My Gaming In Review - Top 11 Games of 2013 (#5-1)
#5 - Uncharted 2 (PS3)
I'm a little bit behind with the Uncharted series but finally got the chance to play Uncharted 2 earlier in the year. Uncharted 2 is exactly like playing an Indiana Jones movie, which is a great thing. The action and set pieces are some of the best in gaming. I particularly enjoyed the train escape. The dialogue is actually passable (and honestly great when compared to other video games) and funny at times and Nathan Drake is an extremely likable character. The actual gameplay is also top notch with fun platforming and quality gunplay. I found it to be leaps and bounds better than the original and can't wait to sink my teeth into the Nathan Drake's 3rd adventure.
#4 - Mark of the Ninja (Xbox 360)
Mark of the Ninja is one of the absolute best XBLA games. The controls are great and the stealth is implemented nearly perfectly. Every time you succeed in sneakily getting where you need to be to silently take down an enemy feels so satisfying. The game does a good job of introducing new mechanics to keep the game feeling fresh from start to finish. I played through the game in January 2013 so some of the finer details about the game have started to slip my mind, which is for the better so I can give it one more playthrough and enjoy it all over again.
#3 - Guacamelee (PS3/Vita)
Drinkbox had already shown to be an extremely competent developer with the Tales from Space series of games, but Guacamelee really put them on the map as one of the best indie developers around. Guacamelee is an absolute triumph. The game controls perfectly, which is necessary for some of the tougher but immensely enjoyable platforming segments and provides enough unique locations that every time you open up a new world your excited to see what's waiting for you. The boss battles are challenging but never feel unfair. Even though the game does feel a tad linear, it uses the Metroidvania style well and provides plenty of collectibles to go back and search for every time you unlock a new skill. But what really sets Guacamelee apart is the combat. For a 2D game, the combat is better than it has any right to be. It's simple enough for most people to grasp but provides enough depth for those that are really looking to master the game. The dodge mechanic is wonderful and the array of special moves available to the luchador help keep the combat segments feel fresh. The game's enemies are also very well thought out, with many of them having different weaknesses and strengths. This forces the player to get familiar with Juan's entire moveset, rather than just being able to spam the best combos over and over.
#2 - Terraria (PS3)
As much as I enjoy Minecraft, I like Terraria even more. Terraria does an amazing job of using the Minecraft formula, adapting it to a 2D world, and creating an adventure around the gameplay. Where combat usually feels like a chore in Minecraft, Terraria makes it fun with a plethora of different enemies and boss battles. Terraria also presents several different and unique biomes within the world that yield different resources. The adventure portion of Terraria is loosely constructed and sometimes requires additional knowledge of the game to know what to do, but that doesn't really detract from the game because all the best parts of Terraria are accomplishing the challenges you're faced with. I also have to say I prefer Terraria's 2D world for mining compared to MInecraft's 3D world, as it makes figuring out where you're going and what you're doing easier. Terraria took a lot of great ideas from Minecraft and combined them with some new and creative ideas to make one of my all time favorite games.
#1 - Okami HD (PS3)
I had never experienced Okami before I got a chance to get my hands on the beautiful PS3 HD remake. Beautiful is an understatement, the wonderful Japanese influences are a joy to experience throughout the game. Okami is a 3D action-adventure game done exactly right and I have no hesitation to rank it along side the best of the 3D Legend of Zelda games. Okami HD features a glorious sprawling world filled with people to meet, enemies to fight, and areas to explore. As Amaterasu explores her world she learns many new powers and abilities which help in both combat and traversing the land. The unusual paintbrush feature is a fun and unique way to perform techniques and special attacks. The combat is solid, the enemies are varied, and the story is interesting, albeit filled with exposition. Okami felt like a call back to my Nintendo 64 days, where action/adventure/platforming games like Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, Majora's Mask, and Ocarina of Time became some of my favorite games of all time. No doubt that Okami is right up there with those classics in my mind.