Well, here it is guys . . . my obligatory favorite ten games of last year.
For me, 2013 was a fantastic year for gaming and making a list of even ten games proved to be a bit harder than I thought it would be. By the end though, I was left with a list of ten games that best defined my 2013 gaming experience in all its glory. So please, read, enjoy and at least try to remember that this is all for fun and is purely the opinion of one gamer. It’s all just my opinion and opinions will always vary from person to person. This isn’t a definitive list of the best games of the year, just the ones I, personally, took to the most.
I have nothing but praise and respect for 4A games; the minds that brought me one of my favorite new IP’s of this generation, Metro. The idea that an incredibly small team of very talented developers based out of the Ukraine would manage to create my personal favorite shooter of the year; a year with so many high quality releases in the genre, is actually something of note. The fact that they were able to take what was already one of my favorite shooters, the original Metro 2033, do away with almost all of its weaknesses and deliver something of such high quality, despite the limitations of their working conditions and the limitations often seen from smaller developers, is something that I will always speak out for. With that, as you can already tell, I pretty much damn love Last Light and definitely consider it the best fps of 2013. Of the last few years, even. Gunplay is incredibly satisfying, the setting is realized to painstaking detail, the game’s visuals are some of the best, if not the best, seen in games to date, sounds design is truly fantastic (set aside the mostly hokey English voice-acting) and the game manages to tell a damn engaging, and rather well written, story to boot. It’s just an overall fantastic experience with very little there for me to complain about. I’ve returned to this game many times since its release and there is definitely more play time there for me down the road.
State of Decay
State of Decay Really surprised me. I had been waiting a long time for the type of survival experience that SoD offered and I never thought I would have found it in a $20 downloadable title that started off as an XBLA exclusive. I grabbed the game on its day one Steam release and have since then poured dozens of hours into the game. It’s just a fantastic experience and there really isn’t another title I can think off that offers something truly similar, let alone handled as well. The game certainly has its problems, not to mention it can be damn ugly at times, but the game, as a whole, is just a great time and is a shining example of this new survival game craze done right.
Dead Space 3
When Dead Space 3 released, it was met with quite a bit of criticism from fans of the series over its shift from horror to a more action-focused tone and character-driven story. Not to mention the inclusion of co-op and micro-transactions this time around. While I do admit that these were certainly questionable, arguably negative (namely the micro-transactions) additions to the game; warranting at least some of the negativity it brought to the title, I feel that if you sit back and take the game for what it is, you may just be left with the fantastic action game that still holds its fair share of horror-tinged moments and tension that I found it to be. The gameplay, as is true with the series as a whole, is still very, very satisfying, if far more fast-paced than previous entries in the series and the game tells an engaging story, even if it has a few questionable turns and a plot hole or two throughout the experience. Even with its faults, I loved every minute of the game and I ask the readers to give the game a chance before they write it off indefinitely. It may just be the great experience for you that it was for me.
I will admit, I was never a fan of the original Tomb Raider games. I am not sure what it was about them, but I just never found the puzzles that took up much of the games all that engaging. They just weren’t for me. With that, when the series’ reboot was announced and I got a strong ‘Uncharted’ vibe from what Crystal Dynamics was showing, I knew I should give the game a shot. I am happy I did, really, because the game proved to be one of the best action-adventure games of the year and a fine jumping-off point for the developers to move forward from. I can’t wait to see where they take the series from here and just how they will shape Lara, as a character, down the road.
The Last of Us
The Last of Us is a game that has pretty much everything going for it. A fantastic story, great gameplay mechanics, quality sound design and a fantastic setting. I went in rather skeptical, very much expecting the game to not live up to the expectations put in my head from others . . . though it most definitely met those expectations. The Last of Us is fantastic and is definitely my favorite action-adventure game of this year. Everything about this game is quality and the game was only ever held back by the small things that serve to take you out of the experience the developers masterfully designed to suck you into, such as enemies being unaware of other members of your party when you are sneaking, despite the fact they are standing right in front of them, to name one. That said, if the worst things you can pin on a game are those that make sense from a gameplay standpoint, though break the rules of the game world itself a little bit in doing so, your game has a lot going for it and those truly make for rather insignificant distractions.
Gone Home is another game that surprised me, honestly. Mostly because I went in expecting to be the voice that went against the majority and have the game do nothing for me. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. What I was greeted to was a very human story that, normally, would do nothing for me. This wasn’t the case. It was the characters themselves and the way the story slowly builds upon itself and is given better context through nothing more than the player slowly piecing it together on their own that lets the story hit the player in the way that it does. While I know not everyone will be affected in the same way, if at all, by Gone Home, by the end of the game I really just wanted to know more about the characters and their lives. I was actually a bit sad when the game ended, though that didn’t stop me from truly appreciating the revelation that the ending brought with it. Even now I find myself missing the characters and wishing there was more to be had from the game. I feel that says a lot. I very much recommend anyone to try this game for themselves. It may just surprise you and I really hope it does.
Outlast is quite the experience. It’s less of a game and more of a tension and paranoia piece. I don’t really think many people are going to go into this game and actually have a good time. That doesn’t mean the game isn’t compelling or worth your time and money, however. That is far from the case. If you are a fan of horror, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try. It is one of the most tense experiences I have had with a game and it is very much comparable to an ‘Amnesia’ without the obtuse puzzles. A fact that, for me, makes it a better game than its obvious inspiration.
One of the first big names of the blossoming Kickstarter generation, the developer, Hairebrained Schemes, promised a lot to old-school fans of the license. Well, I can happily say they delivered a fantastic tactical rpg and one that soaked up many of my gaming hours last year. There is actually very little for me to criticize here. From the art assets, to the writing to the gameplay, everything on show screams quality and I can see that the backer’s money was put to good use. This game is an old-school rpg through and through, showing through the wealth of player options and through the character building itself. The large breadth of meaningful dialogue options and just how the player’s choices can, at least to a moderate degree, change the way conversations and scenes play out just adds to the old-school vibe of the game. Just a fantastic game and a strong recommendation to any RPG fan.
Saints Row IV
Stupid, yet witty and possibly the most un-adulterated fun I’ve had with a game all last year. This is another title on my list that has its own fanbase divided and fighting over its apparent flaw and merits. While I, myself, enjoy the route they’ve taken the series since SR3’s release, I can see why some may yearn for the days of the original games. That said, I can promise you I’ve never had as much fun with any of the previous games as I did with Saints Row III. The game, moving away from the overly-purile writing seen in Saints Row III, managed to capture the wit and genuine humor that was seen in Saints Row 2. The writing is certainly of a much higher caliber this time around. That doesn’t mean it’s moved away entirely from the stupid. It still wears that on its sleeve. It’s just a bit more genuine and self-aware this time around, and is more fun because of this. The gameplay holds to the same level of quality the series is known for though, this time, with the implementation of superpowers, such as flying, elemental blasts, wall running and telekinesis. With these new gameplay elements, you are in for a whole new experience unlike you’ve had with any other release in the series. The game is a blast to play and everything from the campaign to the side-missions I found greatly entertaining.
Being the only MMO on the list, not to mention the only MMO I’ve ever put any real amount of time into, I grabbed this one on the cheap late last year and ended up hooked on it. With over a hundred hours logged thus far and, most likely, many more by the time things are said and done I feel I’ve easily justified my $20 purchase. While, like any MMO, the game features more than its fair share of bog-standard quests, this game actually has what I considered a rather solid story that, when paired with its addictive gameplay, actually holds up rather well as a single-player experience. Which is, more or less, what I treated the game as the majority of my time playing. Aside from that, however, another element of the game that I found highly entertaining and accounts for the actual MMO part of the experience for me were the enjoyable instances that came in the form of ‘Siege’ and the ‘Arkfalls’, where large groups of players team up and either try to hold multiple positions against large groups of strong enemy AI for the former, or try and slowly wear down the so-called Arkfalls while combating enemy ai/large scale boss battle for the latter. The game is a blast to play and is best descried as a third-person Borderlands, minus the juvenile (if extremely humorous) dialogue, though with a much higher player count. If that is something that at all peaks your interest, you owe it to yourself to give the game a shot.
And there you have it. My personal favorite games of last year. I hope you enjoyed the read. If you have time, please feel free to comment on the article, or even just talk about some of your personal favorites from last year. I am always up for conversation and am happy to hear your thoughts on last years games.
Thanks for reading.