Top 5 Games of 2013, so far…

I must admit, when making a list of all the games I’ve played this year so far, I had no idea how difficult a task it would be to only pick 5. It’ll be interesting to see if any of these 5 games make it into the top 10 games list at the end of the year, with next-gen just around the corner. Some of the games listed, you may not have played yet and hopefully this list will encourage you to pick it up. To make it on this list, the games had to be memorable, an experience I wanted to go through again. As a package, everything had to be at least enjoyable, that includes any multiplayer or co-op mode. Finally, all games had to be worth the price of admission, every penny you spend on the game had to feel like it was well spent on a quality product.

1. The Last of Us – It really is this good, I promise you. The story was nothing short of one of the best experiences I’ve ever had with games. Characters I cared for, situations I cringed at, A.I. that was fun to play against and a conclusion that leaves me more than curious to see where Naughty Dog may go in the future with the franchise or DLC. Then there’s the multiplayer, and once again, it’s amazing. The focus on survival, crafting and limited ammo makes the multiplayer feel unlike anything you’ve ever played. Each life is just as precious as the next. After putting over 15 hours into it, I can’t wait to see it expand with more modes and maps through DLC.

2. Bioshock Infinite – I remember playing the original Bioshock like it was yesterday, I played through that game numerous times. Unfortunately, Bioshock Infinite didn’t capture the magic of Rapture for me. That’s not so say it’s a bad game however, quite the opposite actually. This game shown gamers that the main driving force of the game doesn’t have to be the playable character, but it can be a companion character. Elizabeth was the best friend we always wanted, come the end of the game, all we care about is the safety of her character. That’s great story telling and writing if I ever saw it.

3. Tomb Raider – Never talk about a game exceeding expectations until you’ve played Tomb Raider. This game shocked me with its brutality, yet drew me in with the development of Lara Croft as a character. A simple explorer, turned true survivalist. From her first kill, to losing some of her closest friends, we see a side of Lara Croft that I want to see more of. Multiplayer is perhaps a little more average in comparison to the single player, but when your setting traps, zip lining across maps and hunting down your friends, it can be a lot of fun.

4. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – For the price of admission, you’ll find it hard to get better value than this. When most shooters seem to focus on the realism and Russian enemies, the idea of playing a cyber commando and dragons shooting lasers out their eyes is a pleasant one. As it turns out, it was. For a 1/4 of the price of a retail game, you got just as much content. Funny, over-the-top, great soundtrack, fantastic art style, it’s the game every fan of movies from the 80’s has to play. Now if only we could see a sequel or full a Far Cry game in this style, Ubisoft would be on to a winner.

5. Metro: Last Light – If you wanted to play a survival horror, first-person shooter with a captivating story, then Metro: Last Light has you covered. Graphics that will push your PC to its limits, stealth gameplay that feels satisfying yet violent, Metro as a franchise is heading to the right direction. Improving upon its predecessor in every way, I’m interested in where they may go with the series next. There’s always that rumoured cut multiplayer content they may want to expand into a game, or maybe try to tell some stories from different view points. Nether the less, with Deep Silver now own the publishing rights to Metro, we may see more, sooner than you think.

Honourable Mentions – Dead Space 3, God of War: Ascension, State of Decay, Crysis 3 and Injustice: God Among Us.

-ast

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Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – First Impressions

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon OST Cover, it rocks!

Version Played: XBOX 360

Remember the 80’s? I don’t, I was a 90’s child, but I grew up watching 80’s movies like no one else. From Schwarzenegger to Stallone, I loved them all… and their movies too. That’s why when Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was announced, I got pretty damn stoked! A game full of references to the classic 80’s movies with the one and only Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens) voicing the playable character of Rex Colt.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is THE Kick-Ass Cyber Shooter. Welcome to an 80’s vision of the future. The year is 2007 and you are Sargent Rex Colt, a Mark IV Cyber Commando. Your mission: get the girl, kill the baddies, and save the world. Sounds very much like the basic outline for every 80’s action movie, and that’s what is so amazing about this game. It’s fun, funny and rocking the best soundtrack to a game in a long time!

Having sunk about 3 hours into the game as of writing this, I feel I have had enough experience within the world of the game to justify a solid first impressions. I’m really going to try a stay clear of spoilers for the sake of that this is simply a game you have to experience to for yourself, no words can do it justice. It starts with an 8-bit style cut scene playing out with a clear rip off of The Terminator theme behind it. From this alone I was sent straight back to my childhood, watching The Terminator in the afternoon, with my mum having taped it the previous night. With a great big smile on my face I watched the Predator references play out and played through a turret section with Little Richard’s ‘Long Tall Sally’ blasting through the speakers. If that hasn’t got your attention already, nothing will.

Now I usually hate tutorials in games, they slow the pace of the game and treat a lot of gamers as if they’re completely unintelligent. However Blood Dragon has a very funny and entertaining tutorial, it parodies other tutorials rather well asking you to acknowledge you can actually read first. After that, your set loose on your first story mission, with a mix of stealth and all out attack making sure you don’t get bored. With the 8-bit cut scenes splitting up the action and moving the OTT story along at a brisk pace, killing your way through the underground missile base is both a violent and intense affair. The first mission is an absolute blast, and that’s as far I want to talk about the story missions, I just would hate to spoil anything for you.

Now Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a standalone title, not requiring Far Cry 3 the play. At £10, it’s such a steal. Gameplay is the same as Far Cry 3’s, only with being a cyborg, you move around faster and can take more damage. You could almost get away with calling it a re-skin of Far Cry 3, only with a new texture pack. In reality though, there is a lot going on in Blood Dragon that pulls it away from feeling like just a re-skin. All new weapons, including a pistol exactly like the one Robocop has and a 4-barrel shotgun, make you feel like an action hero.

In place of Outposts from Far Cry 3, we have Garrisons. These are occupied by the enemy and you must go in and liberate them to take control of the Island, bit by bit. How you go about this is where the fun lies. All guns blazing? Stealthy? Or how about sending in a Blood Dragon? Yes, Blood Dragon is not in the title to just make it sound cool, they are in the game. Blood Dragons are large lizard like creatures that are very difficult to kill and shoot lasers out of their eyes. Sounds crazy? You should be use to this by now. By rather throwing a cyborg heart into the base or shutting down the barriers, you can lure a Blood Dragon into the base to eat and shoot lasers at the enemy. It’s a lot of fun, and with 13 Garrisons around the Island, there’s plenty room of experimentation.

The Island in Blood Dragon is half of what was on offer in Far Cry 3, which, for a downloadable title, is astonishing. Along with Garrisons, there are rescue missions and hunting missions available, each offering you weapon upgrades once completed. There are also a lot of fun collectables like VHS tapes and TVs hidden around the island. This wouldn’t be Far Cry without the wildlife too. Rest assured, they return… as robots and mutants. However they are really just re-skins of previous animals and I wish they had put a little more effort into them.

Graphically the game pulls out all the stops. For a 1.35GB download, it can stand side by side with a AAA retail release. Neon lights illuminate the landscape and give off a very TRON like vibe. Now to the soundtrack, my god it is good. Done by Power Glove, the soundtrack is what pushes this game to greatness for me. Electro has returned in full force, if you liked what Daft Punk did with the TRON: Legacy soundtrack or if you have a special little place in your heart for the music in Drive, you will love this soundtrack. After downloading and playing the game, I then downloaded the soundtrack and I’m even listening to it whilst writing this. ‘Blood Dragon Theme’, ‘Power Core’, ‘Combat II’ and ‘Cyber Commando’ are some of my personal favourites, I suggest you seek them out.

I hope from reading this, I have talked you into checking out Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. I also hope that I have given you a good enough idea of the awaits you whilst not spoiling anything major for you. The game shows all the signs of only getting better as it goes on, if you want a definitive opinion on the game then seek out a review, they have been very positive for the game. This is certainly a business model I would like to see more of in the future, taking existing resources and making something completely new and off the wall with them. If you end up picking up Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and/ or its soundtrack, I would love to know what you think, so let me know in the comments below.

-ast