Its right around that time again. 2013 has come to an end. The year as a whole I think can be describe as looking to the future, as it seemed from very early on, everyone had their eyes turned to Microsoft and Sony to show us the future. Yet I do feel some great games were released in 2013. While I did not sadly get a chance to play everything this year, these are the top 5 best of what I did get a chance to play.
Assassin’s Creed 4:Black Flag, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Monaco, Pokémon X and Y, Legend of Zelda A link between worlds, Tales of Xillia, Puppeteer, Long Live the Queen, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon
Every now again; a real gem comes along and surprises you, a RPG that is both simple and effective, that has well written characters, simple concepts, and enjoyable combat. Ni No Kuni was that gem, and was the last game I can truly remember waiting to play. It certainly hit a vein of childlike wonder. With visual designs and cinematic from Studio Gibli and a deep and rewarding RPG system with a dash of Pokémon, it’s not hard to see why this game struck a chord. It’s also just plain fun, as the systems at first seem complicated, but in truth is actually very simple to understand. It certainly felt like a return to the simple format of 16 bit era RPGS and ya know sometimes that can be a good thing.
2013 was the year of portable gaming. So many excellent titles were released, and many of them available for less than the $60 average. SMT 4 may have been full priced, but that takes nothing away from this excellent RPG. Not only does it come with a guide and a fairly solid soundtrack, it lives up to the SMT standard by being tough as nails, but never tough enough that you want to stop playing. The game is always pushing you forward, as you try desperately to take down that next boss. It’s the right kind of challenge. Visually the game is also well done, with unique character art and memorable Persona designs, even if most of the designs are rather old. The story is also very well told, despite starting on the slow side. I do wonder why this was released on the 3ds as opposed to a home console, but being portable does not hurt it, only your 3ds battery.
This game was turning heads long before its release, mostly through the art direction. Well, in particular, the sorceresses design. But, if you look past that, Atlus delivers a surprisingly deep and visually stunning RPG/ Beat em up. Gameplay is a tad on the repetitive side, given its nature, but Dragon’s Crown pulls no punches by making this game increasingly difficult, yet still completely fair, a tough thing to do properly. The RPG elements of gearing your chosen character and building up their skills just right rivals some of the best dungeon crawlers out there, as you will often push yourself forward hoping for better gear to drop. And of course, the visuals are amazing. Vanillaware is known for their unique visual presentation and Dragon’s crown more than holds up with unique character models, monster designs, spell effects, stages and the bosses. Despite how varied and a little crazy the designs are, nothing feels out of place. The only real downside for me is that the game allows you to transfer saves between the PS3 and Vita versions of the game, but there is no option for cross buying both in a bundle of some kind, and that’s really a small gripe when you think about it. This game was everything I was hoping Chronicles of Mystara would be, and then some.
Do I have to say anymore? I do? Ok. A great story, with a perfect beginning, middle, and a fantastic end that is willing to touch on subjects games rarely do, Infinite is a stand out experience, that in some ways rivals the original Bioshock. Despite the fact the game is primarily an escort mission; Elizabeth never gets in the way and proves to be very helpful rather than annoying. The game also boasts some beautiful visuals, tied mostly together with the creative way Columbia is a blend of both the real and the fantastical. Really, the only thing keeping it from number 1 is small issues tied to gameplay, such as no showdown with the Songbird, something the game teases constantly. The vigor’s at times feel rather useless, unless you’re playing through on the highest difficulty and the little use of the game’s more interesting mechanics, like the skyline and trans-dimensional warping of objects Elizabeth can do. Infinite is a fantastic experience in gaming, but it comes up just shy to my #1.
This game will probably be on many people’s list this year, and it’s very easy to see why. I can’t think of a game this year that was more impactful, nor a story that was better told than Last of Us. The world and characters is easily the best thing about it, as every character feels real, Joel in particular. Despite being against him by the game’s end, in all truth I probably would have made the exact same choice he did. Something about Joel and his travels through a post apocalyptic world really struck a chord with me. The concept of exploring for scraps and fighting with your supplies in mind is a delicate balance to maintain, but it truly brings out tense moments not seen in a long time in gaming. It trains you to not want to fight at every turn and explore your options. The moments you do have to fight are a little forced, but they do retain that tense nature. Multiplayer is fun in spurts, and is a unique distraction from the common shooters that were released this year, focusing more on stealth rather than brute force. Last of us was truly a memorable experience, and another notch on Naughty Dog’s belt, a rare feat for a game company to have more hits than misses.
Well, I talked about doing it for awhile. And here it is, rough as sand and just as messy. I’ll get this thing up to date once I get some new stuff written and put in, but here it is. The beginning of Blogging.
As a warning, it will be messy, and it will change probably several hundred times. Be gentle, and I take all advice and design ideas seriously.