JJRage

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  • If you were to make a list of the ten best PS3 exclusives, it's entirely possible that Naughty Dog will have made four of them, and The Last of Us is arguably the best. At it's core, The Last of Us is a survival horror game. While the combat is visceral and exciting, it's not exactly the place you want to be. Resources are scarce and the enemies of the world (both human and infected) are not to be taken lightly. But what really sets the game apart is it's characters and story. Joel and Ellie are two of the most compelling and dynamic characters I've ever seen in a game. They both see significant growth through the duration of a story that pulls no punches. And that story - The Last of Us is just absolutely relentless. It will drag you through the mud from it's gutwrenching opening to it's satisfying conclusion, and it looks damn good doing it. Proof positive that games as a medium can hang with Hollywood blockbusters and bestselling novels.

  • I really don't care if this game leans hard on the nostalgia glasses of Nintendo kids like me - A Link Between Worlds is fucking awesome. If you don't own a 3DS, go buy one and play this game right now.

  • In the short time you spend with Gone Home, you will feel a sense of tension and dread that many horror games can't even accomplish. I find it hard to talk about why I love Gone Home so much simply because I don't want to ruin it for people that have yet to play it. I will say this: there aren't many games that have resonated with me on an emotional level quite like Gone Home did. It's proof that the "interactive fiction" genre doesn't need the quick-time events and contextual gameplay of games like The Walking Dead and Heavy Rain to tell a good story.

  • Say what you will about aging gameplay mechanics, Irrational still knows how to make a damn good video game. The flying city of Columbia is every bit as beautiful and mysterious and terrifying as it's underwater counterpart from the original Bioshock, and it's inhabitants are far more complex. Also killing dudes with the skyhook is pretty cool.

  • Papers, Please is one of those games that is nearly impossible to make sound fun. I tried explaining the premise of this game to multiple people over the past month, and many of those times I was met with looks of bewilderment. Somehow, someway, Lucas Pope turned the worst job ever into a thrilling, challenging, and oftentimes hilarious puzzle game.

  • Cleverly written and designed, I liked Gunpoint far more than I ever expected. And there wasn't much in games this year more satisfying than dive tackling a guard out of a window to the street below and punching him in the face for as long as you see fit.

  • Despite that fact that I wasn't overly fond of the character-switching format, the basic GTA formula still works. Rockstar has proven time and time again that they know how to craft one hell of an open world game. It's just unfortunate that the online mode is such a mess.

  • Beautiful, heart-wrenching, wonderfully inventive. Real talk: Don't play this game when you're already sad. I made the mistake of playing through the entirety of Brothers on the day I had to put my cat down and it was a horrible mistake.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: I do not care about Devil May Cry. I didn't play the first two games, I didn't finish the 3rd or 4th, and I don't give a shit about Dante or his goddamn hair. DmC is really fun and has some of the best boss fights I have ever experienced in a game. And that's all that matters to me.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: It's rare that a game can elicit genuine laughter out of me, but that's what The Stanley Parable accomplishes here as it shines a bright light on the nature of game design and the illusion of choice. It's especially worth playing if you're currently (or planning on) working in game development.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: There is a troubling lack of tomb raiding in Tomb Raider, and those bits were arguably the best parts of the game. Shooting dudes in the face with arrows was the second-best part though, and you get to do that a bunch.

  • The only new-gen game to crack my top ten, Dead Rising 3 eschews a lot of the things people hate about Dead Rising games while maintaining the things that make them so damn fun. This game is complete fucking mayhem and I loved every second of it.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: An above-average arcade shooter made great by it's narrative trappings. I imagine this game wouldn't be half as fun without the truth-bending exaggerations of the protagonist/narrator.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: MGR: Revengeance is a prime example of a game being built around one really interesting mechanic and then the developers just figuring out the rest as the go along. Stupid fun.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: Black Flag is better than AC3. Better protagonist, better story, better gameplay, and oh yeah also PIRATES. I know a lot of people are really divided on the "out-of-animus" stuff in this game, but I loved it. Because let's face it, if animus technology really existed, that is exactly what they'd be doing with it.

  • I love Quantic Dream's games, and Beyond: Two Souls continues that trend. It is most certainly more of a game than it's predecessor Heavy Rain, in addition to being better looking and better acted. Beyond: Two Souls isn't as interesting or dynamic as Heavy Rain, which is why it isn't higher on this list (Heavy Rain was #2 on my list in 2010), but it's still a damn good piece of interactive storytelling that shows a lot of growth for David Cage and his team.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: Much like DMC, I have no reverence for the Shadowrun brand, but I found myself drawn to the cyberpunk trappings of the universe so I gave the game a spin and quite surprised with how much I enjoyed it. The depth in character building was almost overwhelming, and I look forward to future playthroughs with radically different characters. Just as long as we get more official content, as the initial offering felt a little bare.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: Much like Diablo III last year, I thought FFXIV would be a lock for my top ten this year. However my opinion of the game deteriorated rapidly after I reached the level cap. FFXIV does a lot of great things to stand out from the MMO crowd, but it's endgame was painfully bare. Like many MMO players, I'm sure I'll return to it eventually to explore new content, then get fed up with it and cancel my subscription again.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: I really, really wanted to put this game in my top ten, but with only one episode available to the public I just couldn't justify it. That said, I've played that one episode three times already. It probably won't ever get the praise or attention that The Walking Dead did, which is a damn shame, because I find it's fairy-tale noir world to be far more interesting than it's zombie apocalypse counterpart. If the first episode is any indication of what the future holds, I imagine The Wolf Among Us will be making an appearance in my top ten in 2014.

  • HONORABLE MENTION: Kentucky Route Zero feels like a fever dream. Everything is amiss and nothing is what it seems, a fact that seems obvious yet never acknowledged by the protagonists. It's confusing, distressing, and beautiful nightmare. Much like The Wolf Among Us, KRZ is an episodic game that has yet to be released in it's entirety, which keeps it from entering my top ten.