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GOTY 2013

2013 was a real fucker of a year on pretty much all fronts but one: video games. For vidya, 2013 has been fucking stellar. If every year capping of a generation of hardware and games is this good, then man, I can't wait until we say goodbye to the Xbox One and Playstation 4. 2013 in gaming brought me titles that I can easily call one of my favorite ones of the entire generation and at least one that I can now call one of my most favorite games ever. And thanks to the beauty/asshattery of Steam, I can't even say I played all the worthwile games of 2013.

Alright, let's do this.

List items

  • Some things are just tailored for a specific person. Everything works out in your favor – your favorite director is doing it, it has your favorite setting, it’s an adaptation of your favorite book, it’s your beloved band releasing an album after 10 years of silence.

    I’ve been waiting on The Last of Us since that VGA reveal trailer. I knew I will like it. There was no fucking way that game could be bad, because it would break my heart.

    And it delivered. It gave me a dark, well-crafted and justified post-apocalyptic world. It gave me a set of well-written and acted characters, including Joel, one of gaming’s best, darkest characters. It gave me engaging stealth/action gameplay. It gave me thrills and stressed the shit out of me. It gave me an atmospheric, touching road-movie story. It ended perfectly. And I felt fulfilled. A lot of games don’t end, there always has to be a hint of something else coming, but The Last of Us felt like a complete whole. It didn’t feel too short, it didn’t feel too long, it never dragged for me, always moving at a steady pace. It just had everything I wanted out of it. And when I played it again after a couple of months, I still liked what it was doing.

    It was simply made for me. And this is why it’s my game of the year.

  • Normally, a sufficient justification for this game being so high should just be “it’s fucking pirates”, but for the sake of this argument, let’s pretend that you don’t have a soul and the very thought of a well-made, epic pirate game isn’t enough to wet your willy. Assassin’s Creed IV is, in many ways, the same sort of improvement to the series that II was. Ubisoft removed all the shitty things that III was boggled by, on top of making everything bigger and better. The Assassin’s Creed formula is expanded even more, but a completely new and big system based around sailing on the high seas transforms it into its own thing. Add to that a bleak, intriguing story with one of gaming’s best protagonists – the deeply flawed, human Edward Kenway, who finally manages to strike the morally ambiguous promise of the game’s overarching plot.

    Hell, the it made me hate Assassin’s Creed III for not being this game.

  • You shouldn’t spoil Saints Row IV for yourself. The amount of balls-out stuff that happens should be experienced fresh. It’s a dumb, dumb game, in the best ways possible. Instead of reining it in and trying to make it a more focused experience, Volition took the plunge into crazy. Every mission is a set piece, everything is tailored for you to get the biggest mileage out of your stupid, overpowered abilities. It’s nuts. And it’s really, really funny. Fuck Warren Spector. This is what I want. This is what we all should want.

  • GTA V is probably one of the most ambitious games I’ve seen. It has an enormous, rich and lively world, a lot of shit to do and a story that is too epic in scale for its own good. As someone who didn’t care for GTA IV in any way, GTA V is a return to form by Rockstar North. However, despite all of its great parts, V seems more like a proof of concept. But that’s also why it seems so great – there’s a big promise to everything. So even though I don’t want to return to Los Santos right now, once GTA Online gets more content and some single player DLC pops out, I’ll be back in for more. Because I want more of this game.

  • Best co-operative experience I’ve had this entire generation, hell, probably in games, period. Monaco is a superbly designed and made game, period. From its interesting premise and easy to get into mechanics, through the challenging gameplay, to the great story, it’s been an immensely fun ride. Even when playing through it a second time, playing with people was an amazing thrill. Something always goes to shit, so you scramble around, trying to save your friends, or trying to utilize the commotion to your advantage. And when things go right, there is a true sense of fulfillment.

  • The funniest game that came out this year. Blood Dragon had me at “hello”, that is, when it introduced Spider and his amazing way of saying “motherfuckers”. And it didn’t stop there. The game rolled out a sidequest referencing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, an out of the blue speech on the video game violence craze, the world’s greatest sex scene, the announcer from Mortal Kombat and much, much more. It’s just fucking bananas in the greatest ways and I never felt like the self-referential humor/homage overstayed its welcome. It also refines the gameplay of Far Cry 3 by being simply better paced – the original game dragged for a bit too long, while Blood Dragon ends right where it should.

  • I’m cheating on this one a bit, but since the re-release came out in 2013, I’m fine with that.

    Dragon’s Dogma is a deeply fucked game. Some things (the affinity system, checkpoints, sidequests) are so baffling that it seems like the game was made by aliens trying to imitate human thought processes. But on the other hand, it has a fascinating universe, great combat and a sense of wonder and exploration that few games have. And absolutely the best boss battles this year. Fucking A. Climbing on top of a chimera and stabbing the shit out of it was fun the first time and the tenth time I’ve done it. Once 2014 comes, I’m rerolling into PS+ just to spend more time in this weird, weird game, since I didn't even touch the Dark Arisen content.

  • Runner2 is one of the most positive, fun games I’ve played this entire year. It’s tough as nails, but in a way that isn’t sickening – I never felt like the game is tearing away bits and pieces of my soul, even during the most wall-banging moments. It’s also full of charm, with its warm graphics, great music and Charles Martinet’s awesomely alliterative narrations. I mean, it has a fucking dance button. It’s no hug button, but still pretty damn good.

  • When playing Shadow Warrior, I kept thinking about Duke Nukem Forever. Because Flying Wild Hog’s remake is what that game was supposed to be. It mocks how utterly ridiculous and out of touch the archetypical ‘90s action hero is in this day and age, but also celebrates him, by making Lo Wang a nerdy Jack Burton of “Big Trouble in Little China”. It’s an homage that never feels pathetic or pandering, showing that this sort of character can still be done well. Oh, and the game is a fucking blast, too. Mowing down hordes of enemies with your sword is fun, while the few guns the game has manage to feel fresh, since they pack a solid punch, but never distract you from the meat of the gameplay – slashing demons with a katana.

  • One of the most cleverly written and designed games I’ve played this year. Gunpoint is funny and smart, with its hilarious achievements and possible conversation options, also having solid ground to stand on gameplay-wise. The way it subtly encourages you to do different stuff and favor unorthodox approach to missions makes it a unique experience to me – most of the time, I’m one pragmatic motherfucker in video games, to the point where my second playthrough is always the same. Here, I wanted to see what happens if I do something differently. And when the game rewarded me with an achievement when I accidentally smacked myself with a door, it marked the first time I ever gave a shit about Steam achievements.