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GOTY 2013

2013 was a very light year in gaming for me as I had other priorities - my daughter was born! I never actually finished this list and didn't even really have 10 worthy games. I have since had more time to catch up on gaming, and finally finish this list at the end of 2014. There are a few caveats - two of these games, I did not actually play until 2014: Tomb Raider (via definitive edition) and Guacamelee (via Super Turbo edition), and Rogue Legacy (via Vita release). There are a few other notes that you can find in the honorable mentions or in the comments for each entry.

Honorable Mentions -

Diablo 3 - As I am finishing this list in late 2014, I'm going to use my time traveling abilities and make an easy cut of Diablo 3, as it is highlighted as one of my 2014 GOTYs in this years list via the Ultimate Evil Edition.

Rogue Legacy - I finally got around to playing this via the 2014 vita release. What a great game for that platform. I had tons of fun making runs through the castle and upgrading like crazy, but after so much work I had only conquered a couple of the bosses and I have to admit that each subsequent run started to feel very grindy. Still, a very fun and unique game.

List items

  • The first Bioshock brought story telling in a modern FPS to a whole new level and is easily in my top 3 favorite games of the last generation. Infinite had a lot to live up to, and it did not disappoint. An incredible story realized in a gorgeous and unique world.

  • No studio crafts a living, breathing, modern world like Rockstar. The GTA games are highly anticipated and rated for good reason. This game interwove the story of 3 main characters into an action packed crime drama like no other. The heist missions finally captured the much desired but never duplicated urgency and frenzy of the movie Heat. I admit that I did not find the side missions as engaging as previous GTA games, and I was not always comfortable playing as Trevor (the controversial torture mission in particular), but there is no doubt this is one of the best games of the generation.

  • When I was younger I truly enjoyed the first two Tomb Raider games, but did not follow the series after that point. The constant criticisms of where the series went, did not help, but I was really always looking for a good time to jump back in to Lara's shoes. This reboot and re-imagining wowed me at the E3 demo in 2012 and the final product lived up to the hype. A great story that slowly dishes out the supernatural aspects you expect from Tomb Raider, coupled with a Lost-like mysterious island full of dire consequences and things to explore.

  • Since AC2, the series pretty much has a spot on my top 10 locked up. Some people are feeling AC fatigue, but I'm still enjoying it. AC4 is one of the best in the series, perhaps second only to AC: Brotherhood. The incredibly large open world gives you access to the entirety of the Caribbean and puts you in command of a ship to traverse it, plunder shipwrecks, engage in naval combat and board enemy vessels, etc.

    This naval combat, of course, was introduced in the much maligned AC3. Most felt that the protagonist of that game was not interesting or deep enough. I tend to disagree and felt that Connor was pretty well fleshed out, whereas his grandfather Edward here in AC4, was nothing more than a rogue who stumbled upon the brotherhood. Really, that's my one criticism of an otherwise Grand Adventure.

  • I've done my best to not include in my goty lists games not actually released in the corresponding year, but this is one I have to make an exception for.

    After the birth of my daughter in the summer of 2013, my console gaming time dwindle to nothing quite quickly. Up on late nights in the nursery did give me the opportunity to engage in some iOS gaming, and nothing sucked my time up like the Pinball Arcade. This game meshes it's near flawless table physics with the absolutely perfect platform in the iPad (controls and screen size/orientation). I've always enjoyed real pinball tables, but never bothered to learn the games, just always tried to keep the ball in play and hit things.

    The beauty of this game (as opposed to other popular pinball games like Zen/FX2) is that these are all real tables, faithfully recreated. I dove in and purchased both of the first seasons and feel like I actually learned how to play the tables. I could carry that knowledge to the real thing...if I could ever find them these days. And really, that is the other important thing about this game - it is actually preserving gaming history in a real and meaningful way.

    The only real issue is that with Seasons 3 & 4, they've effectively doubled the price of tables, making it a little bit cost prohibitive for the more casual fan to keep going.

  • I'm still on the fence on whether or not I actually like the 'Metroidvania' genre, but I am certain that I loved this game. Combine humorous characters with a fun combat system that encourages freedom to create deep combos normally reserved for fighting games, and back tracking will never feel like a chore.

  • I was only a casual fan of the original KI games, but I was excited to dive back into the franchise as the first fighting game of the new generation of consoles. I don't generally like when characters are released as DLC as it usually shakes the whole balance of the game, but with only 8 characters in season 1 (and 6 at launch) the game was instantly accessible and not difficult to learn. The combo breaker guessing games and lack of an XBone fightstick kept me from keeping this game in a constant rotation, but me and my man Thunder still put in plenty of work.

  • I did not get into the Dead Rising series until the second installment went free via Games with Gold. Though it was developed at a western studio, it's Japanese roots were evident and I was instantly in love with it's quirkiness. It helped steer me towards the XBone for next gen, and I don't think this version disappointed. I loved the 'psycho' missions in particular, and the ending reveal of a certain character's return was great. My only issue with the game really was that it took on a darker, grittier visual tone, perhaps to show off the next gen capabilities, whereas I would have preferred for it to have been brighter and more colorful as the originals. Still a fun romp through zombie town.

  • It's hard to believe that the first time we became addicted to the Peggle crack was nearly 7 years before this game, but no one can forget the feeling of clearing the last orange peg and hearing Ode to Joy. This game is simply more Peggle wrapped around a gorgeous and colorful presentation. The new challenge levels are quite fun as well, but I would have preferred a higher Peggle Master count vs. an increase in levels per character. The DLC masters were a bargain and overall this is a great game.

  • I'm going to take the fact that no one will actually read this list as license to put Rayman Legends at #10. You see, I have only ever played a few levels of the game via demo. I only recently picked it up on a 2014 black Friday sale, but what I have seen is enough to know that it has a spot on this list. I'll get to it soon enough!