Published on January 3rd, 2014 | by Michaela Buckley0
Top 10 Videogames of 2013
One of the best years of gaming finally comes to an end. It was really hard to make this list, especially as I hadn’t time to play some titles that I wanted to, but in the end I had to wrestle some sort of formation out and here it is. Also, if something isn’t included on the list, it’s either because I didn’t play it, or it is shit.
10. Pokemon X
The jump to cel-shaded and (somewhat) 3D gameplay sold it for me, but was never able to stand fully by itself or compare to my favourites of the series, Pokemon X/Y is a step in the right direction, but there’s still a distance to go.
9. Wonderful 101
Pikmin with superheroes, I’m not usually a fan of this kind of RTS game, but the comical gameplay and nifty visual design make it on the list. Unfortunately difficulty issues and poor tutorials let it down making it difficult to progress.
8. Tomb Raider
Modernising the franchise proved to be a great move, as Lara travels to a remote a Japanese island when things begin to get awry. Gameplay is improved and features some open-world and adventure elements, as well as the usual platforming and combat. The story was weak, but characterisation was pretty solid, making it the first engaging Tomb Raider ever, perhaps with some more insertions the series can improve enough to make the money Squenix so wish it earned.
7. Mario 3D World
Nintendo finally decided to make good on a Mario 3D sequel, this time you can equip a cat suit which allows you to run up walls. I didn’t play the previous game on the N3DS, but this one features fantastic gameplay and some really catchy music, which makes a change from the recycled gameplay, design and soundtrack to the 2D Mario games. Bit of a price tag though.
My most anticipated game this year might not have been what I was expecting, but it still managed to make it here. Ollie travels to another world in order to help save someone he loves, rescuing hearts and going on a grand adventure. the gameplay was fun and the visuals, amazing, but an essence lost from other games and Ghibli films makes it slightly disappointing.
5. Fire Emblem: Awakening
I haven’t finished playing this RTS game with dating SIM elements, but I have immensely enjoyed it so far, before I played this, I put it in as number six as a placeholder, but after playing I liked it more than I expected. I have only previously played the first one released here on the GBA, but the additional gameplay features including team-ups, generation match-ups and the more useful transformations when promoting characters has made the game massively surpass it. The addition of a ‘Casual’ mode where characters don’t perma-die when defeated in battle has been a godsend.
Words need not apply to this series.
This one didn’t get a lot of hype, but the sequel to A Link to the Past, not only exceeded expectations, but for many like myself, it rivalled some of the best that Zelda games have to offer. The dungeons are expertly crafted and memorable, perhaps even to a fault if you were to replay it, look incredible, sound beautiful and all while having any equipment you care to rent or purchase from virtually the start of the game.
Since I played this game, I have been listening to its soundtrack non-stop, there are some old classics in there that are revamped but it’s mostly new tracks in the dungeons and as you continue to play some of the songs evolve, which is real attention to detail. There are quite a few sidequests which are great to seek out and complete, but the game is so fun that it didn’t feel enough and I wish there were some more. It’s not a clone of A Link to the Past, it merely uses its assets to give an experience as perfect as it does, while also pushing the series to freedoms they’ve never had before. In a lesser year, it might have been number one.
An emotional and gripping game, The Last of Us hit it out of the ball park for Naughty Dog whose previous exploits Uncharted and Jak & Daxter were not exactly game of the year contenders, despite the quality. The Last of Us follows Joel and Ellie as they attempt to journey across America in a post-apocayptic world featuring fungus zombies. Another zombie game? After all the hype I was finally convinced to play, and boy, was it a worthy purchase!
There is more than a skin deep relationship between the two main characters, and set against the backdrop of chapters and some really fantastic plot decisions it easily is one of the most rewarding experiences this year, but it’s also got enough action and scares if you aren’t into the drama. The gameplay comes easily as it blends survival and action, with some mild puzzles which mostly serve for narrative purposes. It’s great for people who are interested in gameplay over plot as it is fairly challenging and offers some great incentive to replay in order to find all the items and unlock conversations with Ellie. The survival alchemy function is great and forces you to make some hard decisions about your strategy.
If you have a PS3 and you’re into arty or action games, it manages to satisfy most who play it, which is why it remains number two on this list.
When it really comes down to it, the battle for number one was between these two, but in the end there was only one winner and Bioshock Infinite simply had to be it. Unlike The Last of Us, I enjoyed every moment, from the enchanting beginning, the addictive middle and the awe-inspiring finale. I loved the first game and it really is hard to decide the superior game, Bioshock had more RPG elements and tactical fights, Bioshock Infinite had improved feel to the movement and a heavy focus on characterisation. That one had a great thematic story, this one had an explosive final chapter. Overall, it’s about even, showing that some franchises can return on form, even with Bioshock 2 in the mix.
The story has been lauded as one of the most brilliant in the medium and you won’t meet a single person who has played it, that would neglect to mention the terrific ending, free from tropes and guessable twists that we tend to expect to garner such glory.
It really is that big of a deal.
The inclusions of in-game mechanics, such as the skyhook have given a new dimension to the gameplay and with the ability to use the guns and your powers gained from the vigors (no longer called plasmids as in Bioshock) it adds a whole different dynamic to the calm calculated fights from Bioshock, with large frays involving about 20 enemies, bullets come from all sides at both sides as you use Elizabeth’s abilities to make objects work. The world of Columbia is a great place to fight in and explore as it looks astounding, with lots of things to find scattered about. Its occupants comical caricatures of frightful figures of America’s past and present. Every step is a new wonder when the very city rests in the sky, connected with skyhooks and littered with propaganda.
But after all this, it’s the wonderful characters of Elizabeth and Booker that truly captivate us, their journey to escape Columbia while it unravels around us, fleeting exchanges while exploring empty streets, dark conversations in elevators while the clouds whirl outside. Elizabeth is not a girl you lug around, she helps and gives the narrative its own breath of life, in a year where the spotlight was on how women were portrayed in games, Elizabeth was a shining beacon that you can make a game about a woman and still make it exciting and fun.
In the end, Bioshock Infinite has many facets, but the one that makes it so spectacular is its cool blend of awe and excitement. Every moment is magic, proving that games can really go where films and books don’t, it truly wouldn’t be possible to adapt this, a work made entirely as a game, every second a celebration of gaming and how far it’s come.