2013 was one of my favorite years in gaming, so much so that narrowing down a list of my faves to ten was tough. But I did it with much difficulty. And here they are:
10. Splinter Cell: Blacklist: To be honest, I could put any number of games into this final slot given how deep a year it was for games, but I’ll give the nod at the moment to Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Blacklist found a nice middleground between the classic entries in the series and Conviction. In doing so, it created a stealth game with a wealth of options on how to handle various situations (something I love in games). I only wish I had a bit more time to delve into this game’s many modes than I have so far.
9. Guacamelee!: Built in the style of classics like Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Guacamelee! has you brawling your way through an expanding 2D world. A Mexican backdrop and loads of video game references give the game a unique personality while challenging platforming, fun beat ‘em up action and a plethora of unlockable moves make for a rewarding gameplay component.
8. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon: This retro-themed standalone expansion to 2012’s Far Cry 3 takes aim at 80’s action movies and video game clichés alike. Loads of laughs can be found throughout this one whether watching the over the top cutscenes or reading the game’s tongue-in-cheek menu descriptions. I still prefer the base game, but with the same great combat and a fun original setting, Blood Dragon is an enjoyable romp and the kind of game I wish we’d see more of in the downloadable space.
7. Resogun: Whether shooting up everything on screen or trying to save the last humans, Resogun delivers an old-school shooting experience as addictive as any I’ve ever experienced. As odd as it may seem, this $15 downloadable title (free with PS+) is the best reason to own a PS4 so far.
6. Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus: While not as meaty as the Lombax’s best adventures, Into the Nexus marks a return to form for the series after a couple less than stellar experimental outings. Explosive combat with wacky weapons (like a gun that turns enemies into snowmen while belting out “Jingle Bells”) delivers that classic Ratchet feel while new twists like the versatile Jetpack and gravity-bending 2D Clank levels help it feel fresh. It also has one of my favorite levels of the year in Planet Thram.
5. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: In this sequel to A Link to the Past, Nintendo shakes up the standard formula delivering the best Zelda in years. I think its biggest success comes in the freedom it allows players, letting them tackle the game in almost any order they want. But the new wall-merging mechanic had us looking at the environments in a different way, the game played faster than ever and Nintendo backed off the handholding that has plagued the series recently too. And the results were fantastic.
4. Tearaway: With Tearaway, Media Molecule has created a game even more charming than their LittleBigPlanet series. It’s beautiful papercraft world and old-school platform adventure vibe are a great combo, but it is the feeling that you have while playing that is its best selling point. A can’t miss title for the PlayStation Vita.
3. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time: It was easy to be skeptical of the latest entry in the Sly series with a new and unproven developer at the helm. That is why I was so delighted to not only see Sanzaru Games deliver a great game, but my favorite in the series. Thieves in Time felt like it took the best bits from the original trilogy to create the ultimate Sly game and the time travel storyline gave us fresh new locations and fun interactions between Sly and his ancestors.
2. Rayman Legends: This is the best 2D platformer of the last generation and given the revival the genre saw in recent years that is quite the accomplishment. Legends builds on the success of its 2011 predecessor Origins with more of the same pitch perfect platforming and brilliant artwork that made that game so good, but it just does things a bit better this time around.
1. The Last of Us: Maybe the most compelling narrative I have experienced in gaming. Brilliant well-drawn characters. A relationship worth seeing evolve over the game’s lengthy campaign. Top notch presentation, graphics and sound. And most importantly some of the most fun and intense enemy encounters ever. The Last of Us does it all, delivering completely on both the gameplay and story fronts. It’s not just the best game of the year, but one of the best of all-time.
So there they are. My ten favorite games of the year. For those interested, I did a different kind of look back at the year in games on my other blog (here are links to Part 1 and Part 2). Now that I have wrapped up 2013 in gaming I should be back soon with a look towards what is coming in 2014, so keep any eye out for that. As always, thanks for reading!