By: Mike Chen
TOP 10 GAMES OF 2013
10) Doctor Who: Legacy — This mobile game (iOS/Android) takes one of my favorite franchises, mashes it up with RPG elements, then powers it with puzzle-style combat. On paper, it sounds bonkers, but it works really well and is beyond addictive — kind of like Doctor Who.
9) Shadowrun Returns — Classic isometric-view RPG gameplay returns with strategic combat and a bad-ass cyberpunk story to boot. The graphics aren’t groundbreaking, but it’s a nice back-to-basics return that succeeds in every area.
8) Warframe — I always hesitate the first time I try a free-to-play venture, but Warframe proved to be immersive and exciting from the very beginning. Part Mass Effect and part Metal Gear Rising, Warframe’s space ninjas vs. mercs works on so many levels, from exciting combat to randomly generated maps. Spending a little bit of real-world dough will help, but you don’t need to invest anything other than time to enjoy Warframe.
7) FIFA 14 — Several next-gen sports titles launched with the new consoles but none impressed the way FIFA 14 did. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the next evolution in sports games, and while the next-gen FIFA 14 improvements were largely cosmetic, it created a level of immersion unseen in the PS3/Xbox 360 era.
6) Ni No Kuni — By combining traditional JRPG gameplay with Studio Ghibli art and storytelling, Ni No Kuni provides one of the most unique experiences of 2013. Many people may overlook it because of its anime roots, but its epic story and deep gameplay options shouldn’t be missed by any RPG fan.
5) Tomb Raider — Lara Croft’s reboot was Tomb Raider brought to the modern era in so many ways. Classic puzzles existed alongside game pacing clearly inspired from Uncharted, and young Lara shows flashes of becoming the quippy, smart globetrotter that the 1990s brought us — all with much more realistic boobs, of course.
4) Grand Theft Auto V — GTA games have always been problematic when it comes to shooting and driving. Fortunately, Rockstar has seemed to fix these two areas (particularly shooting) with its latest release. Add in a new, unique mission-planning scheme and character-switching mechanic and you’ve got a title that’s as innovative as it is true to its roots.
3) Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag — AC3 featured a lot of great gameplay and story elements but got bogged down by an unlikable protagonist and a somber tone. AC4’s Edward is way more fun to hang out with, and it’s got freakin’ pirates everywhere. Finally, the series’ side quests and gameplay are just as fun, if not more, as the main campaign.
1B) The Last of Us — Naughty Dog took a huge left turn from Nathan Drake’s quips and globetrotting adventures. Part survival horror, part cover-based shooter, part stealth, and all wrapped up in one of the most unforgettable character relationships the medium’s ever seen, The Last of Us is a killer app late in the PS3 lifecycle. Extra points awarded for having one of the ballsiest endings in memory.
1A) BioShock Infinite — Ken Levine and his team have crafted what should be textbook material for world building, character development, and story pacing. In previous BioShock games, the world of Rapture was the main character, but Infinite raises the bar ridiculously high with equal emphasis on Columbia’s bonkers floating city, the mystery of Elizabeth, and its troubled hero Booker DeWitt. Oh, and it’s a lot of fun to play, too.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF 2013
The biggest thing I looked forward to for the PS4 was Watch Dogs. So Ubisoft’s delay put a big dent in my next-gen gaming plans. 2012’s big delays for BioShock Infinite and The Last of Us didn’t hinder their quality at all, so let’s hope the same thing happens for Ubisoft’s next big franchise. Runner-up disappointment: I’m a gigantic Metal Gear fan boy, and for David Hayter to be ousted for Kiefer Sutherland as the voice of Big Boss, well, that’s just not cool.
MOST ANTICIPATED GAMES OF 2014
5) Star Citizen — I spent way too many of my teenage hours battling the Kilrathi in the Wing Commander space-combat series, which means I’m beyond stoked that series creator Chris Roberts is returning to the genre.
4) Infamous: Second Son — The first Infamous was solid, the second was fantastic. With the PS4’s processing power, the series’ open world should become livelier and more detailed than ever before. Plus, blowing stuff up with powers!
3) Watch Dogs — This may have been in my 2013 Top 10 if it didn’t get pushed back a few months. Don’t screw this up, Ubisoft!
2) South Park: The Stick Of Truth — Seriously, will this turn-based RPG ever actually show up on our consoles?
1) Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes — We don’t know if we’ll get the proper game (The Phantom Pain) but game videos show that Konami’s FOX Engine really shines on the next-gen.
PlayStation Game of the Year: The Last of Us
Xbox Game of the Year: BioShock Infinite
Downloadable Game of the Year: The Wolf Among Us
Best DLC: The Knife of Dunwall / The Brigmore Witches (Dishonored)
Best Story: BioShock Infinite
Best Shooter: BioShock Infinite
Best Sports Game: FIFA ’14
Best Co-op: Warframe