21 April, 2014

Top 10 of 2013 - Kyle

Kyle's personal top 10 games of 2013.


10) Battlefield 4 (Xbox One)

Battlefield 4 may have launched (and continue to be) a hot mess of game breaking bugs, it is however, technical powerhouse of impressive scale. A departure from the terrible single player showing of its predecessor; Battlefield 4’s single player campaign offers some tremendous battles in some surprisingly open and breathtakingly realistic terrain. Naturally, the story isn't anything to write home about and it consistently goes out of its way to remind you that have no impact what so ever, on what is happening. Obviously the campaign isn't the reason Battlefield 4 made it to my top 10. The multiplayer is the true draw for me; there simply isn't a multiplayer experience that I found more exhilarating this year. The return of destructible environments in a big way, combined with the staggering player count (for a console game) and of course, thanks to the new consoles' graphical power, Battlefield 4 is a fantastic multiplayer experience.




9) Company of Heroes 2 (PC)

A stellar RTS, Company of Heroes 2 is an evolution of the gameplay offered by the original Company of Heroes, with an even greater focus on positioning, intelligent use of cover and unit abilities. The campaign, told in a somewhat corny framed narrative, offers pleasantly varied missions. However, the Theater of War missions present the most interesting and difficult scenarios. Furthermore, with the addition of the eastern front setting and the new gameplay mechanics this offers, most notably the bitter blizzards that can freeze your troops to death. Company of Heroes 2 had me glued to my PC, despite the impressive number of losses I was able to amass.



8) Papers Please (PC)

Papers Please presented me with utterly grueling gameplay, in a completely unforgiving world and this truly surprised me. This isn't an emotional roller coaster; its an emotional drain, the better you do at your job, weeding out those people without the correct documents, the worse the game makes you feel. The depressing atmosphere, compounded further by its oppressive soundtrack, is punctuated, albeit sparingly - but effectively, with some shocking moments and occasionally, some slight humors levity. This is not a game I particularly wish to return to, but it is certainly one I’ll not soon forget.



7) Dynasty Warriors 7 : Empires (PS3) 

A complete polar opposite to my number 8 game of the year, Dynasty Warriors 7 : Empires is a bombastic joyride, a flurry of blades, an explosion of fire and lightening which never ceased to satisfy my primal button-mashing urges. I won’t attempt to claim that the game is revolutionary - its pure iteration. But alas, Dynasty Warriors has always been a childhood favorite of mine and 'Empires offers so much content. Supported by some of the best battleground music from throughout the series, Dynasty Warriors 7 : Empires sates my thirst to make cheesy (and culturally inaccurate) names for my custom characters. It is simply a joy to play.



6) Total War : Rome II (PC)

I was mercifully free from the bugs and bad performance that marred this game’s launch, which perhaps colored other peoples opinion more than it did my own. Rome II through me back into the ancient world and trapped me there for far too many hours. The game introduced some fantastic new features into the Total War series, most notably for me; Traditions, which allow your armies and navies are to become personalized and more effective at specific roles. Furthermore, the new battle types are a blast; there is simply nothing more terrifying than watching barbarian hordes charge from tree lines all around you, in Rome II's re-envisioned ambush battles. Certainly, my favorite strategy game to be released this year - becoming one of those games anticipate I will frequently revisit, with post launch content continuing to be released.




5) Assassin’s Creed IV : Black Flag (PS4)

Admittedly, this was a definite surprise to me, considering my indifference to Revelations and the fact I didn't even pick up Assassin’s Creed 3, I wasn't hyped for this game. Honestly, I enjoyed this game some much because of its lack of Assassin’s Creed, much to the disgust of many I’m sure. The lore of the series never captured me and seeing Desmond on the screen used to be the perfect excuse for me to play something else, but Assassin’s Creed IV leaves much of what I consider the baggage of the series behind. Black Flag is simply, a wonderfully salty, rum tinged, breath of fresh air.



4) Tearaway (PS Vita)

Tearaway caused my face and jaw to ache, a side effect of extended periods of smiling. The beautiful paper craft art style is complemented perfectly by the super-high contrast screen of the PlayStation Vita and smart use of the Vita’s myriad of user inputs makes this game a joy to play and the world fun to traverse. The gameplay isn't challenging or complex, but it remains fresh throughout. The game’s use of the front-facing camera to turned my face into part of the environment, namely the sun, which led to pulling faces involuntarily. Rarely is pure happiness a constant feeling I have when playing even the best games, its more often satisfaction or success, but Tearaway always succeeded in evoking smiles.





3) Resogun (PS4) 

Any time I find myself even remotely bored (and near a PS4) I find myself playing Resogun. Arcade action isn't something I usually indulge in, but Resogun is simply that addicting; between the super-fast twin-stick shooting and the kaleidoscope of colors, Resogun is easily my favorite PS4 game yet. Regardless of whether I’m playing with the DualShock 4 and the big screen, or streaming it to my Vita, Resogun is my go-to game. One will not find a game that can match the blissful torrent of particle effects that Resogun will throw at your eyes.




2) Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox 360)

A game that just kept me coming back for more, GTA V is the summer blockbuster we all hoped it would be, weaving a unique trio of characters into it the open world of Los Santos. An open world so densely textured with detail and dripping with personality. Perhaps surprisingly, the vast majority of my time with this game was spent in the online component, granted, it doesn’t capture all of what makes the story mode so excellent and it's not without shortcomings. However, endless hours of helicopter-on-tank-cop action, trash-talking and listening to the fantastic licensed music, makes for the kind of experiences that most other open world games cannot offer.



1) Brothers : A Tale of Two Sons (PC) 


Brothers : A Tale of Two Sons, is with a shred of doubt, the most intensely emotional gaming experience I have had all year. Brothers is able to achieve a greater level of attachment between the two brothers and the player in just three hours, than most other games, or even game series, cannot achieve in their entire length. To me, every aspect of the game feels crucial, it may sound terribly melodramatic, but I would go as far as claiming that; every single step in this game is vital to the experience.

The visual art of the game is one of stylized beauty, the game has a vibe akin to the Fable series, on surface level only. The environments are totally unique, with colors used expertly to convey the mood of the scene to the player. Brother’s visuals manage to capture scale in a way unmatched by the vast majority of other games, on the level perhaps of the God of War series, but presented with much more subtly. The music of the game is also stellar, used sparingly throughout the game, it is one of many crucial components used to build the emotion peaks of the game – and yes the peaks are so, so high.

The control scheme of the game is again, key to the effectiveness of the game as well as being totally unique and a joy to master. In essence, the left half of the controller is used to control the older brother, whereas the right side is used to control the younger brother. Surprisingly easy to grasp once you get going. Furthermore, the games puzzle mechanics are constructed in a manner that, they feel both natural and pretty satisfying. There is just the right amount of any single mechanic and they all feel expertly placed, in service to the tale of the brothers. The control scheme culminates at a single point in the game, which has such emotional impact, I refuse to share it here, it should be experienced naturally.

I may have cracked here and there, and shed tears at a few games over the years, but never have I sobbed as openly at any media as I did when playing Brothers : A Tale of Two Sons.

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