Last year, we embarked on the exciting journey of listing each of our top 5 games from 2012. With 2014 rapidly approaching, I decided now was the perfect time to elaborate on a few standout games that I thoroughly enjoyed in 2013. My list consists of 5 stellar titles that I feel not only defined 2013, but also made all of my gaming experiences this year both memorable and fulfilling.
5) Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
When Hideo Kojima announced that Platinum Games would be developing this highly anticipated action hack and slash title, I instantly became skeptical of just how good the final product would turn out. Earlier this year, the Japanese based studio released a borderline mediocre beat ‘em up video game by the name of Anarchy Reigns. After extensively having an opportunity to play that game, I can say now that the title fits perfectly as my mind was filled with nothing but chaos after being subjected to a such a boring and repetitive gameplay experience from start to finish.
Once Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance finally hit stores in February though, all of my preconceived thoughts and expectations flew immediately out of the window. As a spinoff series, Rising succeeded in drawing me in thanks heavily in part to it’s uniquely satisfying combat system, over the top boss battles, and Raiden’s borderline psychotic split personality referred to as Jack the Ripper.
While the storyline was often hit and miss at times, the dynamic of combining both serious subject matter and humor worked out surprisingly well and kept the game enjoyable on many levels. Even though the campaign length may have been too short for some, I went into this game thinking that it would ultimately be the first of many. Judging by how well critics have responded to Rising so far, my guess is that the announcement of a sequel can happen pretty much any day now.
4) Ryse: Son of Rome
Ryse: Son of Rome has been described by most prestigious gaming websites as a lackluster, middle of the road action-adventure title on the Xbox One. While some outlets have praised the game for it’s technically advanced next-gen graphics, other publications have complained about the game’s short campaign length and repetitive execution maneuvers. Surely with all of these statements being made, I truly must be out of my mind to add this Crytek developed game to my top 5 list right?
My answer to that question is an absolutely confident and resounding NO. What Ryse achieves for the Xbox One is far greater than most of the other launch titles out now simply because it offers a real glimpse at what is possible on a next-gen console. Ryse is not only beautiful from a graphics standpoint, but the Kinect integration in regards to calling out orders and watching the formation animations that follow are nothing short of exhilarating. Many may decide to take aim at the storyline by saying that it lacks originality and has a boring protagonist in Marius Titus. While even I will admit that the character could have been detailed further, the idea of taking a Roman soldier and turning him against his corrupt colleagues is a welcomed change that keeps things fresh all around. The Starz Original TV Series Spartacus was notorious for portraying these battles from the barbarians’ point of view, so a different perspective like this is quite intriguing to watch as it plays out.
While Ryse may not be a perfect game, it is in many ways one that I would easily classify as a fun time and an absolute must play for anyone who enjoyed the movie Gladiator. Anyone who deems this game as horrible without having actually played it should do themselves a favor a re-evaluate what exactly their definition of a bad video game is.
3) Tomb Raider
In a year filled with so many great releases, Tomb Raider is probably the one game that most people forgot about. This fresh reboot was hand crafted by the talented team over at Crystal Dynamics and drew a massive amount of attention thanks in part to the inspiration it took from Naughty Dog’s infamous Uncharted video game series. While Nathan Drake is seen as a more playful and cunning character in the vein of Indiana Jones, Lara Croft’s innocence served as the perfect backdrop to deliver both a deeply mature narrative and character study about surviving the odds at all costs. This essentially proved to be a breakthrough especially because the original Tomb Raider games were notorious for portraying Lara in compromising positions to emphasize her assets rather than her skills.
As I stated in my Tomb Raider review earlier this year, the game is far from perfect and definitely not deserving of any game of the year awards. This is due heavily in part to the developers making Lara the strongest character in the game and therefore leaving the rest of the supporting cast to fend for themselves. I also wasn’t big on the idea of them cramming in a multiplayer feature that totally wasn’t needed in the first place. Still with all that said, it’s hard to ignore the fact that I enjoyed what this campaign had to offer. From the satisfying combat aesthetics to the powerful performance of Camilla Luddington, Tomb Raider was without a doubt one of my top 5 games of 2013.
2) The Last of Us
After writing up a PAX East preview of The Last of Us from earlier this year, I wasn’t the least bit impressed by what I saw. The game was still in the alpha stages of development and the team did absolutely nothing to explain anything about how players were expected to navigate through the demo. Even though a game of this magnitude obviously isn’t meant to be experienced in a convention setting, I still questioned the logic of why Sony would showcase a highly anticipated title like this with still so many issues left to be resolved.
Luckily for all of us, the finished product was a far cry from the alpha build in virtually every way imaginable. Naughty Dog successfully delivered a survival horror title that evolved the zombie apocalypse concept and morphed it into a threatening world where the humans were just as desperate and dangerous as the creatures themselves. In addition to the immersive world, The Last of Us featured two central characters that we genuinely grew to care about in Ellie and Joel. On top of all this, the mature tone in which this story was approached also deserved recognition especially because this was the first mature rated game that Naughty Dog had ever created. Overall, Sony delivered not only one of PlayStation 3’s best games to date, but also one of the best games from this generation.
1) BioShock Infinite
Shortly before Naughty Dog wowed the world with The Last of Us, Irrational Games released what was arguably my most anticipated title of 2013 in BioShock Infinite. After the launch of the original Bioshock way back in August of 2007, Ken Levine went back to the drawing board and toiled away endlessly on a creating the perfect sequel.
Fast forward to 2013 and not only do we have a great sequel to the series, but we also have a game that rightfully deserves to be in the conversation for game of the year. On the surface, both The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite have compelling female characters, rich and suspenseful storytelling, and addictively fun combat aesthetics. Where BioShock takes things further lies in the fact that social interactions and events are being displayed within the world around you while you’re experiencing the core storyline. This is seen in both the daily day-to-day surroundings and the audio diaries that Booker finds scattered throughout each and every region. These encounters aim to serve as backstories to bigger events and truly give you a sense of how immersive and deep the world of Columbia truly is.
One other reason why I made this game my top choice is because of the ideas and theories raised within the narrative as a whole. Controversial subjects such as violence, racism, religion, and gambling are all put on display in an effort to keep the story as authentic and unforgiving as possible. Furthermore, the recently released BioShock Infinite: Burial At Sea DLC served as a strong reminder that not everything is as it seems and that these characters are very capable of changing things up at any given time.
This concludes my list on my top 5 games of 2013. Do you agree or disagree with any of my choices? Which games would you all say made your 2013 memorable? Please feel free to let me know in the comments section below.