Wednesday, 8 January 2014

My top played games of 2013!

I've never really made a top X list for myself at the end of a year so I thought I'd go through a few games that really stood out for me. Some of these may not have come out in 2013 but I did play them this year. Some games will be mentioned but due to them being rather fresh and frequent in other lists they'll just be mentioned without a dedicated part. I like them for largely the same reasons others do.
So without further ado and in no particular order, here's my list!

Mark of the Ninja

Probably the best ninja game I've ever played to date. Despite only being a side scrolling 2D game, Klei Entertainment managed to make stealth feel visceral. Sneaking past dudes feels rewarding, even without the floating texts adding to your score. The animation probably has a hand in this as it too is stellar. This game oozes style and polish in just about any and every way possible.
Story is often a thing that ninja games trip over but even that managed to be quite good with a surprising twist at the end. Ironically they did it so well that they had to figure out how to do DLC for the game as fans clamored for more! Sure enough, while very short and perhaps a bit overpriced despite its sweetness, they at least managed to tell a meaningful story that didn't feel entirely tacked on. If it's on sale though I can highly recommend the DLC if you liked the base game.

Totalbiscuit often praised this title for actually making you feel like a ninja (he really knows what that feels like?!) and while I had my doubts before trying it, I quickly understood what he meant and completely fell in love with this game. I believe I can echo something he said: "If you have any passing interest in ninja games and/or stealth games, buy this now!"

Uncharted 1-3..sort of

When I bought my PS3 about three years ago I did so partially with the wish to check out what all this hype was about with Uncharted. Sure, it looked pretty with decent voice acting. But it otherwise seemed rather generic. This is, IMO, mostly true for the first game of the series. Once the game introduced 'zombies' I was rather disappointed but wanted to know how the rest went on so I retired from playing it and looked to Youtube - which by the way there are some really good montages that really make the games work well as a movie, I can highly recommend it if you don't have a PS3 or plan on buying the games but have a passing interest!

Long story short, it was alright. Uncharted 2 I played entirely and that was a masterpiece. That is the game that convinced me "Ok, I get it. This is really something special." So many of the set pieces are amazing. And with an outstanding eye for detail to boot.

I'm currently in the middle of trying to finish Uncharted 3 but for some reason I find myself running in to the same problem I had with the first game. The hook, that unyielding gravitational pull to play the game isn't there for me. It is without a doubt a beautiful game that once again demonstrates Naughty Dog's understanding of the hardware they had to work with. The voice acting is splendid and the story keeps me glued to my chair. But the adhesive is absent for my hands to actually play it.
I wouldn't be surprised if I looked to youtube for this one again, because I definitely want to see how it ends!

Fire Embelm: Awakening

The first real buy for my 3DS and, together with the announcement of Pokemon coming later in 2013 and the next title of this list, one of the primary motivators to me for buying the system. I was really in the mood for a good RPG around February, especially a grid based one like this. So it was rather annoying that the European release date was as late as it was. But it was worth the wait. A fantastic cast of characters, beautiful art (cut scene animations!) and some good writing was to be found. It's also very approachable as someone who is generally horrible at games like Final Fantasy tactics by allowing you to disable perma death and setting an easier difficulty.

My only qualm with this game was probably the rather large amount of (paid) DLC they produced for it.

Luigi's Mansion 2

Although the first game scared the crap out of me (I'm very bad with scary or even spooky stuff) I loved the original NGC game. Luigi's Mansion 2 is a prime example of Nintendo's sense of level design and clever use of mechanics. Without spoiling anything, you're given a very limited set of tools to go ghost busting but the game manages to remain fresh, inventive and quite challenging throughout the entire campaign. It's a shame that I couldn't get multiplayer to work, it looked like a good hour or two of fun.
It is also within this game that I think Charles Martinez gets to flex his voice actor talents. One cannot help but smile and laugh when Luigi hums along with the music in a spooked manner.


A charming game that reminds me of the old days of DOS games in part due to its relatively poor production values. Text is portrayed as if it was stuck their with a text box from Paint. 
Being someone that is relatively bad at puzzle games I was quite intimidated by its complicated mechanics. To my surprise I got a hang of simple things like making guards open doors in their face, knocking themselves out. That and rigging their guns to ridiculous things never got old.
You can dumb problem solving down or make it rocket science as you wish, and it's really satisfying to figure out a cool way to get your way through missions.
Gunpoint also carries one of the most decent jazz soundtracks of recent history that totally fits the feel and setting of the game.

List of other Stellar games:

Last of Us
Bioshock Infinite
Tomb Raider
Tearaway - this game deserves a dedicated paragraph but this post is long enough

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