2013 was kind of a tough year in gaming for me. I don’t have my own PS3, Xbox 360 or Wii(U), because I opted out of that generation of consoles for a gaming laptop with now aging hardware. Bad move, I know. But there were a lot of circumstances in my life that justified that decision at the time.
Knowing this, I ask the reader to understand that my “Top 5 Games of 2013” for Counter Attack may be grating to more privileged players, but I’ll only be rating the games I’ve been lucky enough to be exposed to and enjoyed playing in 2013, some of which may have been released for consoles in 2012 or earlier but saw release for PC in 2013. Hell, in 2014 if I had to revisit this list it might be entirely different.
But enough deviating, here is my personal top 5 list for 2013!
“Gene’s Top 5 Games of 2013”
5. FarCry 3: Blood Dragon
Sometimes I forget what the 80s looked like, but I’m pretty sure it looked something like Blood Dragon. This game is a parody of every outrageous 80’s sci-fi/cyber-punk action movie starring a meaty and chauvinistic master of all trades (including, but not limited to one-liners and karate). It’s interactive MST3K fodder and that’s intentional (Space Mutiny anyone?), so don’t expect to be interested in the story for anything other than the lulz. Most of the pleasure of playing this game can be found in the cheesy one-liners, the neon lit landscapes, and it’s fog appropriate soundtrack. But it also seems to be parodying the base game, FarCry 3, which is a game I didn’t have so much love for, so I’m okay with that.
4. Beyond: Two Souls
I played this one together with my brother on his PS3 when it released. I found myself wanting to watch more than play, which is natural considering it’s another “interactive cinema” from Quantic Dream founder David Cage (of Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain fame). I joked about the main characters looking exactly like Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, but to my embarrassment it turns out the stars of this gem ARE Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe! Beyond: Two Soul suffered from some of the problems that David Cage’s previous games did, like it’s over-the-top story and gameplay mechanics that both make and break the game’s immersion, but overall it was still a pretty big improvement over his previous attempts at films to game. Any faults that Beyond: Two Souls may have are obscured by it’s A-list acting and will pave the way for interactive cinema’s future.
3. Resident Evil 6
Today’s virus was brought to you by the letter “C”.
The fact that this game exists makes me want to bust into a Capcom board meeting and channel Matt Damon from the boardroom scene from Kevin Smith’s Dogma, without the all the idealistic maunder and bloodshed. RE6 is a far cry from the original three games in the series and no longer satisfies the expectations of a Survival Horror game. I never had a real big place in my heart for the classic RE games, because I was far too busy scaring the crap out of myself with the Silent Hill series, but I still enjoyed exploring eerie mansions and laboratories anticipating the occasional jump scare. Resident Evil 6 is an even further departure from the classic RE formula than Resident Evil 5 was. There are so many ways that one can express their blatant disappointment in this game, but if one were to just forget that it’s supposed to be a perpetuation of it’s 5th generation origins (Capcom sure has) it’s actually quite fun. It kind of feels like Dead Space meets Left 4 Dead, just ignore the storyline completely and relax. I played this with my significant other (CA! Radio guest, Megan), after weeks of her “shipping” (romantically pairing people and things, both real and fictional…) Chris and Piers. I have no idea what was going on in the game, but the co-op was fun and perfected from the 5th game in the series. Seriously, play with a friend or romantic partner and the game is quite good. Make it a date.
2. Rising Storm
I remember when Red Orchestra was a mod for Unreal Tournament 2004 that simulated war between the progressive Soviet forces and the regressive Nazi forces of WW2. It bothers me that 90 percent of WW2 games that take place in the European Theater depict US forces slaughtering Nazis when in reality the Soviets did 90 percent of the fighting in the Western front, but I digress. For me RO was the coup de grace for both Battlefield 1942 and UT2004. The bullet drops, team-focused gameplay, and overall realism of the game made landing every shot it’s own reward. The same can be said for Red Orchestra 2 and it’s latest entry in the series, Rising Storm. Rising Storm champions the series in almost every regard while taking a break from the snowy and gray setting that might appeal to Russophiles and trading it for the busy jungles of the Pacific theater. The role you play is crucial and teamwork is made even more essential than in previous games of the series as a well executed banzai charge or a well-timed call for air-support can mean the difference between life and death. I loved every second of this game and continue to go back. Also it’s one of the few multiplayer experiences that I’m actually good at, and thats always good.
1. Deadly Premonition: Director’s Cut
So Yu Suzuki’s Shenmue and Konami’s Silent Hill made a baby while watching a Twin Peaks marathon and they named it Deadly Premonition. CA’s Chuck has been recommending this game to me for quite awhile now, and then it finally released on PC. I’ve had a blast with this game since booting it up and it quickly added itself to my list of all-time favorites. The only problem I’ve had with Deadly Premonition thus far are technical ones like ridiculous frame rate drops after 30 minutes of gameplay and occasional crashes, but evidently these problems existed in the console versions and just about every owner of the PC iteration have had similar problems, so I’m certainly not alone. Those issues aside however, the game is fantastic! The attention paid into developing the characters’ back stories are unheard of and one can easily miss out on so much that this game has to offer by just playing through the main plot. If you take your time and roam around town and spy on the townfolk, you can learn so much about each of them and their motives, and I absolutely love that. (without trying to sound like I’m into creepy and invasive voyeurism) The game’s playfully aware of itself while remaining dark and channeling the iconic suspense of the original Silent Hill games. Deadly Premonition could certainly use a lot of polishing, as its extremely rough around the edges, but that might actually take away from the game’s charm as they actually become endearing. Oh and the dialog… HOW MANY GAMES MAKE REFERENCES TO LEGENDARY PUNK BANDS LIKE SHAM69 AND THE BUZZCOCKS?!
I LOVE THIS GAME!
And that’s it. Those are my favorite games of 2013. I play a lot of “early access games” that would have made it to this list if they weren’t technically scheduled for release in 2014 and beyond (Day Z comes to mind). And Sega, please release Phantasy Star Online 2 state-side in 2014, seriously. I need that game. DO IT!