By Richard Reitzfeld
It’s been a huge year for gaming. We’ve seen innovative new IPs, stunning renovations of existing franchises, and – with the release of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – the beginnings of a new generation of console gaming.
As 2013 draws to a close it’s only fitting that we pay tribute to the games that, in a baseline exceptional year in gaming, still managed to distinguish themselves. We humble bloggers prostrate ourselves in the face of your greatness and bequeath unto you the holiest of offerings: The internet salute.
The Last of Us is an absolute masterpiece, and actually has my vote for overall game of the year. It was the first game I played on my PlayStation 3, and none have quite lived up to it since. It features a fantastic, and deeply emotionally involved story combined with horror third-person shooter game-play.
The experience of playing The Last of Us was like a hybrid of watching a movie and playing a game, both of the highest caliber. I’ve rarely cared so much during actual game-play, and I did because of the cinematic exposition. And the game-play itself is top notch. You can choose the stealth or the balls out action approaches, but more often that not, you’ll need to utilize a combination of the two.
The evolution of the relationship between the two protagonal characters, and the NPCs they meet and interact with along their way in the post-apocalyptic setting is as perfect an example of storytelling done right in a game as I can think of.
The context in which I played this game was such that I didn’t get to experience every aspect of it on my first play through. It was still one of the best games I’ve played all year. My roommate bet me I couldn’t beat it in less than one work week. The stakes of our bet you ask? Steaks. One t-bone steak with a side of hash browns cooked by the loser to be enjoyed by the winner, which I just finished eating. I started playing at midnight on Monday morning and wasn’t able to put A Link Between Worlds down until I finished it on Wednesday at 9PM. And I have a full-time job. I snuck away from my desk, played at lunch, even played in the bathroom. This game is DOPE.
The game-play is similar to that which it is the spiritual successor to, The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past, with one or two added elements that are absolutely superb. The music is incredible and provides an excellent bled of classic Zelda tunes mixed with an all new beautiful score.
The only place A Link Between Worlds is lacking is in the story, which is pretty much irrelevant in every Nintendo game anyway.
I’ve already reviewed Pokemon on here, so I can keep this short and sweet. Essentially, Pokemon X and Y represent, not only a pair of superb games in terms of Pokemon and beyond, but also a new gold standard by which each proceeding entry in the series will use as a base. Just as a base. These games have left the door open for infinite expansion and exploration of the new and improved graphical caliber and interactive elements of the series.
In a series where par excellence is always expected, Game Freak really outdid themselves with Pokemon X and Y.
BioShock Infinite is another one I’ve written about before. It represents the pinnacle effort of the series, taking the best aspects of the first two games and doing away with their weaknesses to create an intensely fun and action-packed gaming experience.
Specifically, BioShock Infinite is exceptional for solving the “escort mission” dilemma (which The Last Of Us did as well) that BioShock 2 suffered greatly from. The character of Elizabeth is more of a boon than a burden in terms of having to see her safely through the city of Columbia.
The story itself is far and away the best of the three, with an ending that nearly brought me to tears.
If there’s one reason to buy a Wii U, aside from the countless old school Nintendo titles you’ll have access to, it’s Super Mario 3D World. While, in terms of the Mario catalogue of games, it’s not as revolutionarily different as were Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario 3D World is one of if not the best game for the entire system.
It takes the platformed genre to an entirely new level by excellent incorporation of the graphical and interactive capabilities of the Wii U. It manages to maintain the classic Mario platformed feel, which also involving a number of new elements that thoroughly enrich the experience overall.
Not only that but Super Mario 3D World, while it’s a platformer, also has a co-op mode which is just as, if not more, fun than t’s campaign.
Written by: Richard Reitzfeld