Tis the season for people to make Top 5 lists of stuff they like so people on the internet can say they are wrong. Yes, we will have our official awards eventually, but for now, we are talking to you not as critics or reviewers, but as players, as gamers. So, without further delay, here is our Top 5 Games we personally loved this year.
Will Muscat (In Ascending Order)
5. Gears of War Judgment (Xbox 360)
I’m a huge fan of Gears of War, and while this wasn’t the standard Gears game, the universe was still enough to get me interested. It was up to the story to keep me interested, and while many complained, I found it different enough to feel new but similar enough to make me feel how I did with the past games. This would be higher on my list if it wasn’t for the lack of Horde Mode and non-traditional multiplayer.
4. Dead Rising 3 (Xbox One)
It’s still a little early, but the short time I’ve had with Dead Rising 3 has offered me enough to keep me coming back again and again. If this was released earlier in the year, the game could have taken my top spot. Zombie slashing isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but for me it feels right at home, and I expect it will last me well into next year.
3. Bioshock Infinite (Xbox 360)
Confession. I never played the first two Bioshock games. Yes, I have committed a sin. I did get hooked on Infinite however, and story wise it was one of my highlights of the year. The character dragged me in and the world around them kept me interested, topped off with enjoyable gameplay and an ending I enjoyed enough to play again and again. One hell of a game in 2013.
2. NBA 2K14 (Xbox 360/Xbox One)
This is one of those games for which I just couldn’t wait til next gen. I picked it up on the 360 on launch day and then grabbed it again on the Xbox One launch week. Most years I put in the effort to play all of the new major sports titles. Not every title gets played every year, however I struggle to remember the last time I missed an NBA game. It captures the excitement of a real game right down to the final minutes in a tight spot. Few sports titles can do it like NBA2K can, and for that reason 2K14 finds itself as number 2 on my list.
1. Tomb Raider (Xbox 360)
I expect I won’t be the only one in this situation. Few games are reimagined successfully. Most wind up missing the point and failing. Tomb Raider 2013 however was one of those rare cases where the reboot is just as exciting as the original, I dare say even better. From the open world gameplay to the Uncharted-esque perspective, few games had it all this year and even less captured my imagination like Tomb Raider did. I really can’t fault this game and it is for that reason it is number 1 on my list and why I’ll be picking up the Definitive Edition next year on Xbox One.
Paul Barbara ( No Particular Order)
1. The Walking Dead: A TellTale Games Series (XBLA)
Before anyone points out this game this game didn’t release in 2013, think again because it was not officially released in Australia until March 2013. The Walkind Dead is a brilliant game that demonstrates that a good story, strong moral choices, and engaging gameplay is worth more to gamers than multimillion dollar budgets and four-year long development cycles. TellTale created a masterpiece in my mind with The Walking Dead, hence why it’s one of the few games I found truly engaging this year.
It’s not often that I refuse to put down a controller when playing a game, and it’s because TellTale had me so invested in the game’s characters. I felt connected to them, and I like that when I play. I developed a special bond with Clementine that I haven’t experienced in many games lately. The episodic structure is something you don’t see very often, and it’s a good thing it works. The bite-sized episodes give you time to digest what you have played and anticipate the next one. TellTale made me feel like one of the survivors desperately trying to make it in a world that has fallen apart. It’s an absolute blast, and I cannot wait to sink my teeth and life into Season 2 when it is released.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD (Wii U)
The Legend of Zelda has always been one of my personal favorites, no matter what console it was on, from the NES to the Wii. It’s always been about exploration, saving the princess from evil, exploring towns and villages, slicing grass and smashing every pot (and chicken if you’re so inclined) in sight. Wind Waker HD is a remake of the GameCube version from 11 years earlier, and it is a masterpiece. This version was presented in glorious HD graphics with gamepad support and managed to consume huge amounts of my time.
Even though I’ve completed Wind Waker before, it was still a game I had to experience again. Initially I was going to just play for a few minutes to see what the new visuals were like. Before I checked my watch, 6 hours had passed, it was 3 in the morning and I was already on my second dungeon. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD is a game that draws you in with its bright and colourful world full of adventure and exploration. No matter how many times I see and hear it, I will never get sick or tired of opening a treasure chest, holding my breath for what I find. It is magic, and the only to describe a game and series that has spanned decades that continues to this day as one of the most highly regarded franchises by Nintendo.
3. Ryse: Son of Rome (Xbox One)
Ryse was a title that had me excited before the Xbox One was even released. As a launch title it was hammered by critics for having linear gameplay and just being next-gen eye candy. Despite this negative press, Ryse looked like some good old fashioned hack and slash gameplay combined with a Roman setting, which was a winner in my book.
Ryse’s story wasn’t written by Stephen King or JRR Tolien, and it doesn’t matter as the game’s message is pretty clear; slay the Barbarians and save Rome! Ryse is just plain fun. Despite owning many other stellar games at the time, I’ve found myself playing Ryse with no urge to play anything else. The online arena matches are fun with a friend as well. Yes, Ryse is a launch title and many gamers and critics were very critical, but in my opinion it was a fun experience and one that I am glad I took part in.
4. LEGO City Undercover (Wii U)
As a fan of LEGO games, LEGO City continued to push the franchise forward by incorporating voice-acting, gamepad support and mixing it into a world that emulates Grand Theft Auto was no easy feat. However, these features and changes meant that LEGO City was something fresh that didn’t revolve around Batman or Harry Potter and tried to take a new direction, which I applaud.
LEGO City Undercover is just plain fun no matter which way you stack the bricks. If you feel the need to just explore the city for hours and days on end, you can do that. You can also follow the story, or go on a massive collectable hunt searching for every gold brick; LEGO City is your oyster. It’s a game I have thoroughly enjoyed that has made the best use of the Wii U Gamepad to date and I wish this sort of experience is expanded upon in the future. If your kids are screaming for GTA V and are 13-years old, give them LEGO City instead.
5. The Last of Us (PS3)
This was a game that knocked the dust off my Playstation 3 this year, and with incredible force as well. Naughty Dog’s latest effort was stellar to say the least. As a fan of survival horror and the zombie apocalypse, The Last of Us ticked all of my boxes. 2013 has been a year full of zombie games, so what makes The Last of Us so special? For me, I enjoyed the narrative of the game, the story, the characters, and the emotional journey.
The Last of Us was very well received amongst the press and has been dubbed as one of the best reasons to buy a Playstation, and I do wholeheartedly agree. Sure, the level design can be a little repetitive with the usual formula of explore area, get attacked, survive, push on, rinse and repeat, but that’s okay with me. Sometimes keeping a game simple can be the most effective and positive thing you can do, and this is where The Last of Us shines. It’s simple, yet effective, and all the way through it keeps you hooked into its story. Like many games I’ve listed today, you form an emotional bond with the characters, which is hard to do in most games, but The Last of Us succeeds with ease.
The Last of Us was more of a serious game for me, but it is still very enjoyable. I would recommend it to all of my fellow gamers, regardless of your console of choice. Go out and get this game, you won’t be sorry.
Craig Cirillo (No Particular Order)
1. Tomb Raider (Xbox 360)
Tomb Raider was the much touted reboot of the once successful franchise. I have mostly ignored the multiplayer component of this game as the few games I had didn’t stand up to the likes of Call of Duty. That, and the single-player story is just that good. Playing through Tomb Raider had me engrossed from start to finish, very much like I was when I played Uncharted 2. Tomb Raider is back to its very best, and I can’t wait for more.
2. Rayman Legends (Wii U)
I initially had a go at the Rayman Legends demo on Xbox 360. I was impressed, but as this game was originally meant to be a Wii U exclusive. I had seen that it was meant to have very good gamepad integration, so I decided to pick up the game on Wii U. Boy was I impressed. It is an absolute blast to play and is pure platforming genius that uses the Wii U gamepad superbly. A definite must have for Wii U.
3. Ryse: Son of Rome (Xbox One)
Boy was I excited for the Xbox One launch! I lined up at midnight to get my machine with a few games already in hand. During my month or so with the machine, the game I have spent the most time on is Ryse. This is an epic game that hack and slash fans will love. Gameplay is fun and brutal, and the graphics are gorgeous. I haven’t tried multiplayer yet, but I am loving the story mode so it can wait. A must buy for Xbox One owners.
4. Gears of War: Judgment (Xbox 360)
Gears of War is one of my favorite series of all time, if not the favorite. I loved the first and third games in the series, the first for its multiplayer and the third for its campaign. With Epic Games taking a backward step and letting People Can Fly take over for Judgment, I was interested to see how this game would come up. It received mixed reviews in the press and I can understand why. It just doesn’t have the Gears feel to it. But apart from that, I really enjoyed the single-player mode and played it to completion. I guess I just love Gears too much to not enjoy this. Multiplayer was good as well but there hasn’t been a sequel to bring back the magic of the first game…yet.
5. Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)
Having just picked this up, I am surprised that this is in my Top 5 for this year. I’m not sure if it’s because there haven’t been other major releases I’ve been interested in other than the recent stuff for Xbox One or if it’s just that Nintendo have nailed down the best Mario game yet! My few hours with it have been awesome. It is an absolute joy to play, and along with Rayman Legends it is the best platformer I have played. It really shows that the Wii U is the perfect compliment to my Xbox One because when it comes to platformers, the Wii U and Nintendo are number 1.
Tyler Chancey ( No Particular Order)
1. The Wonderful 101 (Wii U)
I have made it very apparent how much I love Platinum Games. They are a studio that have always been criminally underrated both commercially and critically. Imagine playing something that absolutely blows you away, then you are annoyed when no one has heard of it. For me this year, that something was the Wii U console exclusive, The Wonderful 101.
It would have been enough if the game was just a colorful epic of one hundred superheroes protecting Earth from an alien invasion complimented with the kind of hack and slash gameplay that only the father of Devil May Cry can deliver. But Wonderful 101 went above and beyond. Hidden underneath the bright colors, off-color jokes, and plastic visuals was a well-told story about how anybody can be a hero, and the power of courage in the face of adversity. That, and the spectacle of this game is absolutely nuts. The first boss fight is against a giant three-headed robot dragon as it rampages through the city, throwing debris around like it was going out of style. Then, sixteen hours later the game outdoes itself at least nine times over. I’m on my second playthrough right now, and I can’t wait to get back to it. Team, Unite Up!!
2. Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon (PSN)
This may come off as favoritism since Far Cry 3 was AAG’s Game of the Year last year, but Blood Dragon deserves to be treated as its own entity. A truly delightful parody and homage to the cheesy action movies of the 1980s, Blood Dragon has you as a super awesome cyborg commando saving America and Freedom from a rogue cyborg and his army. It’s tongue-in-cheek, full of colors so loud my neighbors have filed complaints, and it is absolutely hilarious. Using the gameplay of Far Cry 3, Blood Dragon is free to fill the game with jokes and atmosphere, which it does to the breaking point. When you’re throwing d20s to distract guards, killing giant radioactive dinosaurs with laser eyes, and have a button that lets you flip the enemy the bird with your robot hand, it is very hard not to have a good time.
3. Saint’s Row 4 (360, PS3)
As contradicting as this sounds, I still believe Saints Row 4 is a superior game to Rockstar’s indie title, Grand Theft Auto 5. Yes, the gameplay is closer to a superhero sandbox game like Prototype or Crackdown. Yes, GTA 5 has more polygons and has a bigger world. And yet SR4′s gameplay feels so much tighter and more defined where every single element of gameplay has been polished to a mirror shine. Heck, the latest installment of the puckish rogues called the 3rd Street Saints manages to be truly satirical in a lot of ways. The game’s plot involves the player using old school videogame elements to stress and ultimately break a realistic simulation. It’s a message as subtle as a glowing blue man with a cowboy hat screaming at the top of lungs while firing machine guns, and I totally love it. SR4 could have easily been just another expansion to SR3 and wallowed in its reputation as a knock-off to Grand Theft Auto. Instead, it became a gloriously ridiculous action game that kept my attention more than it should have while eclipsing its competitor. Who would have thought clotheslining an alien at superhuman speed would be just as fun the one-hundredth time as it was the first.
4. Deadly Premonition: Director’s Cut (PS3)
SWERY65 is a mad genius. That is the only explanation as to why this game is on my list. The game looks like something from the PS2 days, the story feels like a very Japanese version of Twin Peaks, the level design is dated, and the gameplay always manages to stay adequate, if not very challenging. So why is Deadly Premonition in my Top 5? One word: uniqueness.
In no other game have I experienced what this game has thrown at me. Hearing FBI Agent Francis York Morgan talk to his invisible friend Zach about his favorite bad movies and discussing the psychological abuse undertones of Tom and Jerry while driving around the small town of Greenvale has a certain demented charm to it. The mystery story is twisted, visceral, and remains interesting, even when it gets weird and unnatural. And while the game can easily be beaten in ten hours or so by any veteran player worth his salt, the trip to the end credits will fly by before you know it. Alright, Zach, let’s try to wrap this up.
5. Bioshock Infinite (360, PS3)
Pretentiousness seems to have become a four-letter word in the gaming community, and Bioshock Infinite is no stranger to such accusations. The term has been used in a negative light to degrade Ken Levine’s newest experience, as well as accusations of Ludonarrative Dissonance, or the gameplay contradicting the narrative and tone of the game. Yet, here we are nine months later and I say the game still holds up enough to get a spot in my Top 5.
The world of Columbia is still terrifying despite all of the porcelain smiles and straight-faced Americana. The relationship between protagonist Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth is still a gaming highlight. The skyline combat is a fresh and novel addition to established frantic first-person shooter gameplay. But above all, the ending, despite your opinion of it, has lead to a LOT of discussion on the illusion of meaningful choice and looking deeper into a videogame other than just gameplay and visuals. Yes, it’s pretentious, but if it gets people talking in a positive light, what’s the harm?
Well there you have it folks! Let us know you personal top 5′s in the comments section below or join in on the conversation on our Facebook page!
The AAG Team