As we are all very aware by now the VGX show was a bit of a bust… actually, not just a bust but an Abomination – a Hellspawn set upon the unsuspecting gamer community. You may have read a bit of a rant on this already from our own Jessie Sutherland, so I’ll try to halt my vitriol spouting. Instead this article will be used for a more positive purpose, to honour a few of the more unusual or unloved games of 2013.
Most Underrated Game – Beyond: Two Souls
I’ve written extensively in defence of Beyond: Two Souls previously, so it should come as no surprise that I’m naming it the most underrated game of 2013. Despite praise for the story and acting from some critics (such as in our own Review) the critical reception of both journalists and the general public was decidedly mixed.
Some reviewers such as IGN, panned the game for a lack of perceived choice, while others like Destructoid attacked even the story itself. Within all of this criticism however remained a lingering notion of elitism. It seemed like wherever Beyond was condemned, a large part of that was for ‘not being a real game’ due to its minimal gameplay. In my opinion however, what constitutes a game is irrelevant, when we review something we explain whether it is good or bad and we don’t attempt to classify it and proceed to claim that this is the same thing. If we did then it would be just as ludicrous as saying well that flying cart was awful because it wasn’t a real car, as cars should have wheels and touch the ground.
It is this kind of juvenile criticism which resulted in Beyond not getting the universal recognition it deserved and that is why it is my most underrated game of 2013.
Best Genre Defier – Farcry 3: Blood Dragon
In a sea of grey, serious and ‘realistic’ military shooters, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon stood out as a gleaming jewel. Or rather it ripped the gleaming hearts out of laser-eyed dinosaurs and brandished the neon glow of 80s sci-fi nostalgia like a Lightsaber in your face. This was a game that demanded to be noticed and defied its genre to the fullest extent. You want realistic? Have corny one liners and a ludicrous, mad-scientist driven, plot. You want grey, brown colours? Have neon blues and deeps reds, purples and greens – a cities worth of coloured glory. Indeed it was so different from anything else in its genre this year that people actually thought it was an April Fools joke.
Yet at the heart of all this was a excellent shooter with interesting weapons re-purposed from Far Cry 3 with hilarious dialogue and features, such as a dedicated button for flipping people off. Sergeant Rex Power Colt really was the only shooter protagonist this year to have ‘the science… the firepower… and the Robo-Balls’ to destroy the boring landscape of modern shooters.
That is why Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon deserves to be recognised as the Best Genre Defier of 2013.
Most Improved Game Series – Pokémon X and Y
As excellent as the new Pokémon is, this was a difficult decision as it had to be weighed against the stellar return of the Fire Emblem franchise represented by Fire Emblem: Awakening. In the end though, there was just so many more improvements in Pokémon (more than I could fit in a full length Review!) that I had to give the award to X and Y.
From the delicate introduction of the new Fairy type to the louder addition of Mega evolution and even a number of improvements we didn’t know were missing, Pokémon had it all. What’s more the clunky online interface of previous generations was finally cleaned up, along with the Global Trade Station to allow smooth, fast online play in a matter of minutes from anywhere in the game. Truly Nintendo outdid themselves with Pokémon X and Y, by far the most improved game of 2013.
I hope this small list has given a taste of the good that can come from reviewing the year in games, rather than cruelly making fun of developers and nonchalantly giving out awards that a real ‘gamer’ would agree with, we can instead think carefully about who we choose to honour and when we do, do so with the professionalism and kindness befitting their hard work. With any luck, future gaming awards can be more like this.