Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Game of the Year contenders 2013

As is always the case we hit the end of a year and people start proclaiming what was the best those twelve months had to offer. When I started this post I was in a bit of pickle, I was convinced I'd not played that many games this year. The latter half of the year I've not touched that many of this years' releases from a personal standpoint and most of my recent purchases has gone on the great games from the last few years that I missed. I'm got Dishonored for Christmas, which says a lot.

Despite everyone crowing about how Black Flag is a return to grace for Assassin's Creed, I just couldn't being myself to put money down for it, having been too burnt on Revelations and 3. I don't have a PS3 so The Last of Us is out. The Wolf Among Us is sat in my Steam Library unplayed, and both that and The Walking Dead Season 2 only have one of their five episodes out so far.

Most of the new games I've reviewed have been a bit rubbish, Then I looked at the list of games that actually came out and I started spotting a few from the first half of the year that were just bloody brilliant.

During my choice of GOTY 2012 I went on about not having played FTL or XCOM and though I was secure in my knowledge that The Walking Dead was bloody brilliant I did dedicate a lot of time to those two, and both could easily have been contenders for last year. The Enemy Within expansion of XCOM is amazing, and does set Firaxis' attempt apart from its predecessor.

But what did I actually play from this year? Bioshock Infinite obviously. Its story was fantastic. I loved the ending, and the use of Elizabeth throughout was amazing. Finally an AI character that wasn't a pain in the arse. However, the actual shooting was a bit tried and tested, just an old school shooter, didn't really do anything new that the original BioShock did.

Tomb Raider was a hell of a great game, and it's awesome for Lara Croft to finally hit modern gaming, just as the current generation has ended. It's certainly up there, but when I look at it, there's that moment of WTF? regarding Lara's first kill. Great moment immediately spoiled by her second kill coming seconds later as you drive her climbing axe into a guy's neck.

Coming out of nowhere, unless you noticed how much Joannes Truyens posted about it over on BeefJack, Gunpoint captured me for an entire evening. I tried the demo, bought in on Steam and three hours later had finished it, without looking up from my monitor once. Absolutely captivating game.

As good as State of Decay was, you could feel that the development team had much bigger plans and scaled down to fit it into an Arcade title. There's so much unfilled potential in their world. I can't wait for the sequel when they go all out.

Injustice: Gods Amongst Us is one of two games I reviewed this year that actually properly wowed me, and it was a great fighter with a fantastic DC storyline, but it's no Game of the Year. Splinter Cell: Blacklist is the other, and out of everything here it's probably the bottom of the list, but I absolutely loved it. The game sits by my 360, waiting for one of my friends to buy it so I can do those co-op missions. It managed to perfectly straddle the more action orientated approach of Conviction with the old style of stealth, and gave the player freedom to do it how they want. That freedom is probably why I regard it as the best Splinter Cell I've ever played. Though admittedly I've only played three of them.

Shadowrun Returns was the first of the big Kickstarters we got our fingers on. As it came out I lost my entire weekend too it. It reignited my love of isometric RPGs, something I've spent the latter half of this year wishing to tend, but with Wasteland 2 just on the horizon, I've been hesitant to jump into anything huge. Which is sort of where Shadowrun Returns falls down. It's damn short for an RPG, but it pulls off its story well enough. The end boss fight is bullshit though. I can't wait for the Dragonfall DLC next year. The only other Kickstarter I was interested in that got its release was Broken Sword, but we've only got half a game and it really needs the whole to be good (I hope).

I'm really tempted to give it to XCOM: Enemy Within, because I spent so much time with Enemy Unknown, and Within just breathes a whole new life into it, and Firaxis can stand proud of their version instead of it just a reboot now. But it feels like cheating, and there's one game I've obviously not mentioned yet. So see you in 2014.
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