The Also-Ran Games of 2013
It’s the time of year when we all make our lists. The GOTY awards are here! Some games deserve to be mentioned that probably won’t make many lists though. Imperfect games. Games that came out too late. Over-ambitious games. Oddball games. Games that were interesting but not fun, or fun but not original, or original but not polished. It’s time to discuss those games.
Well, 2013 was an amazing year for games. It’s easy to be cynical, but with Steam Sales, new consoles that work surprisingly well, Nintendo back on form and the indie scene thriving, the truth is we’ve never had it better. And if someone says the years has been a disappointment for gamers, well they’re quite simply too lazy to go out and find great games, because no matter what you’re into, there was something for you this year. It may be harder to find the gems, but there’s no doubt that there’s more of them than ever before!
So here’s my list of the also rans of 2013. Some of them are bad, some are pretty good, and some might even turn out to be great!
Assassins Creed Black Flag seems amazing, but I simply haven’t played enough to put it on my list. It’s the same story with Saints Row IV, although I must admit that it seems a bit too similar to three for my taste and I don’t enjoy clearing out all the same tasks in the same city, but the writing and comedy is still great. Payday 2 was great fun, and it got me into multiplayer games again having been completely bored with the genre for a while. I think a lot of its appeal came from the fun stories I made with some of the other members of CDT.
Gone Home is one of those games that gives you hope for the genre. I’m glad it exists, but I did get bored, and the cursive writing on all the letters you have to read was a real headache for me. Sang Froid is a game I admired more than I enjoyed, but I loved the atmosphere and it’s one of the few games of the year that did something completely new. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a beautiful game, but the story was a bit toothless and front-loaded for me, with some awkward sentimentality and a grindy JRPG gameplay style which put me off. Metro: Last Light was a somewhat old school FPS that was brilliantly atmospheric, but suffered from awkward difficulty spikes and it was a patchy experience that oscillated between brilliance and mundanity.
Remember Me was a good start for a new series, but lack confidence in its ambition. It should have had more focus on the memory remixing and a tighter story. Batman: Arkham Origins was both the best and the worst of the Arkham games. Its streamlined design cut out much of the dull parts of the other games, but it was very unambitious and worryingly buggy. Battlefield 4 had a truly awful singleplayer campaign (albeit better than 3), and though the multiplayer remains strong, it seems a bit unfriendly to new players and I have no doubt that this is because dedicated players have already unlocked all the best weapons and perks. Similalry, Killzone: Shadow Fall had one of the worst campaigns I have ever played in an FPS, but the game engine is stunning and the multiplayer is basic but fun.
For real mutliplayer thrills, Chivalry: Deadliest Warrior is your best bet. It’s essentially just more Chivalry, and that is obviously a great thing. If you fancied a decent FPS meanwhile, Shadow Warrior was absolutely nuts and amazing fun from start to finish. It was a surprisingly good looking game too.
And finally Shadowrun Returns was pretty good, albeit a bit light on content, while Cart Life was criminally overlooked as everyone discussed Papers Please, a similarly bleak, though I would argue less interesting game about the “mundanity of evil”.
And the biggest disappointment of the year was undoubtedly the excretable Beyond: Two Souls, where David Cage completely lost the plot and made 57 different movies with Ellen Page starring in them all, then packaged them up and called them a game.
Oh, and I might be the only one that has a ton of love for Gears of War: Judgment, but I thought it was the best of the series!
Ok, that’s it for the overlooked games. Overlooked no more! Now I’m off to write my GOTY list. Shit just got serious.