Well 2013 is nearly over and it’s time to hand out some hardware! I was too lazy to do much in terms of trophies but I doubt anybody’s going to display them proudly anyway. Here are my favorites and most disliked amongst a variety of topics here in 2013.
2013′s game of the year: Rogue Legacy!
Best game of 2013: Rogue Legacy
I’m not going to do that BS save best for last stuff, let’s get it out of the way right now, I loved Rogue Legacy this year. It’s fun, it’s well made, great action, smooth controls, even a decent story hidden into a great take on rogue-likes. Yeah sure, it is nothing deep or life changing and after you’ve played the game a few hundred times it does start to lose some of its luster but it was definitely the game I enjoyed most this year.
2013′s dud of the year: The Pit
Worst game of 2013: The Pit
Everything you don’t want in a Rogue-like game. Dull, boring combat. Little to no effect on the game based upon input of the player. Oh and best of all, absolutely nothing you can do if the game decides not to drop food and your character starves to death. Shake fist and move on!
Telltale Games: Developer of the year!
Best Developer of 2013: Telltale games.
There used to be a great way to tell if a game is going to suck: it has a big Hollywood license. While the industry hasn’t done enough to change this bias, Telltale Games certainly has moved the industry in the right direction. All this while bringing back ‘point and click adventures’ a genre most had thought died off in the mid 90′s. Great writing, voice acting, good graphics, and compelling stories are a recipe for success and telltale has nailed it with both serious games like The Walking Dead and less serious enjoyments such as Poker Night 2. Keep up the great work Telltale, I look forward to seeing what you bring to us in the future (and hopefully another Poker Night game?)
GLaDOS! …in a beard?
Show Stealer of 2013: GLaDOS
It seems no matter what game GLaDOS appears in she can’t help but steal the show. Sure she’s the main person you interact with in Portal and Portal 2 but the best dealer at a poker game is one you don’t notice. Instead GLaDOS might be the best character in Poker Night as she sarcastically questioning your decisions. All while avoiding the flirtatious advances of Claptrap and managing to randomly generate playing cards for all the players.
One-liner of 2013: GLaDOS “Surprise”
Hey while we’re still on GLaDOS she also manages to, in my opinion, deliver the best one-liner of the year. She seems to especially enjoy it when players get knocked out of the tournament and my favorite is when Brock Samson says, “I really didn’t see this coming.” GLaDOS in all her computer glory notes that she, indeed, did see this coming but she didn’t want to ruin the surprise. The best part is the party horn and confetti as she announces, “Surprise!” Had me laughing pretty loudly on that one.
Gunboat diplomacy = everyone loves you!
Nerf me now award: Civilization 5: Brave New World’s Gunboat Diplomacy
So Civ 5 has been a pretty well balanced game then the developers threw a wrench into it with the latest expansion. BNW brought all sorts of cool things to the game and it broke a lot of things as well. Most of this has been patched and tweaked out but one small feature continues to dominate the late game and completely throws off balance towards the Autocracy ideal. Gunboat Diplomacy is a late tier 3 Autocracy policy which generates influence points over city-states as long as they fear your military. This means once you’ve unlocked it and parked a few battleships or infantry next to each city-state, over time they all become your allies. Quickly that constant supply of influence will make it impossible for anyone else to wrest control of them from you. With all the city-states lined up you will not only dominate the world congress and ensure an easy diplomatic victory but also have access to all their luxuries and strategic resources. And if you go to war with someone, the entire world’s city-states will declare war with you! Just slightly OP’d…
Beatbuddy, a game about music, has good music. Who knew?
Best music of 2013: Beatbuddy
I was almost tempted to give this game to Farcry 3 Blood Dragon for it’s cool 80′s style music but Beatbuddy was far and away the best sounding game of 2013. I especially enjoy the way they incorporated sound tracks of each level’s song into the enemies so the music dynamically changes based upon the types of enemies around you. Really, really, good stuff!
Papers, Please. Still frustrates me.
Most frustrating game of 2013: Papers, Please.
I get it, a lot of people loved this game. But to me it was still just boring, tedious, hard work. There is nothing more frustrating than peering over somebody’s papers, spending several minutes checking all the documents, not able to find anything wrong so you approve them. As they walk away you hear the ominous crunching sound of the mechanical printer signifying you have just gotten another fine. Arg! I can’t afford to pay rent now because of that! And my son needs medicine and we haven’t been able to afford heat and and and… *sigh*
I call bullshit on this screenshot
Biggest Disappointment of 2013: Elder Scrolls Online Beta
Surprisingly, SimCity was not my biggest disappointment of 2013. I kinda new once I tried it that EA had done all they could to ruin that game. I still wished it was better but bleh. Hopefully, without jeopardizing my NDA agreement, I want to say my biggest disappointment came after playing the ESO beta. Now truth be told there’s still plenty of time to turn the game around but currently ESO is just… a mediocre MMO with some Elder Scrolls elements. It’s not the epic, awesome, amazing adventure that Skyrim was. I don’t know if an MMO ever can be, but ESO just came out as generic, mediocre, mush. Their decision not to use private instances for dungeons ruins any sense of ambiance and well… I hope they rethink it. I still hope they might be able to turn the Elder Scrolls franchise into something great but my dreams have been crushed and I still lack a good MMO to look forward to.
Most overused design feature? Early Access.
Excessive Lense Flare award: Early Access.
Lense Flares are a bit of an old school reference for video games and refers to a feature that is adopted by EVERYONE. Sometimes this is good, sometimes it is not. This year, with the rise of the indy game developer and crowd source funding, Early Access has become THE THING to raise capitol for a fledgling game studio. As soon as you have a playable alpha release ready (or sometimes even before that) rush out an early access game to start getting money coming in. I understand that having a cash flow can really help a game but I’m worried the excessive amount of Early Access games is going to pollute the waters with too much garbage. Most Early Access games have little to offer for the average player and only the really dedicated hardcore fan wants to put up with excessive bugs and have a constantly changing game that is hard to keep up with. Yeah there’s some appeal of having a hand in the development of a game but let’s be honest with ourselves here, as a developer you’ll never be able to make everyone happy. I decided early on I would never review an Early Access game because anything I write about it is probably going to be made worthless a few months from now and at what point do you take a game off of early access and call it done? To keep myself from ranting too much, I just wish steam had a way to filter out Early Access games. That’s a genre that’s far too hardcore for me.
And with that we wrap up the the unlucky year of 2013. What will 2014 bring? I don’t know, but I’ll be sure to complain about it loudly!