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Ken Levine's Top 10 Games of 2013

The creative lead behind BioShock Infinite rattles off the games he dedicated his scant free time to.

Ken Levine is the creative director and co-founder of Irrational Games, makers of one of this year's most oft-listed games, BioShock Infinite. When he's not creatively directing BioShock things or working on Logan's Run remake screenplays, you can often find him chatting up fans on Twitter.

So I really don’t think in terms of lists. Sometimes there’s a game I adore which I never think about after I finish, and sometimes there’s a game I’m lukewarm on that has certain influence that influence me for years. So, in short, don’t waste your time reading this list because it doesn’t mean much. However, if I had to name 10 games of 2013, I’d go with these. (P.S., they’re not in any order of importance.)

10. XCOM: Enemy Within

Hey, it’s XCom. And it's awesome, adding in rather than adding on. A great design gets better.

9. Sid Meier's Civilization V: Brave New World

Hey another expansion pack! From the company I work for. I’m either a sellout, or am the biggest Civ Whore of all time (Hint: I’m the biggest Civ Whore of all time). They will take my Civ when they pry it out my cold, dead hands.

8. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Pirates. Sword fighting. Sailing ships. Or as Churchill described the life of the old timey sailor, “Rum, sodomy and the lash.” Great game, great characters. Bravo.

7. Lords of Waterdeep (iOS)

A Euro game posing as a Dungeons and Dragons game posing as an iOS game. If I had any friends I’d play it with them, but the AI will have to do.

6. Rocksmith 2014

Yes, it really, really teaches you to play guitar. Or, it teaches me at least. I live for three things now: my career, my wife and playing the bass line of "Creep" at 4 in the morning in my bath robe.

5. Fallen Enchantress

An older game I didn’t to play until this year. Master of Magic for the modern day. Nuff said.

4. Dishonored

Was too busy shipping Infinite to play it properly when it came out, but wow. Amazingly tight, incredibly tuned, full of options, a cool looking world and around 16 tons of fun.

3. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

A magical game about a floutist. What else do I need to say that hasn’t been said, except I was never one of those haters who didn’t like the way it looked on the GameCube, and it’s even better now.

2. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

Why? Because M.O.D.O.K., that’s why!

1. Unity of Command, expansion #3? 4? Who knows.

All I do know is that I’m spending more time thinking about supply lines in the Caucuses than any human adult who’s not actually on the Eastern Front should.

102 Comments
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Posted by Nixoney

0. Bioshock: Infinite, right? ...right?

Posted by TheSouthernDandy

The image of Ken laying down a bass groove in the middle of the night in a bathrobe is pure magic.

Posted by bmccann42

Wait, wait, wait Fallen Enchantress is Master of Magic for a new generation? Sold!

Edited by BenRoyTurner

The most unique list yet.

Edited by Mercury45

Any man who enjoys a Lego game is a man I can respect. Props to Mr. Levine.

Posted by BaconGames

Huh, first mention of Wind Waker HD. Surprised given how much buzz that game got and actually convinced a few people to buy a WiiU this year.

Posted by Flacracker

Hey Ken Levine! Please make SWAT 5.

Posted by Gamer_152

Nice list and huge respect to you Mr. Levine.

Moderator
Posted by beard_of_zeus

As a man who loves board games, but doesn't have enough friends to play them that often, I can get down with Lords of Waterdeep. Digital version of board games have been a godsend for me.

The image of Ken laying down a bass groove in the middle of the night in a bathrobe is pure magic.

Haha yeah. I didn't realize this list was going to get so sexy.

Posted by Winternet

Well, I guess I'm going to spend the rest of the day thinking about Ken Levine in a bath robe. Thanks Giant Bomb.

Also, I can't help but think that Ryan would very much agree with number 2 and, mainly, its justification.

Posted by DragonNinja789

Ken Levine is such a history buff. I love it.

Edited by EuanDewar

I live for three things now: my career, my wife and playing the bass line of "Creep" at 4 in the morning in my bath robe.

ohhhhhhh that's perfect

Edited by Ravelle

Nice to see some Lego Marvel!

Edited by Hassun

@jeff @alex I think you meant "Caucasus", Ken.

Ah Mr. Levine, always a good selection of games. His Radiohead moment is wonderful. I can just see it.

Posted by dr_mantas

Interesting list.

Also. Good guy Ken Levine - says the order isn't important - still has an ordered list.

Posted by Atom

Nice selection. LOL at the Rocksmith comment.

Posted by Vrikk

Hey Ken Levine! Please make SWAT 5.

YES.

Posted by Ravenlight

Ken Levine wins by Beard of the Year award. Every year.

Posted by Hawkerace

Unity of Command is my favourite game. I love Levine, officially.

Edited by courage_wolf

Is Ken Levine a communist? Dave Lang says "Probably." Details at 10.

Edited by SeanFoster

Never heard of Unity of Command, but I'm certainly gonna give it a try now.

Posted by Asmo917

I love seeing lists with things I completely missed in this year or prior years like Unity of Command and Fallen Enchantress. Also, I'm loving Lords of Waterdeep despite the fact that I SUUUUUUUUCK at Lords of Waterdeep. I'm either making one grave strategic mistake, or every single mistake I can make.

Edited by SirChrisofCooke

Oh come on, he likes XCOM just because he's a secret hero unit in it. :D

Posted by Humanity

@vrikk said:

@flacracker said:

Hey Ken Levine! Please make SWAT 5.

YES.

This is a request that should be heading to Dave Lang.

Online
Posted by NoCookiesForYou

Great to see some Rocksmith love.

Posted by fusion42

A magical game about a floutist.

Really enjoyed this one. Made my chuckle. :D

Posted by Gunharp

@seanfoster said:

Never heard of Unity of Command, but I'm certainly gonna give it a try now.

Unity of Command is my favourite game. I love Levine, officially.

Unity of Command is the best war game (hex map style) I've ever played. Good stuff.

Edited by rmanthorp

Lego Modok?! Buying lego Marvel brb

Moderator
Posted by Oni

LEGO Marvel is fucking terrible. What the hell, Ken. What the hell.

Edited by ryanwhom

Fallen Enchantress was kinda terrible but I can appreciate the TBS love overall. I'd like to think Warlock Master of the Arcane woulda been in his top three last year based on this list.

Posted by Budwyzer

FINALLY! XCOM: Enemy Unknown makes someone's list! That was one of the few games this year that had me going straight home from work for a couple of weeks and zoning out for the next 4~5 hours.

It sucks how easily and quickly good games are forgotten because they came out 11 months ago. (Not saying XCOM came out in january, just making a point that comparing games over a year is tough unless you keep a list throughout the year and update it as you go.)

Posted by Aelric

Career first, wife second.

Posted by lightsoda
@gunharp said:

@seanfoster said:

Never heard of Unity of Command, but I'm certainly gonna give it a try now.

@hawkerace said:

Unity of Command is my favourite game. I love Levine, officially.

Unity of Command is the best war game (hex map style) I've ever played. Good stuff.

Fine, downloading demo now.

Posted by automatontribe

@hassun: I was just going to say this, but you got it first, good job! Geography nerds. :p

Posted by Mechanized

Ken has no friends? :(

Posted by ThePickle

Glad to see both Enemy Within and Brave New World get mentioned.

Edited by MonkeyKing1969

Dear Ken

It has been pretty much proven to every historian's or biographer's satisfaction that Churchill never said, "It’s nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash.” nor any facsimile of those words. It makes for a funny story, but it is not true according to history.

If you want some “rum, bum and bacca” in the next game I will support you in your quest, because why not. There are enough historical accounts of liaisons among sailors, officers, etc to make it historically worthy of inclusion. But, let's leave Winston out of it.

Posted by Hawkerace

@lightsoda:

@gunharp said:

@seanfoster said:

Never heard of Unity of Command, but I'm certainly gonna give it a try now.

@hawkerace said:

Unity of Command is my favourite game. I love Levine, officially.

Unity of Command is the best war game (hex map style) I've ever played. Good stuff.

Enjoy the thousand yard state you'll get after you barely take Stalingrad for the first time.

Posted by TheHT

Dishonored is very cool looking. It's like a dystopian eastern european Bioshock Infinite, I love it.

Edited by NTM

No, this is a bad list. It doesn't have Bioshock Infinite :P.

Posted by Turambar

adding in rather than adding on

What does this actually mean.

Posted by granderojo

Never heard of Unity of Command, but I'm certainly gonna give it a try now.

Unity of Command is seriously a great game. Haven't played the DLC yet but I love Unity of Command.

Edited by werzog

@turambar: It probably means that the core concepts of XCOM have been improved upon.

Posted by Nhoj_Sllew

i'm glad i'm not the only one who feels the best time to play guitar is 4 in the morning

Edited by Turambar

@werzog said:

@turambar: It probably means that the core concepts of XCOM have been improved upon.

Well that's one hell of an unwieldy phrase for that simple of a meaning.

Posted by SatelliteOfLove

M.O.D.O.K. reference. Somewhere, Ryan is smiling.

Pirates. Sword fighting. Sailing ships. Or as Churchill described the life of the old timey sailor, “Rum, sodomy and the lash.” Great game, great characters. Bravo.

AC4 has rotgut, gay sex, and torture? Why didn't anyone tell us about this? GOTY shit, mang! :P

Posted by Undeadpool

Ken Levine: A Man of Few Words!.........Except In Interviews Where He's Actually Quite Loquacious and Expounds at Great Length!...

Maybe not the most succinct of titles...

Posted by RadixNegative2

The picture of him sipping that drink is my favorite thing in the world.

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