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

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1. Dodonpachi Saidaioujou ; If this is the last arcade game Cave ever produces, I'll be glad to say that they went out with a bang. Saidaioujou is a direct continuation of the formula Cave used to create their 2002 masterpiece, Dodonpachi Daioujou. They made many adjustments to the game system (not all of which were smart...
10 hypers
), but the absolute best change for me was how the loop was replaced with difficulty selection. By removing the loop, they naturally had to make the game longer and put more obstacles in each stage for the player to deal with. In turn, I think this makes Saidaioujou's different modes more difficult and more interesting than Daioujou's first and second loop equivalents.

There's also a major glitch in the game's scoring system that greatly affects high-level play. To quickly summarize it, if you manage to optimize your chain further than the programmers had anticipated, your score will "overflow", causing each enemy to be worth billions of points. Of course, it's very difficult to do something like that because you need a perfectly planned route and flawless execution, so it only affects a small number of people. The game would probably be better if this glitch didn't exist, but I honestly don't mind because it's extremely satisfying to pull off.

2. Earth Defense Force 2025 ; After a seven year hiatus, Sadlot finally returned their flagship series and delivered their best game yet. With nearly 150 missions (including DLC), four distinct classes, online co-op, greatly improved presentation, and lots of small, very welcome additions all over the place (such as the abilities to limit your armor level and customize your appearance), there isn't much more they could have done to satisfy those of us who have spent years waiting for this game. With that being said, the game did launch with some severe balance issues, but the developers listened to the community and addressed all of the game's major problems through patches. Everyone who's looking forward to playing this next month should be in for treat, especially if D3 brings over the excellent DLC missions!

3. Volgarr the Viking ; One of the best action/platformers ever made. Let me quote Macaw because I think he summed the game up pretty succinctly: "It's the core elements of Rastan with the technical complexity of Actraiser 2 (shield blocking, double jumps, etc.) and a unique javelin throwing mechanic that suits the action perfectly. And the stage design has massive attention to detail and is fully designed around the core player mechanics as tightly as you can imagine, and difficulty is sky high so skillful platform and use of all your actions is immensely satisfying." Volgarr also has something that's rarely seen in the genre: a good scoring system that rewards speed and precision. The more you play, the more you'll appreciate all of the subtle design choices that were made to facilitate speed running. It's a lot of fun to discover new tricks that allow you to shave off a second or two here and there, giving you just enough time to pick up another hidden chest while still managing to finish the stage with the maximum time bonus. I think Volgarr can easily go toe-to-toe with any other game in the genre, so I'm really looking forward to seeing what the guys at Crazy Viking Studios will do next.

4. The Wonderful 101 ; I was thinking of leaving this off my list because I've only just finished my first playthrough, but then I realized I still enjoyed it more than most of the other games I've played this year. Looking forward to digging deeper through the higher difficulties.

5. Super Mario 3D World ; Pretty much what I've always wanted out of a 3D Mario game.

6. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ; The game is very light on content, but what's there is generally very good. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this game is how Platinum managed to create something that stands out from everything else in the genre and put it together within a year without any major slipups. I am looking forward to the sequel.

7. Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed ; Sumo has proven that kart racers don't have to be party games; they can be genuinely great racing games as well.

8. Mamoru-kun Curse! ; A vertical free-scrolling shooter with a unique "curse" mechanic and a Dodonpachi-esque chaining system. The game has a bright and colorful aesthetic that's accompanied by an excellent soundtrack from Yousuke Yasui, but as with any STG, the main reason why I enjoyed it so much is because of its scoring system. It'll take too long to explain everything, so I'll just say the fun really begins once you start trying to chain the castle stage at max rank.

9. Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate ; Would probably be higher on my list if I had played the Wii U version. There's nothing else I could say that hasn't already been said 1000x over. Hunting monsters is fun.

10. Dragon's Crown ; Vanillaware has always made beautiful games that suffered from a lot of bad game design, but I also think they've been steadily improving with every game they make. So while Dragon's Crown is still flawed, it also happens to be the first Vanillaware game I've thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish.



2012. Ys: The Oath in Felghana ; It feels like a cop-out to choose this game because it was released in like 5 different years, but regardless, it's the best action-RPG I've ever played from a game design standpoint.

x. GunHound EX
x. Rayman Legends
x. Muramasa Rebirth
x. Guacamelee!
(might add some comments later, but prolly not)

I think that's about it for all of the new releases I enjoyed playing. I didn't plan on writing anything this year because I'm a lazy bastard, but I got bored, so I figured I'd put this together at the last minute. Hope it's readable enough.(´・ω・`)
 

RSB

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Feb 15, 2009
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1. Dragon's Dogma Dark Arisen ; Probably my favorite RPG of the entire generation, the combat is super fun and very varied.
2. Dragon's Crown ; Very fun brawler with incredibly beautiful art.
3. Beyond Two Souls ; It may be just an interactive movie, but I loved it, especially in co-op. Ellen Page is amazing in this.
4. Guacamelee ; I love Metroidvanias, and this is a very good one.
5. Metal Gear Rising Revengeance ; Not quite as good as Bayonetta, and not quite as polished as Vanquish, but still a great action game. Platinum Games <3
6. Rayman Legends ; I liked Origins slightly better, but it is still an amazing platformer.
7. Metro Last Light ; One of the best shooters I've played in years. Amazing atmosphere.
8. Bioshock Infinite ; The gameplay is not as good as in Bioshock 2, and the story is not quite as great as in Bioshock 1, but it is still a great game overall. Would have been my favorite shooter of the year if not for Metro.
9. Tomb Raider ; It doesn't do anything amazingly well, but as a whole, it is definetly a good adventure.
10. Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon ; The gameplay is nothing special, really, but I loved all the homages to the 80's, and that soundtrack is great.

There's some games I haven't played yet (GTAV, TLOU, ACIV, Arkham Origins, anything next-gen...) but oh well, I'll get to them this year. There's also some great games from 2012 that I didn't play till 2013, like The Witcher 2, Resident Evil 6, or Dark Souls PtDE, so overall I'd say 2013 has been an amazing year for videogames, at least in my experience :)
 
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1. Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; a great streamlined version of the Zelda I love. Never has a Zelda game been so easy to pick up and play.
2. Super Mario 3D World ; very fun multiplayer game for me and my roomies. Since my friends and I aren't the best with Mario, this more casual take was appreciated.
3. Papers, Please ; very unique and mesmerizing.
 
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1. Mass Effect 3 - Citadel - Not so much of a game more like fan service but whatever, I love my Shepard and the crew and wish things had been different and this fanservice provided what I wanted.
2. The Last of Us - interesting game. I wish there are more enemies variety but what's lacking in enemy, it made up in having interesting storyline and ending.
3. ACIV: Black Flag - Would have been a perfect AC if it's not for those stupid MP requirements and social missions. Ugh.
4. Ni no Kuni - What I've always wanted from RPG. Okay maybe it can use less of those annoying fetch missions but I like what I've played thus far
5. Dead Space 3 - I wanted to like this so much but in between the shitty save state, repeating dungeons, non-scary enemies/environment, and lousy ending, I'm so tempted to not even put it in this category.
6. Bioshock Infinite - Can't stand FPS and still can't but somehow this managed to keep my attention to the end.
7. Beyond: Two Souls - some parts are great while others are not so. Still prefer Heavy Rain.
8. Resogun - Fun and exciting! The soundtrack, especially from the last level, Mefitis is to die for.
9. Don't Starve: Console Edition - Collecting poo from buffalo wannabe never been more fun!
 
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1. Super Mario 3D World ; Another year, another fantastic Mario game. EAD Tokyo once again takes a very familiar premise and tweaks it just enough to keep it interesting from start to finish. Not the most daring game, but the one I had the most fun with.

2. Lego City Undercover ; The missions and story were enjoyable enough, but Lego City is the real reason to play this game. It's huge, colorful, and densely packed with secrets and easter eggs. Lego City is one of my favorite open-worlds ever.

3. Volgarr the Viking ; Volgarr takes the torch from G&G's Arthur and runs with it. Brutal challenge, but good enough and fair enough to keep me trying again and again. This game would have been right at home in any late 80's/early 90's arcade.

4. Toki Tori 2 ; Maybe the best example I've ever seen of a game explaining its gameplay and story through audio/visual cues alone. An absolute treat.

5. The Last of Us ; The best AAA/cinematic game of the past year, and my favorite TPS since RE4. The backpack mechanic really makes the game.

6. The Wonderful 101 ; Delightfully colorful and crazy, W101 is everything fun about action games broken into 100 little pieces and then brought together again with a flick of the analog stick.

7. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; Been wanting a good top-down Zelda for a while now, and this game delivers.

8. Guacamelee ; A pretty darn good Metroid/luchador mash up. Loved the visual style.

9. Luigi's Mansion 2: Dark Moon ; I miss the more 'human' ghosts from LM1, but LM2 entertains with fun mansion designs and a wonderful attention to detail.

10. Pikmin 3 ; Inventive creature designs, beautiful environments, and plant people. It's more Pikmin, and that's great.

x. Metal Gear Rising: Revengance ; I had a hard time choosing between MGR and Pikmin 3. Great action game that does justice to the cyber-ninja premise.

x. Rayman Legends ; Beautiful, creative platformer. Makes clever use of the Wii U gamepad.

x. Dead Rising 3 ; Far and away my most played next-gen launch game. The streamlined approach to combo-weapons, increased zombie count, and well-designed open world make this my favorite Dead Rising yet.

x. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon ; Streamlines Far Cry 3 in all the right ways and wraps it up in a thick layer of 80's action/cheese courtesy of Michael Biehn. Great fun that's over too soon. Really hope Ubi does a follow up.

x. Tomb Raider ; Way too much Uncharted and not enough Tomb Raider classic, but I still had a pretty good time with this game.

2012. Spelunky ;
 
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1. Mass Effect 3 - Citadel - Not so much of a game more like fan service but whatever, I love my Shepard and the crew and wish things had been different and this fanservice provided what I wanted.
2. The Last of Us - interesting game. I wish there are more enemies variety but what's lacking in enemy, it made up in having interesting storyline and ending.
3. ACIV: Black Flag - Would have been a perfect AC if it's not for those stupid MP requirements and social missions. Ugh.
4. Ni no Kuni - What I've always wanted from RPG. Okay maybe it can use less of those annoying fetch missions but I like what I've played thus far
5. Dead Space 3 - I wanted to like this so much but in between the shitty save state, repeating dungeons, non-scary enemies/environment, and lousy ending, I'm so tempted to not even put it in this category.
6. Bioshock Infinite - Can't stand FPS and still can't but somehow this managed to keep my attention to the end.
7. Beyond: Two Souls - some parts are great while others are not so. Still prefer Heavy Rain.
8. Resogun - Fun and exciting! The soundtrack, especially from the last level, Mefitis is to die for.
9. Don't Starve: Console Edition - Collecting poo from buffalo wannabe never been more fun!
Put semicolons ( ; ) after the game titles.
 
1. The Last of Us ; I&#8217;m a huge fan of the Uncharted series, so it&#8217;s not a huge surprise that a game from the same studio gets the top spot for game of the year. The engrossing story, the immersive world, the fun game play and amazing graphics and soundtrack put this game in a league of its own. I don&#8217;t think I&#8217;ve ever grown as attached to any character in any game as I did with Joel and Ellie. The Last of Us is a memorable experience that I will never forget.

2. Super Mario 3D World ; Although there was a bit of apprehension from many people after this game debuted at E3 2013, I always thought it looked great. I played it briefly at the Best Buy E3 demo station and loved every second of it. When the game finally arrived I had a blast exploring each world and discovering new power-ups and techniques that never ceased to amuse. Although the game allows for up to 4 players at once, I found the game most enjoyable single player as I enjoy exploring every nook and cranny of each level. The graphics are bright, the lighting is extraordinary, the music is amazing, and the creativity is off the hook. If you own a Wii U you should own this game. If you don&#8217;t own a Wii U, you should for this game.

3. Fire Emblem Awakening ; I played this game when it released early in 2013 and it captivated me. I spent over 60 hours playing the game, evolving my characters, marrying them off and having kids that grew up to have enhanced powers of their parents. It&#8217;s the first Fire Emblem game that really sucked me in and I had a fantastic time playing through all of the main quests as well as the optional downloadable content. The animated cut scenes are beautiful to watch, and the voice acting and writing are exceptional. Don&#8217;t be afraid to play on easy if you think it&#8217;ll give you more enjoyment. That&#8217;s how I initially played and it made this Fire Emblem more approachable and in the long run, more fun. Of special note is the 3D in this game. It&#8217;s really nice and adds depth to each battle map. I loved how on some maps a bird would fly high above the map, almost coming out of the screen.

4. Lego City Undercover ; This game is a huge surprise. I had played many of the Lego games before, but always thought they were pretty basic and to be honest I just played them for the occasional laugh and with very casual friends or family members. I was initially concerned that the main draw (2 player mode) was missing from this game. However, after booting the game up (and waiting through the long load times), I soon realized that this is the best Lego game every created, and one of the games I spent the most time playing all year long (over 70 hours). Much like Far Cry 3, part of the appeal of this game is exploring its vast world and discovering secret collectibles. And, man, are there collectibles in this game. I loved that just looking around the world I could spot a hidden block or secret character, but then I&#8217;d have to figure out how in the world to reach it. There&#8217;s a lot of platforming in this game, especially while exploring the main world. The fighting is fairly basic (as is the case in all Lego games), but that&#8217;s relegated to the main missions for the most part. Having a huge open world area to explore with a huge amount of vehicles at your disposal is a ton of fun. Plus, there are awesome Nintendo characters and references throughout the game to discover. This is easily one of the most overlooked games of the year. Give it a chance and I think you&#8217;ll be hooked.

5. Animal Crossing New Leaf ; I&#8217;ve been a fan of this series since the first one came out on the GameCube. Animal Crossing is a great game to just sit back, relax and play. New Leaf added a ton of new features, like the ability to be the Mayor, which allows you to customize and build up your town how you see fit. I especially liked that you could set ordinances to match up with how you play (I used the clean ordinance the most so I didn&#8217;t have to pick weeds or water flowers). It&#8217;s easily the best Animal Crossing yet, with many more varieties of furniture and even the ability to customize different furniture, walls, floors, tiles, etc. My hour count on this game is probably the most of any game in 2013, but my interest has waned quite a bit over the past few months (ramped up again for Christmas to do a lot of the festivities). I highly recommend the game, but the sad truth is that the game needs more &#8220;end game&#8221; content, with new surprises and additions added in throughout the year. Games like Hey Day on the iPad do this, and my Mom (who has been a huge Animal Crossing fan in the past) even asked me why this Animal Crossing doesn&#8217;t update with new cool stuff like Hey Day does (which is a free to play game). I tend to agree. Although there&#8217;s a lot of content to love in Animal Crossing New Leaf, there&#8217;s some serious competition out there now and I feel the next iteration needs to take a good look at what others are doing and match or beat them.

6. Tomb Raider ; I took a gamble on Tomb Raider as I hadn&#8217;t really enjoyed a game in the series since the PS One days. When it first debuted I thought it reminded me a bit of Uncharted, and in the end that&#8217;s exactly what it&#8217;s like. Although some could argue that Uncharted cribbed a bunch from the earlier Tomb Raiders. Still, the bottom line is this game is amazingly fun. The graphics are some of the best this generation, and the exploring aspect is addictive. There are some Metroid elements in the game that allow for some backtracking to unlock some new things. For example, early in the game there are nets hanging from ceilings or trees with crates in them. Turns out, after you get the fire arrows, you can then shoot them down (the ropes burn) and get the treasures inside the crates. The story is actually pretty good, and I love the different environments and locales I got to explore on the island. Is it good enough for me to double dip and get the PS4 edition later this month? I don&#8217;t know, but I might cave if I&#8217;ve got nothing else to play.

7. Need For Speed Rivals ; This game looks gorgeous on the PS4. The environments are well realized, but it&#8217;s the special effects, like the snow, rain, wind, and lightning that really show off the graphics. I like the idea of playing 2 separate careers, one as a cop and one as a racer. Both have advantages as well as strengths and weaknesses. Overall I enjoyed the cop a bit more as I wasn&#8217;t constantly being chased around and I could take many of the challenges at my own pace. The online integration is pretty cool, with others joining your world and vice versa. I did play a lot of the game offline because I didn&#8217;t want interference from others. As has become standard in many racing games, I really love the speed zones and cameras that will immediately compare your time with that of your friends that own the game. It&#8217;s sort of an asynchronous competition that&#8217;s fun to try and beat your friends&#8217; best records. I imagine the game plays similarly on 360 and PS3, but if you have a next-gen machine, that&#8217;s the way to go.

8. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; As of this writing I haven&#8217;t beaten this game yet, otherwise it&#8217;s quite possible it might have moved up on my rankings. From what I&#8217;ve played (5 dungeons beat), I&#8217;m loving it. This direct sequel to A Link to the Past on the SNES does a fantastic job of mixing familiar locations with new game play mechanics. This time around Link can morph into a 2D painting and traverse on almost any surface. This opens up many secret areas items to discover. The dungeons I&#8217;ve played have all been varied and fun to explore. The new item system is inventive, and although I don&#8217;t have any problems with it at all, it&#8217;s weird going into a dungeon and not finding a brand new item to use (in many cases). I don&#8217;t think this change hurts the game in any way, but I can see how some might be disappointed. Two things that really stand out in this game are the graphics and the music. The game is 60 FPS, and as such it&#8217;s super smooth and fast. Everything moves at a speed that&#8217;s just not seen in Zelda. The 3D effect is the best I&#8217;ve ever seen in any game. The depth perception in the game is excellent and there are awesome little details to the animations that look great in 3D (like blocking a projectile with your shield sends the item upward out of the screen). Turn on that 3D while playing! And the music. Wow, is it ever great. You should wear headphones with this game. Much of the music is remixed and orchestrated from A Link to the Past, but there&#8217;s so much more instrumentation and variation from the old songs that it&#8217;s just amazing to listen to. I&#8217;m having a great time playing through the game and it&#8217;s definitely one that should be in your cartridge slot.

9. The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker ; The Windwaker HD (Wii U) &#8211; Is this the prettiest game of the year? Perhaps! It looks damn good in HD. Windwaker has always been one of my favorite Zelda games ever since it debuted on the GameCube back in 2003. The HD remake looks amazing on the Wii U, and the tablet integration makes changing weapons simple and looking at the map easy. The game is as fun as ever and there have been some game tweaks here and there to make it a little less tedious toward the end. I really enjoy sailing around and discovering new islands and exploring them. The dungeons are really well done in this game and there&#8217;s a lot of sidequest stuff that you can do to really immerse yourself in the game. If you&#8217;ve never played Windwaker or loved it on the GameCube, then for sure check out this ultimate edition. I would have liked to see some orchestrated songs and maybe some voice acting thrown in (Link doesn&#8217;t have to talk, but I&#8217;d be lying if I didn&#8217;t want the series to progress to the level of games like Skyrim, Darksiders, etc.). As is, it&#8217;s a great game made even better with a new coat of paint.

10. Dead Rising 3 ; This one surprised me. I needed something exclusive to play on my shiny new Xbox One. I never expected to be drawn into the world as much as I was while playing. The open world aspect did wonders for the game and how it plays. I love searching out for new blueprints and creating wacky weapons and vehicles. The game&#8217;s graphics don&#8217;t scream next-gen, but the amount of enemies it puts on the screen help set this game apart from the rest. I like the 2-player co-op mode and really just had a ton of fun chopping zombies up in every manner imaginable.

x. Picross e ; The best puzzle game ever made (Picross DS) finally got a true sequel (none of the crappy Picross 3D stuff). Picross e, parts 1, 2, and 3 all released this past year and played the heck out of all of them. If you&#8217;re not familiar with Picross, it&#8217;s hard to explain, so you may want to check it out on YouTube. All you really need to know is the game is super addicting and will suck away hours of your life. At $5.99 a pop, you can&#8217;t go wrong with any of them.

x. Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon ; The Year of Luigi may be over, but Luigi&#8217;s Mansion will remain in my thoughts for a long time. The 3D effects are truly amazing for this handheld, and the game itself just oozes charm. Watching Luigi explore the various mansions while jumping and squirming in fear is simply adorable, and something you&#8217;d see in a Disney cartoon. The game is fun and plays great, but it&#8217;s a little long for a game of this type and the formula does become a little stale by the end of the adventure. Having said that, if you like to bust ghosts, this is definitely a game for you.

2012. Far Cry 3 ; I&#8217;ll be honest, I really didn&#8217;t expect much from Far Cry 3. I was given the game and sort of put off playing it until the spring. I&#8217;m not much of a fan of traditional first person shooters, but the open world environment and the different vehicles available to explore the massive island really make this game special. Plus there are secret areas and hidden treasures everywhere you go! I spent hours upon hours just finding secret stuff and it never got old. The story is pretty good, but it falls apart during some of the &#8220;boss&#8221; battles. Still, the graphics are pretty, and the skill tree level up system is very RPG-like and fun to customize your character. Far Cry 3 has made me a believer in this franchise and I hope part 4 isn&#8217;t too far off.
 
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1. Super Mario 3D World ; Another year, another fantastic Mario game. EAD Tokyo once again takes a very familiar premise and tweaks it just enough to keep interesting from start to finish. Not the most daring game, but the one I had the most fun with.

2. Lego City Undercover ; The missions and story were enjoyable enough, but Lego City is the real real to play this game. It's huge, colorful, and densely packed with secrets and easter eggs. Lego City is one of my favorite open-worlds ever.
Same Top 2, high five.
 
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1. The Last of Us ; Just a fantastic game and excellent story from beginning to end. I had high expectations for the game up until it's release and it thankfully exceeded them. One of my favorite games of all time.

2. Grand Theft Auto V ; Without a doubt the best Grand Theft Auto game ever. The staggering amount of detail Rockstar put into the game is just incredible. It was also great to see the missions and story return return to how over the top they were in earlier entries compared to Grand Theft Auto IV. Besides some minor faults with some of the gameplay and the occasional boring mission, I had a blast with this one.

3. Bioshock Infinite ; The intro sequence was absolutely phenomenal. Probably the most immersive game of the year. Columbia was great. Shame the second half of the game becomes repetitive and ultimately bored me. I wanted to see more of Columbia and not random factories or more boring indoor levels. Not enough skyline combat either. Also pissed off
Irrational promised us a boss fight against Songbird that never happened in the game. Also disappointed at how unimportant Songbird was for most of the game.
Still the first half and ending were great enough for me to put it in my #3 position. I loved it that much despite it's faults.

4. Hotline Miami ; Such an addicting game. Its tough and the game requires a lot of trial and error but its still a ton of fun to play. The presentation and soundtrack are also really top notch.

5. The Legend of Zelda A Link Between Worlds ; I'm not a big Zelda fan. I like some of the 3D entries but not all. I had never really tried out a 2D Zelda before until this one. So it suprised me just how much I enjoyed Link Between Worlds when I eventually played through it. Great level design, fun gameplay, and good use of the 3DS functions. I'm probably going to be checking out the other 2D Zelda's because of this game.

6. Batman Arkham Origins ; Yeah its basically just the exact same gameplay as Arkham City without any fundamental changes but I loved Arkham City so I don't mind. The story is probably my favorite out of the Arkham games and Troy Baker does a phenomenal job replacing Mark Hamill as Joker. If it wasn't for some game breaking glitches, bad performance issues(at least on PS3), worse level design and presentation, and lack of fun things to do in the open world it would probably be a bit higher on my list.

7. Stanley Parable ; I know people on here hate the word "experience" but Stanley Parable was just an excellent experience. A ton of fun finding all the different endings and probably the game that made me laugh the most all year. A great commentary on video game stories.

8. Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix ; Kingdom Hearts is one of my favorite series so I loved playing through the first game again in HD and with some other improvements. I like the gameplay in chain of memories as well. Only reason its not higher on my list is because technically its still a game that came out more than ten years. Still it was a fun nostalgia trip and I'm greatly looking forward to 2.5 remix next year and Kingdom Hearts 3
when its out in 2018.

9. Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon ; You know a DLC is great when it's better than the actual game its based on. Hope Far Cry 4 is more like Blood Dragon and less like playing as whiny Jason Brody.

10. Pokemon X ; Pokemon in 3D finally. Not too many advancements in gameplay but just enough where it renewed my interest in Pokemon again.

There's a ton of games I haven't had the chance to play especially since I don't own a Wii U or a Vita. I'm sure I would love Super Mario 3D World and Tearaway and hopefully I get the chance to play them soon. Also theres some games I played for the first time that came out before 2013 that I would've put on the list if they came out this year such as The World Ends With You, Dishonored, and Dark Souls. I thought they deserved a special mention.
 
Jan 14, 2007
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1. Tearaway ; Great use of the Vita and singlehandedly vindicated my purchase of it
2. The Last of Us
3. The Wonderful 101
4. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
5. Killzone: Shadowfall
6. Beyond: Two Souls
7. The Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
8. Super Mario 3D World
9. Fire Emblem: Awakening
10. Shin Megami Tensei IV
 

Dark Schala

Eloquent Princess
Mar 2, 2010
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2013 was a weird year for me. I had less time to myself, and when I did have time to myself, I tried to seek comfort in things I was familiar with. So for basically half the year, I played a lot of older games. The running joke on and off of GAF, since I wasn’t posting much, was that I dabbled in a lot of shitty games. I played games all the way through to the end that I just hated. In the end, I started playing a lot of games for the sake of playing them as opposed to the idea of having fun with them. It contributed to souring my mood in general. Luckily the second-half of the year happened, and while I didn’t have a lot of time to myself, I got to play a lot of stuff I ended up enjoying a lot.

I regrettably cannot play Gone Home because my laptop just can’t run that thing, and the person whose laptop I use to play stuff I can’t even run has very little interest in the game at all. Additionally, I didn’t have time to get around to The Wonderful 101, NES Remix, The Last of Us, etc. I genuinely wanted to play at least the first two, and my list simply doesn’t feel complete without them. I loved TW101’s demo, and I wish I got to play the full game by the deadline to see if it matched up.

So, let’s get down to this. Also, I’m going to rip Riposte’s format off wholesale, but I was kind of doing that in previous years.

My previous lists for reference:
2011
2012

I write lots of text in Soundtrack of the Year threads and those threads are dope! I hope to see some of you in the SotY 2014 thread!

MMXII

Asura’s Wrath (PS3)
CyberConnect2, Capcom



Yes, shockingly, Time Travelers didn’t win this. This was the toughest choice I had to make, honestly. Asura’s Wrath was a game I was incredibly iffy on even buying at all. I heard about how the ending was part of paid DLC, that the game didn’t have a lot of gameplay, and that it was incredibly unremarkable. I don’t think I had a remarkably low bar or anything for this, but I decided to purchase it on the cheap and played it during the Four in February event that was going on.

Asura’s Wrath definitely isn’t a game for everyone, and I feel as though it’s an acquired taste. The main character’s art might not jive well with everyone, the lack of ‘play’ will probably deter some folks, and its episodic nature/final chapter unlock sequence would probably get on people’s nerves. With that said, at first, it seems to be an action-cinematic game without necessarily expanding on the “action” part. A lot of it at first seems to be a bunch of QTEs to move the narrative along, with the narrative not necessarily being that strong in the first place. I think that’s due in part to the game’s structure initially. The first few chapters and the first act truly don’t seem very remarkable. The Buddhist and Hindu aspects of the game are very obvious and very central to the game’s plot, but at the same time, they don’t seem to be specifically mentioned whenever someone talks about the game to me. The Asuras were not one singular character or a god, but a race of warlike beings exhibiting wrath and pride. They were incorporated into Hinduism and Buddhism through their mention in The Rigveda. With that said, I was continually impressed by how many references—whether it was mere mention of regular terms/concepts/people, the artstyle and inclusions of things like lacquer skin, mandorlas, Vajras and Pretas, and also Siddham script—was included in this game. Asura’s Wrath ended up feeling incredibly natural and a nice way of shedding some light on non-Judeo-Christian religions.

Anyway, I genuinely liked that the game felt like a playable anime. I don’t feel like the game would be as effective if it were put into another genre, or were less cinematic. It ends up getting its message across with its carefully-researched artstyle, great scene direction, well-composed music, and penchant for feeling like it were a “manime”. I also feel like the game has more combo-based gameplay than people give it credit for. A lot of the complexities come to the forefront on Hard mode, and going for S-ranks and finding ways to do that quickly and effectively on higher difficulty modes is always an interesting affair.​


X

Eiyuu Densetsu: Sen no Kiseki (PS Vita)
Nihon Falcom, Nihon Falcom Corporation



As someone who hasn’t played Ao no Kiseki, Sen no Kiseki is interesting to play considering I don’t have the background for that game. Sen no Kiseki is parallel to Ao no Kiseki with the perspective being shifted to the Erebonian Empire and the plot concentrated on the conflict between the nobles in power and the revolutionaries. This game will probably get compared to Final Fantasy Type-0 (and I wouldn’t blame anyone for doing so), but they’re a lot different from each other, I think. Essentially the protagonists—Class VII—go to school and every month (which serves as every chapter), they get to visit different towns in Erebonia. It’s an interesting departure from Zero no Kiseki where you just have a job and work from a central hub and just go to towns around the city. Given the age and occupation of the protagonists in Sen, it feels like a different atmosphere from Zero, and I guess it feels a little bit like Sora FC (in terms of Liberl and the story of youth). I also feel like Sen’s world is nicer to explore than Zero’s for the sake of the game’s scale and Erebonia’s history in comparison to Crossbell’s. The town designs and town maps are really great and detailed. A lot of the architecture is very beautiful to see. This is the kind of thing I was expecting from Genso Suikoden’s Harmonia, and while I’ll more than likely never ever see that, it’s nice to see Kiseki going down these routes. The game rewards you for exploring and talking to NPCs like other Kiseki games.

One of the drawbacks of the game is that it feels a lot more like an anime than previous Kiseki games did to me. I suppose that can’t be helped considering the school setting and the age of the characters. The game’s prologue is perfectly fine and reminds me so much of a combination of some of the things in Kiseki and some of the things in Type-0. Then you get to the old abandoned building portion, see Rean save Alisa from a fall but touches her breast, and then Alisa starts exhibiting tsundere behaviour. It’s the type of thing that makes my eyes roll while playing Tales games (especially Tales of Xillia 2), and it kind of feels weird. A lot of the political intrigue falls to the main characters’ parents, while the main characters themselves seem like they fit into a minor stereotype. Even right down to the student council/school bits, it feels kind of repetitive. That doesn’t make the characters unlikeable, because a lot of them are likeable. It’s just that it’s odd that some of the characterization and party chemistry went down this route. It’s also very odd/interesting that the game feels very formulaic in its game design, leading to repetition… which may or may not be for everyone.

With that said, it’s not all bad. I know there are people who just don’t like how streamlined the orbment system or the link system. I don’t like how arts have to be equipped through individual quartz, but I guess it makes it a lot easier to equip things and be on your way. I like the battle system a lot. Linking attacks is super-fun, and you no longer have to move on a grid! That makes things way more flexible than it was before. The Kizuna events and school setting are very reminiscent of later Persona games. In any case, the game’s overarching theme of class segregation was conveyed very well, considering that the Military Academy is a rare school that accepts students from both the commoner caste and the wealthy (with Class VII being an anomaly which included people from both castes). With Sen no Kiseki leaving us much like Sora no Kiseki FC did, I’d love to play the next game in the series to get a conclusion to that.​


IX

Bravely Default: For the Sequel (3DS)
Square Enix/Silicon Studio, Square Enix



A lot of people told me, when Bravely Default: Flying Fairy was originally released, that Bravely Default was the game I was waiting for. Or at least a game I’d love. Luckily, Bravely Default was re-released this year with a bunch of improvements and tweaks that are to be included in the game’s sequel, Bravely Second. I imported the game from Japan, and a Japanese 3DS to play it. In the end, I was both glad I did it, and also felt a little regret that I did it.

First, the good. Bravely Default is the perfect evolution of the class system featured in FF3 and FF5. While Final Fantasy X-2 did it in a way that I absolutely love and adore, it’s nice to see a traditional way of doing it in Bravely Default. The classes have a lot of passive and active abilities that you can mix and match, provided you earned them while leveling the job up, or if your friends leveled their jobs up enough for you to gain access to them through Abilinks. By doing so, you can easily exploit many of the abilities that you have access to and easily blow away enemies in one shot, or even no-damage bosses. While that’s an issue of balancing (as even on Hard mode you can do this), it’s more of a way of deconstructing the ability system just a little to your advantage. Bravely Default is nicely named after its battle mechanics. Brave allows you attack multiple times in one round, while Default is essentially defending and stocking attacks in order to use them in the future. You can stock SP via sleep mode to be able to initiate Bravely Second, which stops time at any time (whether you’re selecting attacks, or are in the middle of round execution) in order to select anyone to attack with increased power. In any case, the amount of world-ending builds you can make through characters grown and customization is really fun to tinker around with. I guess I like that sleep mode still allows the game to continue playing while you’re not playing it in terms of rebuilding Norende, getting streetpasses for more villagers, or accruing SP in order to pull off Bravely Second multiple times.

I truly love the community aspect of the game, though. Asking a few of my friends if they want a free heal or an overpowered attack. Trying to level up my characters’ jobs so my friends can get access to better abilities if they’re not as far as I am (which could probably mess around with the balancing no matter if you’re on hard mod or not), sending and getting certain extra bosses in Norende, and using Friend Summons to see what they are up to in their own game. I love how the community aspect ties so well and seamlessly into the game. It’s super-cool.

I was full-well and ready to give this my Game of the Year before I reached the second half of the game. Unfortunately, I felt as though the pacing slowed to a crawl, and the repetitive nature of the second half of the game brought it down in my eyes. Although I loved the conclusion and loved how it was executed, that still cannot redeem the hours I spent chipping away at the second half of the game that could have been condensed and still could have made its point. My biggest pet peeve is when games completely and utterly waste my time, and for a fraction of the game, I felt like Bravely Default was truly doing that. Shorten the game a little and change it up further than they changed Chapters 7 and 8 from the game’s original incarnation, and it could easily make its point. This sort of design works in a visual novel (which makes sense considering Steins;Gate’s writer worked on this), but not necessarily for an RPG in execution. With that said, a lot of the subtleties that the game's narrative has, and the cool twist towards the end are very neat.

With that said, I enjoyed my time with it. The community aspect of the game is excellent, and I definitely look forward to helping my North American friends if asked, or even playing the game through on New Game+ alongside them. Bravely Default is a great start in terms of what is done right in game design and half of it doesn’t waste the player’s time with being mired in frequent encounters, being too unbalanced, and making the player wait until they get cool new skills. The community aspect of its design truly reminds me quite a bit of helping my friends out in my youth in RPGs, borrowing their carts so I could help them get ahead or get more skills. That’s what’s more special to me about it.​


VIII

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)
Nintendo EAD Group No. 3/Monolith Soft, Nintendo



I almost omitted this from my list and put it in the honourable mentions category. And that’s because I went back to the game on Hero Mode. I feel like the game is a little unbalanced on Hero Mode, and it becomes unbalanced in the opposite end when you get to borrow the items. The enemy gauntlet is also very easy to conquer, and it’s unfortunate that you have to go through it multiple times to get the thing you want. I’m not usually one to die in Zelda games, and this is no exception. This is one of the easier Zelda games as well.

With that said, I’ve waxed poetic about A Link Between Worlds before, and probably often. Maybe undeservingly so. I’ve had a conversation with BassForever with respect to some of the failings that the game had, and I’m inclined to agree that it truly does have some shortcomings. Sometimes it feels as though while the renting system is an excellent idea and prevents the player from wasting his or her time, but on the other hand, it can be dungeon-ruining, or it makes item acquisition less significant than it is given that rupees are plentiful. In an adventure game, I suppose that might be a little detrimental to the adventuring experience because your reward is basically at the end of the game as opposed to the little victories (ie: item acquisition) that you have getting there. On the other hand, I suppose it was designed this way because the game is a portable game, and the idea was that people would be playing this on the go. It’s also unfortunate that the best puzzle areas in the entire game merely lead to more rupees.

I think it has some of the best dungeons in the series, with Dark Palace being the best one out of the bunch. The art design in that dungeon is excellent, and the atmosphere is completely unexpected out of a Zelda game. It’s very creepy, and it does a better job of stoking fear in the player with its art design and Little Things than the obvious creepy dungeons (ex: Ikana Canyon, Shadow Temple, etc) before it. I also had a lot of fun with the game otherwise. I couldn’t put it down when I started it, and I just had to get everything done in the game. I loved that every single inch of the overworld maps were packed with something to do (even right down to merely just getting into the wall with the painting mechanic. I don’t feel like the game wastes my time at all because the dungeons don’t overstay their welcome, and they’re designed in such a way while bearing in mind that the game is a portable title. I also truly enjoyed that the dungeons could have been done in any order post-light world. The subversion of a lot of things done in A Link to the Past was a hidden treat for people who had played the game before.​


VII

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3)
Platinum Games, Konami



The funniest thing about Metal Gear Rising was that I actually disliked it when I first started playing it. I didn’t know what I was doing half the time, and I didn’t ‘get’ the parry mechanic. At first, I guess I was playing it for the sake of playing it? It definitely took me a while to even warm up to it. The camera was obnoxious (and still gets to be obnoxious in some places), and I felt incredibly nauseous while playing it sometimes.

It wasn’t until I got to the Mistral boss that I finally … found what I was looking for… I’m sorry. I’m legitimately serious, though. Metal Gear Rising truly shines during the boss battles. When I finished that particular boss battle, I’d reflected that I was smiling like an idiot the entire way through. I don’t think I’d fought satisfying boss battles in years prior to that. Returning to previous chapters told me that Platinum really likes to frame and teach players via trial by fire. Learn to parry yourself, here’s a test to see if you can parry well and you can get a trophy for it, here’s the final test to see if you can even parry (Monsoon). I loved that Metal Gear Rising threw a lot of what we knew about Metal Gear Solid out of the window, with a significantly interesting score, boss battles that centre around the climax of a battle (expertly done via excellent sound design as I noted in my SotY writeup this year), and a more interesting and personable version of Raiden. It relies far more on offense than defense and stealth, and that’s okay to me. It ends up separating Raiden even more from Snake.

The final boss is a love-it-or-hate-it sort of affair, and I ended up loving every single part of it. I felt like it was one of the best final bosses in years. Don’t know how to parry? You’re fucked. Don’t know how to use the game’s other offensive rush tactics like Defensive Offense and running? Good luck. The game makes sure you try to know how to do these things before even bothering to attempt the boss, with the major roadblock being Monsoon. And if you can’t parry by then, the game brutally tells you that you aren’t doing it right by making the boss battles ramp up to significantly require you to use one of the game’s core mechanics for elegant combat. This isn’t the most elegantly-designed game whatsoever. In fact, it can be really sloppy. With that said, it’s one of the better action games I’ve played in a while.​

VI

Papers, Please (PC)
Lucas Pope



There’s been so much that people have said about Papers, Please that I feel like I’d be adding superfluous content. Papers, Please is work. It feels like work because it is work. You can grant freedom and admittance to people, or you can just take their freedom away or not permit them to cross the border. Everything you do is controlled by the government, or by rules and regulations. If you do something wrong, you’re written up. Do enough wrong, and your pay is cut. Do enough wrong and your pay is cut multiple times, and you can’t provide enough for your family. Everything about the game just feels like work. Even right down to the end of the day when the whole thing feels like a budget calculation and spreadsheets. Everything about the game’s UI feels a lot like work. Where do you allocate space to do your job? How much money do you allocate to heat/food/medicine? It ends up feeling very tedious, but somehow fulfilling.

You are an immigration officer in a fictional Soviet state. The interesting part of the game is that it doesn’t only feel like a job, but it also feels like government and self-evaluation. You end up studying why the government keeps regulating the border the way they do, and thinking about how mundane the job can be. You know that people’s livelihood and family lives hinge on whether or not they cross the border, and sometimes your penchant for following the rules and disallowing people across the border may be called into question when people plead with you to go through. Do you accept docked pay so you can reunite people or save people from slavery, or do you do as you’re told and live with the consequences of your actions. In a small way, your ethics are called into question. It’s a nice reminder that a lot of things, despite people being people and having their own stories, generally seem to come down to bureaucracy and pieces of paper as opposed to a full understanding of humanity or extenuating circumstances.

I’d also like to add that Jorji is one of the best characters of 2013 to me. I think his glass half-full philosophy / if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again philosophy is something to look forward to whenever I encounter him in-game.

In many ways, Papers, Please feels a lot like the Milgram experiment. Are you going to make cruel judgement calls to separate a family, or keep people in slavery because the authorities and higher-ups essentially tell you to do your job so you can keep your family healthy? Papers, Please in many ways is written incredibly well. It doesn’t use reams of text to make you understand the overall premise of the game but through your actions, you’re also helping to tell the story. That’s the sort of weird and wonky player “agency” that I find interesting.​

V

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies (3DS)
Capcom, Capcom



I’d only played all of the English Ace Attorney games in 2010, so I don’t think my wait for the fifth game was as long as a lot of other people’s. With that said, I was divided on getting this game, but I’m somewhat glad that I did. Aside from thinking that music was excellently arranged and composed, I felt like the writing was decent. Many themes, such as loyalty, trust, identity, and friendship are explored incredibly well in this game. Better than the previous Ace Attorney games, to be honest with you.

Dual Destinies isn’t so much of Phoenix’s story, as it is the new characters’. I think it’s a neat tradeoff considering Phoenix’s story seemed central to Apollo Justice’s game instead. In any case, Apollo and the newer characters gained even more characterization throughout the course of the game. It’s a reminder that the games aren’t necessarily about the title character, but also about the other people involved in the adventure. While it was disappointing that there wasn’t a lot of investigation portions in the game, and that the game was much easier than previous games in the series as the game typically spoonfed answers to you, the game’s added mechanics of the Mood Matrix and some investigative portions were still fairly neat.

I still think the strength of the game lay in its newer characters. Not necessarily Simon Blackquill, despite being an interesting character, but Athena Cykes, especially. Athena is one of the better female characters in a while. Despite having some psychological freezes at times, she’s a fairly confident and intelligently-written character without relying on mechanics to try to make her cute or endearing. Her main strength is in her tragic story, aptitude for reading people, and her penchant to at least try. A lot of what she did and said hinged on the game’s central themes, and that’s why I think she was one of the stronger characters in the game next to Apollo.

I don’t think there was a case that I outright disliked as there were in previous PW games, but there were some cases that I felt had odd pacing. The final case in the game is very neat and was a great surprise. And the DLC case, while I’m disappointed that it was DLC in the first place, was nicely written and flowed well. The character models were also a great supplement for the original sprites, fluidly moving well and illustrating emotions and breakdowns well.​


To be continued.
 
Oct 20, 2011
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1. Bioshock Infinite; A fantastic game with a brilliant ending. Shame about the save system.
2. The Last of Us; I felt the Uncharted games were overrated, but this game proved to me that ND are still a great studio
3. Pokémon X and Y; Simply a very solid update of the series.
4. Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies; A game that stands up to AA1 and 3 as the best of the series, and this is despite a weak first two cases.
5. Fire Emblem: Awakening; If it wasn;t for enemy reinforcements appearing instantly on harder difficulties this would be far higher but as it is the game is as cheap as often as it is legitimately hard IMO, which makes it one of the poorer Fire Emblems I've played. Even a poor FE is still a great game though.
6. Muramasa Rebirth;Beautiful and enjoyable whatever amount of effort I put into the combat, a great game for portables
7. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers; I hated Persona 1, and so I bought this more to support the series in Europe than actually with the expectation of loving this. However this has aged far better than P1.
8. Tearaway; My biggest surprise of the year, a far more solid platformer than LBP.
9. Pac Man Championship Edition DX+; The game that online leaderboards were made for.
10. Rayman Legends; Those Music Levels.

2012. Super Hexagon; Pure fun and agony.
 

Dark Schala

Eloquent Princess
Mar 2, 2010
20,614
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The Land of Bagged Milk
(continued from this post)

IV

Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale (3DS)
Level-5, Level-5 International America



Can I blame this one on randomkid? Let&#8217;s blame this one on randomkid. I wouldn&#8217;t have even looked at it this year if it weren&#8217;t mentioned in this thread. And oh lawd, I&#8217;m voting for a Level-5 game, so something&#8217;s clearly wrong with me today. A few people were remarking in the SotY 2013 thread that this is somewhat what they were expecting out of Ni no Kuni, and I&#8217;m definitely inclined to agree. This is very much like a Ghibli film and is very reminiscent of childhood. The little things are so important to children, whether it&#8217;s a TV show, something to collect, a song, or something else. These little things help define them.

Attack of the Friday Monsters is the tale of Sohta, the new kid in Fuji no Hana/Setagaya-ku. This is a 1970s podunk town, where apparently tokusatsu heroes and kaiju (think &#8220;godzilla&#8221;) like to fight around in the farmlands. As someone who legitimately lives right across the street from a farm, has lived around a lot of (now former) farms, and has gone to orchards and berry picking in her youth, I guess I somewhat relate. It&#8217;s so easy to come up with stories and scenarios as a kid to make your &#8216;boring&#8217; small-town/podunk area even less boring. These things may be real or fictional, but it&#8217;s so important to a child to have fun with it and let their imagination run wild. Small inconveniences are seen as much bigger than they really are. Small joys are seen much bigger than they really are (much like Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc.). That&#8217;s why the game dances around the question of whether or not these kaiju exist, and the game essentially represents Sohta&#8217;s point of view. This is even demonstrated in the magic words the kids use to cast spells on each other or boss each other around. While the RPS card game that the children play always seems like a major game mechanic crucial to finishing the game, as you get cards from finding glims (shards of energy that come from the kaiju), you feel more invested in catching them all and maybe helping Sohta climb the social ladder by winning. That is what is big to Sohta, because he&#8217;s the new kid. That&#8217;s why everything changed for him that day.

I also feel like the game&#8217;s &#8220;episodic&#8221; design from talking to various characters to get errands to do is very reminiscent of the Bomber&#8217;s Notebook in Majora&#8217;s Mask as multiple quests can start at one time, or you can start any quest at any time even if you have one going on. Nothing really feels like a chore, and you don&#8217;t have to do everything that is required of you. In any case, to the children in this game, everything that they do truly seems to matter in the bigger picture.

Attack of the Friday Monsters is an absolutely beautiful game, reminiscent of childhood and the sincerity of youth. At the same time, it doesn&#8217;t explicitly shower &#8220;nostalgia&#8221; on the player. It treats everything about being a child in that era with care. Attack of the Friday Monsters is truly evocative of &#8220;it isn&#8217;t the end that&#8217;s important; it&#8217;s the journey that brings you to the end that is&#8221; design.​


III

Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)
Nintendo EAD, Nintendo



It&#8217;s interesting to me that this is the first time I&#8217;m going to put a Mario game on my list ahead of a Sonic game. Usually in recent years it&#8217;s the other way around. Typically, the Mario game would be the game that I found to be more solid, but the Sonic game would be the one that I enjoyed more. This year&#8230; was weird. Sonic Lost World fell short of my nonexistent expectations for it, while Super Mario 3D World, a game that I didn&#8217;t think I was even going to play, surpassed any nonexistent expectations I had for it. I have an especially deep appreciation for the NES Mario games, and 3D World was everything I&#8217;d wanted for 3D Mario. Especially since it didn&#8217;t make me suffer from motion sickness like a lot of the 3D games have.

Super Mario 3D World&#8217;s levels never seem to overstay their welcome, and while the level design can suffer from &#8220;please find this MacGuffin so you can unlock later stages&#8221; (which is something I never liked in newer Mario games). In any case, all of the levels focus on different gimmicks and different things, and sometimes don&#8217;t even adhere to a world trope. This is something Sonic Lost World tried to emulate, but it never succeeded amidst the game&#8217;s multiple issues. The levels can be fairly creative, with the pacing being incredibly different from level to level. Sometimes you&#8217;re going especially quickly to climb a hill, or other times, you&#8217;re lighting torches in a Zelda-like fashion. It&#8217;s a really nice to see so many ideas so packed into a game, but executed genuinely well.

A lot of the newer power-ups seem to stem from this desire to pack in as many ideas as possible, but once again, they seem seamlessly integrated. The notable cat suit allows players to move with more finesse and be more flexible and move quicker to keep pacing regulated well. As a Toad user, this speed and flexibility was welcome. It wasn&#8217;t overly flexible, and at least you couldn&#8217;t completely destroy the game with it. Double Cherries are nicely executed provided you know how to use them to their full advantage in order to dish out more attacks with more power with a party of multiple clones.

I also loved that the game&#8217;s title screen served as an old demo screen. You could easily see how to use the multiple powerups, how some of the enemies worked, and how well some characters worked together in terms of multiplayer if you chose to do it.

I&#8217;m glad that I was coaxed into playing it instead of just leaving for months to just fester until I just said, &#8220;ok, I&#8217;ll play it.&#8221; Super Mario 3D World was simply incredible fun. I haven&#8217;t felt this way about a Mario game in a long time. Despite seeming like it&#8217;s all over the place as the level tropes aren&#8217;t consistent, it still feels like one of the most consistent and polished games I&#8217;d played all year, with very fun powerups to play around with.​


II

Device 6 (iOS)
Simogo



This was recommended to me by Zia a while ago. I typically really like games that use the platform that they&#8217;re on to their advantage, and Device 6 runs away with that. From what I can tell, Simogo really likes to use the platform&#8217;s strengths to tell their story. Device 6 comes away being an intelligent form of interactive fiction on the iOS platform. It&#8217;s a very text-based game, where you follow the main character Anna from one room to the next, trying to solve the mystery as to why she&#8217;s where she is. The text in the game is used in a variety of creative ways in order to separate rooms, to show what Anna is doing, or to relay narration. The pictures in the game are used in a really cool way to show the player what&#8217;s going on in the rooms that Anna ventures into, or the puzzles you need to solve. The puzzles are neat because while they aren&#8217;t incredibly taxing or hard, they rely on the game&#8217;s overall design, how the platform is used, and the game&#8217;s sound design to convey to the player what the game wants you to do. I&#8217;d tried to elaborate on this in the Soundtrack of the Year thread, but the game&#8217;s sound design and music is very meticulous and lends to immersing the player into the narrative.

In any case, Device 6&#8217;s best feature is that it uses text as both geography and as a narrative focus. Device 6 can be interesting, it can be unsettling. In any case, Simogo has created a game with frequent puzzling, and with an interesting conclusion.​

I

Time & Eternity
SAVIOURS OF JRPGs, Imageepoch




During the summer, I had spent an extraneous amount of time with Time & Eternity, right down to having a bet with a friend where he doesn&#8217;t play certain things and I don&#8217;t platinum the game. That bet fell-through and I had the utter pleasure of having to do a second playthrough of the game (speedrun) and then subsequently platinum the game. I loved the game so much that I played through it twice and did the mundane lunch sidequest. This game made me laugh and cry. The heartwarming story of a man in a dragon&#8217;s body, behaving like a completely perverted asshole, trying to get a look at his fiancée&#8217;s naughty bits touched my heart. The sidequest that I had to do in order to get breathing apparatuses for the dragon to sneak into the bathroom to watch his fiancée in the shower, and failing every time until chapter 4 was so heartwarming. Listening to the voiceovers and watching the dragon continuously bite a character&#8217;s head because it&#8217;s super-hilarious! And the animations?! Flawless! Utterly, utterly flawless. A complete work of art that should be enjoyed by all who love great animations in video games!

And the soundtrack is the best soundtrack that Yuzo Koshiro has ever worked on! Check it: Comedy, Home, Forest Field Theme, and Wedding Attack. Super-hot.

Palette Swap: The Tea Party RPG is the best game of the year. The most memorable. I felt so empty inside when I finished it because I had nothing else to look forward t-- HAHAHA, yeah, okay. I can&#8217;t keep this up this charade. This game does so much wrong, and I still feel empty from having platinumed the full thing.

Click here to see why this game shouldn&#8217;t ever be touched or played or anything, uguu~. Kusoge of the Year, maybe. It also won my Crazy Bus Award of Being Garbage in the soundtrack of the year thread.​


I

Shin Megami Tensei IV (3DS)
Atlus, Atlus



Shin Megami Tensei IV does a lot of silly things, right down to the beginning of the game in Mikado, the art, poor resource management which SMT3 got right, and crazy imbalanced builds that makes the game super-easy in the end. With that said, it does a lot of neat things that feel a lot like callbacks to older games in the series. I&#8217;d recently replayed SMT1 and I can&#8217;t help but to feel like SMT4 did a lot of neat things in that regard. The world map design is great, and I genuinely missed world map design like that where lots of neat little surprises were hidden and optional.

Everything about getting to Tokyo is the best part of the game. I think a lot of people felt the same way I did, at least from what I read in the soundtrack of the year thread. Everything about how that portion is designed is interesting and carefully crafted to make the whole thing a true and neat revelation. From the dungeon you have to go through to get there, to how you&#8217;re received. You get new mechanics given to you in the form of guns (which, uh, can break the game if you know what you&#8217;re doing), and everything about Tokyo is complete polar opposite of the setting that you started out from. The interesting thing is that people are around and they have a barter system and they&#8217;re demon hunters. Tokyo isn&#8217;t completely devastated. It&#8217;s just locked in a struggle of survival. In a stark contrast to how Mikado worked with its menu-based exploration, you can explore Tokyo with Mr. Triangle Man and see the map go all out in 3D.

I also feel like SMT4&#8217;s conversation system is the series&#8217; best version of it because you can customize however you want it to go. Using App points unlocks a lot of stuff for you, whether you want items, get money, augment experience, and fusion. In any case, SMT4 wins out for its flexibility and callbacks to previous games in the series. In comparison to Strange Journey and other recent SMT games (spinoff or no), it&#8217;s just nice to tread familiar ground.​


Honourable Mention writeups will either be done by request or later on. If you have any questions about why some of these are down here, feel free to ask in this thread or via PM. I&#8217;m mostly not doing them because I don&#8217;t feel very well (ie: my head feels huge and I have no idea why), and I already feel foolish for leaving this to the last minute.

Final tally:

1. Shin Megami Tensei IV ; Great callback to previous games in the series and a delight to play a mainline SMT again.
2. Device 6 ; Excellent narrative design that takes advantage of the platform that it's on.
3. Super Mario 3D World ; A Mario game that takes me back to the time when I was a little girl playing Super Mario Bros 2 and 3 before swimming lessons in the summer. Excellent use of powerups and very fun level design.
4. Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale ; An incredible journey of innocence and sincerity.
5. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney &#8211; Dual Destinies ; Great way to explore themes in a stronger way than previous Ace Attorney games, with excellent character models to tell the story.
6. Papers, Please ; An excellent interpretation of the Milgram experiment.
7. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ; It may suffer from sloppy game design, but it has some of the best bosses of the past five or six years
8. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; An interesting experiment in player agency and designing a game for on-the-go play, and subverts a lot of what A Link to the Past had done in the 1990s.
9. Bravely Default: For the Sequel ; imported game. Despite its flaws, it expands on early Final Fantasy job systems elegantly in a fun way with neat narrative twists and subtleties.
10. Eiyuu Densetsu: Sen no Kiseki ; imported game. Despite some of its flaws, its city design provides great exploration and its tweaks to the battle system makes things more flexible and enjoyable. Great to finally explore Erebonia.

x. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons ; I haven&#8217;t finished this yet, but I kinda disliked the controls at first when I first started playing it. I gave it another chance, and I finally get it now. I can&#8217;t wait to finish it.

x. Guacamelee! ; Great game with fantastic platforming, a great visual artstyle, and an excellent soundtrack. Trying to get up the Tule Tree and the disappearing platform section for the orbs is super-fun.

x. Year Walk ; One of the best adventure-horror games released this year, if not the best. The sound design is superb, and the art style is an excellent bluff that hides the game&#8217;s hidden genre.

x. Tearaway ; I wrote some stuff here and here, and I really want to elaborate on it one of these days.

x. Ridiculous Fishing ; Ridiculous Fishing was one of the first mobile games I&#8217;d played. Tilt controls combined with reversed music is really cool. But the methods in which you catch fish and upgrade whatever you need to catch fish were a surprise. The plot execution was also neat.

x. Cytus Lambda ; I grabbed this on Vita when the thread was created (and also the free version on Android). In some ways, I like it more than Technika Tune (ie: it was built for a touch screen, while Tune tried to fit itself on the Vita&#8217;s touchscreen). With that said, I feel like it should have more refinements to make it a little more palatable.

x. Bit.Trip Presents&#8230; Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien ; It&#8217;s less complicated than its predecessor, but man it&#8217;s super-fun, and I still love that the music is so heavily integrated into the gameplay. It does this so much better than HarmoKnight, because the physics and controls are much tighter. I haven&#8217;t finished it, which is the main reason why it&#8217;s down here.

x. Animal Crossing: New Leaf ; I really wanted to put this in my Top 10. I spent an extraordinary time with this game, and I still do spend a lot of time with this game when I want to relax and take some time for myself. With that said, it&#8217;s one of the best-designed games I&#8217;ve played in maybe five or six years. I&#8217;ve elaborated on this here.

x. Assassin&#8217;s Creed IV: Black Flag ; The main missions in AC4 truly fall short of what the previous games have done. I feel like a lot of them are rather tutorial-esque, and I had already done some of that stuff while sailing around and doing some of the things required in main missions myself. With that said, I do appreciate that it had returned a little to AC2&#8217;s design with some townbuilding, remodeling, upgrades, and a better crafting system than AC3&#8217;s.

x. Gunpoint ; Gunpoint is pretty short, but it does a lot of puzzle-platforming right, with a lot of experimentation with respect to Crosslink and constantly adding new abilities or powering up various platforming aspects/physics. The art and soundtrack are really excellent, and the dialogue is great.

x. Luigi&#8217;s Mansion: Dark Moon ; I still feel a little iffy about the game&#8217;s overall design with respect to having to go back and forth from the laboratory to the mansion just because the game needs to load different mission objectives, and I still feel like this could have been seamlessly done or that the laboratory return could have been optional for players. Either way, a lot of the content is very pleasing, with the animations and ghost characterizations being very cute. Some of the bosses are less than stellar, but the level design is neat. The game has a hump right in the middle but when you get past that, a lot of the areas after that are interesting. I played online multiplayer with a close friend, and had a great time with that, too.

x. The Stanley Parable ; This is a video game about video games, and it explores the fundamental nature of choice and video game design. Also, get the broom closet ending because it&#8217;s magical.

x. Winnie the Pooh: Homerun Derby ; I can&#8217;t finish this game because Christopher Robin is mean. Damn you, Christopher Robin. And you guys have got to stop bumping that thread, lol.

2012. Asura&#8217;s Wrath ; Excellent interpretation of Hinduism and Buddhism in terms of narrative, art, and execution.

Now if you&#8217;ll excuse me, I&#8217;m going to watch VGCW with a friend while lying in my bed because I feel nauseous.
 
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1. The Wonderful 101; In a year with two astounding Platinum games, I had a difficult time choosing my number one game. Ultimately, I decided on The Wonderful 101 for the simple reason that it keeps going and it doesn't care if you're on board or not. In a constant bid to outdo itself, it builds and builds until the ridiculous climax...and then keeps going further still. Like Kamiya's previous action games, Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe, and Bayonetta, W101 is a best-in-class, mechanics-heavy masterpiece of a game. The twist comes in the brilliant addition of being able to control not just which weapon the Wonderful 100 wield, but the size of the weapon. A big weapon will devastate enemy ranks, but the finesse and flexibility of brandishing five smaller weapons simultaneously also has its advantages. W101 rewards experimentation, and the eclectic strategies I came up with felt right at home in the delightfully absurd narrative.

2. Metal Gear Rising: Revengance; The only thing I need to say about Metal Gear Rising is that, in a single line of dialogue, it single-handedly justifies MGS4's obnoxious overreliance on nanomachines as a plot device. This irreverent reverence for the Metal Gear canon, combined with Platinum's previously mentioned mastery of the character action genre, makes Metal Gear Rising one of my favorite games of the year.

3. Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale; This game shouldn't be good. All you do is talk to people, explore a barren map, and play a mediocre card game. But, in a year where "immersive" games became even more "immersive" by pumping obscene amounts of money into graphics, scripting, and acting, it was only an $8 download game for a handheld that made me actually feel like I had been transported to a place and time that I had never experienced. I don't know anything about being a kid growing up in 1970s Japan, but this game fooled me into thinking that I had actually been there, despite being thousands of miles away, separated by decades. Children obsessing over the latest disposable craze? Every conversation with a policeman ending with a clumsy salute, cheerfully reciprocated? Arbitrary, self-imposed childhood rules that make perfect sense even while making no sense at all? Magic spells that compel obedience just because we want magic to be real? Thinking there's a big secret the grownups are hiding just because they're grownups? It all resonates despite temporal and cultural differences. Kids are kids, and that's wonderful.

4. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies; In streamlining the investigation portions of Phoenix Wright, Capcom has finally made it so players don't need to aimlessly wonder through convoluted maps to get to the good part: the court room drama. And that part's better than ever. The filler cases aren't unbearable exercises in tedium like the circus from hell in Ace Attorney: Justice for All and the overarching story is actually interesting and makes sense, unlike the the endless chain of bizarre supernatural nonsense that made up the end of the previous trilogy. Also, they finally got rid of having to press statements in the correct order, which was supremely frustrating in past games. It's one of the best games in the series, and I look forward to what Capcom can come up with in the hopefully near future.

5. The Last of Us; With the Last of Us, Naughty Dog has finally made a game that plays as well as it looks. I was shocked by the flexibility the game affords, and in many instances requires, in each enemy encounter. Instead of ducking behind a wall a picking foes off from mid-range with a rifle or pistol, which is my usual tactic in shooters, I found myself sneaking around, breaking necks, shiving mushroom creatures, crafting molotov cocktails, and setting nail bomb traps. Further, he fragility of both the playable character and most of the enemies encourages guerrilla tactics. I couldn't just hide behind a wall because I would be found and killed; the imminent threat of death is a great motivator for improvisation.

6. Puppeteer; Puppeteer is immediately obnoxious with a cloying, cutesy story and bland gameplay, but it got much, much better as I closed out the second act. The game really comes into its own as the player earn new platforming abilities and, like the best Zelda games, it challenges you to combine your powers in new ways to overcome the vile machinations of its cast of villains. Despite being initially annoying, the story and characters grew on me; the fourth wall breaking, which I usually hate, is especially entertaining. I also enjoyed the shockingly high number of boss fights. As a final note, the graphics are amazing, and it's a shame that it was overshadowed by the fantastically mediocre Knack. It would have been a much better family-friendly showcase for the PS4.

7. Super Mario 3D World; While Super Mario 3D World lacks the certain something that makes Super Mario Galaxy generation defining, it's still a well-constructed Tokyo EAD Mario platformer. I never really spent much time in multiplayer, but I still had fun running through each world by myself and checking out the new power-ups. The cat suit in particular is mind-bending for someone who has played a few decades' worth of Mario platformers. With some very specific exceptions, I had never thought of a Mario level as a vertical space, but the cat suit forced me to think about Mario in a different way.

8. Pokemon X/Y; Pokemon X is the first Pokemon game I have actually finished since 2000's Pokemon Gold. While the vastly improved presentation certainly helped, what really kept me going was the incredible improvements to the Experience Share item. Finally, I don't need to put in my garbage Pokemon on the first turn of every fight for the sole purpose of making them not garbage. Consequently, my team leveled up at a roughly equal rate, which marked a huge change from my 20th Century Pokemon strategy of power leveling Venusaur to obscene levels and using razor leaf on everything. I could actually engage in a way that I imagine is closer to what the creators' intended: actually caring about type match ups and move diversity.

9. Bioshock Infinite; I despise large chunks of Bioshock Infinite almost as much as a I love other parts. Specifically, I thoroughly enjoyed the parts where I could just walk around and explore without murdering an entire precinct. But the murder was fantastic, too! The parts I didn't like were the sections of the game that only involved killing enemies but also hindered your combat options in significant ways. Shooting people in the face while sliding on a rail at 50 mph? Levitating enemies and then summoning a murder of crows to eat their faces? Lighting someone on fire with a melee attack and then sweeping them off the sky city with a deluge of water? Fun. Taking potshots with a carbine at a knock-off Big Daddy in an enclosed room? Not so much. Also, as a fan of turn of the century history, I really, really liked that Irrational is not afraid to use elements of history that most people don't really know or care about. The brutal swings at Henry Ford were particularly entertaining.

10. Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan; To be honest, I actually don't remember many of Etrian Odyssey IV's specifics vis-a-vis the other EO games, but I do distinctly remember having a complete blast mapping, fighting, and exploring with my old friends Fight and Heal. I also need to give the game kudos for having a demo that allows the player to carry over progress to the final game. That was a really cool, unexpected bonus.

2012. Katawa Shoujo; I didn't think a game made by a collective of Internet users involving sex with disabled girls could be so sensitive, heartfelt, and, most importantly, sincere, but, well, here we are. When I first heard about this game on GAF, it sounded like an offensive joke, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Instead, it stands as a testament to the enormous good that Internet communities are capable of if they band together for constructive purposes.
 

Lambtron

Unconfirmed Member
Jun 6, 2004
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1. Animal Crossing: New Leaf ; I've played these games in the past, but this is definitely my favorite one. I've put over 200 hours into it, and I literally can't remember the last time I did that. An outstanding game.
2. Super Mario 3D World ; Everything I'd hoped for and more.
3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
4. Papers, Please
5. Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F
6. Pokemon Y
7. Metal Gear Rising Revengeance ; This would probably be higher if I'd had more time to play it.
8. DmC: Devil May Cry
9. Sound Shapes
10. Ridiculous Fishing
 

Currygan

at last, for christ's sake
Jul 7, 2012
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London, England
all these Lego City comments make my heart explode with liquid joy. I love you all, guys




1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds; a game that has it all: beautiful graphics, fantastic soundtrack, fast paced gameplay, lots of dungeons and actual plot twists. First Zelda game I've completed 100% and I've played them all

2. Super Mario 3D World

3. Pikmin 3

4. Lego City Undercover

5. Fire Emblem Awakening

6. Luigi's Mansion 2

7. Rayman Legends

8. The Wonderful 101
 
Nov 16, 2007
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1. Shin Megami Tensei IV ; Shin Megami Tensei IV was pretty much the most perfect game I could conceive of. Every part of this game felt like it had been lovingly crafted especially for me, and the whole experience just left me feeling a sense of wonder. What I loved most about the game was the way in which the story engaged with me in a way that made it feel like I was actively involved. It's an easy thing for a game to tell a story; it's a much more challenging thing to have a story where the player's imagination is actively involved in things. I think this works best through the power of suggestion. The game gives you just enough information about the world, and then they reveal all sorts of additional details through dialogue. Just a single line of dialogue from a demon or a resident of Tokyo can have me filling in their whole story, and imagining entire conversations. This is something that the Shin Megami Tensei series does really well, and it's similar in a way to what Earthbound also does well. That's not to sell the actual narrative of the game short, either. The main cast are all really enjoyable characters, and the story takes some great twists as it goes on. This being a Shin Megami Tensei game, those often involve really fucked up things happening.

But the place the game shines the most is in the game play systems. The press turn system makes fights both fun and involving, and the changes made to the fusion system are a wonder. The fusion search makes fusion so much more fun and involving than in past games, and I found myself spending hours and hours just messing around with demon fusion to create the best possible demons. The only places where the game fell ever so slightly short for me were that I felt like the difficulty (which was wonderful in the first five hours or so) really fell off once you got to Tokyo, and the lack of any really involved dungeons like those of Strange Journey.

2. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies
; It was a long time coming, but they really delivered. I was really impressed with what a strong job the team did at recapturing the Ace Attorney spirit, and at creating a really interesting ongoing narrative, and especially at balancing three lead characters without any of them feeling neglected. As with all of the games, the soundtrack did a wonderful job at building the mood and creating atmosphere, and it was so much fun just standing in court again and defending your clients. The reveal of the villain was also just an amazing moment in the franchises history, and the game did a great job at setting up a new cast of characters who I hope we see in the next game.

At times the game felt too easy, particularly with how much they signposted certain pieces of evidence you needed to use, and that the investigation sections were so heavily streamlined.

3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; They did it. They created a game which could trade on nostalgia in powerful ways, while also representing a great new step for the franchise. While the item rental shop had some downsides, particularly as it meant that dungeons couldn't really require the use of a bunch of different items, the sheer freedom really meant a lot. I felt like I was able to explore much more freely than in past games, and the world was so rich that it felt really worthwhile. The ability to merge into the walls was also a very inspired one, and it lead to a lot of neat puzzles and exploration. This felt like a game which really honored Zelda's roots and two distinct styles of play, featuring some wonderful puzzles and much harder combat than recent games had possessed. The soundtrack was also a true delight which really enhanced the experience.

4. Fire Emblem: Awakening

Not a whole lot of new games for me last year. That should definitely change this coming year as there are a lot more games I think I'll get at or close to launch.
 
Jun 27, 2012
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1. Beyond: Two Souls ; This is also not a joke (hey Stump :D). What can I say? I'm a sucker for story driven games and boy did Cage deliver with this one. While the gameplay is a clear step back from Heavy Rain, the massively improved writing and voice acting more than make up for it in my book. Best graphics of last gen, hyper realistic faces, beautiful non-repetitive music, an intriguing character story brought to life by arguably the best acting in any game so far elevated Beyond to my favourite game of 2013. Ellen Page deserves serious props for this stunning achievement and the side cast wasn't bad either. She makes Jodie and how much you like Jodie is pretty much how much you like the game. It's all about her life and how her environment affects her. No real mystery to unravel, no killer to find and arrest. Just a strong, yet fragile female protagonist and a human life with both ordinary and extraordinary moments told over a period of 15 years.
I can't wait what Cage and his newly created team of writers come up with on PS4. Whatever it is, I will probably buy the required console to play it.

2. The Last of Us ; Naughty Dog's best game easily. Emotional, intense, gorgeous. Great art direction, characters, voice acting and gameplay make for a thrilling ride. The ending and second half in general is a massive step up from the rather slow first half.

3. Grand Theft Auto V ; Another great entry in the GTA franchise. After being disappointed in GTA IV I was pretty sceptical of this game. Thankfully Rockstar made the right adjustments.
 
Jun 3, 2013
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Crap, I could have sworn I posted in this but my name isn't showing any results...

1. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; Not as good as Path of Radiance, but it comes pretty close. I really liked the dating-sim-esque elements they added to the series, even if it was a bit hollow. Great art, great gameplay, definitely a must play.
2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
3. Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm
4. Bioshock Infinite
5. Grand Theft Auto V
6. The Last of Us
7. Pokemon X
8. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
9. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD ; Is this even eligible?
10. Ni No Kuni

Honorable mention: Dota 2 - I don't find it nearly as enjoyable to play as League of Legends, but it's 10x more enjoyable to watch, so there.

2012. The Walking Dead
 
Jan 7, 2013
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1) The Last of Us; no other game I played in 2013 or ever before accomplished so much with it's character's and development. The mechanics were perfect for the world they were in. The Last of Us is a challenging game, and while everyone who got a chance would stop to watch me play, the experience isn't complete unless you're holding the controller when your ammo runs dry or you run out of med packs. The effectiveness of these mechanics in multiplayer stands as testament to their depth and serves as a more pure and traditional "gamey" experience.

2) Bioshock Infinite; I held off on casting my votes until I had played all the major contenders (The Last of Us, GTAV, BI) and I'm sorry I missed out on this game. Now that it's free on PlayStation Plus, I can't recommend it enough. Bioshock Infinite commanded such intense focus from myself; besides some frustration as later boss fights, I never felt myself tempted to put my controller down or to switch to a different game. Bioshock Infinite tells a very interesting story, features a phenomenal cast, and has combat that is, to me, very entertaining. I was bored out of my mind playing the first Bioshock, but never felt like the gameplay experience of Infinite was letting me down. The pieces don't blend together quite so well as in The Last of Us, though. I haven't been offended much by over-the-top violence in video games before, but The Last of Us opened my eyes to how gameplay can serve a story and an atmosphere, and how they can strengthen each other, rather than existing as two completely separate pieces.

3) Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus; no series of game has ever been so fun to play and so easy to lose myself in as the Ratchet and Clank franchise. I love every single game in the series, for all their individual quirks and shortcomings. I bought my PlayStation 3 to play Tools of Destruction, and Into the Nexus was the last game I finished on it before I got my PlayStation 4, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

4) Grand Theft Auto V; a game of amazing peaks and valleys. My first week with the game was magical, but past there, monotony set in. The missions all sort of blend together past a point, and mostly boil down to driving and watching cut scenes, which are both good, but don't have the depth or the wow factor I was being sold all year. The story is all over the place, and the characters are entertaining, but not all that substantial. Grand Theft Auto doesn't transcend gaming; but it's pretty damn fun.

5) God of War: Ascension; franchise fatigue hasn't set in for me yet. The story is forgettable and the set pieces aren't as impressive as God of War 3, but damn does it look good, and provide the most satisfying combat of any game in the series so far. I didn't spend much time with the multiplayer, but it worked perfectly fine. A tough game to recommend for $60, but for it's going rate now, it's a great ride.

6) Killzone: Shadow Fall; it's no Killzone 2, but the campaign was good enough, and I sink days into the multiplayer without thinking. Firing a weapon in any of the Killzone games is so so satisfying. A perfectly fine launch title.

7) Tomb Raider; it's Uncharted with a girl! A pretty shallow experience, but fun and worth the time. Kicking myself for not waiting for the Definitive Edition, but not upset that I gave up my time or money for this game.

8) Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time; a classic, colorful, character-driven platformer. The cutscenes are genuinely funny, and the Sunday morning cartoon style is so fun. The episodic structure of the game allows you to pick it up and drop it at will without feeling lost, without sacrificing a big, climactic finish. This game wouldn't be for everybody, but for fans of the genre, it's a great grab.

9) Resogun; a fun game to Platinum. I don't see myself chasing high scores in the future, but it's a great way to kill 10 or 15 minutes. A great incentive for the Plus program.

xx) Rocksmith 2014 Edition; isn't really a game, but is a great learning tool. I've been playing it with a friend a ton, and have seen a genuine improvement in his playing ability. I'm looking forward to using it to build my knowledge of scales.

xx) Call of Duty: Ghosts; does not deserve points for being mostly the same game as Modern Warfare 3, which was mostly the same game as Modern Warfare 2, but is still as fun as ever. The campaign was mostly inoffensive. Extinction mode is FANTASTIC, and I'm mad at myself for only really checking it out in the last week, when I could have been playing it for months.

LttP 2012; Spec Ops: The Line; accomplished everything it set out to thematically. Over the last year, Journey, The Last of Us, and this game have made me rethink the way I look at modern video games. Very glad it came free with Plus earlier this year.

I'm excited for the next-generation consoles to really hit their stride and start hitting the high notes of 2013 GotY contenders. It's a good time to be a gamer.
 

Mii

Banned
Oct 20, 2006
5,107
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1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; While I'll always remain nostalgic for LTTP, ALBW is mechanically better in every way and experiments with Zelda the right way instead of with wolves, water, and waggle.
2. Bioshock Infinite ; Infinite shows what is possible in modern-day gaming presentation. I absolutely adore the imagination put into this game and use of twisted Americana to create Columbia. Was an absolute thrill to play through, and I typically don't care for the FPS genre.
3. Tearaway ; The sort of platformer Nintendo should be making and isn't. I can only describe this experience as magical. I was tearing up by the ending.
4. Resogun ; It is amazing that a game free at launch can be this fun (and gorgeous).
5. The Stanley Parable ; I felt a bond forming between me and the narrator that is unlike anything else I have experienced in gaming.
6. Animal Crossing New Leaf ; After taking a break from Animal Crossing since the Gamecube, I was pleasantly surprised at how fun the formula still is. While I personally don't think much has changed, I must admit I have sunk more hours into this game than any other on this list.
7. Guacamelee ; In a platformer, either give me an experience or give me difficulty. Nintendo does neither these days. Guacamelee does both.
8. Papers Please ; Amazingly creative and forces me to make decisions I can't imagine were that farfetched for an immigration officer to make in Communist countries only 25 years ago. Glory to Arstotzka.
9. Ni No Kuni ; A JRPG staying true to form and with top notch presentation.
10. Hotline Miami ; It just feels so good in my hands on the Vita. The game oozes personality.
x. The Last of Us ; I haven't had a chance to finish this game yet. I have been holding off for a chance to play with surround sound or a proper pair of wireless surround sound headphones. I have gotten maybe 6 hours in and can tell I will remember this game for decades. I need to experience it with the best possible setup, so I'm holding off. If there is even a hint of a PS4 port, I'll hold off longer.
x. Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag ; Another I haven't had a a chance yet to finish. What a gorgeous game on the PS4.
2012. Persona 4 Golden ; Dat OLED screen experience. I had played the original before, but the experience on the Vita is clearly superior in every way, both visually and mechanically.
 
First, I would like to say that when it comes to choosing one game over another I tend to look at how many hours of enjoyment I got out of each game. I'm the type that will choose, 9 times out of 10, a game that offered me 20+ hours of enjoyment over something that offers me a great but very short experience.

1. Grand Theft Auto V ; It was either going to be this or The Last of Us and, like I said, I will almost always choose the game that gave me the longest amount of enjoyment and as much as I liked TLOU, that game was GTA5. Looking at my stats, I've got 74 hours played in the single player and am no where close to being done with it. Every once in a while I get the urge to role play in open world games but a lot of the time that seems at odds with the story or character you are playing as. A criminal isn't going to stop at a red light when he is perfectly fine shooting down legions of cops. This game changed all that by giving you different character archetypes to play with.

I played Michael as the professional criminal. The kind of guy who breaks the law in big ways but you wouldn't know it by looking at him. He follows the laws of the road, doesn't kill innocents, doesn't car jack anyone or steal parked cars unless he's in a life or death situation. He plays it safe and won't take a risk unless it's for a big payout. He buys stocks, wears suits, goes golfing, and plays tennis. Sometimes he has problems but he finds gentler ways to deal with them. He goes drinking when his family problems get to be too much to deal with, starts growing a beard, letting his hair grow, tries yoga because at this point he'd try anything. He has one particular stripper he likes to see just to get his mind off all the other crap in his life. He picked up a prostitute once but felt bad about it and never did it again. He listened to pop music. Franklin is the gang banger with a heart. He hurt some innocent people but it was never intended. He will steal parked cars but never car jack anyone. He doesn't have a lot of money so he will hold up some stores but only once. He wears his colours and tries to stay close to his roots even as he becomes more successful. He doesn't buy stocks but he does buy small businesses. He tries to stay out of trouble but isn't afraid to let some bullets fly in broad daylight if things get too messy. He likes to have fun. He'll go out drinking and has a few strippers he likes to meet. He'll pick up a hooker from time to time. He would listen to both rap stations. Trevor is the perfect character to replicate the classic gta mayhem that people remember from the PS2 trilogy. I never went on rampages in GTA4 because it just didn't fit the story or the character. Trevor let's me go crazy without feeling too bad about it. He just doesn't care. He will car jack people just so he doesn't have to walk a block to his car. He'll beat someone up just for looking at him wrong. He's just crazy enough to rob the same store twice while wearing the same clothes. He doesn't care what he looks like and rarely spends money on anything but guns, alcohol, strippers, prostitutes, and tattoos. Sometimes he just wants to blow shit up. He listened to nothing but country and rock.

Of course, all of this wouldn't be possible if Rockstar hadn't built such an amazingly detailed and realistic world. The attention to detail is just ridiculous. The fact that you can spend hours just browsing their fake internet websites, then hop in a car and see a billboard for a website you were on while driving down the freeway. It feels like a real world that you can spend dozens of hours in and still not see all it has to offer. Then there is the sheer variety of things to do even down to an entire storyline hidden away that most people wouldn't even know existed if they didn't visit a specific website. It's better than GTA4 in every conceivable way and that's not even counting multiplayer. We'll, let's be honest. The multiplayer isn't that great but even without it I feel the sheer amount of fun I had in this world is enough to make it my goty.

2. The Last of Us ; This game is just incredible by any metric. The fact that it's a new ip releasing in the 7th year of the PS3 just makes it all the more amazing. The graphics are incredible. Easily the best of the entire generation and the amount of detail in every single section of the game is just insane. Naughty Dog has designed single rooms that put entire games to shame and it goes such a long way into creating a believable world. The story is one of the most memorable in the history of gaming and the intro/ending can easily stand alone against any other sequences in games. Ellie and Joel are amazingly realized characters. The gameplay is also fantastic. Probably the best mixture of stealth and shooting in any game out there. This game really shines on Hard mode with listen mode turned off. The level design is surprisingly open and allows for some really fun cat and mouse moments with the enemies. The melee combat is visceral and really enjoyable. There are also some really nice touches to the combat such as the screen instantly going black if Joel gets hit in the head with a pipe ,just right, instead of the usual death animations. The clickers are also the first time i've actually been afraid of a zombie like enemy in a long time. Zombies have become a joke in games these days especially in games like Dead Rising where they pose almost no threat and you just mow them down by the hundreds. The fact that clickers are blind also adds a new dynamic to the trope. The game also has surprisingly good multiplayer that really shines when you work as a team.

3. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag ; I really enjoy the AC games. Ever since AC2 it's been one of my top five favourite series' of the past generation. The first two Ezio games were great but after Revelations I was starting to worry. I actually enjoyed AC3 more than it seems most people did. Yeah, Connor was a bit whiny and unreasonable at times and the game had a bunch of half-baked ideas thrown in that were never used to good effect but overall it provided what I enjoy most of these games. Namely, the trip into a historical period and some good old fashioned conspiracies to uncover. I felt the best part of AC3 was the ship combat and I felt there should have been more. Hell, i'd have paid for DLC that was just more ship missions. Imagine my delight when Ubisoft announced Black Flag. A fully open world pirate game where you can sail anywhere? Holy shit. Needless to say my hype was very much warranted. This is easily up there with Brotherhood as the best AC game. The fun of exploring famous cities and seeing landmarks may not be as good as past games but playing as a pirate during the age of piracy makes up for it. The characters are great. Edward is probably my favourite assassin of them all at this point and it's a shame that there doesn't seem to be room for any more games starring him. Sailing around the sea is a delight. There is so much to see, do, and collect that I spent over 50+ hours doing each little thing that could be done. The shanties were a brilliant idea that made me almost disappointed at times when I arrived at a destination before my crew had finished the song. When does that ever happen in games? Usually you can't wait to get on with things. Ship combat was much improved from AC3 with tons more weapons and upgrades. The mortars are a blast (PUNS!) Highly recommended to anyone who may have tired of the AC formula. A great return to form. I hope the rumor of them spinning off a pirate only series is true because I could definitely do more of this.

4. Bioshock Infinite ; I still remember downloading and playing the demo for the original Bioshock. Looking back it was one of the best moments of last gen. The game was pretty damn good too. I never did get around to the 2nd game but the idea of a Bioshock with a floating city had me excited to see if they could recapture that feeling of the first game again. Well, they definitely did. While the first few moments aren't as memorable as in the original the game succeeds at bringing you into it's world like few games can. As fantastical and surreal as the city of Columbia can be, the devs really went the extra mile to design it in a way that seemed believable. You can walk around this world and feel as if people could live here instead of thinking of it as just a series of corridors that some dude at a computer designed. Booker and Elizabeth are a great duo and their story arc is very enjoyable. The game looks great and the gameplay is mostly fun. I do think there is a bit too much combat which seems to be the largest complaint most people have with it. I think Irrational Games is wasting some of their talent by just filling these gorgeous levels with waves of enemies to shoot. A lot of the times it feels like exploration is a detriment to the story. There are times when you'll be chasing someone but you spot a trash can and think "ahh I have to search it. They can wait." Then you spend 5 minutes looking around and walk through the door to find them just waiting for you to continue chasing them. This kind of thing happens often and it's one of the reasons this game isn't higher on my list. That ending makes up for it though holy crap.

5. State of Decay ; This game was a pleasant surprise. The idea of a great open-world zombie survival game has been one that has been around for ages but nobody has ever really capitalized on it. This game definitely does. Just reading the idea for this game is enough to make you excited. Open-world, perma-death, unique traits, stats, base building, recruiting survivors, scavenging for supplies, missions, and vehicles. It's a dream game to some and most certainly one that i've been waiting for. Now it isn't without it's flaws. You can't give orders to other survivors while in the field or even have someone join you outside of a mission or side missions. You can't load up vehicles with supplies or manage inventory of your follower. It creates frustrating moments where there are two people and two bags of supplies yet they can't take any so you have to make two trips yourself. How does that make any sense? It's stuff like this that keeps State of Decay from being something truly special. Hopefully, a sequel can fix these issues and make it truly GOTY worthy.

6. Cook, Serve, Delicious! ; Back during the PS1 days I had a demo disc with a demo of a japanese game called Ore No Ryouri. It was basically about being a chef at a restaurant where people would come in, ask for something, and you'd play unique minigames to perform the tasks and cook the meals. It was amazing and I played that demo countless times despite it being completely in Japanese. I've always wanted that game to be released in english or at least have a similar game come out. This is that game. It may not use a game controller to map out the cooking minigames as the original game did but it brings back all those memories I had playing it way back when. It's just fun. Being able to create your own menu is great and each food presents a new challenge. Upgrading your restaurant, completing challenges, and even reading the spam emails you receive is great.

7. Lego City Undercover ; Yeah that's right. A lego game in my top ten. A Wii U exclusive lego game at that. Who actually played this? Hopefully more than just me because it's actually really good. Think Lego GTA but you play as a cop. The characters are good, the dialogue is surprisingly funny, the world has tons to do and collect, and the game looks pretty good too.

8. Shin Megami Tensei IV ; This game is brutal. I died 20+ times in the freaking tutorial. It's definitely not Persona in that regard. The story is interesting. It blends samurai with post-apocalyptic future. The characters are interesting. Collecting demons is fun and some of the dialogue when recruiting them is funny. I didn't appreciate my progress being held back because I didn't complete enough side quests though. Otherwise, a good intro to SMT for those who started with the Persona series like I did.

9. Battlefield 4 ; When it works it's really damn fun.

10. Killzone: Shadowfall ; Multiplayer alone is enough to get it the final spot on my list. It's unlike any other shooter out there. Map design is great, it plays great, and it looks great.

x. Gone Home ; I actually spent twice as long to beat this as most people did. Exploring every nook and cranny of that house was worth it and the 90's nostalgia really made it a good time.

x. Papers Please ; Who could have thought stamping passports could be fun?
 
Mar 31, 2010
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1. Fire Emblem Awakening ; Incredible production, and game over all.
2. Super Mario 3D Worlds ; Took the ideas of 3D land to another level.
3. The Legend of Zelda A Link Between Worlds ; Probably the most fun I've had with a zelda title since WW.
4. Bioshock Infinite ; Plot holes be damned, that ending was great.
5. Shin Megami Tensei IV ; If only for the real bad ending you can get (Yes I did all the paths).
6. Etrian Odyssey IV Legends of the Titan ; Solid.
7. The Legend of Zelda The Windwaker HD ; Absurdly Pretty, and I like the bloom.
8. Brothers A Tale of Two Sons ; Incredibly tight and well built game with little to no fluff.
9. Proteus ; I really love that art style.
10. Wonderful 101 ; COLOR.
x. Danganronpa ; Played the fan translation, look forward to buying the retail release.
2012. Kid Icarus Uprising ; Bought a 3DS this year, so missed out on it in 2012. Game probably would have been in my top 5 last year. Everything (besides controls) were perfect.
 
Oct 19, 2006
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1. Grand Theft Auto V
2. Super Mario 3D World
3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
4. Rayman Legends
5. Bioshock Infinite
6. Tomb Raider
7. Injustice: Gods Among Us
8. Remember Me ; The sound & art design makes a visually stunning Neo-Paris come alive. With a satisfying narrative that portrays Nilin as being more than a cliche protagonist. Make Neo-Paris a place worth visiting.
 
Aug 31, 2013
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1. The Last of Us ; The Last of Us was a game that I had been following very closely from when I first watched the teaser trailer. I had an immense amount of hype built up going into playing the game, and boy did it ever deliver. The first thing you notice is how visually stunning this game is. The gameplay is thought-provoking, satisfying, and exciting. But easily the most amazing part of this game is the character development, and the tragic story. Never before have I been touched to the point of crying three different times throughout a video game. I was immersed in this game, and treated it more like an experience, rather than a task to reach the end of the game, which in itself is an amazing feat.

2. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ; While The Last of Us was my favourite game this year, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was by far the most fun I have ever had while playing a game. The pure joy obtained from slicing enemies into millions of pieces is surreal. The game is so fast, and can be super challenging at times. I have beat this game in one sitting multiple times. And the soundtrack.... godlike.

3. Pokemon X ; Pokemon X is the reason I bought my 3DSXL. This game introduces a ton of new Pokemon that have really interesting movesets, types, and designs. Although I have a love/hate with the new fairy type, I think battling has been better than ever before with the new Colosseum-like move animations. I've had a lot of fun training my Pokemon up to 100 and challenging my friends with the great new online features. Wonder Trade is also really cool.

4. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; Being a huge fan of the 2D Zeldas, I was quick to pick this game up. The soundtrack, the artstyle, the story. All of the elements of a fantastic Zelda game are present in A Link Between Worlds, and it definitely holds a place among my favourite Zelda gams of all time.

5. Hotline Miami ; I was just introduced to this game in December, and when I got a first taste of what this game was like, I was hooked. Firstly, you know that you're in for a treat when the game asks you to wear headphones prior to the start screen. The gameplay is so addicting and rewarding. I really enjoyed the visuals and the colours used in the game. Killing people with your fists is also pretty cool I guess...

6. Rymdkapsel ; Probably the weirdest entry on my list, Rymdkapsel really stood out to me while I was browsing the (pretty much dead) Playstation Mobile marketplace while on my Vita. I saw the interesting screenshots and took a chance by buying this game. Never before have I been so impressed with a mobile game. The game looks great on the Vita screen. The really unique gameplay which combines tower defense and Tetris becomes extremely addicting. I am unable to play this game for less than an hour at a time because it refuses to let me put it down.

7. Soul Sacrifice ; Without Playstation Plus, I would have never been exposed to this gem of a game. It's a fantastic game to have on a handheld because I can start the game up, do a quick chapter out of one of the stories, and turn it off when I need to do something. Its a very straightforward game, and it gives you the option right from the getgo to fight the final boss (something I have always admired in games). It has so much content though, and I actually have yet to beat it.

8. Bioshock Infinite ; Truthfully, I was extremely bored while playing this game, and it took me weeks to finish because I wasn't extremely interested in the game. I feel like the pacing is weird, when it comes to the story, or just in between certain areas of the game. I loved how the bright colours and environment set Infinite apart from all of the other brown shooters that have come out in the recent past. I really liked the vigors in this game too, because they added an element to the dull shootouts that happened constantly throughout this game. The only reason I put this game in my top ten is because the ending of Infinite blew me away. I never saw it coming, and I immediately became more interested in the game.

9. Resogun ; Resogun is a really neat game. I love the visuals (especially the explosion when you beat the boss) and the gameplay is really solid. I'm not a fan of space shooters, and I feel this is just far enough from the genre to make me really interested in playing it.

10. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag ; I've only fully played Assassin's Creed 1 and 2 before this game, and I feel that the gameplay has been dramatically improved. The visuals are pretty good, and I think that Edward has way more personality than Etzio. It's taking me a long time to finish this game because I have fun by sidetracking, and completing everything there is to do before leaving for the next area of the game. Open world for the win!

x. Guacamelee ; Really cool metroidvania that I enjoyed playing on my vita.
x. Divekick ; The saltiest fighting game I've ever touched. My friends and I are ready to slit each other's throats by the end of a match.

2012. Persona 4: Golden ; This game is so radical. The soundtrack is amazing, the English voice acting is surprisingly decent, and the gameplay is really hooking. This game is also MASSIVE, and there is so much to do. For someone who has never played any of the other Persona games, I am now deeply intrigued with the universe, and open to playing them because of my love for Persona 4.
 
Sep 15, 2011
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1 ; The Last of Us - Perhaps my game of the gen. Storytelling is suberb, but the gameplay also holds up really well. Multiplayer hooked me all summer long and still play everyonce abd awhile. A complete game that raised the bar.

2 ; Guacamelee - phenomenal game. Drinkbox games are now instabuy.

3 ; Tearaway - perfect use of the Vita, incredibly charming.

4 ; Ys Memories of Celceta - scratches a lot of itches for a JRPG fan.

5 ; Resogun - Arcade bliss. Coop is a blast

6 ; Fire Emblem Awakening - great SRPG, great challenge and combat, story is a weak point for me.

7 ; Assassin's Creed IV - incredible world. Find my self hunting boats for no reason lol.

8 ; Bioshock: Infinite - incredible story and world, did not enjoy the enemy encounters.

9 ; Soul Sacrifice - great fun with friends, not as great solo, going divine proved to be a mistake as it is too hard to kill anything. Mitsuda strikes again on the soundtrack.

10 ; Killzone Shadowfall - mostly because of multiplayer and I didn't play many other 2013 games so it squeaks in the top 10.

2012 ; Virtue's Last Reward - wow....bring on the third game!
 
Feb 13, 2007
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1. The Last of Us ; One of the best stories I've had the pleasure of playing through paired with mostly solid stealth and combat that is tremendously satisfying in all its brutality. And what a beautiful journey. Being a Naughty Dog game, it kinda goes without saying, but presentation is top notch throughout.

2. BioShock Infinite

3. Guacamelee!

4. DmC: Devil May Cry ; Creative and playful level design, surprisingly fun combat and platforming, and boss of the year!

x. Sword of the Stars: The Pit ; Levels are bland, difficulty is too random and the crafting system discourages experimentation and demands dozens of playthroughs to discover recipes before you can do a real run. Despite these issues, I've put countless hours into this game. Flawed, but addictive fun, nailing that "just one more turn" feel.

x. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

2012. Legend of Grimrock ; The best Dungeon Master clone since Black Crypt!!
 
Jul 30, 2013
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1. Dota 2 ; The concept of Dota is pretty simple. Two teams of five face off in a match to take out each other’s base, knocking down anything in their way and fighting to defend their own as well as invade the other. It takes a MMOesque cooldown system and puts it in an RTS control scheme and map. What makes this so enthralling is the pure variety of heroes that you can play, each with their own unique abilities that have their own uses. In order to win you will need a team that combines well. Everyone has their own role. You could be the carry, the player who gets to become incredibly strong at the end of the match, loudly and brashly leading the charge into battle with your weapon held high, smiting your enemies. You could be the mid-lane hero, expected to win your part of the map on your own against one opponent, a true contest of skill, then act as general throughout the match, swaying the tide of the battle by roaming around the map and killing enemies, creating the space your team needs. You could be in the offlane, playing with patience and wits, waiting for any moment when the odds turn in your favour and disrupting the flow of the enemy carry as much as you can, helping your mid and carry later in the match to assert their authority. Or you could be the lowly support, quietly going about your business, keeping the back-end of the team working smoothly, protecting other teammates from harm and taking the hits when things go sour, sacrificing your own wellbeing to get items that help the entire team. Of course, even the support has moments when they can unleash a ton of pain on the enemy team and the fact that these can be rarer make them all the more satisfying.

This romanticised view of Dota is how it is supposed to work. You see these things being filled out when professionals play each other, and the variety of roles (which can all be played in a number of different ways depending on what hero you have) mean that you should be able to get satisfaction no matter what kind of feeling you are looking for in your game. Well, unless it’s an emotional story, but there is other stuff for that, as you can see above. The problem with Dota is that this isn’t actually what will happen in practice when you play. Why? Because Dota is hard, very hard. Many of the terms that I mentioned in my little speech up there will be wholly unfamiliar to many here, and this is why there is such a large barrier to entry for many. Because there is no other comparable game or real-life activity to help you understand. When playing Metal Gear Rising, if the game wants you to block, then you understand what it means. If you are new to Dota and someone says, ‘come gank bot, I can’t get any farm and this Slark is crushing me!’ You will have no idea what it means. A lot of playing Dota well is about knowledge, and you will never know enough about the game.

Of course, this ‘burden of knowledge’ also plays into why the game is so good. There is a ton of different viable strategies to win a game. You can try to roam around the map looking for small fights an picking people off, you can try to start massive fights with everyone involved, or avoid them entirely, running at the first sign of danger and only going for buildings. Every hero has certain combos that are optimal ways to contribute to your team. There is advantages to being melee or ranged, to being primarily magic based or physical based. The list goes on. Honestly I’m finding it hard to explain it in a way that I feel justifies it, but just let it be known that the highs in Dota are some of the highest you will find in all of gaming.

Another thing that I like about Dota is how you can tell it was built by a community. Back when it was originally made by a guy called Eul, it was barely recognizable from what it is now. Since then it has passed through a few handlers, until the current head honcho, Icefrog. This dude has been handling the whole game himself since 2005, and it was him that transformed it into the competitive game it is today. There is a reason the pro scene started around the time he took charge. But also, Dota has its own versions of the combo in SF2. Bugs were turned into features, and add to the depth of the game.

Most of these things are applicable to the original Dota so why is Dota 2 special? Well it comes down to all the features that surround the game. Firstly, there’s the lovely client. It’s good at its job, doesn’t buffer or anything like that. Easy to navigate, a good UI etc. Then there’s the cosmetic system. Anyone who’s played TF2 will get this bit. It is supposed to fit the artstyle though. I always see plenty of stuff I like the look of. The spectator system and replays are awesome. You can download a replay of any match that has happened in a certain timeframe and watch it, either for fun or analysis. You can watch pro matches in the game itself, either from a player perspective, guided by a commentator, or controlling the camera yourself. It gives you a ton of control over spectating.

The Audio and visuals of the game are superb. The artstyle of the game is a little more saturated than the blizzard one it is inspired by, and the characters and textures are earthy, whereas the spells and particle effects are bright and utilize many colours like purple that you don’t see a whole lot. As an example of how pretty the game can be when analysed closely here is a famous fight slowed down to 1000 fps. The sound keeps up with this. All the effects are perfect, the voice acting is superb and each character has great writing, with people playing heroes just because they love the character. An example of the sounds being used well is in this this video.

I’ve rambled long enough. Dota is pure gameplay, the pinnacle of multiplayer games that use this style of control. Dota 2 is that, plus much more. It’s my game of the year, and recently became my favourite game of all time.

2. The Last of Us ; Kind of the opposite end of the spectrum. If you wanna know why this is good just look up JC's post, it's better than what I could say.

3. Super Mario 3D World ; See above.
 
Nov 14, 2011
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1. Pokemon Y ; my favorite pokemon game of all time, loved the online and campaign, this is probably the first pokemon game where I actually wanted to catch them all

2. Grand Theft Auto 5 ; so much fun in the single player, and the online was decent once all the bugs were sorted out, loved how you and a friend could race cars, take money and helicopters from others and just create chaos

3. Super Mario 3D World ; amazing mario game as usual but it was so much because you could play with friends, but playing alone didn't take that much away from the experience

4. The Last of Us ; the story the graphics the fun and rewarding gameplay, really loved this game for its stealth and lack of shot everything in sight, it was a much needed change of pace

5. DOTA 2 ; one moment its the best game ever when your with friends and winning, the next its the worst, overall very fun game, but the match time took awhile to get used to

6. Dmc Devil May Cry ; just a fun game, basic controls and easy battles for the most part, loved it even though I haven't played the others that much

7. NBA 2k14 ; amazing visuals, and the gameplay is perfect, if only they could fix the menus and online, and add more to mygm and myplayer mode

8. Bioshock Infinite ; loved the story, but the gameplay kind of felt like a chore at times

9. Rayman Legends ; great 2d platformer, that looked and played great, but it just wasn't as good as origins for me

10. Battlefield 4 ; another great game to play with friends online, but the bad singleplayer and lack of split screen was missed
 

jcm

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Dec 8, 2008
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1. The Last of Us A ; I've never felt like this for a game before. I've had games with char cats that I've cared about, but never like this. I was
I was legitimately worried for Joel and Ellie. This was the best game of the generation, by a lot.
2. Bioshock Infinite ;
3. Beyond: Two Souls;
3. Assassins Creed IV;this game brought me back to AC, after AC3 pushed me away.
4. Tomb Raider;
 
Dec 7, 2008
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Oh wow, the deadline snuck up on me. Last year my list took up two posts but I guess I'll have to be way more succinct this time around.

While there wasn't any single game that stood above the pack like Trials Evolution did last year, I think on average the games I played in 2013 were better than most of the 2012 games I played. As in, my top 5 here would slot above my #2 (Borderlands 2) from last year. 2013 was also the year handhelds struck back, as over half of my games here were played on either 3DS or Vita. (as always, I never get around to playing all the games I want to before voting time: sorry about that, MGR, AA5, SC: Blacklist, Arkham Origins, etc.)
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1. Guacamelee!; It might only be about 6 hours long (...and I may have only spent $3.75 on this), but every minute (and penny) was well spent. The game is fantastically paced and it's a strong reminder that the Metroid formula is still solid, decades later. Most of your upgrades are useful for both traversal and (far better than expected) combat and I enjoyed returning to old areas to pick up health and stamina boosts. Maybe it's a function of the game's length, but Drinkbox managed to find a happy medium where they don't overload you with too many to scour the map to find. Guacamelee! may crib a lot of ideas from Metroid and Outland (upgrade statues are literally called "Choozo statues") but the way they pull it off with such panache (seriously, listen to the soundtrack) makes it hard to begrudge them.

2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds; It's my favorite top-down entry in my favorite series, so...

3. The Last of Us; A lot of people understandably gush over this for the story and characters, but I love this for the tense stealth action.

4. Shin Megami Tensei IV; Atlus has made significant improvements to the core gameplay since Strange Journey. One of my most satisfying experiences this year was getting beat down by Beelzebub a couple times and then poring over the extensive new demon-fusion search options trying to figure out how to get a team that could nullify his attacks. I returned a couple hours later with a new team of demons and absolutely destroyed him. The battle system encourages you to fight strategically rather than try to grind your way up.

5. Fire Emblem: Awakening; Even before I had finished my first playthrough, I was eagerly thinking about party combinations I wanted to use in my next one.

6. Rayman Legends;

7. Bioshock Infinite;

8. Animal Crossing: New Leaf;

9. Injustice: Gods Among Us;

10. Pokémon X/Y;

x. Metro: Last Light;
x. Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien;
x. Resident Evil: Revelations HD;

2012. Dishonored;
 
May 29, 2009
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1. The Last of Us ; What can be said about this that hasn't already been said? This is the culmination of everything Naughty Dog has been working on this generation. It executes perfectly on the cinematic gameplay that they're so well known for while also being an original IP. I haven't played anything as intense this year as I did while cautiously walking in flooded hallways of a hotel to find a generator, observing the shadows and listening to the noise of the horrors that awaited within.
2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; A complete return to the form, this to me completely surpasses ALTTP while getting rid of a lot of the baggage of past Zelda games. The music is phenomenal. YUGA YUGA YUGA YUGAAAAAAAAAA
3. Super Mario 3D World ; I loved 3D Land when it came out in 2011, so having a sequel that blends the styles of 2D and 3D Mario again come out was what convinced me to get a Wii U. While it still has the same problem as 3D Land with being incredibly easy for the first half of the game, it also has the postive of the sheer platforming intensity of the second half. Mario has never looked better and it's also great that SMB2 is being recognized again with the use of multiple characters again. Always use Peach!
4. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; Fire Emblem is probably the game I played the most this year. I've been huge fan of the series since the GBA games, so finally having a sequel after the several year long hiatus since Shadow Dragon was just what I needed. There are things that I love that they brought back from Seisen no Keifu like the marriage and children aspect, while there are other things I don't appreciate them leaving in, like the infinite reclassing and experience. The game is kind of broken, and the story and a lot of the characters are awful, but Goddamn it is just great to wage war and be the ultimate tactician again.
5. Pokémon X ; It's Pokémon. It's the same shit every time but I'm a sucker for it.
6. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ; This game has no right to be as good as it is. By all accounts, this game should have been awful. But it isn't. It's amazing. I'm Goddamn ninja cutting and parrying to an amazing soundtrack. Every game with boss battles must have lyrics now.
7. Guacamelee ; This is beautiful game with extremely well designed levels. If Nintendo doesn't plan to make a 2D Metroid any time soon, the guys at Drinkbox sure can fill that void. I didn't think I would enjoy brawler combat so much in a 2D game, but this game nails the lunchadore experience. SUPLEX EVERYTHING
8. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch ; I love Ghibli movies and RPGS. Match made in heaven. Though the gameplay could have been better, it was a great experience to go through this in a generation of weak consolw JRPG efforts
9. Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus ; After a run of mediocre spin offs, Insomniac goes back to formula and makes a compelling sequel to one of my favourite games in A Crack in Time. If this is how the series ends, it couldn't have ended better.
10. Animal Crossing: New Leaf ; I hate Animal Crossing. Like I really hate this series. So I am completely surprised that this even managed to make it into my top 10. It weaseled it's way in here with its annoying charm, its annoying music, its annoying neighbors and helper character in Isabelle. I don't like this game. I don't like cleaning up my town, or collecting fossils and bugs, or changing my clothing and building landmarks and attractions. Seriously I don't like this game.
 
Apr 13, 2010
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Let me throw these up before the deadline, I'll add in thoughts in an hour.

1. The Last of Us
2. Bioshock Infinite
3. Rayman Legends
4. Batman: Arkham Origins
5. Animal Crossing
6. GTA 5
7. Pokemon
8. Luigi's Mansion


I haven't beaten a few games, I own them, not enough time in the world.
 
1. Pokemon X and Y ; This game is the complete Pokemon experience. It adds in so many incredible ideas like EXP All and the online capabilities that it is definitely the perfect game for Pokemon fans and people who are new to the series.
2. Animal Crossing: New Leaf; People chide Nintendo for not being creative, but what they have done this year is take their franchises and more or less perfect them. While many get burned out on this game, the initial ride is fantastic.
3. Super Mario 3D World; The best Mario game since Galaxy.
4. Fire Emblem: Awakening ; Like Pokemon and Animal Crossing, Nintendo took what was already there and simply perfected it.
5. Dota 2 ; I spent like 700 hours on this game. Brutal, but oh so satisfying.
6. Shin Megami Tensei IV ; One of the best and most thought-provoking JRPGs in years.
7. Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; The return to classic Zelda is everything you want it to be.
8. Luigi's Mansion: I love vacuuming up everything.
9. Rogue's Legacy ; The best roguelike I've played.
10. Papers, Please ; An artsy game that is actually fun.

I'll add pictures later.
 
Oct 6, 2010
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I really wanted to make this a big and fleshed out post, but sadly due to several family emergencies over the past month and a half, I'm forced to wing it :(. Anyways, 2013 was an amazing year for games imo, I had a really hard time making this list!

1. Super Mario 3D World ; I was one of the few people who got excited by the E3 trailer, because I figured this game was going to be a "second chance" of sorts, sorta like New Super Mario Bros to New Super Mario Bros Wii. While I like Super Mario 3D Land a lot, I was still disappointed by it for numerous reasons, mostly related to what I felt was tepid level design. Turns out, This game delivered far more than I was expecting. Thanks to the extremely creative level design, multiple playable characters, and excellent pacing, This ended up being my second favorite Mario game, right below Super Mario Galaxy 2! The only thing that really disappoints me about this game is the lack of a challenge mode, something that I LOVED about New Super Mario Bros U.

2. New Super Luigi U ; Yeah, yeah, my Mario bias is shining through for those of you that know me. While I wish this game was a lot harder, for 20 bucks, this still greatly satisfied my eternal hunger for more 2D Mario with its good level design. Also, when combined with New Super Mario Bros U, I think you pretty much have the ultimate 2D Mario on your hands!

3. The Wonderful 101 ; This game has a hell of a steep learning curve at first, but once I figured it out, this game started ranking up with Kamyia's best!

4. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ; I was sorta worried about this game because of how little time Platinum had to make it, but once again, Platinum shows why they are the freaking best at what they do! My only real issue is that the game is rather short, but its so highly replayable that I probably have spent almost 100 hours on this gem!

5. Tearaway ; I have to admit, After playing the Little Big Planet games, I was skeptical on Media Molecule's ability to make a platformer that's good on it's own. Thankfully, they proved me wrong big time, and brought out what I think is one of the most charming platformers ever made. I do wish they added some more challenge though, since I actually felt like the touchscreen mechanics had potential to lead to some pretty unique challenges. Still, this is one of the few games platformers that's won me over via charm rather than mechanics, which is pretty impressive!

6. Pokémon X ; I still have some issues regarding how gamefreak treats competitive Pokémon, but this generation has started off in a MASSIVE step in the right direction. The breeding and soft reseting mechanics make building a team on the cartridge a reasonable task for once, and the online features are excellent. This is the first generation where I feel compelled to play on cart in addition to sims, which I think is awesome!

7. Grand Theft Auto V ; After the massive disappointment that was Grand Theft Auto IV, I was very skeptical of this game. This game thankfully fixed most of the issues I had with 4, so I'm pleased that my favorite open world series is back on its feet!

8. The Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; Like Grand Theft Auto, I've been disappointed by quite a few recent Zeldas. This game's lack of hand holding, and of course, the glorious return to 2D Zelda, makes this my second favorite Zelda game!

9. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies ; Man, 2013 is like the year of franchises getting back on their feet for me! Ace Attorney 4 and Investigations left a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth, the AAI team has proven to me that they know how to handle the franchise now. Also, I find it funny that Apollo was a more fleshed out character here than he was in his own game!

10. Shin Megami Tensei IV ; This was the first time I had played a non Persona game in the series. I freaking love Persona 4 Golden, so I was pretty shocked when I ended up liking this game more than it! I don't really care too much for the plot, but the demon recruiting system and the fusing system got me HOOKED HARD. Unlike Persona, I felt like I was actually amassing a demonic army that imposed my will on the world. It was like the ultimate power fantasy. This game has also gotten me into Soul Hackers (not very far in that yet), and I look forward to trying out Nocturne sometime this year!

x. The Last Of Us ; I'm not normally into cinematic shooters, but Naughty Dog games always seem to be the exception to this rule. The gameplay is actually rather engaging, and I actually cared about the characters, a rarity for me in shooters! The only reason this game and the other honorable mentions aren't in the main list is because to be honest, 2013 was freaking PACKED full of good games, unlike the rather underwhelming 2012.

x. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon ; The original Luigi's Mansion is a pretty cool game, but it certainly felt like a "launch title". This game was way more fleshed out than the Gamecube original, and I feel like it actually sorta accomplished the task of a Mario adventure game that Paper Mario Sticker Star sorta failed at.

x. Lego City Undercover ; Alright, this game really shocked me. I was just expecting another Lego game to hold me over the Wii U drought, but I instead got a rather charming open world game that I could actually play in front of little kids.

x. Resogun ; This game is pretty much the reason why I don't totally regret getting the PS4 at launch. A fun Defender like game that'll keep me occupied until Infamous Second Son.

x. Killzone Mercenary ; I ended up getting this for 9 bucks in that PSN sale, and holy crap, I find this game a LOT more fun than Shadowfall. The Single Player is obviously better, and I prefer the smaller maps and playercount of this game's multiplayer.

2012. New Super Mario Bros U ; This is my favorite 2D Mario game ever! While I think the main campaign is actually not quite as good as New Super Mario Bros Wii or Super Mario Bros 3 due to the short (but engaging) world 8, Challenge Mode shot this game right up into the stratosphere for me. Challenge Mode is something I had always wanted out of a Mario game, and the really high difficulty kept me busy for months till I got Gold in every challenge!
 
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I have a video game disease that causes me to drop games I&#8217;m really enjoying. Pikmin 3 is a good example. This game is really great, yet I&#8217;ve only played it for about 4 hours. Because I played it once (a long session), and then have yet to go back. I have done this with many games, for many years. Pikmin 3 will be completed and enjoyed (probably sometime this year), but because of my affliction, I have not played it enough to give it, and many other enjoyed games, a position on the list. Because of this disease, I&#8217;m only really certain, really set on my top 4. The remainder was a struggle to pick and order, and most of the blame for it can be placed on my problem (don't worry, I&#8217;m in a 836 gamestep backlogprogram).

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1. Trials Evolution ; Whenever I think about this game, the same idea always comes to mind. Trials Evolution is a next step in the platformer genre. It&#8217;s a Mario game, where you control each of his legs independently, and simultaneously. You&#8217;ve also got to manage how fast he runs and how hard he digs his heels into the ground to slow down, to a precise degree. A Mario where velocity, angle and balance matter just as much as jumping at the exact right time. It&#8217;s a platformer where you have even more minute control over your character than ever before (don&#8217;t take this literally, please :p). Mario is not the most analogous game to Trials, but hopefully you understood my point. WAIT, WAIT, no, Trials is to Mario as Skate is to Tony Hawk Pro Skater! Right, okay, sorry, no more analogies from me.

Trials is simple to learn but hard to master. It begins with the joys of schadenfreude, as your poor little motorbike man crumples into yet another rock. You don&#8217;t know what you&#8217;re doing, but it sure is funny to watch. Eventually you begin to realize there&#8217;s more here than meets the eye, and previously insurmountable levels start to become easy. This combination of stupid, adrenalined-fun mixed with pursuit of mastery makes for a game that compelled me to play it more than any other in 2013 (120 hours).

The best part of the game is it always stays fresh and fun in multiple ways. You can work on your technique, speed-running and learning new ways to traverse a level you once thought to be mastered. There&#8217;s always platinum medals and higher leaderboard places to chase. If you&#8217;re in a silly mood, there&#8217;s a lot of equally silly mini games. Then there&#8217;s creating your own levels. And of course, my favorite Trials past time, doing as many &#8220;unnecessary back flips&#8221; as humanly possible (especially in multiplayer). It wasn&#8217;t a real win, unless you won with (unnecessary) style, I always say!

This game simply feels amazing to play. It&#8217;s one of few games that gives you really deep control over a character or vehicle. Learning and exploiting the physics system is a joy. There aren&#8217;t many platformers with half as much depth (I know it&#8217;s not strictly a platformer, but I&#8217;m sticking with the comparison). It&#8217;s an amazing feeling when you start to naturally incorporate the advanced techniques you watched the leaderboard top dogs do. Going back to old to old, easy levels and speed running them with your new found crazy-ass techniques is sublime. Trials Evolution on PC, is my GOTY 2013.



2. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed ; I&#8217;ve noticed this being placed as a few people&#8217;s 2012 nominee. I&#8217;ve checked the spreadsheet, and it&#8217;s eligible this year. I&#8217;m putting it in my list. Sonic and a Bunch of Randoms Racing is a fantastic kart racer (or arcade racer, if you want). I loved this game from the first race in Ocean View. And it gets better as you become better!

Hours later and the game really reveals itself as the classy lady it is. Seamlessly transitioning from power slide, to backflip, to barrel roll, back into a power slide is arcade racing heaven (look at the GIF). It&#8217;s about finding every little crack in your game, and filling it with slides, boosts or tricks to cut down your time. You flinch, freeze or sneeze? You&#8217;ve lost ground to the ones who didn&#8217;t. High skill ceiling, arcade racing was an itch I didn&#8217;t know I had.

Even the AI is good. Less cheap feeling than other kart/arcade racers but also able to hold their own (until you get really good :D). Then there&#8217;s S Class. It is a bit cheap, they kinda gang up on you. However, it&#8217;s still a great option for experienced players, as it ensures that playing the AI won&#8217;t get too easy and dull. And of course there&#8217;s multiplayer to find people who might be classified as SS Class or something.

The game is also beautiful and silky smooth on PC. Every level is great to behold. I hold little nostalgia or knowledge for most of the games, but blasting through them is still wonderful. Transitioning between car, boat and plane in these terraforming, crazy levels is like playing Rat Race. Yeah, I&#8217;m talking about that movie from 2001. Playing this game is like &#8220;living&#8221; the silliness of a movie like that. You and a bunch of rivals going a whirlwind competitive adventure. If that made any sense, that&#8217;s what it kinda feels like.

Right! It&#8217;s very fun, and the high skill ceiling means there&#8217;s always room to grow, preventing stagnation. It&#8217;s just a shame it doesn&#8217;t perform beautiful across the platform board. I bet if I had people I could convince to play this locally with me on a regular basis, it&#8217;d become my favorite arcade/kart racer of all time. Okay, it basically is already. YAY GAMES!



3. State of Decay ; Making this list taught me that State of Decay is really hard to GIF. It's dark. Really, really dark. I was going to wait around for day time, but then I remember that'd take a literal hour :/. So, I used a brightness filter and doubled the saturation instead to make it visible.

To make that first paragraph not a waste of your time, let's tie it into something, shall we? Notice I said it would take an hour for day to come? That's one of many little things that go into this game to make it not just another zombie action game. I personally very much enjoy zombie games. I don't play every single one, just a few, so I have yet to tire of them.

Even though I just said it's not just another zombie action game, it's still a lot of actioney fun. After all, you're still a god among zombies. This is a roundabout way to say that I enjoy the combat. Yes the game is supposed to make you feel vulnerable. And it does, until you realize how awesome you are. The game uses a modifier key like Assassin's Creed. Each of the four buttons does something different, so you have 8 moves at a given moment. Each one feels better in different situations, and for that I quite enjoy brawling with the zeds. It's pretty hard to die unless you're being stupid.

The survival aspect gives you a reason for being. I mean that in both a thematic and gameplay sense. It's not just a trope of zombie apocolypse survival, but a driving skinner box of the game. Because you are gathering for others that are depending on you, it feels important. Upgrading is another good motivator, but the clan mentality is very infectious (lol). You want your posse to survive. They are your family, your crew of zombie destroyers. You want to pamper them and build them up.

It's not like other games haven't done these things, but the thing that really makes me love this is its ambition. There's a lot of more systems in play than you might think at first. There's stealth, building, gathering, (bad) procedural social interaction, a deeper than you'd think combat system. I mean this game could be truly amazing given a sequel. The ideas and systems already in play work well, but it could be taken further, especially in the story. The only interactions worth anything are your connection to your radio intel-lady, and kinda the original trio of characters. All around, the game's story elements are thread-bare.

This game is already the solid ground work for a great survival action game, and I bet an improved sequel (much better story/dialogue, deeper base building etc) could be a game of the generation contender (for those not tired of zombies :D).



4. Guacamelee! ; Here's the last game that I'm sure of. I'm sure it should be on this list, and more or less where. So! This game is a wonderful fusion of two of my favorite genres, fighting games (okay, maybe just Street Fighter) and platformers.

I finished this game twice in a short period of time and platinumed it. A very good, know-what-you're getting game. I'm talking about the color-coded moves, enemies, shields and secret doors. It sign-posts everything, but not in an annoying hand-holding way. What I like most about Gaucamelee is it's on-its-sleeve design. You're never confused about what to do, where to go or how to attack. Guacamelee is a solidly designed game and it knows it.

On to the fun! For those that have played, you remember the final few Chicken combos? That large chicken that teaches you the fighting system? Well, strive to play the whole game like that, and you'll unlock the joy within this game. The combat is simple to execute, like a fighting game with extremely lenient input windows, but has depth if you want it. The combat being tied into movement makes it even more delightful. You dance across the battlefield, cracking skulls and pile driving as you go. It's very satisfying, pounding enemies. It makes me wish they had more health so I could juggle them longer.

Then of course there's the unique aesthetic. The lucha libre palette is bright and wonderful. The characters and exaggerated and fun. The writing is a bit too obnoxiously self-aware, especially annoying are the instances of internet humor. I felt that just didn't work at all. But it didn't matter.

All the fun frenzy of a fighter with the forward driving progress of a platformer. A great Metroid-whatsit. I really should play it in co-op some day.



5. Antichamber ; And here we come to the part of the list where it's basically a vague mishmash of games in my head. No longer can I rely on well regarded, well-kept memories, but now I have to pretend I know what I'm talking about and squeeze out the remaining 6 games in anguish.

A mind-bending romp through a fun house filled with puzzles. I really enjoyed its mechanics. Slowly figuring out how the game worked was a very unique feeling of progression that not many games instill. I don't think its mechanics are that divorced from traditional video game puzzles, but it is its own game isn't it? Like a modern puzzle platformer-ish thing and one of those weird first person maze crawlers from the 90s had a baby (was that even a real genre? What am I talking about?).

If it wasn't already clear, I don't know what I'm talking about. It's hard to talk about this game period, and even harder without specifics. Don't want to spoil it. It's both a mystery of a game, and a simpler-than-first-impressions puzzle game. BUT! There are still puzzles, unknowns I left behind in that game. Things I never figured out. Or maybe there wasn't anything to figure out. Right... it's a good puzzle game. Leave me and my stupid brain be.



6. The Swapper ; Great atmosphere and story. Really sold its sense of place. The claymation was hauntingly beautiful. The puzzles were very well designed. Almost none were too hard, they just needed a quiet period of reasoning. Only two bamboozled me, because of a variation on a known mechanic that I didn't know was possible. How the game ties in its central mechanic into the story telling was really effective. I was very invested in discovering more about my character and everything else. Great experience and puzzle game.



7. Beyond: Two Souls ; I enjoyed being along for the ride. It succeeded in graphics (best on PS3, b/c of DAT image quality!), sound and acting. It failed to greater or lesser degrees in most other areas. However, I quite enjoyed. It's very easy for me to empathize with the fake people in the stories I'm told. It was easy, and enjoyable, for me to fill in the blanks where Cage's bland dialogue or plot writing failed. I was observing a life, and that was great.

It might have been a silly, implausible life, but I relished being in that fractured story. I like silly/fractured stories, if they do other things right. Beyond did enough for me. It had poignant moments, and even a handful of pretty good little gameplay sections. I was unsure at first, but once you hit a certain chapter early in, the ride is enjoyable throughout. Just pretend Dafoe had better, less out-of-nowhere-stupid motivations at a certain point in the plot, lol.



8. Saints Row IV ; Saint's Row. A series I probably like... probably. It's a strange relationship we have. It always falls short of what I want, but I keep playing them and rooting for it the whole while. I 100%ed this game (not all achievements), so I think I enjoyed it. It's just I totally forgot I actually played the game until a week ago. Bought it on release too, haha.

I did actually laugh this time. Three wasn't funny. Okay, maybe it was once, or twice. But anyways, the writing was a step up, but it's too random for its own good. Like watching Who's Line is it Anyway? starring me and some other unknowns off the street.

Anyway, I should stop ragging on it. This is a GOTY list after all. I do like this game. Filling bars up and doing endless side quests is enjoyable mixed with super powers. The game was still a mess like 3 was, but a bit more enjoyable. Though it wasn't laugh out loud funny, I did find myself in a lot of amusing situations, and I still have affection for the characters and their misadventures of sociopathy. Speaking of affection, the jabs at Mass Effect were great.

I'm going nowhere fast here. This game is a fun mess. It was a game I enjoyed grinding away at on nights when I was brain-fried. It's a paragon of a comfort food game, and I'm glad it was made.



9. The Last of Us ; The fact that I like this game at all means Naughty Dog did a lot of things right in this game. I'm serious strapped for time before this list is due though, so I won't go into all the reasons that could have spoiled it for me. The point is, it overcame some preconceptions in me, and I enjoyed the game. Probably. I rented it, beat it and then returned it. It was fine. Then I learned the internet adored it. So, I really need to play it again sometime to see if I missed something.

But anyways, the crafting was a nice little option to vary up gameplay. I really liked having to plan out my tactics before each encounter. Okay, I've only got this and this, and this is what they've got, how do I get through it? That was very enjoyable. The only gripe I had with the story is that they kinda didn't show Ellie and Joel bond much. It was like they kinda hate each other, then time passes that we never see, and they've bonded. We kinda miss a lot of it. But that could just be me misremembering. Don't pay my ignorance any heed.



10. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger ; A great arcade shooter. The cheat death and story-telling changing the game world mechanics were highlights. I'd say more, but this list is due really soon.

x. Wonderful 101 ; Another victim, like Pikmin 3, W101 left me in the dust mentally for 3 hours. I just haven't been back to it. It's a very cool world and idea though. Looking forward to moving past the stage of perplexment.

x. Pikmin 3 ; I've only put in 4 hours, but wow this game was much better than I could have hoped. It's fun, and really draws you in. I feel so bad for the Pikmin I exploit, lol. I'm sure this will be a great experience later this year.

x. Rayman Legends ; Something about how this plays makes it feel like an endless runner to me. And that's not good. I wouldn't know how do to a real analysis of the level design to figure out what I'm talking about, but the level design is just off. It feels like the runner iOS games, like it's too on rails, and only requires you to jump. It doesn't demand changes of pace or tricky moves like Origins did. Though the invaded levels are better. I think Origins is much better, level design wise. Legends' cake levels were fun though, and I adored the entire underwater world. It was fantastic. Something is off about the level design as a whole, and though I can't articulate it well, that nudges it off my list.

x. Wii Party U ; It's not quite as good at using the Gamepad as Nintendo Land, but it's got some cool ideas. I'm talking specifically about the social games. Such as the one where you draw a picture and guess who's is out of place, or where one person makes a face and the others guess from a multiple choice board what inspired the expression. The games fall short though, because the answers were not tuned thoroughly enough. They're great ideas, but so often the answers are 3 blatantly wrong ones and 1 obviously correct one. If someone/a team took a good deal of time to tune these games better, they could be fantastic party games, instead of just a nice idea yet to come to fruition.

2012. Nintendo Land ; I've had the good fortune to play this game with others 5 or 6 times since getting a Wii U in September. This is an awesome time in 5 player local multiplayer. Luigi's Ghost Mansion brings people into the room wondering why everyone is yelling so much. Animal Crossing has its wonderful candy highs and devastating, jaw breaking loses. The Metroid shooter that was surprisingly awesome, and has really fun boss fights and encounters. The shared humiliation of dying again on an early level of the Zelda adventure. Mario Chase is hilarious. The Pikmin arena was the biggest surprise, it works much better than I thought it would,especially since the main mode is kinda dull. I don't much care for the singleplayer mini games (although the Donkey Kong one holds promise pending time investment), but I love this game for giving me some truly happy moments with visiting friends. It pulled in all of us, hardcore and non-gamer alike, and we yelled in delight for hours. Fantastic use of 5 player co-op and competitive gameplay. I really hope for a Nintendoland 2.
 
Dec 21, 2012
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1. Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen ; Last year, Dragon's Dogma captured my heart, and almost topped my GOTY list at #2. This year, with a hefty expansion with excellent new music, great new bosses and additions to the core game, Dark Arisen has pushed Dragon's Dogma to my top spot!



2. Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ; A Link to the Past is in my top 3 SNES games ever made, and has been my favorite Zelda. This one comes very close, bringing us back to a familiar world I absolutely loved. Great new mechanics and is a worthy addition to LttP gameplay.



3. Super Mario 3D World ; Nintendo has a great gift at continuing to make the Mario games feel fresh. The game was a pleasure to play, fantastic music, and great to see Mario 2 special abilities return to the characters!



4. The Wonderful 101 ; Platinum continues excellence on the Wii U this time with a fun, engaging and very deep experience with a fun cast, good music and great replay value.



5. Atelier Ayesha ; While it was disappointing at the lack of Japanese voice track, the music helped make up for this with a fantastic OST, the dub was great, and the game had a wonderful story that had me completely engaged for the duration.



6. Tomb Raider ; This was a surprise for me. Having not really enjoyed any of the previous installments, Crystal Dynamics did a fantastic job putting a fresh spin on the story, with great game play good voice acting and an overall great game.



7. Pikmin 3 ; I skipped out on Pikmin 2 for some reason, and it had been a while since I've had my Pikmin fix. Was initially dismayed at the lack of Captain Olimar as the main, however the new cast is delightful, funny and the game play is as great as ever.



8. Beyond Two Souls ; Quantic Dreams has done it again for me. Loved Heavy Rain, and followed it up with a gripping story with great environment, good acting, Ellen Page was great, but Willem Dafoe stole the show for me.



9. Tales of Xillia ; Was nice to get a Tales game that was actually developed for on the PS3. While I loved Graces F, you could tell just in the resources alone. Enjoyed my time with this, and look forward to Xillia 2.



10. Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F ; I was thrilled to see this got a stateside release! Absolutely had to support it and I was not disappointed. Been a while since I've had a new great rhythm game, and I hope we see the sequel here!

Honorable Mentions

x. The Last of Us ; Sadly my time with this game was very very brief. I would like to revisit it later this year, or if there's a PS4 re-release.

x. Fire Emblem Awakening ; Another game I just didn't get much time in with. Love the format, looking forward to spending time with it later!

x. Batman: Arkham Origins ; Also didn't spend much time with this. Loved the first fight with Deathstroke. You can tell something seems a bit off from the Rocksteady titles, but still good!



2012. Journey ; Last year I somehow didn't get a time to check this gem of a title out. Picked it up on a nice PS Plus sale, and was disappointed I did not get it earlier. Nice soundtrack, beautiful visuals, and as the name suggests, a great Journey within the game.
 
Feb 14, 2005
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Let me throw these up before the deadline, I'll add in thoughts in an hour.

1. The Last of Us
2. Bioshock Infinite
3. Rayman Legends
4. Batman: Arkham Origins
5. Animal Crossing
6. GTA 5
7. Pokemon
8. Luigi's Mansion


I haven't beaten a few games, I own them, not enough time in the world.
You must add comments within the next 6 minutes or your ballot will not be counted.

No.
 
Feb 22, 2011
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Actually Short List 2011
Link To My "Short" 2012 List
*Obligatory Spoiler Warning*

I'm sad to say that like last year, the trend of being stingy by only buying games on deep discounts continues. Geez, I still haven't gotten around to buying Assassin's Creed 3. Though that's probably a good thing.
I don't doubt that many of this year's games would rate on my list, but nonetheless, I look forward to playing them in 2014. On the bright side, there is less of an opportunity to make the wall of text like I did last year.

Global Preface: I don't really write much about games throughout the year, so this is not only a ballot but an exercise in writing so apologies in front for the scattered thoughts and amateur writing



9. Electronic Super Joy (PC) ; Preface: Oh yeahhhhhhhhhhhhh

So, just before I started writing this list, I did a quick scan through my Steam Library (as it's where I play most of the games I'm interested in) and had an 'aha' moment when I saw this one. Now forgetting about this game until practically the last minute is probably not the best indication of what I think of this game and truth be told, in a year where I played all the games I would have liked to, it'd probably only get an honorable mention.
That being said, it's a fun little platformer that was well worth the $2 or whatever I spent on it. It's challenging enough, it's got some brief moments that garner some well deserved chuckles and the music is an absolute electronic......joy.........SUPER



8. Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien (PC) ; Preface: The 'dartboard minigame' at the end of a 'perfect' is completely baffling and I have no idea what they were going for

As with Electronic Super Joy, Runner 2 probably wouldn't have charted had I played more games. If you played the other Bit.Trip.Runner game, you'd know that it could get incredibly hard. Just completing some of those levels were a pain. And on top of that, if you wanted to collect all the gold pieces to get a chance at a perfect, you'd be compounding even more difficulty, and on top of THAT, if you wanted to beat the retro world afterwards, in order to get that perfect, well, guess what? Compound that motha fuckin' difficulty. PS: No checkpoints. As first impressions go, Runner 2 impressed me. The artwork is vibrant, animated, and in contrast to the first game, a breath of fresh air. It's just such a departure from what the first game was, and I can't commend Gaijin Games enough. As I got about half way through the first level, and I noticed the checkpoint, I let out a cathartic sigh of relief. It's as if all the pain of the first game was mended.

As I learned later, you can also jump over the checkpoint, and are rewarded with a point bonus, meaning in order to stay competitive in the leaderboard rankings if you wish, you are forced to skip 'em. On that subject, one of the addition of "moves" is a dance, that quite simply, makes your character [of choice] dance, which locks you into an animation for the sole purpose of garnering points. This adds depth to the leaderboard potential of your runs.

I made the mistake of not playing Runner 2 on hard. Beating all the games on normal was way too easy, and where the first game would have me ragequitting over a single level leading me to not playing for months ( until I eventually beat it) I found myself quitting Runner 2 out of boredom. Switching difficulties is as easy as a click of a button, so no excuse there. I did experiment with some of the levels on hard and was not especially blown away. But aside from my quibblings of things that are probably my own fault, the game is a nice relaxing palette cleanser



7. Tomb Raider (PC); Preface: My knowledge on this franchise is purely from osmosis as I've never played one of 'em.




6. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (PC) ;


This game stands on its own, but part of the reason I enjoyed it so much was the stark contrast to Far Cry 3 proper.



5. Rogue Legacy (PC) ;



4. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (PC) ;

Surprise of the year, easily. Some of the best first person shooting in a single player game in a long while. The environment dynamically changing is a pretty dumb gimmick that gets old after the first couple times, mainly because it's used mostly as way to set up forced arena sections or to gate progress.



3. DmC: Devil May Cry (PC) ;




2. Guacamelee (PC Vita) ;

I wanted this game to be number one. For me, this was this year's Mark of the Ninja. As with Klei, Drinkbox Studios made some highly enjoyable games before their big hit, but though their precursor games were well made all tolled, with Mark of the Ninja, and Guacamelee, everything came together to make a game with tight controls, depth, and just an overall awesome game.

The most common complaint from what I can tell is all the meme/reddit/etc shit. Didn't bother me. It was in the background. Don't care. Moving on!



1. The Last of Us (PC PS3) ; Preface: The musical theme of this game is strangely similar melodically to Sherlock(BBC)

Fuck. I don't even know where to start with this one. The credits had rolled, the completion trophies had popped and I was done with the Last of Us. I enjoyed it. I understood why everyone was talking about it. I was pretty convinced it would be my favourite game of the year and a top contender of the generation. Yay. It's always nice to play great games. But what I wasn't expecting was the impact it would continue to have in the (then) future. It consumed my thoughts for a good month or so afterwards.

Let's talk about a grievance of mine first. Let's talk about the idea of closure. Throughout the game, there are big, momentous events that are obviously meant to have an impact on the player. This ranges from the prologue sequence all the way to the ending. And with almost every single one, as far as I can tell, there is no denouement. Pacing wise, sure. But in terms of the story elements themselves, it goes BANG, huge thing happens, and then, nothing. I'm not saying that every moment needed 20 or even 2 minutes of the characters talking about what just happened. In fact, this less is more approach works wonderfully at points. Example: End of fall, Joel is not in the greatest place. Fade to black. Okay, now you're playing Ellie in the blistering cold. Perfect. (I'm going to use this point to say that that fucking cutscene where Ellie first meets David is so goddamn good and the way she says 'Medicine', revealing to the player that Joel is still most likely alive in some state is fucking brilliant. Because "video games", I knew Joel was alive and would probably make a full recovery, because well, "video games", but that reveal was still a thing of beauty. See what just happened there? I was attempting to make a point, and it got derailed by how awesome this game is at times.

One of my favourite moments of The Last of Us is in the beginning of summer is an optional interlude before meeting up with Joel's brother. My memory is a bit hazy, but I believe you stumble upon a gravesite. I believe it may have a child buried there too? It'd make sense because it relates loosely to what happened with Henry and Sam, only like 10 minutes before. ( in real world time) Because of this, Ellie brings up what had happened a "season" ago with Henry and Sam and shows an obvious interest in talking about it and Joel is fervent in letting the past be the past. (for obvious reasons that only the player knows) Now if that scene didn't exist, there would be (as far as I remember) little to no mention of Henry and Sam after their deaths. It's not that I disagree with the decision to let most of the climax scenes end with no real resolutions, (and in happens so often I have to imagine it's an intentional motif) it's that the writing, voice acting, performances, fucking everything is so well done, and it's never better than the scenes that have the characters being at their emotional highs.

This leads to my final point on this subject. The ranch scene. I will say that this is the reason I even bring up this problem. I can analyze all the other scenes in the game and say why the lack of closure affects them for the better or worse. The ranch scene is all that matters in this case. If 'the ranch scene' isn't descriptive enough, it's the scene in the house where you find Ellie after she's run away on the horse. Fuck it, here's the link. Up until this point in the game, it was great. Of course. But this scene blew me away. The Last of Us's cutscenes are so fucking good, that after a while, you forget how good the stuff you're watching is. So this ranch cutscene plays, and it raises the bar even further than it was before. I was enamored and as Tommy breaks up the emotional tension, alerting the characters that there are intruders, requiring them to focus on that now. I too, had to remove myself from what just happened to gameplay it up with the enemies.(Brilliant) You get through that, and now a short montage plays of Tommy, Joel and Ellie riding back to the base. And then....*sigh*, Joel just decides that now Ellie is coming with him. Then fall begins and it's like nothing ever happened. I've never been so emotionally deflated in a game, and that's only because the bar was set so high. It's not a plot hole or anything. It makes sense character wise, I just thought it was poorly handled.

The rest is treading on very familiar territory. Hey, guess what? The voice performances are superb. Hey guess what? The game looks superb. I actually did notice the sub-30 FPS at first, but it drifted away as I got used to it. The gameplay was enjoyable for the most part, especially when compared to Uncharted. It complements the story wonderfully, and one does get a real sense of desperation without even considering the story. There are a couple hitches when it comes to the gameplay; things that feel like really out of place. The sniper sequence at the end of spring is one. (though it does have a part in the ending of the only boss fight in the game, which is so fucking stupid but I like it anyway) The other one that comes to mind is playing as Ellie in winter. The first problem comes from the cramped indoors sequences you play with David. Small rooms doesn't do the actual raw combat any favors, and it has the added side effect of calling attention to the feasibility of Ellie's survivability.

Shit, I've pulled a Last of Us and have no closure for this entry. As far as "cinematic experiences" go, The Last of Us is the one to beat. It's a shame so many games are rotten with bad voice acting or bad voice direction or bad writing. Not all games have to reach a level of story cohesion and impact but a higher base line of quality and care would be nice. Need to end with something positive... Giraffes!

And I didn't even try the multiplayer. God damn I need to play this on Survival.

1. The Last of Us ; Ha, realized these comments weren't substantial enough, so it probably won't be counted. Pffhahhaa.
2. Guacamelee ; Can't
3. DmC: Devil May Cry ; Finish
4. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger ; This
5. Rogue Legacy ; Fully
6. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon ; I'm
7. Tomb Raider ; A
8. Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien ; Total
9. Electronic Super Joy ; Failure

x. Tearaway ; I played through the first two levels but haven't been completely hooked yet. It's certainly charming though, and I will eventually get through it. That being said, the whole 'your face is the sun' thing is so stupidly amusing to me, I can't help but laugh. Part of the reason it's so funny to me, is I generally play Tearaway, (and most of my portable games for that matter) in the dark, on my bed, before sleeping. So, inside the sun, you can just barely my face that's being illuminated purely by the lighting from the Vita, and it looks ridiculous. Love it.
x. Payday 2 ; I've been trying to get through some more of my backlog before I go deep into this multiplayer only (technically untrue) game. I really liked the first one and am glad the second one got a whole lot more traction.
x. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams - Rise of the Owlverlord ; The full main game of Giana Sisters was a hidden gem
x. Just Cause 2: Multiplayer Mod ; I've played less than an hour of this. The game crashed a bunch. I'm just happy this exists.

2012. Mark of the Ninja ; Covered partially in the Guacamelee section. It was between this and Hotline Miami. (Persona 4: Golden is really the true winner, but I just don't think that's fair) It came down to the fact that I think I like Hotline Miami for its soundtrack

Games I didn't get to:
Pretty much everything else. 2014's 2013 game of the year is going to be contentious.

Games I wouldn't have gotten to:
WiiU games.
 
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