The Top Ten Games of 2013

First, because there were too many games to cover here, here’s a supercut I put together of some of the best games of 2013.

I feel that everyone putting together a best of 2013 list that truly cares about gaming only does so after slamming a recently emptied bottle of whiskey down on their desk and sighing deeply.

2013 was one of the most packed years in gaming history. From every available outlet poured titles that are without comparison, even when weighed against the entirety of gaming history. Sure, there was the usual flood of crap and frustration, but it seemed that bi-weekly we were getting one of those games that you just had to play. Of course, that’s because we were.

Even if you don’t take into account the launch of two next-gen systems and all the other major industry occurrences and just focus on the quality of the games themselves, you’d be hard-pressed to name to many other years ahead of 2013.

A lot of hard decisions had to be made when putting together this list, but I feel that this is as comfortable with the honors as I’m ever going to be. Just note that if you don’t see your favorite game, it’s either because I didn’t play it, painfully had to cut it, or just didn’t like it. The curious can ask in the comments below.

Without further ado, here are the best games of 2013.

10. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

ACIV

Let me get “Assassin’s Creed IV’s” biggest problem out of the way first. It’s still an “Assassin’s Creed” game. Therefore, it carries all of the faults of that series, including a far too simplified combat system, some seriously uneven mission quality and obligatory futuristic plot elements that are getting more and more superfluous.

But, sweet Jesus, this game is just pure fun. A lot of that fun derives from the perfect implementation of its pirate elements. “AC:IV” is the absolute greatest pirate game ever made. It gives you nearly everything you could ever want from the romanticized pirate experience many of us are familiar with, and does it with sheer glee. It certainly doesn’t hurt that this is also one of the best written and best acted games I’ve played in some time.

Were this game developed from the ground up as an entirely new series called “Black Flag,” it may be even higher on this list. As it is, though, there are few games more entertaining than “AC:IV” regardless of your feelings towards the series up until this point, or any specific video gaming turn-ons and peeves you may have.

9. Outlast

Outlast

The age of the true survival horror game seems to be coming to a close as a growing number of developers pussy out and implement more and more action elements into the genre in order to make it more appealing to a larger crowd.

That’s a true shame, as a game like “Outlast” shows the tremendous amount of life left in the traditional horror style. This is quite simply one of the most terrifying games ever released, and at no point does it give a damn if you are enjoying yourself while playing it or whether or not you feel safe. It’s an uncompromising realization of the potential gaming has in terms of conveying pure horror, and you’ll love every minute you hate playing it.

I’m so very thankful the new generation of YouTube players have spread the gossip of “Outlast” and all its terrible wonders and helped let the people know that for all the waves of shitty action games with occasional jump scares that dare label themselves horror, there are still some games that do it right.

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EB Games Employee Hands Out Fake Cocaine;Wins the Internet

On the eve of what has quickly become the most anticipated video game launch of all time, millions of gamers wait with bated breath for their chance to play Grand Theft Auto V. Given the massive size of the game (Rockstar has said a 100 hour playtime through the story is not unreasonable), many of those same gamers will soon be skipping assignments, missing work, and destroying relationships at a capacity considered admirable by the game’s own detestable protagonists as they welcome a fresh new addiction into their lives.

It looks like the addiction may be stronger for some gamers in Australia though, as a user on Reddit has provided a screenshot of an EB Games there where an employee was filling up little ziplock bags of “cocaine” to hand out as a pre-order bonus.

Though what exactly the powdered substance is in these bags is unknown, this is a story that is particularly bizarre when you take into account the strict regulation of video game content in Australia. As such, if this story is true (this is the internet overall where the deception flows like wine), it represents a humorous and risque rebellion against proposed moral decency that the GTA series itself would be proud of, even if it is likely the singular action of a soon to be fired employee.

Regardless of whether you received a bag of faux Columbian marching powder with it or not, I hope everyone gets their GTA copies without issue, and finds a way to set a little time aside in their lives for a game that looks to have the ability to consume all of it with ease.

The “Official” GTA V Trailer is Live

“GTA V” watch continues, with the official “GTA V” trailer, Rockstar has been teasing available for your viewing pleasure above.

Interestingly there isn’t much in the way of new reveals here (the trailer itself only clocks in at about a minute long), but eagle eyed gamers will spot a handheld minigun (being held by a man in what appears to be a heavy armor suit), as well as some pretty incredible storm effects in action for the first time. While not necessarily reveals, the bigger takeaways from this release are some tasty story tidbits (it’s becoming very clear that this is going to be the “GTA” series most involved story yet), as well as snippets of more of the game’s heists, at least one of which appears to involve that submarine shown in a few screenshots.

No it’s not exactly anything that set the world on fire like the “GTA Online” reveal, but as “GTA V’s” release date nears, its becoming clearer and clearer that we are all due for something very special, that may just be taking the game of the year crown in a year with more potential contenders than the iron throne of Westeros.

Grand Theft Auto V Soundtrack Leaked; Vice City Still the Soundtrack King

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Full disclosure here, as this list of leaked GTA V songs are “unconfirmed” and were all snagged through a recent PSN update which apparently gave away the majority of the game’s tracks.

It’s a big list complete with some station names, DJ reveals (series regular Lazlow returns, because dude apparently can’t hold a job), and of course a crapload of songs that run a gamut that includes  big names (N.W.A, Queen, Johnny Cash…umm…Britney Spears), one hit wonders, and some painfully bad obligatory choices (pretty much the entire Pop station).

While it doesn’t feel like a complete list (there’s not near enough radio stations), it is a list that gives the impression that the series will follow the “GTA IV” route of cutting down on big names and instantly recognizable tracks, to instead offer up more of a variety of genres with bands you may not necessarily be familiar with immediately.

Or maybe I’m just really out of touch with modern music.

In either case, it’s looking like “Vice City” will remain king of “GTA” soundtracks with its incredible variety of 80s’ classics. That’s not really a dig at this music selection, but more of a personal preference as the nature of “GTA’s” chaotic gameplay doesn’t really allow me to focus on the music much while driving and therefore makes the whole “discovering new music angle” kind of a moot point. This could be alleviated if Rockstar allows you to listen to music outside of vehicles this time around, but so far there is no word on cribbing that feature from “Saint’s Row.”

Still it’s going to take more than Fergie to derail the “GTA V” hype train, and if this is a slice of the real track list, there are certainly more hits than misses, meaning the “GTA V” hype train keeps rolling, now blasting some pretty sweet tunes as it chugs along to its September 17th release date.

When Looking for Proof the Hype is Real About the Next Grand Theft Auto, Look at the Little Things

“Grand Theft Auto IV” almost had to be called “Grand Theft Auto IV.”

What I mean is, considering it was for a new generation of consoles, and featured an exceptionally long development cycle, calling it “GTA: Liberty City” or something similar would have never gone over well with the folks at Rockstar, nor the fans.

However obligatory the name might have been though, the final product never really felt right as being the true evolution to the world changing “GTA III.” It was abundantly clear that all of the focus went into creating Liberty City, and even though that still stands as one of the most impressive accomplishments of video game engineering, the rest of the game suffered from half-baked or just plain bad gameplay ideas.

While it’s true then that “GTA IV” pleased many fans and critics, there were an equal number of people waiting for the real successor to the series.

Based on the recent internet stopping footage that Rockstar released of “GTA V,” that may be soon upon us.

You’d think that there wouldn’t be anything more to say about the next “GTA” until it actually comes out, but the first gameplay trailer of the series proved that as much as we may think we know about the game based on previous information, hearing about the features and seeing them actually come together are completely different things.

Because when you see the game truly in action, it’s clear that Rockstar is aiming to create a game that doesn’t just appear to be alive on the surface, but is a living, breathing, and (most importantly) evolving thing. Sure major aspects like the three character approach appear to work better than we could have anticipated, and new or returning core gameplay features like hunting and purchasing property/stock look incredible, but what really amazes are the little touches.

It’s the things that only the most eagle-eyed of viewers caught like individual weapon stats, or how the mini-map changes based on your current transportation. It’s the new pot shop you can patron, it’s the clever names of the tattoos, and it’s definitely the fact your hand shaped mouse cursor in the game is in fact a middle finger.

Those are the things that “GTA IV” was missing. It’s those aspects that show Rockstar knows how to make a sandbox game on advanced hardware, and are now working to perfect an actual “GTA” experience, and not a tech demo wearing its mask but possessing none of its heart and soul.

When looking for proof that “GTA V” is going to be a game-changer, you may be tempted to point to the tantalizing seconds of footage that reveal a true “GTA” style multiplayer mode. However, for me, the fact the NASDAQ parody stock market is called BAWSAQ is real proof that Rockstar is back to having fun with the series, and in the process advancing its identity.

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