1. JG

    I have two highlights from 2013, and both were Nintendo related. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds on the 3DS was a successful quasi-sequel to the classic Super Nintendo game and I loved it. Ever since Ocarina of Time (which is universally lauded by everyone but me), Zelda games have followed that basic third-person framework as opposed to the isometric, top-down style. ALBW was the first in a while to return to the SNES structure, but the incorporation of analog controls made it feel smoother and more playable than ever. Plus, by allowing the player to tackle the dungeons in any order they choose, they brought back something that had been missing from Zelda for years – a sense of true exploration.

    The second is Super Mario 3D World. 3D Land on the 3DS, for me, was an instant classic. So rife and brimming with fantastic new ideas, every level seemed like it had some wacky new concept to teach and share. That trend has continued in 3D World.

    So basically, Nintendo won my year not by having great graphics, but by having the best gameplay and ideas I’ve seen in years. Meanwhile, my PS4 is collecting dust since it’s nothing but generic shooters. I believe the PS4 will come around eventually – if you look at the beginning of the last generation, things were just as bad. But out of that, we eventually got groundbreaking games like Fallout and Skyrim, BioShock, Gears of War, Borderlands and so on. Stuff we could have never anticipated back when it started.

    Two other games I feel worth mentioning were Borderlands 2 and XCom: Enemy Unknown. Borderlands 2 continues to be the shooter that keeps on shooting and while I think it is infinitely more fun in co-op, I’m still finding new places to explore a year after the fact. In a time when most single player shooters clock in at less than 10 hours, Borderlands stands out as a game you can keep coming back to and it will always have new surprises and loot to find.

    XCom is, of course, a re-imagining of the classic PC game. And I have to give Firaxis (Civilization) major props for taking such a complicated, tactical game and boiling it down to the point where I can understand it. If you’ve never played it, XCom places you as the Commander of an elite worldwide organization that investigates extraterrestrial phenomenon. As it turns out, Earth is being invaded by aliens and it’s up to you to send your squad around the world to rebuke their attacks (in isometric, turn based combat) and gather the research needed to stop them. The trick is, you can’t be everywhere at once. XCom is backed by nations around the world, but the aliens know how to launch multi-pronged assaults where you will inevitably have to throw one or more continents under the bus. If a continent feels abandoned, they will leave the XCom project and your funding will dry up. That funding is needed to train new soldiers, buy armaments and expand your ever-growing base of operations.

    My lowlight of 2013, however, was the highly anticipated BioShock Infinite. Gawd, what a pretentious wreck of a game. It’s so full of itself that it was oblivious to how poor the combat that makes up 90% of the game is. Not to mention that the story is lousy too. You could argue that the story of the original BioShock had a very clear idea – it’s about the perils of unbounded capitalism and the collapse of utopia founded on it. Infinite, on the other hand – I don’t know what Infinite is trying to say. But I do know that it exploits hot button issues like racism for plot convenience, and for that, I find it pretty tasteless.

    If nothing else, let Infinite be an example of how NOT to do the third entry in a franchise. Let’s hope that if and when Valve does Half-Life 3, they don’t fall into the same trap.

    1. Oh man, do I AGREE with you on Infinite! It had several problems. I listed below a few of my gripes:

      Bioshock Infinite takes place high in the sky on a city supported by balloons. Ok, fun concept. Problem is, the author didn’t use the most obvious enemy, which is gravity! Half the game could of been Booker walking ledges, looking down at cornfields 3000 feet below, and if not careful, falling off. That SHOULD of been the games MAIN ENEMY! From the first teaser, I thought it would be!

      Instead, bad combat, a busy storyline that was too busy, which didn’t leave time for some enjoying gameplay much. The AI’s were a disappointment…hell the AI was better in Bioshock 1!

      Game was very LINEAR. Not much exploration to be done. Booker should of been allowed to jump from one balloon to the next. Again, the author didn’t use the environment to the game’s advantage.

      I think it was a huge mistake for Levine to put us in Columbia with it alive and sprawling. Bioshock 1 worked because you got to the city AFTER it went to hell.

      Well, a wasted opportunity, and a below average game. Let’s see what Levine has planned next. Perhaps a city in the middle of a volcano?

  2. 2013 I think was by far the year I’ve gamed less in all my life. I stuck with very few games from almost the beginning, and the total number of different games is pretty low considering I used to buy games really often in earlier years. A couple of games were very prevalent tho.

    The first one is osu!. I know it has quite a few years under it’s belt but it has been by far, the game I’ve spent more time on this year. I started playing it around February and I haven’t stopped, nor do I see myself stopping any time soon. The game is very appealing for some reason, and being able to look back and see how much I’ve improved on it since I started really is gratifying. It is one of those games that really takes a lot of time until it starts to pay-back but when you are able to complete an “insane” map for the first time it is a great feeling.

    The second one is Heartstone. Along with osu!, I pretty much have played it every day since I’ve gotten access to it. I’m not a big fan of card games, but it is amazing how fun they have made the game. It is so simple, yet every couple of weeks or so something happens that just blows my mind.

    I don’t know how much gaming will change for me now. I used to be one of those guys that played WoW for 3 to 4 hours everyday on the weekdays and almost the whole day on weekends, but now I find myself struggling to play games like Guild Wars 2, my most hyped game in all my life, and just a couple of months after it was released I stopped, before even hitting level cap.

    I don’t think I’ll be able to dive into any game like I used to, and I’m not sure whether I like that or not.

  3. Ade

    My favorite gaming moments are not that much SP related. First was when I was done gathering all the parts for my new PC, 1 by 1, putting them together, installing Windows, then Steam, then Half-Life 2: Deathmatch and seeing almost 1000 fps in game hehe. Then proudly changing my btc tester details.

    2nd was when I realized that out of all the people in that small multiplayer competitive community, me and my 2v2 partner were the cleanest and best manual players at that time, as the rest openly and shamelessly started talking about scripting on the main forum.

    I could talk about a 3rd one in real life that made me think of gaming. The first time I played a forest environment in one of SneakySpeckman’s Ville entries, I was astonished by how well he imitated nature and how I felt like I was there, in a mountain forest. Well this autumn, after playing another forest-like map from him, and actually being in such a place during a trip, I was now expecting combine to come out of bushes, or hear a hunter’s roar, and thought: wow, nature is imitating JC! It’s usually the enormous time spent mp’ing that affects my real life senses, but I guess sp’ing can affect me, as well.

    The not so great moment is actually now, in 2014, realizing the obvious, that sadly HL3 has not been released in 2013, but I won’t expand on that.

  4. Hec

    Definitely, being able to play Black Mesa will be marked in my memories forever, I can’t wait now for the xenian levels!

  5. My favourite moment was when I discovered Dark souls. I saw it on sale one day and I have been hooked ever since. It is a fantastic game, not for casual gamers though as it requires some time put into it and is one of the hardest games I’ve ever played.

    Other than that, 2013 have not been much of a year for the gaming industry, Nothing really fancy released. I am seeing lots of indie games pop up though wich I think will go a long way.

    Still waiting for some kind of indication that Valve is alive and doing some kind of Half Life work.

  6. Climbing my first mountain to Bleak Hearth Barrow in Skyrim with the Far Horizons track playing in my ears… so so epic..

  7. My prediction: Not much in the way of FPS games (except the new Wolfenstien I guess). Most new first person perspective games are open world RPG’s, not FPS’s. I get bored with those in a hurry (although “The Forest” looks damn good). I yearn for the days again of blockbuster FPS games 🙁

    I do hope for the Black Mesa team to release the complete game with Xen and all. Black Mesa is the best game I have played since Bioshock, and maybe better than that!

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