Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Andy Plays Games presents... Ten Videogames From 2013 Listed In Order Of Subjective Goodness


It's time for Game of the Year! There are games I played this year! I quite liked them! I liked them so much I arranged them in a kind of list, and wrote a paragraph about why I liked them so much! But first things first! I need to qualify some stuff! Okay, so, this is only best of list of the games I actually played. I don't own any of them fancy PlayStation consoles, so none of them are on the list. There's a Wii U in my house, but it ain't mine - Super Mario 3D World would probably have made this list otherwise! I also only list games I've played substantially. I was going to put Risk of Rain on this list because it's fantastic and the soundtrack is phenomenal, but I've barely unlocked two classes and longevity is important when evaluating Roguelikes. I love the cut of Saints Row IV's gib, but I've not played much more than a few tutorials. I also don't have a next-gen system, but I'll be honest, none of their games are any good eh? Eh? New consoles, amirite? Crap games, eh? Haha, what fresh material. Okay then, onto the list!



10. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes


I love Marvel comics so much. Spider-Man, Wolverine, Deadpool, Man-Thing, Hulk, Ghost Rider, Red Skull; so many characters I love and adore, almost unconditionally! I also love Lego near the point of obsession. So, y'know. Slam them together into a videogame and you've got quite a potent little product on your hand. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is also actually a neat game, though, with brilliant couch co-op, a genuinely amusing story, and another collect-a-thon for perfectionists to fawn over for a weekend or two. But, I'll be absolutely honest - it's pretty much only made this list because it's made of Lego and Stan Lee is on the box. There are so many characters to collect and play with and it's such wonderous fun! In some places it almost comes close to the actual fun of playing with Lego minifigures - making them interact and be silly with objects and each other. I absolutely adore it, but I will concede that the game is, otherwise, basically just Another Lego Game. It can be insidiously frustrating and buggy sometimes, making puzzles hard, or impossible, to solve - but then this is a game for kids, and how are kids meant to figure this out if I can't? ...maybe kids just have a better eye for that kind of inanity. Otherwise, the Marvel and the Lego makes up for its shortcomings, by a wide margin. "You belong, you belong, you belong, you'll belong, to the Merry Marvel Marching Society..."

9. Animal Crossing: New Leaf


I dare you to list one other game that does what Animal Crossing does better. "HARVEST MOON!!" okay, yes, but "RUNE FACTORY" no stop now I get it but Animal Crossing has a pretty huge difference... y'see, Animal Crossing is about super cute chibi animals. Yep. It's also a game that absolutely rewards your own insistence - and then makes you feel like a jerk when you stop playing. Animal Crossing: New Leaf strikes a nice enough balance between an obsessive-compulsive vice and a casual half-hour-a-day experience. The cute animals can have things built for them and you get to know them by name as you discover all the items and different little gameplay modes and minigames. You're mayor, you see, and you have a cute dog lady who is your assistant though she actually just does all the work for you while you're out shaking trees down for money. Honestly, though, Animal Crossing is less like a drug and more like a bad habit - when you're playing it, it's the only thing that matters in the whole world, and once you stop you'll wonder why you ever stuck with it for so long. Did I mention the cute animals though? The animals are really cute, guys. Except for Coco. Coco is bloody terrifying.

8. The Swapper


The Swapper is a puzzle game that takes its primary mechanic - swapping yourself - and weaves it seamlessly into its narrative conceit. If that was all The Swapper did it'd be a pretty lousy game, but The 
Swapper did what a lot of these indie games forget to do - built the story around the gameplay. It's a small point to make but it makes a huge difference in the focus of The Swapper; for all its beautiful,
hand-animated visuals and its dark, horror-esque atmosphere, The Swapper is a genuinely engaging and challenging puzzle game, with a gentle difficulty curve and a great signature mechanic. But oh man! Let's not discount the visuals, though! Cos The Swapper is darkly beautiful and foreboding, otherworldly and almost uncanny in its presentation. It's the best stop-motion game since the quite unique Dream Machine, and is arguably peerless in that respect. The puzzles are the main draw, and the creators knew that when they designed it, but the way they tie in the presentation and the plot is masterful nontheless! So yes, let us all bask in the artistic achievements of The Swapper. Well done, The Swapper!

7. Surgeon Simulator 2013


"Surgeon Simulator 2013?? That's just a joke title, isn't it?? That's not a real game???" Pipe down, buddy. You're wasting question marks. Yes, though, Surgeon Simulator 2013 is funny, and kind of patently uncontrollable. But the more I played of it, the more I realized that Surgeon Simulator 2013 is actually great. Like, it's almost a puzzle game; like a kind of drunken Operation. Figuring out how to best the controls is really satisfying, and then when the game throws curveballs at you - like ambulance and zero-gravity levels - you get to do the same thing over to account for the new variables. It is deeply satisfying, and yet, it also makes certain that the initial shock of the gimmick doesn't wear off. Not to mention how chock-full of secrets it is, from training VHS tapes to a phone number you can call if you can manage it, to tons of achievements for doing things like completing operations drugged and electrocuted, and so on. In a way, it's a smart, lazy comedian; it tells the same joke over and over, but it makes sure to raise the stakes every so often so you think better of it. ...w-wait. Going by that analogy... I've been tricked into liking it, I guess? Well NEVERMIND THEN SURGEON SIMULATOR 2013 HMMRRFFFF

6. The Stanley Parable


Now, a lot of folks have said talking about The Stanley Parable is hard because you can't talk about it without spoiling things. Well I'm sorry but that's a load of crap. I'll tell you why The Stanley Parable is so good - it's funny, and smart, and it reveals conclusively that games are just the worst. And yes, that is a positive. Y'see, as someone who plays games, I can tell you - I hate games! A lot. Games suck, dude. And I mean, I actually love them, or I wouldn't be typing about them on the internet so goddamn much, but really I hate them and everything they stand for. Me and Stanley Parable, we're on the same page about this, it seems, as it has some resentment for games, too. It represents the medium - the entirety of the medium - with a snarky bitterness that is, in my fat lazy hack opinion, absolutely deserved. As for the actual gameplay... eh, think of it like if Dear Esther developed self-awareness, I guess. It is absolutely and intrinsically aware of its failings and restrictions and develops a narration around why those failings and restrictions are a good thing. Or a bad thing? Whatever. I mean it's basically less of a game and more of an interactive installation about itself being a game. Okay so those people who said writing about it was hard were right but it's good okay??

5. Antichamber


Another puzzle game? Well, yes, and no. You see, Antichamber can feel less like a puzzle game and more like some kind of depraved M.C. Escher hellscape. The non-Euclidian design of... well, everything, expects you to unlearn what to expect from not just videogames but, like, reality itself, and guide your brain in a direction that lets it finally open up to the challenges ahead of you. Up is down, black is white. Floors aren't floors. Ramps are staircases. Hallways wrap around themselves, you can walk down a path for hours only to turn around to come out the end of a different hall. It's blatantly and outright confusing, but at the same time, it does let you catch onto a kind of demented non-logic. It's not so obtuse you can't "solve" it, you just can't use what you've learned of our reality to help you. Originally called Hazard: The Journey of Life, some sort of bigger life meaning attempts to rub into all the madness, but it's of little consequence. The placards with quasi-philosophical non-advice act more like clues - a metaphor, even, for the way you are regrowing yourself inside the twisted hallways of the Antichamber. It's a really great hurty-brainy puzzle game, and something quite special indeed.

4. Injustice: Gods Among Us


I still don't know, after all these months, if Injustice counts as a good fighting game. Maybe the people playing online can answer that, what with their metagames and their actually learning the combos and their fightsticks and whatnot. I will tell you this - for the majority of the year, Injustice was the only game in my Xbox 360. It was the game I automatically bought out to play with friends. I'll take a stab in the dark and say it probably wasn't really the best fighting game of 2013, but for me, it was the most fun one. It had a spectacle to it that very few 2D fighters replicate, absolutely using DC superheroes to great effect. Maybe I only liked it because I only played it with friends, but as a party game it satiated me and my compadres like no other 2013 title. Oh, and it even has a reasonably decent campaign. And Lobo! And Batman! And Zod, and he says "kneel before Zod"! Tee hee! It's really quite something, actually, that Injustice is probably the best product DC put out this year, of all their films, cartoons, comics and games. Not that it's hard to compete with Man of Steel, but still. Good job, Ed Boon! You did it! And boy, you did much better here than in that waste of time that was Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe...

3. Shadow Warrior


Someone - someone with something sharp and rusty stuck in their brain, probably - said that Bioshock Infinite was the "best shooter of 2013". I don't even need to play Bioshock Infinite to prove that a load of crap. It's a Bioshock game, right? There you go. That proves it. Oh, also Shadow Warrior. In Shadow Warrior you can cut a demon's face off. With a katana. And Lo Wang says, "now that's just messy!" in a laughably audacious Japanese accent. Does that happen in Bioshock Infinite? Do those exact events play out in that order in Bioshock Infinite? ...okay, maybe it happens. What about rabbits, though? If you kill too many rabbits, does an ultra-powerful demon rabbit emerge to destroy you, accompanied by chugging metalcore and hellish screaming? No! It damn well does not! So Shadow Warrior wins. I was going to actually talk about why Shadow Warrior is great* but DUDE THE RABBITS AND THE METALCORE AND THE SCREAMING. AND THE KATANA. I think I've made my point.

*Ahem. Shadow Warrior is an expertly crafted first-person action game, with great, open level design, amazing weapon feel, tons and tons of monsters to murder in an increasingly gratuitous and over-the-top fashion, and a sword that could be the best melee weapon in an FPS since... well, ever. It's even better than the sword in Red Steel 2 (wow no way)! It's also pretty as hell, and even has some moderately entertaining scriptwriting with the characters of Hoji and Lo Wang. The Hell bunnies, though. I mean, like, the rest of the game is all kind of just so much filler compared to the bunnies.


2. Rayman Legends


Rayman Origins was happiness. You know, like, the concept? Rayman Origins was that. It took the form of a platform game on consoles, handhelds and PC, but it was basically like if you took happiness - the abstract, metaphysical emotional state - and pressed it onto a disc. Rayman Legends is basically the same thing, but, the graphics are cooler and the controls are tighter. The levels and bosses are more varied, and hell - even the soundtrack is better! How do you even quantify that? How do say, "so, this pure bliss, it's been one-upped by its sequel." Is it purer bliss now...? Whatever it is, Rayman Legends is joyful, amazing, beautiful, joyful, happy, amazing, joyful, amazing, joyful, joyful, and joyful, and I would say it's the most smile-inducing thing of the entirety of 2013... but then Nintendo released a new trailer for Yoshi's New Island. When I watch that trailer I melt into a pile of buttery goo as I make unrelated cooing noises. Rayman Legends is kind of a close second on the list of things in 2013 that made me use tildes in the exhalations my voice made when playing it, though. That's a good thing. Eeeeeeee~

1. PAYDAY 2


PAYDAY 2 can be picked apart on its technical failings. It can be picked apart on its broken promises and features that aren't in the game. It can be picked apart for being way too cryptic about what it is that makes it actually interesting. ...but man, I just can't stop thinking about PAYDAY 2. I haven't been this heavily invested in a game since my days playing Team Fortress 2. It's one of those cases where, when I'm playing PAYDAY 2, I want to play more PAYDAY 2. And when I'm not playing PAYDAY 2, I'm thinking about playing PAYDAY 2. The gunplay is so meaty, the heists are so satisfying to pull off efficiently, the depth to uncovering all the classes and upgrades and tactics is super vast, and when you play with a regular posse of friends it's so easy to feel like just the most unstoppable badasses in the world. That said: when you play with pubs it's crap. Don't play with pubs. But I guess like Injustice, this game is one that has become staple with my friends and I, and I just can't say I enjoyed a game more than it this year. The multitudes of free DLC certainly helps validate my choice - the finely-tuned tweaks to the AI and the heists themselves that Overkill keep putting out make the game feel, if nothing else, consistently fresh. At the end of the day, though, PAYDAY 2 is at the top because I had the most fun with it of any game in 2013. I love it so much it may be unhealthy. Oh, and the music! Did I mention the music? Ohh the music, guys. Best soundtrack of the year! Except for Rayman Legends. And Risk of Rain. But third best soundtrack of the year. First best game, third best soundtrack? Hope there's enough room on your trophy rack for these, Overkill!


yes they are real trophies as you can tell by the photograph, i will send them in the mail by taping them to a postcard

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