Well, 2013 has certainly been an eventful year for gaming. The Xbox One and PS4 arrived with chest-beating bombast but a fairly shoddy line-up of games, and instead the real action was to be had on those soon-to-be-relegated ‘legacy’ consoles. The PS3 received what many are saying is its best game with The Last of Us, and we were treated to several huge and highly playable blockbusters in the form of Assassin’s Creed IV, Tomb Raider, BioShock Infinite and GTAV. Although Wii U sales are still glacially slow, Nintendo had one of its best ever years in terms of quality games: the Wii U finally ended its game drought with Pikmin 3, Super Mario 3D World and The Wonderful 101, and the 3DS had its best ever year with a bevy of fantastic releases, including Fire Emblem: Awakening, Luigi’s Mansion 2 and A Link Between Worlds. I actually managed to play a fair few games in 2013, but I still only scratched the surface in terms of what’s out there – here’s a quick run down of my favourite games from last year, as well as a few that I wish I’d had a chance to play.
The Best Games of 2013 That I Actually Played
In terms of sheer fun, this was probably my favourite game of the year. It had me smiling from start to finish, and the transition to HD has led to a superbly detailed and wonderfully vibrant game. I’ve waited since the GameCube generation for a sequel to Pikmin 2, and I’m pleased to say the wait was worth it. It also has the best-looking fruit you’ll ever see in a video game.
I just finished this game, which is the fifth in the Ace Attorney series, and I can safely say that it’s the best one yet. It looks absolutely brilliant, the mechanics have been rethought and streamlined to avoid the frustrations of the earlier games and, most importantly, the trials are brilliantly written and often hysterically funny. A welcome and long overdue return for Phoenix and co.
I can’t remember the last time a game sunk its teeth into me like this one, to the point where I couldn’t wait to rush home from work and play it every night. It looks stunning, the story is great (the ending actually made me yelp out loud in surprise) and Elizabeth sets a new high for NPCs. It’s not without its faults of course, plot holes being one, but it’s a game that will stick in my memory for some time to come.
Far Cry 2 irritated me so much that I deliberately avoided its sequel, but then Blood Dragon came along. A genius idea, it took the gameplay mechanics of Far Cry 3 but made the game into a standalone spoof of naff eighties action flicks – it even had Michael Biehn (Kyle Reese in The Terminator) doing the voiceover. With this game and Saints Row IV, 2013 legitimized the spoof as a game genre all of its own.
After years of listening to my sister telling me how good Monster Hunter is, I finally dived into the franchise for the first time with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, and I was hooked from the beginning. It’s not an easy game by any means, and its reputation for being frustratingly obtuse when it comes to revealing its game mechanics is a deserved one, but a game hasn’t sunk its teeth into me this deeply since Phantasy Star Online on the Dreamcast.
BUBBLING UNDER: Honorary mentions should also go to Luigi’s Mansion 2, The Wonderful 101 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Director’s Cut.
The Best Games of 2013 That I Would Have Played If I’d Had The Time
I actually received this game for Christmas along with my new PS3, but the last week has been so hectic that I haven’t had a chance to play it. Sir Gaulian maintains it’s one of the best games he’s ever played, so I’m looking forward to spending January wandering through the end of the world with Super-Ear Joel.
I’ve still yet to play through Assassin’s Creed III (which has been sat on my shelf since about February), but I’m tempted to just skip it and go straight to number 4, such is the allure of being a pirate. Black Flag took the brave decision to dial back many of the series’ traits in favour of plundering the Carribbean, and it looks all the better for it – Assassin’s Creed has had its ups and downs, but this game could be the pinnacle of the series.
I’m a huge fan of the Tomb Raider games, and I was a bit worried when I heard that Lara Croft was to get a ‘gritty’ makeover (why does everything always have to be gritty these days?). Thankfully, the reboot was released to rave reviews, and I’m determined to find time in 2014 to play through Lara’s new adventure.
When I first saw it, I wasn’t too impressed with Super Mario 3D World, which comes across as a sort of mix between Super Mario 3D Land and New Super Mario Bros., but everything I’ve heard about it since makes me want to play it more and more – Eurogamer even made it their game of the year. I almost, almost, bought it on day one, but I’m determined to finally finish Super Mario Galaxy 2 and New Super Mario Bros. U before I add yet another Mario game to The Backlog.
BUBBLING UNDER: Deadly Premonition: Director’s Cut, Attack of the Friday Monsters!, Fire Emblem: Awakening, Bravely Default, Pokémon X/Y, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, XCOM: Enemy Within, Remember Me and Gone Home.
[As written by Lucius Merriweather while devouring the last of the Christmas bonbons. Happy New Year everyone!]