hardrock’s Best of 2013

Best of 2013 012013 was another very interesting year for video games. Reboots, new console launches and the subject of DRM among other things. Plus it was a year I personally learned that retro gaming is just as important as modern games, game collecting can become a full time and expensive hobby, branching out into more different ways of gaming can be fun plus much more. So it was an interesting choice of picks when I sat down to write almost all the games I played this year, and what I would ultimately pick as my favorite ones of 2013.

While most people/sites will only put games that were released this year, I don’t get to everything as soon as I would like too. Plus being a game collector and retro gamer, I sometimes discover and play games that were released years ago. So this list will contain the best and noticeable games that I played during the year in no particular order. Except the final game which is marked as my Game of the Year of 2013.

 The Gears Trilogy (Gears of War 1, 2 & 3)

Gears of War 01I finally accomplished something I have wanted to do for a long time. As a PC and longtime PlayStation gamer, I always missed out on the true exclusives that were offered on Microsoft’s Xbox consoles. Well that changed this year when I finally received an Xbox 360 (I can thank the girlfriend for this one). My first intention before I played anything from Halo or any another franchise, was to obtain copies and play through Epic’s Gears of War games. The story of Marcus Fenix and Delta squad isn’t the strongest ever. In fact, I’d say that it borderlines on the cheesy side at times with its sometimes forgettable lines and dialogue. But the gameplay is without a doubt fantastic, the voice acting is good, the characters are memorable and these games actually show something that most franchises don’t – the games get better as they go on. Usually I’ve played franchises that seemed to sputter or over develop their games by the final act, but here you can sense the scope and feeling that Epic wanted to outdo their last efforts as the games continued to get better and better.

With more intense gun fights, better visuals, bigger enemies than before and more refined combat, movement and online modes, these games are a great example of why you should own an Xbox 360.

Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger 01Made by the “Dream Team” developers of both the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series, this game has always been hailed as one of the greatest role-playing games of all time. Now I believe that very much. When I packed for travel earlier in the year, I knew I wanted sometimes to occupy my time. RPG’s usually do the job so I decided to take my Nintendo 3DS and copy of Chrono Trigger. So when I began playing, its gameplay and story automatically hooked me from the beginning. The story of Chrono and company is interesting for its ability to freely travel through time at your own leisure. Seeing the prehistoric age, to a destroyed almost inevitable future you are trying to stop.

Memorable characters and story, multiple endings, it is a game that is living up to its legacy in a strong way. The only bad part is that I have not had enough time to properly finish the game yet. But still, I strongly feel it deserves a place among this list.

Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine

Monaco Whats Yours Is Mine 01This game is a shining example of cooperative fun gameplay at its best. Can you play this game alone? Sure. Should you? No. My advice to you is to gather a group of friends, or join an online lobby, and (attempt to) work together as a team to pull off some heists that at first seem easy, but could take an unsuspecting turn when you least expect it at times. Oh but don’t worry if things don’t go exactly as planned, because that’s half the fun. With each character having a particular job, your ability to finish each heist will almost solely depend on you and how you navigate each particular obstacle and challenge. Throw in a zombie mode, that could make it even more hilarious and exhilarating, and it becomes a game of even more zany and wacky fun.

Great to play, a bit difficult to master, it becomes an addictive romp through its world of heists and something that Pocketwatch Games should be proud of.

Saints Row IV

Saints Row 4 01Take the over the top Saints Row the Third and crank that up another notch. Just when you thought Volition couldn’t add anymore after the kitchen sink, they grabbed the kitchen sink, injected it with mods and steroids and them unleashed it with even more outrageous powers, gameplay, dialogue and cameos from previous games that would be enough to make your head spin. Thought things couldn’t get crazier than SR the Third; guess what, they’re giving you super powers. How could they make a better city than the previous one? First let’s blow up the world (Yes, the world) and place you in a virtual reality that Neo from the Matrix would be jealous of.

Saints Row IV is the game that shows you, just when you thought it couldn’t get better, it does in just about almost every way.

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V 01Grand Theft Auto V is a bit of a double-edged sword to me. There are certain elements about it I really love. There are certain parts of it I really dislike. When I played Grand Theft Auto IV, I thought the most fun interesting part of the campaign was the Liberty City Bank robbery heist. So when I learned GTAV would revolve around an ex-bank robber, I thought “This is great!” Rockstar Games has taken the best aspect of its previous game, and built their newest game around it! And the campaign is one of the better stories in the GTA universe. Besides that, it introduced one of the most memorable characters in gaming history in Trevor Phillips. Then there was the online section. When it worked, I was completely addicted to leveling up my character and unlocking new weapons, vehicles and apartments. I hadn’t become so addicted to a Grand Theft Auto game since my days of playing Vice City. But, let’s not get into the “Bad Sport” aspect of the game.

While the game does have its problems, especially with the online multiplayer, it still makes a fantastic package and one of the better games of 2013.

The Stanley Parable

The Stanley Parable 01This is the story, or explanation, of why The Stanley Parable is perhaps one of the most unique games this year. You see, the author of this article loves unique games. Particularly ones that make you think about video games in different ways. And this game is a bit different because there are (in a sense) no enemies, no jump scares, nothing but a story of an ordinary man named Stanley and his life. Plus a narrator, who in the short time has almost become just as memorable as GLaDOS herself, as one of the only voices in the game. You see this narrator will say daily routine of the life of Stanley. Think of Will Ferrell’s Stranger Than Fiction, but with an interesting twist. Now whether you do or do not decide to follow what he says, will play out some of the most funny, different and outright strange play troughs that makes every time you play The Stanley Parable an almost completely unique experience. With multiple endings this is one most should definitely try out.

Like its description says; You will make choices, but you will also not make choices. You will play The Stanley Parable and you will not play The Stanley Parable.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Enemy Within

XCOM Enemy Within 01I still cannot believe XCOM: Enemy Unknown literally sat on my shelf for a couple of months before I even thought about playing it on my PlayStation 3. Playing this game reminded me of when I used to pretend with my GI Joe action figures when I was younger, having them attack enemy bases in my imagination. Fireaxis’ reimagining of XCOM did exactly that, except I didn’t need to imagine anymore. The layout was right there for me to move my squads into position, over watch for defense, and discover enemies that were right around the corner that I couldn’t see until I moved close enough. At times when it was too late, knowing that certain characters, if killed, would be gone forever with the permanent death feature. No matter how much time you spent investing in their abilities. In a way, I considered it a bit like playing chess as you had to plan out your moves in advance most times.

After discovering how much fun the game was I became addicted. Not with just learning new abilities but with obtaining new recruits and seeing what class they would be assigned too. Then later in the year came the expansion Enemy Within. Not merely just DLC, but a full on expansion that contained the previous DLC but also new skills to learn, the ability to turn squads members into part robotic mechs but also new enemies for you to fight. Truly fun and a game I don’t think I will be putting down anytime soon.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

The Legend of Zelda-A Link Between Worlds 01Hey, Listen! I always knew I bought a Nintendo 3DS for a reason. And The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds could very well be it. This is everything I wanted in a new Zelda game. So to get a new game almost based completely around the SNES A Link to the Past is almost a dream come true. I love the Zelda series, but I with a lot of the latest releases going into a full 3D look, I wanted sometime that heralded back to the classic formula of a Zelda game. And this game does deliver. Take one part nostalgia, one part addictive familar gameplay and the ability to play dungeons and discover things in any order you wish, and it’s another fantastic adventure throughout Hyrule… if not somewhere else also.

The original NES game is without a doubt of one, if not, my favorite game of all time. So to get another Zelda game that follows in that classic formula is a fantastic thing in my eyes.

And finally, my pick of Game of the Year for 2013 is…

BioShock Infinite (2013 Game Of The Year)

BioShock Infinite 01 Almost always when I played a game throughout 2013, I always asked myself a question: “Did I have more fun with this game, than BioShock Infinite?” Irrational Games wanted to make sure this wouldn’t be simply just another typical first-person shooter. They instead crafted a story that made not only the characters interesting, but the entire world which it was set in. Colombia, with its warped views of race, religion, patriotism and so forth, would eventually set itself up as its own future dystopia. And to see the changes it goes through plus learning the dark secrets the city holds was amazing. Plus the characters of Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth, with their small talk to outright debates, would only make the game seem more alive. Not to mention that the game is not without itself tying into the previous entries into the BioShock series.

BioShock Infinite is a fantastic combination of story, gameplay, graphics, characters and much more. And easily my choice for Game of the Year of 2013.

Just some of the other notable games I played in 2013 were: StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, DayZ, Tomb Raider, State of Decay, Fuse, The Last of Us, Dragon’s Crown, No More Room in Hell, Halo 4 (Multiplayer).

But also, there are still lots of games I could not get too this year such as Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Gone Home, Papers, Please among many others. Games I really wish I could have and still will. Some would say deserve a place on any “Best of” list, yet alone being called “Game of the Year.” But here’s to 2014, the future games and the hope I, or we, can catch up.

Do you agree with my list, or my choice of Game of the Year? What’s your choice? Or your list? Leave me a comment.

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