The Best & Worst Video Games of 2013
It’s time for my Best & Worst of the year. This is my fourth such entry here at Toomanywires (2010-2011-2012).
In this, the Year of Luigi, I played far fewer games than in recent years. This was not due to a lack of selection, as there were some great games this year and I had more platforms than ever to enjoy them on. Time constraints were more of an issue, but the main cause of this relative shortage was the nature of the games I played and how I played them.
The first half of the year was dominated by a couple of huge titles in which I invested hundreds of hours. Instead of rushing through games as I have done in the past, I chose to dwell on favoured experiences. This meant that I played far fewer games than I'd have liked, but got far more enjoyment from those I did.
What the list below lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality. It is also quite a varied list, featuring AAA, indies, imports, more RPGs than usual and, for the first time in recent memory, not even a hint of Call of Duty.
PLAYED: Aliens: Colonial Marines, Attack of the Friday Monsters!, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, Dragon's Dogma, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, God of War Ascension, Grand Theft Auto V, Hatsune Miku Project Diva f, Lollipop Chainsaw, Metal Gear Rising, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Nintendo Land, Persona 4 Golden, Rayman Legends, Resogun, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, Spelunky, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PS3 DLC), The Last of Us, The Walking Dead (Season 1), The Walking Dead: 400 Days, Thomas Was Alone, Tomb Raider, Yakuza 5
CURRENTLY PLAYING: Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, Bravely Default, Super Mario 3D World
BOUGHT THIS YEAR BUT HAVE YET TO PLAY: Bioshock Infinite, Deadly Premonition Director’s Cut, Fire Emblem Awakening, Killzone Shadowfall, Need for Speed Rivals, Persona 4 Arena, Sine Mora, Zombii U
These are the best and worst games of 2013 spread across a variety of categories. Let me know what you think in the comments below, and be sure to share some of your own picks.
Enjoy your Games and have a Happy New Year
1. Game of the Year: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
2013: the year I finally got Monster Hunter! I’m not sure what, if anything, changed from my previous attempts to cosy up to Capcom’s number one, Big-in-Japan series, but this was the year in which Monster Hunter finally made sense.
Monster Hunter is the ultimate grind, but the nice kind. The sense of progression in Ultimate, a polished and expanded version of Tri, is terrific. It is in the clothes you wear and the swords you swing, fashioned from the beasts you have slayed, and in the satisfaction that comes from felling a huge creature that was once beyond you. Everything that is great about MH3U is even better when enjoyed with others, which is why the majority of my two hundred hours was spent co-op hunting.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate also wins Portable Game of the Year. Despite owning both the Wii U and 3DS versions, I spent far more time enjoying it on Nintendo’s portable than on the big screen. Here’s hoping Capcom see fit to localise MH4 in 2014.
Honourable Mentions: Persona 4 Golden (A 2013 release in Europe), Grand Theft Auto V
2. Downloadable Game of the Year: Resogun
Resogun owned my December, despite some stiff competition. A month removed from my PlayStation 4 purchase, and with the Platinum and a (formerly) Top 40 score in the bag, I still can’t turn on my PS4 without having at least one quick go on Resogun. Unfortunately for Assassin’s Creed 4 and Killzone Shadowfall, “one quick go” almost always turns into seven. It is deceptively deep, offers a well-balanced challenge and looks great too. Well done Housemarque, you have done it again.
Honourable Mention: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
3. Best pre-2013 Game Played This Year: Ryu ga Gotoku 5 (Yakuza 5)
I finally gave up on an English version of Yakuza 5 when, a couple of months ago, series creator Toshihiro Nagoshi announced that there were no immediate plans for a localisation. There have since been suggestions that Sony could step in and head-up the translation, but I’m happy that I took the plunge and imported anyway. This is a huge game – my play through clocked in at 50 hours – and although it is not as consistent as Yakuza 4, its highlights are some of the best of an outstanding series.
Featuring The Walking Dead and Dragon’s Dogma, this might be the strongest category this year. But Yakuza is Yakuza and Kazuma will not be denied.
Honourable Mentions: The Walking Dead (S1), Dragon's Dogma
4. Best New IP: The Last of Us
Naughty Dog are a rather talented bunch. As if it weren’t enough to create my favourite series of the last console cycle, they also saw out the seventh gen in style with one of the best new IPs of the last few years. ND excels at creating interesting and believable characters, and the relationship between Joel and Ellie was a memorable one. The Last of Us is the Citizen Kane of games about fungus infections.
Honourable Mentions: Resogun, Bravely Default
5. Biggest Disappointment: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
I was convinced that my love of all things Metal Gear would trump my indifference to Platinum’s past output. Unfortunately, this was not the case. I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest fan of hack-and-slash action games, but even still, Rising bored me more than it ought. The music was abhorrent, the visuals dull and the combat repetitive. A couple of the boss encounters were fun, but otherwise this is a Metal Gear I would rather forget.
Dishonourable Mention: Final Fantasy XIV - by all accounts a very good game but, as much as I wanted to, I could not get into it
6. Out of the Blue: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
I knew nothing of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. It arrived with little fanfare and, if it wasn’t for word of mouth, I would probably never have played it. It is a wonderfully simple and touching adventure, one that asks you to control two brothers at the same time, one with each analog stick, as they search a fantasy landscape for a cure for their dying father. It is one of the last games I played in 2013 and is also one of the best.
Honourable Mention: Attack of the Friday Monsters!
7. Proudest Moment: Resogun High Score
One hundred and thirty seven million. That is my Resogun high score on Experienced, which, when I first posted it two weeks ago, was good for 39th on the world rankings. I was rather pleased with myself, and having never been that high on a leader board of any sort before, I made sure that loved ones and the rest of the internet knew all about it. This is your reminder: 137,442,460
Honourable Mention: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate - Breaking Hunter Rank 8
8. Best Character: Persona 4 Golden’s Investigation Team
I didn’t have high hopes for a cast of Japanese teenagers. Their conversations, day to day activities and voice acting should have annoyed the hell out of me. However, I quickly became attached to Yousuke, Yukiko, Kanji and the crew, and have come to regard them as one of the best ever RPG casts. They were funny, interesting and well written, crucial in a game that asked you to spend a year with the same, small group of characters.
Honourable Mention: Joel & Ellie (The Last of Us)
9. Best Multiplayer: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
When tackled alone, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is very good. When played with others, it is something special. I went on a few hunts with the people of the internet but almost all of my co-op hunting was done with my wife, the dual blade wielder to my long sword swinger. A constant supply of new and varied missions meant that we were never short of challenges, and despite spending 150 hours killing together, we still have no end of creatures left to slaughter. When I look back at gaming in 2013, it’s Monster Hunting with my wife that I recall most fondly.
Honourable Mention: Grand Theft Auto V
10. Fastest Shelving: Lollipop Chainsaw
Aliens Colonial Marines was piss poor and I got little joy from Metal Gear Rising, but I stuck with them both to the bitter end, something I could not bear to do with Lollipop Chainsaw. Suda 51 is broken and Lollipop Chainsaw is devoid of redeeming features. I have yet to play Killer is Dead, and quite possibly never will, but the consensus is that it is also tripe. Perhaps Killer 7 and No More Heroes were anomalies; a depressing thought.
Dishonourable Mention: Spelunky (not my cup of tea)
11. Most Underwhelmingly Competent Game: God of War Ascension
God of War Ascension was alright. It had Kratos in it, which was nice. He butchered some mythical creatures too, which was to be expected. I can’t really remember anything else about it. Actually, no wait, there was something about that thing, and……….no, it’s gone.
12. Best Final Fantasy: Bravely Default
Bravely Default is Final Fantasy in everything but name. Good Final Fantasy, that is. The job system is very similar to that of FFV and FF Tactics and the setting reminds me a lot of FFIX, which is definitely a good thing. Hats off to Square Enix for returning to the essence of Final Fantasy, even if they did have to abandon the franchise name they have spent the last generation sullying.
13. Return to Form: Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
I really enjoyed 2009’s Bound in Blood and was over the moon to learn that Call of Juarez was returning to its cowboy roots. This download only title is fast paced, arcade fun and tells a surprisingly entertaining story, one that implausibly brings together some of the most infamous figures of the Old West. Now we can all forget about the abysmal Cartel and keep our fingers crossed for more 19th Century Juarez.
Honourable Mention: Tomb Raider
14. The Far Cry 3 Award for Outstanding Tropics: Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag
Unfortunately, Black Flag is not the return to form that Assassin’s Creed so desperately needed, but thanks to its setting, it is definitely worth your time. The cities are forgettable, but the oceans and desert islands of the Caribbean are beautiful and are begging to be explored. Out at sea, something special always seems to be happening, be it a rogue wave, squall or a surfacing whale, and at times you can’t resist throwing yourself overboard just to have a swim in those beautiful, blue waters.
15. Standout Moment: Grand Theft Auto V – Heists
Heists were the most coherent and enjoyable part of Grand Theft Auto V. They provided focus in a narrative that often wandered and the build-up to each felt worthwhile and believable as necessary preparation for your intended crimes. They superbly incorporated all the different elements of GTA – driving, piloting and super violence – and the promise of online heists has prevented me from putting GTA V back on the shelf.
Honourable Mentions: Rhythmical platforming in Rayman Legends; Yakuza 5: Kazuma Kiryu vs. the world + rocket launchers
16. Most Frustrating Wardrobe: Tomb Raider
It’s cold, the wind is howling and it is pissing down with rain. Lara is freezing her pretty little arse off, but then that’s to be expected when she is wearing a vest. She has plenty of opportunities to scavenge more sensible clothing from her vanquished enemies, but apparently she really likes going sleeveless. I thoroughly enjoyed this reboot, but I just wish Lara would have dressed more appropriately.
17. Wish I'd Made Time For: Fire Emblem Awakening
I have no excuse. I just kept putting it off. I will play Fire Emblem Awakening at some point, some point soon, and I’m sure I will love it. Saying that, Bravely Default will be my 3DS game of choice well into the New Year, and then things look set to get interesting on PS4 from February onwards. Shit.