Best of 2013

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TECHNOLOGY - By Gieson Ca­Cho

Go­ing into 2013, the hype was pal­pa­ble. With dozens of an­tic­i­pated projects launch­ing and the prospect of new con­soles, it looked as though this would be one of the best years ever in gam­ing. But it was more of a mixed bag, with un­be­liev­able highs and sev­eral dis­ap­point­ments. With that in mind, here is the cream of that crop:

The Last of Us:

It may not have the scope of Rock­star North’s crime epic, but Naughty Dog’s postapoc­a­lyp­tic sur­vival game has more go­ing for it. It’s new in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty in a world full of se­quels. It boasts a bet­ter nar­ra­tive, and the de­vel­op­ers coaxed out un­for­get­table per­for­mances from ac­tors Troy Baker and Ash­ley John­son. The Last of Us is the ex­act op­po­site of the block­buster ti­tles where play­ers are em­pow­ered to save the world. It tells the per­sonal story of Joel and El­lie with sub­tlety and grace, some­thing that most games fail to do.

Grand Theft Auto V:

It’s as­ton­ish­ing how de­vel­op­ers can cap­ture the past 10 years on a piece of plas­tic, but Rock­star North man­aged to do it. The team built a twisted fac­sim­ile of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and made it mir­ror our own times. The trio of Franklin, Trevor and Michael deal with gov­ern­ment cor­rup­tion, money prob­lems and each other in a gor­geous world that play­ers can spend weeks ex­plor­ing.

Ray­man Le­gends:

No game is as pure as Ubisoft Mont­pel­lier’s plat­former. De­layed a few months, the project used the ex­tra time wisely, mak­ing sure that ev­ery jump and ob­sta­cle was per­fect. The level de­sign proves that in the right hands, even older gen­res can be fresh, in­ven­tive and ex­cit­ing.

Tomb Raider:

Af­ter sev­eral se­quels, Lara Croft needed a re­boot, and she got a ma­jor over­haul that proved to be one of the best adventures of the year. Crys­tal Dy­nam­ics blends a sur­vival tale with smart com­bat and mis­sion de­sign. This is a game that fi­nally brings the fran­chise out of the 1990s mold and in­jects it with a mod­ern mind­set.

Yes, Maxis stum­bled out of the gate with its city builder, but months re­moved from its dis­as­trous launch, this game

SimCity:

proves to be just as ad­dic­tive and ed­u­ca­tional as oth­ers in the se­ries. This edi­tion is pret­tier and adds the con­cept of re­gions where play­ers have to work with or against each other by shar­ing re­sources, man­ag­ing pol­lu­tion and of­fer­ing pub­lic ser­vices. It’s eerily sim­i­lar to real-life city gov­ern­ment is­sues.

Fire Em­blem: Awak­en­ing:

Ig­nore the sim­ple bat­tle­field graph­ics and ap­pre­ci­ate the depth and story of this strat­egy role-play­ing game. This ti­tle is a great way to jump into the se­ries as play­ers cre­ate their own avatars and fight to pro­tect the Halidom of Ylisse. What sep­a­rates this it­er­a­tion from pre­de­ces­sors is that char­ac­ters de­velop re­la­tion­ships that af­fect com­bat and the plot.

An­i­mal Cross­ing: New Leaf:

Taken alone, this life sim­u­la­tor may not seem like much. It may even ap­pear bor­ing, but if played with a group of friends, it can be a huge time suck, as play­ers build a town, dec­o­rate their home and deal with a slew of de­mand­ing res­i­dents. It’s a game that cap­i­tal­izes on the feel­ing of dis­cov­ery and growth, re­ward­ing play­ers who visit each day.

As­sas­sin’s Creed IV: Black Flag:

The se­ries gets back on track with this pi­rate-in­spired ad­ven­ture. As Ed­ward Ken­way, play­ers ex­plore the high seas in search of a mys­te­ri­ous place called the Ob­ser­va­tory. It takes the best part of the pre­vi­ous en­try — the sea­far­ing — and builds a great game around it.

BioShock In­fi­nite:

The good: Ir­ra­tional Games’ fol­low-up to BioShock fea­tures a fas­ci­nat­ing world and no­table char­ac­ters in El­iz­a­beth and Booker De­Witt. The bad: When it comes to game­play and story, the team drops the ball, es­pe­cially to­ward the end. The best thing about BioShock In­fi­nite is that it takes an un­flinch­ing look at the darker side of Amer­ica’s his­tory and tack­les is­sues that most de­vel­op­ers shy away from.

Me­dia Mol­e­cule’s foray on the PlayS­ta­tion Vita is an in­no­va­tive one, as the mak­ers of Lit­tleBigPlanet get the most out of the sys­tem, us­ing its touch­screen, touch­pad and cam­era for an enthralling ad­ven­ture. De­spite its flaws, the game con­stantly sur­prises play­ers and has a fi­nale that they won’t for­get. — Con­tra Costa Times/McClatchyTri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

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