2013 was an interesting year in gaming. We all waited in anticipation of the next generation of consoles while also viewing the best that the current generation had to offer. PCs welcomed the mighty £800+ GTX Titan graphics card and we all got a little bit excited by the announcements of a Steam Box. But we’re gamers and it is “all about the games”. So what games got me excited this year? Well let’s start with my biggest disappointment
I love simulation games in general, but none more than Sim City 4. Obviously I was very excited when they announced a new Sim City game. But then more details were spread about the game and my interest, along with the interest of many of the series fans, deteriorated. Adding servers to what has always been a single player game was just a downright stupid idea. The multiplayer aspects had good intentions, but never really paid off. Most embarrassing of all was the shambles that was the game launch. I had backed out of my preorder, and was sure glad I had when the shit hit the fan at launch. But I am still a fan of the series, so my willpower broke about a week after launch and I jumped in once the dust had settled. What I found was a nice looking game, but it lacked so many of the features of it’s predecessor and the tiny maps were a major disappointment. That’s not to say I absolutely hated the game, it was just a bit of a let down of the expectations I had for it.
The other highly anticipated game for me this year was GRID 2. The racing genre is one of my favourites, and the whole TOCA series has been right up there on my list. I played the first GRID game to death before trading it in, only to later buy it back again. It had been a fair break between GRID and GRID 2 so I was eager to get back on the track. The difference between this and Sim City is that GRID 2 did not disappoint at all! Visually it was amazing for an arcade racer. The cars handled in that unique Codemasters style and the new game modes and the dynamic tracks were excellent features. The future is bright for the GRID series, and I award it my Racing Game of the Year.
Strategy/Sim of the year
Those who know me or regularly read my articles know that my favourite game genres is Simulation and Strategy. Whether it is RTS, TBS, empire building, city building or driving trains, if it has the potential of a thousand hours of gameplay then I enjoy it all. There were a few games this year that were really pleasing in this category, even if they are all sequels. Total War: Rome II has to be up there, as does Cities in Motion 2. My top two for this year would have to be Football Manager 2014 and Europa Universalis IV, but I’m not going to pick any of them as the number one sim/strategy for the year as the number one game I played all year was Crusader Kings II, which is a good couple of years old now but still getting regular expansions added to it. The Old Gods expansion added a huge amount of new adventure to the game, and got me back onto the wagon after previously curbing my addiction. Maybe next year we’ll see Crusader Kings III…
Mobile Game of the Year
One game really stood out on my handheld devices this year and that was Sir! I’d like to report a bug! The game has a classic retro style with great chiptunes and insanely difficult levels. Never have I been so frustrated with a game yet not had the urge to rage quit! The humor in it is classic, and it hits close to home for all developers. Sir! I’d like to report a bug! has flown under the radar, but should be a definite purchase for everyone. The team working on it was very small, and their work deserves some appreciation.
Multiplayer Game of the Year
Usually I get a good multiplayer game and by the time I’m done with the single player campaign, everyone else has moved on to the next game and I don’t get the full multiplayer experience. When PayDay 2 surfaced this year a few friends were posting about the fun they were having on it and I decided to jump in and see what the fuss was about. I then played it almost every night for at least a month! Planning the perfect heist with your friends and then not at all sticking to the plan as things go tits up around you, weighing up the risk/reward factor, not leaving your downed friend behind even when you could be away with your loot, and then celebrating the success or arguing over the failures in the lobby afterwards. Before Payday 2 came along, I hadn’t had as much fun in a multiplayer game since Goldeneye on the N64.
Game of the Year
Continuing on the years theme of strong sequels there can only be one contender for my GOTY. Grand Theft Auto V was again highly anticipated, possibly the most anticipated game of this console generation. The PR campaign was perfect, teasing us with little details, and then blowing our minds with a gameplay trailer followed a week later with a multiplayer gameplay trailer. The multiplayer mode came close to beating Payday 2 for the above award. The three individual yet intertwined stories are as good as the technique to switch between the characters. The quality of that expansive gameworld is just phenomenal, and I will no doubt be getting lost in it for a good long while.