T-McBee’s Top 5 Games of 2013

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Wow! Video games had a pretty good year in 2013!

I didn’t find games in 2012 that interested me since that year have left me somewhat disappointed. However, video games this year have impressed me more with all the latest games and HD remakes that came out. While I haven’t tried many great games  out there due to not owning the console the game it was available for or couldn’t afford it, here are the ones that I’ve played that were left with a good impression.

This is T-McBee here listing down my Top 5 Video Games of 2013.

5. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

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While Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (or Sly 4) isn’t personally my favourite Sly Cooper game in the series (still prefer Sly 2: Band of Thieves more), but I thought it was an above average game that Sanzaru put a great effort on. I really love the model designs and animations with Sly and the other characters in this game, which they feel more believable than in the PS2 games (though the derpy jaw animations will be missed).

Many Sly Cooper fans will get a copy of Thieves in Time for the story and what happens in the events after the third game. Even if the game entertained me with its dialogue and story, there were some parts that should have been explained better (especially around the Medieval chapter that I’m not going to spoil it here).

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The game is just like Sly 2 and Sly 3 for the PS2, except coated with updated model ascetics. It was awesome that this full game was priced 40 bucks and was worth the money, but there were a couple of things that could have been tweaked better.

1. The loading screens. If the loading screens loaded up faster, I would have put this game higher on the list.

2. Having six-axis controls. Normally I don’t mind them, but I just wish there was an option to turn them off.

3. The boss fights. A lot of the boss fights in this games felt slow or weak in this game, except maybe for a couple. But don’t get me started on the final boss, because that last fight was pretty disappointing.

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Despite the flaws the game had, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is a good game, especially one that isn’t done by the original developers, Sucker Punch Studios. How often that you see a game developer  taking the rights of a game franchise by an original development studio and make it good? Barely! And this game is one of them. It isn’t my favourite game from the series, but I thought it was good and hopefully Sly 5 will fix these improvements that were in Sly 4.

4. Puppeteer

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Back in September of 2013, everybody I knew got a copy of Grand Theft Auto V and would talk about that game so much. I had a feeling GTA V was going to do successful, so I did the opposite and got Puppeteer instead for the PS3. Think of it as an interactive storybook, but with touches of Super Mario’s platforming, Legend of Zelda’s hero story and Little Big Planet’s art ascetics and quirky humour into the game.

What’s makes The Puppeteer so incredible is the way the models are textured and scaled in different sizes. You play as a wooden puppet boy name Kutaro, who is pretty small in scale compare to all the main foes, who are ten times bigger than him. It’s amazing to see characters like the Moon Bear King, Pikarina and the other colourful characters interacting with one another or at the player like a theatre show, though things would get crazy with the narration and  the transitions with the cutscenes.

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Puppeteer was made by Japan Studios, so of course the dubbing will feel off with the lip syncing. The voice work, while some are handled pretty well, some left me confusingly scratching my head as to why they chose some voices for certain characters (especially one boss that looks threatening, but sounds completely ridiculous). I felt completely off guarded by the dark and hilarious moments that I wasn’t expecting in an innocent looking game like Puppeteer, kind of like how Psychonauts was presented with it’s cartoony ascetics but had dark and adult humour to its writing.

The gameplay in Puppeteer is not a game that will always pet your hand all the time, for there is a difficulty curve when it comes to wearing the right heads to activate secrets and bonus stages, or even at some of the boss battles. The boss battles are always different with each one and even if you finish them off with quick time events (which I don’t usually enjoy), but they seem to fit well in the game.

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The major complaints I have with Puppeteer is that it contains floaty jumps like Little Big Planet and sometimes attacking smaller minions with the Calibrus would take forever to kill off. The combat is somewhat stiff, but the problem solving and cutting your way through obstacles is mighty impressive in this game.

Basically the overall presentation is what got me invested in purchasing a copy of Puppeteer for the PS3. With GTA V being successful, I thought Puppeteer would fall into the pile of underrated games of 2013 and I just wanted to supported this new I.P title. I’m glad I made that decision carefully.

3. Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus

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The Ratchet and Clank series have left me quite disappointed after the release of A Crack in Time with the co-op multiplayer titles from the franchise, which are All 4 One and Full Frontal Assault. I had low expectations with Into the Nexus when Insomniac Games announced it this year. However, I took a risk in getting a copy of the game and let me tell you this…it was definitely worth the 30 dollars.

Into the Nexus maybe a really short game if players aren’t hardcore collectors, but it is a continuation of the Future Saga after A Crack in Time, but with a touch of a mis-adventure narrative and quirky comedy like the PS2 games. Will I say it’s better than A Crack in Time or Going Commando? No, but there are some strong and interesting elements with this latest Ratchet game, especially the gameplay introduction.

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From all the gameplay intros in the Ratchet and Clank games, the one in Into the Nexus is the best one I’ve seen. The idea of playing gravity in this eerie sector vibe was just incredible to play through. It was something that has never been done in the series with touches of the familiar gameplay elements we’ve seen before, like shooting enemies and blowing s*** up, including a lot of surprises that literally let me speechless. I even like this prologue gameplay even more than the one shown in A Crack in Time, and that’s saying something right there.

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The old and newer things in Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus were pretty enjoyable like the slight darker tone, the main villains, the theme music, the Thug Leaders, the arena battles and the game cutscenes (always my favourite in the series). While the game pulled some odd glitches on me and had a bit of a weak last level to complete, but despite those constructive criticisms, it was a great experience.

Third time was the charm for Insomniac Games this year for the PS3 after Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time and the developers really pulled it off well when promoting the game. This should of been the Ratchet and Clank game that marked the series’ 10th Anniversary!

2. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

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The one game that I felt like it was worth the 60 dollars if you were a fan of JRPGs was Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. With Level 5 Studios’ RPG gameplay presentation and the art ascetics done by Studio Ghibli, you possibly get one of the most beautiful games that has ever come out in 2013. The level designs, the music, the colourful visuals – Everything that is presented in Ni no Kuni is unbelievable.

The game engages you into a story about a young wizard name Oliver who dives back and forth to his world and the fantasy world to save his only mother. He meets new friends, mystical creatures and bad foes in this magical world and the developers really know how to capture the look of a game and made it memorable. Though I wasn’t expecting a lot of cutscenes with reading text or being capable to move around in battles. Think of it like Zelda with classic JRPG elements in the 90s, combined with Pokemon.

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The game contains what older JRPG games have like the battle commands and many tutorials, but the developers used a coat of new paint to make it attracted to a modern audience. Remember when I mentioned that the game is like Pokemon, well it has a gameplay element where you collect creatures called the Familiars in your adventures and take care of them. Normally I do not like the whole Pokemon style gameplay of collecting so many creatures that never ends, but how Level 5 Studios used the Familiars in Ni no Kuni was so addicting and fun.

My criticisms with Ni no Kuni is that I was expecting a couple of things that should have been handled better with the game, like toning down the explanation of the tutorials (there’s a lot of it) and the somewhat anticlimactic ending (which Level 5 Studio sometimes have a bad  habit in bringing disappointing game endings). But the one thing bugged me so much were the puzzles and mini-games. This game would have been my favourite game of 2013 if the puzzles and mini-games weren’t so confusingly vague or cheap.

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Despite some little things that needed to be tweaked better, I was pretty satisfied with Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. It is a huge game with massive explorations and side quests that players are welcome to try out. While it may not be my favourite game of 2013, but I’m sure this is a game that will please many hardcore gamers that are fans of JRPGs.

1. Rayman Legends

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A game that was supposed to be exclusive for the WiiU got delayed to be released on other consoles and handhelds. The fans hated the idea that Rayman Legends was delayed  multiple times to be release on other consoles, including Ubisoft being upset that the game got delayed so many times. But despite the mess Ubisoft went through to release Rayman Legends, I’m glad it was available on a console that I was able to play it…and made it as my favourite game of 2013.

This is a great sequel to Rayman Origins (one of my favourite games of all time) that felt like it’s own game with the new colourful visuals, level designs and gameplay variety. The co-op does feel more varied in this game than in Rayman Origins with collecting that feels pretty rewarding when you complete an objective or finish a level. However, everyone’s favourite feature in the game is the additional new character Barbara. The warrior princess with attitude has become a fan favourite in the Rayman Universe. She’s definitely cool, though I still stick to playing as Rayman.

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Rayman Origins had a Hawaiian Island theme going with its game, as well as other level themes. Rayman Legends does provide the same kind of level theme presentation, except the main ambience is more Medieval Celtic, as well as other creative levels. But my favourite levels that were presented in Rayman Legends had to be the music synced levels. Controlling the character jumping and running through obstacles while being on sync with these catchy tunes are the best thing that I’ve ever seen in a 2D platformer. I would sometimes play these levels at home after a long, stressful day from school. And since I was dealing with a really tough fall  semester in college this year, this was basically the game that calmed me down.

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Would I say that Rayman Legends is better than Rayman Origins? In terms of the amount of gameplay and new features it contained; Yes. However, I’ve always liked the presentation and simple challenge in Rayman Origins a little more. People tend to nitpick about the use of Murphy in some of the platforming just because it slowed the gameplay down. It kind of does at times and it’s the only issue I have with Rayman Legends, but it doesn’t become bothersome to the point of making the game tiresome.

Ubisoft has done it once again with the Rayman series by releasing a side scrolling Rayman game that had more than in Rayman Origins. In fact, it’s amazing that Rayman Legend had levels from Rayman Origins, but with the art ascetics as in Rayman Legends. Like Ni no Kuni, Rayman Legends was the game that felt like it was worth the 60 dollars…Or at the game that I thought it was worth the money.

Congratulations Rayman Legends! You Became My Favourite Video Game of 2013!

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