411 Games Top 5 12.23.13: Top 5 Games of 2013
Posted by Sean Garmer on 12.23.2013
From Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Grand Theft Auto V to Bioshock Infinite, Gone Home and more, the 411 staff count down the top 5 games of 2013!
Hello everyone, I hope it has been a good week for all the readers out there. It is time to see what were some of the Best Video Games of 2013.
This week the 411 staff was asked to give out lists for their Top 5 Best Games of 2013
Stephen Randle (Games Zone Reviewer, Quizmaster for the Four Player Co-op, Host of Cooperative Multiplayer "The Official 411 Games Podcast" Writer of the Wrestling News Experience)
* Top 5 Games That Aren't Winning GOTY, But You Should Totally Play *
5. Fire Emblem: Awakening - A long-running strategy RPG series, the latest effort really made a splash on the 3DS. The gameplay reminded me so much of the old Shining Force series, and I love the cast of characters and plot, plus the whole mechanic that lets you create a new generation of heroes during the story! If you have a 3DS (or 2DS), this is well worth picking up.
4. Marvel Heroes - In my original review, I basically said that this was Diablo with Marvel superheroes, and that was good enough for me. While the initial launch of this free-to-play action RPG was decent but unspectacular and marred by a few flaws, the developers have kept working feverishly, adding more heroes (Ghost Rider with bike-riding powers!), more content, and turning what was already a good effort into something that's really worth your time and hard to put down. I know I haven't regretted going back. But don't pick Hawkeye. He sucks.
3. Guacamelee! - In Guacamelee! you play a farmer who inherits the awesome wrestling powers of an ancient luchadore mask in order to fi ght an evil skeleton in a sombrero who arose on Dios De Los Muertos and took over your humble city. Did you really need to know anything else?
2. The Stanley Parable - This is an interesting game. Or perhaps not. In the Stanley Parable, everything is exactly what it seems to be while still not being entirely on the level. It's an enjoyable experience, or a harrowing adventure, or a very boring day in the life of Stanley, a man who discovers one day that everyone at the place where he works has mysteriously vanished. Everything that happens next is up to you, and a strangely caustic narrator who may be trying to help you...or lead you to your doom.
1. Gone Home - In 2013, as the console generation wound down and companies were already stretching the limits of graphical capabilities, pretty much every game of any merit had some pretty sweet graphics, sound, and gameplay. So for me, what set the top games of the year apart from the rest was story. Gone Home is an interactive adventure game where you search an enormous mansion for clues as to the whereabouts of your missing family. And that's all I can tell you, because the story is everything in Gone Home. It is an intricate, detailed, amazing and moving tale that you owe it to yourself to experience.
John Cash (Reader Voice, Occasionally Contributes to Four Player Co-op)
Note: I decided to go with my favorite games of the year over what I would objectively call the greatest or what will have the most impact on the medium going forward. If you can't follow that compartmentalization, think of what your favorite movie is, and then if it's not The Godfather or Shawshank Redemption, two of the best reviewed and put together films of all time, then you've been compartmentalizing subconsciously your whole life! Wow!
5. Cookie Clicker- Free to play, browser game, seasonal updates. In the past these terms have felt dirty to me when it comes to calling something a "video game", because while I like to think I'm pretty open minded, I'm still quite snobbish when it comes to flash games on the internet. Cookie Clicker's saving grace is that it's not attached to a social network; it's creator talks to the community surrounding the game through twitter and tumblr, but you don't need either to enjoy the game at all. So that's why I gave it a shot. It is now an addiction. As I type this, I am up to 6.492 QUINTILLION cookies baked all time, and even I'm considered the equivalent to a weekend warrior Cookie Clicker enthusiast. So many great inside jokes and fan created content to enjoy as well.
4. Grand Theft Auto V- Despite my gripes about the multiplayer complications, I thoroughly enjoyed the single player campaign for GTAV. As a film fanatic, it was amazing to not only see all the references, but also to notice many of the cinematographic choices made in different scenes, and how the camera is moved like it would be in real life filming a movie, despite it being all digital so it wouldn't have the gravitational limitations like real life does. It's that kind of thing, along with the overall tone and design of the game, that definitely puts it head and shoulders above every other GTA game since GTA III. Also, it gave us Trevor, and for that we will be forever in Rockstar's debt.
3. Tomb Raider- If you told 16 year old me that in 10 years, a Tomb Raider game would be in his top 5 favorite games of the year, he probably would use some horrifically foul language to make fun of you and Tomb Raider in general. I played through and beat the first Tomb Raider game, but I didn't like it. At all. See, this was back when you could go to a store, and they would let you borrow the game for an amount of cash, or as it used to be called "game rental". As a kid, your access to money is fairly limited, so when you spend money on a game, you want to get as much out of it as you can. Playing the original Tomb Raider was one of the most miserable weekends of my game-playing child hood. In 2013, however, playing the newly rebooted Tomb Raider was fantastic. The difficulty was just right, the collectibles weren't mind-numbingly tedious to find, and Lara herself was way more interesting as a character (though not necessarily a good character) than she was in the previous game. It even had an... okay multiplayer mode, at least they tried to make it a bit different (it was quite satisfying to arrow-snipe someone from across the map as soon as the round started.) I look forward to the next Tomb Raider game, which is the first time I've been able to say that.
2. Project X Zone- There's just something amazing about team-ups and crossovers. Whether it's Superman and Batman meeting for the first time 70 some years ago, the Avengers teaming up to stop a rampaging Hulk, all three casts of CSI working on the same case, Final Fantasy characters whisked away to Disney worlds, or John Munch connecting every single tv show into a single shared universe, we love seeing characters from different properties come together. Project X Zone is an extreme perversion of the genre; boasting a cast of over 200 recognizable characters from the game companies Capcom, Namco Bandai, and SEGA, this has to be the biggest crossover of characters since Who Framed Roger Rabbit! The combat is just right, in that it doesn't exhaust you with button configurations for combos, but rather focuses on timing your attacks just right to juggle enemies for exponential damage. And the super moves, MY GOD the super moves. Gorgeous sprites for each character, some great renditions of memorable game music, incredible dialogue between team-mates, and a fairly tongue-in-cheek plot all lead to a very solid and fun TRPG.
1. Super Mario 3D World- There are so many things to say about this game, and yet you don't really need many words to explain it. It's amazing. If you've ever loved a Mario game, you will love this game. That's really all there is to it. Everything is there; the gameplay, the return of the SMB2 cast as playable characters (with a very welcome secret character), the superb soundtrack borrowing from just about every Mario game, new power-ups, old power-ups, and of course the amazingly solid gameplay. There has been a big crybaby fit thrown on the internet (surprise!) about the white tanuki suit, which is available after losing five lives in a row on the same stage, and how removing the challenge that way makes the game pointless, but the immediate response to that is that if you don't want to use it, don't use it; it's literally an optional power-up that you have to walk over and get, they don't make you have it. It's there for people who just aren't good at video games, or would rather relax while playing than getting frustrated as such a cute game. I know, I know, Mario games are for babies and casuals. I will take both of those labels if it means I can play more games like SM3DW.
Stewart Lange (Games Zone Reviewer, Writer of Ask 411 Games, Writer of Retronomicon)
5. Payday 2 - Snuck out a couple of weeks before GTA V, I bought Payday 2 with no experience and very little knowledge of the original. At first, I was unimpressed by the long, boring mission I had played first (Mallcrasher) but after a few more missions, I was sold as to how fun the game was. Unfortunately, the bots that the game give you are little more than meat shields, so later heists were not only hard- they were damned near impossible. Thankfully, the game is meant to be played online and that is where it shines. Getting a good, balanced squad and absolutely smashing a three day heist. I'm not huge for online gaming and this game is not without the usual problems that come with playing with strangers, but it's such a rush and for my money the best multiplayer title I've played in 2013.
4. GTA V - This has won many awards, rightly so, but I can't justify placing ahead of any of the titles ahead of it on my list. My reason being that it's pretty much everything it was going to be. The detail level is insane and it'll last as long as you want it to given that GTA Online is now up and running happily, but I just couldn't help but feel somewhat underwhelmed by the end. I didn't get the same amount of time out of this one as I did with 4, or the level of fun I had with San Andreas or Vice City. A beautiful, crowning accomplishment, for sure. Just a sadly soulless one.
3. Bioshock: Infinite - This is one of the games I'll be writing about for the end of year awards, which I've been preparing for for around 10 months now. I knew this would be on my top games list of the year when I saw the trailer two years ago and it's every bit as spectacular as I wanted it to be. Sure, there are issues with the game and things I'd prefer, but the story told in this game is undoubtedly one of the best in gaming. I was blown away by Infinite, and if it had been released more recently, it may well have won my game of the year award.
2. Saints Row 4 - Hear me out. Is Saints Row 4 the same crowning achievement of a console generation like GTA V is? No. Is it a fairly unashamed rip off of Prototype with a map lazily copied from it's predecessor? Yes. Is it crawling with bugs and problems? Bet your ass. Despite every single thing I could down vote this game for though, I can't say I've had so much fun with a sandbox title since GTA 3 became the go-to drinking game. I sat with a grin on my face throughout this insanely fun title and I'd quite happily relive the experience all over again. An unbelievably good title and worth playing even if you didn't like the earlier instalments in the series, although a lot of the in-jokes will go over your head.
1. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag - Assassin's Creed was a trilogy I was glad to see end. By the time 3 ended, I felt that the series had peaked with 2 and Brotherhood, with Revelations feeling like little more than full priced DLC and 3 having the most irritating "hero" in a game that I can care to remember. Yeah, Connor was a bitch, I said it. 3 also added a sailing element, that I hated. So, when Black Flag was announced, I was extremely torn. On one hand, I was annoyed that one of the greatest punk bands of all time would have their name sullied by an unrelated video game, but also that a series I felt particularly attached to was going in a new direction, one that I didn't like the sound of. Release came and went, I didn't bother picking it up. When I was offered a copy a week or two later for £20, I picked it up but it sat while I finished other games. I gave it a go, got stuck on a sailing mission and gave it up. I was asked to review the game for 411 and got right back into it and ended up finding myself enjoying the game, even getting into the sailing and pirating missions. In early November, I gave Black Flag an 8/10.
It wasn't high enough. While I'd played around 70% of the main story by time of reviewing, I had not even scratched the surface of how addicting this game is. There is no more feeling of absolute bad-assery in gaming this year than completing boarding a Man-O-War while your health bar flashed red. The Freedom Cry DLC further cements how Ubisoft have gone full circle from 3, giving us yet another absolute legend of a main character in Adewale, formerly Edward Kenway's quarter master. I'm not only excited to see how the next game turns out (the reveal at the end made sure of that) but I'm excited to see what else this phenomenal game has to offer me before I put it on the shelve.
Robert Cooper (Music Zone Reviewer, Writer of "Metal Hammer of Doom" News Report, Regular Contributor to The Official 411 Games Podcast "Cooperative Multiplayer")
* Top 5 Castlevania Games I've Played this year! *
Editors Note: If you don't listen to The Official 411 Games Podcast "Cooperative Multiplayer" you should. Randle always asks us every week what we played and since the podcast started, Robert has always been playing a certain Castlevania game. So, this is really isn't a "joke" list, so much as a reality for Robert in 2013.
5. Castlevania: Lament of Innocence (PS2) This is one of the two games on this list that I haven't finished yet, but I have played enough of it to know how everything works. This is the game that is the first in the timeline of the main Castlevania titles, with the player controlling the first hunter in the Belmont family, Leon. The game does a nice job of converting the Metroidvania action that was so perfectly done in Symphony of the Night and converting it to a 3D plane. Some of the passages in the game are a bit useless, though, it feels like some rooms are just there so that the castle feels bigger. But overall, this is the first great Castlevania game that was in 3D, and it's definitely a title that I will be finishing up in 2014.
4. Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance This was the first game that I tackled out of the two that came in a two for one cartridge for the GBA. It's seriously rare, I got it for $5 though, thanks, eBay! Anyways, this game brought my addiction on the go as I got to control Juste Belmont (and later Maxim Kischine) as he wanders between the two versions of Dracula's castle in an attempt to save his friend Lydie, as well as stop the rebirth of Dracula. The game itself is fairly good, though I feel that it suffers from being far too easy as you reach the end. Sure, the bosses are still a challenge, but the monsters in the castle suffer from being incredibly easy to kill once Juste gets strong enough. I think it's because unlike Symphony of the Night, the developers didn't made the two castles you travel between fairly similar, and the enemies in them aren't much harder in one than they are the other. But oh well, the game itself is still really good, and a lot of fun. If you ever get too bored, do the Konami code when the logo shows up before the main menu, and try to beat all of the bosses as Simon Belmont...good luck with that!
3. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow: It's kind of funny to me that a game that I have only been playing for a few hours as of this writing gets ahead of a games that I have been playing for the past two months. The reason why is that this game is at the moment much harder and very different from the games before it. In this game you are playing as Soma Cruz, who has the ability to absorb the souls of the monsters that he kills throughout the castle. This adds a lot of tactics to the game and makes for something more than just killing enemies with a weapon. The story is also much richer than Harmony of Dissonance with many more characters being around than just the three heroes and Death. I can see why most consider this the best Castlevania game for the GBA, and I honestly cannot wait to beat it!
2. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow I want to thank 411's Todd Vote for lending me this from the other side of the country, I'm almost done with it, promise. But anywho, this was the reboot of the series that was done a few years ago and plays like no other Castlevania game before it. This game takes a lot of cues from the God of War games in terms of combat style, it is very much so a hack-n-slash, but it has more than enough Castlevania to it for it to be unique. This game stars Gabriel Belmont as he is on a quest to kill the Lords of Shadow and rid the world of their evil. This game is massive in scale and takes you to many different places throughout all 50 levels. The story is probably the best part of the game, with the voice acting up there as another great thing in it. When you get to the end (and the after credits scene...if you know the plot to the upcoming sequel, it's kind of already spoiled for you) you will be in awe of how great of a story that the game has told. Though admittedly, there are some flaws to the game, the camera is static, so it wont move, which makes for lots of problems when it comes to puzzles, and the game, while feeling large in scope, does sometimes feel a bit long, like some levels weren't needed THAT much. But overall, this game was great and I am almost to getting every achievement, which is pretty fulfilling. The sequel is coming out at the end of February next year and I am damned and determined to get it when it comes out!
1. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night This is the game that started this whole damn obsession with this series. It started when I was watching the "Super Beard Bros." Let's Play channel, and after about 10 episodes of that, I told myself that I had to seek out this game and play it, because it looked so much fun from watch the guys on that channel play it. So I went and found it for the 360, and after many all-nighters and searching for the last square in order to get all the achievements, I beat it. This game is lauded as the greatest Castlevania game of all time, with good reason. Everything is so wonderfully done, the game looks great, even if it is pushing 17 years old at this point. The sprite of Alucard is one of the most beautifully animates sprites I have ever seen, and the music in the game is to die for. The voice acting is a different story, as it is comically bad, yet quotable for the very same reason. The gameplay was revolutionary for the series at the time, and has a great progression to it, and makes it to where you never feel like you're invincible, even if you have 750 life. Not to mention, it's an addicting game, I once played bit of it to demo it for a friend that I was letting borrow the game and ended up getting sucked in for about an hour until I died. This is by far one of my favorite games of all time, and it is the best Castlevania game that I played in 2013, as well as the best game that I played in 2013. I highly recommend anyone with a PS3, a 360, or even a PS1 (if you want to spend that much money on a PS1 copy) to go find this game on the marketplace and buy it, it's probably one of the best gaming decisions you will ever make!
Jeremy Thomas (Editor of 411mania.com)
5. Injustice: Gods Among Us - Netherrealm Studios has been establishing itself as the premiere company when it comes to fighting games; first they gave us the highly-successful Mortal Kombat reboot and then they followed it up with Injustice: Gods Among Us. This was an early leader for me in terms of Game of the Year, taking the gameplay steps began in MK and developing them further. The game did a great job of balancing the various DC heroes and villains while delivering an engrossing storyline that is as appealing as the gameplay itself. Add in fantastic voice acting, very good graphics and a ton to do between the main storyline and the STAR Labs material, it was easily my favorite fighting game of the year.
4. DmC: Devil May Cry - I'm not gonna lie; as much as I love game that feature engrossing storylines, innovative gameplay and a reliance on smarts over button-mashing, every now and then you just have to be able to go in for a beat-em-up action game. And while it garnered derision from some parts of the the hardcore Devil May Cry fanbase, the rebooted take on the franchise was a fantastic example of the genre. It didn't hurt that it did have a solid storyline, good visuals and solid voice acting; I loved the hellscape elements and the new take on Dante's story was very well plotted. But the gameplay and fun factor for this one is what came paramount for me. I didn't care that they changed out Dante's look one bit; the new design looked great after all. This one was just a blast to play through from start to finish and that was all I could have asked for from it.
3. Dead Rising 3 - It's a late entry into the field thanks to its launch on the next-gen consoles, but Dead Rising 3 slots into my top five with ease. It may not have pushed the Xbox One's new graphics capabilities the way that (for example) Assassin's Creed IV did, but it made up for that with zombies, zombies and ZOMBIES. There's nothing quite like the joy of driving a jury-rigged, super-powered and weaponized forklift down a major freeway and splatting a good couple hundred of the walking dead in the process. And there's the undeniable humor elements as well; anyone who's played the game can tell you the hilarity of the high-powered dildo launcher combo weapon or the various psycho minibosses. But it's not all fun and laughs; I can't tell you how many times I've gone into high tension mode when I've turned the corner of an alley onto a street with a full-sized horde ready to devour me. The storyline is great and there are some fun callbacks to the previous entries. It's pretty much everything I could have asked for.
2. Tomb Raider - True story: I never really dug the Tomb Raider games at the level that most people seem to have. They were fun enough, they had their time and Lara Croft is undoubtedly a video game icon, but the gameplay didn't entice me much and neither did the storylines. The reboot changed all that by delivering one of my absolute favorite video game storylines of the year. It's great to look back and see how Lara became the bad-ass that she is and it was coupled with (outside of the QTE silliness) some very impressive controls. This is absolutely a video game for the next generation, even if it is on the now-"old hat" generation consoles. I enjoyed it so much that I am very likely to pick up the "Definitive Edition" for the next-gen consoles, which would mark a first for me in terms of buying a game more than once. That's some pretty high praise as far as I'm concerned.
1. Grand Theft Auto V - Here's another one that, like Tomb Raider, I didn't expect to like as much as I did. Listen, the GTA games are fun but they haven't ever made the "must-play" list for me. Largely that's nothing against the games; I'm just historically a terrible driver in video games and driving is such a big part of this franchise. Plus, come on...eventually you just start trying to get a bunch of cops on your ass as you run around committing criminal atrocities. I think all of us have done that before. And that's fun but it gets old quickly. GTA V is the first time that I have actively avoided doing that because I wanted to see where the game would take me. The open world is as expansive as an Xbox 360/PS3-generation game can get, the voice acting is top-notch, the gameplay is very effective (including driving; either I've become better at it or its become easier) and there's so damned much to do that the replay value is off the charts even before you get into GTA Online. That's enough to make it my best game of the year.
Wrestling 2 the MAX Podcast. Go listen to episode 69 and tell us what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org this week, we reviewed WWE TLC 2013, Monday's RAW, TNA IMPACT, NXT, and we discussed the final episode of Season 1 of Total Divas.
If you are a fan of W2M make sure to listen live on Monday Nights at Midnight ET on Spreaker.com And you can always call-in at (972)-591-8620 And make sure you join our ever growing facebook group as well. W2M Facebook
If you don't listen to the Official 411 Games Podcast "Cooperative Multiplayer" you should because Stephen Randle hosts a panel of 411 Games Zone staffers (usually including myself, Robert Cooper, Daniel Anderson, and sometimes Matthew Sforcina) discussing games they've played, the gaming news of the week, and just having a lot of fun too. Here is this week's episode that was just recorded early Sunday morning.