Saturday, January 11, 2014

Top Ten Favorite Games of 2013

2013 was an absolutely phenomenal year for video games. It is absolutely the best year for games out of all of the years I've been the kind of gamer to follow new releases like I do now. Despite the launch of two brand new platforms in the form of the Playstation Vita and Wii U, both of which I picked up, 2012 was quite underwhelming for me. We did have the emotionally-gripping Walking Dead game, and the totally fun Playstation All-Stars, and the gleefully ridiculous Lollipop Chainsaw, but not much else really stuck out to me. This year, I have a strong list of ten video games. These ten video games are only my personal favorites; this is in no way a list of the top ten best games. Entirely subjective reactions to these games - such as a game being better than I expected, or a game having personal nostalgic value to me, etc. - are taken into consideration.

This is just a list of the top ten games I enjoyed the most, for my own personal reasons, ranked from least-loved to most-loved. Let's begin.

10. Injustice: Gods Among Us (PS3)

I was a big fan of the 2011 Mortal Kombat game; I thought it was visually-impressive, easy-to-get-into, and tons of simple, yet deep, fun. I am also a big fan of DC Comics, from its characters to its comics to its movies. Injustice: Gods Among Us was destined to be right up my alley, and that turned out to be true. Injustice is founded on the same general gameplay fundamentals that made the last Mortal Kombat so enjoyable, but with a skin made of pure DC Comics. Injustice offers the best story I have ever had the privilege of playing through in a fighting game, taking advantage of the DC Universe remarkably well. The whole game is an addictive, feature-rich love letter to fans of DC in the form of a solid 2D fighting game. While I didn't get quite the level of enjoyment out of it as I could have if I got friends involved like I did with Mortal Kombat, I loved Injustice: Gods Among Us.  

9. Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan (3DS)

Man, I love these hardcore, grind-heavy, dungeon-crawler, first-person RPG's (phew!) from Atlus. The Dark Spire was my introduction, which I was hopelessly addicted to, then there was Etrian Odyssey III, which hooked me, and then this year was Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan. I sure was hyped for this game, it being the first of these kinds of games on the 3DS really helping that. These games aren't for most people because of the large amount of grinding, but I find the character-building very satisfying, and it's really made better by the great aesthetics. This entry actually has more of an emphasis on cohesive exploration, which irons out any small dullness from grinding that impeded me with the third game. I never beat these games, but I'm so intensely addicted during the periods I do play that I don't particularly care that I don't see the endings. Etrian Odyssey IV is no exception.

8. Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

The folks at Nintendo know joy in video games more than anyone in the industry. Super Mario 3D World is pure, unbridled fun. Core Super Mario games always play incredibly well, which is a trend this game doesn't end. Like the best games in the series, 3D World seems to introduce something fresh and new in every level. 3D World pushes the graphical horsepower of the Wii U and delivers one of the best-looking cartoon-style 3D games ever, and the music is nothing to sniff at either. There is also an excellent level of refinement and a bevy of charming little touches. For example, Seeing Plessy, a new, Yoshi-like rideable creature, wave goodbye after an invigorating and frantic obstacle course set to classic Mario 64 music, is simply heartwarming. And of course, this entry allows you to play with up to four friends for the first time ever in a 3D Super Mario game, and it works wonderfully.

7. Tearaway (PS Vita)

Media Molecule is a development company too creative and capable to be only known for one property.  Tearaway, a Playstation Vita exclusive, makes sure that these talented people are more than just the people who made Little Big Planet. Tearaway is a magical, inventive, special game. On the surface it is a fun 3D platformer with breathtaking visuals and a myriad of well-implemented control inputs, but it is so much more than that. Tearaway is a feel-good experience about being yourself and living your own personal adventures. Whimsical from the beginning to the end, Tearaway is one of my favorites of the year.

6. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)

I've said this in tweets, written pieces, and conversations more than once, but I'm still going to say it again: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds makes me retroactively like past Zelda games less, because of just how well-designed it is. A Link Between Worlds embodies past greatness while making smart alterations. This game clinches exploration and personal success incredibly well. It's also challenging, good-looking, and clever. There's another game above this on my own personal favorites list, but I'd say this is probably the best release on this platform in 2013.

5. Pokemon X [and Y] (3DS)

One of my favorite games of all-time is Pokemon Diamond, as it was my first Pokemon game. I quickly became obsessed with the game after years of ignoring the series. Successive entries in the series didn't quite do it for me, though - they were ultimately samey bores. Pokemon X and Y was the kick in the ass the series needed to get me back on board. The new visual style really went a long way with pulling me back into the series, even though everything else is mostly so similar. I felt like I was back in middle school, playing my first ever Pokemon game all over again.

4. DMC: Devil May Cry (PS3)

This game took me by surprise. I have never played a game in this series but found this reboot appealing, so I decided to pick it up and I fell in love. This is a markedly well-done action game, filled with consistently fresh and interesting thrills. The player is equipped with a wide variety of moves and ways to combo them all together; the combat system is remarkably deep, fluid and fun. The game's narrative is actually quite compelling, with cool characters, a sprawling plot and proper twists and turns. What's more impressive than that, however, is the game's flashy, rocking, funny, and sexy sense of style. This game rules.

3. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PS3/PS Vita)

My favorite game of all-time is Sly 2: Band of Thieves. It was the first game to ever make me care about its story, and because of that, even though the story isn't anything that deserves to win any awards, I'm still heavily-invested in what's going to happen next, today. Sanzaru does an admiral job of continuing the story where Sucker Punch left off, pulling weird fans like me on an exciting ride rife with surprises and humor. This game also embodies the other things I love about this series, like the elegant and organic platforming, neatly-designed heists, and the bits of other genres like the beat-em-up brawling and dual-stick shooting. I felt like a kid again.

2. Pikmin 3 (Wii U)

Holy mackerel! Nintendo totally surprised me with this game. I was always going to pick this game up and I expected to like it, but not nearly as much as I did. I did nothing else but play this game when I got it. I couldn't stop. It is gorgeous-looking, it is endearing, it is challenging, it is addictive. There's no end to the amount of ranting and raving I could do about this game. I really felt a strong connection to my little Pikmin buddies and was wrapped up in the adventure of the game's three goofy little spacemen protagonists. This game is fantastic, and mind you, I don't just like this game more than 3D World personally; I will gladly argue that it's better, too.

1. The Last of Us (PS3)

When I played Uncharted 2, it was no doubt one of the finest video games I had ever played. Naughty Dog's next game, Uncharted 3, was very disappointing for me; I can't even say I like it. Naughty Dog's latest, The Last of Us, impressed me more than Uncharted 2 did back when I first played it. The Last of Us is one of the best games ever made. The game forces the player to take control of an incredibly brutal man living well into a post-apocalyptic dystopia, but that control is limited. You are not this character, and you're probably not much like him, but you get to live in his shoes and understand what makes him tick. There's a two-minded nature to the game; I'm disgusted by Joel, but I also completely sympathize with him.

The adventure I went on with Joel was an emotional roller coaster. I laughed. I cried. I blankly stared at my television screen. I grimaced. I smiled. The plot is well put-together and original, on top of the excellent fashion in which it's told. The game also plays extremely well. Combat is deep and perfectly challenging, and is uncomfortably satisfying in a way that really serves the story.

God, the memories I have of this game's pivotal moments.  The first death. The winter. The giraffes. The shocking ending.

The multiplayer is even really good.

The Last of Us is my favorite game of 2013.


I also really liked some other games, like Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon, Killzone: Mercenary, Tomb Raider, and God of War: Ascension, just to name a few. There were some games you may have really liked that I didn't much care for, like GTAV, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and Bioshock Infinite. And then there were some disappointments, like that dastardly Dead Space 3, which flopped due to the depressing degree of mainstreamification the series received. Finally, I couldn't play everything; I missed Gone Home, Papers Please, Lego Marvel, The Wonderful 101, all exclusives for PS4 and Xbone, and more, of course.

What were your favorites? 

1 comment:

  1. Awesome list and discussion about games Matt. I had the same platforms of you this year and really enjoyed spending a lot time with the Wii U. My favorite would have to be ACIV, its has terrific use of the gamepad for a separate map screen. And the whole system is a love letter to Nintendo Fans. Add me on Miiverse~shark.