Ask any gamer what time of year is their favorite; the vast majority will answer, “Fall!” Why? Because this is gaming season. It is when all the year’s big releases hit the shelves, and it marks the end of the long summer lull when few new games become available. I assume the industry works this way to take advantage of the winter holiday shopping season, but here at Think-Entertainment we’ll take any excuse to celebrate, especially those of us who get a wholesome thrill from saying, “Goodbye, summer!” this time every year (which I’m sure has nothing to do with those of us who have September birthdays). This year, we’re kicking off the autumnal gaming fest with a five part End-of-Summer article series, beginning with this one. So just what were the staff’s favorite games to arrive on consoles – or PC – so far in 2013?
Fire Emblem Awakening – E.Murphy
A good strategy game is hard to find. An incredible, breathtaking, and downright addicting strategy game is an even rarer treat, particularly in today’s market. Fire Emblem has long been a series known for its high quality gameplay and compelling stories, and Awakening is no exception. At least… not in a negative way. Released early this year to universal acclaim, even from outlets which typically ignore such games, Awakening is probably one of the most successful 3DS titles to date.
Awakening features a personable and, at times, eclectic cast of characters so diverse as to tempt you into playing through the game more than once just to get to know them all. It seamlessly blends elements of tactical and roleplaying games to give it a unique flavor without evoking enough of either genre to alienate fans of the other. For people like me who love a challenge, this is the exceptional indulgence that will both stimulate the mind and deliver an exciting gaming experience. But be warned: such indulgences can quite easily monopolize your free time.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons – Tom T
The Nintendo eShop, with its low prices and extensive library of classic titles, can make a spend-thrift of any gamer. To avoid buying all the games, and having to hide your 3DS from bailiffs, it is best to browse prepared.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, available on the 3DS since March, is my game of the year. Originally released in 2001 for the Gameboy Color, players must harness the power of changing seasons, making for beautiful and diverse gameplay. Crucially, the title provided the challenge that I have been missing in modern games. This challenge was satisfying, rather than frustrating – with exception perhaps of the final boss, during which perspective changes from overhead 2D to something more resembling Mario, and the player (specifically me) dies a lot.
But the game doesn’t end there. It was re-released in conjunction with its original counterpart: the also acclaimed, and more puzzle-centric, Oracle of Ages. Beating both titles will bring one in confrontation with the King of Evil, Ganon. I have that to look forward to, in continuing my quest to beat all the Zelda games that I missed during my MLG tryhard years.
DOTA 2 - adamsmith
When it comes to Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBAS), the market has recently been flooded, but the giants still remain high on their thrones. Recently, DOTA has made its triumphant return to the main stage – with the help of Valve – in the form of DOTA 2, officially released from its two year beta on July 9, 2013.
My only complaint about the game is that all the DOTA heroes have yet to be converted to DOTA 2, but they are soon to come. Otherwise, DOTA 2 takes everything that was bad in the previous DOTA and Heroes of Newerth, and flushes them out. The game has a unique lore, and all the heroes are very well designed. The original DOTA heroes still shine through in the design of the DOTA 2 counterparts, despite conflict with Blizzard over some designs. DOTA 2 is very in touch with its roots, and is my go-to game when I need to play something competitive.
Metro: Last Light – AlexWGR
I cannot imagine picking any other game for this category besides Metro: Last Light. Not because of the game’s overall quality, but because of a few special moments where Last Light made the feeling of existing in its world crystal clear. I have never played a game that made me feel the exciting thrill of an adventure novel until this year.
In the few chapters where it shines, Metro forces the player to experience the harshness of its universe. Whether through occasionally nonlinear level design, the game’s emphasis on scavenging, the player’s constantly depleting oxygen supply, or the game’s appropriately cumbersome survival management, Metro: Last Light creates harrowing, panicked moments where eventual success no longer seems guaranteed.
This kind of emotional involvement complements the game’s atmosphere, building a general feeling of dread that contrasts Metro’s beautiful world. Metro: Last Light is a perfect example of using game storytelling to emotionally recreate situations. During its best moments, Metro’s story is its world – a combination of oppression and hope.
Payday 2 – Aaron Tuazon
This year has been full of exceptional titles from the big studios, from Tomb Raider‘s release in March to the more recent Naughty Dog production, The Last of Us, in June. Yet when I sat down to consider what my favourite game of 2013 has been so far, it was surprising to see that it’s not a big budget, AAA title. With the exception of The Last of Us, none of these games had a strong multiplayer component, and this year I’ve found myself delving more and more into the co-operative experiences that allow me to strengthen bonds with people I know. So for me, picking my favourite game of 2013 was easy: Payday 2.
In Payday 2, I got the opportunity to work closely with my brothers, even though the hours we spent together involved highly illegal activities like bank heists, moving drugs or breaking into an art gallery to steal valuable paintings. Success in this game requires crew members to cooperate well and communicate effectively; playing the game without voice chat would be an almost impossible task.
From trying to pull off the perfect stealth run (like they seem to do so easily in films) to facing off with law enforcement, the missions in Payday 2 keep you on your toes from the beginning. Fail to keep an eye on all of your hostages and you’ll soon find your dreams of that perfect stealth run dashed as alarms go off and sirens blare in the background. Do it right, however, and you can move thousands of dollars before anyone even catches on. Pulling off the perfect heist is an exhilarating and incredibly satisfying experience; one that’ll definitely stick with you for a while.