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Dan Teasdale's Top 10 Games of 2013

Hey, Brad? Maybe don't read this list.

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Dan Teasdale is the game designer responsible for Army Men: RTS, Destroy All Humans!, The Gunstringer, the majority of Rock Band games not featuring The Beatles, and the most important app of our generation, Super Drake Tracker 2000 EX. His current project, Roundabout, is scheduled for release next year.

Sorry, Brad. I found ten games I liked better than Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.

To be honest, I actually found a couple dozen games that I liked better than Brothers, but that’s because I’m just the kind of guy that didn’t end up furiously weeping about painting a sheep or whatever was in the ten minutes of the demo I played.

I’m sure it’s a fantastic game once you’ve dyed a full collection of sheep sweaters, I just had too many games in the backlog to get through to see instead. I feel bad enough that I didn’t get to play New Zelda or New Mario enough for this list, or that the Pokemon bug didn’t bite me. It’s almost guaranteed that my 2013 Top 10 will be dramatically different in mid-2014.

My Tied-for-#11 Picks: Don’t Starve, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, The Novelist, Kerbal Space Program’s campaign mode update, Motocross Madness’ exploration mode, Antichamber, Tearaway, Peggle 2.

10. Divekick

I’m an old man unable to compete in the fast paced playboy world of eSports. The last fighter I was competitive in was Virtua Fighter 3, and even that was the slowed down PAL version. Divekick lets me dive and kick other people like I was twenty years younger. Essentially, Divekick is the horny goat weed of fighting games. It’s impressive that a flash game made by an alleged drunkard could have such depth and lasting value.

Why it’s better than Brothers: Has similar “two input” controls, but allows you to use them for diving and kicking instead of emotions.

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9. World of Warcraft’s Timeless Isle

Wait, don’t close the tab, hear me out.

MMOs are about workout-like discipline. You must invest hours to get to max level, which lets you invest hours for items to be allowed to invest more hours in a dungeon.

If most MMOs are a long workout, Timeless Isle is a combination Cheesecake Factory/Sizzler all you can eat drive thru buffet. Purples drop continuously from chests on floating clouds. Boss Rares spawn constantly, and you don’t have to be in a group to get the rewards from the kill.

The best part is that it takes all of the things that made raids with guilds fun and condensed them down to something that you can log in for 10 minutes during a break. Timeless Isle makes hardcore play more casual than some iPhone games. It’s ridiculous and I love it.

Why it’s better than Brothers: In Brothers you have to get help to avoid a “killer whale-like fish”. In the Timeless Isle, you and probably twenty other people get to sprint after a rare shark called Evermaw and stab the crap out of him while shapeshifted as a monkey dressed in an old fashioned diving helmet.

(Yeah, I’ve hit the point where I’ve opened up the Wikipedia page for Brothers.)

8. Just Cause 2 Multiplayer Mod

This is a last minute addition, but it’s so good that it bumped Peggle 2 off the list. PEGGLE GODDAMNED 2, a game I am addicted to and have an unobjective stake in promoting because of my friends that worked on it. Just a few minutes of JC-MP is enough to convert almost anyone.

The premise is simple: take Just Cause 2, add 1,500 simultaneous players, give them bounties on their heads and optional events to compete in. It’s perfect. Even better, it’s free if you own Just Cause 2 on PC.

It’s what GTA Online should have been, and it’s ridiculous than an unofficial mod group nailed exactly what open world multiplayer should be instead of the multi-million behemoth stumble that was GTA Online.

Why it’s better than Brothers: In Brothers, you jump over some big pieces of ice. In JC-MP, you can jump off a floating airship nightclub to hijack a helicopter, then use that helicopter’s rockets to collect the bounties of a good dozen people who weren’t smart enough to jump off too - right until a cargo plane smashes into you from the side.

7. Tomb Raider

A late entry in the Year of the Bow, Tomb Raider made me want to shoot arrows everywhere more than any other YOTB entrant. I felt dirty using a gun. More importantly though, it returned Tomb Raider to a franchise that isn’t awkwardly embarrassing to talk about with people outside of video games.

Why it’s better than Brothers: Unlike in Brothers, Lara is an Actual Human Woman and not a spider pretending to be a woman whose sole point is to kill a dude.

6. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Black Flag is a game where I get to own a pirate ship and sail around exploring caves and climbing rocks. I guess there’s some weird assassin thing too, and a surprise early plot twist stolen from Blackadder Goes Forth, but that’s just the filler between me taking over the ocean and assembling a fleet of pirate ships.

Why it’s better than Brothers: One of the brothers is scared of swimming. Edward is basically king of the ocean. No contest.

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5. Star Wars Pinball

I love pinball. I am not good at most pinball games, with the rare exception of Black Knight 2000 and Medieval Madness, both of which I am a champion at.

Right now, I am the best person on my friends list at the Empire Strikes Back table in Star Wars Pinball on PC, Xbox 360, and Vita. I’m sure I’d destroy everyone on PS3 too if I bothered to plug it back in. The table is nice, fun, and has a bunch of really great gameplay features, sure, but the ability for me to cross platform gloat is fantastic.

Why it’s better than Brothers: Unlike Brothers, it was not a part of the VGX awards.

4. The Last of Us

The Last of Us is good, but the last hour is what pushed it into top ten territory for me. It’s small things like Ellie not coming over when you call her, or just wanting the game to end at the giraffe scene so you don’t have to see the consequences of the journey. It sets in a thread of guilt that the ending few minutes punish you for in a way that I wasn’t expecting.

Why it’s better than Brothers: You want emotions? I’d buy that giraffe scene alone for $15 no questions asked.

3. The Stanley Parable

It’s really tough to talk about The Stanley Parable without spoiling any of it. There’s a demo out which is completely different from the game and worth checking out, so grab that!

Stanley hit all my weak points: a narrator that sounds like Peter Jones, a small world that’s dense and explorable even though it’s a Dear Esther-like, and a very specific side path which is basically just a huge middle finger for completionists.

How much better than Brothers is it? 8.

2. Papers, Please

As part of moving to the United States and becoming a resident here, I had to sit in many consulate waiting rooms in many countries. Some had culturally representative TV to watch like “Divorce Court”. Most were dozens of chairs on one side, some glass windowed booths on the other, and hours-long waits where you hear every conversation going on at those booths.

The majority of the people who sat with me for hours were rejected. One guy was denied entry to the US because one of the dozen forms he had was “expired”. There was no unexpired version of that form available for him to fill out. I was rejected once because I stupidly thought I could pay for my entry visa with “cash” or “credit card”, when the correct answer was “with a receipt from one very specific store hidden in the bowels of Nassau”.

Papers, Please is the Euro Truck Simulator of immigration, but even more brilliant than that because it’s actually fun. I got joy from detaining people and strip searching them. It turned me into everything I hated, made me love it for doing so, then slapped me across the face. The only reason it isn’t #1 is because I don’t think I can bear the stress to replay it for the alternate endings.

Why it’s better than Brothers: Papers, Please is a story about how you need to do terrible things to keep your family alive. Brothers appears to be about two kids that have no idea how to get to a Walgreens.

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1. Grand Theft Auto V

Yeah, I know, big surprise. Sorry that this list wasn’t “My Top 9 Games and something to be different from everyone else who picked GTA or The Last of Us”.

The little touches are what makes GTA V for me. It provided a blueprint for multiple protagonists that next gen AAA is almost assuredly going to lift. They made me care about owning my own car in a game where you can steal anything. Holding forward to constantly loop up a fire escape is a tiny addition that’s fantastic. There are entire chunks of that map that are built out just to make the world feel cool--no missions in them, no secrets, just world building for the sake of making Los Santos feel real.

Yes, the story is weak in the middle and the online pales in comparison to JC-MP, but the world the main game exists in makes that irrelevant to me. I played GTA V for weeks after finishing it. It’s beautifully built in a way that only Rockstar North knows the secret sauce to. I’m actually looking forward to paying more money and playing it again on next gen/PC when that inevitable release comes out.

Why it’s better than Brothers: It’s a band of three brothers. By definition, it’s at least 50% better.