Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Best Games of the Year (So Far)

I just wanted to make this list before all the big-hitters come out. The Assassins Creed's, the Call of Duty's, the Battlefield's and whatnot. This is the time of year where there's a wee little game drought. Not in the indie sector, mind. There's been quite a bit of content coming out from there. Not very GOOD content, but content nonetheless. Anyway, let us revel in 2013's best games. Indie, big budget and what bog's ends. Lets go:

5: The Last of Us
I bashed The Last Of Us quite a bit in my initial review, but the truth is that it's not bad. It's pretty competent at best. It's just furiously overrated. 'An emotional journey' my arse, but it's actually just a pretty fun time. It has an awesome world that you can completely lose yourself in. It's achingly sad yet relentlessly beautiful. The Last Of Us is kind of a mess, but it's an entertaining mess at that. It just could have been so much more. The gameplay is alright too, sort of balancing stealth and action whilst having a crafting system that fits with the tone of the game. Explosives and Health Kits are made from the same ingredients, but which one do you value more? I found that to be an awesome touch. Overall, it's pretty fun and well presented, but certainly not gaming's Citizen Kane. 

4: Antichamber 
A cerebral masterpiece. I haven't played a better puzzle game since Portal 2. It isn't as good as Portal 2, but what is, right? It's absolutely mind-bending; distorting reality and physics but it all makes sense within the rules of the game. Making a world as twisty and as sprawling as Antichamber yet still having a consistent rule-set is an incredibly hard thing to do, but the game pulls it off with wonderful style and consistency. 

3: Dota 2
I was very critical of Dota 2 in my previous posts, but once you really sink your teeth into it, it's really God-damn engaging. It's certainly not an easy game, that's for sure. It doesn't have a really low XP barrier for level 2, like after 2 kills you get to level 2. No, it's not like that. It's 1000 XP all the time for every level. It gets better as you get further into it, but it's not impenetrable per say, you want to get better at it. It's like you can see the depth but you're not in the depth, but you want to. For a game with one map, it's huge and varied and awesome. There is actual weight when you a kill an enemy. There's actual weight when you level up. This is all just personal preference, by the way. Other people like the game for different reasons, but I like it most for its depth of challenge. Also, there's a Bastion announcement pack. Not only can you enjoy an awesome MOBA, but you also have Rucks from Bastion doing the game announcements. 'Dire structures... didn't make it.' Thank you, Valve. 

2: Papers, Please
There hasn't been a more original game this year. Original in how they can turn and *insert boring job here* simulator into something with actual charm and engagement, which isn't at all superficial nor does it rely on Skinner Box techniques. The boring job this time is not Euro Truck Driver or Airport Firefighter (yes, Airport firefighter simulator is actually a game that exists and requires money in order for you to play it), but is a border patrol man. Which is mostly a boring job in the civilized western world, but setting it in Communist Russia (A.K.A. Arstotzka and other made up names seemingly lifted from Borat) means that forged passports and terrorist attacks are part and parcel in the divided world of Communist Russia. It manages to balance humour and hilariously fake passports with some serious themes like segregation and xenophobia. Should you let the poor wife in without the correct documents, after her husband passed the border? Or shouldn't you? Because letting the wrong people in who don't have the correct documents or those bearing forged documents can take a toll on your credits. Which you obviously need to pay for your son's medicine because he get's the flu more often than a Somalian. Anyways, it's the most amount of awesome you can get out of $10-£7 this year without buying Breaking Bad Meth Candy (That's actually a thing: click here). 

1. Bioshock Infinite
People complained that there was no weight to any of the gore or killing, which is true for Booker's character, because he's a remorseless bastard who only wants his money. For Elizabeth, however, we actually saw the arc of her character from an innocent woman exploring a fresh new world to a darkened, frightened assistant to a killer, with just a little bit of hope of getting to Paris. Combat-wise, it's awesome. Sky-hooks and all. The Vigors don't really have a place here, as it's mostly in service to the brand, and that's true that they didn't need to be there and didn't have any impact on the otherwise perfect world, but that's (mostly) explained with the ending that I still won't spoil. Most of the flaws in the game (pointed out by Extra Credits and most The Last Of Us fans) are mainly flaws down to the main character. He's drunken, bottom-feeding scum who will do whatever it takes, not to save the girl, but wipe away the dept. But later on, it becomes more than that. Also, it's bloody fun as all hell to plough your way through Columbia. That's it. Fun and detailed and awesome. Play it. 

Now we wait for the swarm of games released at Christmas time that will one day inspire little Jimmy's high-school massacre. See you on the other side.