Amazing games I played this year that were not released in 2013
I want to start off by giving a nod to the great games I played this year that were not actually released this year. The real standouts for me personally were Nintendo Land, New Super Mario Bros. U, ZombiU, Forza Horizon, Killzone, Killzone Liberation, Ratchet: Deadlocked, Starhawk, Vanquish, God of War: Ghost of Sparta, Sleeping Dogs, and Pokemon Trading Card Game Online. Nintendo Land is an absolutely fantastic game that is grossly under-appreciated. It has provided me hours of multiplayer fun and the Metroid cooperative stuff is also really really really really really good. New Super Mario Bros. U is hands down the greatest 2 player sidescroller that is currently out there. ZombiU's king of the zombies multiplayer is a lot of fun (I still haven't gotten around to the campaign). Forza Horizon is the only Xbox 360 game I spent any significant amount of time with this year but the driving felt nice and unique and the open world was also pretty cool. The decal tools were almost as good as the ones in ModNation Racers. Killzone is a corridor shooter with a super cheesy and lovable story which also continues in Killzone Liberation. It is a shame they pissed away all that character development with Killzone 2. Ratchet Deadlocked is lots of fun to play through in coop although the framerate gets really iffy when things start to get crowded. Starhawk has one of the best soundtracks ever in a video game. I wish they had made the gameplay more akin to your standard third person shooter and fleshed out the story a bit more. Space cowboys is a fucking awesome aesthetic and I wish that they could have done more with the campaign. Vanquish is a bananas game. I had no idea what was going on with the story or even the levels but damn was it fun. God of War: Ghost of Sparta is another really great God of War game. The shield and spear weapon was fun to use. Sleeping Dogs is absolutely fantastic and I am ashamed that I did not pick it up sooner. Everything about it is just beautiful. Pokemon Trading Card Game Online taught me how to play the card game and I had a ton of fun battling online and building up a deck. It is free to play and I recommend you all check it out. Nintendo should work on bringing it to the Wii U ASAP.
List of 2013 Games I Played
Here is a list of every 2013 release that I played. In parenthesis I mention which system I played them on. I also say a few words about the games that are not in my actual top 10.
- BIT.TRIP Presents: Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien (PS3)
- An endless runner that looks nice and has a great soundtrack.
- Divekick (PS3 and Vita)
- Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable (Vita)
- A portable version of EDF. It is what it is.
- Game & Wario (Wii U)
- In my Top 10.
- God of War: Ascension (PS3)
- In my Top 10.
- Guacamelee! (PS3 and Vita)
- Using the Vita as a Wii U like controller for the PS3 was neat. I preferred the original Tales from Space.
- Hotline Miami (Vita)
- Cool soundtrack and aesthetic.
- Injustice: Gods Among Us (PS3)
- Why couldn't they have just made MK vs DC 2? The story here was really good but I don't care about most of the DC universe and I also don't care for the changes they made to the combat.
- Lego City Undercover (Wii U)
- Absolutely charming story and characters. Big world. Load times suuuuucked.
- New Super Luigi U (Wii U)
- In my Top 10.
- Pikmin 3 (Wii U)
- In my Top 10
- Pokemon Rumble U (Wii U)
- NFC figures were a neat idea. If only the game was more fleshed out and they had released more figures.
- Pokemon X (2DS)
- In my Top 10.
- Rayman Legends (Wii U)
- The second greatest 2D platformer released this year.
- Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken (Vita)
- As great on Vita as it has been on every other system it has graced. Tweaks they made were all for the better.
- Soul Sacrifice (Vita)
- In my Top 10.
- Spelunky (PS3 and Vita)
- Most meh game of the year (that I played).
- Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)
- In my Top 10.
- The Wonderful 101 (Wii U)
- In my Top 10.
- The Last of Us (PS3)
- In my Top 10.
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist (Wii U)
- Great use of the gamepad. Load times, no local coop, and dead online competitive kept an otherwise solid game out of my top 10.
- Urban Trial Freestyle (Vita)
- In my Top 10.
And now without further ado, here are my top 10 games of 2013.
This is my pick up and play portable game of the year. It is a knockoff of Trials and while the gameplay isn't as tight it is close enough and it can be played anywhere. Trying to get all five stars on all the levels is a fun challenge and so is collecting all the sacks of money that are well hidden throughout the tracts. I would often play this while listening to a podcast and it was great fun to just zone out to. It isn't the prettiest game nor is it the most original, but it is a lot of fun and at the end of the day that is what I look for in video games.
I really loved the way that this game told its story. The way that the book that told the stories was a character which also served as the menu was all very neat. While the main story was good what I found even better were the side stories. I would have loved it if they had included a few more of those short stories that followed different characters for a few levels. The gameplay itself was slightly repetitive but still a lot of fun. Fighting those giant enemies that would deal a ridiculous amount of damage with other players online was an absolute blast. The sacrifice mechanic was also neat with super moves leaving you extremely vulnerable and having some people take one for the team and sacrifice themselves to deal a good chunk of damage to the boss. I came very very close to getting the platinum trophy in this game but unfortunately my memory card got corrupted, I lost all my data and I never played it again. :(
For those of you keeping count, this is the sixth God of War game. At this point most people know whether they love or hate this franchise. I personally still find the combat in these games second to none. Ascension has the best combat in the series and when playing on hard it is also the most difficult. Sony Santa Monica have mastered the blades of chaos and I can not imagine what else they could possibly do to improve them. While it is a bit of a bummer that the story is basically nonexistent and there are no secondary weapons at all, the enemies and locations are all really gorgeous. The part where you are riding on the snake trains in particular is one of my favorite set pieces in the franchise. The multiplayer is also a lot of fun and quite different from anything else currently out there.
7. Game & Wario
This game should have been ready for the launch of the Wii U, and it should have been the pack in game with the system instead of Nintendo Land. Game & Wario makes great use of the gamepad with its mini games and has tons of stuff to keep you occupied. Your mileage may very on these kinds of games but both me and my brother got pretty competitive trying to beat each others high scores in the varies mini games and they all lend themselves well to short pick up and play sessions. The multiplayer games (with the exception of the disco one) are all a lot of fun to play in a larger group, especially Sketch. If you ever have people coming over I recommend this game just as much as Nintendo Land.
6. Pikmin 3
Pikmin 3 is a video game that made me feel all the feelings. There are few things more adorable than Pikmin, and there are few worse feeling then the sight of 50 of them getting dragged to the bottom of a sinkhole and getting swallowed by an animal like Boba Fett. Pikmin 3 is a beautiful game that never really lets you soak it all in thanks to the dwindling sunlight and constant risk of starvation. The game can get really stressful at times and lossing a Pikmin is never not painful. The gamepad being used for the map and swapping between characters is very useful and helps you manage all the chaos. The Bingo Battle mode is also lots of fun to play and I wish that they had implemented online play for both that and the coop sections. Oh well, maybe they will add that to Pikmin 4 when it comes out in another ten years.
It is a cooperative 3D platformer. That in and of itself is really damn awesome. Add to that some awesome level design and gameplay and you have yourself a damn fine game. The variety of levels present is great and I really liked how despite the overworlds having single themes (desert, snow, lava, etc.) the actual levels themselves feature no sort of pattern or relation to the world they are in. The power-ups present are all really amazing and each of the characters has there own unique feel. The difficulty definitely starts to ramp up in the later levels but rarely does it feel unfair. I played through the game cooperatively and there was only one level that appeared very late where it felt like it was made with absolutely zero consideration for multiple players. Other than that I really loved just being able to play a 3D Mario game together with someone else.
The Last of Us tells one of the best stories I have ever seen in a video game. In the hands of another developer I could have easily seen them taking this games story and splinting it into at least four different games, there is that much there. That said, for as good as the story is I felt that the combat was too clunky. I understand that an argument can be made for why it was designed this way to fit with the world and immersion and all that jazz but the game has a fucking flamethrower. I don't think there would be too many complaints if they had tightened up the controls a little bit. The online multiplayer is the best I played this year. Interrogation mode in particular is really great. The multiplayer fixes pretty much all the problems I have with the controls in the single player all while keeping the same vibe. If you have this game and haven't checked out the multiplayer for whatever reason then I strongly recommend it. It is way more fun to play then the campaign.
3. Pokemon X
The last Pokemon game I had played before this was Fire Red on the Game Boy Advanced. That said, when I played this game it seemed like a huge leap in quality from the Pokemon I used to remember playing. The new region looks good and the variety of Pokemon available is just great. The combat remains solid and mega evolutions are a welcome addition to the series. Being able to customize your character is also a nice addition although it is pretty limited. The minigames in Pokemon Amie provide a nice break from the the game and it is cool to see playing with your Pokemon have some actual effects on them in the single player. Both battling and trading online are smooth for the most part and help keep you coming back for more. That, along with the improvements made to EV training all allow a simpler way to train Pokemon that are competitive. I am not sure how iterative this is to the other DS Pokemon games but since I never played any of them but a lot of stuff here felt new and impressive to me. Especially those animations.
This game has the best story I have ever seen in a video game. It is like a Saturday morning cartoon on crack. The characters and there interactions with one another are all charming and over the top in an endearing way. The gameplay takes a while to get used to but once it finally clicks it becomes amazing. I personally played through it with the Pro Controller and found drawing the shapes with the analog stick was fine. The gameplay is broken up several times by sections that are clear homages to other famous games. The whole game oozes passion and creativity and it will have smiling at the absurdity of it all. The soundtrack is also fantastic and I have found several tunes from the game stuck in my head since playing the game. I highly recommend anyone with a Wii U to pick this game up if for nothing else than to experience the goofy story.
New Super Luigi U is a stupendous game. I dare say it is my favorite Mario game, in front of Super Mario World. While you could very easily sit down and simply play straight through the game, battle Bowser, and call it done, you would be missing out on what this game is all about. New Super Luigi U, for all its challenging platforms and short time limit, is more of a puzzle game then anything else. It is all about finding all the star coins as well as the secret exits in order to be 100% done with the game. The star coins and exits are all hidden in some ridiculously devious locations and you will bang you head against the wall trying to find them. This is where the true purpose for the time limit shines. It makes searching for these secrets much more difficult as you only have a short amount of time to search the area. Once you do finally get all the star coins and unlock Star Road you are greeted by some truley challenging platforming stages. I do not recommend you play this game with others. It is a single player with tacked on multiplayer that will only make your life more difficult. The hidden Luigi in each level is also a nice touch and shows the passion that went into making this game. If any of you are going to play this game, I highly encourage you to stay away from any and all walkthroughs. It would be like doing a Sudoku puzzle while the answer sheet is right next to you. What is the point? This game is absolutely spectacular and by far my favorite game of this year.