Love is a strong word. Because sometimes, even when we really admire games, they kind of suck.
As it’s the week before I go home for Christmas and work is a bit slow, I thought I’d go over 10 games I played in 2013 and rank them in order of which I liked the most (near the bottom) and disliked the least (starting at the top).
Two things: I appear to have only actually played 10 games that either launched or came to new platforms this year, so it was more a case of ordering them rather than actually narrowing down a big list. AND I didn’t truly enjoy most of these in the conventional sense, but taking into consideration the previous sentence, I don’t have much more to work with.
10 – Thomas Was Alone
I got this little doozy for free with the ol’ PlayStation Plus subscription that keeps insisting on renewing itself without my consent. While I’ve owned the same PlayStation 3 since launch, I’ve ended up using the Xbox a lot more over recent years, so many of my free games go unplayed for a considerable stretch.
Part of this, I think, is because the hard disk drive (HDD) in that launch PS3 is only 60GB, which isn’t very helpful if you like playing more than two games at a time. Anyway, I played Thomas Was Alone for about 10 minutes and was instantly charmed by every aspect of it. The pretty and colorful blocky characters are heartwarming as is the slightly forlorn narration. I’d like to play it a bit longer before I make any more judgements, though — that’s why it occupies this position on the list.
9 – Remember Me
Remember Me isn’t a very enjoyable game. The only redeeming quality it has is squandered on all the other bad ideas it insists upon throwing at the player, which results in a rather upsetting experience.
A few early locations look truly beautiful, its setting and overall concept are interesting and exciting, and the whole project was clearly inspired at some early stage. It doesn’t play poorly, either; it’s just really, really normal and that doesn’t do anything for me these days.
The combat is serviceable, enemies are bleurgh challenging, and level design is linear and boring to look at. Remember Me is the perfect mid-tier game. It’s just nowhere near as entertaining as the B-grade magic of Binary Domain.
8 – Saints Row IV
I reckon Saints Row IV is lovely. It’s a wonderful title made by people who truly enjoy making video games. I also think that it’s a bit of a boring when you actually get down to playing the story.
For a long while, I was almost exclusively pursuing the side activities with the mind to complete every single one of them. I did this in no time and then went on to collect the 1,255 orbs like those from Crackdown. I got all of those as well and felt a little dirty and pathetic after doing so. I’d just spent 15 hours of my life collecting things for no justifiable reason. It was fun, however, so it at least says something about Saints Row IV when it’s cooking on gas and letting you fly and jump and run around like a maniac.
The rest of the game — the actual game. it could be argued — is dead boring. While I was messing around being a compulsive collector, I was able to upgrade a lot of skills and guns to “customize my experience.” Many of the story tasks, as I learned countless times (to my dismay), don’t really consider any of this and instead regularly lock off powers and most of your guns. This, combined with lifeless, repetitive, and rightly tiresome objectives, slowly depleted my enjoyment and turned the game into a horrible slog.
This came as a surprise to me as I never enjoy ancillary objectives more than the main game, especially in Saints Rows of the past. The freedom you have while roaming the open world is regularly undermined by the arbitrary whims of the story missions, and that just didn’t sit well with me — hence it being my third least-favorite game released this year that I played.
7 – Grand Theft Auto V
Before Grand Theft Auto V came out, I was steadfast in my insistence that I didn’t care about GTA V one jot. As is usually the case with massive titles, my resolve weakened about a week before it came out, so I decided to order it from the Amazon after all. There really is something powerful around the video game zeitgeist — that crushing need to play a game as soon as possible even if you aren’t planning on talking about it to anyone else.
As it happened, a lot of other people had also ordered it from Amazon, and Royal Mail had trouble getting all its deliveries made that day. This resulted in me standing in the rain, chain-smoking fags, staring longingly at red vans and postmen like some grown-up orphan who never gave up hope of finding his lost parents. I played Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City instead and eventually received my copy of GTA several days late.
GTA V is a condensation of the mundanity of our lives. It is a game set in a wonderful representation of the modern world, and its beauty and detail are really rather impressive. Like Saints Row IV, it’s really boring as well. Once I got over the scale of the world and had driven around for a decent amount of time, I started to tire of the repetitive and archaic mission design. GTA V is, for me anyway, a more mechanically sound GTA III and almost nothing more. Everything about the game is really great except for the story, which I just found dull. As with every GTA I’ve ever played, I’ve had to take a long break — though I’ll likely go back and finish it next year.
6 – DmC: Devil May Cry
I don’t like the other Devil May Cry games because they are too hard. I played this one on Easy difficulty and had a very enjoyable time, all told. It’s sometimes funny, sometimes “wow,” and only a little bit frustrating.
The beginning is uninspired, and so is the end, but the middle is absolutely fantastic. The upside-down world, the TV ident, and the slow-motion jumping-chase are three of the most memorable examples of art direction and level design I’ve encountered this year. It’s a shame that the last third of the game is so boring and drab with its “caverns and corridors” approach because that really soured me on the whole experience.
I tend to button-bash a bit too much, but DmC made me want to learn as much as my feeble hands could manage, so I ended up enjoying the combat quite a bit even on that pathetically low difficulty. Also, my good friend Martin did QA on this and is one of the first people to be seen in the video next to the credits. His mom was dead happy when I pointed that out and he showed her.