What Killed My Social Life Last Year – 2013 Gaming In Review
Posted by C-Mart
Greetings Evil Geek Gamers or EGGs, if you’re up for a cool sounding acronym. When will the EGGs hatch? Soon. What will the EGGs hatch? Terror, bad cholesterol, and world domination! 2013 has certainly been a year in which gaming has taken place. That’s to say that it’s not been unbearably horrible, but in my opinion it hasn’t been stellar either. Sure we’ve had some great games and even one that could be considered a masterpiece of storytelling, but we’ve had our fair share of turds hit the market this year and even some games that had great expectations, but managed to be only so-so in their final execution. Let’s take a look at some of the stuff that I thought worked, some that outright sucked, and some that were just meh.
Let’s start with the crap first. The biggest disappointment of the year for me was Batman: Arkham Origins. To even call this game a let down though wouldn’t be accurate, because that indicates at I some point I actually thought the game had a shot of being good. When the game was first announced, the red flags started going up immediately in an indication of what the final quality of the game would be. First off was the time frame of the release. It came to us only about a year after Arkham City, which in my opinion is one of the finest games ever produced. Arkham City took years and years to craft, so to issue a follow-up so shortly after its release would mean that we were either going to get a rehash of the previous game or we were going to get a rushed, inferior product (The final game would fall in the sweet spot somewhere right between those two outcomes). The other more obvious red flag was the fact that Rocksteady Games, the originator of the series, would be handing off the license to WB Games Montreal. Since those original people wouldn’t be working on it, instead of building on and perfecting the mechanics of the previous game, the new team seemed to want to copy the feel of Arkham City, but eventually fell short. The main focus became replication of what worked before instead of innovation, resulting in a prequel that somehow feels like a step down gameplay wise. That being said, of course I own a copy of it, it is Batman after all. Anytime I can feel like Batman I’m going to jump on the opportunity even if it does result in a mediocre experience.
Two more big sequels that dropped this year were Bioshock: Infinite and Grand Theft Auto 5. Both of these titles seem to have a case of senior-itis, in that they’re the last big releases for each of these franchises for the current generation and while technically they are beautiful and look nearly flawless, the stories of each seem to have been short-changed. I really enjoyed both games (especially GTA 5, I’ve probably spent more time playing that game this year than any other) and gave them good reviews at the time. However, since I usually write my review right as I’m in the height of playing the game, it doesn’t allow me to look back at the total experience once I’ve completed them. Both games are fun to play, but they both lack the social critiques and messages of their older brothers. Bioshock had some themes on runaway capitalism and elitism, but by the time the dust cleared after the ending of Infinite, it seemed like I’d played through a bunch of random gun battles (a boss here or there would have been nice) just to get to a twist ending that really didn’t have much to say other than “Bet you didn’t see this coming?!?!” GTA kind of suffers from the same malady, GTA 4 had a lot to say about the “American Dream” and the state of immigrants in modern America, but once GTA 5 is over you’re left to wonder if there was anything you were supposed to learn other than “Having a shit ton of money is awesome!” How has Michael, Trevor, and Franklin’s journey changed them for the better or worse? We really don’t know; except for Franklin who seems to be doing better than he was at the beginning of the game simply because he now has a big house in the Hollywood, er…excuse me, Vinewood Hills. If this were a realistic game, all of the subsequent DLC packs would revolve around how Franklin is going to earn enough money to foot the tax bill on the bad boy every year. Both of these games were like the pretty and popular boy or girl that everyone wanted to date; great to look at, but not much of a conversation starter.
God this C-Mart guy complains a lot, was there anything he did like? Yup, I think the game of the year by far is The Last of Us. The gameplay is simple and fairly similar to Naughty Dog’s other big franchise, Uncharted, but the game is boosted by more than just simple yet engrossing gameplay. Of course it looks nearly flawless graphics-wise; as Joel an Ellie travel through a post fungus zombie infestation America, there is no shortage of beautiful scenery. The real highlight of this game though was the story or redemption and parental love unfolding as you play through. You see a man who’s completely closed off his heart to the outside world, go from a gruff, mean, drunk, to a fully realized person, willing to do anything to protect the child he’s suddenly found himself in charge of. You’ll outright cry in certain places during the game as we learn just how horrible people can be, all in the name of “the greater good”. An amazing story, that solidifies this title as my favorite of the year. Aside from all that, it’s also a zombie game that isn’t a mindless shoot ’em up and that in itself is a pretty big accomplishment these days!
There were a few games to hit this year that completely took me by surprise. Games I never intended on picking up, but as of recently I find that I can’t put them down. First up is the game I’m just getting around to finally playing, Borderlands 2. A HUGE improvement over the first Borderlands, I’ve found myself engrossed in hours long marathons of gun battles and massive explosions. I think the thing that hurt the first Borderlands game the most was that it was released right around the time of Fallout 3 and it unfortunately seemed like a hollow imitation of that game. The sequel does a thorough job of refining the things that worked in the first game and making some improvements to the things that didn’t. The reason it took me so long to get around to playing this was because I was expecting more of the mediocrity of the first one, luckily I was wrong though and I’m loving this second trip through the wastelands of Pandora. Another surprise for me was Doctor Who: Legacy, the newest app game to chronicle the adventures of everyone’s favorite Gallifreyan by way of Britain. I never though a mobile, puzzle game could keep me so engrossed, but being able to assemble a dream team of companions to play my way through recent episodes of the TV series has ensured that the battery on my phone is permanently low. It makes sense that the Doctor would be featured in a puzzle game; he’s an action hero for sure, but he uses his brains instead of guns and explosions. An action game wouldn’t be true to the spirit of the Doctor, but a puzzler is something surely near and dear to his hearts.
With the release of the next-gen consoles this past November, 2014 is looking to be a big year for next level gaming. From what I gather, there’s no MUST HAVE game for either console yet, but that is surely to change in a brief matter of time. 2013 to me felt like an off year for gaming. It seemed like there weren’t many huge games that everyone was talking about, but I’m hoping that’s mainly because developers efforts have been mainly allocated to programing next-gen stuff, which in turn has meant that this final year of the current generation was a little slower than what we’re normally used to. Soon enough the big titles will start dropping for the Xbox One and the PS4, allowing us to drain our wallets and hide indoors from our fiery nemesis: the sun. You can trust that the Evil Geeks will be gaming throughout this new year, so keep your eyes glued to the site to find out What’s Killing My Social Life This Week!
Find out what ELSE has been killing my social life…aside from my grating personality that is.
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About C-MartA true Marvel Zombie, die-hard George Romero fan, Star Wars addict, Whovian, and life-long gamer. I make with the Tweets @CMart0979
Posted on January 2, 2014, in Features, Geekology, Reviews, Video Games, What's Killing My Social Life This Week and tagged 2013, Apps, Batman, Batman: Arkham Origins, Bioshock, Bioshock: Infinite, Doctor Who, Doctor Who Legacy, Gamers, Games, Geeks, Grand Theft Auto, GTA V, nerds, The Last of Us, Video Games. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.