I have to admit, I like doing these "best of the year" lists. It feels like I get to give out awards that matter. I really didn't play a ton of games this year (nightmare year from hell at work that made me work a lot of late nights). But, I've had time lately to fit in some games. For this reason, my list will only be five instead of the usual 10. I will follow this up with a few honorable mentions (games I liked, but just couldn’t fill out a list of 10), and games that I missed and I really want to play (badly!). Lastly, how about we hit the disappointment of the year award.
My favorite games of the year:
Number 5: Dust: An Elysian Tail
Cartoonish characters? Check. Immature, anime humor? Double check. Short, ten hour length? Checkers. All the things that normally keep me from liking a game? Yes, many accounted for! So, why the hell did I like this game??? And, why the hell is it number 5 on my list instead of Mass Effect 3? Have you played this game? It is fucking awesome! Yeah, it's a little short, but the fact that I felt it was too short is only a testament to how much I wanted more by the end. Even the anime-like humor was mostly bearable and entertaining - I’m embarrassed to admit that I found myself chuckling from time to time. The story was unique, and although I'll admit the cartoonish look to the characters distracted slightly from the plot, I still enjoyed it a lot. Give it a chance.
Number 4: Assassin's Creed 3
I love this series. I disagree with most out there; I thought the game started out strong. I loved the Hatham character too. The new, main character, Connor, was a great addition, Hatham could have been a better main if they had pursued it. I loved the setting, the art, the characters, and the blunt honesty of the interactions with famous American's that I've always felt were untouchable by video games. Unfortunately, signs that the game was farmed out to several smaller studios within Ubisoft became much too evident throughout the game and caused the pacing to go to hell. Also, the controls were often unresponsive and jank was rampant throughout. The ending came too quickly and too much focus was given to the ass-terrible Desmond story (Ubisoft, I beg you, please kill Desmond so we can just focus on the historical characters!!!!! please!). Even with these big downfalls, the game is still one of the best of the year and a joy to play.
Number 3: The Walking Dead
Check out my review on this game. It made me cry... Do I need any other reasons for it to make my list? Okay, the art is great, the writing is better than most TV shows and movies, the characters are endearing, the voice acting was perfect, the choices and situations kept me on the edge of my seat, etc. The only thing that I can think of to say against it is that it kept throwing those darn item-grab sections that slowed down the pace of the game a bit (VERY small gripe).
Number 2: Borderlands 2
I loved the humor. I loved the endless guns to collect. I loved the long length of the campaign. But, most of all, I loved the co-op! I would sometimes stalk my friends on PSN and wait until they logged in so I could invite them to my game. Many nights were well wasted trying to finish all the rounds in the arenas. Also, the new game plus version is great too. All I want to do right now is get my friends online and play some Borderlands 2 co-op. Gearbox, please raise the level cap!!!!
Number 1: Journey
Yep, I thought I'd join the VGA bandwagon and give my Game of the Year award to a Downloadable game. Truthfully, that isn't the case though. I knew Journey was going to be a game that I would like well before it came out. However, when I finally did play it, it was better than I imagined. I loved the vast, desolate expanses. I loved the artwork. The music haunted me. The steady progression and simple, yet fun, puzzles kept me entertained. But, in the end, it was the original take on online play that surprised me. The lack of voice chat (or any chat at all other than a single chirping sound) made the occasional companion that joined you a welcome comrade. I had several emotionally impacting experiences with other players. It was raw and I loved it. I even drew a heart in the sand with my footsteps at the end without know if the person I was playing with was a guy or a gal - this single gaming experience helped break down the years of subjective prejudice that’s been instilled in me. It felt great. Although the online anonymity was part of this, I think it was more a kinship that I felt with my comrade that followed me through the virtual trials that make Journey so great. What a beautifully polished, transcendent game.
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted. Not Paradise City 2, but still a great game to play when you want to listen to a podcast. Not Paradise City 2.....
- Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy. I played this on the iOS. It is a freaking micro-transaction money-grab from hell... I can't stop playing this game... Please help me because I am now part of the problem... Please help!
Games I missed (lack of money and time) that I wished I would have gotten to:
- Halo 4 - Got just got this as a gift for Christmas. Will follow up later with a review.
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown
- Farcry 3
And, now for the award you've all been waiting for (drum-roll): The Disappointment of the Year Award
This has to go to Mass Effect 3. Not because it was a bad game. And not because of the ending - I never finished it because my save file was erased just before the ending. It was disappointing because it had, "released too early" and "not made by the same team that made 1 and 2" written all over it. Oh, how I just wanted a continuation of Mass Effect 2 (without the Terminator), but, instead I got a 3/4 finished game full of jank and bugs all over. Most of the best parts were kept from the game for pre-orders and DLC (purely, sleazily, dishonest if you ask me). I still enjoyed the parts that were finished, but I just couldn't bring myself to suffering through that game again after my first save was erased. I can go to my grave without knowing the ending to the Mass Effect series I guess.
So I don't end on a negative note, please play the games in my top 5; they are worth it! Here's to a safe and wonderful 2013 for you all.