As 2014 approaches and we see and play a slew of new and more impressive games, I like to look back and reminisce on the games I had the most fun playing. As I run down this list, keep in mind, this is my list, yours may be different, and that’s fine, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I should also clarify that I am a console gamer because my computer is the worst. So all of the cool indie games that came out this year, I did not get to play. That being said and out of the way, let’s start with number 8...
8. Gears of War: Judgment
As I talked about in my top 10 franchises article, I love the Gears of War series. What made this one so much fun was the scoring system during the campaign. It was both challenging and competitive with friends. Speaking of friends, the multiplayer was incredibly fun. The past Gears of War games had fun multiplayers, Gears of War was a great system link game, Gears of War 2 introduced the horde mode, Gears of War 3 finally had a matchmaking system and server functionality that didn’t make me want to throw my controller through the wall, and beast mode. Gears of War: Judgment introduced Overrun mode, in this mode, I could play for hours, it was the major reason I bought it and still enjoy playing it today.
7. Lego: Marvel Superheroes
Again, going back to my article of top 10 franchises, I love the lego games, this one is no different. I am especially a fan of the voice work put into these new lego games. It gives the writers of each game a level of freedom to do with what they want. The story in this is one of the best they’ve done yet, and keeping within the context of each character's comic origin while adding the movie stuff in as well. It is family friendly so there are puns strewn about but it works in the lego universe to the point of actually being funny. I also really dig skydiving off the helicarrier into New York City, that never gets old.
6. Super Mario 3D World
For a 3rd time, in my top 10 franchise article, I talk about how important Super Mario is to me. Trust me when I say, this is a perfect Super Mario game. Every aspect of it is very much like being a kid again, I would play this till my eyes bled if I were a child. As an adult, it just filled me with sense of wonderment. The level design is genius with having you think outside the box to get green stars and other treats. The new power ups don’t feel like weird add ons but like legitimate parts of the game you need to complete tasks. The catsuit is so much fun to use and makes each playable character adorable. Speaking of each playable character, having a small but brilliant call back to Super Mario Bros. 2 and being able to play as Toad (fastest character), Princess Peach (ability to float for a small duration), Luigi (Jumps the highest), and of course Mario (rounded out abilities) is a great way to make the game have long lasting playability. If you own a Wii U and don’t have this or plan on getting it, you are a fool.
5. Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto has always been a great franchise, I talk about my love of this franchise in the same article i’ve spoken of 3 times now. GTA V was one of the games that I had been excited for for a long time because of Rockstar’s track record. I love the story in this game, it’s the best part to me, even if all 3 characters are completely deplorable. One very interesting thing about it to me is the gameplay is basically Rockstar’s greatest hits. The shooting mechanic is from Red Dead Redemption and Michael's slow motion shooting is from Max Payne 3, the driving mechanic is from Midnight Club and Franklin’s slow motion driving is from the Midnight Club: Los Angeles,Tennis feels very much like Table Tennis, Trevor’s rage mode is from The Warriors game (even though it was awful), Hell, you even do Smuggler Runs. Now I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing because they make the game very fun and playable but a possible bad thing because it lacks innovation like the other games had done. Either way, it’s a great game and one that anyone should pick up.
4. The Last of Us
I was introduced to this game back in E3 2012 long before the reason for the apocalypse in the game was given. After seeing the infected people, Naughty Dog released a small video about the cordycep fungus. This was a huge clue to people what the game was about. I’m telling you this because it made the anticipation for it so much more palpable. After having to deal with the infected and seeing them up close, it was quite clear that naughty dog put a load of thought into every aspect of this game. the opener to the game sets up a perfect mood for the rest of the story that not many other games can do. Having a simple control scheme is great, using that same control scheme to do various things is brilliant. I love that this game can be both an action game, a stealth game, a survival horror and puzzle game. No other game this year pulls this off with such grace.
3. Tomb Raider
When I talk about gaming with my friends, I ask them “In one word, why do you play video games?” The answer I give every time is FUN. This game is simply that, FUN, every second of it was a joy. Now I’m not blind to the irony of calling a game fun where a young woman is constantly injured and almost killed. I just simply couldn’t put this game down and I was sad when it was over. It was the first game where I played with a bow and arrow mechanic that actually worked. I loved the pseudo Metroid style gameplay, it was a great way to have the player think before acting. I’m absolutely awful at stealth games, usually in stealth games, if you are caught, you will die quickly because your health is intentionally low or you just fail the mission, in tomb raider, you just now have to fight more guys and getting out is very possible. The puzzles may not be the most difficult I’ve ever solved but they were still very satisfying. If you haven’t played this one yet, please do, even if it didn’t impact on you as much as it did me.
2. Bioshock Infinite
Now I will be the first to admit, the gameplay in this game is just par for the course, not terrible but not great at the same time. There is nothing the game does to advance gunplay, adding the skyhook and tears does not make for innovation in action sequences. This game makes its way to the number 2 spot because of the story. I have never lost a part of my psyche because of an ending to a game. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who still hasn’t played it but I spend hours upon hours obsessing over this games story. As a matter of fact, I thoroughly analyzed every line of dialog to understand more of the story due to its complexity. I have to stop now before I spoil something, just play this if you haven’t.
1. Saints Row IV
This is probably a huge surprise to anyone reading this list. As I talk about in the Tomb Raider section of this list, this game is just fun. From the opening stage, 3 hours in, all the way to the ending, it never stops being fun. I loved Saints Row 3, it was a surprise to me because I wasn’t a fan of the first 2 due to them simply being GTA clones, Saints row 3 and 4 stray away from that connotation so strongly, they become their own entities. Now I will admit that the game is glitchy constantly, it has problems all over the place but what makes this genius is you are in a simulation the entire time, any glitch is explained away brilliantly. I love to laugh and this game made me laugh all the time. Between the great dialog, the music choices, the subtle references to pop culture, the weaponry, it never stops being amazing, hilarious and highly entertaining. I urge you to play this one because it deserves to be praised for it’s ridiculous brilliance.
What are your top games of 2013? Did you think my list was stupid? What games are you excited for in 2014? Let us know in the comments below, on your Facebook fan page or tweet us at @MissionStartP