My 2013 in Video Games

My first full year with the Xbox came and went, and I sure didn’t regret buying it or fail to use it (except for about a month, but that’s another story.) I replayed Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. I also played more Borderlands 2 because when people ask if the Pope’s a Catholic, he responds with, “Does Dave play Borderlands 2?” But in between my seemingly-constant battles against The Enclave and Handsome Jack, I played a few other things as well.

Fez – Fez is a great game, until it isn’t. It’s a beautiful, addictive platformer with a unique feature: you can rotate the landscape in three dimensions to change how it plays in two. It’s brilliantly handled and way more fun than frustrating. Go in for that and you’ll be rewarded with a fun ride. That’s not all there is, though, as there are also QR codes in the game that do something, puzzles that only make sense outside of the game, and hidden stuff there’s no way to find out about. It was decided there needed to be more packed in there than just a straight-up game and I really don’t know how it enhances the experience any. Thankfully, it’s not necessary for enjoying the game as is, and I guess I should appreciate that it taught me that it’s okay if I don’t get 100% on every game because life is short. I wrote about it here.

Lego Harry Potter – Along with our movie marathon, Becky and I played through both of these games. It’s amazing how the world of Harry Potter translated so well into a cartoon goofiness platform game version without losing much of any context in the process. Neither of us cares much of a fig for the property but that didn’t stop us from having a good time with the games. I wrote about it here.

Tomb Raider – We all know that Lara Croft is known as the “Tomb Raider”, what with all the tombs and also the raiding. What this game presupposes is, what if she wasn’t? Lara will climb, fall, shoot, fall, get tied up but allowed to keep all her equipment and weapons, fall, grunt, fall, upgrade weapons, fall, and light people on fire, but not so much raid tombs. If this game had been called something else it might have had a better chance with me, but as it was, I was uninterested in just shooting the same bad guys over and over to no real purpose, even if there’s a cutscene where I get weepy about it the first time. With objectives that are literally, “go stand here. yay, you did!” it seemed like even the designers weren’t that interested in what was going on. Best thing I can say about it was that it showed me that I had my Xbox hooked up wrong and I fixed that, making games that are actually fun to play much better looking. I wrote about it here and then sent my copy off to a new home, where it got a different reception.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – I haven’t played Far Cry 3 yet, though I have it, but when this crazy thing dropped, I grabbed it. Blood Dragon, built on the FC3 engine, is a garish, over the top 80s-fueled parody of garish, over the top 80s-fueled parodies that provides an hour’s worth of hilarious gameplay. That’s unfortunate because it takes much longer than an hour to complete. I give ’em props for it, and I played through to the end, but the humor wore pretty thin after a while (especially the dudebro homophobic stuff) and the game itself didn’t do much to compensate. The funny thing is, this sort of did for laffs what Tomb Raider was doing completely straight. I wrote about it here.

Psychonauts – This one’s not really new to me, as I originally played it way back on the ol’ PS2. It’s considered a classic, and I had fond memories of it. Turns out it has a lot to offer, but it is hard as balls. There’s a point towards the end that is a combination escort mission and rising water mission and that’s when I said I was okay with not getting to the end. (I did finish it back in the day but I was a younger, more patient man then.) Incredibly realized and full of great stuff it is. Fun to play? Not so much. I wrote about it here.

Red Dead Redemption – Grand Theft Auto is a game I’m not really interested in playing. Grand Theft Horse, on the other hand, was a blast. I had a great time driving a stagecoach like an idiot, watching horses drown themselves instead of letting me ride them, and more or less figuring out poker. There was just something relaxing about riding on my horse, hearing the drum of the hoofbeats. Even the incredibly unpleasant Mexico chapter and the constantly spawning wolves didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of this game. I wrote about it here.

Metro 2033 – I read a review of this which for some reason had me at “post-apocalyptic survival horror in the Moscow subways”. Seriously, I was all over that. Turns out this is another hard one — I started on “Normal” and soon tried again on “Easy” — but it had a great look and feel to it. It was challenging in ways it shouldn’t have been, though, like giving me the option to grab a new weapon without any real way of telling if it was better than what I already had. It was also challenging in that the ending I got didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me because I guess I hadn’t paid close enough attention to the plot. So I think I won — but at what cost? I’m not sure. Anyhow, all this doesn’t change the fact that I’ll eventually try it again and I’m down for the sequel. I wrote about it here.

ALSO STARTED

Mass Effect — Gave it a shot but found it really hard to get into. I want to try it again at some point, but I think I might just jump to ME2.

Bioshock: Infinite — Started playing it and as soon as I got to the first of the “vigors” I audibly said, “screw this” and shut it off. It’s just not for me, folks.

Prince of Persia — Enjoyed this a bunch but got sidetracked by other things and when I went back to it I couldn’t remember what I was doing. I’ll start it over.

UP AND COMING

You’ll notice that other than, I think, Blood Dragon, none of that is from 2013. I haven’t really stuck much to the cutting edge of things, and I don’t pay much attention to the videogame news sites because often there are people who like videogames on them. I do know that Diablo 3 is currently en route to me, and I’ll probably order Metro: Last Light before too long, but I don’t now know of any other newish stuff I’ll be getting. Also, thanks to sales and offers, I now have Halo 3, Gears of War, and Bully to try out.

Right now, though, at this moment, what I’m mainly playing, as an alternative to Borderlands 2, is Borderlands.

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