The Ninjabot

Gaming 2013 Recap

Posted on December 21, 2013 at 5:42 pm by Stephen Janes

It should come as quite the surprise that I’m writing another article. It’s not that I don’t want to write anything or I have anything against those lovable geeks at Geek Legacy, it’s more that I’m lethargic and prefer to spend my time catching up on my backlog of video games, which is larger than Cliff Blezinski’s ego (which he backs up and I still love him). Plus, the editors started waving contracts and legal action in my face, so I figured I’d get out of my gaming chair, sit in my office chair and get to work. One thing to note, both chairs are the same because I know you were thinking about that.

It’s difficult to say which year will be considered the best for gaming, but we certainly have a strong contender in 2013. Over the last calendar year, consumers were blessed with two new consoles in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, saw the return of several classic franchises in a beautiful return to glory, the release of one of the biggest games of all time and more. Here is my compilation of some of the best, some of the worst, and some of the biggest “meh” moments in gaming of the year 2013.

Header_The Good

Lara Croft

The Tomb Raider reboot was met with financial success and sequels are already being planned.

Lara Croft Retaking Her Throne

While Samus Aran is considered by many to be the first lady of video games, my heart will always belong to Lara Croft. The original Tomb Raider games had such great depth to them due to their rich story and adventurous game play. The Tomb Raider reboot released back in March was a fantastic return to Croft’s roots as a green explorer learning to defend herself, opposed to her doing backflips while shooting a Tyrannosaurus Rex in the face. People will absolutely make similarities to Nathan Drake and the Uncharted series, but Tomb Raider absolutely holds its own. The surprising addition of multiplayer added additional hours of game play to a campaign that already took about 10-14 hours to complete, depending on your patience with collectables. The game is so entertaining that I would have no problems re-buying it for the PS4 or Xbox One when Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition ships next year. I also have a pretty big crush on actress and character model Camilla Luddington, so there’s that.

Xbox One vs PS4

Regardless of what console you get, we are witnessing a pretty significant part of history, here.

The Next Gen is the Now Gen

Within one week, both the PS4 and the Xbox One were released to the masses in grand fashion. While PS4 seems to have a slight edge in sales at this time, neither console is losing any steam headed into the Holidays. Even though each console has a limited number of games in its growing library, I don’t expect either console to really hit their stride until early 2014, when major titles like Titanfall, InFamous Second Son, Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes and, eventually, Watch Dogs. New console releases are always a great “refresh” to the industry and the booming sales are just one example of that.

ESports

Competitive gaming, or eSports, has been a dramatic rise in popularity and entrants.

The Continuing Rise of eSports

Perhaps my biggest surprise of the year, Major League Gaming has been making great strides to make eSports more mainstream. The upward trend began with the eSports Report, which is a weekly ESPN style news show dedicated to competitive gaming and provides news, updates and insights of the community. In addition to the eSports Report, viewership has been reported at an all-time high in the last year and shows no signs of slowing down. Having seen a few episodes of the weekly news show, I thoroughly enjoy it because it’s being produced and hosted by people who not only understand video games, but who understand their audience. The broadcast is tasteful but doesn’t give me that, “listen to my news in your face” feel that some reports attempt. You can watch the eSports Report over on MLG’s YouTube account.

Header_The Bad

Phil Fish

We hope his anger will subside and he’ll return to making games at some point.

Phil Fish Done with the Gaming Industry

In a surprising turn of actions, game designer Phil Fish abruptly left the gaming industry due to a bout on Twitter. Writer Marcus Beer and Fish had an argument on Twitter, which led to Fish getting the last words (or tweets), stating, “I ****ing hate this industry,” and, “I’m done. Fez 2 is canceled. Goodbye.” Obviously, the cancellation of Fez 2 is a pretty disappointing side effect of all of this, but I’m more focused on Fish leaving video games. His outspoken and sometimes rude demeanor wasn’t winning any humanitarian awards, but his creative mind and design with Fez leaves fans wanting more. There is no word if Fez 2 will ever see the light of day, but for now it seems bleak that the Indie Game: The Movie star would return anytime soon.

Ashes Cricket 2013

After watching about ten minutes of game play footage, the masochist in me wanted to play.

Game Pulled and Cancelled the Same Week It’s Released

Have you ever played a game so bad that you wanted to scrub your console of its existence? 505 Games recently cancelled their game Ashes Cricket 2013 just days after it was removed from Steam days after it was released. Yes, the game was so bad it was released, pulled and then cancelled in the same week. As the title suggests, Ashes Cricket2013 lets you control your favorite cricket organization to the coveted trophy-thing-champion that is handed out. 505 Games is, however, attempting to contact anybody who purchased the game and extend a full refund, so they deserve credit for at least doing damage control properly. I have heard of games being taken off of shelves due to controversial content or a faulty base, but this is just bad, just very, very, bad. At the same time, I never realized there was such a demand for a cricket game, nor did I realize that cricket games existed in the first place. 505 Games is doing their best to protect the Ashes name and who knows, maybe we’ll have a modern E.T. situation on our hands except instead of burying game cartridges, we’ll see the computers and hardware that worked on this game buried in a ditch.

Joel McHale at VGX

“Here’s what’s going to happen; I’m about to crap all over your hard work and get paid to do it. Cool?”

The Awful VGX Presentation

Spike’s Video Game Awards have an interesting history of being an award show promoted as a night of big reveals with awards sprinkled in. This year marked the Video Game Awards being changed to the VGX’s, which had some interesting results. From the awkward setting to the uncomfortable presentation of Joel McHale, who just seemed to want to be anywhere but presenting. The entire performance was abysmal and I really hope the production team uses this show as a reminder of what should not happen ever again. The exclusive reveals (such as a Thief trailer, Titanfall and more) were great to see and the whole reason many people tuned in, but the lackluster presentation was just hard to watch. I think the Super Mario Bros. Movie in a double feature with Wing Commander while snuggling up with Kanye West on his motorcycle would have been a better waste of my time than watching this; that’s how bad it was.

Header_Meh

Grand_Theft_Auto-Online4.GTAV

I often spend time looking around my high-rise apartment just…wondering, “What could have been?”

Grand Theft Auto Online

When Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto 5 was first announced, an immersive and grand multiplayer experience was promised, but since its release it has not been completely executed. Provided, I have spent many hours completing missions and causing mayhem in Grand Theft Auto Online and have enjoyed every second of it, but Rockstar really fell short on what they promised would be a part of the online experience. Heists, expansions, custom missions (which were recently added) and more have yet to make their way to Los Santos and what’s more unfortunate is that Rockstar is pretty quiet on when the actual release date is. The online experience is a lot of fun as is, but it’s a tad disappointing that the entire product has yet to be released.

Steam-Box

I love the idea behind the Steam Box, but I want to see how controlling Valve will be with third-party editions.

Steam Box and Steam OS

Valve announced that they would be entering in the console race with their Steam Box and Steam OS systems. The Steam Box is basically a computer with preset specifications, while the Steam OS is the operation system that will run the machine. Even stranger is the decision to allow essentially anybody to create their own Steam Box, so long as they meet strict minimum requirements set in place by Valve. I give this a ‘meh’ remark because Valve had the power to blow everybody out of the water by offering an uber powerful, yet affordable computer console hybrid but preferred to put the power in the hands of the users with the options and customization possibilities. This could easily be bumped up when we start to see how the Steam Box can replace PC’s and consoles, but for now it just doesn’t carry too much weight with me.

Favorite Games of 2013

I played a pretty decent number of games in 2013; so picking an absolute favorite for the entire year is a little difficult. Tomb Raider was already spoken about, which definitely makes my list for this year. My other two favorite games are Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Saints Row IV. No, I didn’t mean for that to happen, it just did.

Header_AC4

Starting with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, when I saw the initial trailers for this game I nearly wet myself. Although I had a love hate relationship with Assassin’s Creed III, I had nothing but the utmost fondness for ACIV. The game itself was much more polished and smoother than ACIII, not to mention the sea battles provided me with so much joy and entertainment. This game was so much fun I honestly think that Edward Kenway is my new favorite assassin (sorry, Ezio). I also really appreciated the return to simplicity with this game; objectives were clearly spelled out, collectables weren’t as time consuming and, my favorite part, you receive your assassin hoodie just ten minutes into the opening sequence, compared to nearly four hours in the previous title. Even if you’ve been burned out with the Assassin’s Creed games you need to give this one a try, you won’t regret it.

Header_SR4

The other game I need to give recognition to here is Saints Row IV, which has provided me with so many quotable moments and laughs that I never expected from a video game. I had a great time with Saints Row the Third and my hype level carried over swimmingly. A big kudos goes to the voice acting, as each character delivers a believable performance and the writing is superb. The game play is reminiscent of the previous title, but with added super powers that play a big role within the main story. Although Saints Row IV features game play that is very similar to the Grand Theft Auto franchise, the Saints Row games separate themselves with over the top dialogue, ridiculous situations and characters and a lot of dubstep. That’s Saints Row IV in a nutshell, and I adore it.

Header_Tomb Raider

I already wrote about my experience with Tomb Raider so there isn’t anything new to add here. I had as much fun with Lara Croft’s latest adventure as I did with the Uncharted series, which makes me excited to see where Ms. Croft goes from here. While the story isn’t anymore believable than when Lara is hunting dinosaurs and going to ancient locations, I do get a cinematic feel from this game which adds to the experience. I did feature this game in a column way back when, so if you want to read why exactly I enjoy this game you may want to check it out.

The year 2013 was very good for video game consumers and 2014 looks to capitalize and expand on it. Next year will feature some major first and third-party titles being released for the newly released consoles. Although vaguely mentioned in this article, Nintendo has a lot of ground to make up in 2014 as many gamers seem to be losing interest in them. All I can say is, 2013 was a very fun year for gaming and 2014 is already showing no reason to continue that trend.

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