Greg Miller is best known for being a loudmouth and a chicken wing lover. You probably know him from his nearly seven years at IGN--where he hosts Up at Noon every Monday--but he also has a personal YouTube channel packed with shows and podcasts he’ll beg you to subscribe to if you give him the time of day. After you read his list, tell him your Top 10 on Twitter.
I know we’re supposed to hate this installment. It’s missing Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, it crashes for a lot of people, and original Arkham developer Rocksteady didn't make it. All that might be true -- I only fell through the world once -- but it’s also true that this game is fun. The combat’s engaging, the game is beautiful, and the acting is top notch. I mean, the story is one of the best the Dark Knight/Joker tales I've seen though my TV. Basically, it’s more Batman, and I’m always going to take a day off for that.
Yeah, yeah--Wii U, lol--but Super Mario 3D World is a joy to play. I breathe, so I love Mario like the rest of you, but Super Mario 3D World really addressed some of the problems I had with multiplayer Mario. Back in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, I’d play with my family and get frustrated. They were getting in the way of my jumps, they were eating up my extra lives, and they were basically screwing up my game. With the large 3D World environments, you’re able to get away from each other when you want and then come at each other to scrap for the crown. The levels are ingenious, the visuals are cute, and it’s still an intense single-player experience when you dump your noob friends. Also, there’s a cat suit.
8. Peggle 2
You don’t like Peggle? Go fuck yourself.
IT CAME OUT ON PS4 THIS YEAR, SO IT COUNTS! DC Universe Online is my most played game… ever. Back in January, the devs came on Up at Noon and clocked my total play time at more than 300 hours, so I’m well over 400 at this point. (Before you raise your pitchforks and torches, please remember that my job means I have to jump from game to game. I realize 400 hours is nothing to you. You are a Gaming God. I am a peasant.) When I was a kid, I told a friend that I thought heaven would be different for every soul -- that you’d die and get rewarded with your own world. When asked what my heaven would be, I said living in Metropolis with superpowers. So, DCUO is literally heaven to me. As my main (shout out to “Taylor Swift”), I run around fighting the villains I grew up loving. Sure, the graphics aren't amazing and there are plenty of glitches, but there’s a community that I love and source material that can’t be beat.
I don’t think I made it more than three hours into Assassin's Creed III, and I don’t like pirate movies. So when Ubisoft announced Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, I rolled my eyes and went back to dreaming about DCUO Armor. But then, I played it at PAX. That 15-minute demo was all I needed. I was hooked. Black Flag is the best parts of Assassin’s Creed mixed with the best parts of Far Cry 3. I get to roam the ocean obsessively collecting random crap, taking over islands, and murdering bad guys. Hell, I was “meh” on ship combat, but then I upgraded the Jackdaw, and now, I’m hooked on that, too. Black Flag is fun; it’s a great video game.
I don’t know how you want me to spin this to make it fit for 2013. This year, I reviewed 400 Days, I played all of Season 1 and the DLC on Vita, and I started Season 2 by polishing off Episode 1. Plain and simple, I love this franchise. When a new installment comes around, my world revolves around it. I plow through it for myself, then I do it again, and then I spend the next few days talking to friends about it. Telltale’s just so good at creating characters I care about; I have to see what happens next. I’m a guy who hates replaying games, but I replay every episode of The Walking Dead to see how different choices affect the relationships. I know the game catches hell for not running well and for choices not being as significant as some would like (both being justified complaints), but for me, The Walking Dead is about more than performance. I love these people and want to see what happens next.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is still my favorite Zelda, but A Link Between Worlds gave it a run for its money. ALBW is great at cutting through Nintendo’s crap and giving you a Zelda game that’s all about doing. There’s no lengthy intro where you lament not having a fairy and have to work your way up to having a wood sword. You start it, and you’re on an epic adventure taking you from interesting dungeon to interesting dungeon. All the weapons are there for the taking, it’s easy to get lost finding Maiamai babies, and fighting StreetPass Shadow Links is enough to keep me booting the game up long after I've beaten it.
A Metroidvania-style platformer/fighter that packs PS3/Vita cross-save, is funny, and challenges my skills? Shut the front door; I’m sold. Developer Drinkbox Studios made one of the best Vita games in Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack, and the developers followed it up with one of the best games of 2013 in Guacamelee. Yes, a few of the later bosses had me screaming obscenities and threatening to punt this motherbeyonding handheld out the window, but I always came back for more. Guacamelee walks that fine line of feeling familiar and brand new at the same time. It’s a throwback feeling that’s packing brand new ideas. It’s a must play.
The Last of Us is 2013’s best example of gameplay and story coming together to make a complete package. Whether it’s the stunning performances from Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, the amazing visuals, or the intense gameplay that had me dreading what was around the corner, The Last of Us is a masterpiece. It creates a world we don’t want to live in and tells a story we might not want to hear. In the end, it finishes its own way -- no A or B choice for the gamer--and while I didn't agree with the final decisions, that’s one of the reasons I love it. It's unflinchingly Naughty Dog’s story. This is what the developers wanted to say.
1. Gone Home
Let’s be clear. Over on IGN, I’m voting for The Last of Us as IGN Game of the Year. I think that game is the total package and one I’d point to and say “This is as good as gaming was in 2013.” However, this is a list of my favorite games--and to me, there’s a big difference between being a critic and being a gamer. Here I don’t need to worry about the balance between gameplay and story; I can just tell you what moved me. The game that left an indelible mark on my heart in 2013 was Gone Home. It scared me, it surprised me, and it made me go hug my girlfriend as soon as the credits rolled. This is an experience I’m going to talk about for years to come when the subject of storytelling comes up--it made me feel things no other game has. I went into it like I hope you have (and if you haven’t, go): I knew nothing other than I needed to play it without reading a review. Once it started, the next two hours were a sea of emotions as the game I thought I was playing turned into something else entirely and something that was far more interesting than any spirit roaming the halls of the Greenbriar household. When I think about Gone Home, I feel the rain, hear the soundtrack, and get that bittersweet feeling I just can’t shake. Gone Home might not be the "best" game of the year, but for me, it’s the most beautiful game I've ever played.