Community Review: Video Games In 2013

Being that it's the beginning of the year and all, there aren't many games coming out. That makes the community review post a little difficult! No games to review! So while we're waiting, and since the window is still open, let's talk about 2013 in general. Was it a good year for games? What sort of games defined 2013? How will it be remembered?

Whereas 2012 was a year in which 'smaller', indie games became a proper part of the game of the year conversation, 2013 was the year where handheld games seemed to completely surpass all expectations. I don't know about you, but most of my favourite gaming experiences were found on handhelds last year and, if anything, big blockbuster games on consoles continued to disappoint.

But I'd also argue that a couple of AAA blockbuster titles genuinely raised the bar and said interesting things. Tomb Raider and The Last of Us (particularly The Last of Us) raised the bar for writing in video games. Both — I think — were bogged down by the traditions of their genre and — I'd argue — some silly ideas about the things consumers find interesting and the things they find dull.

As good as both games were I feel as though they didn't have enough faith in their audience to be the games they truly should have been. Basically I'm trying to say that the amount of killing done in both games actively hampered and negatively affected the impact both games could have been. Shame.

But both games were positive steps forward. I enjoyed playing both.

The tail end of 2013, for me, was all about Nintendo. In terms of software I think Nintendo may have had their best year ever. Pikmin 3, Luigi's Mansion 2, A Link Between Worlds, Super Mario 3D World, Pokemon X/Y. That is a serious set of incredible video games all released over the course of one year. The 3DS was already steam rolling in the lead up to 2013, but now the juggernaut is chugging at a phenomenal speed. I'm hoping 2014 is the year that the Wii U starts to gain a similar momentum. It's a console with an increasingly solid set of games. I think it deserves a bit of success.

How did you see 2013?


    But I’d also argue that a couple of AAA blockbuster titles genuinely raised the bar

    Which is funny because a lot of people think that the triple A games this year were lackluster (or at least, aside from the games mentioned). Particularly with CoD and BF that played it way too safe and didn't do anything new. The only triple A game that stood out around that time was Assassins Creed.

    Tomb Raider annoyed me. It was too video gamey. I know, that's a weird problem to have with a video game but hear me out.

    They attempted a realistic tone with the plot and had Lara as a girl with the right skills in a dire situation. She was upset about hunting animals. She threw up the first time she killed someone. That was great. Set a good tone, was interesting and was something that they really could have worked on.

    Then she ends up going on a murderous rampage through the island. It became a chain of set pieces where she constantly ran into enemies that seemed to only exist as a thing for her to kill. By the end of it, they're running away from her as if she were Bhaal.

    The item collecting and experience system fed into that too.

    If they had stripped things back, had more combat like the early stages (small numbers or attempting stealth over violent bloody murder) and focused on the parts that actually fit with the character they were establishing, it would have been a much better game. Hell, they had a perfect opportunity to do that by adding in more tombs.

    On the other hand, the hair physics were pretty.

    Last edited 13/01/14 11:11 am

      If I didn't mistakenly find a 'tomb' about halfway through the game, I would have thought it was a whole new IP.

        It really bugged me because the game felt very combat heavy and the way previous titles (and the Uncharted games) broke this up was with more exploring and tombs. If the combat was less frequent, it'd feel less like a murderfest.

        But alas, they did not give Lara a chance to wash the blood out of her hair and the game suffered as a result.

          Yah, it just felt like I'm going through waves of enemies, then zipline somewhere, couple more waves, zipline somewhere else, fail horribly and endure a cutscene where Lara gets messed up... waves..

          + no option to avoid combat, its not like you had a choice of scaling the mountain or climbing around to avoid having to slaughter every solider

      Did you notice how many decomposing bodies were in some of those sequences? What exactly was the population of this island? How come no one had noticed tens of thousands of people disappearing to some mass genocidal island?

        lol thats what i thought of, i went wtf? no one is meant have been here in ages, why so many fresh bodies, plus the WWII soliders still looking pretty fresh considering they where exposed to the elements for so long

        Yeah totally. It was genocide on a crazy scale!

      Alot can be said about the gamey side of TLoU too that I feel stopped it from being an incredibly great game

      For example:
      - I hate enemies with unlimited ammo, only to discover when I finally defeat them that all I can scavage off them is a blade or 2 bullets... WTF? (worst example is the area with the automatic sniper rifle - most annoying part of the whole game - all these guys with unlimited ammo, and I barely got 8 bullets from them....)

      A TRUE survival situation would revolve around you waiting for your enemy to use all their bullets and attack, or use hand to hand combat - TLoU stuffed this up by having trigger happy enemies with unlimited ammo

      And lets not get started on the noisy Ellie and THAT subway scene with the clickers...

        Yah. Good point. I ignored that cos I loved the game but yeah, very annoying taking out shotgun dudes who have unlimited ammo, to find that you can't get any ammo off them.

        They really pushed the limited ammo thing to annoying levels. And giving you like 9 rounds for the rifle? WTF? I used to go hunting all the time and you can carry WAY more than 9.

    Gone Home and The Stanley Parable were my favourite games this year. I also really liked The Swapper earlier in the year. All up 2013 was a great year for indie games.

    I think with the exception of a genuine effort by Naughty Dog with TLoU, 2013 was basically treading water. The games were ok, but not pushing any new boundaries. We'll probably see more of this in 2014 until late in the year when we have a much larger install base on the next-gen consoles and devs sink more investment into it. Of course I'm hoping large online co-op experiences really rejuvenate multiplayer gaming because I feel like the days of the deathmatch have been in rapid decline since 2010.

      Games are really getting boring and stale in many cases.

    Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate is the best Batgame since Aylum :

    Bravely Default is soooo awesome!

      I agree. It has restored my faith in jrpgs.

        I never lost mine. You play Sragon quest iX, Lost Odyssey or blue dragon

        Orrr nier???

          Played blue dragon and lost odyssey. Didn't finish. Played ff13 and 2, finished but they sucked. I didnt love bravely default because it did a classic RPG, it did better and cut all the stupid extra crap out, always had quest locations on the map. Towns that didn't have endless hallways. Fast and fun combat. Wasn't grindy. Didn't have a badly written annoying womanizer (ringabell was way better than the dude in lo) last jrpg I really liked was twewy

            Did you finish bravely? I set it to easy at the end cos I reckon it got really grindy and repetitive.

            Loved it, that was my only fault.

              I had it on easy the whole way. Maybe I'm a nub but I always play games on easy. Found the dragons hard, I guess a lot of the difficulty would depend on your class team and skill setup etc. I had 2 suicidal black knights, a guarding Templar and a guarding white mage with 2 shields. I turned the random battles off when I hit level 99. Was fun seeing all the extra story with the side bosses each time.

                The Dragons is where I switched to easy. I play a lot on easy but felt I didnt need to with this.

                The most fun in the game for me was the jobs, so I biught that itrm that cancelled money but doubled exp & ap

                  Yeah got that too. I didn't buy many weapons anyway because I got a theif to steal good ones off some of the bosses, one of the times ( seem to b the same weapons each time)

                  Last edited 14/01/14 8:33 pm

    In terms of games, and the direction of game development, it was an exciting year and I was never wanting for entertainment. There were so many cross-platform releases too which is always a good sign that games are getting easier to port between platforms. The new console launches were a bit ho hum for me and I'm not sure yet whether I'm going to be getting one for a while. My biggest concern about last year was the trend towards game market fragmentation with every man and his dog seemingly releasing a micro-console. It's going to be interesting to see if any survive this year as the somewhat leader of the charge, the OUYA, has sort of faded back into obscurity after the initial release.

    Definitely the year of Wii U. New Super Luigi, Pikmin, Wonderful 101, Rayman, 3D World... amazing lineup. I guess 3DS did alright too, but Pokemon and Animal Crossing just get a shrug from me :P

    I think any year with a new GTA release, is a good year for triple A games.

    No mention of Ni No Kuni? That at least tried hard of being something new. (The combat and hand-holding is what got mixed reviews the most)

      I love jrpgs, I did not love Ni no kuni.

      This year was all about p4g & Bravely for me.

      I finished Ni No Kuni only yesterday and it was an absolutely amazing game. I would love to see a sequel or at least another game set in that world.

      The next game on my list is Bravely Default. I have high hopes for it because I've heard it's a better Final Fantasy game then the last few FF games.

    Wasn't dishonored released last year or am I a year behind?

      It was released in October 2012.

    My 2013

    Mark of the Ninja
    Crazy Taxi
    Max Payne 3
    Hitman Absolution
    Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
    Tekken Tag Tournament 2
    Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker HD
    Toy Story 3
    Dark Souls
    Fallout 3
    Battleblock Theatre
    Metal Gear Solid 2 & 3 HD
    Prototype 2
    Splinter Cell Blacklist
    GTA V
    From Dust
    Ghost Recon Future Soldier
    Bioshock Infinite
    (Please note although that list looks appalling I did not pay over $50 for any of those titles and the bulk were from cheap XBLA Sales!)

    On Steam:
    Scribblenauts Unlimited
    Star Wars Battlefront II
    Hotline Miami

    Completed in 2013
    Crackdown 2
    Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
    Half Life 2
    Trials Evolution
    Gears of War 3
    Max Payne 3
    Mass Effect 2
    Enslaved Odyssey to the West
    Assassin's Creed II

    Black Ops II multiplayer
    Peace Walker
    Shadows of the Damned
    Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
    Spies vs Mercs

    I found 2013 to be fantastic for the amount of games I'd been looking for coming out, and subsequently turning out to be fantastic.

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