So that was 2013

2013 LogoComing in to 2013 it didn’t seem like the most promising year for gaming, but looking back it’s been a whole lot of fun and the future is looking rosy. Since this is a gaming blog, such as it is, I’m obliged to do a post looking back at the year gone by. This is a tradition or an old charter, or something.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

XCOM: Enemy Unknown logo

Yes, I know it was released in 2012, but I didn’t get around to playing it until this year. Which is a shame, because it’s one of the best games ever created. There’s always a danger in creating a modern version of a cult classic but Firaxis didn’t make a single mis-step worthy of note. They trimmed here, streamlined there and tweaked more or less everything and while some may complain about the lack of depth compared to the original the overwhelming majority lauded them for a job well done. They may have made the game more accessible but what they didn’t do is make it easier. Even on normal with the default settings it’s almost impossible to complete the game on your first attempt without some form of prescience. And for those that did find it too easy, you can ramp the difficulty up, and up and up, right through “brutal” and into the dangerous void of “deeply unfair”.

And no QTEs, in-app purchases or Facebook integration to be seen.

Plant vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time

PvZ 2

I may have had a bit of a rant about PopCap’s aggressive monetization of their horticultural free-to-play zombie murderthon, but all that aside, there’s no denying that it’s an incredibly fun game. Following the massive update recently which took out the non-linear aspects and returned to the more single-file level-after-level system, the game became a lot less offensive and encouraged me to pick it back up and finish it off. And you know what? It’s still the best tower defence game since Plants vs Zombies 1.



If I were putting these games into categories for this post, Gunpoint would obviously be under “best use of Hypertrousers”, because months later I’m still giggling at the word. Once I got over that it would definitely go under “best game where you get to be a sneaky bastard”. Seriously, it’s beautiful.

The Stanley Parable

The Stanley Parable

I haven’t played it yet, since I was only given it as a Christmas gift. Apparently it’s amazing, but even if it turns out to be rubbish it’s annoying gamers by appearing on “top of 2013” lists in place of more traditional dudebro shooters, so I’m all in favour of it for that if nothing else.

XBox One


My wife somehow managed to snag me a Day One edition of the XBone for Christmas, which basically means I win at Yuletide this year. I’ve barely played anything on it yet, but spent most of my time swishing around the interface using Kinect, feeling like some kind of wizard. It may be slightly pointless and a little quirky at times (it picks up some words my two-year-old son says better than my own), but it feels like we’re finally on the verge of the Star Trek future we’ve been promised. With the Oculus Rift on the way, gaming is looking gooood.

Forza 5

Forza 5

I suck at racing games. More specifically, I suck at most games, but particularly so at racing games. But my XBone (yes, I will always call it that, because I’m three) came with a copy. It’s pretty, very pretty. Is it a good racing game? I wouldn’t know, I really don’t have a basis for comparison. The cars respond somewhat like a real car would, as far as I can extrapolate from the ordinary road cars I’ve driven. But what I love about the game, and really excites the AI geek in me, are the Drivatars, AI drivers trained by monitoring actual players, which lets the computer more accurately tailor race difficulties, provide a greater variety of competitors and – most importantly – let unscripted behaviours emerge. Manoeuvres that the developers didn’t program in, that appear only because real players perform them. this is probably the start of the robot uprising, but who cares? It’s fascinating stuff.

Other Consoles

Steam Box

Following the disappointing release of the Wii U in 2012 – disappointing not in itself, but in its reception – it was expected that the race would fall between Sony and Microsoft as always. With Microsoft seeming determined to shoot themselves in their collective feet while Sony showed every sign of having actually learnt from the piss-poor PS3 launch, even that was looking a little one-sided. Thankfully Microsoft have managed to claw themselves back a bit of good will, and while both launches are hampered by a shortage of games they are looking to be mostly tied.

But the landscape isn’t so black and white this time round. An Android console hit the market – the Ouya – and… well… that was about it. It launched and hardly anybody seemed to care, right up until the controversies started and then it got all the attention it never wanted.

But then another gorilla threw its giant and numerous hats into the console arena. Steam announced the Steam Machine, a console that’s also a PC, or a PC that’s also a console. Not to mention a controller that’s looking very promising indeed. When people are getting more excited about a controller than the console it comes with, you know they’re onto a winner.

BioShock: Infinite

BioShock Infinite

lol, just kidding. It’s still shit.

Leave a Reply

Post Navigation