Some games that I enjoyed in 2013

This isn’t specific to games released in 2013 – just ones that I loved playing. You see I am really bad for buying games and not giving them enough playtime, or not even playing them. In 2013 I looked to go through my pile of shame and complete some of the dozens of unplayed / incomplete games. I never got very far.

So in the order that they pop into my head, here’s my thoughts on games that I’ve enjoyed over the past year.

Saints Row IV

What a game. Perhaps my favourite new release over the past few years was Saints Row III so naturally when the fourth game came out, it would be a “must have”. It is daft, bringing out my inner child but also making me chuckle along the way with some of the meaningless conversations and banter between characters. The weapons were all daft and fun plus of course the superhero gameplay was incredible. My main criticism would be customisation and the lack of new content. Some of the shops probably had exactly the same items as SR3! With a superhero/Matrix themed game, there was room for plenty new cool items to spend in game cash on. Having the same city didn’t bother me as I moved around it in a new way, plus of course I liked having some familiarity. Do we have to learn whole new cities for new iterations of sandbox games? I don’t see the need – unless it is a whole new setting.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

I was very much expecting an okay karting game that had plenty well known characters, albeit none I ever really liked. I was very wrong. The way the game “transforms” between driving, boating and flying was pretty cool, even if in most cases I just preferred the driving, however what I absolutely loved was the way that tracks changed from lap to lap. Okay on your first few goes its a pain to learn but it made everything that little bit more interesting.

I liked the progression system with the characters. Rather than getting faster when you level them up, it is all nicely balanced and also means that if you aren’t fond of the fast-but-hard-to-control characters but your favourite character was that type, you could tweak them. The main progression was a bit of a pain though. There were loads of great levels and different challenges rewarding you with stars but actually unlocking things proved very hard. I know that I’ll probably never get to have a go at that final race.

Why won’t I get to play the final race? Well bloody hell this is a hard game. I’m usually pretty good at racing games. Not great I’ll admit but whenever playing local multiplayer I tend to win but I struggled with this! Even today I can struggle on some medium races, most hard and even the odd easy challenge!

My other two beefs with the game would be that second/third/fourth players didn’t seem to get achievements and the use of avatars. Why no gamer picture? Surprised the game got through certification!

Clash of Heroes

I sighed when I saw this was the pick for the free game provided by Microsoft twice a month. I’ve never been overly fond of RPGs and didn’t really feel too enthusiastic about this one – but it had multiplayer so me and my girlfriend fired it up just to give it a go. The battle system was great fun! It was relatively simple once I grabbed the basics but has went on to be a great game for us to play together. It has probably seen the most gameplay hours out of my collection this year!

The single player campaign was pretty fun, playing with different characters and levelling up along the way. In truth I didn’t give a damn about the story or characters, but I liked the art and it progressed quite nicely – plus there was stuff to unlock. Occasionally I’d find myself taking on enemies that were far too powerful which was a bit annoying. All in all, good fun.

Mount Your Friends

Oh my what an amusing game. With similarities to QWOP, the gameplay is simple but bloody tricky. Trying to climb, or if you’re ambitious fling yourself up a tower of nearly naked guys with amusing faced and swinging genitals. It is funny, especially in a group, and a great party game. When the clock is ticking down, the music is wonderfully¬†atmospheric and your friends are cheering you on, this is truly brilliant game. Just you know… not for kids.

Bioshock

The fact that I have Bioshock on here is a bit of a worry. To think that it took until 2013 for me to play what has been regarded as a great game. As I’m usually slow at completing games and get bored/frustrated with my own ineptitude at sinking on sufficient hours to get through games like this, Bioshock has sat there on my shelf for years but I finally played it!

In truth I found the story dumb. However the setting and visuals were superb. I felt tense and nervous. I was intrigued to know more about the crazies running around and little things here and there, even if the main characters and actual plot wasn’t to my liking. The powers were great fun though. They really added to the game, even if at times switching felt a bit fiddly.

Perhaps there were too many powers though. There seemed like one for every possible scenario but am I really going to keep switching them out for each corridor or room? No. The lack of ammo was a pain as well. A few times I had sod all ammo or powers… although in hindsight I should have used the wrench more!

LEGO Lord of the Rings

Why did I like this? I rode a pig around the shire and later raced through Mordor on a goat. Enough said.

I feel that this was possibly the most interesting of the LEGO games that I’ve played so far. Perhaps the main reason for this is the sheer quantity of characters. I found this rather awkward to be honest, especially when wanting to quickly switch characters. I find the character-switchy-wheel a little fiddly and using the ‘Y’ button to switch could take ages to get the right character. It also made the screen a little bit too busy.

The open world aspect worked very well, especially allowing you to go between the different famous places in middle earth. The number of open world activities was great, with plenty of distractions as well as points and collectables. One criticism is that things maybe got overly complicated and there’s certain interactions that I can never figure out which character to use. When everyone on my circlular-character-switching-device seemed ineffective, it was a little frustrating. There was also blocks that you could collect, go back to a specific point and make stuff that seemed rather pointless.

But all in all it was fun. I don’t think it was the greatest implementation for the LEGO games but you can’t argue with the amount of content, or the great little injections of humour.

Time Viking

For a long while this was my “go-to” phone game despite being an add-on to “i maed a gam3 with z0mbies”. Now it is a game in its own right on XBLIG – a rather pretty update as well. The gameplay is simple – blast away at the hordes of incoming enemies around you – but really good fun and as you’d expect from Ska Studios it is accompanied by an awesome song.

Dead Space

I’ve not actually completed this game, but I’ve restarted it and am enjoying it much more than my previous attempt. It feels tense and I am very intrigued by the plot and learning more about the mutations trying to maul me. Strangely I seem more fussed about the whole situation than the characters. The main chap seems very relaxed about the whole. Who knows – maybe this is an every day occurrence for him? Personally I’d have a few more “What the … is that?!” moments.

The suit abilities work well and it is a nicely put together game. In my first (and second) attempts at playing through the game I kept running out of ammo, which was infuriating, but I’m managing it much better this time. There’s a few moments where I get a touch frustrated and at times the environment and levels do feel a bit samey. I’ve found it a very hard game to pick up after a week or two out, meaning I end up taking longer and longer breaks (hence not yet finishing it!). I think part of this is just my lack of familiarity with the controls as well as trying to remember how everything sodding works.

The ability to press R3 and get a path is absolutely wonderful though. Given the samey nature of the environment and often boring justification for why I’m trundling around this isn’t a game where you want to explore and get yourself back in the swing of things. Giving me an immediate “go this way” is really helpful and also avoids me getting lost! I gave up on Half Life after getting lost in some maze of corridors but that won’t happen with Dead Space!

Littlebigplanet

LittlebigplanetThere are so many great qualities in Littlebigplanet. It is one of the most charming games that I have played with some dare I say it – cute characters. The ability to customise your character and pod to such an extent is fantastic. With a relatively long story mode containing plenty “extras”, there’s a decent amount of gameplay content but then you add in their amazing level design tools and the game can take on a whole new level. It truly is an excellent game.

To top it off you have multiplayer. Not just two player (or 1 player and a meaningless sidekick like many other games) but proper 4 player multiplayer. It is really good fun to play! However it does encounter one major issue – coping with that many players on the screen. In some of the more awkward / challenging puzzles it was very hard to play local multiplayer. The need for everyone to keep up means that it is really hard to maintain momentum and you can often get in each others way. Unfortunately this takes a lot away from the overall experience and was often much more frustrating than fun.

So why did it take me so long to complete this game? Well playing multiplayer was frustrating, as mentioned, then my PS3 had issues working, followed by controller issues in LBP, then I lost my save before more PS3 freezing issues. Was a hell of a fight. Glad I finished the game though! Already started on LBP2 and all.

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