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The good news for 2013 is that I played seven games in hardcore mode. By hardcore mode, I’m talking at least 40 hours per game. That bad news (for the purposes of writing this column, anyway) is that five of them were for consulting jobs, so I can’t really state opinions on those games. In a year filled with peak games for the last generation of consoles and two new systems released at the tail end of the year, my 2013 game of the year was for…wait for it…Mac OS.
I’m talking about Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition, of course. As many of you know, I’m a huge mark for the old BioWare and this game in particular. When the original was first released, I spent hundreds of hours playing the game. With the Enhanced Edition, I spent dozens of hours reliving one of my favorite games ever, but with updated graphics, a pair of new characters, and updated gameplay features. And I loved every second of it. Yeah, it might seem totally dated to newer games, but for me Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition was sheer bliss. The writing, gameplay, and characters brought me so much joy in 2013 that it was easily my 2013 game of the year.
Naturally, I don’t expect any of you to have the same answer. That’s what makes us the unique snowflakes that we are. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear about your personal 2013 game of the year. I absolutely do! I’m excited to hear about the videogames that dazzled you in 2013. Kindly share your 2013 game of the year in the comments section.
7 thoughts on “Coffee Talk #607: Your 2013 Game of the Year”
I don’t care that the combat was average. The setting, characters, and story met and then surpassed my expectations. Visually on PC this game pushed my old video cards to the limit and was absolutely beautiful.
Honorable mention: black ops 2. Played so much multiplayer.
Has to be GTA5 for me. It’s the only game that I actually wanted to own on day one and actually held my interest all the way through the story. The campaign was a big improvement over GTA4 and it has a far superior online aspect (even with all of its cons as well). The bronze/silver/gold ratings were a good thing brought back from the Liberty City Stories and make the missions replayable. The best part about the game is the utilization of different main characters throughout. No longer am I only following one character, I’m now watching three characters that I control interact with each other and deciding how to make them interact with each other. GTA5 was able to take a boring and liner “sandbox” game and reinvent it into something exciting once again.
The only new game I’ve played that’s a new release is GTA5. Unlike BSU I won’t be singing the praises of GTA5. I found the missions too easy and the heists were not like I imagined even GTA online lost it’s luster after awhile. The story would’ve been more satisfying if you could’ve just chose one of the characters in the beginning and gone from there. It would’ve added more replay value IMO.
Goddamnit! I didn’t want to see that! Now I can’t un-see it.
It worked! Muahahahahahahaha!!!
If you want to get absolutely technical, then I would have to pick Bioshock Infinite. Like Smart Guy said, the actual game was mediocre, but the comprehensive, abstract, completely mind-f**king ending made up for it. I like games that make you think or make you smarter than you were when you first started playing. Bioshock DEFINITELY gives your brain a workout. Some characters were created/voiced better than others, but it was good enough to get the job done. I will add that the story was good up until the beginning of the third act. They completely shot themselves in the foot with the whole “time-travel” thing. But Kevin Levine, being the mad genius he is, finds a way to incorporate that into the ending (which makes even less sense in the literal meaning), but is open to interpretation by the player, so I’ll classify it as “art.” Likewise, Mr. Levine’s gratuitous use of the whole “alternate reality” thing is used liberally to explain both the outlandish and mundane in the game from spawing a new life if you die to the subtle 1910-ish rendition of Tears for Fear’s “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” song.
As my “official” GOTY, I’ll have to go with Spec Ops: The Line. You MUST play this game! I will put Spec Ops up there with Bioshock (1) and Shadow of the Colossus. It is the highest form of interactive software that I am proud to call “art.” I know I’ve harped about this before, but only because people need to experience this to show us how intelligent developers can be. In an age where internet trolls constantly bash series like Call of Duty and Battlefield for becoming stale, Spec Ops takes a huge risk for doing something different and it should be rewarded for doing so. We need more games like this. Games that are willing to buck the trend and effectively slap Call of Duty and Battlefield in the face and then kick them in their collective nuts.
I use the term “game” very loosely, because (in all honesty) as a game, Spec Ops is pretty mediocre. It’s really not that good. The gameplay is run-of-the mill, third-person shooter. The only challenge to be had is when you play the game on FUBAR (the hardest) difficulty, and even then, there are a few rage-inducing parts where the A.I. feels cheap. Hell, even the story is pretty stupid and ridiculous if you stop to think about it. But critics whom judge this game as solely a game as defined in the traditional sense are starring at Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” from two inches away from their nose. It’s only when you take several steps back that you realize the truly big picture Spec Ops is trying to paint. It is a large, gruesome, nasty picture, but that doesn’t make it any less relevant. The game gets us to feel uncomfortable by forcing us to witness the other side of the equation of war. It takes us down the path of a modern-day Heart of Darkness that unfortunately is a reality for some people whom have served in our military. It gives us a glimpse into their minds and how the human body (or human mind, rather) can be a powerful tool in the acceptance and creation of what we see all around us and how we interpret it. Post-traumatic stress disorder as a primary plot device in a video game has never been done so well or so effectively.
In addition to that, the main character, Captain Martin Walker is one of the single best silent protagonists ever created. True, he is anything but silent in the game, but the purpose of a silent lead character is to have the player project themselves unto him/her/it so that the game will feel more immersive. Captain Walker does this better than Link, Samus and Master Chief and doesn’t even have to stay silent to do it. Walker holds the mirror up to our faces beyond of the fact of simply controlling his actions. He is us in a digital format including the way we think about ourselves when we play these types of games. This fact is compounded when we see the consequences of our actions not readily explored by other games of this genre. I would love to illustrate my points with specific actions and situations in the game, but I won’t because you people reading this really need to play this game and I’ll be damned if I’m going to ruin anything for you.
I would also be remiss if I failed to mention the sound/music in this ga-, I mean interactive art. Like most good works of interactive art, Spec Ops makes amazing use of sound and music. Hell, the main antagonist (or one of them, anyway) is the personification of the music in the game. The soundtrack is just flat-out fantastic and appropriate. Like most things in the game, it starts out as just a minor nuisance, but then quickly snowballs into something more sinister as the story progresses.
I feel like I’ve said enough already (without having said a lot at all, really). I am holding myself back from really spoiling any specific thing in Spec Ops because you need to experience it for yourself as spoiler-free as possible. This is my GOTY because Bioshock Infinite stunned us at the very end of the game, but Spec Ops builds it up as a crescendo from the very beginning. It’s ending is just the icing on the cake as you get to choose that, too (unlike Bioshock Infinite). It is my wish that someone I know will play this game so that I will finally have a person to talk to about it. I may very well be accused of “reading too much into it,” as some people will likely tell me. But remember, you can’t appreciate Georges Sturat’s masterful stipple dot by standing a few inches away from the canvas. I’ll be more than happy to pull you back so you can see the true grandeur of Yager’s brilliant work of interactive art. It is awe-inspiring and truly remarkable. More developers need to follow this example and YOU need to play this game right now.
P.S. GO! Seriously, it should be pretty cheap now.
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