game of the year
Alan's Top 10 Games of 2013
Alan | December 26, 2013
Looking back on 2013, these 10 games stand out as the ones most worthy of recognition.
10. Wii Sports Club. Yes, this is basically just Wii Sports in HD with online multiplayer. On the other hand, this is Wii Sports in HD with online multiplayer.
This is a return to the well-tread but evergreen turf that is Wii Sports. It only features bowling and tennis thus far, but even that is enough to draw you in like it's 2006 all over again.
9. Zoo Tycoon. You're puttering around the paths of your zoo in a maintenance cart, making sure all is well. Suddenly, your gaze is drawn skyward as a nearby exhibit is uprooted from the ground, floats gently overhead, and then plops down in another location.
Running a zoo with your friends (or just racing maintenance carts around) in Zoo Tycoon's online co-op is a unique and delightful experience.
8. BioShock Infinite. BioShock Infinite constructs a beautiful, rich, deeply engaging world, where every inch of every level has clearly been agonized over. This is a game that could survive solely on its aesthetic design and sense of place, but it pairs these with satisfying combat mechanics and character progression that make it fun to play as well.
7. Pokémon X/Y. Who would've thought that I could still get excited about a new Pokémon game? Turns out the tried-and-true core gameplay of Pokémon remains satisfying and interesting, despite a long string of very similar releases in the series.
X/Y also surprised me with its seamless online functionality. Network battles are as easy to get into as local battles, and can be accessed at any time using the lower screen of the 3DS.
6. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. Here are some things I enjoy about the Assassin's Creed series:
- Exploring the alleyways of massive towns searching for hidden items.
- Performing a perfect series of stealth takedowns to clear an area.
- Navigating a vast open world with countless secrets to uncover.
Here are some things I do not enjoy about the Assassin's Creed series:
- Playing as Desmond Miles.
Black Flag is a delightful romp through the buccaneer-infested Caribbean that does a great job distancing itself from the saga of Desmond.
5. SimCity. This wasn't the SimCity we wanted, but it was the SimCity we got. There are issues here, yes — the always-online functionality has been very broken at times and the city sizes are far too small. However, in spite of its problems, SimCity has still managed to get me hooked on city building again.
4. Super Mario 3D World. Nintendo continues to make the sort of game that nobody else can (or wants to). Super Mario 3D World is filled with ingenious level designs, clever mechanics, catchy melodies, and bright visuals. As with most Mario games, it emphasizes gameplay above all else and is unapologetically cartoonish.
It made me smile more than any other game this year.
3. Grand Theft Auto V. GTA V has so much ambition, and manages to actually deliver on a healthy portion of it. It gives you a dense, vibrant world to explore, filled with a near-overwhelming number of activities. Combine that with engaging storytelling, interesting characters, and thrilling heist sequences, and you have one hell of a package.
2. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. This game is dripping with style. With music composed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, animated cutscenes by Studio Ghibli, and development by Level-5, it feels like a tour de force of Japanese gamecraft.
1. Fire Emblem: Awakening. This is a wonderfully challenging game about carefully considering your choices and replaying levels dozens of times until you get it right. I have lost count of the number of times I've had to reload a save because Donnel (a weakling with a promising future) met his premature end in battle, or because an enemy managed to land a critical hit for a one-shot kill on one of my other party members.
Awakening rewards patience and strategic thinking above all else, and the result is an immensely satisfying experience.