Games I've Played in 2013

This is a list of games I've played in 2013. Although beating a game isn't necessarily a prerequisite for this list, I will at least attempt to play each game thoroughly. I'll also keep a list of notable iPad games I've played, although this likely won't be comprehensive or have much detail beyond its genre.

List items

  • I like the Call of Duty series in moderation. I usually buy each game in the series when they hit a cheap price point. They're the video game equivalent of big dumb fun action movies, and I'm perfectly okay with that. MW3 doesn't really do much to change the formula, and unfortunately it abandons one of the neatest premises of its predecessor (fighting a war on US soil is far more interesting to me than the mine, castle, and other random European locations picked for the majority of the game). But that doesn't stop it from being fun.

    I will say this, though - this game is definitely getting an award at the end of 2013 for the terrible misuse of Timothy Olyphant. FOR SHAME.

  • WWE 13 is probably the best of its particular line, but that doesn't really excuse a lot of the laziness that went into the series of the years. Hiding a lot of the User Creations behind DLC is bullshit, too. But the Attitude Era stuff is really neat, and there's a lot of heart that obviously went into recreating the spirit of one of greatest times in wrestling history.

  • Ni no Kuni is a real classic. It's obvious a lot of love and care went into creating this game, and it shows on every possible level. The gameplay gives a nod to its traditional JRPG predecessors, but takes some new steps into creating a modern day JRPG that doesn't feel as sullied by corporate think-tanks like Final Fantasy XIII. It's an action-RPG, but one that smartly pauses the action in appropriate ways to give the gamer time to breathe and strategize. And that's really just the tip of the Kuni iceberg. The graphics are stunning - it's possibly the first time a game's gameplay has looked better than the animated scenes in it. The music is both catchy and deliciously orchestrated, and although certain themes repeat often, the music never outstays its welcome. The deep "gotta catch em all" monster hunting and crafting systems add loads to do, along with the many side quests and bounty hunts. This is one of those rare games I can definitely see myself picking back up ten years down the line. It's that amazing.

  • Halo 4 is an impressive start for 343 Studios. The story is much stronger than any prior Halo game, and it looks and sounds freaking gorgeous. Sometimes, it feels a bit too much like a corridor shooter rather than a big Halo game, but overall, the campaign is pretty darned good. Although I've loved the universe of Halo for some time, I've never actually really felt much for its characters up until this iteration. 343 has done a tremendous job of connecting the user to Chief and Cortana, and the side characters really shine too. It's too bad then that I doubt I'll ever play another multiplayer match, both due to my horrendous lack of skill and the overall attitude of the other players I was up against. I guess there are bad eggs in every multiplayer game, but it was such a shockingly unpleasant experience that I just don't think I want to jump back in at any point.

  • Dishonored is all about the promise. The game promises a cool-looking world. The game promises some slick Deus Ex/Masquerade: Bloodlines type gameplay. Unfortunately, the scope of the game never quite meets those promises. It's not that Dishonored is a bad game - really, it's quite a good one. But it feels like it could have been a bit better on all fronts. You never quite get to glimpse the cool world you see at first glance and are instead relegated to a few similar-looking areas (and in some cases, they really ARE the same) and a handful of NPCs with little to no interaction. The game's awesome sounding abilities seem a bit crippled in functionality, though I should note that I went into this creating a stealth character and had to abandon that idea since I suck at stealth games. I really, really want to see a Dishonored 2, with more room to explore and interact with the fascinating world Arkane and Bethesda have created. As it is, it's a nice blueprint for a potentially great IP.

  • I think Dust is one of this generation's greatest triumphs. Just look at the credits page for the biggest reasons why - a game this spectacular should not have been developed by only a couple of people. And it really is spectacular - the Metroidvania gameplay is addictive, the art design puts a big smile on my face, and the music is spot-on in a way I can't quite describe. The entire game pays tribute to classic Metroidvania games, but ends up feeling like the very best that particular genre has to offer. If the combat had just a touch more depth to it (being able to learn a couple more abilities or some new combos over time would have gone a long ways here), it would have been as close to a perfect XBLA game as I've played. As it stands, it's ridiculously fun. And whoever did the voice acting deserves some sort of "undiscovered talent" award. They do a terrific job of making the sometimes-mediocre script into something just a little bit more fun and weighty.

  • What a terrific $5 this was. I'm not terribly great at it, even though it has a limited rewind feature similar to Forza, but I sure do have fun crashing into things and making a general mess of the awesome tracks. The arcade-style racing feels pretty good (though I do prefer the more sim-like racing in Forza) and the car selection, while relatively small, is still pretty great. Hey, any game that lets me drive a Bowler gets a thumbs-up.

  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is precisely the kind of overall package I want in a modern fighter, missing only an overarching story mode like its predecessor or Mortal Kombat. There are tons of classic fighting modes, lots of crazy endings to unlock, a huge number of fighters, and a customization mode. It's a terrific package. My only gripe is that the Tekken lore is in desperate need of an overhaul, but that's been true since Tekken 4. They've gotta quit circling the drain with this Mishima/Devil gene stuff. Other than that, this should be a no-brainer for anyone who enjoys Tekken even in the slightest.

  • I've owned this game since just a few months after it came out, along with a nifty little artbook that it shipped with. Until this year, I didn't crack open either one. I'm also a terrible GB'er, as I've never watched more than about ten minutes of the P4 ER (or any other ER), but the ending had been spoiled for me a while ago because of mod related issues. Anywho, I got a hankering for PS2 RPGs, and decided to start with this one. Really glad I did, as it's a terrific game.

    Yes, it slows down in its middle, and at times, the repetition gets a little old, same as with P3. But its relatively light-hearted nature combined with its terrific, sober last act make for a great combination, and I love the mixture of RPG dungeon crawling with a day-to-day relationship game. That's a pretty neat and unique combo, and it helps make the RPG elements less grindy and more fun.

  • OK, so I didn't play this thoroughly. But trust me, twenty minutes of this stinker is enough.

  • I probably shouldn't lump expansions into this, but screw it, this one's worth it.

  • So long as I'm including expansions, this one in particular is notable for Tiny Tina's Assault, a truly fantastic expansion.

  • Fun, basic adventure game styled a bit like Lara Bow. Really liked this one.

  • We've seen two amazing RPGs on the PS3 this year, with Xillia being the second. It's easily the best Tales game I've played, with immensely likable characters, great combat, a leveling system I effing love, and an addicting shop expansion element.

  • Prequel to Blackwell Legacy. Interesting, fun game.

  • Come awards time this year, I'm probably going to lump all of these into one category. Again, they're pretty great adventure games.

  • Terrific hack-and-slasher that could have used some larger, less corridor-ish environments. Other than that, it's pretty gravy.

  • Definitely one of the most addicting iOS games I've played. If you're like me and haven't played a collectible card game, this is a great way to introduce yourself without spending a shit ton of money.

  • Great tower defense game with RPG elements. Could've used some more tinkering behind the scenes, particularly with its too-small window. Even putting it in full screen just adds a black letterbox around it. Oh well. Worth a go.

  • Despite its awesome setting and decent plot, I can't get behind this one the same way I did the Blackwell games. Maybe it was just me?

  • Such a love/hate relationship with this game. I very nearly sold it within the first five hours or so of playing it, as the font is fucking unbelievably small (a leftover problem from EVERY Rockstar game this generation) and the mini-map utilizes atrocious and unforgivable color schemes that conflict with my color blindness. As amazing as this game is (and I did finish it, thanks to the ability to skip a mission once you've failed it a certain number of times), the visual problems are bullshit given that Saints Row has easily fixed these problems with its past two iterations. Adjustable font sizes for SDTV or low-vision gamers should be a must this next generation - or at least figure out a way to include a magnifier. This game's problems are inexcusable this late into the console cycle.

  • DLC Quest's best ideas pop up in its first five minutes. After that, the game quickly becomes dull. At least it's mercifully brief.

  • From a technical standpoint, this is the easiest Disgaea to get into, far and away. But the lazy story and general updatery are a huge bummer, and I definitely get the feeling that this was a filler NIS product until the next generation of consoles. Still fun, just disappointing.

  • Such wasted potential. This really is one of the more disappointing games I've played all year. I want to explore this world, not turn it into a shooting gallery. But that's precisely what this game is - a beautiful shooting gallery that brings nothing new to the table, gameplay wise.

  • Holy fucking hell, what a game. Errrr... well, not quite a game, but a graphic adventure? I hesitate to actually call it a game - this is definitely more of a choose-your-own adventure type story than an actual game. And you know what? I'm definitely okay with that. It's terrific.

  • I think this is a good game on the verge of being great. The gameplay feels spot-on in terms of its mechanics and combat (although enemies do become bullet sponges later on) and for once the characterization of Lara feels right. She's not the eye-rolling pubescent fantasy type anymore - this feels like a genuinely warm, interesting character who happens to be attractive (in a creepy plasticy-Barbie sort of way). I have issues with the story, namely that it doesn't do the series going forward any favors. Seriously, how the hell is Lara going to want to become an adventurer after all the misery, turmoil, and horror she's seen? I get that it's just a game and I shouldn't take it so seriously, but if you're going to try to create this type of story with the intent of rebooting an entire franchise, details like this matter. I'd also like to see the open-world elements expanded upon. Some stretches of the game feel too cinematic and just aren't as straight-up fun as the adventuring.

    Overall, though, this is a really fun game and one I hope sees an eventual sequel rather than another reboot.

  • After telling myself I wouldn't buy another Assassin's Creed game until they seriously revamped the series, I went ahead and bought AC IV when it went on a Black Friday sale. I'm pretty glad I did. It's not the revolution the series needs at this point, but it does the best job yet of hiding the series' flaws beneath layers of really fun gameplay and sidequests. It really doesn't hurt that the naval combat is loads of fun (minus some small hitches like the eye-rolling mortar controls). The protagonist is pretty fun, too - he's a bit more evil than his predecessors while still maintaining a swagger almost certainly emulated from another popular modern pirate series.

  • This might get added or shifted to my "Games I've Played in 2014" list simply because I'm awful at it and haven't gotten very far, despite my ten plus hours with it.

    Rogue Legacy is a lesson in the difference between an addicting game and a fun one. That's not to say a game can't be both, but for me, Rogue Legacy really isn't. It's not a bad game, mind you - in fact, it's a very good one, and if I were better at it, I suspect it would have made it onto my top ten list. But there comes a point when the frustration of the game becomes overwhelming, when my mind is screeching at me to stop but I try to get just one more upgrade in. And that's the point when I stop having fun with it and move on. Or try to, anyways. I had much the same experience with the beginning of Dark Souls, when I realized no matter how much ground I covered, I wasn't ever really going to have fun with it. For my grindy-grind experience, I'll stick to Disgaea D2, thank you very much.

    I also have to wonder how much more I would have liked this on a console. My laptop setup isn't conducive to a gamepad addition, so I have to play it with a keyboard. Mind you, I'd still be godawful, but I think massively less so.