My 2013 Gaming Awards: Part 1

by Matthew Thompson

2013 was an amazing year for games. One of my favorites in fact. And over the next few gaming blogs, I will be talking about the highlights and lowlights of the year. I’m kicking things off with the big ones today. Games of the Year and one… well not GotY. Here it goes.

Downloadable Game of the Year: Resogun

Resogun 4

Near-perfect arcade action. Never before have I been so addicted to a game of this ilk. Zooming around Resogun’s cylindrical playfield, shooting everything in sight while trying to save those pesky humans was just a blast and kept me busy with my PlayStation 4 purchase since Killzone: Shadow Fall (my only retail purchase with the new console) left me a little cold. One of my favorite gaming moments of the year came in a brief sequence where me and a couple of friends were battling for the top spot on the game’s friend leaderboards. It wasn’t long before I lost my tolerance for keeping my multiplier going and my pals soon left me in their voxel-shaped dust, but it made for some hilarious social media interactions for a few days. That was just the cherry on top though. Resogun’s blistering action represents developer Housemarque’s best game and the prize gem of 2013’s downloadable crop.

Runner-up: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

Handheld Game of the Year: Tearaway

Tearaway 2

I could try to break down the individual parts of Tearaway to describe why I like it so much. For instance, the artstyle is my favorite of the year in a year just loaded with great art direction in games. Or perhaps I could say how I like that it feels sort of like a throwback to platforming adventures of generations’ past. But I think more than anything, it’s just fun. It’s unique. It’s beautiful. It puts a smile on my face. It’s Tearaway and it’s my favorite handheld game of the year.

Runner-up: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Disappointment of the Year: Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider’s 2013 reboot isn’t a bad game. I enjoyed it well enough. But it is a bad Tomb Raider game which is the biggest reason it was such a disappointment for me. The challenging platforming and puzzles that make this series so special to me were pretty much thrown out the window during Lara’s latest adventure. The series running away from its roots is made even worse since no other ongoing series delivers anything like typical TR outings. This change might have been easier to take if what replaced them were executed better. While the gunplay is the series’ best, the enemy AI and encounter design leave a lot to be desired. And the setpieces didn’t stick with me like the best in games do. So the focus on these elements didn’t work as well as it could have. It’s a shame because some of these new ideas melded with classic Tomb Raider design could have made for a hell of a game. Here’s to hoping that Crystal Dynamics looks to the past when crafting the sequel.

Overall Game of the Year: The Last of Us

The Last of Us

Not only does The Last of Us totally deliver on both the story and gameplay side of things, but they compliment each other so well. The story’s strength comes from watching the growing bond between our two leads, Joel and Ellie. They are both such wonderful characters with very unique perspectives on the post-apocalyptic world that Naughty Dog has crafted and watching them interact and change over the course of their adventure  is fascinating. It’s an emotionally impactful tale that also deserves kudos for its ending which managed to both surprise me and finish things up in the perfect way.

The gameplay packs a punch too with some of the most intense, fun combat encounters in all of gaming. It’s all put together in a way to make every bullet shot and every item found matter. Despite this, the game doesn’t handcuff you. Instead it gives you a myriad of options on how to approach the game’s varied combat scenarios with a fun risk/reward dynamic built-in. Do I try to conserve my items and sneak by, or do I clear the enemies and scour the area for supplies? Do I make a med pack or a Molotov? And I haven’t even mentioned the pure joy of throwing a brick at someone to stun them before running towards them and knocking them out with a pipe (that may seem sadistic… I’m okay with it, the guy had it coming).

And because of the intensity of these encounters, the quieter moments in between work. You’ll just walk around collecting supplies, talking to Ellie and the other colorful characters that tag along for portions of the game, or breathing in the details and storytelling that Naughty Dog has jam-packed into the game’s environments. These segments come as a welcome respite between packs of clickers and scavengers that have you sweating bullets on how you’ll survive.

Throw in some of the best graphics, sound and overall presentation around and you end up with a package that is as good as gaming gets. The Last of Us isn’t just the Game of the Year, but the Game of the Generation too and one of my very favorite games of all-time.

Runner-up: Rayman: Legends

While this hits the big awards, there are a ton of games I just didn’t get to touch on at all. So I will be back with a supplement of much sillier awards (read: an excuse for me to be an ass) about some of those games. I will probably find a way to further praise The Last of Us and complain some more about Tomb Raider too. Because why not!

You got Game of the Year picks? Biggest disappoint of the year? I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Thank you very much for reading!

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16 comments on “My 2013 Gaming Awards: Part 1

  1. A great read and some really good games!

    I enjoyed our Resogun back-and-forth also. I think I have now moved on – dropping my mutliplier after 30 mins and having to restart is not fun – but there’s always a chance I might get back into it!

    I really should play Tearaway. Even though it was warmly received, shops here are virtually giving it away, so I don’t have any excuse. My Vita definitely needs some attention.

    • Thank you for the compliment and checking out the blog. The feeling of losing your multiplayer is brutal. Even just that moment where you realize you can’t keep it going before it turns back to 1. I couldn’t do it anymore!

      You should definitely get Tearaway since its so cheap. On the other hand, at this rate it will probably be a freebie in your cereal box soon. Not sure if it is in your wheelhouse, but it is a good game. Easy platinum too if that entices you!

  2. I really should try to get back into The Last of Us. Its been such a chore for me to finish it. It just doesn’t click with me. I also really want to check out Tearaway, but I have way too many games to play and not nearly enough time! Glad to see you back to blogging again. Reading your blogs makes me want to get back into it too… but I don’t know when I’d find time to keep up with it!

    • As much as I like it, I could see why The Last of Us combat isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Tearaway is certainly worth it if you can make the time. Especially with how cheap it has been. Thanks for commenting Matt!

  3. I haven’t quite narrowed down my list for any sort of game of the year list just yet. I am in the process of playing a few that I missed out on and I want to try and include them if they are worthy.

    As for your mentions here I too really enjoyed both Resogun and the Last of Us. Took a break from Resogun but I will have to go back someday and try to beat Matt’s score. Still cant believe he demolished my score like that haha. And the Last of Us was pretty great as well. Will most certainly have a spot on my list and possible at the top. Tearaway is still unopened until I am able to finish A Link Between Worlds because I hate starting more than one game at a time these days. But I do own it and look forward to playing because I have heard only great things about it.

    Anyway great blog as usual. I will be posting my list in the forums after I complete a few more games and possibly do something a bit more detailed on my site. Havent decided for sure yet.

    • I admit I went with this format because ranking a list has been tough. I used to be a one game at a time guy as well, but that whole plan went up in flames at some point! I can understand that though. Hopefully you will do a post on your site. I’d like to read that. Thanks for commenting!

  4. I agree completely with your opinion on Tearaway. There’s a lot of things it does right, but when I think of what I like about it, it’s never the little things it does. It’s just that the game makes me happy when I play it. And of course The Last of Us is a great number one pick.

    • I felt a little silly describing it that way since I imagine the defense of Journey sounds similar, but since Tearaway still has plenty of game-y traits worth praising, I figure the defense is valid in this case. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Heard nothing but good things for the Last of Us and managed to snag a copy after Christmas. Can’t wait to experience it for myself.

    Also, I have to admit that I have a Resogun addiction. 🙂

  6. Hard to argue against Last of Us for overall GoTY.

    Missed the PS3 era though after opting for a 360, so a re-release on PS4 would be perfect!

    Loved the time I’ve spent with Resogun, too.

    Great post!

    • Yeah hopefully there will be a Last of Us port onto PS4. A few collections of PS3 games would be good too, so you could catch up on some of the other gems from that system. Thanks for checking out the new blog! I appreciate it.

  7. Pingback: My 2013 Gaming Awards: Part 2 | The Triple Option

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