My previous Best-of lists for 2013:
Before focusing on the new games I enjoyed most this year, I have a few additions to make to my list about movies from last week.
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug is a spectacular film, definitely worthy of being included on the list. Of course, in order to make a slim children’s book into three movies, Mr. Jackson and his crew took a few liberties that might not sit too well with Tolkien purists. All in all however, the movie is a great ride and puts the newest technological improvements in filmmaking on display.
One movie I forgot to mention is This is the End, featuring a celebrity-filled cast desperately trying to survive the apocalypse. I found it to be one the funniest movies of the year, especially because it has actors poking fun at themselves. Emma Watson, Michael Cera and Mindy Kaling shine as guest stars, while the main cast surrounding James Franco, Seth Rogen and Danny McBride are as hilarious, over-the-top and charming as we’ve seen them many times before.
Okay, that was it for movies, so it is time to look at the three games that captured my attention long enough to get me to stop playing MMOs for a moment.
I loved the imaginative world of BioShock Infinite. The atmosphere is breathtaking and I felt transported into this extremely creepy, but still fascinating city in the clouds. Booker DeWitt is the reluctant hero of the story. The mystery surrounding not only his back story, but the whole world shown in the game, was a driving force for me. And of course, Elizabeth, who needs to be saved by DeWitt, is a fantastic character definitely worth saving. I don’t play many FPS games, but BioShock Infinite is an extremely well-told and well-presented tale that shows what storytelling in video games is capable of nowadays.
BioShock Infinite is available for PC, PS3, Xbox360 and Mac OSX.
The Last of Us
I’m nowhere near through with this thrilling game, but the Last of Us is simply stunning. It feels like a movie I’m playing through. I’m just at the beginning of the Joel and Ellie’s journey to safety, but so far I’ve loved every second I didn’t spend terrified by the zombies. The voice acting and writing is terrific. The Last of Us allows players to immerse themselve in this very realistic and scary apocalyptic future. As with BioShock Infinite, I don’t normally play games with this genre background, but I’m drawn to great stories.
The Last of Us is available for Playstation 3.
Of course a list of this sort would not be complete without the biggest game of the year: GTA V. Rockstar Games did it again. It took everything people loved about the series – the freedom, the pop culture references, the cars – and catapulted it to another level. Everything in GTA V is bigger, flashier and more spectacular than in the previous instalments. Having played a few of the older versions I did feel like I’ve seen it all before, but the opportunities in Los Santos, the virtual Los Angeles are seemingly endless. The game includes countless mini-games like golf or tennis and dozens of weird, quirky and interesting characters to interact with. I wasn’t very comfortable with the constant switching between the main characters Michael, Franklin and Trevor, but it did allow Rockstar to showcase different personalities and abilities. GTA V is not a story-driven game. It offers great opportunities to discover a beautifully crafted, human-designed world full of hidden gems.
GTA V is available on PS3 and Xbox360.
Of course, I spent the rest of my gaming hours this year on MMOs (as detailed in my series on them), on FIFA or on the 2010 release Civilization 5, a round-based strategy game. What games did you enjoy most in 2013? And what are you looking forward to in 2014?
I’m looking forward to the new WoW Add-on Warlords of Draenor and I’m very excited for Elder Scrolls Online. Otherwise I’d love to try out the new generation of consoles, but I don’t see me getting one of the machines until the latter part of the year. Also, I’m very intrigued by the Nintendo 3DS and I’m thinking of giving handheld devices another chance.