I’ll start out saying something that’s not widely accepted; this year didn’t shine with games; at least for me. Though there were certainly some well-written stories and one or two titles that certainly showed a new perspective on well-worn genres (Bioshock Infinite, Assassin’s Creed IV), after what last year’s Dishonored and Sleeping Dogs did, I left a lot of games this year feeling like there was something missing. Key word: A lot, not all. Though I think a lot of the mediocrity was partly because of the new consoles (which were both mediocre at best), there was certainly some titles that I can only hope to see more of: With that, I dish out my awards:
Best Story: Bioshock Infinite.
This is an easy choice; Bioshock Infinite did a lot to change how games should be enjoyed; from the very beginning, there was an element of mystery set in, followed by a sense of wonder. Exploring Columbia for the first time felt incredible; the city was bright, lively, a barbershop quartet sang in the distance, the townspeople had friendly conversations among themselves, the shopkeepers were friendly and welcoming, and that was all before any of the actual shooting in the so-called first person shooter. It goes to show that there are still new ways to keep a game fresh. But the focus is here is the story. It’s dark disturbing violent, bloody…and that’s just one of the few things Bioshock shines at. It tells a tale akin to a mature Disney movie, and it works. The writing only adds more life to an already wonderful world, with believable characters that feel worth caring about. Though the “choices” made in the game don’t impact the story like…every other video game, instead they do something better; they ask you what’s moral; is killing such and such really bad if it may save us later? Do I throw that ball at that slave or resist and be rejected by everyone else in the town? it’s hard to explain without spoilers, but I still think about those decisions from time to time, even if later they do little to influence the story. And that ending was…wow. Definitely important to play the first game before this one, but this game is easily a classic like the first.
Runner-Ups: GTAV, Tomb Raider, Batman Arkham Origins
Best Gameplay: Grand Theft Auto V: Though the game is far from flawless and certainly a letdown in a couple ways, it still does so much right it’s hard to hold a grudge. There’s just something exhilarating about parachuting onto a skyscraper, smashing through a skylight, killing hordes of people, then rappelling down said skyscraper, all for the sake of returning a favor. this is just one Heist; there’s skydiving, golf, yoga, shooting ranges, and even stocks! The Strangers and Freaks missions are incredibly entertaining, and every so often exhilarating (though that should be expected when driving an atv into a cargo bay of a plane while it’s taking off) the jokes that rip on Assassin’s Creed to your typical apocalypse movie are laugh-out-loud hillarious, even though the purely middle school-level humor seems a little too immature. When it comes to gameplay, there’s nothing better than this; and when the online works, playing with a friend is always entertaining.
Most Innovation: Batman: Arkham Origins
If Arkham Asylum was more of a thrillerand Arkham City was one of thee greatest mysteries ever told, Origins is a summer blockbuster. This was one of those titles that could’ve been beyond incredible, and had the writers, creative directors and soundtrack composers been on board with each other, the game could’ve easily defied expectations; though this game is somewhat victim of what happens when a whole team of developers does not convey each other’s ideas well, there are some moments that shine through. One of the few things the developers got right was that rather than attempt the impossible and create a better story than Arkham City or Asylum, they’d rely on splendor and cinema. And what a job they do; the best parts of the game are the boss battles, which, yes, are even better than some of the previous installments clashes. Fighting Copperhead’s poison, battling Deathstroke in a battle worthy of any fast-paced martial arts movie, or fighting Bane again and again in a test of true might. Do check it out if you want to see some truly incredible boss battles. And for the record, the story isn’t bad at all, it’s fantastic; just not as fantastic as the previous installments.
Runners-Up: Assassin’s Creed IV
So, in order my number three games for this year, concluding with the game I give the Bro’s GOTY too.
3. GTAV- For all the reasons above
2. ACIV- Though not the best Assassin’s Creed, it gets better the more I play it; I’ve grown to appreciate the story, and see how incredibly original the naval combat is. The plethora of tactics at the player’s disposal on both land and sea is unique and inventive; I can only hope to see more of these games (obviously).
1. Bioshock Infinite- For it’s mature story, the way it changed how a first-person-shooter is perceived, the thrill of the gameplay, and the huge amount of plot twists, this game is the best that 2013 has had to offer. Here’s to an even better selection in 2014!