This is an odd list. In a year that highlighted how great non-blockbuster games can be, my list is filled almost exclusively with triple-A titles. I didn't mean for this to happen, and if I were smart, I probably would have played some of those smaller titles. But when you have a kid, and if you have been following along, you'd know that I have two small ones (there's a large one too, but he lives with his bio-dad), time is at a premium. That and apparently, I still have a problem with MMO's and time management.So this is my list, and honestly, given my experience with each of the games on it, I can tell you that at least 4 of them would still be there. My only gaming regret for this year is that I didn't have the chance to play either Saints Row IV or Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. The first because it's balls-ass crazy, and the second, because I have no way of knowing if I managed to play ten games that were better then it. Oh well, we game and we learn.
Favorite Game released before 2013, played in 2013: World of Warcraft: Mists of Panderia
I have to give credit where credit is due. Blizzard did a damn fine job with Mists. It brought the fun back to Azeroth, and, I am ashamed to say, made me late on more then one self imposed deadline. I quit WoW halfway through Wrath of the Lich King, and while I played through the Cataclysm enough to level my main, I had no problem quitting after my month was up. Mists, on the other hand, has me rethinking my stance on MMOs, and it has me both excited for the next expansion they have planned, and truly terrified at the time I may sink into it.
5. Batman: Arkham Origins
This game was supposed to be at the top. To be honest, it's lucky that it made it in at all. It's the Batman game that didn't need to be, and it was only through standing on the shoulders of those excellent games before it that it manages to rise as high as it does. Troy Baker's Joker and Roger Craig Smith's Batman drive a story that is equal parts crime drama and lovers quarrel, and while the combat is only a shade of it's past glory, it's still the benchmark against which all other third person melee combat should be compared. It's a good game. It should have been great.
4. Card Hunter
Card Hunter makes me smile. It immediately brings to mind the heady days of youth, when I had time to huddle around a table with four of the best friends a dude could ever have and just dream. Dream and pretend to kill evil things with impunity. Card Hunter captures that in a free-to-play game. While I would much rather have a version without all the silly strings attached, it still served as a great reminder that those excellent times will never be dead as long as I can remember them. Even if the best of those youthful friends is.
3. Bioshock Infinite
I knew the moment I finished it that Bioshock Infinite would end up on this list. Ken Levine is easily the Christopher Nolan of videogames, a master of his craft that knows just how to hold your mind hostage for the length of time it takes to get through his game. Sure, when you think about it afterward, you start to see the bends and twists for what they were, but while I was in Columbia, none of that mattered, and honestly, it still doesn't. Levine had me from the moment Booker stepped off that boat, and blew my mind the moment Song Bird dies. One man, one woman, and one lighthouse. Everything after that's just gravy.
2. Tomb Raider
Lara had me at hello. I am a sucker for a good survival story, and this reboot is a damn good one. Never a huge fan of the “action heroine” Ms. Croft had come to embody, I loved watching this version of Lara earn her stripes. Climbing out of wreckage, rising from a literal river of blood, and surviving against an island that was set on seeing her death, there is no doubt at the end of her adventure that she is a changed woman. Whether that is for good or ill is yet to be determined, but you can be sure that I will be following the lead up to the eventual sequel with baited breath. Lara is back, and if I were you, I'd make from the arrow lest you be hit by the shaft.
1. The Last of Us
I didn't play The Last of Us when it came out. I had wanted to, badly, but it just wasn't in the cards. I had managed to miss everything about it, catching only the briefest of tidbits regarding its style, and less then whispers about its story. Coming in to it blind, it took me almost a week to finish it. That was almost a month ago... and I am still thinking about it to this day. I liked the combat. I enjoyed the scavenging for items and the simple crafting mechanics. I loved the quiet moments, the moments where Joel and Ellie simply got to be themselves, the moments where he could almost let down his walls and be human again. Those moments kept me pushing forward, and that ending, with its foreboding darkness creeping around its calm edges, will stay in my thoughts. Naughty Dog created something amazing here.
Honorable Mentions: One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2, Gone Home, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, Grand Theft Auto V, The Incredible Adventure of Van Helsing.
Reviewer and Editor for Darkstation by day, probably not the best superhero by night. I mean, look at that costume. EEK!