TOP 10 GAMES OF 2013
Honorable Mention: DmC: Devil May Cry, Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and Killzone: Shadow Fall.
10) Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon — Whether you want to consider Blood Dragon a full game or DLC for Far Cry 3, the fact is it was an absolute blast to play. The hokey ‘80s one-liners and neon filters melded perfectly with the fast-paced action. More please.
9) Muramasa Rebirth — I can’t be the only one whose Wii was acting as a glorified paperweight by the time Muramasa: The Demon Blade came out. Playing it for the first time on the Vita I loved the art design and enjoyed the combat. It could’ve done with a little less backtracking, but still…
8) Guacamelee! — Tough platforming? Check. Puzzle solving? Check. Satisfying combat? Check. A talking goat? Check. A murdered farmer resurrected as a luchador superhero? Check. One of the best games of 2013? You better believe it.
7) Rayman Legends — I had never really played Rayman before Origins, which was a game I enjoyed so much I played it through a second time when it came out on Vita. Ubisoft outdid themselves with Legends, expanding on the excellent platforming found in its predecessor while adding some really cool music-based levels.
6) Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag — While I generally enjoyed ACIII, its slow build and less-than-engaging protagonist chipped away at some of the fun. Black Flag rectified those shortcomings in a big way by casting you as a pirate and opening up the world almost immediately. It also didn’t hurt that the game looked absolutely gorgeous.
5) Tomb Raider — As someone that loved early Tomb Raider games but had long since moved on, I was cautiously optimistic the reboot would inject some much-needed life into the franchise. It did more than that. Lara Croft‘s newest adventure was excellent, and it goes without saying that I’ve already called dibs on reviewing the upcoming Definitive Edition.
4) Grand Theft Auto V — Even though this wasn’t my favorite GTA title (San Andreas still gets the nod), the three-pronged storyline was fast paced and filled with the usual zaniness. Driving, shooting and flying all felt more responsive than ever, too. The star of the show, though, is the city itself, which is perpetually teeming with life.
3) Tearaway — This game was scarcely on my radar leading up to launch. Its release coincided with me traveling, however, and so I figured I’d give it a shot. What I found was the most touching, endearing title I played in 2013. Just thinking about it now makes me smile. If you own a Vita and don’t have this game you’re doing this whole “gaming” thing wrong.
2) The Last of Us — It had been a very long time — maybe the original Halo — since I played a game so long that I started getting headaches. Such was the hold The Last of Us had on me as I sank hour after hour into it, only taking enough breaks to eat and pop more Advil. The big picture storyline wasn’t great, but the tale of Ellie and Joel was one of gaming’s best. Combine that with some strong gameplay and you had the definitive PS3 exclusive.
1) BioShock Infinite — As much as I enjoyed The Last of Us, BioShock Infinite clicked with my just a little bit more. Booker and Elizabeth were every bit as compelling as Joel and Ellie, and there were fewer frustrating gameplay segments. It was beautifully designed, impeccably acted and the twists at the end… wow. Both were marvelous games, but ultimately I gave BioShock Infinite the nod.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF 2013
A number of things brought me down this past year — Dead Space 3‘s pronounced move away from what made the series different, Beyond Two Souls making Heavy Rain‘s story look like sheer genius, everything about Double Dragon 2 — but nothing struck at the heart of me like Aliens: Colonial Marines. Billed as a sequel to one of the great action films of all time, Aliens, Colonial Marines was supposed to be official canon and had the folks at Gearbox involved. Instead of the slick, atmospheric shooter it should have been, we got a generic FPS that was riddled with glitches and issues that belied its lengthy developmental cycle.
MOST ANTICIPATED GAMES OF 2014
5) South Park: The Stick of Truth — Despite the fact that I no longer watch the show religiously, The Stick of Truth has kept my interest piqued since THQ announced it. The graphics are spot on, and if they can marry enjoyable gameplay to the world of South Park it could be special.
4) Titanfall — As a longtime fan of Transformers and Robotech, I can hardly think of anything more exciting than a shooter where you can pilot a giant freaking robot! I love what I’ve seen thus far, and think this could be the tipping point for those waiting for a good excuse to buy an Xbox One.
3) The Order: 1886 — Is this game even coming out in 2014? Who knows! What I do know is that the E3 trailer blew me away. The Victorian-London setting with a mix of history and mythology is just oozing with potential, and Ready at Dawn is at the helm. Yes! Yes! Yes!
2) Watch Dogs — This was atop my list for next-gen launch titles so I wasn’t thrilled when it got pushed back. That being said, if the additional developmental time allows it to deliver on its potential it will have been well worth the wait.
1) Destiny — Every time something new is revealed I get even more pumped up for it. With arguably the two biggest names in the shooter industry teaming up I absolutely cannot wait to see the results.
PlayStation GOTY: The Last of Us
Xbox GOTY: BioShock Infinite
Nintendo GOTY: Rayman Legends
Downloadable GOTY: Guacamelee!
Portable GOTY: Tearaway
Best DLC: Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon’s Keep (Borderlands 2)
Best Story: The Last of Us
Best Shooter: BioShock Infinite
Best Sports Game: MLB ’13: The Show
Best Co-op: BattleBlock Theater