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TFP's Top 10 Games of 2013

A few quick comments before we get started: As always, there's stuff I didn't play. Namely Super Mario 3D World, Tearaway, Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus, and Rayman Legends. Those are the main four I want to get out of the way in terms of "These are games that would probably make it on the list but I haven't played them." In addition, as incredibly tempting as it would be, I'm only counting games released this year in my home region (US.) Because as much as I would love to put Persona 4 Golden and Persona 4 Arena in the top two slots of this list again, that's sort of boring (But do know that if I was going to do that, they would still be first and second). Finally, this is in backwards order so number one is actually number 10 and so on and so forth.

Now that that's out of the way, let's get started!

List items

  • Number 10

    Okay. Forget for a moment that Fuse doesn't do anything in particular to re-invent anything about... well, anything. But as I played more and more of Fuse, the technobabble got technobabblier, the weapons, while not necessarily in the typical quantity, still maintained the quality of imaginative science fiction that Insomniac is well known for, and the story of futuristic para-military espionage, while predictable, never failed to be entertaining. While Fuse certainly isn't new, or reaches for the stars, it perfectly does what it sets out to do. And that's be a fun third person shooter.

  • Number 9

    There truly is not a lot left to say about Bioshock Infinite that has not been discussed, at length, by people who have much stronger opinions about things than I do. From my perspective, though, a truly intriguing tale of dimension hopping and ramifications thereof, combined with the small, intricate world building moments strewn throughout the floating city of Columbia made Infinite my personal favorite Troy Baker-in-the-role-of-lead-protagonist game this year.

  • Number 8

    Emotions are fickle things. People bring up games like The Walking Dead or The Last of Us as "the most powerful games in terms of making players feel emotions" or whatever. David Cage does his song and dance about choices and fatherhood and... stuff? As you may or may not have picked up from my tone in those prior two sentences, the moment someone talks about games that made them feel emotional and that everyone should play this game, I struggle to not completely start ignoring them. People get emotional depending on different things, and the sooner we as people who talk about video games can figure that factoid out, the less I will bang my head into this desk.

    Now that that's off my chest, Brothers was truly an emotional journey for /me/. With a breathtaking atmosphere and fantastic moments, both major and minor in scope, in every area, really brought the fairy tale world alive. And, being someone's brother, the relationship between the titular brothers really hit home in unexpected ways. Even distancing myself from talking about the story, the game's unique control scheme lends itself to some fantastically thought out puzzles, culminating in a fantastic way to tie story and gameplay at the game's conclusion.

  • Number 7

    I went into Saints Row IV not really knowing what to expect. Sure, I knew it was probably going to be a humorous, open world romp, but... whoa. Volition really found their stride somewhere around 2011's Saints Row The Third, dropping all pretenses of having any form of grounding in what would normally be known as "reality", and Saints Row IV really showed how far off the reservation Volition went. In all the best ways possible. Saints Row IV's super power system completely breaks the game wide open. But at the same time: who cares? It is an all out blast to play, with some of the funniest characters, events, and references, to things both in past games of the series and out.

  • Number 6

    Let's just face facts here. If you want a high-octane, third-person action game that makes you feel exactly as bad-ass as what's happening on the screen, because you DID what is happening on the screen, there is no other developer to look towards than Platinum Games. With combat that is intricate, yet accessible, like all other Platinum productions, combined with the downright insanity that is Hideo Kojima, I don't think it is possible to stuff any more "crazy-awesome" into a package. Easily the best boss fights this year can be found in Rising, each being crazier than the last. And that soundtrack. Even as someone who isn't a fan of metal music, I would easily place it among the top soundtracks this year, and this year had some fantastic soundtracks. All in all, in terms of fast paced character action, you can't top Platinum, and they are at the top of their form in Metal Gear Rising.

  • Number 5

    When I put Assassin's Creed III on my GOTY list last year, I talked about "layers". Layers of conspiracy, layers of combat, layers of layers. Assassin's Creed IV refined those layers, and added so much to them that it almost seems laughable to think that these two games were made by the same company, and that's coming from someone who really loved Assassin's Creed III. The writing, both in current-day, outside of the animus, and in the pirate world of Edward Kenway, is at a series-wide top form. Intelligently working around the constraints placed on the idea of a sequel at the end of III, the modern day conceit featuring the Templars and Assassins is still as densely layered with conspiracy, but now looked at with a more humorous lens, played up by the collectables found around Abstergo Entertainment. The historical side of things is held up by fantastic, interesting characters, as well as a wide open sea to plunder and pillage as you see fit. I can't see a person who enjoyed past Assassin's Creed games, be it for their conspiratorial side (like me), or the historical tourism side walking away from Black Flag disappointed.

  • Number 4

    Looking back at this, and a lot of past GOTY lists I have made, one common trend seems to be "I like political intrigue." And when I think about games with political intrigue, one of the first things that always pops to mind is Fire Emblem. The big picture nature of Fire Emblem, of nations rising and falling on the backs of relationships and betrayals is truly one of the best around. Awakening quickly turned into my favorite of the series with its fantastic cast of characters, each uniquely brought together through their supports with others. Each character both holds their own and adds depth to those around them, both protagonist and antagonist, which makes their struggles that much more important, that much more powerful to see them overcome. Sure, I admit, I'm a coward and played on the difficulty that means there is no permadeath, but that also did not remove the fun of the gameplay for me. Fire Emblem is easily the best game currently available on the 3DS in my opinion, and on a system with so many heavy hitters, I do not take this recommendation lightly.

  • Number 3

    Let me be abundantly clear right now: I love crime fiction. All of it. Mysteries. Heists. Cons. Everything. So it's really not a surprise that I would flock to Monaco: What's Yours is Mine on principle. But when I actually played the game? Trust me when I tell you nothing could prepare you for what lies within. The gameplay is frantically paced, always teetering on the edge of being discovered, up until you get discovered (which, you will, by the way), and then just leans in full tilt on the breathless nature of that discovery until you manage to find a hiding spot to cool down. And while I'm terrible at describing it, it really is just plain fun, especially in multiplayer. But just talking about the gameplay would do a disservice to the absolutely outstanding storytelling this game has. Let me be the first to warn you: Play through ALL of The Locksmith's Story before moving on to The Pickpocket's Story. Easily, EASILY the best plot twist of the year, at the first stage of The Pickpocket's Story. Plus, this game has, without a doubt, my favorite soundtrack all year. Unquestionably so. Basically what I'm saying is: Monaco is great and if you have not played it I think you are a bad person.

  • Number 2

    In a year filled with fantastic, fast paced, third person action games (by which I mean there were like three Platinum games released this year alone), sometimes it's the slower paced games that make a bigger impression. While some people disliked the slower, methodically paced combat of Remember Me, the variability in the Pressen Create-a-combo system, combined with the more strategic flow of battle made Remember Me my favorite brawler this year. Combine the fun combat, outstanding visual style, the top original soundtrack outside of Monaco, and a fantastic dystopian cyberpunk story, I honestly cannot think of a single downside to Remember Me. Easily the best new IP out of a major publisher all year, with the most potential to grow even bigger. Although... apparently I'm one of the only people who thinks so.

  • Number 1

    And here we stand, my game of the year. Now, I'll be the first to admit, I wrote off LEGO games after Indiana Jones. As much fun as I had with LEGO Star Wars, and as much as I tolerated the first LEGO Indiana Jones, it seemed like LEGO games were fast reaching a point of pulling out license I didn't care about combined with relying on too many similar gags to get cheap laughs out of small children, who I'm sure loved them. But do not make the mistake of writing off LEGO City Undercover. Do not believe that LEGO and Traveller's Tales have learned nothing over the past five years of solid, if mediocre sequels.

    For one thing, LEGO City Undercover is, without question, the absolute funniest game released this year, bar none. Not in the cloying, "here's a joke so laugh" kind of way, but in the sense of going back and watching old episodes of Animaniacs, or Freakazoid, and catching jokes that you never would have realized at six or seven. Sure, the slapstick comedy is still there, but so are so many other jokes and references that would absolutely fly over the head of the intended audience. While yes, a lot of these adult-bonus humor is entirely reference-based comedy, the breadth of it is so wide, from Grand Theft Auto IV to Die Hard, The Green Mile to Dirty Harry, and Titanic to The Shawshank Redemption, that it's almost impossible to be left out.

    The winks and nods at the fourth wall extend to the missions, which, sure, if you want to get deconstructive about it, are about "breaking stuff, finding the next thing to build, maybe switch what power you have active, repeat", But with the list of interesting abilities Chase gains, combined with the rogues' gallery of villains, and environments literally ranging from the depths of the ocean to SPACE, LEGO City Undercover never gets old.

    From the humor to the fact that TT Fusion actually managed to make LEGO games fun again, there's no question that LEGO City Undercover is my vote for Game of the Year. And probably the only vote LEGO City Undercover will get for Game of the Year. Although that's not to discount too many other games released this year, making a top 10 list was tough.

    Here's to 2014. Already looking like a crazy year, with things like Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Persona Q, Persona 5, and Super Smash Bros, to name a few.