Wow, what a year we have had!
2013. A year that has seen your favorite Munchkin journey into the field of film reviews, as well as play many, many games that have been the height of excellence or the cream of the crap. And everywhere in between. And on this, this glorious New Year’s Eve 2013, I look back on the reviews I’ve done and how far we’ve all come this year. Because I haven’t done quite enough to do a list for film reviews, I’ve decided to break down what would have been a Top 10 List into simply the best and the worst. That being said, let’s go ahead and get the good part of this out of the way…
Best Game of 2013 - Far Cry 3
Back in August, I reviewed a game that had already been out for a few months beforehand. Drawn to it by friends sending me to the Let’s Plays of TrendKill, I got the game and went on a journey as a (in my own words) “third-place winner of a Zach Braff look-alike contest” by the name of Jason Brody found himself on Rook Island following being kidnapped by the affably evil Vaas and his merry band of equally psychotic pirates. Despite the flamboyant nature of Vaas being entertaining, I had believed I had merely picked up another dime-a-dozen shooter. “Skyrim With Guns”, as Machinima had called it (and, by the way, it isn’t).
But what it was, however, was a rather chilling and insightful trip by a person who is literally pushed to the limits of mind and body simply to survive...and then more. In a rather seamless and very believable way, we see Jason Brody slip from a young man who goes into a panic when he murders in self defense to gleefully gunning down the men under the command of Vaas and Hoyt. The game doesn’t question the morality in any overt way, there’s not a morality system or anything of that nature that many other games might have. It is simply a descent into madness, very beautifully brought up in certain text screens displaying text from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland more and more throughout the course of the main plot.
Rook Island itself feels alive, and several NPCs speak about how those who come to the island are forever changed. In Jason Brody’s case, it is not for the better in either case. I praised the game on pretty much every point, especially its storyline. In fitting in with the themes of madness and change, there really is no good ending like in a lot of games. There are no alternate paths to take to get a different one, no way to escape the two endings. Either Jason descends completely into what he has become; or he leaves to return to the life he once knew and is forever changed, perhaps even unable to reconcile what he was with what he has become. Either way is sad, and there really is no good answer or happy ending for him. And it’s done well enough that I wasn’t at all mad, like I might be with some less well-crafted game. Thus, the best game of the year 2013 is Far Cry 3.
Runner Up: Pokemon False Red
Technically a ROM hack rather than a game, but False Red gets an honorable mention, having been my Halloween special for this year and being my second favorite game that I’ve reviewed this year. Unlike creepypastas like Creepy Black or Lost Silver, False Red goes for the horror of making us realize that we, the player, might be the biggest antagonist of a video game at all in stealing the story from the player character. This sort of thing is most appropriate, really, in the Pokemon series. I’ve enjoyed other entries of the series, and I’m currently playing Pokemon X for those curious, but for me the classic three games of Red, Blue, and Yellow remain as the definitive symbols in my mind. The fact is that people complain about the lack of innovation in the games with mechanics, but the storylines also have been the same when you boil them down to their bare basics. What if that is just stealing the story from Red, doing the same things and achieving the same things again and again and again?
This misses the number one slot, however, by the ending being somewhat disappointing. I was expecting, considering the climate and the attitude that Red had perished, that a final climatic battle with Red on Mount Silver was in order. Instead, we defeat the rival only to have him and Professor Oak pull a “taking my ball and going home” and erase the player’s save. In a way, this makes sense being that the lines between whether NPCs were aware or not of the changes had started blurring before you’d even left your house, but it still feels like there could have been more and a final battle against Red would have made it beyond perfect.
Worst Game of 2013 - Aliens: Colonial Marines
I have already said all I can say on this. This game is offensive, it is wrong, and it has absolutely no right to exist. In a fair and just world, Randy Pitchford would be imprisoned for this absolute abomination of a game. Gearbox Studios stole funds from SEGA to finance their “true” pet project (the first two Borderlands games), spent several minutes lying to everyone who was excited for this game and presented us with a steaming pile of references to a very, very good movie that deserved far, far better than this. And, yes, by the way, FOX has declared that this is the canonical sequel to James Cameron’s Aliens. Of course, these were the same people who were stupid enough to cancel Firefly, so I wouldn’t pay too much heed to what they say.
I could go into the literally dozens of plot holes that this game has in relation to not only Aliens but Alien 3, but I won’t. I could go into how they managed to present a trailer that made the game look amazing and then gave us a thing that was so stripped down that it looked like a game from about ten years ago (and played even worse) and expected us to be impressed, but I won’t. I could go into how Randy Pitchford and the entire team at Gearbox should never be allowed to work in video games ever again, but I won’t. But I will say that this is the worst game I’ve ever played. Not just of 2013, but ever. So far, this is the worst.
And I want you to think about that, I’ve played Vampire Rain, just to put that into context for you. That was horrific and unplayable, but you want to know why I rate it higher? If only just higher than this game? BECAUSE IT ISN’T TRYING TO BE ANYTHING ELSE! There was no pretense about it, there was no set up that it was going to be a truly great movie-based game. It was a pile of streaming shit and didn’t try to hide that fact. Colonial Marines, and by extension the people who made it, represent the worst type of charlatans. It will not change my opinion of Randy Pitchford, but I would like to point out that even Joel Schumacher apologized for Batman & Robin, and it’s the least he could do for this.
Or, to summarize my thoughts on the entire thing, I would like to amend my final sentence in my Colonial Marines review:
“You completely suck, Aliens: Colonial Marines...completely…”
Runner Up: Nothing
After that rant, are you surprised?!
And now, my friends, I leave you as we go now to ring in the New Year. What were your best and worst of 2013? Tell me in the comments! Happy New Year, everybody!