List items

  • Yep. My Game of the Year is Grand Theft Auto V. It's a sprawling epic with a scope and scale unlike any created before it. And a return to the more humorous tendencies of the Pre-GTAIV series installments, while maintaining the deeply cynical tone of it's most recent predecessor. It's mechanics seem almost never ending, with everything from shoot outs and high speed chases to deep-sea diving and yoga. And unlike any GTA before it, I found the three-character narrative deftly encouraging me to role-play as the protagonist I was currently playing as. Would up-and-comer Franklin tear down a pedestrian sidewalk before abandoning the still moving vehicle only to watch in glee as it careens into a gas station, standing back to pick off the responding law enforcement with an assault rifle? No. But Trevor would. Oh, Trevor.

  • After years of development and teasing, Ken Levine and the brilliant folks at Irrational Games have delivered once again with another "Thinking Man's Shooter." GTA V's interpretation of the American Dream, and The Last of Us's bleak tale of selfishness in the name of survival were excellent, but Infinite's abstract criticism of modern America through the lens of an alternate 1920's society based on the values of American Exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny is the stuff of creative minds unlike any in today's game space. This all backed up by solid first-person gameplay and a total mind fuck of an ending ensures continued study of Bioshock Infinite by the game makers of tomorrow.

  • The latest entry in my sudden affinity for the recently popular "Rouge-like" genre, Rouge Legacy takes the core tenants of random level layout and permadeath, and peppers the recipe with the progressive hooks of an RPG. While death in purer "rouge-likes", such as Binding of Isaac or Spelunky, yield only knowledge for the passing of your character, Rouge Legacy's generational gameplay system allows for your character to grow stronger along with your own knowledge base for a slightly gentler experience. Admission: I still haven't defeated any of the game's four world bosses. But, I still love it and see my self continuing to slug away at the game for many generations to come!

  • "So, I was playing this video game the other day. In it, you sit in a toll booth and have to look over paperwork that will make or break someone's day and possibly their life. Oh, and your family is starving and cold back at home." When I gave a co-worker this pitch the day after playing Papers, Please for the first time, he looked at me and said with a bemused sort of concern, "And that's a video game?" Yes. Yes it is, and it was the most enthralling and emotionally powerful game I played this year. Play it.

  • Joining Tomb Raider in the "Never Played the Original, But Damn that Reboot is Good" category, DmC: Devil May Cry brought me into a genre I usually stray from with accessible, but deep, combat along with an unabashedly grotesque sense of humor and fantastical character designs. And the story pretty much just rips off 'They Live' so it's got that going for it too.

  • Oh, The Last of Us. I like you. I really do. So much so that you made the list. But why are you 6 instead of 1? Well, it's a little thing called "friendly AI scripting." If it wasn't for Ellie and Co.'s cloppity-clop-clopping Clicker-immune foot steps, you'd probably be in the top spot. Your expert world building, shockingly visceral game play, and best in class ending made you one of the best experiences of the year. But seriously, Ellie, take off the clogs.

  • They did it, guys. They saved Assassin's Creed. After the horrific affair that was Assassin's Creed III, Ubisoft has come back to the series with everything that made the Ezio Trilogy great: world traversal; a light, but sensible economy; and a flamboyant protagonist you want to see succeed. And they made the boat stuff work too. Finally, after being freed of the shackles of the Desmond Miles story line, the creatives at Ubi some how managed to get the higher ups to let them make the modern day story line a hilarious, and deliciously cynical, take on annualized game development. Bravo, Ubi. I'm back in. Now, just fix the rigidity of your story missions.

  • While I have never been a fan of the previous Tomb Raider games, this year's reboot took everything that made the Uncharted games great and aped them perfectly. Yeah, the game may just be climbing segments followed by shoot outs, but they're really good climbing segments followed by really good shoot outs! And that's enough to earn it a place on my list. Now, hopefully the sequel isn't plagued with another stent of embarrassing PR blunders.

  • Systems. Systems are what make games, games. And Gunpoint has the tightest systems of the year. Plus, jumping out of a four-story window with nothing but a security guard to break your fall? Yeah, that's pretty great too.

  • While it may have been a while since I've hooked up with my clan of amateur bank robbers--their levels and gear now far surpassing my own--the time that I spent with them playing Payday 2 earlier this year was host to some of the best multiplayer I've encountered in a while.

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