I enjoyed quite a few games this past year but these five really helped to take the gaming experience to another level and take you on a journey, even if that journey is of your own making.
1. Minecraft (PC)
Minecraft is, hands down, my favorite game of this year. No other game gave you the freedom that Minecraft gave you from the get go. Other games this year thought that they were offering you an open world but they all paled in comparison to Notch’s creation. Saints Row 3 and Skyrim both bragged about being an open atmosphere but Minecraft gave you the world and let you decide what became of it.
The idea of waking up in a strange land where you are quite possibly the only person on earth can be both liberating and scary at the same time. This idea alone could have started a zombie game or horror game in general but no, okay so it is a bit of a zombie game but not in the traditional sense of the term, it starts the game that Lego wishes that they had made.
2. Bastion (PC, XBLA)
Running through the ruins of Caelondia and watching as the street rose up to meet your feet was a definite high point this year. Being led through the ruins of this once thriving city by the disembodied voice of Rucks made my day and my gaming experience. Normally I tend not to appreciate the narrator character as they usually over-elaborate the obvious but Rucks brought a great new feel and experience to gaming this year. Not since Clockwork Orange has the narrator played such a major role in a story’s development. The game was great, the soundtrack was exceptional but Rucks most assuredly brought another much appreciated dimension to this seemingly two dimensional world.
3. Dead Island (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)
Have you ever been to a lavish resort? I haven’t and after playing Dead Island I don’t know if I want to. The game starts with you fighting what looks like a zombie representation of Baywatch but then evolves into a bloody death-fest where you, and your group of rag tag resort goers, make your way through the seedy ghetto of Banoi and the dark and foreboding jungle. It’s you against socio-economic trouble and no one wins … except the player of course.
This is everything I’ve wanted in a game, rabid zombies that are predisposed to decapitation and angry ghetto residents that don’t really take kindly to your presence. It’s like you’re playing a stripped down Call of Duty where you only have the zombie level and a severe lack of weapons and ammunition.
4. inFamous 2 (PS3)
Among the games that deal with an electrical genetic mutation this one is by far my favorite. I hadn’t played inFamous the first but jumped headlong into the sequel only to be amazed and giddy. If you would have described this game to me before I played it I would have probably dismissed it as a hokey mutation game that just sounds cheesey but I would have been wrong. I’m not usually happy to be wrong but I’m willing to concede that this game showed me how wrong I can be. From the running around without a goal to the actual storyline I was kept at the edge of my seat looking forward to coming into contact with a group of protesters just asking to be electrocuted.
5. Saints Row 3 (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)
I enjoyed GTA when all you had to do was run around beating up hookers and running over bystanders but then when the actual story got in the way I tended to lose interest. Saints Row 3 takes all of that clunky story stuff and does away with it, even the main story quests feel like mini games, so that the only thing left to do is enjoy yourself. Crazy weapons and absurd vehicles are easily attained and easily upgraded so that you deal less with the inventory management and actually get to spend more time running around without a care in the world. I would say that you’re over powered but then I would be taking a swipe at one of the main things this game has going for it, the ability to be a god among men and a formidable enemy.
These are my favorite games of the year. There were other games that came out but these five really stood out above the others, in my opinion.