it the best Animal Crossing yet.
6. Rise of the Triad ; This game feels like it came from the 90s, or the early 2000s at most. One of the most enjoyable FPS in a while, I thoroughly enjoyed the pace and style of it. The multiplayer portion isn't as good as the classic FPS games its referencing to (or even is a remake of), but Id say the singleplayer is the main course here.
7. Bit Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien ; The sequel to my favorite Bit.Trip game. Im not sure if I like it more than the first one, as Id say it isn't as balanced as that one, but I still had a lot of fun with this game, and the dance mechanix actually allows for leaderboards to have a meaning.
8. Fire Emblem Awakening ; Id say the standout in this game was the characters, which made following the game an adventure along with them. The combat was also quite satisfying, and you have to think if you dont want to lose said characters. (If youre playing with permadeath on, that is.) You can break the difficulty of the game if you grind through the random encounters, but if you dont abuse that, the game can still be quite challenging.
9. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; In terms of design, this game seems absolutely tight. Movement is fast, the sword just feels right, and your items make combat fresh and fun. The item rental system allows you to approach the game in the order and style you want. The problem, though, is that the game is a bit too easy, lowering a lot of the risk, and due to that, diminishing the benefits of said system. I feel like it will show more of its strength during Hero Mode, but I have not yet had time to play it. Due to the ability to choose your order of the dungeons, the progression in dungeon design and in difficulty has been mostly eliminated, along with clever use of more than one item at a time, which feels a bit of a missed opportunity due to the ability to use two items at once. All of this makes you ask whether the benefits of the item rental system and the non-linearity of the dungeon order hurts the game more than it benefits it. That being said, the dungeon design is still great, even with the above missed opportunities.
10. Dust: An Elysian Tail ; This 2D action game has a very fun combat system, and racking up combos is very satisfying. Along with nice level design, gorgeous background art and a pleasant soundtrack, I enjoyed my time with this game.
2012. Zero Escape: Virtues Last Reward ; While I didn't like this as much as 999 in almost every respect, its a worthy sequel, and still great on its own.
x. Gunpoint ; Wiring together different electronic devices, jumping around with special pants, and a story that entertains without being too much serious or taking much of the light, this game is a fun short run.
x. Steamworld Dig ; A platformer about digging, with tight mechanics that doesnt overstay its welcome.
x. 3D Space Harrier ; The best version of this game, with a few extra features, this arcade shooter is perfect for a small round or two while Im on the bus.
x. 3D Galaxy Force II ; Same as 3D Space Harrier, this is another game I used to pass time on my bus rides lately.
x. Rogue Legacy ; The idea of having genetics be the differing factor between characters in this roguelike-lite platformer was pretty novel, and made retries more interesting than expected.
x. StreetPass: Mii Force ; A 2D shooter with weapons made by other people you meet! Levels also have a nice variety of ideas, even if the game is overall a bit short.
x. StreetPass: Monster Manor ; Creating and exploring a haunted mansion, along with some ghost battles among the way, this was also a good idea from the batch of new StreetPass games that came this year.
And that's it! Didn't really have time to pretty it up or anything. Also posting it way past midnight, so hopefully I didn't make a formatting error or anything.
1. The Last of Us ; Thats right for the second year in a row, a non Nintendo game was my GOTY. (Last year's was ZombiU.) TLOU is just a great experience from beginning to end and playing through it in 12 hours & 55 minutes in three days was great. Like that feeling of being hooked on a game.
2. Super Mario 3D World ; Like TLOU, I was hooked. 16 hours, 34 minutes to 100% it in three days sans the last level and the last 10 second mission level. Great experience. Do wish it was felt a bit more different from 3D Land though...
3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; 2D Zelda are hit and miss for me, I was dissapointed that the first original 3DS Zelda was 2D instead of 3D when it was announced. However, I was hooked from almost day one, (Had to beat SM3DW first.) and had a blast. One of my top two 2D Zeldas, and hope 3D WiiU Zelda uses the item and dungeon in any order system aswell!
4. Pikmin 3 ; Another great installment in the Pikmin series. It FINALLY came out.
5. Tearaway ; The most original game this year. Such a magical game. Shame about the sales.
6. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon ; Surprisingly good game, considering I wasn't really into the original. Another game that hooked me. 100%ed it in five days.
7. Ace Attorney 5 ; Not beaten, but I didn't play a lot of games that came out this year. But its Ace Attorney. I know what to expect and I like it.
8. Animal Crossing: New Leaf ; While probably one of the games I'll play the most for years to come, it really won't be higher due to me enjoying the other games more, despite the fact that I won't play them as much.
9. Pokemon X ; See Animal Corssing.
10. The Cave ; Did six of the seven characters, so not beaten. Great little game, but got repetitive.
I've been debating whether to contribute or not this year since 2013 was mostly spent playing games from 2011 or older, but here it goes anyway.
1. Bioshock Infinite ; It's almost a shame that this is my number one choice because I felt that the game should have been so much more. I thought the narrative threw away it's chance for poignancy in a year where so many other games delivered on it. The relatively brainless gameplay compared to its predecessors also didn't help. But the wonderful atmosphere, environments, and characters surpassed those in the previous Bioshocks as well as every other game I played this year. The last few moments are truly memorable and alone make it the best game of 2013.
2. Injustice: Gods Among Us ; I am unapologetically a huge Mortal Kombat fan and MK9 made me a huge Netherrealm Studios fan as well. While I did not enjoy Injustice quite as much as MK9, it probably took up the most significant amount of my gaming time for the year. Netherrealm has a talent for making incredibly easy to learn and execute fighting systems that still manage to be deep and well balanced (though it might take them a few patches to get there), and Injustice was no exception. Once again leading the way for single player content in fighting games, including an engaging story mode and tons of fan service, there is no question that Injustice was the best fighting game of the year.
3. Grand Theft Auto V ; While I found GTAIV to be a little disappointing, the game was still incredible in terms of bringing a game world to life. No open world game since then really made you feel like the world had any substance to it. It was no surprise that GTAV would surpass it. As soon as I was put into the world, I was overwhelmed with the amount of detail. There was just so much "stuff" going on. Coming from the sterile environments of Saints Row, GTAV just had so much more personality, especially when combined with the writing and characters. But that alone was not enough for the game to be excellent. While the three protagonist structure actually worked very well, there can only be so much variety in car chases and shootouts. While I appreciate and accept the fact that the series has take a more mature turn from its PS2 days, there are still some vestiges of poor taste in the form of juvenile jokes about trans people and a generalized tone of misogyny. GTA Online was a fun and interesting distraction, when it worked Still, there's no better game to play when you want to just drive and enjoy the scenery and chaos happening around you.
4. Saints Row IV ; When I first played Saints Row 2, it was obvious to me that the franchise was trying to emulate the success of the GTA series, including the gratuitous violence and sexual humor the series was known for. Still, the game managed to create an interesting personality for itself that I'm not sure the developers were aware of at that point. The difference between Saints Row and GTA is the main character. Saints Row allows you to play as yourself, a video game player. This was apparent in Saints Row 3 and even more so in IV. The game fully embraces the absurd nature of video games, where we can be psychotic mad(wo)men and still be President of the United States and still save the world and still have sex with anybody we want. In an industry where so many games try to chase the male power fantasy, it's oddly refreshing to see it done so well and so unapologetically. Saints Row IV is the ultimate power fantasy and manages to say something about the absurdity of the industry without really even trying to. But unintentional moments of clarity do not make up for the sterile environments and tedious enemy encounters. Saints Row IV is the king of the sandbox, but doesn't have enough interesting toys to play with.
5. SongArc ; I'm not sure if this game is eligible or if anyone has even heard of it to let me know if it is, but it deserves a spot on the list regardless. Being a Windows Phone user, I don't really have much to speak of when it comes to mobile games. This isn't a huge problem since I find most of them interesting for a few days and proceed to never play them again. But SongArc manages to rekindle that flame in me during the Guitar Hero/Rock Band era that blew out so quickly. The fact that it uses your own library not only makes it more personal but also allows you to find enjoyment in songs you never thought you would. Tapping along to Reflektor by Arcade Fire is a pretty calm and mellow experience but what I'm more obsessed with is beating my high score on Disturbia.
6. Tomb Raider ; Now this is a strange one. On the surface, there is absolutely nothing exceptional about Tomb Raider 2013. But there's nothing dysfunctional either. The game plays it very safe, just another triple A, huge budget, supposed blockbuster aimed at the majority demographic of gamers. So why should this game get credit for seemingly doing nothing to separate itself from all the other Hollywood-type cinematic experiences in gaming? Well, game design is a tricky thing and I thought Tomb Raider handled it pretty well. The level design offers no really puzzles to solve nor any real platforming to challenge you, but still makes you feel engaged in the setting. The combat is shallow yet rewarding. But most of all, the game is about Lara, for better or for worse. I remember the developers saying that I would want to "protect her" but that could not be further from the truth. What I found was a story about an incredibly talented and capable young girl transform into the confident woman that defined the franchise. She was never weak, meek maybe, but I never thought I needed to protect her. To me, the story was about what she must do to save the people she cared about. While some people observed a disconnect between the innocent young girl in the cut scenes and the super efficient killing machine in the gameplay, I saw it a different way. Lara was never scared for her own life nor was she innocent. She was scared because she might lose her friends and she knew she had to kill the people holding them to prevent that from happening. She knew that she was the only one that could prevent that from happening.
Ineligible mention: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft ; It looks like this game is ineligible but I thought I should mention it anyway since it would have been my Game of the Year otherwise. I was at PAX 2013 and heard there was going to be a Blizzard announcement. I was hoping for news on the Diablo III expansion since that's the only Blizzard franchise I remotely cared about. When I heard it was some Warcraft card game, I kind of just shrugged and thought nothing of it. I saw it at their booth and thought it looked awful, especially when learning that it was free-to-play, disgusted by all the other f2p dreck that was on display at that PAX. A few months later, I checked out the Giant Bomb quicklook which drastically changed my opinion of the game. They actually managed to make a trading card game look fun, and I was intrigued enough to sign up for a beta invite, though I thought my chances were pretty slim. A month later I got into the beta, but I was in the middle of playing GTAV at the time so I wasn't really in a rush to play. i installed it, played the tutorial missions, and decided it was a fun little diversion just like the mobile games I'd played. Then I played some actual human opponents and lost badly. So badly that I decided to go on twitch to see who the best players were. This was a revelatory experience that changed everything. I began to understand the basic strategies and started winning most of my games. But that wasn't enough. I had to be better, so I studied more cards and crafted better decks and tried to achieve as much value as possible. Now I watch several Hearthstone streamers, sometimes while playing Hearthstone, all times while I should be doing something more productive. The game has also done the impossible and made me interested in WoW lore. It's games like these that remind me what gaming as always been about for me. You don't need to make a profound statement about society or the gaming industry or do something unique that transcends the medium. No, it's when some guy is half asleep in his bed trying to go through potential board clears and mana costs that you know you've made it.
Gah, I have being hemming and hawing over even voting this year; I didn't get to play nearly as many 2013 titles as I would have liked. But just the same, I can't let the great titles I did play go without recognition, so.....
1. The Last of Us ; There is something incredibly marvelous about TLoU; it's so complete of an experience. A grand magnum opus for the PS3. I'm sure it's finest points have been mentioned many times before, so I won't get into all of that, but I do have to credit something that stood out to me; a small detail, but one that left a memorable impression nonetheless…..At one point, Joel, Ellie, Henry and Sam are moving through a series of buildings in an effort to escape the city, when they pass through an abandoned architecture firm's offices. The offices are dirty and long forgotten, but remnants of the work once done there still remain. Books line the office walls, and if you take a closer look at them, you'll see each and every one is titled something specific to architecture. Such a tiny, tiny detail that wasn't even necessary to add, but shows just how much attention and effort went into creating this stunning yet forsaken world.
2. BioShock Infinite ; No series seems to nail atmosphere quite like BioShock. I'll never forget the first time I set foot outdoors in Columbia, a city soaring above the clouds with the sun searing down. That almost blinding brightness. The tangible crispness of the thin air. The reality of a city like Columbia might be an impossibility, but I can thank BioShock Infinite for nearly convincing me of it's actual lofty existence.
3. ResoGun ; Have you ever seen a game in action, maybe in a trailer or a Let's Play, and found yourself thinking 'Wow, that looks spectacular, but it's not my kind of genre and I know if I try it I'm going to be embarrassingly terrible at it'? That sums up how I felt about ResoGun when I first caught sight of it. But I needed something to play on my PS4, and since it was free, I figured, why not? I never expected to go on to Platinum the game and, for a very brief period of time, sit among the top 20 highest scores on the leader-boards. And while I can't really hang with the real pros anymore and have never been a particularly competitive girl, gosh darn if I don't have to beat my friends scores every time they best me.
4. Animal Crossing: New Leaf ; AC: New Leaf is simply comfort food. I've turned to it after long, stressful days at work, during prolonged bouts of insomnia, and even on quiet comfy lazy days to just relish in the mood. There is always something there waiting for you. Admittedly I can be a mischievous mayor; I've spread a rumor or two among my townies via letters or bulletin board notes, but I'd be lying if I didn't confess to feeling real attachment for my animal friends and the town we call home.
5. Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix ; Funny, I never thought I'd be voting for KH again, but thanks to the remaster, I can (and I should mention this vote is for the original game more so than CoM or 358/2). The remaster is marvelously done, with a splendid, memorable soundtrack surrounding a sweet story of friendship. These were simpler times.....before Organizations and nobodies and unbirths and rebirths and whatever other nonsense has been introduced since. But the original game is better for it; it's a charming classic from it's era.
6. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch ; I add Ni no Kuni to my list with a bit of trepidation. It's far from a favorite RPG of mine, and I didn't find it a very remarkable package on the whole. But the visuals and music are delightful, enough so that they balanced out the lackluster battle system for me. And Mr. Drippy is the flippin' cutest.
2012. Dishonored ; I haven't quite finished my first play-through, but I appreciate the different approaches to the gameplay, and the world is intriguing and mysterious.
1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; I've been wondering a lot what made this game so enjoyable to my eyes, and if I had to put it in extremely vague and non sexy words, I'd say that it is probably because of its extremely tight design. No filler, whether it is sluggish tutorials, overly long cinematics, or useless dialogue. A complete focus on what I love about Zelda and what makes it so unique in my eyes, exploring a world filled with problems, and using the tools at your disposal to fix those. Nothing more, nothing less. Every single square of the map is designed with the idea of being purposeful in one way or another. The speed at which you traverse the overworld makes it actually fun to explore every single inch of the map and solidifies the whole package in what is, by far, my game of the year.
2. Dota 2 ; Competitive and extremely rewarding, but often extremely frustrating too. That would pretty much sum up my feelings when playing this game. A few years back, I thought the idea of playing alongside AI controlled units in a PVP game was the silliest thing but then Heroes of Newerth happened, and then Dota 2 and now I find myself laughing at my old self.
3. Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D ; I've never been much of a 2d platformer guy. I've never been much of a 2d platformer guy until I've played DKCR. Now I play all of them, and every time, I shed hot tears because they never quite reach the quality of this game.
4. The Wonderful 101 ; A game that features the tight design of A Link Between Worlds and the rewarding aspect of Dota 2, so why isn't it higher than both on the list you might ask. Well, I just had a bit more fun with those I guess. Still, The Wonderful 101 proves, once again, that platinum games have really mastered the action game genre. Add the Kamiya touch and it ended up being one of the two games this year that put me in a state of complete social isolation until I finished them. Sorry for not returning any calls during those two days.
5. Pikmin 3 ; The game felt like a return to the original Pikmin. A refined and once again, very tightly designed experience. It is also one of the games that uses the Wii U gamepad in the best ways possible in my opinion.
6. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate ; Dota 2, but with monsters, and pve. This was my introductory game to the series, and what at first seemed like a very clunky game turned out to be one of the most rewarding, complex, deep and generally fun combat systems I've had the chance to experience.
Finally manage to write this down before the deadline. Luckily the deadline is the midnight Eastern not UK lol. Anyway, my first ever vote for GAF GOTY:
1. Bravely Default ; Classic jRPG. It's been a while since I last played such interesting jRPG with an awesome battle system. Having played the original Bravely Default - Flying Fairy last year, the improvement made for the Europe (and For the Sequel in Japan) version made it more interesting. Breaking the damage limit, use command outside the normal turn, crossover bosses from both Final Fantasy: 4 Heroes of Light and
the future game, Bravely Second
, customizable encounter rate and much more. Although people said that certain jobs are overpowered and some are useless, for me it depends on your play style. This alone made the game actually doesn't need the useless grind (although the grinding itself is easy in this game) in order to get pass story boss. Oh don't forget the awesome soundtracks composed by one of my favourite J-artist, Revo (Linked Horizon), both the old and the new track. Honestly, I can't wait for its sequel later this year.
2. Fire Emblem Awakening ; Ah Fire Emblem. Nothing much can be said for this game except in this game I finally found
my waifu Lucina
. Even though in a sense this entry in Fire Emblem series is kinda a bit let down for some people compared to previous games, nevertheless don't ever look down on how RNG can screw you (lol). I like the new Dual System where it opens a new possibility in planning the strategy to go through the map. Oh and finally the strategist (you/me) have an active role in the map.
3. Shin Megami Tensei IV ; (NA/JP Import) Finally a mainline entry for Shin Megami Tensei series after several years. The last one was Nocturne which released back in 2003. That makes it 10 years gap. As a typical Shin Megami Tensei game, there'll be different paths that you'll end up with. Be it Chaos, Law or Neutral, each of it will somehow makes you think whether your action taken is the right thing to do or not. Plus, the soundtracks for this game were brilliantly done by the trio composers which somehow includes the previous game path themes inside some tracks like SMT II Law theme in the Archangel DLC theme.
4. Muramasa Rebirth ; A remake of a game that is one of the best Wii game (for me). Having such beautiful game on your OLED Vita screen makes me dream of visiting that place itself. Featuring much improved text translations compared to Wii version (although I still like some of the old names for the skills) makes it is the definitive version of Muramasa. And finally we have the chance of playing other 4 characters (that was scrapped in the original Wii version due to budget constrain) via DLC.
5. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; The best Zelda in recent years. Smooth 60 fps gameplay even in 3D mode is one of the main selling point for me. As a sequel to classic A Link to the Past, it leads to several familiar place to be explored again. The item rental system is a brilliant idea that allows the norm in the dungeon order to be broken. Hopefully the experiment for this system done by Nintendo EAD 3 allows them to incorporate and improvise for the future Zelda series.
6. Super Mario 3D World ; Fun game, more fun if played with others. There isn't a single map that isn't accompanied with laughter among me and my housemates while playing this game. Teamwork to get through the map? Screw it. Most of the time we antagonizing each others in order to be the 1st place on the score as opposed to working together.
7. Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan ; I never finished the first and the second one while skipped the third one. But finally I manage to complete the fourth entry in this dungeon crawling RPG series, Etrian Odyssey. Exploring the dungeons in this game is isn't the same when compared to other dungeon crawlers. Why? You get to draw your own map. This makes me feel like I am really an adventurer that exploring the unknown dungeons with my trusted party mates.
8. Ys: Memories of Celceta ; This one is almost the same as Etrian Odyssey IV. Played most of the previous entries and never finished it. But this game is a gem for PS Vita. I admit that one of the reason I bought a Vita is because of this game. Great gameplay, good soundtracks and enjoyable storyline made it go through the top 10 of my list.
9. Metal Gear Rising: Revengance ; What a brilliant collaboration between Konami and Platinum Games. I have no idea on what to comment for this game, but mark my word... This game is awesome and its replayability is high.
10. Monster Hunter 4 ; (JP Import) I still remember how unplanned I am in getting this game. Saw the pics of people lining up for this game in Japan makes me gave in the temptation and grab this from eShop. The routine in this game is just the same as previous entries, but that is why this game called Monster Hunter. Both old and new monsters provide challenges as usual. Luckily I'm quite busy after bought this game that somehow prevented me from dwelling into hundreds of hours in this game. If not, it definitely rise up in ranks for my list (lol).
x. Pokemon X/Y ; Finally the 6th generation. While the fanboy inside me screaming much for this game, somehow I subconsciously compared it with Pokemon Black/White which caused it to drop out from my top 10 list.
x. HarmoKnight ; Brilliant rhythm game made by Game Freak. Although I'm not good in this type of game, HarmoKnight somehow made me interested and want to play more rhythm based game.
x. Animal Crossing: New Leaf ; I come to a town, became the mayor, then screwing the town by leaving it unattended for a long time. Poor Isabelle who had to patiently doing my part on top of her own work.
x. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn ; Great MMORPG reboot by Square-Enix but sadly I couldn't put more time into it after continuing my uni life caused it to be boot out from the list.
Late to the Party (LTTP)
2012. Gravity Rush ; Fun and unique game. Made use lots of Vita features in its gameplay. Can't wait for the sequel to be released in the future.
timetokill, you weren't kidding about that overlap. i was going to mention papers, please, but i stopped playing it halfway through when i was distracted by the stanley parable and gone home. i'll get back to it soon though.
1. Dota 2 ; This game sets the standard for the future of team-based competitive gaming, all gameplay aspects are entirely f2p and it has enough depth to have kept me, with its previous incarnations, interested for 7 years.
I would list other things but I didn't buy any games this year.
1. The Last Of Us; Game of the generation.
2. Super Mario 3D world; Great gameplay with the family. Bubble mechanic works well.
3. Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons; Great gameplay with the family. Union of separate controller concept and story.
4. Knack; Great gameplay with the family. Playing as the silver character as your child plays as Knack works extremely well.
5. Grand Theft Auto V; Environment, engine and locale. Best part was the ending credits.
6. Assasins Creed IV: Black Flag; Ocean going pirate fun.
7. The Cave; We had quite a bit of fun with this. Finished more than once.
8. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch; Beautiful family fun from Ghibli.
9. Tearaway; Beautiful game, I just wish I could easily play it on my TV.
10. Puppeteer; Lush environments, fun coop play.
x. Game & Wario; Lots of variety for the family to play and watch.. Uses all or most of the features of the WiiU.
1. Shin Megami Tensei IV ; Seda has mentioned a few times throughout the year that he didn’t like some of the changes done/added in this game and Fire Emblem Awakening which I agree with. I personally didn’t like the fact so many bosses had weaknesses and still having to hit enemies when you use an item/skill to lower enemy encounters. Nevertheless, the atmosphere is amazing, combat is fast paced and strategic, and demon fusion is still addicting. Another fantastic entry in today’s best JRPG franchise! I loved this game so much that I recorded myself fighting against the 7 Fiends (Rare bosses) http://www.youtube.com/user/20Forist/videos
2. Fire Emblem Awakening ; The reason why I bought my 3DS. I was giggling like a little girl when Reggie accidentally revealed it was coming a couple E3s ago. My main issue with the game is that trying to recruit every unit will get you grinding and then become quite overpowered for the last chapters. I enjoyed the main focus of character interactions among your team (Pair Up, marriage, etc) and the basic Fire Emblem gameplay is still perfection in my eyes. This series continues to kill any enjoyment when I tried to play other SRPGs because I always compared them to FE. I was quite shocked when Intelligent Systems said that this was going to be the last game in the series till the sales figures appeared. The day Nintendo kills off Fire Emblem is the day I stop buying Nintendo hardware.
3. Grand Theft Auto V ; Before this year , I have never finished an entire GTA game. This one broke the streak. I always got bored with any GTA halfway and the missions started to feel like a chore. GTA V changed that. I wanted to keep playing after every mission. Radio stations are great. The satire and parodies in the story and world is hilarious. Every mission from the heists and the ones in between is nonstop fun.
4. Super Mario 3D World ; This game is up in my list of best platformers I ever played. The level design creativity, the music, the art design. Mario and the gang never looked and played so good. This is the game you MUST pick up when you get your heavily discounted Wii U. I have only one gripe with this game…WHY CAN’T I TURN OFF GAMEPAD FUNCTIONS??! I don’t want to blow or touch my gamepad when I’m playing on the TV. If there is a way to turn it off, someone please tell me !!
5. The Stanley Parable ; To note, I never played the original release. This game got me laughing many times. The dialogue is top notch with great voice work. I took this game as poking fun of narration and how often we the player do everything games tell you not to do. Because of that, it has brought up a few interesting conversations among my friends.
6. Assassin Creed IV ; This series went from disappointing (ACIII) to an awesome exploration game. The action part however is getting old. Same exact mission types year after year and fighting is getting stale. I hope we see an overhaul next year otherwise no AC on this list next year.
7. Shin Megami Tensei : Devil Summoner : Soul Hackers ; Game plays more like the older SMT games with six man parties and no Press Turn combat. Judging by youtube vids of the Saturn and PS1 versions, they increase the game speed x10. This RPG is solid. I don’t see myself replaying it but it’s definitely worth playing. As someone who never played a SMT before the PS2 era, it’s cool to see how these games played back in the 90’s.
8. The Last of Us ; I do not like survival horror games. I do not like zombies. Yet I still enjoyed this game. What a story! Game was a little too much for my heart but nevertheless, I wouldn’t mind a sequel.
9. Bioshock Infinite ; Finding audio tapes, exploring the world , watching the relationship between Elizabeth and Booker grow. That’s what I enjoyed from Bioshock Infinite. I still remember all the revelations at the end of the game. So many conversations on Gaf and between friends.
10. Hotline Miami ; Note that this is the Vita version. This game is essentially an ultra-violent puzzle game. Surveying rooms and planning out your attacks is fun and the controls are tight. Plus chapters are short so it’s perfect for the handheld.
1. GTAV - iconic and perfect. Everything that this generation stood for in a single game. PS3 and 360 pushed to the extent of their abilities, beyond anything I thought possible. I don't care for the rest of the ordering, because GTAV was by so much the best game I've played this year that second third and fourth place simply do not matter.
Stupid me, thought it closed already last week. But since it's still open for a couple of hours I'll throw my vote in too.
1. Toki Tori 2+ ; Basically a beautiful, very well crafted open world puzzle adventure game. When I started the game, I really wasn't expecting much, so who would've known it became my GOTY.
Toki Tori 2+ is a game that doesn't hold your hand and doesn't tell you what to do. It basically just gives you 2 abilities - whistle and stomp (that remain as your only abilities for the whole game) - and throws you into the game. You need to figure out the environmental clues by yourself in order to figure out the puzzles and to move to the next level. The goal is to ultimately save your chicken tribe from the mysterious black stuff suddenly endangering the world. Gameplay wise the game gives you direct goals, but you can choose to ignore them and just move on in the world as you wish solving the puzzles from level to level, or you can go for the the goals in whatever order you wish.
There are no tutorials in this game, or at least not "obvious" tutorials. The game keeps throwing you new mechanics all the time and it teaches every single one of them to you if you pay attention to the clues. At the start there's a clear path of the least resistance that the game gives you, and if you follow it (until a certain point at which this path stops) the game is how it's basically meant to be for most people. However, if you want to do the game a bit harder, you can theoretically go anywhere in the game right from the start. Even then, the game teaches you well and the game holds together very commendably, but you need to use your brain more.
The game is in many ways metroidvania style, except without real power-ups. Instead, the game throws you new mechanics all the time and teaches you to understand them. This way, you also gradually start to realize the many alternative paths in levels. While you can theoretically go anywhere right from the start, at first you probably don't even realize there are alternative paths everywhere, not to mention how to get to them. The more you play, the more you'll understand the paths.
While you have only 2 abilities, there is still tons of variation in the puzzles. The puzzles generally consist of manipulating the environment and the animals in it to do something that helps you move. As a very basic example, if there's a wall on which you can't climb and there's a frog nearby, find a bug for that frog to eat (if needed, stomp the bug so it goes to the direction you want, and if needed, tweet to get the frog's attention). Then stomp and that frog burps a bubble on which you can get up. There are many many ways to interact with different animals and the environment, and many ways to make them interact with each other. These new ways keep showing up until the end of the game, but still they keep very logical and refined until that end.
The game also has an absolutely fantastic sound track. The game also has tons of content. If you play it until the "normal" end, then you'll get about 15-25 hours of gameplay easily, and if you play it until 100%, you'll get about 27-32 hours of gameplay.
To be brief, the game is absolutely marvelous in how it handles its subtle clues and how it handles being a metroidvania without any real power-ups, instead making you understand how to move on. The love that was put into the making of the game from Two Tribes is also very clearly seen from the very beginning of the game.
2. The Wonderful 101 ; A mind-blowing action brawler masterpiece, that uses a very interesting but functional control scheme.
You are controlling The Wonderful 100, the superhero sentinels of Earth fighting against the Geathjerk federation (Guild of Evil Aliens Terrorising Humans with Jiggawatt bombs, Energy beams, Ray guns, and Killer lasers) trying to destroy our planet. There are 7 main heroes (that you can get gradually during the game), who all have a unique morph ability. What's a morph, you ask? Basically, you combine your superheroes to the form of the morph and hit the shit out of enemies with it. For example you have Unite Sword, Hand and Gun. The morphing itself happens by "drawing" either using the touch screen or the right analog stick.
The "drawing" can be quite hard if you don't realize how it's done, and thus it's been a problem for many people with the game. The idea however isn't to actually draw, but to use simple gestures. For every morph there's a gesture like that. For example for Unite Hand you simply flick the analog stick left and then circle it to right fast. For Unite Hammer you flick the analog stick up-right, then left and circle it up. These gestures are very precise once you get the hang of it and they're also incredibly fun mechanically. You can easily switch morphs and control the size of the morphs once you learn them. Before that you will do mistakes every now and then, but it's not the game's fault. You will learn from making mistakes, and correcting your mistakes takes only a second. From the very start the game's flow is good, but once you start to master the controls, the flow becomes simply amazing.
The game isn't easy, like a Platinum game typically isn't, but instead it challenges you to learn the mechanics of the game and it encourages you to try out and find the many various things you can do in the game. The game is specifically designed to be very replayable. In fact, the first playthrough could be described as a tutorial. Don't let this scare you however. The first time through is great, but the game just really starts to open even more once you get through the first time. I don't usually touch games after beating them, but I played through the game 5 times.
The plot of Platinum games is often described as something completely over the top and it's not completely wrong to describe it as such in this game either. The game tries constantly to top itself by throwing bigger enemies and bigger, badder and more epic bosses at you (the game really has some amazing boss battles). You get to destroy massive robots, fly on space ships, destroy... well, that goes to spoilers, but anyway, the game is a really epic adventure.
The plot itself is surprisingly coherent and actually somewhat deep towards the end. There are a lot of cutscenes and there's a lot of character growth during the game, but if you want, you can simply skip the cutscenes. Someone might argue that there are too many cutscenes, but I think they pace the game very well.
I think this game is really once in a lifetime experience. It's not perfect of course - I think there are some enemies for example that are slightly unfair (though the game is very fair most of the time) and some of the levels and some of the bosses are kinda badly designed at some points, but the game is really an amazing game as a whole.
3. Baldur's Gate 2: Enhanced Edition ; This comes as an opinion of a person who hasn't played Baldur's Gate 2 before.
Before I started the game, I knew a lot of people thought it was the best or at least one of the best RPGs ever created. I really had a lot of expectations... And the game delivered. It blows my mind how massive the game is. The story is phenomenal also and keeps itself together well until the very end. The characters, even the main villain, are deep and well made.
The DnD mechanics can certainly be unclear for someone who isn't at all used to them. I have played some paper RPGs before so I'm a bit familiar with them and thus they weren't a problem for me.
4. Papers, Please ; I had heard a lot of the game so I bought it. When I started it I felt kinda disappointed. Is this really it? But then I just kept going and the game hit me. The gameplay is actually very fun because you have to try to remember different kind of stuff you're ordered to do, and you have to organize your table well and figure out what's wrong with each case (or if there isn't anything wrong).
The thing that makes the game really great however, is how it manages to make you feel so much. You're working on the border with low wages and you briefly meet people who you feel shouldn't get in or should get in, but you need to your job in order to support your family. You need to keep your family warm and you need to get medicine and food and you need to pay the rent. You need to learn to be efficient and merciless or you'll fail.
The atmosphere and the immersion of this game is truly excellent.
Glory to Arstotzka!
5. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons ; I don't personally like this game all that much, though I do find it really enjoyable. However, I think the game is still a very high quality game and definitely GOTY material.
The gameplay is quite simple. You control 2 brothers with 2 analog sticks and make them do things to solve puzzles and such. The game still manages to keep itself very varied however and it constantly keeps surprising you. The idea is certainly simple, but the game handles it in a very innovative and fresh way.
The themes of the game are deep and well executed. You're out there trying to save your father and at the same you're trying to take care of your brother. The themes are showed all throughout the game in its atmosphere and gameplay. The interaction between the characters and the environment is also very fantastic and tells a lot of the main characters.
x. Pikmin 3 ; I don't think Pikmin 3 is GOTY material (it's a good game though), but I want to give it an honorary mention for how it manages to make the little pikmin characters feel so important. It can feel so awful every single time some of your pikmin die, especially if it's purely some stupid mistake from you, and also especially if you leave any pikmin behind at the end of the day. When I killed like 50 pikmin with a bomb of my own I honestly couldn't handle it. It was heart breaking.
The game is truly cruel and magnificent in that regard.
1. GTAV - iconic and perfect. Everything that this generation stood for in a single game. PS3 and 360 pushed to the extent of their abilities, beyond anything I thought possible. I don't care for the rest of the ordering, because GTAV was by so much the best game I've played this year that second third and fourth place simply do not matter.
1. The Last of Us ; Might even be my game of the generation. Absolutely gorgeous blend of action, stealth and storytelling. Can't wait for the single player DLC.
2. Super Mario 3D World ; Like many others, I was disappointed by the E3 reveal - boy was I wrong. So many great levels, and the difficulty is just right. I spent sooo many hours beating "that" level.
3. Rayman Legends
4. Papers, please
6. Metro: Last Light
7. Gone Home
8. Bioshock Infinite
9. Grand Theft Auto V
10. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
2012. Person 4: Golden
Kinda late, but I think this is it. Couldn't complete my reason for why I chose the last few games, felt I was out of time.
1. Super Mario 3D World ; Proof that EAD still got it. This game had an incredibly lacking debut, but after we got our hands on it turned out to be one of the finest designed games ever and a worth successor to Super Mario Galaxy 2. There's an incredibly variety of levels, each one with a n entirely new idea to toy around with. Sometimes it feels that maybe they use too many ideas as they never revisit the idea to explore new ways to use it, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. The characters were also cleverly balanced, similar enough to make cycling between them a breeze but different enough to make each replay of a level fun.
2. Tearaway ; For the first time I cruelly believe that MM are a fantastic developer. They managed to create an incredibly game that delivers a wonderful experience.
3. The Wonderful 101 ; Kamiya's latest masterpiece. While the game may be very difficult to understand at first it's well worth understanding, because underneath it lies one of the most satisfying and creative action games designed in a long time, and Platinum's biggest game yet.
4. Rogue Legacy ; Maybe this is because it's my first roguelike and one of the few metroidvania style games I played in a long time, but I found this one of the year's finest games. Combat is tight and varied, and the quirks each new generation gets and the power-ups you unlock make venturing into the castle something to be excited for, even if the game becomes grindy at times. Still, that doesn't take away from the fun of exploring the ever-changing castle, never knowing what lies in the next room, or what treasures you may find.
5. Metro: Last Light ; A fantastic FPS with so many ways to tackle problems and a lot of variety with what you can do. The game has a tense atmosphere where you become incredibly afraid of even simply venturing into a linear corridor.
6. Antichamber ; Shows a new way in how games can be designed and used, with some of the most creative puzzles I ever took on in a game. Sometimes the solution is something so obvious it's easy to miss.
7. The Last of Us ; Naughty Dog's first great game in a long time. Had a few issues with the game, so it didn't make top 5.
8. The Legend of Zelda : A Link Between Worlds ; Best zelda game in years. If only it weren't so easy and constrained due to how the renting system works.
9. Pokémon X/Y ; While I may not consider it the best game of the year it sure has my longest play time. The way they fixed a lot of the past games problems make this the best pokemon yet.
10. Pikmin 3 ; While it was tough choosing between this and New Super Luigi U I had to go with the more original game. Playing any past Pikmin game shows just how much it improved during its ten year absence, and not just graphically. Though even in that department it's amazing how much it evolved.
x. Volgarr the Viking ; One of the most challenging yet fair games I ever played, you really never feel that the game cheated you at all. This game would have probably been among my top 5 but I couldn't finish it in time.
x. Super Hexagon ; An incredible arcade experience that will melt your brain.
2012. Street Fighter X Tekken ; I feel that I might have judged the game too harshly at the time of its release. After the 2013 patch the game became an incredibly fun fighter.
He he he, I do know that's what they said, and I believe it. It's 1 of 3 things he did there that I like, but I think the initial damage he did to XIV specifically and Square-Enix generally helped create a narrative that, with XIV's original launch, crippled A Realm Reborn and Square-Enix in the future. Plus, when he said that XIV hurt the brand, he's technically right, but I wanted to yell, "No, YOU ruined the brand by creating inferior art and inferior product!"
But, yeah, it's very cool that he had the guts to start over, and it's cool that they did so with such flair. Good call!
1. Dota 2 ; Valve took the originator of the moba/arts genre and brought it to justice. It didn't shed the quirky warcraft engine mechanics, it didn't hold the players hand, and it definitely doesn't "dumb down" the brilliant game known as Dota. This game does what few games do, it invokes the players passion. It can be happiness, joy, grief, hate, in every game its a different story. It can bring friends together and can tear teams apart. If you haven't played it before, do it now. I don't care if you're a mmo, racing, puzzle, shooter, platformer, jrpg gamer, if you have a yearning to learn and self improve, then this is the game for you.
1. Pokemon Y ; Was seriously not expecting this to be as big for me as it was. The transition to 3d worked out much better than I anticipated, and the amount of fun I'm having breeding, wonder trading, and even starting to theory craft for battling has sucked me in for over a hundred hours. Compared to Black/White, that's over double what I had on my Black cartridge when X/Y released. The in-game endgame is weak, and Pokebank still isn't out, but in the grand scheme of things, that doesn't matter.
2. Fire Emblem Awakening ; After the first DS game, which was ass, and the non-ported over, much better sequel, I was worried about the future of the series I'd found on the GBA, then backtracked all the way to the SNES. The waifu stuff can be a bit over the top, but the base mechanics were sound, if a little open for abuse by the player. Hopefully IS can take what made FE awesome again here, and add back some of the more core FE variety in missions and the like. Also, put the feet back in, lol.
3. Saints Row IV ; Superpowers helped save the game from the banality of SR3. It will never be as good as SR2, but for what it set out to accomplish, I really, really enjoyed finishing that game.
4. The Last of Us ; For some reason, TLoU didn't grab me like it did to some people, and I don't quite know why. Nevertheless, the insane production values, combined with a well-done apocalypse thriller interwoven with a strong interpersonal story, made for what was a damn fine run. Did make my ps3 sound like a jet engine, though.
5. Tomb Raider ; Yes, it's an Uncharted clone, and yes, there's a whole lot of ludonarrative dissonance, and yes, the game plays itself a bit, but I still had damn fun with this game. Hoping for a bit more tomb raiding the next time around, though.
6. Bioshock Infinite ; This would have been higher save for the ending not sitting well with me combined with the overabundance of combat, but the combat arenas, with the new vigors and Booker's choice of weaponry still makes for a fun romp.
7. Xcom Enemy Within ; Not the most amazing expansion I've played, but securing meld canisters and creating mech soldiers was definitely a good way to change things up. Hoping Firaxis adds some more base-level strategy and the like into the sequel, but for a reboot, it could have been far worse (see The Bureau).
8. Dota 2; No game has ever made me rage, or give me that MOBA high like Dota 2 does. Coming back from a 5 kill deficit and smashing down racks is so satisfying.
8. Disgaea D2 ; Fixes a lot of the RNG/reset problems Disgaea 3 and 4 had, while making the ever-present grinding much quicker (and optional, unless you're going for Baal). A return to Laharl and Co. was also a lot of fun, even if the story didn't replicate the awesomeness that is D1, and the DLC characters are way overpriced.
9. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon ; A glorious satire/return to form for the action movies of the 80s. It feels fun to play, and there's no weirdness that settled in with Jason in FC3.
10. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ; This one goes on the bottom as I've only beaten it once on normal thus far, but the insanity of an MGS story, combined with Platinum gameplay, made for an awesome 6 hours. Don't know how much legs it'll have for me, though.
x. Shin Megami Tensei IV ; Was just missing that spark from SMT's past entries a la Nocturne. Still an awesome game for the 3ds library, though.
x. Mass Effect 3: Citadel ; Bioware's attempt at salvaging the ME3 ending debacle is bittersweet, but at the very least, it shows that some of the writers knew that character interaction was a strong part of what made the Mass Effect series fun.
2012. Persona 4 The Golden: Persona 4 will probably take a long time to be beaten for me, at least in a JRPG sense. Juggling dungeons, social links, while trying to parse out a relatively well-written murder-mystery was a lot of fun. The new cutscenes don't really add a whole lot, and I'm of mixed feelings on Marie and the game being too easy, but was still one of my best games of 2012.
1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; Link Between Worlds is one of the greatest games Ive ever played.
From the opening title screen, and the iconic Link to the Past theme, I had butterflies in my stomach, and they didnt go away for my entire playthrough. Right off the bat, I noticed a ton of improvements over the games predecessors. The pacing in this game is impeccable. Long, boring, unskippable tutorials were nowhere to be found. LBW comes awfully close to Zelda 1s Heres the sword. Go.-style of introducing the player to the world. Its fantastic.
Link Between Worlds intro sequence is incredible short and sweet, and the player is quickly introduced to the villain and the Princess Zelda. A far cry from TP and SS, which forced me to speak to a ton of villagers from Links town, doing mundane tasks for what felt like HOURS, and went on for far too long before anything of substance happened in the game. I was playing the first dungeon within the first 30 minutes.
Before I know it, Im introduced to the main villain, and the new gimmick for the game. Ding ding ding! Alarms started going off in my head. The gimmicks of the last two Zelda games, Wolf Link and motion controls, were excruciatingly bad. As it turns out, entering the walls as Drawing Link is arguably the best gimmick in the series, second probably only to Majoras Masks time/masks system. Entering walls adds a whole new.. ahem dimension to this game. The exploration was totally fleshed out, and it allowed for some incredible new puzzles, both exploration based or combat based. The brilliant use of such a seemingly silly gimmick completely took me aback, but it works so damn well, and I was very surprised that it didnt just become the same schtick over and over.
This brings me to my next point: The game is always throwing something new at you. And it will be new in every playthough, because of the new style of item management and dungeon order (or lack thereof). Tackling the dungeons in any order is fantastic, and should become standard for all future Zelda games. It also helps that these dungeons are by far the best dungeons in a 2D Zelda, and some of the best in the Zelda franchise period. Even though the game uses the same old items, the twists thrown at you in these dungeons, combined with the new wall gimmick, always present something new, even for a seasoned Zelda veteran like myself. The difficulty was just right, and the puzzles were just clever enough to make me have to think about it, but never get frustrated or have to look something up online. I dont think Ive ever had so many a-ha! moments playing a video game.
Speaking of items, I loved the new rental/purchase system. Not only did it allow for the fantastic new dungeon dynamic, but it also eliminated a problem that was becoming increasingly apparent in Zelda games: too many rupees, not enough things to spend them on. You often found hundreds of rupees in treasure chests at the end of a challenge with nothing to really spend them on. At worst, youd put the rupees back into the chest! It was pretty bad. That problem is completely eliminated in LBW, and I found myself always trying to pick up as many rupees as possible, because I knew there would be something worth spending them on.
Id be crazy to not touch on the soundtrack. A lot of the music is borrowed and updated from Link to the Past, and thats not a bad thing. LTTP had one of the greatest soundtracks of all time, and it sounds better than ever in LBW. However, the composer managed to do something really awesome with some of the songs. A piece that stands out in particular is the Dark World theme. It starts off like something else that only vaguely resembled the original theme. Then that unforgettable melody kicks in, and its fucking ON. The soundtrack is a perfect balance between nostalgia and something new.
The frame rate and controls are amazing. I sat in awe mashing the b button and seeing how quickly Link swung his sword. Pure control bliss. He already walks and moves quickly, then we also get the Pegasus boots! This is easily the fastest overworld traversal since Majoras Mask, and it feels great.
I can keep going about this game, but Ill stop here with this: Link Between Worlds revived my enthusiasm in the Zelda franchise after it nearly died with the last couple of games. The franchise doesnt need to go to Retro Studios or EAD Tokyo, its fine just where it is, as long as Aonuma and team learn from LBW and continue to improve upon the foundation established with this game. Its been a long time, but Im so happy to call a Zelda game my GOTY once again.
2. The Last of Us ; What movie are you watching? Thats a game? HOLY SHIT IT LOOKS REAL. My dad, 2013.
The Last of Us lives up to the hype. Hard to imagine considering the incredible critical response, but it really is an incredible game, and probably the best PS3 game period besides Dark Souls. Turns out, Naughty Dog created a game that I always wanted: a true successor the Resident Evil 4. An action/survival-horror game. Although it doesnt quite capture that mood the RE games and their creepy art style get into, TLOU looks incredible. The art direction is amongst the best in the industry. It is the best looking game ever made when it comes to the realistic art style. The characters look REAL, especially during cutscenes. See the quote above from my father lol. I am fucking blown away that they made this happen on PS3. Seriously, who needs next gen?
Besides the visuals and art design, the world itself is designed near perfection. Its been a while since Ive been presented a world in a video game that Ive just wanted to explore for hours on end. Sometimes youre rewarded with things to craft and equipment to upgrade your various abilities. Other times, I found myself just staring at the walls, posters, searching for easter eggs and generally in awe of the meticulous detail put into every little part of this game. This was the feeling that brought me back to Resident Evil 4 the most. The creepy atmosphere and level design that encourages exploration is much appreciated. I thought after Mikami left Capcom that I would have to wait until he tried his hand at another survival horror game to get that experience again (The Evil Within looks great!), but its clear that Naughty Dog has not only read the book of Mikami, but mastered it.
The game allows you to choose between a more stealthy approach to enemies, or a more fast paced, shoot everything in sight approach. At first, with that RE4 mentality in my head, I found myself shooting first, and asking questions later. Then, I realized that unlike RE4, ammo is quite scarce in this game. That brought me back to RE1, and the classic survival horror games Ive come to love. As the game went on, I used stealth more and more. My point is, the stealth in this game is actually well done, rewarding, and FUN, which is actually something I find rare in games with stealth components. Of course, if it all goes to hell, I can pummel the living shit out of my enemies with a pipe, or a 2x4, or a crowbar. The melee attacks, and sounds that go along with them, are satisfying as all hell.
Voice acting and writing is nearly perfect. Oh yeah, there was a story in this game! Well, theres not much to say that hasnt already been said. It was a fun ride while it lasted, and for video game standards, it was a very good story. Hard to say much without getting into spoiler territory, but the best part of the game was the art design and world design, not the narrative imo.
Overall, The Last of Us is a gorgeous game that has revived the survival horror genre to me , after Resident Evil died a horrible death with RE5. Ive gone from indifferent to Naughty Dog to believe a firm believer that they are one of the premier developers in the industry today.
3. Super Mario 3D World ; 3D World got off to a bad start with me. The E3 2013 reveal was underwhelming to say the least. It looked like 3D Land, a portable Mario, on a console.
If I learned one thing, it was to NEVER doubt EAD Tokyo and Yoshiaki Koizumi. 3D World is a masterpiece, and Id be shocked if anyone could put out a better game on the Wii U.
3D World looks incredible. The orchestrated music is catchy and memorable, and definitely improved over the lacklustre soundtracks of the NSMB games. Its no Mario Galaxy, but the art style is sublime to say the least. The level design is still the best in the industry, and the quality and polish is apparent from the get go and doesnt let up for the entire game. Unlike the NSMB games, and even 3D Land, which tended to recycle concepts in each world, every stage in 3D World feels new and unique. This is extremely impressive considering the sheer number of stages in this game. It blows my mind that EAD Tokyo manages to come up with all of these unique ideas, and not once did they feel forced or boring. As soon as I picked up that controller to play the game, I didnt want to put it down. The game and level design is brilliant from top to bottom, and culminates in what might be the single toughest stage in Mario history.
3D World has its faults. There should not be a run button in a 3D Mario game. The complexity of the controls have taken many steps back from Mario 64, and the game is worse for it. The game saves after EVERY stage, shows you your score, and a bunch of other mundane, useless stuff that is completely unnecessary, and wastes up to 10 seconds. Considering the sheer size of this game, those seconds add up. Its baffling that a team can create such a masterpiece and not catch some of these obvious flaws in the game. Finally, the game is not that giant step forward I was expecting for the first 3D Mario on Nintendos first HD console. It didnt give me that sheer awe that Galaxy did on the Wii, and thats because its a sequel to a concept, albeit refined to near perfection, weve already seen on the 3DS.
Yet, those flaws are like a spec of dust on an otherwise perfect, golden mushroom. 3D World is a classic ; no one does 3D platforming better, and it contains the best art direction on Earth at work. Worth buying a Wii U to play.
4. Grand Theft Auto V ; Like TLOU before it, I didnt buy into the hype for GTA V. Marketing was everywhere. Leaks were rampant. Hype was high. But after the crushing disappointment that was GTA IV and its boring characters, horrible driving controls, and the fact that it basically stripped everything that was awesome and fun out of the PS2 GTA games, my expectations were low for GTA V.
And once again, I couldnt be happier to be wrong. Rockstar seems to have learned their lesson with GTA IV, because V was an incredible experience, and stands alongside Vice City and San Andreas as absolute classics from this franchise. Right off the bat, the contrast between the grey, drab Liberty City of GTA IV and the colourful, vibrant land of Los Santos is apparent. The characters in this game are light hearted and funny, reminiscence of Tommy Vercetti and Carl Johnson, rather than that fucking unlikeable asshole from GTA IV. As a result of caring more about the characters, I cared more about the story. It was a fun ride while it lasted, and the ending left me satisfied with what I just played. From the first mission, the cars feel much better to control than they do in IV, even though they still dont quite approach the arcade style of the PS2 games that Ive grown to love.
As I mentioned, Los Santos is beautiful. I was actually in awe at a few points in the game when I was piloting a helicopter or a plane. Some of those landscapes look simply sublime. Like with The Last of Us, I found myself not caring about next gen more and more as I played this game. It completely blows me away that Rockstar was able to get this game out on 360 and PS3, and my mind has a hard time processing how good it could look on PC or potentially the next gen consoles. GTA V is one of the best looking games of the gen, which is especially impressive considering its an open world game, and theres a lot going on at all times.
Los Santos feels alive. By the end of my playthrough, I was 70% complete with the game, and felt like I havent even scratched the surface of what this world has to offer. You can play golf, tennis, smoke a blunt the list goes on and on. Rockstar has thought of fucking EVERYTHING with this game. Its simply fun to be there. Whether its driving around and listening to the licensed soundtrack or satirical talk radio shows GTA has become famous for, or just walking around and hearing what random pedestrians have to say, it seems like the game is going to throw something new my way every time I play it. Unlike IV, and even San Andreas with its overwhelming amount of collectathons, I have a strong desire to go back to this game and 100% it. The world is just built in such a way that has me begging to come back and explore every nook and cranny, complete side missions, and, of course, go on a murderous rampage just to see how much I can destroy and how long I can survive.
I havent even got to the best part: the missions. The mission variety in this game is absolutely incredible, and leaves little doubt in my mind that GTA V has the best missions of any GTA game Ive ever played. Theres no two missions that are alike! Everything has their little twists and tweaks to make something you thought youve done before just a bit different. Some of the mission concepts are so crazy that I never would have thought Id be performing them in a video game. Youre a janitor at one point! The shining achievement of the entire game is the heist missions. From the build up to the execution, the freedom of choice given to the player just feels so good. Hire goons! Choose a getaway car and park it wherever you want! Sneak in all stealth like, or blast your way through the front door! These missions just felt really special, and I do wish there were more of them in the game. Just so well executed all around.
If I had to criticize this game, Id say the finale felt a bit rushed, and it could have been spread out for a bit longer. Maybe I was just having too much damn fun with this game, but it really felt like the ending just crept up on me. I wanted it to go on longer. Maybe there will be some DLC in the future? Id be all over that. All in all, the game is fucking incredible, and I will be double dipping on the PC version and experiencing it all over again. The fun of the PS2 GTA games is back and it feels so good.
5. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; Fire Emblem Awakening was my first experience with the Fire Emblem series. I mained Marth in Melee and Brawl for the longest time, and for that reason wanted to play his games. Of course Ive heard a lot about how notoriously difficult the games were with their perma-death system and constant reliance on restarting to get your characters back. I had only heard good things about Awakening, and with the new casual mode, I decided now was the time to get my feet wet with the series.
That was a good choice. Fire Emblem Awakening is a fucking incredible game. The first thing that struck me was the games difficulty. Unlike most games nowadays, you really cant brute force your way through this thing. You REALLY need to think, even on normal difficulty! I loved that, as it felt satisfying as hell to overcome a battle that you had been struggling with, especially closer to the end of the game, where some enemies seemed insurmountable.
Next, the art style, character designs, and cutscenes all top notch. Seriously impressive stuff. Probably the best anime style cutscenes Ive ever seen in a game. The incredible script complements each character in interesting and unique ways. Huge props to 8-4 because this might be the best localization Ive ever seen. Some of the one liners in this game, especially from the villains, are bad ass as fuck.
This game has made me a Fire Emblem fan. I look forward to picking up some of the past games in the franchise, and throwing my GBA out the window when Im forced to reset my game 100 times.
6. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ; What a crazy experience it was to play Metal Gear Rising. I was anticipating this game for years, and boy did it deliver. The gameplay is absolutely insane. From the beginning, when I saw Raiden HOIST A METAL GEAR OVER HIS HEAD, I knew I was in for something special. Hot blooded action from beginning to end.
The game controls like a dream. At a solid 60 fps all the way through, slashing up fools and ripping their god damn spinal cord out to absorb their life energy gives a feeling that is difficult to put into words. Pulling off a parry and cutting my opponent into thousands of little pieces is just so damn satisfying.
Rising is the perfect marriage between the craziness of the Metal Gear universe and the quirkiness of a Platinum Games production. The music is absolutely amazing and quite possibly my soundtrack of the year. I will remember that final boss forever for the music alone.
The script is as crazy as you would expect from a Kojima game. I have to give props again to 8-4 for the amazing localization. Top notch stuff.
This game did something I never would have expected: IT MADE ME LIKE RAIDEN. Yes, its that damn good.
7. Bioshock Infinite ; I played Bioshock Infinite in December of 2013. Far removed from the initial hype period surrounding its launch, I was curious to see exactly how it held up alongside some of the other juggernauts released this year. Somehow, I managed to avoid spoilers this entire time, and this was my first Bioshock game.
Infinite was a great time. The presentation of the game obviously stands out above all else. The art direction is some of the best Ive ever seen, and it was the main thing that managed to draw me into the game and its world. Its just so colourful! The voice acting throughout the entire game is simply fantastic, doesnt miss a beat. Quirky stuff like the kinetoscopes were really cool. While the gameplay/combat is nothing special, I have to say grappling onto rails and striking my enemies was really satisfying.
As I mentioned above with TLOU, Im not one to get all into video game stories. So the story for Infinite didnt do much for me. It just left me confused, like, end of MGS2 confused. It did manage to keep me interested the entire way through, though. The big twists near the end had me legit shook!
Of course, I have to mention Elizabeth. Such an awesome character design. I loved how her eyes were so huge, really portrays the characters feelings so well. Just great stuff overall. I cant see myself coming back to the world of Columbia, but Bioshock Infinite was a really fun experience while it lasted, and I look forward to experiencing the original Bioshock thanks to this game.
8. Pikmin 3 ; After 10 years since Pikmin 2, Pikmin 3 was released and it was just more Pikmin.
And thats AWESOME.
After two games and such a large gap between them, all I ever wanted from Pikmin 3 was more Pikmin. That formula still has a lot of mileage left. 3 did not reinvent the Pikmin formula, nor did it have to. It refined it close to perfection, striking a happy medium between the 30 day time limit in Pikmin 1 and the complete lack of a time limit in Pikmin 2. While I didnt think at any point that Id run out of juice, the sense of urgency was just enough to keep me going. Only problem was the annoying, unskippable, slow juice animation. As tasty as it looked, it got old after a couple of times!
HD Pikmin is sublime, to say the least. The games already looked great on the Gamecube, and this art style really lends itself so well to HD. The visuals were just so impressive.
Gameplay wise, Pikmin 3 mixes things up with the whole 3 character system. I think this added a ton of depth to puzzles and added to the exploration factor of the levels in the game. The use of the gamepad was limited, but I was perfectly okay using the Wiimote + nunchuk combo to control my squads of Pikmin. Overall, Pikmin 3 is the most charming entry to an already charming series. The jibberish voices/language are adorable. I sincerely hope Nintendo doesnt give up on this franchise after low sales, because it really is unique and has a ton to offer.
9. Pokemon X ; Pokemon X brought the Pokemon franchise back to basics. Gone are the story elements and expository dialogue that I feel tainted the games on the DS. The game feels quick and snappy from the get go, and if theres anything I love in a game, its great pacing. In X, you are given rollerblades almost immediately, which increases your walking speed. Soon after, you are given the bike, which is faster than any other bike in the series. Its fantastic, as slow traversal around the overworld was always one of my problems with the Pokemon series. That is not the case here.
The story is reminiscent of the first generation of Pokemon games. Beat the Elite 4, become a Pokemon master, and theres an evil team in your way trying to stop you. Doesnt really get much more complex than that. Theres no deep, PETA-like motives from the evil team. They dont want to control the legendary Pokemon and flood the entire world. Theyre just evil. Stop them. I appreciate that, as it keeps the pace quick and nothing drags or feels boring.
The Pokemon themselves look great in the new 3D style. Although I miss the sprites of the previous games, Im happy if this is what theyll be sticking with going forward. The cel-shaded style works extremely well. While the designs of the new Pokemon arent as great as previous gens, such as V, they arent as offensive as some of the stuff from gen IV and III, so Im pretty happy in that respect. Speaking of offensive designs, when I first heard of Mega evolutions, I thought a lot could go wrong. I was very disappointed with the gen IV evolutions of gen I Pokemon. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised by these designs. Mega Charizard X, Mega Mewtwo X and Mega Blaziken in particular looked badass as fuck. Fire/Dragon Charizard. Thats childhood dreams right there! So Im happy.
Unfortunately, Pokemon X does have its flaws. The complete lack of post game content is unforgivable, and easily the weakest of any Pokemon games. I suspect this will be fixed with a Pokemon Z later this year lol. Next, the game is very easy. Im not sure what the logic was behind changing Exp Share to a buffed up Exp All, but it makes no sense, and should be changed back. It was well balanced before, but now its just broken. Also, that huge city sucks. They need to stop putting those in Pokemon games. Cities with loading zones and weird ass camera angles are not fun to navigate!
10. The Wonderful 101 ; As of this writing, I havent quite finished this game, but I have to give it props. Its the best Power Rangers game ever made, bar none. The presentation in this game is just so awesome, from the art style to the voice clips to the level design itself. Totally captures that Saturday morning cartoon vibe that I love so much. It also helps that its an action game directed by the one and only Hideki Kamiya. Cant go wrong, comboing the fuck out of fools never gets old. Im enjoying the hell out of this game, and it definitely deserves a place on this list.
CONCLUSION: 2013 was the year of exceeded expectations, and defying disappointments. I wasn't expecting much out of my top 4 games, and they all managed to BLOW ME AWAY. My entire top 10 exceeds my #1 game from 2012!
1. Shin Megami Tensei 4 ; Never doubted that this would be my favorite game of 2013. Loved the constant, unfolding sense of exploration and escalation.
The writing is strong, if a little inconsistent between each of the individual routes, and I often went out of my way to talk with everyone I could. The NPCs give out bits of banter that builds the world in a surprisingly naturalistic way - they're not there to just shovel out bits of helpful trivia. Instead, they'll just talk to you about the things that concern them, and it's up to the player to discern what's going on.
Had some doubts going in but overall the presentation - the design work, the tracks, the motherfucking flying ship - all delivered. Not that we didn't get a few duds with some of the new demon designs, but as a whole, I liked them, even the more mechanically inclined depictions of angels.
The downer stuff: I don't like how it encourages obsessive saving without implementing a quicksave button. It gets to be quite a chore at times, but its design - where it's less about defense and more about your ability to recover as quickly as you can - means that not saving incessantly is to penalize yourself unduly. It gets better, of course, but getting better means the balance swings wildly in the player's favor. You go from reloading after a bad encounter with Blight to wiping out enemy groups in one hit and fully recovering every turn with Mediarahan and Salvation. Even the difficult bosses are balanced around this; they enforce certain restrictions against exploitative strategies by triggering unhealable damage at will. Not as bothered by the last point, but it's just another problem caused by the intent to speed up the pace of combat, and I don't think it turned out all that well. The fast pace of battle and the ease with which resources can be recovered means that attrition is no longer a factor after the first few hours of the game, and it's something I missed as I played.
2. The Last of Us ; I wish I had a few more games I could squeeze in between this and SMT4. I feel like enough has been said about all the things it does well to make unnecessary a parsing of praises here. It's well written for the most part, and the ending is a nice blend of uncertainty and doubt. There's an uncomfortable weight to the decision made at the end that lingered with me far more than any random death would have.
The detail with which the world itself was built surprised me. It's in the little things, from the books lining the shelves to the untidy assemblages of university detritus in a student's room. It's such a beautiful, complete game, at least in regards to its presentation.
About the gameplay stuff - I thought the melee/stealth mechanics were solid, but it quickly gets repetitive, as the encounter design rarely switches things up. The checkpoints are too forgiving and enforces a sputtering pace of play that rewards trial and error over execution. The way difficulty is adjusted via limiting the amount of supplies you find feels clumsy in how it's implemented, and I just flat out detest the implementation of listening mode, in that it was included at all, but also in how it was so lazily incorporated. And I wish elevators still worked in this universe so the loading could be masked via waiting instead of hauling ladders from one end of the room to the other. Playing the game often felt like a chore, especially through the slog of Summer.
3. Shin Megami Tensei: Soul Hackers ; was surprised by the amount of voiced dialogue. I've yet to finish it, but it's a nice game and I really dig the old school cyberpunk vibe.
4. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; I spent like sixty hours over the course of a month playing this so I must have had fun. The story is bad, the characters are mostly a pile of cliches with garish designs, the map design goes from okay to terrible and it all just feels so unfinished and unrefined. But building up your troops is addictive and tracing the various inheritances of your pairings to produce genetically perfect children is a game of its own.
1. The Last of Us ; For me, The Last of Us is an amalgamation of a powerful narrative and intelligent gameplay. There are lessons to be learned about human emotions, character development, and the need to survive against all odds. The chemistry between Joel and Ellie is exceptional, and the development of their relationship compliments the storyline over its course. In terms of gameplay, The Last of Us strikes just the right balance between stealth and action. Scarcity of ammunition encourages more careful deliberation over your course of action, which is something I rarely see in games nowadays. The survival elements make a fine transition into the game's multiplayer mode, which is a surprisingly refreshing experience in itself. All in all, The Last of Us is a generation defining experience for me. Hats off to Naughty Dog!
2. BioShock Infinite ;
3. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch ;
4. Tearaway ;
5. Gone Home ;
6. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag ;
7. Resogun ;
8. Rayman Legends ;
9. Battlefield 4 ;
10. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ;