What a seemingly great year for video games, I say seemingly because while it was strong for games we witnessed the dramatic marketing collapses of Nintendo and Microsoft. There were too many good games to count, both in AAA titles and on the indie sphere and that's something we all noticed, whether when writing deliberations about the year at large or even casual player disconnected from the culture entirely. If there was a taste, 2013 sought out to satisfy that taste even if it were as off the wall as 90s shooters or Warcraft esque RTS games...not saying that all of them succeeded in being competent, the thought was there. Kickstarter gained an unprecedented amount of ground as a medium for gathering funds to make games, for better of for worse. I hope that two of the big three can rebound from terrible years on the console front, as a one console generation is too boring to bear. The former is bound to happen eventually, though I feel we've crossed a threshold for Kickstarters, those are here to stay and that scares me as a consumer. Selling games on the promise of a specific finished product, some games failed spectacularly like Takedown: Red Tango, and others are passing a boundary beyond insanity with projects like Star Citizen, where people have already dumped thousands upon thousands of dollars on what amounts to promised concept art. Games are going in a promising new direction, but Kickstarters are here to stay for better or for worse.
Favorite Game Released Before 2013 Played in 2013: Persona 4: Golden
This game was just so good. So. Good. Where do I even begin where others haven't? As someone who isn't a massive fan of JRPGs it smacked me across the face and presented itself as the best game I played this year, maybe one of the best games I've ever played ever. The characters are fun, the combat is fluid for a turned based system, and it never takes itself too seriously. One of the worst things a game can do is be so serious and pretentious that it forgets to add the fun in, and while Persona 4: Golden has portions that make it serious they're peppered in between the casual goofing around reminding us that these characters are still alive and flawed.
5. Rise of the Triad
I have a soft spot for fast paced FPSes, breakneck speeds and big guns make games fun. Rise of the Triad brought breakneck speeds, massive guns, and more blood than a Quentin Tarantino project. Even though the humor never worked all the time, its playfulness and overall craziness added up to a supid, but fun experience.
The launch consoles, as expected, were a little underwhelming. Resogun then reminded me how fun arcade shooters could be. Playing like Defender set in a light show, it was fast, frantic and above all: difficult. I found myself returning to this game countless times, not because it had a compelling story, rather it being an intensely fun arcade shooter and the best arcade title of the year.
3. ARMA III
ARMA II had a lot of problems. Sure it was pretty but boy did it hate working, it hated working properly more than anything. ARMA III did the unthinkable and was playable even in the Alpha stage, not to mention the engine ran smoothly which was shocking in its own right. It was endless fun watching as people coordinated missions against other players and tense firefights with no idea where the enemy was created a special sort of tension.
2. Super Mario 3D World
Let's be honest here, there's still not a lot of reasons to buy a Wii U. The best third party game in my opinion remains ZombiU, and that was a launch title. Though in this wonderful Year of the Luigi, Nintendo brought out great games, starting with Pikmin 3, with the HD Remake of Wind Waker in the middle, and ending with this. Super Mario 3D World continues the trend of Nintendo pumping out incredible Mario games inexplicably, I never knew it was possible to have a series with such staying power.
1. Grand Theft Auto V
After GTA IV, a game that reviewed well for the time but wasn't able to withstand the ravaging test of time. Ultimately GTA IV came off as being a stripped down San Andreas with Gears of War cover mechanics tacked on. Sure it went in a new, serious direction but it lost the charm of San Andreas and the vast size and exploration it offered.
While GTA V doesn't completely capture the same feeling as San Andreas, it learns to not take itself so seriously. It an incredible game that presents itself as the logical next step from the direction Rockstar was heading from GTA V, the logical next step being an addictively fun game with even more of a cinematic feel. Tongue slightly in cheek throughout.
Honorable Mention: Bioshock: Infinite, Saints Row IV