Gaming Nomad’s Top 5 Games of 2013
Wow! 2013 was a big year for the gaming world! Big titles, long awaited games finally released, landmarks in gaming, big controversies, big surprises, and a new generation of consoles is here. What a ride it has been and just like last year, I’m going to give a rundown of my top 5 games of 2013 along with several fun categories.
Keep in mind, some of these are not to be taken as seriously as some of the other categories and my game picks are based on my opinions and experiences with the games. If you don’t like them, then go write your own list and put it on the internet.
Fare warning: There will be some spoilers here and there so tread lightly if you’re sensitive to spoilers. Anyway, let’s get this show on the road!
BEST DRESSED: Booker DeWitt (Bioshock Infinite)
Sporting an early 1900’s look and slick hair, Booker is easily one of the best dressed of this year’s protagonists.
- Professor Sycamore (Pokémon X and Y)
- Elizabeth (Bioshock Infinite)
WORST DRESSED: Harley Quinn (Injustice: Gods Among Us)
Cosplayers looked better than Harley did in the actual game. Fortunately, there were alternate skins including her classic look for DLC.
- Trevor (GTAV)
- Dante (DmC)
BEST NPC (Non-Playable Character): Elizabeth (Bioshock Infinite)
Elizabeth is one of the best NPCs I’ve ever seen. In addition to having really good AI and not being a liability like with most NPCs who just follow you around, she is actually helpful to you in battle. She’ll give you ammo and health, open up rifts in the area to give you an edge, and actively seeks out items and money for you. Plus she’s just fun to watch as she interacts with her environments like a real person. Elizabeth is easily the best part of Bioshock Infinite.
- Ellie (The Last of Us)
- Riley the Call of Duty Dog (COD: Ghosts)
BEST MALE CHARACTER: Joel (The Last of Us)
Joel is a complex lead character. He tries to do the right thing but is also someone who will do anything necessary to get what he wants. After losing his daughter, Joel spends most of the game trying to keep from having similar feelings towards Ellie, though he eventually does and will protect her no matter what, even if it means losing a salvation for mankind.
- Edward Kenway (Assassin’s Creed 4)
- Green Arrow (Injustice)
BEST FEMALE CHARACTER: Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)
This year we saw the young and untested Lara Croft go through hell and back on her first expedition. In addition to having a realistic transformation from helpless cast away into balls of steel heroin, she’s also one of the most detailed character models of this generation with realistic environmental reactions. She can even survive climbing to the top of a freezing cold mountain while wearing a tank top. Truly a survivor.
- Elizabeth (Bioshock Infinte)
- Nilian (Remember Me)
BEST HERO: Batman (Arkham Origins/Injustice)
It’s Batman. Need I say more? Well, Batman did pull double duty this year saving Gotham on Christmas Eve from The Joker and others that would become his long time villains in Arkham Origins. He also helped save the alternate universe of Earth One in Injustice but it’s all in a year’s work for The Dark Knight.
- Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)
- Raiden (Metal Gear Rising)
BEST VILLAIN: Superman (Injustice)
What if the world’s greatest super hero became the world’s greatest threat? Driven by grief and anger after being tricked into killing Louis Lane and his unborn son and failing to save Metropolis from a nuclear armed Joker, Superman snaps and kills The Joker before Batman’s eyes. Superman then declares himself ruler of Earth and ruthlessly kills anyone who stands in his way including many super heroes he once considered his allies. Only Batman and Justice League members from our own world are able to stop him and bring an end to his iron fisted regime over Earth One.
- Zinyak (Saints Row 4)
- The Joker (Arkham Origins)
MOST UNFORGETABLE SEQUENCE: The Opening of The Last of Us
The first 10 minutes of The Last of Us is one of the most powerful openings to a game ever. I do not know one person who didn’t cry at the sight of Joel holding his daughter by the time the title appeared and if you didn’t you have no soul.
- Joker’s New Year at the Gotham Royal (Arkham Origins)
- Welcome to Columbia (Bioshock Infinite)
MOST FORGOTTEN GAME OF THE YEAR: Crysis 3
There are a lot of games that come out in a year that do not make a long lasting impression. Then there are some that you think would have but end up fading in everyone’s memories. This year it seems to be Crysis 3. It’s not appearing anywhere on yearly top ten lists or being mentioned by the gaming industry. It’s sad too because Crysis 3 was actually a good game and I feel it is what Halo and Call of Duty games should try to live up to. But in a market over saturated with FPS games, it just didn’t hold as much lasting impact as it should. At least it tied up the trilogy nicely.
BEST BOSS BATTLE: Senator Armstrong (Metal Gear Rising: Revengance)
The last boss of Metal Gear Rising is one of the craziest boss battles I’ve seen this year. First you fight a huge Metal Gear. After destroying it, it is revealed to be piloted by a US Senator but not just any Senator; a hulked out senator on nano-machines. He gives a speech to Raiden about American diplomacy and then proceeds to beat the crap out of Raiden with his bare hands and even kicks him like a football. Yeah. It’s crazy and over the top but honestly, rather awesome and strangely fitting of Metal Gear.
- The Elite Four (Pokémon X & Y)
- Bane (Arkham Origins)
BEST WEAPON: Dubstep Gun (Saints Row 4)
- HF Blade (Metal Gear Rising)
- Remote Claw (Arkham Origins)
THROW BACK GAME OF THE YEAR: Catherine (2011)
This category is for a game I played for the first time this year but it was not released in the same year so I can not formally put it on this list but deserves mentioning anyway. This year’s game was Catherine; a unique blend of puzzle gaming, platforming, anime, horror, romance, comedy, and drama. I can honestly say I’ve never played a game quite like it and ended up really enjoying it to the end. It is also one of the hardest games I’ve ever played. I recommend checking it out but be ready to die repeatedly before getting the hang of it.
BIGGEST CONTROVERSIES OF 2013: Xbox One
When Microsoft first introduced the Xbox One to the world earlier this year it was met with lack luster enthusiasm. Many of its features felt like restrictions and threatened to change just how the used games market worked. Requiring 24 hour internet log-ins would make anyone without constant internet connection unable to even use the system. Thankfully, the massive backlash they saw after E3 led to Microsoft removing these features.
Microsoft claimed to want to change the face of the gaming industry and maybe their ideas could have worked better in practice but the world just isn’t ready for fully digital game libraries and having to always be online.
- Sim City DRM
- Battlefield 4 Server Issues
BEST POKEMON: Espurr
Aww, isn’t it cute? Just sitting there all fluffy and… staring at us… with those big eyes… never… blinking… Um, the Espurr is a physic type Pokémon that has to keep its ears down in other to restrain its powerful and destructive… powers… If it doesn’t restrain its powers… It could kill us all… Espurr… Stop… Stop looking at me like that… Espurr… ESPURR NO! AHHHHH! HELP! OH GOD I’M BUNRING AHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
- Mega-evolved Charizard
BEST SOUNDTRACK: Metal Gear Rising: REVENGANCE
Nothing goes as well with slashing apart armies of cyborgs and drones quite like fast paced, electronic metal. It wasn’t exactly the music itself that helped the game but the way it was used. The music always kicked in at the right times making the boss battles and other fights all the more epic and fast paced, perfectly fitting the over the top nature of this game.
- Ducktales Remastered HD
- Pokémon X and Y
THE TROY BAKER AWARD: Joel (The Last of Us)
Troy Baker is literally in almost every major game out there. He seemed to sneak into many of the games I reviewed this year so I figured I’d give out an award for his best performance of the year. I found Joel to be his best performance over all as he truly brings the character life and makes him feel like a real human being and someone we would actually meet in real life, though his performance as The Joker in Arkham Origins came very close to taking the cake. He sounds just like Mark Hamill and it’s kinda creepy.
- The Joker (Arkham Origins)
- Booker DeWitt (Bioshock Infinite)
BEST GRAPHICS: Bioshock Infinite
There were so many games this year that brought landmark graphics to us that it’s really hard to pick one of the other. I go with Bioshock because Columbia was just so beautiful to look at and explore. Plus Elizabeth was an impressive character model and AI though I think Lara Croft was a bit more impressive as a playable character model. Anyway, it was an impressive year in technical achievements leading up to the next generation of gaming and it even asks if we even need a new generation of gaming yet?
- Tomb Raider
- The Last of Us
MOST DISAPPOINTING GAMES OF 2013
I have posted quite a few things from Arkham Origins on this list, so far so you’d think that Batman would be appearing in the top games of the year, right? While I did love the story and how the characters were handled, Arkham Origins is the weakest entry into the Batman Arkham games with a rocky launch filled with glitches and other bugs. While much of these issues have been patched (combat, frame rate drops) and I did find myself having much more fun with it on my second play through, it is still a weak follow up to the masterpiece that is Arkham City.
There is very little real advancement in gameplay from the previous two games and doesn’t hold up well against some of the other big name games that came out this year. I was really looking forward to this game all year and, sadly, it did not live up to my expectations. I do recommend it if you’re a hardcore Batman fan but only after playing Arkham City.
The unnecessary reboot and reimagining no one was asking for. I certainly wasn’t asking for it. I’ve been waiting since 2007 for Devil May Cry 5, you know, a continuation from DMC4. NOT A REBOOT. Of course, most people hated Dante’s new look and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me. He looks like a member of My Chemical Romance, not the badass demon hunter we’ve all come to know and love. Beyond the new art direction, there were many more things I took issue with. While I did like the improved voice acting (they sounded like real people, not anime characters), some pretty good boss battles, and level visuals that were cool, the developers got way too carried away with designing levels around the new grapple weapons.
Every level after the 3rd stage seemed to be platforms over a massive void. You have to grapple over nothing which would at times require trial and error till you got to a platform to fight off some enemies then repeat. I found myself not having much fun with this game. It barely felt like Devil May Cry to me and I do rather worry about the future of this franchise.
THE WORST GAMES OF 2013
Call of Duty: Ghosts
Another year, another Call of Duty. Comparing other games to Call of Duty has become an offensive thing to say over the past couple years, mainly because releasing the same game every year with minor changes cheapens a franchise and that is exactly what has happened to Call of Duty. Yet it manages to make billions of dollars upon each release. However this year with Ghosts, the long time fans and reviewers who blindly gave these games 9s and 10s are definitely getting tired of Activision’s yearly crap from the cash cow. When a reviewer has to say ‘It’s Call of Duty’ to describe your game, that’s not a good sign. That’s like saying ‘It’s Pac-Man’ or ‘it’s Tetris.’
Ghosts had a lot of pressure riding on it as well since it was going to be a launch title for the next gen systems while at the same time coming out on the current gen consoles and it failed on both fronts. The only difference between the Xbox 360 version and Xbox One version are some slight improvements in visuals. That’s it. I can only hope Infinity Ward will actually listen to fans and critics this time and maybe try something different instead of spending 2 more years making the same game again.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
What was thought to be an awesome shooter based on the Alien movie franchise turned out to be a steaming pile of crap. It was a bit surprising as it came from Gearbox, the same studio that made the Borderlands games (BL2 was my game of the year for 2012) and promised a true Alien experience with a story that was a continuation from the movie Aliens, acting as a bridge between Aliens and Alien 3. Instead we got a rushed, broken, and incomplete mess of a game that failed to deliver in just about every aspect.
With stupid enemy and friendly AI, poor graphics, poor sound design, busted co-op, laughably short campaign and last boss, only fighting the aliens in just three levels of the game, as well as several other promises that were made about this game that turned out to be outright lies, Colonial Marines is one of this year’s biggest disasters. This could be game over for Alien games.
Ride to Hell: Retribution
Possibly one of the best titled games ever because you will feel like you are riding through hell while playing this piece of trash. You play as a biker in the 1960’s looking to avenge his son’s death at the hands of an evil biker gang and save his dad… or something. It kind of doesn’t matter as you’ll be bombarded with everything that could possibly be done wrong in making a game. Bad graphics: Check! Horrible controls: Check! Boring and repetitive gameplay: Check! Mind numbingly bad music: Check! Embarrassingly bad voice acting: Check! Horribly misogynistic portrayal of women: Check! That’s a recipe for a game you wouldn’t want to touch with a 100 ft long stick.
The only good thing that can be said is that there wasn’t a very large audience looking forward to this game which should have been cancelled as it almost was multiple times during its ‘development.’ If you happen to find yourself in proximity of this game and it is free, then you might want to drink a few beers and play it for some laughs at how bad it is. But then you must immediately blow away the disc with a shotgun after playing it. Possibly the worst game of the decade.
THE BEST GAMES OF 2013
5) The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
This is an odd one as I honestly didn’t really enjoy this game. So why the hell is it on here? Well, while I didn’t enjoy the game personally, I do see why it is a good game and why Zelda fans have been saying it is one of the best games in the franchise in over 20 years. It goes back to the old school style of gameplay just like Link to the Past (of which this game is a direct sequel to). The combat is kept simple and you get all the items you need at the beginning of the game and item usage is governed by a meter.
This means the game is designed around the gameplay and levels. The story is kept simple as it trims away the fat seen in Zelda (and other similar games) with lots of story and padding. The dungeons are the high light of the game as you will use every item to get through them and use them in clever ways. The same goes for the bosses. They are fun and challenging to fight against. The graphics are beautiful and some of the best I have seen on the 3DS. So why didn’t I like this game? Well, I’ve never really been a huge Zelda fan in the first place. I don’t think they are bad games, just uninteresting to me and I tend to never really get very far in them. It’s just not my cup of tea. However, if you are a Zelda fan, you must play this game and make it a valuable part of your 3DS collection. This is a good game, just not for me.
4) Tomb Raider
In a year filled with reboots, Tomb Raider stands as the best and how it should be done. While it did have some missed opportunities to make use of the survival theme, had some annoying QTEs, and lacked interesting post game content, the overall journey was fun, intense, and visually beautiful. I find that the crowning achievement of this game is the character of Lara Croft.
They make her a very realistic and relatable character that reacts to the situations she is in like a real person and over comes the challenges in a logical progression. It’s also nice to see a well known sex symbol in gaming not being over sexualized or needlessly wearing skimpy clothes and showing off fan service. Though I do think she should have put on a coat when getting to the top of the mountain.
Another landmark in gaming this year and the best game in the Bioshock series by far. What stood out to me aside from the beautiful graphics, fun gameplay, and interesting story, was the characters and level of character development that just wasn’t in the previous Bioshock games. They did a great job making Booker a deep character even though you play from his perspective, a problem many first person games have with the characters you play as. Of course, the character who stole the show was Elizabeth with her intelligent and useful AI and looking like a Disney princess. It also had one of the best endings I’ve seen in a game in a long time. The numerous delays this game had were worth the wait.
What appeared to be another zombie apocalypse game turned out to be anything but. The Last of Us is one of the best acted and human games I’ve ever played with a strong emotional core and very strong characters. The stealth gameplay and scavenging is a lot of fun and keeps you on edge and my god, the opening. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a heart wrenching moment in a video game. The only issue I have with this game is the AI during stealth segments. It’s pretty stupid, though it does keep you out of trouble if your partner screws up and gets caught but it just takes you out of the game when an enemy stumbles upon Ellie and nothing happens. For a game that focuses really hard on realism, it’s a sore spot. Also the ending… Yeah, we’ll see where that goes. Is it the Citizen Kane of gaming like so many critics have proclaimed it to be? No. But it is still one of the best games of the year and a must play.
Before you start throwing pitchforks through your computer screen and angrily commenting how wrong I am, let me explain just what makes a game of the year for me. To make GOTY for me, it has to be something I can’t put down, want to play again as soon as I finish it, holds my interest long after the hype has passed, and something I can really just immerse myself into interest wise. To my surprise, the game that did that for me this year was Pokémon. I had been out of the Pokémon game since gen 1 and nothing about it really interested me in it till these games and my god, I witness the rebirth and redefining of a franchise with X and Y.
This is the Pokémon game I always wanted as a kid and more. It felt familiar but new. I was in awe at the Pokémon world finally being in 3D with some of the best graphics yet on the 3DS and enchanted by the beautiful soundtrack. Not to mention all of the online opinions which makes it one of the best online games I’ve played in awhile. For easily being the best games in the franchise, re-sparking my interest in Pokémon, and providing hundreds of hours of enjoyment, I give Pokémon X and Y the title of Gaming Nomad’s Game of the Year 2013.
This is a must own game for the 3DS and the perfect reason to get back into Pokémon.
Thank you for reading my round up of some of this year’s highlights! Stay tuned for much more from me and the other game reviewers at Candid Slice coming in 2014. I hope to get a PS4 within the next couple months so I can leap into the next generation of gaming. Also we have a PC gamer who will be joining us so we can expand into PC game reviews as well. Feel free to discuss my picks in the comments below and Happy New Year!
Special thanks to Dorothy Mullinax for the feature image!