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

Advertisements

The Last of Us – First Impressions

Buy it. NOW!

Buy it. NOW!

PlayStation 3 Exclusive

If Naughty Dog are to be remembered for anything, I bet you it would be the Uncharted series. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Uncharted games, they’re some of the most cinematic games I’ve ever played and they have some of the best characters written for video games. But in my eyes, from the 2 – 3 hours I’ve put into The Last of Us so far, I think this my be their greatest achievement yet.

The Last of Us is set against a post apocalypse setting 20 years after a viral infection nearly wipes out mankind. You play as Joel and you’re tasked with escorting a young girl named Ellie across a dangerous US, having to deal with both the infected and bandits. This is a third person game like their Uncharted games, but is much focused on stealth and melee combat rather than being an all out shooter. Due to the rarity of bullets, you’ll end up only using your gun when you’ve got no other choice.

They will hunt you. Find you. Kill you.

They will hunt you. Find you. Kill you.

There’s nothing quite like a memorable opening to a game. Setting the tone for the rest of the game and establishing the characters. The Last of Us has easily one of the best openings to a game I’ve ever experienced. It blew my mind. Never before have I felt such an emotional connection to characters and what’s happening all around them. Believe it or not, I actually replayed the opening 30 minutes again straight after. I’ve never done that before, usually saving such a feeling for a second play through. But I had to see it all again and I’m still looking forward to playing it yet again when I go through the game on a harder difficulty.

The rest of the game since then has been exceptional too, don’t think it the lets it foot off the gas for one second. Characters are so lifelike, the writing, voice acting and graphical quality all help towards this. Coming to the end of a generation of consoles, you’d expect we’d seen the best from the PS3. Naughty Dog has quite the reputation for having such high graphical quality and they have stepped up the bar once again. Even I had my doubts, but they were put to rest at the very second I saw playing out in front of me. The animations are just as good too, from the simplest animations of walking and running to complex and totally believable animations that play when you’re strangling an enemy from behind.

Combat seen in the game is simple, but mastering to lure enemies and strike at the right time is essential to your survival. Even when playing on normal, it doesn’t take many bullet to put you down. The hand-to-hand is incredibly violent and get more violent as you start to get your hands of metal pipes and 2×4’s. The Uncharted series may have had a focus on shooting, but many fans will confess that the shooting took a little while to get use to, enemies felt like damage sponges and shots didn’t feel like they had impact. Naughty Dog have finally nailed it, maybe the feeling that each bullet counts helps towards the feeling, but the shooting in The Last of Us has a great weighty feel to it.

Mine FTW!

Mine FTW!

The enemies seen in the game have some fantastic A.I. behind them too. At one point I had grabbed someone from behind but got spotted as I tried to choke him out. At this point I saw 2 enemies in a warehouse run into cover and out of sight. It was at this moment I had just finished choking out the guy, only to be flanked by an enemy whom had no weapons and had to rely on using his hands to take me down. I never saw him coming and turned around straight into a punch to the face off him. After dealing with him I then moved into the warehouse and the last guy was hiding behind a box, but I didn’t know where. It was only when I walked into the open did he pop out and get a couple of shots at me. I felt like I had been outsmart for the first time ever in a game.

Infected on the other hand behave a lot like many other infected in games and will simply chase you down once they’re aware of your presence. Clickers and Runners are the two types of infected and the Runners resemble the infected from the movie 28 Days Later or even the remake of Dawn of the Dead. On the other side of the coin though are the Clickers, these guys are blind and use a sonar like ability to find out and rely solely on sound you make. These guys a frightening and will kill you once they have a hold of you. They’re very hard to take out to, so good luck, I died several times when thrown in a room full of infected.

As I’m in the early days of the relationship between Joel and Ellie, it’s hard for me to say what the chemistry is like. Early signs are good though, and if it ends up anything like the way other characters interact with each other, then I know I’ve got much to look forward to. Now the game also includes a crafting system, and whilst a simple mechanic within the game, crafting items on the fly in the middle of a fight is a great risk/ rewards system and can help turn the tide of the battle.

Multiplayer is looking to be just as brutal.

Multiplayer is looking to be just as brutal.

I’ve currently not had the chance to play the multiplayer, but it’s something I can’t wait to get stuck into later. Called Factions, you must initially pick a faction to join, being aligned with the hunters or fireflies. Each player begins with a small number of survivors that must be kept alive and grown over time. You accomplish this in two modes, the first of which is Supply Raid. In this mode, your team has 20 reinforcements. Once they’re exhausted, the match will go to sudden death. In the Survivors mode, no one can respawn. Once you die, you’re finished until the next round begins. Matches are best of seven, meaning the first team to win four rounds, wins the match.

Everything I’ve played so far suggests that The Last of Us is shaping to be the game to beat this year, like many reviewers have stated. Unfortunately, with the next generation kicking off this holiday season, I hope The Last of Us doesn’t get forgotten about as the GOTY nominations get announced. Now please excuse me as I go off and play some more of The Last of Us.

-ast

Coming Soon – The Last of Us and Man of Steel

Hopefully tomorrow, I’ll be posting my first impressions with The Last of Us. That’s hoping it actually arrives a day early. It’s looking fantastic and all the perfect review scores out there got me even more excited to play another masterpiece from Naughty Dog.

Then on Friday, you should see a review for Man of Steel as I’m off to see it at IMAX! Something I cannot wait to see and experience. I’m a big fan of everyone involved, from the writers, director and actors. Early talk from people lucky enough to see the movie has been positive, so it seems we may see Superman get all the love and attention his fellow DC friend has seen in recent years, Batman.

Be sure to follow my posts to not miss anything new. Thank you for reading.