GOTY 2013

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  • The big elephant in the room. The game every "true fan" loves to hate. Even before it was nothing but a trailer, everyone talked how "it ruined Dante and DMC forever". Bear with me for a moment: Dante was ruined a long time ago. The one in DMC 2 was paper thin, DMC 3 Dante was "too cool", trying too hard to act cool at every turn. It was not only artificial, it was foolish. DMC 4 had the same prick Dante, but it also introduced emo Dante (having a new character look and talk just like the old one is not really a new character). When any of those things were pointed out, fans regressed to the line "we don't play it for the story", which was hypocrite considering how much they bashed the new game only for daring to change the story.

    So, I guess I could say I was never a fan of the old Dante, and didn't give an iota when someone tried to change it. Although I didn't have much faith in the developer, it wasn't like I was ready to discard this one out just yet. What really caught my eye, though, was Brad's review.

    Boy, am I glad I listened to him. This game turned out to be my favorite action adventures game of the year, and its up there in terms of western action adventure games of this generation. The level design is gorgeous, the gameplay is fluid and it encourages playful styles and experimentation. After I completed the game, I started a new playthrough on a higher difficulty and was pleasantly surprised to see that changes were deeper than "you dish out less damage and get more". Enemies and bosses changed their strategies, levels changed, etc...

  • Just to be clear: I don't think this game is perfect. Far from it. I think this game has issues, and sometimes it feels more clunky that it should.

    What this game is, however, is personal in a haunting level. This is not the kind of game to be made out of a factory, scratched of every single rough edge by hundreds of people until what reminds is polished but generic product. Its is not, also, the kind of manipulation designed to make us FEEEEEEL! The author of this game (Vander Caballero) literally open and pour his soul into it, and the result is his journey through acceptance, forgiveness and release; and we are all better because of him letting us join in.

    Note: I played the 2013 PC version. So, it still qualifies, damn it.

  • I will be the first to admit I didn't saw that one coming. I was never a fan of the old Tomb Raider games, and the only interest I had in the series was with Guardian of Light. When the remake was announced, it looked too scripted, and, while ambicious, I haven't seen anything from them that made me believe they could make it happen.

    A few months later and thanks to one of those PSN sales, I got this game and, while a slow burn at first, it gets better fast and never really goes down.

  • Ni No Kuni is the return to form to Level 5. It is extremely hard to make an children's adventure that doesn't feel either extra saccharine or insincere. However, they are a developer that knew how to make it once (look no farther that DQ8) and they pulled it off again.

    Make no mistake, this is still a JRPG at heart, and it doesn't play with the tropes of the genre... it hits them headlong and rides with them all the way. In a lesser game, this would have been unforgivable, yet Ni No Kuni combines the masterful skills of storytelling of Studio Ghibli with the masterful skills of presentation of Level 5 and the result feels so pure and genuine its hard to put some blame to it for being traditional.

  • Ratchet & Clank is one of those long time series I retroactively discovered during this generation. That mix of character driven adventure is rare in games not made by Nintendo; and this one is a love letter to fans of the series.

    From the final level taking place in a museum where the past villains have their own wings, to the appearance of long time favorites, to the way it wraps its story with events on previous games, one can see that Insomniac thought this one as a sendoff to their beloved series.

    I don't truly expect this to be the last we will see of the Lombax and his robotic companion but, in the meantime, it is a great way to wrap around over 12 years of gaming history.

  • I didn't pay much attention to this game when it was on PC, but I tried it on PS3. This game is the definition of simplicity, its graphics could be made on an Atari (and you thought 8 bits was nostalgia). It is also a great example of how, with the right tone, everything can be emotional.

    The fact the music and narration makes me more invested in Thomas, a simple red cube, and his friends than many others have done with state of the art HD graphics is a true testament that artistic vision will beat HD dog rendering every day of the week.

  • I love 2D brawlers. And, despite the controversy, I loved the hand drawn art style of the game. It was also a cool game to experience with friends in co-op, either online or offline, which is a feature that gets increasingly more rare every day.

    If I have to put a reason why this game is rated so low, however, its because of its length. Lets face it, 8 stages (each lasting about 10 to 15 minutes) is not a lot, and once it opens up, it mostly ask you to repeat most of the same stage with a different boss. In a couple hours, you will have experienced everything this game has to offer in terms of level variety. That, and the fact the game is heavily dependent on loot, grinding and leveling will make it feel more repetitive than it should.

    Finally, that online is broken. In 2013, the decisions made to that online mode where weirdly designed, to say the least...

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