The Best of the Rest (This Top Ten Games of 2013 list is based on the opinions of our writers)
2013 has finally come to an end. 2014 is now starting, and with it comes the hope that the industry will grow in positive directions as the 8th generation fully begins. This was one the biggest years for the industry, and for more reason other then the fact that the next generation hardware has fully come out. The amount of absolutely phenomenal games was astounding, which made this a very hard list to put together. I could rearrange this list again and again, but it is simply impossible to find a perfect arrangement for this list. This is the list I am happiest with though so without further delay, here is my personal list for the best games of 2013.
10.) Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
First person shooters are a dime a dozen these days, but not many play off the mechanics of their origins. The old school code is repeated occasionally, but only a select few truly reinvent formula instead of porting it. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is one of those games. The game takes everything that gamers loved from the Duke Nukem and Serious Sam series, but manages to bring it to the modern era successfully. The story is told from the unique perspective of a drunk bounty hunter, and the overall presentation is gritty perfection. However, the true seller is the gameplay which should not disappoint any fan of the genre. At it’s core, the game is a classic twitch shooter, but there are a lot of well implemented modern touches. Bullet time is brought here and it is extremely gratifying: The sound of a bullet hitting a enemy with a jelly bursting sound of blood never fails to excite the 12 year old in me. Also, the upgrade system is one of the best I have seen in awhile due to the fact that it doesn’t focus on making the player overpowered; rather, it adds depth to the gameplay mechanics. This was easily one of the biggest sleeper hits of the year, but it was one of my most memorable experience.
9.) Soul Sacrifice
I have never been a fan of the “Monster Hunting Genre” (MHG), and one of my few concerns with it is how one series defines it. With Monster Hunter increasing in popularity around the world more companies are getting ready to copy and paste the successful formula. However, one game that decided to change the code was Soul Sacrifice, and I couldn’t get enough of it. The gameplay was very satisfying as it handled a lot faster, but also played on this unique risk and reward system. I found the game more engaging due to this and the relationship it brings with the character. In addition, I found the other characters, to be equally as interesting which I wasn’t really expecting from this game. The gothic visual style really stands out as well, and I still believe this is the best looking game on the Playstation Vita. I am not saying that this game is better or worse than Monster Hunter, but what I am saying is that Soul Sacrifice managed to put competition in a market that desperately needed it.
Due to the crazy addiction I had with Super Stardust HD, it can needlessly be said that I was very excited to hear that not only will Housemarque’s new game Resogun be released at the launch of the PS4, but it would also be free to any Playstation + members. It was the first game I tried with my new console, and it is still my favorite one so far. The game completely re-imagines the Defender formula and it couldn’t have been better. What made this game stick out to me was how addictive the scoring system was. There is unique desire to perfect a mission in order to get the highest score, which is usually something I am unaffected by in most games. Scoring a higher multiplier, saving humans, escaping that near death scenario: These are the things that satisfied my yearning for a excellent twin stick shooter experience.
Probably the game I put the most time into this year, I found Game Dev Tycoon to be a addictive joy ride as I went through the industry’s history. What makes this game so unique is how relatable it is too itself. Players get to feel what it is like to put all of your time into a video game that you truly believe is the bests thing ever, only for critics to give it poor reviews and say such classy things as “it still gives me nightmares.” Your company can be doing great financially due to a onslaught of killer games, yet one terrible game comes out and it is game over. You will begin to find what kind of genre your company works best on, and can even eventually expand into bigger markets. All of this is made with a management and progression system that works seamlessly. It’s the creative and addictive experience that makes Game Dev Tycoon one game that should not be missed.
To think that the Pokemon series decision to finally jump to 3D was one that managed to arguably create the best game in the series. Pokemon X/Y is not great because it allowed me to see a charizard in 3D. The games are great because it changes the mechanics of the game in a variety of positive ways. Fairy types and mega evolutions have truly changed the competitive scene, and being able to compete in said competitions has also been open up with the new EV mini game system. The narrative has been perfected as it no longer slows down the experience, rather adds depth to it. The amount of content has easily been turned up to 11 as the game has seemingly endless amount of replayability. Combine all of this with the classic rock, paper, scissor gameplay, and you will get one of the biggest success to grace the 3DS platform: Both critically and financially. Easily one of the most anticipated games of the year, Pokemon X/Y manages to deliver on all fronts.
Besides The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (which I enjoyed for different reasons), I have not truly enjoyed the series since The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap. However, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a serious contender for the best game in the series. The game goes back on letting players do their own thing; without this omniscient linear ghost pushing you forward. What is even better, is how the new item rental system expands on the exploration mechanic further. The world is full of hidden secrets, and being able to rent every item right out of the gate makes the drive to find such secrets that much greater.Sometimes I wanted to progress through the storyline, but most of the time I am outside beating the floor with a hammer to get a heart piece. The game doesn’t hold my hand, which is something that the pass games have had a problem with. The gameplay went back to work on what it did best: Hell, it even went back to the original NES artstyle in terms of character design. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds features all of strength to it’s advantage in order to bring one of the best games you could have played this year.
Jack Thompson nightmare finally hit store shelves this year, and the result was a masterpiece. Grand Theft Auto V manged to capture everything that players loved about the series, and then proceeded to add more content. The city of Los Santos is huge and offers players a plethora of activities to experience. The game makes up for all of the short comings from Grand Theft Auto IV, but the narrative also matures with the industry. The new three characters are very well written, and the experience you share between them are some of the most memorable of the year. With all of the narrative excellence though, the open world exploration is what makes the game amazing. Whether I was finding easter eggs, interacting with the mini games, or even going on a rampage, Grand Theft Auto V never left me in a state of boredom. It’s gritty, brutal, and all sorts of crazy fun: Grand Theft Auto V is one of the most ambitious games that has ever came out in the industry.
3.) Bioshock Infinite
The first titan of the year, Bioshock Infinite is the game that has been on everyone’s mind since it’s release. I would easily say that Bioshock: Infinite is the most beautiful game I have ever seen. Whether it’s the breath taking artstyle or the euphonious sound design, the game reached always managed to blow me away artistically. I believe it is the character design and player interaction that most people will remember from this game however. Booker Dewitt and Elizabeth Swan were both excellently written, but I found how they brought me into the world to be the best part of the narrative experience. Columbia was unimaginably real, which is why I spent a lot of time exploring every nook and cranny. The game made me feel that I was a part of the world as much as the main characters. Bioshock Infinite will go on to be remember as one of the games that brought the industry to a higher standard. It made the medium a bit more unique, or even ethereal than it previously was.
2.) Fire Emblem Awakening
With all of the great games that released on the 3DS, Fire Emblem: Awakening remains to be the creme de la creme for the console. It is how the gameplay and storyline correspond with each other in order to create a better experience. I fully believe that the tactical rpg genre is the cocaine of the handheld console. However, this gameplay wouldn’t have been nearly as good if it wasn’t for the brilliant cast of characters to support it. Although characters do drop funny puns from time to time, I never once took a character as a stupid cliche. Each character is dynamic and glowing with charisma; which made the permadeath mechanic more devastating as time went on. It was really hard to loose these characters simply because I liked all of them. Not only that, but having the characters interact with others in the relationship system brought me that much closer to them: Which made it that much harder to know that once they are gone, that’s it. This makes each combat scenario intense, and ultimately very gratifying. Surviving that brutal victory where you were sure that your favorite character was going to die, only to see them dodge a lethal attack and come out on top; this is what made the game so great. Arguably one of the best written games of the year, Fire Emblem: Awakening easily deserves all of the praise it has received this year.
Surely the PlayStation 3’s swan song exclusive, The Last of Us is easily one of the best games of 2013 and the generation. The reason why this game takes home the gold is can simply be stated as superb management. The narrative in The Last of Us was nothing less than amazing, with certain moments being the best written dialogue the medium has ever seen. However, it was the equally impressive gameplay that brought this game to the top. The combination of stealth, horror, and action was phenomenal as it remained one of the most well rounded experiences of the year. The game brought a lot of mechanics together to create it’s own innovative experience. I can recall so many moments from this game that made me think and feel in ways no media has ever achieved. This game never pays attention to a single aspect: Rather, it focuses on every mechanic to create one of the finally tuned games I have ever played. Not many games manage to bring perfect scores all around, which is why The Last of Us manages to become the best game of 2013.